Soma or Amrita is a subject I’ve noted here a number of times. On a discussion elsewhere on refinement, the topic came up and I was asked to describe it. I thought the comments were useful to share here, edited slightly for context.
Soma is a rather large subject. From an Ayurvedic perspective, digestion (mental, emotional and physical) goes through a series of 8 progressive refinements. The finest product of digestion, assuming there is sufficient refinement to support it, is ojas. Ojas helps refine the body, especially the skin. It also helps support soma.
Soma is produced by a subtle non-physical gland in the head. We’re most likely to first experience it as a sweet taste in the back of the throat. Soma massively enhances the refinement process, the smoothing of the physiology to better reflect finer values of existence.
A key detail about soma is that it’s also called Amrita. Amrita means nectar of the gods. The basic idea is that soma massively increases the support you get from nature and the environment. We offer a bonus incentive. It’s presence attracts more powerful beings to support our life and growth. This doesn’t mean we avoid the unfolding karma but the way is made more smooth. The “life is a struggle” thing falls away.
The famed “fountain of youth” that was sought in days of yore is not a physical place. It’s inside you. The above is the mechanism by which people lived a great deal longer in higher ages, smoothing the edges off life experiences.
There is a great deal of old writing on the subject, including an entire mandala of the Rig Veda (the 9th is also called the “soma mandala”). But it’s so badly misunderstood today that there are large academic texts trying to prove it was a hallucinogenic mushroom and the Vedic sages were on acid trips rather than exploring subtle realities.
What triggers the production of soma? Transcendence aka connection with pure consciousness. More specifically, contact with the bliss body which we get to just before consciousness. This is also the layer people refer to as pranava or The Word or Om (more correctly Aum). It’s also called ritam bhara pragya, that consciousness which accepts only truth.
Thus techniques that trigger transcendence and connection to source will trigger soma. But this is only if enough purification has already occurred for that process to flow. And the technique is effortless and skilled enough that it doesn’t take us into the mud in the process.
With more purification and refinement, soma itself becomes more obvious and refinement accelerates. But diet, lifestyle and other factors may support or hinder it.
Someone who is awake produces it all the time to some degree, which is another aspect of why development speeds up and the divine is able to come through.
The enlivenment of the bliss body of course brings happiness for no reason. Lively divinity. When the body is refined enough to handle it, it becomes ongoing. Then, as development progresses, it periodically steps up a notch. Sometimes, this can come on in an almost overwhelming blast or rapture. But then it quickly becomes the new normal. Until the next one. The Upanishads describe each step as 100x the prior.
Out of bliss beings are born,
In bliss they are sustained,
And to bliss they go and merge again.
— Taittiriya Upanishad 3.6.1
The astonishing thing then becomes – human suffering. How is it possible when our very life is literally the flow of limitless happiness? The answer comes down to where we are. Earth means density, descending into the thick of things. And then bringing consciousness into that so we can raise it up.