Money, psychedelics and reconnecting to the Whole
Once upon a time, humans understood that they were part of one big organism, one whole, whose individual parts were interconnected and entirely interdependent on one another. Things we're going fine. We didn't have electric toothbrushes or BBC iplayer and we lived a little bit shorter, but we (and the rest of the community of life we shared Earth with) had clean air, fresh water, freedom, plenty of food, space, a sense of oneness with all that we can't even imagine today, Wildness in our souls, Wildness in our landscapes, and our dignity.
Somewhere along the way, things went a bit pear-shaped. Like all idiotic decisions, it seemed like a great idea at the start. We starting creating a new cultural story, one in which we humans began believing we were not just separate from Nature, but above Her. The Environment became this place outside of us, not something we were one small and equally integral part of. From this point onwards on, we no longer seen Her as part of us, so our relationship with Her changed. We began stripping Her bare - the oceans, the rivers, the forests, the hills, the soil. We started abusing every creature that lived on Her, and ultimately ourselves.
Out of this separation spawned money. Without delusions of separation, charging another part of the whole that Lovelock termed Gaia would be no more ridiculous than the white blood cells in your body charging the rest of it for what they do, the micro-bacteria in your intestines charging your stomach for keeping it healthy, or your clitoris charging your knees for the experience of an orgasm.
Having spawned from this deluded sense of separation, money began reinforcing the delusion. It allowed us to be extremely disconnected from the Earth by disconnecting us from what we consume. Over time, we began believing that we were no longer dependent on the rest of life for our own existence. Instead we've become psychologically dependent on Tesco, Ikea, and their cronies, as it is they, not Nature, that we believe provides us with our daily needs now, and so it is with them, not Nature, that our allegiance now lies. Divide et impera. Divide and rule. It's the oldest trick in the book.
Unless we reconnect with the whole, and understand our interdependence on it for our health and happiness, little will change. Until we move beyond the monetary economy, this will never happen. Yet until we realise we're all interconnected and interdependent, we won't move beyond money. Chicken and egg.
Therefore it is with great pleasure I share with you a blog from a friend called Adeline, who has an MSc in Psychological Anthropology and who is passionate about spending her time here changing the cultural stories that underlie the pathological civilisation we have created. She writes insightfully and beautifully on methods of experiencing interconnectedness with the Whole. If you have any comments or feedback for her, please do leave it as comments at the bottom of blog. If you want to email her direct, email me and I will forward any message to her (comments would save me a lot of work though!).
Money, psychedelics and reconnecting to the Whole
Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities, the political, the religious, the educational authorities who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing, forming in our minds their
view of reality. To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable, open-mindedness; chaotic, confused vulnerability. -- Timothy Leary.
As a society, we are trained to ignore some of the most fundamental existential questions that no cultures across history have been neglecting as much as we do right now: Who are we and what are we here for? For far too long, we have surrendered our power to question the meaning of our lives to greedy and power hungry governments and corporations who have restricted Man to a money-making and consuming machine. Being human has been reduced to mechanical and biological processes. We have limited our understanding of the world and of life itself to our Western cosmogonic myth of science to understand reality, despite its limitation to explain the variety of human experience. It is time for us to reclaim our power to co-create a better vision of what it means to be human and bring back meaning into our lives. It is time to re-write our myth and our cultural story.
Changing our cultural story is only possible if we revise the beliefs and values that are at its core. Many social revolutions have failed because the changes they reclaimed were still contained within the current system. We need to become clearer about our vision and the real transformations we wish to see in the world. Our actions too will need to reflect our desire to replace the myth of separateness by one of interconnectedness and show that Man is not at the centre of the Universe but an integral part of Nature and its living system before our reality can shift.
I have often wondered why so many of us, despite being aware of our interconnected nature, continue to act in a way that is – directly or indirectly as Mark has often described in this blog – harmful to the planet and other living beings. I do not pretend to have the answers but my feeling is that our conditioning in believing in our separateness is so deeply ingrained in our psyche that a paradigm shift limited to an intellectual understanding won’t be enough. The supremacy of the rational mind is another story that we need to give up. We are more than a mind; we are natural creatures who experience and know the world throughout a wider consciousness, through our body, feelings, sensations and emotions. Once we experience a sense of Oneness at all those levels, we will no longer see the world as fragmented but as an extension of ourselves, and will not compromise with the established order because we’ll know and feel that we are hurting ourselves. To shift our sense of self to a holistic vision and see reality in its fully shining light, we must be able to sense the world beyond our blurring cultural filters.
There are many paths out there that can help us experience reality beyond cultural filters, and each of us resonates more strongly with one or another. But I want to speak here about a powerful tool in particular, which has inspired the Timothy Leary quote above and one that has ignited my inquisitive and spiritual quest 10 years ago: psychedelics.
We have been brainwashed into believing that psychedelics are dangerous. Of course they are. They are dangerous for our storytellers, keepers of the myth, because most people who use psychedelics in a non-recreational way will question the established order and the legitimacy of its stories. Psychedelics often involve a loss of control and ego, elements usually revered as strengths in our Western culture. Against such a threatening tool, the authorities’ automatic response is to use their favourite scare tactic which they call the Law to dictate what’s right and wrong. By doing so, they are denying us the most basic right to explore the vast array of human experience and to decide for ourselves what it means to be human. They have declared a war on consciousness in which disposing of our own mind in the way we wish becomes a crime. I do not imply that psychedelics are completely risk free, they can be extremely challenging at the psychological level and will shred our beliefs to pieces and put us face to face with our darkest sides. But I wish that if one chooses to explore the mysteries of human experience through that medium, they should be free to do so. I feel that a safe, conscious and sacred space around psychedelic practises as well as appropriate support to make sense and integrate those experiences can be an incredible instrument in the development of human potential.
I studied Ayahuasca, a particular psychedelic – or medicine as people in the Amazon who have been using it for thousands of years call it – both personally and academically and have observed a radical change in worldview and sense of self in most of those who have been using it. Because Ayahuasca enhances our perceptions of the world around us and teaches us that knowledge goes beyond the rational mind, it forces us to reconsider what culture has told us life to be. Psychedelics help us unlock “the doors of perception” as the visionary Huxley – who foresaw the controlled society we are living in his masterpiece Brave New World- rightly borrowed from the poet William Blake’s. They alter our cognitive processes and allow us to experience other sides of reality that are left unexplored in the West. We know that we only use 10% of our brain capacity and therefore only perceive and process a tiny fraction of the world around us. When we enter altered states of consciousness, a whole new range of information become available to us. Suddenly, the mind is no longer the primary source of our understanding of the world. We receive an explosion of information through our body, our feelings, emotions; experience an heightened intuitive sense, reach direct understanding throughout our entire being, live a past memory in the skin of those we’ve hurt, tap into archetypal experiences, dive into the collective unconscious, access and live first hand any experience that has, is or will be available to any being on the planet, experience our primal nature by embodying an animal, understand and feel compassion for all other living and non-living being on this planet by temporarily becoming each one of them, feel that we are a breathing cell of the planet’s organism, recognise that we all are One, an interconnected but unique being.
Such experiences help us reconnect with our real nature, which is interconnected, encompassing and One. They provoke a deep shift at the level of our personal stories in which individual healing is inseparable from the planet’s healing. They help us recognise that we are not purely rational beings but that we are experiential, intuitive, emotional and feeling creatures. They make us spring out of the box of restrained emotions and connections in which Western culture has caged us and let our Wild and interconnected selves come back to life. They remind us that life is not linear but cyclical and made of constant transformations and changes, of an eternal cycle of death and rebirth. They take us out of our sterilised and overprotected experience of life to a wider spectrum of human beingness, even if it means alternating between pain and joy, shadow and light. We feel more fully alive. And we know, we know that we are One, that what we do to others and to nature, we do it to ourselves. And slowly, we can let go of destructive behaviours towards the planet, we can become more aligned to who we are as beings. We can slowly shift our sense of identity from an ego-self to an eco and cosmocentric self. By bringing a new perspective of our place in the world, we can slowly bring back meaning to our lives. And this knowledge remains with us when we come back to our ordinary state of consciousness. It stays imprinted in our body because it reminds us of who we are and because we have finally come home to ourselves.
There are many other ways to explore altered states of consciousness or to experience ourselves beyond our cultural conditioning, as One. I no longer feel the need to use psychedelics to explore the full spectrum of human experiences – the fireworks can be exhausting! Because they have opened my doors of perception, I can now connect with the web of life through more gentle pathways. But I will always be grateful for that they have put me on that beautiful life path of exploration and wonder. But I’ll leave the final words to an incredible – and funny – psychedelic warrior: Bill Hicks.
Comment on this Post:
James comments ...
I really enjoyed that, resonated with much of my own thoughts and something I have been feeling myself. Does the author have a website I can check out, if so I'd appreciate any links.
Paul S comments ...
Fascinating post, really challenged some of my thoughts on it. My question is, if we legalised psychedelics wouldn't that open the flood gates for its recreational use. Or on what basis could we allow it for people who want it to reconnect to the whole as you say. And is the recreational use of psychedelics actually a problem, or is that just what we are told?
More please on this subject, I think you may have hit on something here.
Naturegirl comments ...
Wonderful post Adeline, thank you for sharing with us your years of wisdom, I wish we could spread this understanding a lot more.
Adam comments ...
I enjoyed reading that too! It's believed that psychedelics,trances, meditation etc help take your consciousness down to the molecular level in which all life is connected and can communicate through DNA. A couple of book suggestions if people haven't read them already... "Cosmic Serpent" by Jeremy Narby and "Supernatural" by Graham Hancock.
Mark Boyle comments ...
If any of you have questions for Adeline or me, feel free to ask direct in the comments - for all questions regarding Ayahuasca etc, please do ask Adeline though!
Derek Robertson comments ...
I don't think pyschedelics are the answer. Altering the mind through chemical changes is the wrong way to do it. Whatever experiences might come of it they can only be indiscriminate and in time require more of whatever drug is used to get the same hit.
Also talk of the One needs qualifying. What is your One? One for an atheist might be a general feeling of togetherness that is transient and fleeting - something that must pass as the endpoint must be dissolution. An atheistic viewpoint must see everything as chance accident borne out of chaos to which everything returns in time.
The One for someone searching for God is a metaphysical reality obtained by self-control, prayer and openness to God that does not require any special effects to confirm it. In point of fact some of the great teachers in this field such as St John of the Cross specifically warn against looking for flashes, signs or anything that will feed the ego on a more subtle level. In this universal view, speaking in Christian terms, all comes from the Father and hopefully returns to the Father in true principial unity.
In short you might end up chasing things that are sub rational instead of pursuing that which is supra rational.
Any search for an enlightening One must therefore begin with choosing one of these paths. There is lot more that could be said but the best book on this subject in my opinion, by a long mile, is EF Shumachers book A Guide for the Perplexed. This was Schumacher's Summa and a great follow on to his Small is Beautiful. I would recommend anyone seriously interested in looking for some profound reflections on our undeniably awful situation to read his book.
Kerry. comments ...
I couldn't agree more. My experience connected me to nature (although i know we're already connected), but it also showed me a heck of a lot more.
Zem comments ...
I certainly wouldn't want to condemn psychedelics, since I know that a lot of people have had some pretty eye-opening experiences after using these drugs. For me, I may not have considered some pretty deep thoughts about life and the role of the monetary system if I had not been smoking marijuana.
That being said, I think we can get ourselves into a mindset which thinks "If I want to have a spiritual experience, I need to do drugs". This way of thinking can become an excuse to get totally blasted all the time. It can actually make us less spiritual because we've begun to abuse it, and while we may think we're hitting on some pretty big truths and positive vibes, we're actually descending into a world of confusion and laziness.
I remember that when I used to smoke weed, I would have some pretty "deep and meaningful" conversations with my friends, but the next day we would say "what were we talking about? " or "that conversation made no sense"
Mark Boyle comments ...
@ Zem - I don't think Adeline is suggesting that for a second either. I believe she is suggesting that if we use such substances, the situation in which they are used ought to be be conducive to the experiences she is talking about.
steph comments ...
It really makes you wonder, we're not rational beings is exactly how I feel, people keep raving about rationalism, but honestly what's rational about this world? Great article, we have so much to think about
Adeline comments ...
Thank you all for your comments; it's lovely to have some feedback:) would love to write a bit more but off to walk
the talk tomorrow as will be spending 10 days in solitude in nature, yay! but if you have questions/comments/debate, ect..
you can ontact me, i'm Adeline7 on freeconomy.
@Paul S i don't feel we are ready yet as a society to legalise psychdelics, but decriminalizing could be a start. I
am more in favour of a safe and primarily supported use but don't want to condemn or judge recreational use; many
people have started their spiritual journey through a recreational exploration; i feel that the bigger danger is the
lack of proper information and support.People are going to use psychedelics if they want to, so we might as well helped them prepare for it in the best way possible
@Derek, psychedelics are definitely not THE answer, they are just one way among others! i wouldn't attempt to
qualify the One as for me this is something that goes beyond the Words and is particular for every person. it is a
feeling, a knowing through every cell of our being; and many who have experience it can recognize it in other wihout
necessarily being able to explain it, that's the beauty of it:) PS: i am not searching for enlighment. i simply want
to be able to feel that One here on Earth, in the midst of the chaos of everyday life, accept the downs and the
shadow s part of teh beauty of life.....
@ Kerry, yesssss, they can show us so much more about life, about ourselves and our journey; i could write about
that for ages and ages:)
@Zem. i agree that using psychedelics can become addictive; not physically, but we can become addicted to that
experience of the One, wanting to experience it again and again, relying on them to get things "sorted". i fell into
that trap for a bit, which is why i cannot stress enough the importance of support and time for integration in
between experiences. psychedelics are showing us some ways but we are the one having to do the work in our everyday
life. I think it can be the same with any kind of spiritual practices, when it becomes an avoidance of ourselves and
our issues; like some meditators can sometimes stops us connecting fully with our emotions.
@Steph. yes!! us being rational beings and the world being made of order is one of our culture biggest lies that
completely cuts us off from our chaotic, emotional and Wild nature. we need to reclaim our human beingness!!!!
By the way, please excuse me for any grammatical mistakes but english is not my first language as you might have guessed!
Shaina comments ...
Thank you Mark, thank you Adeline!
Thanks for sharing!
jason palmer comments ...
my take is this... you can not live in the past, but you can live on a farm and try ignore the majority of the world
Lovely to read your blog here Adeline, hope you have a wonderful and connected 10 days. You have reminded/inspired me to get out there more , thank you.
Trish Young comments ...
That last was from me ..
Naturelia comments ...
Adelaine and Mark...thank you for sharing.
One thing I was taught through psychedelics is to pay attention, then cherish and, as a consequence, attract synchronic events.
I am searching for professors of ethnobotany in the UK to guide me through a research project on 'the use of medicinal plants in eco-communities as a process for transformation, reconnection and redefinition of our human identity.'
I would love to exchange with you reflections.
(I am setting off from Greece next month and visiting communities on the way to the UK. I plan to be arriving around July.)
Love and gratefulness
Wanda Woman comments ...
Hi Mark, I attend a community college in the Bronx, NY. We are currently discussing you, your book and way of life. We were all wondering how do you acquire a wifi signal?
Irma comments ...
I feel all this without the need for mind altering substances. The connection with all around me is in my blood and at a deeper level find it strange that others don't see it in a similar way.
hi Irma, That's sometimg like the way I feel too. But feel its faulted, because we are all different.
I too tend to project what works for me onto others, and can get pretty frustrated that others don't see what I see. Some of what I feel and see is born in me, but other things have been learnt.
For instance I think a part of my nature is predominantly sharing, but I try to not to presume that all of our natures are predominantly sharing, however it is not predominantly competitive either as society thus far tries hard to argue.and in whose interest it is, to convince us.
I think projection of oneself onto others is natural, but again that is because I feel same as you.and may be lacking in ability to naturally make allowances for others. So I have to pinch myself and try to have understanding as much as I can, that we aren't the same, and others have to find their own road, and it can wind people up a whole lot if I don't!
I wouldn't make a good life coach or a councillor.:(
It is so good though when one does resonate with others.
on the mind altering /easing/ enhancing drugs, 3 times Ive had cannabis, and its allowed a calming and easing of the mind to be able to track through some things to link things up and gain greater awareness of what society and schools and media would never do.
but I felt I would never take it again and never have as I found I lost the ability to be two people, ie when one is drunk with alcohol one knows how silly idiotic or more relaxed and the good time one is having. But I found with this other I may become one mind , lose the overseeing part and be out of control of myself. Oh, I didn't like the thought of that at all.
because it may release the ball of energy for positive change I have within myself in a retaliating harmful way.and that would just add to the overall harm.
Lianka comments ...
Beautiful, passionate piece, Adeline. Important to share.
Albert comments ...
Hi everybody, Thanks for the inspiration shared, it has been a wonderful discovery about Mark, all you guys and this progress into the search of the Real Meaning of life. Today I read for the first time about Freeconomics and my first thought was "MAKES SENSE!!!!!" Muchas gracias!
José Maria (Joe) comments ...
I have always dreamed without with the freedom and a no stressed life and liked too much of your engagement in this new way of life.
magicalcat comments ...
As with some others, I don't feel the need to use hallucigenics, (comments I don't think cannabis is generally in that catagory,) to free my mind. I believe it is very powerful in helping to reach another spiritual level, but again, I am happy as I am. Saying that I have no issue, in fact I have respect for those who are adventurous in taking this exciting journey. For me I like to keep well grounded, and have enough of my own imagination and experience to know that there is so much more that we can know and feel as human beings just by opening our minds and our souls to new ideas and old deep knowledge.
If these herbs and drugs were used here in western world the same way as in other tribes, then we would have no need for laws restricting their use. In these tribes they are used by those genuinely seeking a spiritual experience and learning from that to share with others, such as healing, knowledge and decision makers. Ha, can you imagine the political leaders going off to gain wisdom from our ancestors when deciding whether or not to go to war? LOL! But wouldn't that be great? I think they would probably tell them it is futile???
For me, I am happy as I am, but I do respect those explorers who have the courage to see what else is there.
Zem comments ...
Ultimately the individual knows if they have the right motivation for using the drugs. I'm reminded of a saying that basically says 'it's not what goes into your mouth that makes you evil, but what comes out of it'.
If we look the motivation for why these drugs (such as cannabis) are made illegal, I think we'll find that it mostly comes down to money (i.e. not being able to tax/control it). THAT is the wrong motivation. Of course, as with many government restrictions, there are little truisms which talk about how many of these drugs are harmful to our health, so the majority of the public is won over on that, and anyone who tries to speak out against it has these truths thrown back at them.
I also believe there can be a balance with using drugs.
BluebirdBliss comments ...
I wanted to thank both Adeline and Mark for providing a platform that enables those of us who are awakening to come together and support one another. Through Shamanic work, other light work (I teach yoga) and meditation, I have fast been reaching the epiphanies you so eloquently scribe in this blog. For many years I have battled with anger at my feelings of powerlessness in a society ruled by those who do not have our best interests at heart but it was through light work that I discovered the love that exists in everything we touch. I highly recommend anyone interested in the issues Adeline speaks of to read Villoldo's Shaman, Healer, Sage. Living by bartering is truly liberating and though I was forced into living with virtually no money, I feel the path I am on to reduce my reliance on money, I believe it was no accident and it reinforces my realisation that we are all connected; all one. I am currently on a mission to barter accommodation in Somerset/Devon! This has all come about without use of psychedelics though I am curious to try them. I am nervous of Ayahuasca, perhaps due to scare stories and therefore wonder about mushrooms? Oh, and about the Cosmic Serpent http://deoxy.org/narbystew.htm In love and light. Www.bluebirdbliss.wordpress.com
Ana comments ...
Ayahuasca spiritual ceremonies in the US are legal. Not without a reason it's better to experience it in one of this communities, take it seriously and a full day fasting recommended prior "the work" as they call it. If it cross your way, try it.
Kathy Jett comments ...
Check out : thrivemovement.com. The movie is now free online.
Kanal comments ...
too long to read. im sure its interesting tho.
owen comments ...
very good :)
Scudley comments ...
The Curse of Grey Face!
sujith comments ...
I'm new to the freeconomycommunity so my comment is not specific to psychedelics but the entire concept of the community. The idea of the separation of humans from nature does strike a chord with me but no matter how much money dependent or "unnatural" we become, we are still born of the earth and intrinsically connected to earth, so money made by humans is part of the earth too. and so i think ideas like freeconomy is a manifestation of the human's need to survive or be happy, just like money is a different manifestation of the same needs. our minds are telling us that our current environment is averse to our survival so lets change the planet again like how we changed it in the first place. it all seems like trial and error to me.
But in any case by joining this community i hope to gain knowledge and a new perspective.
Pete comments ...
Ahh, psychedelics! I've made some deep realisations, for which there are no words to describe. I've taken an asskicking from the universe. I have been unable to tell the difference between myself and my friend, leaving us both utterly perplexed about what the words "Pete" and "Sam" even referred to. I've put on the most colourful clothes I could find and stumbled around.
There is much to learn from psychedelics. There are moments of pure mystical insight, but there are also moments of pure ridiculousness. It is all part of the joyful journey! I feel that I am still integrating things that I learned from sessions five years ago, and these learnings get deeper as time goes by.
A couple of people have mentioned about feeling the need to take drugs to have a spiritual experience, and possibly needing more and more as time goes on. I have been in this situation before. It lasted for a while. But it also gave me the will to research these matters further, and ultimately, a doorway into very deep spirituality without needing psychedelics. I still use them from time to time, but I am very mindful to bring the lessons through into normal consciousness. Over time, I may not even choose to use them any more.
I can't remember who it was that said it originally, but it boils down to this - Psychedelics are like a telephone: once you've got the message; hang up.
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