Consciousness Medicine by Francoise Bourzat - Book Review
Updated: Dec 19, 2020
A review written by Donca Vianu
“May you feel validated in your quest to explore the infinite abundance of mystery and beauty that lies just beyond your ego identity and conscious mind.”
- Francoise Bourzat
Our lives unfold along two existential axes. At any given moment we are at their cross point. One is the horizontal, comprising our biological and biographical data. Everything we know about ourselves, guarded by our “I, Me, Myself” identity, contained by our mundane consciousness, belongs to this horizontal dimension.
The other existential axis is the vertical, buried in subterranean layers of our consciousness. They are subtle and powerful and secretly determine many choices and decisions we take. The vertical dimension concerns our ancestors and their historical circumstances, the collective destiny we are part of, the myths we grew up with, the archetypes we feel strongly, themes from
previous lives, our existential quest, yearning and assignment, and the ground itself of our being.
When accessed, the vertical axis confers a more universal vantage point, the potential for a deeper comprehension of who we are, of our situation, of ways to resolution, healing, and the fulfillment to grow towards our essential wholeness.
The vertical axis is our spiritual dimension. The vertical axis can be accessed through mind-expanding methodologies: hypnotic trance, breathing, drumming, dancing, lucid dreaming, vision quest, sweat lodge, meditation, and the ingestion of psychedelic substances. Any of these methodologies can plunge us into the unfathomable ocean of our individual, collective, and universal consciousness.
Francoise Bourzat is a Grand Master of the Vertical Dimension. A Grand Master of expanded states of consciousness, where our potential for healing, transformation, and redemption lies. Yet, these states are also where the danger to lose ourselves forever lurks.
Her book “Consciousness Medicine” is a power lighthouse to guide us through the perilous, daunting journey into the hidden realms of our minds, and even beyond our minds, into pure consciousness, the ultimate reality.
“This work is about being whole,” she writes. “It can be difficult and it can be intense, but ultimately, it is fulfilling.”
The work is about the transformation from a victim of circumstances, or from a subservient follower of a narrow societal programming, or from a blind executor of a collective legacy, into a warrior, a process which “takes a hero’s journey, including arduous preparation, the ordeal of facing fear and absolute darkness, the dissolution of reality, the mysteries of the elusive return,
and the reawakening to a newly existence.”
For this process of exploration and becoming, her book, published in June 2019, “Consciousness Medicine” is a precious and unique instruction manual. It offers maps of outer states to be taken into consideration, of inner states to be navigated, it points to pitfalls, and it extends saving rafts in the form of guidelines.
Every journeyer should read it before diving into the fathomless daunting ocean of her own consciousness. Whoever accompanies the voyager should study it as a Bible. It is written from a place of much wisdom, humility, and indisputable authority.
Who is Francoise Bourzat, the author of this seminal work? The woman “guided by an immense force and resilience” and a “fearless determination to pursue a meaningful and fulfilling life”? A life which she found in an “ongoing commitment to self-exploration, the aspiration to bring greater harmony to the world” and in sharing what she has learned?
Francoise Bourzat was born in 1956 in Paris. She traveled in North and South America, Asia, and in Europe before settling with 25 in San Francisco, USA. In the US she learned 5Rhythms dance with Gabrielle Roth, flamenco with Rosa Montoya, Sensory Awareness with Charlotte Selver, painted with Michele Cassou, practiced breathwork with Stanislav Grof, sat in sweat lodges with Marilyn Youngbird and in meditation retreats with Jack Kornfield. In other words, she studied with the artistic and spiritual leaders of the Western world at the end of the last century.
She also listened to teachings by Tibetan lamas in North India, and participated in sacred ceremonies with indigenous peoples in Ecuador (Otavalans and Huaorani,) Bolivia (Aymara and Moseten,) Guatemala (Maya,) Mexico (Raramuri,) Ethiopia (Hamar and Afar,) and Uzbekistan. She earned a MA in Somatic Psychology from New College of California and is also Hakomi trained at the Hakomi Institute of California.
However remarkable these achievements are, they pale compared with her most extraordinary feat: at a time in the Western world when contact with indigenous peoples was neither understood nor appreciated, she apprenticed for twenty years, intensely and intimately, with an authentic Mazatec female shaman, Dona Julieta Casimiro, heir to a long Mazatec lineage from Huautla de Jimenez, in Oaxaca, Mexico.
The knowledge and wisdom which Dona Julieta Casimiro imparted to her during the innumerable times they were together, as also the warm embrace she received in Dona Julieta Casimiro’s family and community, were crucial for Francoise Bourzat’s level of mastership over the depths of consciousness and how to navigate them.
Today Francoise Bourzat is a teacher in the East-West Psychology Program at CIIS (California
Institute for Integral Studies.) She lectures and trains internationally in the US, France, Lebanon, and Israel. She accompanies individuals and groups to Mexico, where they can embark on Sacred Mushrooms ceremonies under her and Dona Eugenia (Julieta’s daughter) Casimiro’s guidance.
Francoise Bourzat has summarised her wisdom in a theoretical and practical model she calls “Holistic Model for a Balanced Life,” which she presents in her book “Consciousness Medicine.”
The Holistic Model for a Balanced Life distinguishes in a person’s life five main aspects: body, mind, spirit, community, environment. According to the Holistic Model, there are three fundamental qualities that have to infuse all these aspects: wisdom, love, and creativity. Wisdom as an interweaving of raw concrete experiences and knowledge, leading to appropriate and discerning choices in life. Love is a force that compels us to know ourselves more deeply and to connect more fully with everything else. Creativity as the energy which propels life to evolve.
Furthermore, there are two virtues which the journeyer and the guide have to foster, before, during, and after the journey: surrender and faith. Surrender not as a passive undergoing, but as active receptivity. As staying present, engaging with whatever the experience brings, and not only with whatever the experience brings but with whatever life brings. “There are infinite layers to surrender” - observes Francoise Bourzat with great wisdom. Faith in the experience, in the process, in life.
A journeyer guided by these qualities and virtues has the capacity to cope with whatever the expanded state reveals, to “hold a broad view while tracking the nuances of a situation,” to take the most adequate decisions, and to foster healing and growth.
The journey into expanded states of consciousness is divided into three phases: preparation, the journey itself, and integration.
The book offers to the journeyer inventories to assess the functioning of her body, mind, spirit, relationship to community and environment as it manifests during each of the phases of the journey: during the preparation phase, the journey itself, and during the integration phase.
At the same time, it never loses sight of the interconnectedness of all things: the body affects the mind, which affects the spirit, which affects the family and community, which affects the environment, which affects the body, in endless feedback loops.
Nevertheless, the inventories clarify for the journeyer where her strengths and weaknesses lie; they indicate the aspects in her life which need special attention; they give her an idea of the experiences she may encounter during the journey; they are a reference point to evaluate the changes brought by the journey.
Francoise Bourzat attributes a very important role to the guide. “It is in the journey that we find redemption, not in the destination,” a responsibility the guide has to reckon with and aver.
The guide has to discern if she has to be a silent witness or has to intervene. The process demands close listening. In order to be capable of this role, the guide needs to have cultivated stringent ethical values to serve her as an anchor in difficult moments.
A striking example is when the journeyer experiences head on a confrontation with her conscience: “We need to see what we are doing before we can change,” observes Françoise. What we do to others and what we do to ourselves. She continues: “We cannot forgive ourselves until we sit in the fire of our shame and feel the magnitude of our actions.” And she adds: “Recovering a sense of accountability is necessary before we can step into self-compassion and self-forgiveness.” Only a guide who has finely tuned her own moral compass can then act appropriately.
Ultimately, it is all about healing separation, coming closer to wholeness. Francoise Bourzat quotes Ramana Maharishi, who, when asked “How should we treat others?” answered, “There are no others.”
We come closer to wholeness by diving deep into consciousness. With consciousness we explore consciousness. With consciousness, we heal consciousness. The book is called “Consciousness Medicine,” because we are consciousness, the ultimate medicine.
I strongly recommend prospective as well as experienced journeyers, and all guides not to just
read it, but to study it fully.
Donca Vianu, MD is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist with work experience spread over different countries and cultures. She offers individual counseling and guidance for integration processes. You can follow her work through her Youtube channel or reach out to her on Instagram and Facebook.