The Path of Direct Experience

“Inform yourself. What does inform yourself mean? It means transcend and mistrust ideology. Go for: direct experience” – Terence McKenna

Like meditation, direct experience is like a Swiss army knife of spirituality, it has many possible uses. Both of the spiritual kind, and of the more fun practical sort. In it’s simplest form, direct experience is the act to “see for yourself”. It means to not worry so much about what you’ve read about an idea, belief, mindset, activity, or anything else, but to just, open your eyes and look.

It’s bad enough we’re bombarded by parents, family, friends, co-workers, media, television, Hollywood, ads, magazines, and everything in-between telling us the “right” way to live. The “right” way to fit in. The “right” age to do something at. A more subtle problem exists in the New Age or self-help community; where now you also have yogis, gurus, successful entrepreneurs, life coaches, motivational speakers, and anyone who can write a blog, also telling you what to do.

There is nothing wrong with any of the above, per-say. The problem only comes when any of it is adopted as ideology. I encourage you not to blindly accept anything, of course, not even what I say. Instead of being convinced that saying “I have financial abundance” in front of the mirror for half an hour each morning will make a man show up on your door-step with a bag of money, really dig deeply into why you want something.

If you’re happy at your current job, but you feel you shouldn’t be settling, because you’ve seen one too many 4K Youtube videos of a young CEO doing backflips off a cliff into the waters of some exotic island, really ask yourself if that’s what you really want to do too. It can be as simple as “why do I want this?”. If your answer is “because it inspired me to live a fuller life, and I want to see all it has to offer”, great, then you’ve chosen an experience you’d like to have. Instead of spending the half an hour in front of your mirror each morning, spend it researching exotic islands, find out how much it would cost to go there, and see how you may make that sort of money, or if there is some way for you to save up.

If instead, you look at these CEOs splashing around and think “Wow, that’s so cool! My life is so lame! If only I was living like that, my life would be as exciting as these guys! Oh man my friends would be SO JEALOUS!!”. You may not be going for the best possible experience. It may even be difficult to identify why you want it at first too. Allow yourself to have a direct experience with yourself, sit and think about it. You’re the one who has to spend the money to fly to the exotic island. You’re the one who has to potentially work 60-80 hour weeks to work a successful business. If you want the experience of the end result, without the experience of the work to get there, be more realistic.

There are subtle forms of dogma out there, it’s possible that you’ll fall into a spiritual system of “oneness” and “personal freedom” and can be living in dogma just as much as a heavily religious person. The solution to this is to focus on the direct experience you’re having. To deeply go into yourself and find out why you really want something. Then try it out and see for yourself. To evaluate objectively if it was what you really wanted. To trust yourself first, before the ideology, always. This is the path of direct experience.

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