What were the stages or changes that brought you to your current spiritual path and what, if any, were the conflicts that you faced in terms of family or cultural reactions or rejections?
As a teen, I lost any faith I may have developed through my Jewish upbringing. In 1969, before leaving for my first year in college, I refused to go to services on Rosh Hashanah because my mother would not allow me to wear a mini-dress to shul. It all seemed so impossibly hypocritical……. I have moved toward greater resonance with my Jewish identity as I’ve matured.
My spiritual awakening happened in 1971 when, after reading Ram Dass’ Be Here Now, I took LSD with an intention to see the “white light” as Ram Dass reported. It was then that I had, for the first time, the unforgettable, undeniable experience of the presence of God. The results of Walter Pahnke’s Good Friday experiment (1962), and Roland Griffith’s mystical experience psilocybin study at John’s Hopkins (2011) , both concur with my personal experience. When Alex took his first dose of LSD in my apartment in 1975, I recognized that he had just shared that unforgettable, undeniable experience.
There has been no conflict with family about this. I’d been “experienced” with both of my sisters, and we didn’t worry our parents about it for decades. By the time I spoke openly to my parents about these experiences, I had established myself as a responsible adult and clearly no harm had been done.
In my maturity, my heart has opened and more love and appreciation pours out. God is there. Alex says that love is God’s secret name. In 2003, when Alex and I started trans-denominational Full Moon ceremonies in our loft in Brooklyn, I decided to represent the “Jewish beat.” As something of an oracle, I started delivering the parsha (the weekly portion of the Torah read by Jews all over the world). At each Full Moon ceremony for the past seven years, I have examined how the story resonates with my life and the life of our community.
The question of identity is so fundamental to the spiritual journey; “Who am I?” is a core question of the spiritual quest. Many spiritual teachers emphasize the primary importance of oneness, non-duality and non-attachment. How does the nature of Jewish identity relate to this quest for you? How do you hold the meaning of “I am a Jew” in the context of “I am not separate from any-thing’”or “I am no-thing”?
Jewishness is my ancestry and also my conditioned identity. It is a heritage and an archetypal psychic force.
The no-self of Buddhism means there is no independent arising. The central Jewish insight is that of oneness – “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God the Lord is One.” The concept “God is One” represents the same truth as non-duality. This means that Jews and Gods of every tradition are not separate from each other.
Allyson Grey is an artist who speaks directly of the influence of entheogenic experiences as a source for her spiritual vision and her artistic work. She collaborates with her husband, Alex Grey, on the development of a sacred community that fosters and celebrates the creative in life. Allyson and Alex live and work at the sanctuary they are building in upstate New York known as the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, CoSM.
To see her art work and learn more about her ongoing projects, see:
For a view of the activities of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors: http://cosm.org/
Recently made available are talks and interviews with both Alex and Allyson Grey on their youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZVxulrA3TWY1_WSeFD3eGg