You find yourself by making it a habit to lose yourself. Every time you sleep, get drunk or have an orgasm, you lose yourself. It is a natural process, believe it or not!
It is what in tribal cultures is called ecstasy and what the Roman and Chinese sages called ebriety. In English, most of the time we speak of rapture. But rapture is only one of several conditions for deep ecstasy to emerge. For example, the rapture of watching a sunset in Bali at the seashore can bring about such a deep inner experience.
My point is that we need self-abandonment more than anything in life. It is the cure to neurosis and to stress in general, it brings about transcendental awareness and helps us to free us from the ego-based psychic structure.
Some people are only able to have such experiences when they take psychedelic drugs, which in my opinion is an impoverishment for every child experiences such states of altered consciousness regularly without needing anything to induce them—and in most cases also without talking about them.
To use the magic word coined by Abraham Maslow, self-actualization is brought about through self-abnegation. I do not teach Vedanta here, for I am not even very familiar with the Indian religious doctrines. I prefer to talk about such experiences in general, for I have had a horrible experience with Ayahuasca back in 2004 in Ecuador that I wish nobody to suffer from.
In hindsight I found myself quite adventurous to ever having pondered that option for it is an outright dangerous experience, which is also reported by real experts on the matter such as Michael Harner. In his book The Way of the Shaman, he reports that he had been at the brink of death during his first Ayahuasca trip, and was saved virtually in last minute by asking for an antidote that was fortunately readily available, as the native shaman was aware of the danger himself.
During the Ancient Greek festivals, for mystery religions such as the Eleusian cult, self-abandonment was the most noble endeavor for every participant for it was believed that when the self disappears in the rapture, the God or Goddess enters the person and blesses that person with His or Her divine energy.
There is much truth in this belief. It is not a superstition to begin with. J. Krishnamurti reported in his notebooks much of those experiences while he never liked to talk about them in public. He was regularly experiencing encounters with tree spirits who could be as large to fill an entire valley, and he emphasized that such experiences could not be brought about willfully in any way, but were always the result of deep inner peace and contemplation; thus, rapture or ecstasy is an entirely spontaneous phenomenon. It must not be taken as a form of magic that is deliberately sought after for ‘invoking a spirit.’ It is very important for you to understand this difference.
I would like to express it in other terms. I would call it the experience of innocence in its purest form. Innocence implies one is experiencing the inner void, the absence of intention and purpose, and the absence of egoic attachment.
It can happen when you do spontaneous art as I have done it over more than 20 years. It is a wonderful way to experience the purest form of self-abandonment and the result is deep inner peace after you have done a serious of such almost instantaneous paintings where the colors seem to spring up from nowhere and merge onto the canvas in sometimes magic ways. As if they were actually emerging from the canvas, and not from the application of your brush, hand and arm.
You can also experience it with spontaneous composing, or improvising on a musical instrument. I do this since twenty-five years on the piano and it has opened me many inner doorways into the transcendental realm. It is a deeply gratifying and rewarding experience of music that cannot be brought about by what is called ‘classical training,’ not even with training yourself to play jazz or cocktail style. The very notion of ‘training’ or ‘practicing’ is quite opposite to the idea of self-abandonment for in all kinds of practice, the ego is actively involved for steering the experience in a purposeful way.
The ego and purpose go together as go together purposelessness and nonego or the temporary abandonment of egoic consciousness.