Friday, 17 July 2015

The Ashram Sweeper Who Blocked Me on Facebook




A while ago, an old friend posted some article on his Facebook wall and commented that there is no need for psychedelics. He followed it by paraphrasing the Sufi poet and theoretician, Abū Ḥamīd bin Abū Bakr Ibrāhīm — Attar of Nishapur — who is better known by his pen names Farīd ud-Dīn and Aṭṭār:

We are drunk on something created before alcohol was created.”

Having just finalized the LSD Experiments of the 1950s and ‘60s piece, as well as having a sub-chapter on psychedelics in the book, I thought I would share a few things with him and his readers. The following words were exchanged.

I first commented:

Using psychedelics is certainly not a ‘need’. However, psychedelics are merely a consciousness tool to get us to that mental place, which is already within us. In today’s world, this endeavour may only be achieved through years of meditation, since one will need a considerable amount of time. As Terence McKenna said it, You don’t have to go to India for 10 years.

It’s important to note that psychedelics are only instruments that allow us to get a glimpse of mystical insight. It is an enlightenment enhancer, if you will. Though that glimpse can later be deepened and developed by various esoteric ways such as mediation and yoga. After some time, drugs may no longer be necessary or useful. Or as Allan Watts simply puts it:

“If you get the message, hang up the phone. For psychedelic drugs are simply instruments, like microscopes, telescopes, and telephones. The biologist does not sit with eye permanently glued to the microscope, he goes away and works on what he has seen.”

Similarly, psychedelics can alter behaviour in beneficial ways which are not easily attainable through conventional therapy. Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) have been doing a great job treating a wide variety of mental illnesses since they began in 1986.

Let's leave the rest for my upcoming book, they have a full sub-chapter.


A friend of my friend then wrote that you cannot compare a ‘hallucination’ caused by a drug to the ‘real’ thing. Once he said that, I knew he had never tried psychedelics, just like our common friend. Simply because to reduce the full psychedelic experience to a ‘hallucination’ is to have never been there.


So I replied again:

People who haven't tried psychedelics happen to have their own views. Many of them are afraid of getting into their own psyche and of dealing with their own demons. So they demonize the tool. We can't blame them though, for how would they know. Cheers to you.


Another friend of my friend commented saying that he’s enjoying this debate, to which I replied:

It's not really a debate. For I don't want to convince anyone with anything. It's simply that it's a topic I know much about through research and through personal experimentation for over two decades. This is a recent exposé of mine about the topic, the early tests funded by the CIA, and the history of psychotropic substances in general that you may enjoy reading.

The LSD Experiments of the 1950s and 60s


Then finally my friend commented, addressing both the first commentator and myself:

What we can ‘experience,’ whether a drug released mind-production or a taste of a level far beyond mind-consciousnss, is limited. The drug released mind-production is so exotic and out of the ordinary it SEEMS like it must be ‘spiritual’. It's not, it's Rumi's counterfeit gold. The taste of a level far beyond mind-consciousness (and beyond words, hence all this confusion) is only a taste.

Rene Guenon in The Reign of Quantity and The Signs of The Times makes a clear distinction between, ‘psychic’ phenomena and spiritual experience. Psychic phenomena, however exotic, are local (sub-lunar) phenomena: i.e. They are part of creation.

The Spiritual experience is what our extraordinary but limited consciousness can taste of a reality beyond creation. This is essentially what some Indian Gurus told Terrence McKenna when he explained his Mushroom trips etc and asked them for their opinion; they said it was part of Saṃsāra. He did not accept their opinion. Hence his jokes about why spend 13 years sweeping the Ashram waiting for enlightenment? He did not understand the difference between psychic and spiritual.


My final response, which I had really enjoyed writing, came two days later:

Agreed, they are not the same. I feel telepathic sometimes with my mother; other times I dream of things that happen later — known as clairvoyance. These are psychic phenomena which some people with extrasensory perception (ESP) can experience. Even though they show us how much we, and our science, still don't know, keeping us humble in the process. But essentially this has little to do with spirituality.

The thing is, we cannot judge an experience in a balanced, wholesome way without having to go through it ourselves. When some of us talk about the spirituality that psychedelics catalyze, we talk from personal experience. Only myself have experienced the oneness and interconnectedness with the Universe and everything in it in such a way; only myself have realized that everything has beauty; only myself have found God and The Kingdom of Heaven to be within me. Countless others have had similar experiences with psychedelics, yet they will always be uniquely different than my own. And as you mentioned, it is only a taste, albeit a beautiful one.

Consider writing about addiction for example. I can research and believe and preach about addiction all I want after ‘studying’ it in academic books after learning what others have to say about it. But I will never, ever, truly know what addiction means if I had never experienced being addicted myself.

That said, to tell someone that what they had subjectively experienced deep within their psyche over and over again throughout many years is not ‘spiritual,’ appears like a logical fallacy. We must have at least tried walking in their shoes to be able to relate to their experience. Other than that, whatever we say is a mere opinion.

Further, and in general, to reject something we don't know much about may not be the wisest of approaches when it comes to investigating the unknown.

As for what Terence McKenna had said, I cannot claim to know what he did or did not understand. However, for them resorting to conclude that those who think different do not understand is not much different from the ego-driven bigotry often depicted in today’s organized religions. “Only my book holds absolute truth.” “Only me is capable of understanding.”

I hold that Terence could have said the same about them being simpletons who believe they’ll become saints in the afterlife because they washed the feet of Sri Sri Baba in this one; that these are dogmatic superstitions. But he didn’t say they don’t understand. Instead, he said you don’t HAVE to do like them, since, unlike in religions, in spirituality the individual doesn’t need mediators between them and The Source. Some are able to reach self-realization and validate truth by direct, personal experience — otherwise known as Gnosis.

For a true freethinker fears not to understand things — or to entertain ideas — that clash with their own beliefs, traditions, and privileges.


To conclude, different people may take different paths to reach their mountain top. Some seeking the ultimate Truth, or beauty, or happiness and fulfilment, or God. In the bigger scheme of things, there is no right or wrong path. From OUR own level of consciousness there is only OUR path.

The rest shall be left for the book. Love and Light, Brethren.

Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
― Rumi


As I read the thread a couple of times, I couldn’t help but notice that the first commentator was being defensive. I could sense it from his words and attitude. So I was curious to know why. I checked his profile and in the “works at” section I find “servant of a Sufi sheikh” — including the name of the sheikh whom I know. In other words, he is an ashram sweeper.

Aha. I wonder if it was McKenna’s “You don’t have to go to India for 10 years,” or “Wash the feet of Sri Sri Baba,” or both that made him twitch.

When I visited my friend’s profile some days later to collect my writings, I couldn’t see the commentator’s previous comments, even his ‘likes’ disappeared in front of me on the screen. Apparently it was too much for him to handle, so he blocked me.

This, however, only shows one thing: Down deep inside, this man is not confident in his faith. That is why he could not even tolerate having me around the virtual world of Facebook for having a different opinion, even though we were not ‘friends,’ and most probably we would have never crossed path again. Perhaps he did see some truth in what I said.

In summation, and as I wrote in my final comment, there is no right or wrong path. From OUR own level of consciousness there is only OUR path. Personally, I do not see any need for middlemen to communicate with God. Not because I have anything against the priests and clerics, but because in my philosophy this defies the whole essence of spirituality. True spirituality is a personal, inner voyage towards the ultimate Truth which one must embark on alone. It’s a self-initiation process. After all, it is one's own truth which needs to be discovered and not anyone else’s.

You see, if one still thinks they need a teacher, a guru, a middleman, or any person to make them feel whole, then they have not yet found the Tao. For our only way out is in.



ALSO VIEW:



The LSD Experiments of the 1950s and 60s [Videos & Documentaries]

Placebo Effect & The LSD Prank 

Why We Should Not Fear Death

The Millenium Eve I Spent Alone at the Mosque

Surviving the Madness of Sakarana — Hyoscyamus muticus
 
Opiated Then Hatin' It

The Egyptian Man Who Kept a Piece of Hash in His Stomach for Four Years

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2 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this. However, I do have one remark to make regarding the conclusion.

    "In summation, and as I wrote in my final comment, there is no right or wrong path. From OUR own level of consciousness there is only OUR path. Personally, I do not see any need for middlemen to communicate with God. Not because I have anything against the priests and clerics, but because in my philosophy this defies the whole essence of spirituality. True spirituality is a personal and inner voyage towards the ultimate truth which one must embark on alone. It’s a self-initiation. After all, it is one's own truth which needs to be discovered and not anyone else’s.

    If one still thinks they need a teacher, a guru, a middleman, or any person to make them feel whole, then they have not yet found the Tao. For the only way out is in. "


    Haven't you considered that psychedelics are mediators, albeit not human ones? If you're familiar with Mckenna's writings, True Hallucinations for example, he makes the claim that mushrooms are a higher form of intelligence than humanity. I can't agree or disagree with it, because I don't know enough. What I can say is that when you take mushrooms, you enter a relationship with the plant. It's alive and it's communicating to you through the experience you have. So if you reach a higher state of consciousness or if you attain a certain level of spiritual enlightenment, you reach it through that mediator.

    So you kind of end up contradicting yourself. Correct me if I'm wrong, though. My view is that mediators are as necessary as any event in your life that takes the form of a lesson. You learn through it and you become more in tune and in sync with your Self. In my opinion, the mediator thing is a fallacy, because whatever is outside is but a form.

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  2. Thank you, Blankthoughts, for your thorough reply. 



    If it wasn’t for the book, I would have written much longer about the topic — to my friend and to yourself. As noted earlier, there is a sub-chapter on psychedelics. What I didn’t mention, though, is that there is a full chapter of 9500 words on Spirituality, Religion, and God.

    
As for psychedelics being mediators, I rather choose to use the word tool or instrument. You mentioned that one “Enters a relationship with the plant. It's alive and it's communicating to you through the experience you have.” This could very well be a poetic way to express the trip. 
However, as you wrote, it is/may be communicating to you through the experience YOU are having — not theirs [the plants]. Whether it’s Mushrooms, Ayiahuasca, Peyote, or even LSD, these psychedelics may seem to us trippers to be ‘alive’. But, they do not have ego; they do not have limitations; and they do not have agendas.

    

In the religious sense, the problematic issue with mediators, the human ones I mean in the article, is that no matter how abundantly clear they will try to explain and convey their own interpretations to you – whatever they are – those interpretations come from their own level of understanding of centuries-old traditions. They stem from other people’s realities and experiences and not ours. Ergo, the information or “knowledge” reaching us will normally be unfull, if you may call it. Simply because it’s their own versions of said experiences, which stem from their own level of consciousness. 



    You see, these religious mediators are already mimicking the experiences of their prophets. They are imitators, not pioneers. So by the time it reaches the receiver, it’s not personal anymore; it’s merely the mediator’s subjective view of a somewhat bureaucratic explanatory system.
    


    That said, there will always be a fundamental distinction between a learned truth and a found truth. The latter becomes part of you. And when you say I know, it comes from your own direct experience, so you do know. Reminding me of the words of French polymath Blaise Pascal:



    “We are generally the better persuaded by the reasons we discover ourselves than by those given to us by others.”

    


As you say, mediators in general are lessons. But if we’ll mindlessly mimic those mediators as in organized religions, we can’t really go far. Our experience is limited to what the mediator knows and how he is conveying such knowledge to us.

    This is why I first said: You don’t ‘need’ mediators — just like my friend said you don’t ‘need’ psychedelics.

    Then I concluded with “If one still thinks they need a teacher, a guru, a middleman, or any person to make them feel whole, then they have not yet found the Tao. For the only way out is in.”

    Note that I said: “To feel whole” and not “to learn” or “to get there.” That is because teachers are important in life, but we should never adore and godify them like we see happening today. Again, washing the feet of a religious figure in this life does not grant us Heaven or Sainthood in the next as it is sometimes believed. Any meditative practice is good for you, but you sure do not have to be servant or a slave to achieve self-realization. It could be done by so many other ways.

    Remember, they are many paths leading to the mountain top of illumination. 

Real teachers show you the door, though you must enter yourself. They do not claim they know the Secret and that you must follow them to also know it. Instead, just like plants, they let you find it within yourself. Therefore I do not see any contradiction in the article.

    Once again, I would have LOVED to share more, but let's leave it for the book. Stay tuned.

    

Cheers to you, Brotherman. 


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