As with many therapeutic notions, the positive side of an issue is rarely noted. The implicit model for therapy seems to be that we all came of of the womb in good nick, but then we got messed up in some way.
In fact, all experiences are two-sided. If an experience has a negative side, it will also have its flipside, at least nearly all of the time. The most significant way in which intellectual shamanism differs from traditional therapy is in this recognition. Similarly, behavioral and attitudinal states always have two sides.
What are the positive aspects of permeable ego boundaries? The first and most obvious is that it is the fundamental attitudinal state required for effective learning.
Permeable ego boundaries are also a requirement for the military and creating them is what boot camp training is all about. One has to be able to tap into the group mind, as a matter of life and death. One will never learn to do this if one’s ego boundaries are not porous. In boot camp, the existing ego boundaries are broken down and rendered very thin through lots of ritual humiliation and shouting. The benefit is that one will think like a soldier and slot oneself in to a position of action when the pressure is on, without having to be explicitly told.
Shamans make use of thinner-than-usual ego boundaries to learn the secrets of the universe. This statement describes what shamanism is, in its essence.
Thinner ego boundaries do not imply social sensitivity or psychological weakness.
When I drink red wine with resveratrol, I can draw up a lot more of my memories and instructive dream imagery and I know for sure my boundaries have become thinner. This enables huge leaps in learning, as well as a quasi-military strategising of one’s resources.
Shamanic literature also teaches that shamanic ventures are potentially dangerous, and no doubt this is because to know something significant we have to melt our ego boundaries. We open ourselves up to pathology, potentially. With proper training and hygiene, being infected becomes much less likely. There is such a thing as gaining maturity and developing skill-set vital for acquiring knowledge through shamanic methods.