The use of mind-altering drugs has been associated with various mystical, magical, and shamanic rites. This is very appealing to the modern mind which is impressed by technological and materialistic explanations. Entheogens, or drug use for allegedly spiritual purposes, began to be widespread in the 1960s following the discovery of the psychedelic drug LSD and the ensuing publicity. The early adopters can be easily found, but we will focus on Timothy Leary, an erstwhile professor of psychology at Harvard University. He initially ran experiments with the drug as a form of therapy, but eventually began experimenting on himself and the group of acolytes who assembled around him.
Leary believed that psychedelics could open up the mind to greater spiritual experiences and encourage their use for explorers of the mind. The stars were aligned: the books of Carlos Castaneda came out shortly thereafter. Filled with wild tales of a Mexican shaman whose knowledge of plant-based drugs led to amazing powers, the books became the spiritual nourishment for many. The Beats became users as well as high profile entertainers. Even Alan Watts, after allegedly years of Eastern practices, eventually resorted to LSD experiments to learn about the mystical experience. For anyone who has spent hours at a Zen center walking in circles while chanting Buddhist texts, or sitting still in Zazen, the idea of an instant pill could sound truly appealing.
At any given moment we are bombarded with external sensations, a blooming buzzing confusion (William James), from which we choose a world. Simultaneously, although few pay attention to it, we are the receivers of thoughts of all types from various sources, or levels of reality. Normally, they dissipate or recede into the memory. Sometimes, the thoughts are powerful enough to come into our attention, then related thoughts latch onto each other, often producing a strong sensation. This may be as simple as reviewing plans for the day.
But the most powerful arise from the internal forces of eros and thymos, which, at the most primeval, are experienced as sex and violence. Hence, a sexual fantasy will totally engage our minds for an extended period, even to the point of affecting the body as if an actual sexual encounter were taking place. Fantasies arising from thymos usually take the form of domination, anger, revenge, and the like. Hence, we envision ourselves as wildly successful in some realm. Or we may recall a past slight, which even agitates the body. We will envision the cutting phrase we should have used against someone, but didnt. It goes on and on.
Most people, unfortunately, cannot shut these thought threads down. They may cause continuing anxiety and self-doubt. The neutralizing force, the nous, whose task is to dominate and channel the forces of eros and thymos, is too weak, or, in truth, is not even known. The nous must transcend these forces, fantasies, and thoughts, regarding them as arbitrary, contingent, and external to ones true self. Instead, people regard these emotions, fantasies, and thoughts as their own, even though they are totally unaware of their true source.
Psychedelics work by slowing down the awareness of these impinging thoughts. Thus, a particular thoughtthat may be pushed aside by a stronger thought in the ordinary state of consciousnessinstead can take hold in consciousness. Then, related thoughts can follow along in sequence producing an extended vision. This is called a rush, and is the pleasurable sensation associated with psychedelics. For artist and mystic types, these are regards as deep insights or creative inspirations. However, I have also seen those on a bad trip, during which the user experiences inconsolable anxiety, requiring an antidote such as thorazine.
It should be clear that the theory behind the use of enthogens for spiritual enlightenment is deeply flawed. It assumes that such enlightenment involves a particular experience, or set of experiences, that are somehow to be distinguished from all other experiences. This idea comes from the confusion of the psychic and the spiritual. ~ Rene Guenon, The Reign of Quantity
An intellectual conversion, the only thing that enlightenment can mean, involves the nous. The nous transcends the psychic, it transcends every experience whatsoever, whether a brilliant insight or a bad trip. Instead of moving from rush to rush, the mind becomes clear, thoughts separate from each other, are rarer, and seem heavier, or else are wispier, evaporating as soon as they appear. Such a man is free; by definition, then, it cannot depend on some biochemical agent.
- Isn't it high time we decriminalised the use of psychedelics? - Political Analysis South Africa - April 2nd, 2020
- In Chicago, Legal Pot Could be Just the Beginning. Are Mushrooms Next? - WTTW News - February 12th, 2020
- The Joys of Growing Older - Cannabis Now - February 12th, 2020
- Dazzling Film Fantastic Fungi Shows The Magic Of Mushrooms With An Expanding Theatrical Release - Forbes - November 13th, 2019
- Cleansing the Doors of Perception - The Good Men Project - October 16th, 2019
- Guide - Wikipedia - May 14th, 2019
- Entheogens - PsychonautWiki - May 1st, 2019
- Entheogens & Existential Intelligence: The Use of Plant ... - January 5th, 2019
- Entheogens and Psychedelics including Ayahuasca, LSD, Peyote ... - November 22nd, 2018
- Erowid Psychoactive Vaults : Term Definitions - November 22nd, 2018
- Entheogens and the Future of Religion: Robert Forte ... - September 25th, 2018
- Entheogens - The SpiritWiki - September 21st, 2018
- Plants - Tribe of the Sun - August 20th, 2018
- Vex - Destinypedia, the Destiny encyclopedia - August 3rd, 2018
- Entheogen - PsychonautWiki - July 22nd, 2018
- Entheogens | Drug War Facts - April 5th, 2018
- European Entheogens: Folk Medicine and Magical Aids ... - March 9th, 2018
- Entheogens today Ethnobotanical 101 - March 9th, 2018
- Yoga and Entheogens (aka Drugs) Do They Mix ... - March 9th, 2018
- Natural vs Synthetic Drugs & Entheogens | Animam Recro - February 24th, 2018
- How San Francisco's Summer of Love sparked religious movements - The Oakland Press - August 25th, 2017
- Entheogens: Whats in a Name? The Untold History of ... - August 21st, 2017
- Outside the Box - HuffPost - August 12th, 2017
- 'Summer of Love' shaped American lives, spiritual expression - Houston Chronicle - July 29th, 2017
- The Summer of Love was more than hippies and LSD it was the start of modern individualism - The Independent - July 24th, 2017
- How San Francisco's Summer of Love sparked today's religious movements - Religion News Service - July 22nd, 2017
- The Poisoner: Pharmakos and Veneficus-Poisoner's Apothecary - Patheos (blog) - July 18th, 2017
- The Summer of Love was more than hippies and LSD it was the start of modern individualism - Metro Newspaper UK - July 7th, 2017
- The Summer of Love was more than hippies and LSD it was the start of modern individualism - The Conversation UK - July 6th, 2017
- The Entheogenic Evolution | Free Podcasts | PodOmatic - July 3rd, 2017
- The History and Possibilities of Putting Weed in Your Witchcraft - Seattle Weekly - June 29th, 2017
- What is the Difference Between Entheogens and Drugs? - Waking ... - June 26th, 2017
- Entheogens : Al-Kemi : spagyrics and alchemy - June 26th, 2017
- Virtual Reality Takes Consciousness Research into Mystic Realms of the Divine Play - The Sociable - June 26th, 2017
- Entheogen - June 14th, 2017
- Psychedelics touted as solution for society - Ashland Daily Tidings - June 6th, 2017
- So A Minister, A Rabbi And A Buddhist Took Drugs For Science... - Huffington Post South Africa (blog) - February 8th, 2017
- So A Minister, A Rabbi And A Buddhist Took Drugs For Science... - Huffington Post - February 7th, 2017
- A conversation with Haroon Mirza - Ocula Magazine - February 7th, 2017
- Entheogens - Reality Sandwich - February 4th, 2017
- Urban Dictionary: entheogen - February 2nd, 2017
- Entheogens including Salvia, LSD, Peyote, and Mushrooms ... - December 22nd, 2016
- Entheogen | Psychology Wiki | Fandom powered by Wikia - December 22nd, 2016