Forgive me if I am asking something you folks have gone over numerous times before. Also, Phil, if I am crossing a line discussing broaching this topic, please let me know.
I've not done a proper introduction thread, so I'll give a bit of background before I get into the meat of the content related to the thread topic:
I'm a 40-something that has been going through a LOT of upheavals in my life the last 7 or so years. From a powerful vision in 2011 to a "Kundalini awakening/arousal" in 2012, to a LOT of searching and researching. I was looking for answers from any source I thought could teach me anything and give me some info I could integrate.
In 2014, I dove into the deep end of the pool with hallucinogens/ethenogens and tried DMT in the form of Ayahuasca. I won't go into the experience right now, but want to instead ask a question:
What do you think about the use of hallucinogens/ethenogens to explore one's own spirituality? What I mean by this is not the trite "oh wow man acid blew my mind and it changed my life" kind of shtick, but more of the use of them to perhaps show the user that existence is a multi-layered experience and once a person peels back the "veil", they can confront past issues never properly dealt with or can see that existence is far more "rich" than simply what our brain makes out of the signals from our very limited five senses.
This is a weird topic for me to post. I'm a loner by nature, so not used to talking to people in general, and even much less so talking about things so personal as my own investigations into my spirituality, so I feel like I am very exposed in posting this.
Interesting topic, Jonitus, but I don't have any experience with this one. Aldous Huxley and Alan Watts saw possibilities along the lines you've articulated, especially with LSD.
A question I've always had about this topic has been whether chemically-induced experiences are a real encounter with spiritual reality, or simply a consequence of how the brain is stimulated (as you noted as well). It could be both/and, I know, but my sense is that this would take a very well-trained guide to lead one through the experience and help to process it. I have no idea where one would find such a person.
This approach has never been encouraged in Christian spirituality, which emphasizes more prayer and asectical disciplines as a means for opening to God.
I'm aware that many sects of Christianity eschew things they define as "pharmacopeia", which they also associate with sorcery and by extension, of witchcraft or Satanic by nature.
Many of the ethenogens come from natural sources, so I have a hard time believing they are all "bad". Granted, and like you mention, I did not have my experience with the assistance of a guide, but my life doesn't allow me to jet off to Ecuador to find a shaman to help me, so I was on my own to navigate the space that was shown to me. There was definitely, at least to my limited human perception, some aspect of it that was "above" me or "more" than me. Where many people who've never done these types of substances or those who have only done them to chase a high talk about them in terms of something that sounds like the last 15 minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey, my experience was something more "deep".
I don't know. I'm certain I wouldn't be at the place I am spiritually without my heroic dose of DMT done years ago, but I'm also questioning all the stuff I've heard about "drugs are bad, mmmkay" where Christianity is concerned. I guess I'm saying that I think people in general put limits on God and what He can do or the ways He can use human experience to reach His children. I'm just introspective this evening.
Hih Hi Jonitus...
I did the same wins ago... I’ll respond later, but it does have Substance...
Jonitus, it seems that your image of Christianity and Christians has been deeply influenced by fringe movements. Catholic and mainline Protestants do not have a problem with the proper use of drugs, including alcohol for recreational purposes. I thought you wanted to discuss using hallucinogens for spiritual purposes, however. As a spiritual director, I would never advise anyone to pursue that kind of practice as I'd prefer they use prayer and contemplative disciplines to deepen their relationship with God.
For sure, but is a hallucinogenic trip a "human experience" or a chemically-induced state of consciousness?
And we forget about the Fall... Our nature and our relationship to the world has been contaminated by the sin of Adam. So not everything we find in the world is good for us. It's not a argumentum ad Satanam. Christians were always suspicious of a kind of curiosity which goes beyond proper limits (hard to define, that's for sure). Phil mentioned that even mystical experiences can be a sort of temptation if they are explored just cause they are interesting and turn into self-absorption so the more easily drug induced states, don't they?
I don't have an answer for that. My expertise is in Industrial Engineering, so anything I know is biased towards my own experiences and what I've read. Even the peer-reviewed literature out there about the effects of hallucinogens is an either/or proposition. Either it is quantitative and measures physiological effects of the body, OR it's a qualitative study collecting and collating narratives from research participants via surveys or interviews. Both approaches are valid, but both are biased in their ontological/epistemological perspectives.
I don't know either, Jonitus. It's an interesting topic. At best, it could loosen defenses and enable a deeper, richer encounter with one's own interiority. Of course, loosening defenses is a two-edged sword; they're there for a reason, and it's not a good thing to dismantle them too quickly. As Mt has suggested, human interiority is wounded and distorted, which is why we formed defenses in the first place -- so we could function at an Ego level in the everyday world.
A legitimate and thought-provoking question, indeed, to which I can offer what the Vedic stance is on pursuing higher states of consciousness via hallucinogens for you to ponder.
Drug experiences, particularly those of hallucinogens, is a way of artificially producing what is known as "tejas"in ayurveda/yoga--a kind of essential fuel for inner radiance of a human being, which gives the colorful visions and powerful perceptions. However, these drugs burns up "ojas", the essential fuel for endurance in the body, which in the long run is debilitating and imbalancing.
Thus, using drugs is considered an unwholesome method for spiritual development, leading to sometimes serious spiritual consequences, which according to the Vedic tradition, can take lifetimes to rectify.
It reminds me of a documentary I saw once on the hippy drug culture in the early 70's. One of the participants commented that while everyone was high on drugs there was so much peace and love, but as soon as the drug wore off, they were back to being not-so-great humans. The blissful state of being was dependent on something outside of themselves and not a true reflection of one's spiritual development.
Thus, Vedic thought emphasizes right living, thought, diet, prayer, surrender to God, etc. to increase consciousness, not hallucinogenic plants.
(I tend to think it's a bad sign when people who have experimented w/ such substances start talking about the gov't conspiracy theory to keep them away from the masses to keep them ignorant. )
I'm sure those plants serve a purpose in creation, For instance, one is being used for PTSD legally in Canada with seemingly good results and no side effects, and perhaps there will be other areas where they can be applied effectively.
I had a somewhat interesting experience my first foray into Ayahuasca, and a very powerful experience my second time, but nothing whatsoever my subsequent times.
I may be wishful, but I think that my first "beyond threshold" dose was a gift of sorts to show me something. Other doses after that were just me chasing the high, so were really "nothing" in terms of power and info. I haven't chased that high since I realized I was just wasting time and since I realized that first time was something profound I need to understand. I still don't understand. It pains me to say that.
In case anyone is interested, here is the link to the study in The Lancet: http://www.thelancet.com/pb/as...2215036616300657.pdf
Very interesting, acuveda. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like psilocybin sort of reboots the brain.
As a former substance abuse counselor, I encountered many who'd used this and other hallucinogens unwisely and became very messed up by it -- psychotic, in some cases.
Hey Guys, thanks for raising some interesting points regarding hallucinogens and spirituality.
I’m with the general consensus here, not by opinion, but by experience.
I dove deep into the spirituality through drugs experiment in my formative years and it messed me up good and proper (psychosis is definitely the word Phil).
Did I have spiritual experiences? I certainly believe I did. But all of these experiences were tainted by my fallen nature and were ultimately unhelpful in trying to discern truth, goodness and beauty.
Becoming Catholic has been far more helpful to every level of my being than spiritual experimentation with LSD, Marijuana, and MDMA ever were.
My two cents
Good to hear from you again, Jacques, and thanks for sharing your opinion on this topic.
On a whole different note -- I hope you all get a good rain soon.
It's raining in Cape Town:
Thanks Phil, and yes Derek yesterday was a brief, but appreciated, respite. They will need an entire season of heavy rains to recover from these years of drought.
I’m much further north in the Gauteng province, City of Johannesburg. We had our own struggle with rain two years ago but it has been a good year for us this last year.
I had to look it up on Google Maps. You are indeed a 15-hour drive north of Cape Town. I didn't realize they were that far apart. The only reason I know about the rain in Cape Town is that I follow Rodney Howard-Browne on Twitter. He has a series of meetings starting at 7 p.m. local time, which works out to 9 a.m. where I am (Pacific Time). I think they will be live streamed on YouTube and Facebook for anyone who is interested.
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