Adventure Consciousness


Adventure and spiritual practice are in fact the same thing

Over the course of 25 years of adventures, and over ten years of dedicated spiritual practice, I have come to realise that adventure and spiritual practice are in fact the same thing.

Adventure is a spiritual practice, and spiritual practice is an adventure. Both demand curiosity, courage, a willingness to be uncomfortable, and a desire to step into the unknown.

That sense, that desire to make the unknown known, is the heart of adventure. It is what has driven exploration, colonisation, science, philosophy, and the evolution of humanity.

Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.

T. S. Eliot

An adventurer is a person whose desire to familiarise the unknown is greater than their desire to be comfortable, or even safe.

But the realm of the adventurer is not just the backcountry wilderness. There is unknown and danger in all areas of life. Business, relationship, and self exploration are all fraught with various kinds of risks. Maybe not so much physical health, but emotional, financial, and spiritual risk is no less risky.

As far as the body is concerned, the fear of diving into the depths of the ocean to see what you will find is no different to the fear of giving a big presentation or confronting your belief system. As far as the body is concerned, the ego particularly, the outcome of each of those experiences is death. Dramatic, I know, but the ego has a habit of being pretty dramatic!

The transition to a new state of being is called an ego death for a reason. Well, two reasons actually.

First, in order for you to become something new, the old part of you needs to die. If I am to live into a new belief, that I’m worthy of love or that making money is easy, then the old belief that I’m unlovable or that I have to work extremely hard to make money has to die. The two cannot exist simultaneously. And these beliefs are part of our ego.

Second, when those beliefs die, it can literally feel like we are dying. When I start to take apart the beliefs and fears and truths that have kept me safe and alive all these years, it can feel like nothing makes any sense anymore. Like everything is broken.

When people talk about ego death experiences with psychedelics, they’re talking about literally having their ego pulled out of them and torn up in front of them. It is very far from what I imagined would be a nice, joyous experience of watching that pesky old belief wither away, in a state of pure love and bliss. If only.

But this is how life is. The circle of life. Death and rebirth. It is a natural, beautiful, sacred thing. Just as the tree dies in the forest, and fertilizes the new growth that comes after it, so our bodies constantly recycle the old worn out cells, mining the nutrients to produce new growth.

In fact, it is when the death and rebirth process is interrupted, that we find ourselves with cancerous tumours. These growths are formed from mutated cells, which should have been destroyed by the body naturally, but for some reason, are not and are able to start replicating.

And so it is just as important that we allow this cycle of death and rebirth to be present in our thoughts, our beliefs, and our personality. For if we do not allow the old tired ideas to die naturally, they become cancerous prisons that keep us trapped in fear, depression and anxiety.

It takes a lot of courage to willingly take on this work. But just like riding a bike, eventually, you take the training wheels off, and then you stop falling over. And at some point in the process, you find yourself in flow with the ups and downs of life. Suddenly, you’re able to recognise that this shit-show called life right now, where nothing makes sense that everything feels broken, is in fact a beautiful, fertile ground for something new to grow.

Suddenly you find that discomfort is a place you choose to be, want to be even, because it is in adversity, that genius is revealed. It is, as Michael Meade says, when we are in trouble that we discover resources we never knew we had, and come closer to the knowing spirit that brought us to life in the first place.

Are you curious to see how this takes shape in your life?