When Zahra and I were living in the jungle, we had this point elucidated very clearly when the curandero’s rambunctious two year old son kept playing dangerously close to the boiling river that surrounded their beautiful piece of land. He had been warned not to do this and even as his mother called to him he didn’t listen. At this point she coolly walked over, lifted him off his feet and held him over the water. He started screaming in fear as he hung suspended over the boiling water, the hot steam rising up all around him. She asked him if this is what he wanted and if he will keep going near the heat. “No mamita! No!” She then carried him off, he was startled but already a little wiser. This is analogous to how the medicine can sometimes be the tough mother. Ayahuasca will observe what one tends to perseverate on and sometimes take control: suspending the person over the boiling waters of their temptations; teaching that what is focused on is inevitably going to manifest in reality.
Now, it is important to note, it is not only the “negative temptations” the medicine and your guides will teach you about, even the things that are necessary for you to move towards and who or what you love will also be revealed for their dark sides; as well as the other external and internal consequences around you and within you that will come from committing to a certain perspective. For me, as a young man, committing to a partner took me through some very difficult Ayamonies (Ayahuasca ceremonies, haha). I was shown the worst case scenarios of what my relationship to Zahra could and can be. I quickly learned that these glimpses of mayhem were not something to fear. By being aware of the the worst scenario, I was clear about what I prefer. This is like a season within any relationship or discipline in life, where we get off track once in a while but hopefully we notice it soon and drag ourselves back to our natural state of thriving. Initially I thought that because I’ve known Zahra my whole life and been close to her since we were children- considering her one of my best friends -it would be easy to be in a relationship with her. I soon discovered the opposite. Due to our calling to explore life throughly and with the tangibility of direct experience, we moved deeper into life’s mysteries and discovered the healing our lineages needed. I felt the excruciating intensity of the attachments that exist between Zahra and I, and will continue to be made in the ever unfolding future. There were chances to bail, but we moved forward with courage, letting go of what we thought should be, for what is.
We have been devoting ourselves to pushing ourselves past our limits, to believe in something greater than ourselves and taking leaps of faith to put that belief into action. We developed and are still developing a bond beyond our past history that freshly holds us together with each passing day. We tap back into the deep knowing that things and people can evolve and that we, as human beings, have a say in the matter. This, in the most difficult moments in our partnership, in ceremony, and in life in general, has inspired me to make a choice: I choose love! Whatever difficulty I face, I can transmute into a great blessing. Whatever passes through me, be it anger, ego inflated-ness, sadness, etc. I affirm that my love for Zahra means more than any of that. I can put a moment of passion on hold, opting for the relationship I’ve been working on with her for years, as well as all the things that came along with it.
Devotion is not a blind act. In fact I’ve been becoming more and more aware that I am engaged in a great experiment of exercising the power of choice in this life. To be “all in” and move forward into the faith that this is a great opportunity for evolution. This is how the ego wants to learn, it needs a lot of convincing and the good news is that it evolves over the course of our lives if we stay the course towards expanding our awareness. In my formative Ayahuasca experiences I was often at a cross roads, that can be visualized by picturing being at the center of a giant web: A multitude of pathways in all directions. At times every single path would be a golden avenue of light and at times the same paths would be gnarly and dangerous alleys of terror. How could it be that the same set of choices could be so two sided? I was frozen. These paths represented all the choices I could make and how each came with its own flowers, as well as its thorns. Little by little I moved forward, as each experience made me realize that I would simply have to start somewhere to begin living the life I want to live. I soon realized that I was having the incredible opportunity to consciously move into adulthood: a rite of passage, so to speak. Through the teachings of the guides this plant medicine connects me to (that are often unyieldingly stern as well as unconditionally loving) I was made aware of the dangers in the world as well as the love that permeates all of existence. My heart remained open because I was choosing my path. When I experienced something hurtful it wasn’t an experience that made me jaded because of some innocent or even ignorant world-view being shattered. No, I was choosing, fully aware that I was creating both negative and positive experiences to aid me in my growth to create the beautiful microcosm I envision for myself and my loved ones.
A key to moving out of the frozen zone was to move forward into what came naturally, and what natural inclinations in me supported it. This is a great measuring system in life, as we can take any route, but the path of least resistance for our particular journey shouldn’t be ignored. The path of least resistance doesn’t mean an easy way out, really it can be- and is often meant to be -extremely challenging, but there is a sense of wellbeing, purpose, wisdom, and evolution that permeates the journey. For example’s sake, let’s cut down the web to a fork in the road: a person could be at a cross roads to become a basketball player or a classical pianist- if they enjoy basketball and have an affinity for it then it wouldn’t make sense for them to squelch their excitement and try hard to become a pianist. Similarly I initially resisted my magnetism to Zahra and plant medicines, and I found I suffered because I was denying my natural callings. The other reality where I never devoted myself to her and/or became a stock broker instead of being unlabeled and multifaceted, exists as a parallel reality, that is just as valid as the one I am living now. I am absolutely certain that, that Zain is learning a lot. However, I moved towards what felt right for me in this reality and I pray I continue to do so, for the simple reasons that I am happy and my loved ones feel happy in my presence (at least...most of the time ;)
And yet, Ayahuasca (and the guides it connects me to) still show me the consequences of even my most pure decisions and even the synchronistic opportunities that come to me. I wouldn’t want it any other way. We all have guides and if we listen to them every so often we get some clues as to how we can live in a more intelligent and soul-integrated manner. Ayahuasca makes a clear connection to our guides, often when we need it most- as we explicitly choose to endure possible trials and tribulations during the ceremonial experience, as well as after, when we try to integrate what we have learned into everyday life. The plants are never dishonest, it is how you translate the messages. When you are faced with a cross-roads (or web) commit to the path of least resistance and move forward with as much awareness as you can muster. A great many of us ask for guidance as to what our next step is, but in fact we already always know the answer to that: as it is what is most exciting for us at the moment. What is actually the difficulty is HOW to move forward into our highest joy. How do we attune ourselves to the guidance that is rooting for our success? How do we not blatantly ignore the signs that are telling us to shape up? How do we become aware of the holes in our perception that keep landing us back into square one? How do we continue to persevere? This is the challenge we’ve signed up for. This is the challenge that there is no real answer to, except to experientially grow into our wisdom. We’ve spent far too much time in stagnancy being too afraid to face whatever it is that we need to learn.
Whatever age you are, know that you aren’t here for very long and move forward to claim the joy you were born to know.