In the ascent and descent between planes of consciousness, there are two kinds of fears that people often face.
On the way up, there is the fear of dying or surrendering or losing control, giving up what you are familiar with. When you’re starting to move into these other planes of consciousness that have a different perspective, the one you were holding onto has to let go before the new one can enter in. That moment of letting go is like when you’re climbing, and you have to reach for something but you have to kind of let go of the last thing to reach for the next thing, and there’s a moment of tremendous anxiety in that – so is the anxiety of dying into the next plane of awareness.
Now with coming down, with re-entry and coming back and facing what you left behind when you started, there’s a certain amount of not wanting to come back into it, because it’s not appealing anymore, because you feel trapped by it and a lot of people, after having very high spiritual experiences, even something like a near death experience, they say, “What shit is this, man? I don’t want to live here, I want to go back there. I want to get outta here.”
There is sometimes a very deep depression for people who go through that, before they realize that the art form is to integrate these planes together, that’s the process of awakening.
When you have been in the higher planes of expanded awareness, where you see the lawful nature of all things, you see the beauty of it, and then you have to come back into a limited consciousness, into your own human heart and separateness, you’ll still have some of that opening of awareness, and you’ll sometimes be overwhelmed by the nature of suffering in the world around you.
You’ll see that you cultivated a defensive stance to protect yourself from that suffering – I mean if you’re in New York, you’re walking over people sleeping on the streets, you turn on the TV and there’s immense suffering all the time, and most of us, in order to function on Earth, is use massive denial as a device to keep the suffering under control so we can handle it.
When we use the word “unbearable” to describe suffering what we really mean is “Who I thought I was, the container I thought I was, the somebody I thought I was, can’t handle this amount of suffering without breaking apart.”
…And there are choices at that moment.
You can go into denial mode, which is “I won’t think about that suffering. I’ll push it away.” And the cost of that is very heavy. See, if you go into a denial mode, what you do is you armor your heart from the world, and when you do that, you are keeping something out that is going to overwhelm you, but you’re also keeping something out that you need, which is the nourishment that comes from the emotional interaction with the world around you. You become armored, you become ‘professionally warm’, you become able to handle the crises moment after moment, the horror of it all, by just going up into your head, closing your heart. So denial has an incredible cost.
– Ram Dass, Detroit, Oregon – 1994