Why Spiritual People Judge Psychedelics
Most people who walk this earth walk it with a very clear idea of what things that are lying around in front of them are good to put into their bodies. To eat, to drink, to breathe, to love. And they also have a very clear idea of which things they’d never put into their bodies. Among these forbidden fruits is the most misunderstood class of drugs; namely, psychedelics. Most of us will never, ever put psychedelics into our bodies.
In most countries, the law prohibits us from doing so anyway. But why?
If you think back to the 60s, with the peace and love culture of the hippies, it’s hard for a young person to imagine why psychedelics haven’t gotten better press in the last few decades. What did they do wrong when they inspired the youth to protest war? And to place flowers in the guns of the riot police?
Granted, not everything went well in connection with the psychedelic movement. Mistakes were made, and some people have suffered greatly because of it. But advances have been made, and scientific research is slowly being undertaken again.
It’s understandable in a sense that our society has banned these drugs. It’s understandable that governments fear the disobedience of their citizens. And that they want to protect those who are vulnerable.
What’s harder to understand is why so many people judge them not because they are potentially dangerous, but because they see them as inferior tools for self-development, mystical experience, and spirituality in general. I’m talking about the New Age generation, the so-called spiritually awakened members of our parents’ generation.
I have found that when speaking to people in their late 30’s to 50’s that, even though they are open minded and warm and engaged on a spiritual path, they are just as dismissive of psychedelics as their materialistic and religious brothers and sisters.
Last night I met a voice healer and dance therapist who, even though her husband had participated in psychiatric LSD sessions, couldn’t help but give psychedelics the cold shoulder. She judged psychedelics as inferior spiritual tools, and judged the people who have used them as well.
And the argument she used is one I’ve heard many times before; “Why,” she said, “do you need to put something foreign into your body when you can do it yourself with meditation, dance, or yogic breathing?”
Now, there are many counterarguments to this question. Just off the top of my head, there is the fact that everyone puts foreign things into their body to feel a certain way – whether it be medicine, food, coffee, beer, cigarettes, or the electromagnetic stimulation of a tv show. Using psychedelics is no different, except that for some people it is meant as a spiritual tool, specifically.
Secondly, human brains have specific receptor sites for every known psychedelic compound, and they even produce DMT, the strongest psychedelic known to science, all by themselves. It is theorized that in moments of great stress, such as birth, near-death, and death, DMT is released by the brain. It overwhelms adrenaline to bring you into a mystical, spiritual state of consciousness. So we’re hard-wired for these experiences.
Third, there are many cultures which use psychedelics in a responsible way. Shamans in the Amazon, tribal elders in Africa, medicine women in Mexico, and Laplanders in the Arctic circle all have their drugs of choice. Even in ancient Greece, one of the most important things a person could undertake in their lives was to participate in the Eleusinian mysteries. Every four years a procession of initiates out of Athens would go on a pilgrimage to Eleusis, take psychedelics, and have revealed to them the greatest mysteries and secrets of the cosmos. Some of the very founders of our civilization, like Socrates and Plato, reported that they took part in this ritual. This tradition worked for the Greeks for more than two thousand years, that is, until Christians came and destroyed their temple.
I could go on with such arguments to support psychedelics as a personal, social, and above all spiritual good. But I don’t believe any of them will convince someone to change their mind. As the philosopher Alan Watts said, “You can’t talk somebody out of their illusions.” I may be able to temper some of the negative feelings towards psychedelics by appealing to reason, by decreasing the public’s ignorance, by pointing to tradition, and so on, but in the end the final block to be overcome is totally irrational, totally deaf and blind, and almost totally fixed into the brain. And it explains why spiritual people are also quick to dismiss psychedelics.
What I’m referring to is the fact that we are inherently judgmental beings. We humans are bigots, simply put. Even though a New Ager, like any modern scientist, will agree that everything is energy, and that it’s all connected, we judge that some forms of energy are worse than others.
Let alone that we haven’t tried it for ourselves before we judge; let alone that to some people they are highly sacred; and let alone that they are just forms of energy, growing like mushrooms out of the soil; still, we have seen fit to judge their value, and therefore judge the spiritual experience of those whose path has led them to psychedelics.
Perhaps psychedelics are indifferent to your acceptance. Perhaps they are indifferent to your loving them for what they are. But this piece of writing, I’m afraid, asks for more: I would ask that if you meet someone who has psychedelic experience, that you don’t judge them prematurely. Instead, ask them about it. Ask them why, how, what, and where, and find the similarities with your own experience. Be open to the fact that everyone walks their own path on this earth, and that its not just the path, but the way you walk it that matters.
More broadly speaking, I appeal to you; not to stop judging and all of a sudden love psychedelics unconditionally, or desire to try them and prescribe them to yourself and all your friends; no. I appeal to you to practice not judging, period.