Altered states and beyond satire


On Sunday a friend’s wife was singing in a choir at Tewkesbury Abbey. You don’t have to “get” organised religion to appreciate the beauty and magnificence of this building. My friend loved to hear his wife sing but he was no fan of the 90 minute service her choir was part of.


However what struck me, despite the Abbey only being about a fifth full was that for the message (from religion) to get across the key was for worshippers to get into an altered state. Certain hymns and songs that were sung resonated powerfully with the pair of us and it only reinforced the above point. So I reflected on this, is it not the case that just about every powerful influence on us requires an altered state?

If we watch a DVD, go to the cinema, listen to our favourite music or even a guided meditation each of these puts us in an altered state. Sex, drugs, alcohol and food do the same. These states may all be described, subjectively, as positive.

Conversely if we watch mainstream news or if we are interested in crime dramas (my wife and I are) the altered state may be one of fear, revulsion, disgust or in the case of most crime dramas, feeling good about the fact we are not crime victims. It could be argued curiosity is the primary motivation, or it could just be me copping out.

Brilliant spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle has made a career out of exhorting us all to live in the present moment. Be here now. Living in the moment is certainly a different state from looking at the past with regret in the future with anxiety but could you describe it as an altered state? I think so. Advertisers peddling the whole spectrum from things we don’t need or can’t afford to things that would generally enrich our lives want us in altered states. The word trance would once strike fear in those suspicious of hypnosis. But trance is another word for a focused, dare I say it, altered state.

So what kind of state would we have to be in to walk our racist dogs, salute Nazi personal trainers and welcome Isis fanatics “back home” as caring citizens? They couldn’t make it up.

Yes the term beyond satire was coined many years ago before lunatics took over the asylum.

Short blog post this time, I think my brain is closing down because of Jeremy Corbyn ceaselessly uttering anti-Semitic tropes.

I really do wonder how many people take all this bullshit seriously.

So if you would like to explore the possibility of tackling chronic illness or letting go of troubling behaviour watch my latest video. It’s on the right side of sanity and might actually do you some good.

Have a great day!

Jack Stewart, May 1st 2019.

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