A few thoughts on the interface of spirituality and psychoactive chemicals: the value that they can have, some of the dangers, and some tips for how to make psychedelic explorations be useful and safe.
Some people seem to think that large-scale organized spectator sports needlessly create competitiveness, violence, and aggression, and that they are a waste of money, energy, and attention that could be better spent on “real” life. But large-scale organized spectator sports are vastly cheaper and healthier than the alternative ways that people act out their territorial aggressions.
In 2009 I spent a couple weeks at the Wat Pahnnanna Chat monastery, in the austere and celibate Thai Forest Tradition. Most of the long-term monks seemed distant, unavailable for conversation, and even emotionally cold. I had friendly chats with one guy, though, an old Sri Lankan monk, who had kind eyes and always seemed warm and open. One morning we had the following exchange:
I imagine that most people would agree that it is often difficult to find appropriate words of condolence when a friend is grieving. I personally do not want to say to a grieving friend that I hope that they feel better soon, because I think that it is healthy for a human psyche to go through a period of pain when it has lost someone or something that it cares about. I believe that people often say “feel better soon” because they are uncomfortable in the presence of another person’s pain, and that that phrase can sometimes feel like an unpleasant pressure put on a grieving person to have it all put back together sooner than would be otherwise natural for them.
Here is an brilliant excerpt from a talk by master meditation teacher Shinzen Young, discussing a difference between psychotherapy (where we completely deal with one memory percolating up from the subconscious at a time) and insight meditation (where we slowly bring awareness and openness to the whole mind, conscious and subconscious)
The courage to be is the courage to accept oneself, in spite of being unacceptable.
— Paul Tillich
It is flat-out strange that something – that anything – is happening at all. There was nothing, then a Big Bang, then here we all are. This is extremely weird.
— Ken Wilber
I have read that there is scientific-evolutionary-biological evidence that homo sapiens were not meant to be completely monogamous. For example, they’ve found that only a small percentage of sperm actually are able to impregnate an egg; the function of more than half of sperm is actually to destroy any other males’ seed that may…
The best that we can aim for is bringing awareness and allowingness to the heavy thick darkness of life and of ourselves, and thereby transform it into light, and finding some sort of balance for the time being.
I trust the tradition when it says that killing creates bad karma, and that bad karma interferes with happiness, clarity, and the potential transcendence. I also find it instructive that all mature religions/world religions advise against unprovoked killing.
Yesterday, we finished our nine day sesshin (meditation intensive). I am been yet again amazed at how deep one can go with this practice.
My experience started with three days of sitting in the meditation hall with the full assembly of monks for the first couple hours in the morning and for the last forty minutes at night, but working in the kitchen in between. I found that, contrary to my expectations, I loved that practice. I cooked six gallons of rice each day, and also ripped chard, sorted beans, chopped vegetables, and washed, dried, a put away a truckload of dishes.
The Inner Critic is the self-critical inner voice that judges and shames each of us, trying to get us to be perfect so that we won’t make mistakes or suffer negative consequences. This anxious, pushy voice usually develops in us as a young age, and it has a young, simple view of right and wrong, and good and bad.
This last Saturday, I did a workshop derived from a therapeutic school called Bioenergetics. This work involves physical catharsis of old trapped energy, and activating physical vitality and energy.
I make it my aim, wherever possible, to be genuine with people and to be real in my communications. To my mind, in the end, being real in this way is the only real way for people to be close.
I associate this focused, dark, unsentimental feeling with the Hindu God Shiva. He represents the cataclysmic, destructive, and violent elements of the universe and is not all sweetness and light, but he is not “evil” and oppositional to the Divine as the Western monotheistic Satan is. So when I am feeling ferocious, but in a spiritual self-aware respectful and refined way, I think of Shiva.