By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness
The illegality of cannabis is hypocritical for obvious reasons, but the United States is clearly approaching nationwide legalization. With so many states decriminalizing it or legalizing it for medicinal purposes and states like Colorado and Washington legalizing its recreational use, this country is quickly changing its stance on a plant that’s been used throughout our recorded history but demonized in the last century.
The hypocrisy lies in the fact that cannabis is illegal yet alcohol and tobacco are perfectly legal despite their risks and the lives they’ve destroyed.
Not only does alcohol take lives every day – it can also cause some dark and violent behavior. It can completely change a person, and it can turn them into an addict who can’t live without something that only used to take the edge off and make them feel better. Once they’re addicted, all they care about is their next drink and they’ll do anything to get it. Anyone who stands in their way or even slightly angers them will witness their dark side.
Tobacco is also physically and psychologically addicting, but like alcohol, our society accepts it as normal. Nobody looks down on cigarette smokers (unless they’re underage), but people look down on cannabis smokers as much as the plant itself.
While people can become psychologically dependent on cannabis (which comes down to each individual and how they respond to it), it isn’t physically addicting. In the last century, however, it’s been subjected to a worldwide witch hunt as if it were the most dangerous or addicting drug out there, which is what the people who profit from its illegality and smear its name with propaganda want the masses to think.
Sadly, a lot of people are unaware of what’s happening, and they go on supporting the false notion that cannabis is a dangerous drug that makes people lazy and leads to manmade drugs that actually are dangerous.
Cannabis needs to be legal for medicinal, recreational and spiritual/ceremonial use, but this can’t happen until people change their minds about it.
Different people use it for different reasons, and while some just want to relax at the end of a long and stressful day, others need it to treat overwhelming pain that keeps them from living a normal life. Some are searching for a higher state of consciousness, and they use natural psychedelics like cannabis (along with meditation) to do it.
I’ve shared my opinion on its spiritual power in previous articles, and I’ll continue to share it because the world needs to see through the propaganda and see this herb in a new light. We need to understand that it isn’t the devilish weed that the people in power want us to think it is, nor is it some silly intoxicant that just makes us want to sit around and eat.
Despite the stereotypes that are thrown around (even by well-meaning advocates), the herb has a purpose beyond recreational use. It isn’t just here to make us giggle – it’s here to wake us up.
Nature has been helping us evolve since we first emerged in a primitive form, and it gave us cannabis (and other natural entheogens) to help us reach the next stage in our evolution, which is deeply spiritual.
Along with the rest of the world, the conscious community is just beginning to understand marijuana’s spiritual potential. Different spiritual communities have used it for centuries and continue to use it today, however, and their traditions can shed some light on its meditative uses.
Most people know about the Rastafari movement’s infamous use of marijuana, and you can bet they aren’t smoking it and immediately grabbing the nearest snack cake. In fact, Rastas take care of their body with exercise and food that comes directly from the earth, with no chemicals or anything that taints it, and most Rastas are very active and have a strong sense of purpose.
They feel that their job is to connect with God (or ‘Jah’) with cannabis while staying true to their roots and trying to make the world a better place, and rather than keeping them from working hard and being active, the herb energizes them and encourages them to keep on. Some spiritual cannabis users are the hardest workers you’ll ever meet, and the herb inspires them to passionately contribute to society even though they know it’s broken.
I’d like to share the story of someone who tried cannabis for the first time and had an uplifting, enlightening experience. Our story, entitled ‘A Gift From Above’, is a personal account that comes from Erowid user ‘Mojo Risin’, and it displays how the herb can inspire us to think more deeply about life, spirituality and anything else that crosses our minds.
Our story starts at the beginning of Mojo’s spiritual journey, which led him/her to read books about healing, enlightenment and other relevant topics.
“I’d like to start off by saying that I have never been into anything at all. I don’t even like to drink. I guess the public idea on ‘drugs’ was working on me [i.e. he/she was convinced that cannabis is harmful].
“I started reading various books and reading about spiritual healing or enlightenment. I am learning meditation on the chakras which is very rewarding especially when learning from sacred plants. I was going to try LSD or mushrooms first but after hearing about the revelations and strong effect of this herb I thought I should try it first.” (1)
Mojo then describes the feeling (s)he got after using the herb for the first time at a local park.
“I started out by thinking earlier that day on the goals and what I wanted to achieve. I then proceeded to pick up about 3 grams of some good herb. I packed up a homemade water pipe and a blanket and went down to the local park. I sat down and over the course of about 15 min. smoked two fairly large bowls.
“I was just about to pack up and go because I thought it wasn’t going to work when it just hit me. I had an incredible body rush and a feeling of being inside my body, [as] opposed to being a part of it.” (2)
Mojo decided to sit at a spot on the water and go within, where (s)he could think for a while. That’s when (s)he witnessed the tunnel that’s been witnessed by psychedelic users and people who have near-death experiences, which led him/her to what appeared to be a factory conveyor belt.
“I went down to a nice spot beside the water and sat down to think. I closed my eyes and just concentrated on the new state I was in. (Just to note I have been strongly questioning my religion lately) I saw a swirling tunnel and as it got clearer it appeared to be almost a conveyer belt at some sort of factory.” (3)
I’ve witnessed this tunnel during a good, deep meditation, and from what I’ve experienced so far, I think it’s a portal into another state of consciousness. It could be a portal into the astral planes, where we create purely with the mind and receive visions like the one Mojo received, or it could be a portal into the fifth dimension or an even higher place.
I’m sure some hardcore meditators, NDE enthusiasts or spiritual psychedelic users could tell you more about it, but I think its purpose is to take us to a more advanced realm.
The conveyor belt Mojo witnessed displayed a few figures of Jesus, which represented the idol worship of modern religion. (It should be noted that Mojo wasn’t hallucinating when he/she witnessed the tunnel and conveyor belt, and rather, he/she was having the kinds of visions we can have deep in meditation. It might be subtle, but there is a difference.)
“I then saw that there were little statues of Jesus coming out of the conveyer belt. I immediately knew that this was illustrating the modern churches today. People today are only drawn to religion because of their fear of death. It is basically if you own a bible and attend church, you will be saved. It made me feel disgusted.
I then thought that the Native American Church really has it right. They treat every natural thing around them as a gift from God and really trust it. I now believe the same thing.” (4)
Mojo then began to think deeply about mental illness and the ‘spiritual strength’ we can create for ourselves before we face the inevitable ‘enlightenment’ of death.
“I found myself thinking about Aldous Huxley’s ideas about schizophrenia that goes something like: A person who has schizophrenia is like a person permanently under the influence of mescaline, and without warning is thrust into a world in which they are not holy enough to live in. That is enough to scare people into catatonia or violent outbreaks.
“I believe that is very much like the idea of heaven and hell. During your life you can [choose] to spiritually strengthen yourself so when the time of death comes you can readily accept the enlightenment. If you choose not to prepare it can be unexpected and turn into your worst nightmares. I suppose that is the point of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, to embrace the clear light.” (5)
After thinking for a little while longer, (s)he went home and meditated to the deep, vision-inducing music of Pink Floyd. While it might sound like a stereotype, this kind of music has incredible value for someone who’s in such a deep state of mind.
“After thinking for quite some time on the topics, I headed back to my house and laid down on my bed and threw on Dark Side of the Moon. I sat until the end of the great album, completely meditating to the music and exploring the new realm of consciousness. And by the time Eclipse was just ending right at the end where the song really picks up, [it] felt like the happiest moment of my life.” (6)
(S)he was eager to try cannabis again but wanted to take it slow because the herb is powerful and deserves respect. Like I did, (s)he also expresses the concern that the herb’s spiritual power (along with spiritual teachings in general) isn’t taken seriously.
“That was pretty much the night and I drifted into sleep. The whole thing lasted about 3 hours. I woke up the next morning feeling very refreshed. I am very thankful for the lessons and wisdom of this teacher plant. I am eager to learn but not rushing it because I want to respect and take seriously the teachings of this world and keep them sacred.
“I wish more people would take these sort of things more seriously and not hold onto things they can’t keep. I encourage anyone to pick up a book by Timothy Leary or Terrance McKenna and really understand and think about what they are talking about.” (7)
I also encourage anyone to listen to Terrence McKenna’s musings on cannabis and other psychedelics, natural or manmade, because he gave us a lot of insight into their power when he was with us.
He used to say that cannabis is powerful and we should respect that power instead of thinking it’s ‘no big deal’, and while cannabis is the safest intoxicant in terms of addiction and mental/physical harm, it’s still a mind-altering substance with a lot of power. Like any psychedelic, it should be consumed with care.
If it is, it might show its users amazing things that they never knew existed. If its users are careless, the experience could be negative.
Cannabis has its drawbacks and it isn’t for everyone, whether they use it for recreational or spiritual purposes. Different things work for different people, and plenty of spiritual seekers will tell you that all they need is a good meditation, independent of the need for anything external, for the spirit to flow.
We have to respect different paths, and when the world knows that cannabis is a safe yet powerful meditative herb, it’ll no longer be treated like some silly party drug that everyone tries in college before moving on and becoming ‘responsible’ adults.
I also think that the people who reject cannabis because of their spirituality should consider that it helps other seekers before looking down on it. We don’t have to do something ourselves (or even like it) to know that it helps others through their journey, and the conscious community has as much to learn about respect and tolerance as the rest of the world.
It’s time for people to wake up to the benefits of cannabis – medicinal, recreational, industrial, and spiritual – and shift their perception of this humble yet amazing plant that’s been oppressed by elitists with wicked and selfish intent. We have to be the ones to inform people, because we’re the only ones who are open-minded enough (and willing enough to take a stand for things that matter) to raise awareness and change people’s minds.
To those who are on the fence, I say this: Let the conditioned demonization go and consider that this plant helps a lot of people in a lot of ways, and maybe you can join the fight for its legalization and its recognition as an herbal portal into the unknown.
- “A Gift From Above” by Mojo Risin, Erowid.org – https://www.erowid.org/experiences/exp.php?ID=24369
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