It has recently been pointed out to me that I need to address the issue of somafera, religion, and spirituality again. I have done so before, on multiple occasions, but apparently I have written enough on the topic of somafera that it is not always easy for everybody to find everything.
First of all, let me make one thing clear: somafera practice is not a religion, and it is not a form of spirituality. At its most basic, the various somafera practices are forms of applied physiological science. They alter the way the body and mind function in order to make them work better, for short periods of time. Practically speaking, the matter is more complicated than that.
Entering a somaferan state involves transcendental emotions. For the vast majority of people, that is going to involve some kind of spiritual or religious experience. On the one hand, this is the only way most people can ever experience such powerful emotions, outside of life or death experiences. On the other hand, the experience of feeling transcendental emotions will be experienced as a spiritual or religious experience for the great majority of people. It is simply human nature that this is so.
The thing is, it is not this way for everyone. There are also atheist somaferans. Not many, but I have known a few. They do not use spiritual or religious experiences to achieve transcendental emotions. When they experience such emotions, the do not perceive them as having either a religious or as spiritual component (and no, “religious” and “spiritual” are not synonyms).
One thing that spiritual somaferans and atheist somaferans have in common, though, is the need for meditation. You see, overload alone is not enough. The overload has to happen in a state of meditative calm. This is because adrenaline alone is a really bad thing, when taken to excess. High levels of adrenaline cause the shakes, poor coordination, and bad judgment. Meditation calms the mind, and the rest of the nervous system, allowing the body to experience the benefits of adrenaline without any of the drawbacks. Additionally, meditation allows the deep subconscious to be more easily accessed, and this is a prerequisite of the gangr. elevating requires the whole mind to act in unison, and this cannot happen without tapping into the deep subconscious.
(Side note here: reflexive gangrs that occur in response to life or death crises do not technically require meditation at all. However, this is only because the sheer shock and surprise wipes away everything that was in the conscious awareness, and dumps the mind into an instantaneous, deep, default meditative state.)
Spiritual somaferans see meditation as a method of getting in contact with spiritual powers. Atheist somaferans see meditation as a form of hypnosis, entraining the mind into the right channels.
There is something of a debate in the modern world between the religious/spiritual perspective on the one hand, and the atheist perspective on the other. I do not take either position, myself. I am a monistic idealist, philosophically speaking. The only reason that we know that everything in the observable world is made of physical particles is because we have the mental experience of observing them. There is no experiment on the observable world that has ever been conducted or ever will be conducted that does not end with “…and I know this because I saw/heard/touched/smelled/tasted it.” In other words, the primary layer of reality as we experience it is mental, not physical. Physical objects, the entire outside world, is at its very foundation a special type of mental experience. Please note that this is not because experiments are badly designed. No experiment, no matter how cleverly set up, can ever change this. Reality is primarily mental.
Because I do not know enough to say that one of these views is true and the others are false, I do not claim that any religious belief is false. As a consequence of this, I accept all religious beliefs as provisionally true, at least until I get any better evidence one way or another. Therefore, I believe in Odin and the gods of Valhalla. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. I believe that there is one god, and Mohammed is his prophet. I believe that Buddha was enlightened and that Lao Tzu achieved great comprehension of the Tao. I believe in the lwa, and the orisha. I believe in the flying spaghetti monster. I even believe the atheists are correct. We all have a small part of the truth. Nothing more. To claim greater knowledge than this is hubris, the act of an egotistical fool.