|Hello all... four of us!
||[May. 4th, 2005|08:23 pm]
Shamanism and Entheogens
I found this article, taken from a lecture by Nicholas Saunders, wildly interesting. He questions the spiritual effects of drugs such as LSD and primarily the entheogenic psilocybin mushrooms, looking at them both scientifically and experientially. He even raises the question of the spiritual authenticity of Ecstasy and dance culture.
I particularly enjoyed his handling of spiritual teachers denouncing (usually entheogenic) drug use, saying, "Nearly every religious leader will tell you that drugs cannot induce a true spiritual experience... They will usually say its an illusion, or not at the same level as the real thing. The more liberal ones may say, OK its the same, but it doesn't have the same value as an experience gained the hard way." And that brings me back to all the times I've read similar statements in books and on websites, usually those featuring, in my experience, a Neo-Pagan flavor.
What's interesting is that these practices are discouraged, when it has been suggested that entheogens could have been the basis for religion; even in modern paganism, which outwardly denies hierarchal formation, it's said that dance and drumming and good meditation can lead to stronger altered states than those attained through drugs and that drug use leaves the practitioner uncontrollable and disadvantaged. Just as Saunders points out, I too can state that this is not so. One could ask - is it our own fear of the Absolute that creates anti-entheogenic bias? Or, as I fear it may be, is it that most if not all religions are based on some sort of hierarchy and the education/brainwashing of the follower, rather than the more natural experience of learning through the Soul? Is shamanism an antithesis to religion?
Which also makes me ponder - is humanity's original spiritual state shamanic in nature? To learn from deep within the self and the earth and extending one's power to help the tribe or community, whilst seeking the aide of nature (entheogens) for the conferrence of external knowledge... I see that as a more authentic human spirituality. It also spells out exactly why entheogens are seen as dangerous and are usually illegal - they could make the hierarchy crumble, from the most powerful politician to the most pampered spiritual "teacher." Eh?