Local & Non-Local Selves: In Tibetan Buddhism, Sufism & Ayahuasca Shamanism

Published on Feb 9, 2015
That human beings can detect phenomena not only in their “local” environment through their senses but rather in some trans-sensory manner detecting “non-local” phenomena is an ancient idea that is part of many of the great philosophical and spiritual traditions of the past. Some non-local experiences have a more personal feel to them such as the knowledge of a loved one’s passing, linked consciousness in twins, synchronicity, and some other paranormal phenomena.

Other non-local experiences have a more transpersonal feel to them such as healing at a distance, out-of-the-body experiences involving shamanic journeys to other worlds, and interactions with subtle beings sometimes involving a merging of the local self with a non-local entity or higher self. And in some cases non-local experiences are clearly linked to spiritual awakening. For example, in the secret spiritual autobiography of the famous Buddhist adept Jigme Lingpa, who lived in 18th century Tibet, there are descriptions of Lingpa’s non-local experiences that he says were essential for his awakening. It is this class of essential non-local spiritual experiences that will be the central focus of this presentation.

There is currently a very lively debate whether non-local human experiences might in some way be related to the entanglement experimentally observed in quantum systems. According to Schrödinger, entanglement is a characteristic of a quantum system where two energetic particles that once were in contact, and then are later separated, will remain connected in such a manner that the quantum state of one cannot be completely described without considering the other. The correspondences between non-locality in quantum systems and in exceptional states of consciousness are intriguing and are certainly worth investigating from theoretical, experimental, and experiential perspectives.

Frank Echenhofer is a Professor Clinical Psychology at CIIS.

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