Typically transcendence means experience beyond the normal and ordinary. It may be supposed that such things as “near-death” experiences be classified as an example of transcendence. Generally, transcendence means one has gone beyond the ordinary limitations of physical realities, that is, one has become engaged in a spiritual state. For the shaman, it means the potential connection to a particular spirit in Nature, in universal energy fields, realms, and or parallel universes.
Much has been written about the use of hallucinogens and shamanic travel. Not all shaman use drugs. They use sound and like hallucinogens, much as been said about that. When I talk about shamanic transcendence I mean a significant consciousness beyond that which is called normal for the human being, specifically one that has been altered.
For me, this shamanic transcendence really means a self-transcendence. This, in turn, means becoming part of that which is greater than yourself. I am not talking about developing a “God-complex.” What is inherently involved here is a move out of the mundane everyday world, the world of repetitive routine, of accepting things as they are. Researcher Pamela Reed in 2003 suggested that it is here the individual “connects with dimensions beyond the typically discernible world.” It is at this crucial juncture that the shaman connects to these other worlds. These worlds often called the Upper Realm, the Middle Realm, and the Lower Realm do not equate with some religious concepts of Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. At this point, for the shaman, it doesn’t matter what it is that is greater than the self. The shaman’s concern comes after the shift from ordinary time to non-ordinary time occurs. It is then, with her or his spirit guide or helper, the shaman pursues the answers to her or his healing questions, questions related to the patient’s issues.
In Canto XXV of the Dhammapada, we find this sage advice that is most important to transcendence: ” Empty your boat… when emptied it will go lightly.”