Tales of two Daniels – part 1

new atmosphereDaniel Ingram and Daniel Pinchbeck wrote books about their different approaches into  similar territories. Each book details the author’s personal stories and adventures in pursuing higher realms most people don’t normally access.

Just as we awaken from sleeping and dreaming to our daily reality, the authors seek yet another reality that people can awaken to from our daily reality.

Both books present unvarnished looks at their approaches to awakening to different realities. Both authors seem to feel that big, modern governments and religions have repressed knowledge that was previously more commonly known and sought after. Ingram goes deep into the meditation technologies developed over the last 2,500 years, while Pinchbeck investigates ancient shamanic medicines that have been used for generations.

Pinchbeck’s “Breaking Open The Head” is a fascinating and often scary tale about trying to access higher states and insights by taking different psychedelic substances. His book chronicles varying degrees of attainment and failure. After a while, I was left thinking about what Allen Watts said, “Once you get the message, hang up the phone!”

Pinchbeck is an enthusiastic investigator of both archaic and newer medicines, he’s a high-level technician test-driving little known and well-known shamanic inebriants, to paraphrase him. I was impressed Pinchbeck could go through the experiences he chronicles and could record or remember them in the detail he provides.

Indigenous peoples mainly use their sacred medicines for guidance, initiations or healing. Something has to be lost when  you’re not a member of the culture you’re dealing with. No one can avoid that.

By hoping between cultures around the world, Pinchbeck’s use of different medicines sometimes took on the feel of indiscriminate drug use, undermining, for Pinchbeck, some of the benefits tribe members get due to their cultural context and proper preparations.

Although he seems to go from one altered state to another, in the end Pinchbeck seems to feel that he has come away a better person.

While Pinchbeck accesses some higher planes and insights, most of them sound fleeting and incomplete. He’s ultimately pursuing a pleasure that comes and goes.

A friend of Pinchbeck tells him, “People are entering the lower realms of the spiritual world unbidden and unprepared, exposing themselves to delusions and deceptions… the soul-wrenching chaos of the psychedelic experience seems to lend itself to a sense of panic and dissipation. If one wants to have a positive effect on the world , inner calm and discrimination  are absolutely necessary.”

There’re slower, less dangerous, and more lasting paths than the chemical shortcuts Pinchbeck takes. One of those paths was taken by the other Daniel, who’ll be covered in the next post.