|The Vision Quest
by Tom Brown Jr.
Many students ask me what exactly a Vision Quest is and what can a Vision Quest do for
them. The whole question of Vision Quest is quite difficult at best to explain and to
experience. Even after completing the Vision Quest many students are still confused as to
what has happened to them. Many of them realize that their feelings and perceptions are
changed at a deeper level but they still do not know why or what has happened.
The reason for this problem is many-fold. Generally, the student does not know what the
Vision Quest is all about or how it pertains to modern man. They read all the material
available to the general public on other Vision Quests but do not see the significance it
can have on their lives. They find that the Vision Quest also blends beautifully
with their belief systems, leaving them wondering how one form of religious practice can
blend and enhance their own.
What I can explain is what happens on a physical-spiritual level during a Vision Quest
and why it happens. The logistics of the Quest are very simple. It requires that a quester
stay within a confined circle for 4 days and 4 nights. There he will deprive himself of
food, human companionship, and all creature comforts. Sometimes, in some cultures, water
is not allowed during the Quest but I have my own feelings on this. Simply stated, the
line between hallucination and true vision is thin and the lack of water during the
questing time draws good visions toward distorted reality and hallucination. Some tribes
went in for hard work or self-scarification but generally this will lead to poor results.
Generally, in, stead of water or scarification, if one wants to tap into the deeper
realms, just stay in the vision area longer. Four times in my life I have had quests
lasting 40 days or more. The reason for this long time was to reach a deeper realm of
understanding and a fuller enhancement of the Vision.
I find that it is necessary to stay out of the way of all human contact because this
will only set the visionary experience back. Any human contact breaks the concentration
and the forces working in nature. The only person permitted into a quest area is the quest
protector, medicine person, or grandfather, running, overseeing, and protecting the quest.
This protection is so damn important in this day and age. It prevents unwanted people from
disrupting the quester and allows that quester to concentrate on other things.
What happens to the body and mind during the quest is utterly phenomenal. The body
relaxes and is weaned from all comfort, all ruts, and all the routines that it is used to.
The removal of food and in some cases, sleep, purges the body in such a powerful way.
During this purging process the body slips away to invisibility and no longer gets in the
way opening up fertile ground to the teaching forces of nature.
The mind, excited at first with the challenge of Vision Quest and all the beautiful
things of nature, finally breaks and falls away, almost as if in a stupor. This occurs in
stages over the first two or three days. First, the mind goes over all the things that
surrounds the quest area, feeding itself on all the things it can find. Everything
fascinates it as it looks for this elusive thing called a Vision. The mind then reviews
all the Old fears and worries, hopes and dreams, and all the other old ruts a mind can
ponder. The more desperate the mind becomes the more emotion wells up from our inner pool
of emotion. Everything begins to happen to us. We cry, hate, yearn, strive, worry, fear.
Our mind, now in a desperately tired state, makes one last effort to get us out of the
area and back to a place it can be fed with all the logic and physical stimulations. If
the quester surpasses this point, he will then be ready to be filled.
Deep in the mind, behind, smothered, and hidden by our logic, is our subconscious. a
huge reservoir of knowledge of all time and a direct link to the spirit that moves through
all things. This is the area where all our true emotions and feelings are stored,
untainted by any external or outward expectation. This is where the real self lives, the
self wanting to come through and be noticed and fulfilled. This self, so denied for years,
has now a chance to break through; this self that will not accept the quiet desperation of
society or mediocrity of life.
Unfortunately, this self cannot speak to us in words. It has no logical language system
as our logical mind does. It can only communicate to us through dreams, gut feelings,
intuitions, and Visions. Thus the ground of the quest is laid wide open for us to accept