Drugs and Spirit Medicine

“When we look for the icons of higher consciousness states, we can find women and men  who’ve created an entire consistent and systematic set of philosophies based on experiences that are had internally, not using any exogenous substances…we don’t ever see anywhere from these great people that a particular plant was the answer. ‘A particular drug is the answer. Take the drug, get the consciousness state.’ That we do not see anywhere.”

Thom Knoles

Episode Summary

Humans have been using substances to have ‘extraordinary experiences’ for millenia. 

Sometimes this is motivated by a simple sense of curiosity, and at other times it might be to ‘fill a void,’ while in other cases it might be motivated by a promise of an elusive ‘spiritual experience.’ 

In some cases it leads to addiction and dependence, while in others it might just be a bucket-list experience that someone moves on from.

In this episode, Thom takes a non-judgemental look at the motivation and impact of such experiences, and outlines an alternative approach, one that’s more sustainable and that leads to a ‘permanent high’ that most people couldn’t even conceive of.

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Episode Highlights

01.

The Desire to Belong

(00:40)

02.

Tribal Life

(02:29)

03.

A Sense of Identity

(04:27)

04.

Join the Club

(06:00)

05.

Human Beings Crave Variety

(07:14)

06.

The Nature of the Knower

(08:33)

07.

Badge of Rank

(09:51)

08.

The Difference Between a Cult and a Religion

(11:29)

09.

Shibboleth

(12:39)

10.

Drugs

(13:24)

11.

Why Drugs Work

(14:35)

12.

Endogenous Chemicals

(15:59)

13.

The Prime Directive of the Body

(18:03)

14.

Ayahuasca, LSD, THC

(19:32)

15.

Mimicking Molecules

(21:13)

16.

Lizards on LSD and Psychotic Dogs

(22:44)

17.

The Confused Body

(24:31)

18.

Sublimation and Addiction

(26:23)

19.

An Overload of Experience

(27:47)

20.

Premature Cognitive Commitments

(29:35)

21.

Psychedelic Experiences

(31:10)

22.

Where Are the Icons of Drug Use?

(33:11)

23.

A Sustainable Systematic Approach

(35:19)

24.

What About Soma?

(37:32)

25.

Vedic Meditation – A Better Methodology

(38:30)

26.

An Overload of Experience

(39:44)

27.

Supreme, Inner Contentedness

(41:22)

28.

An Experience of Self

(43:01)

29.

Our Body is a Drug-Producing Machine

(44:57)

30.

Unsustainable Ways to Extraordinary Experiences

(46:19)

31.

The 4/20 Club and Counterfeit Substances

(47:26)

32.

Consciousness-Led Experiences

(49:13)

33.

A Perpetual Psychedelic State

(50:35)

34.

Learning the Sustainable Way

(51:59)

35.

Being in the Tribe

(53:28)

36.

A Regular Daily Practice

(54:29)

Jai Guru Deva

Transcript

Drugs and Spirit medicine

The Desire to Belong

Jai Guru Deva. Thank you for listening to my podcast, The Vedic Worldview. This is Thom Knoles and today we’re going to explore the topic of the use of a variety of substances, whether they are referred to as “spiritual medicine” or “drugs” or recreational drugs, or psychedelics, all of these ideas and the relationship that this has with us as Vedic meditators and a few ideas that I would like to throw in on these subjects.

[00:01:26] First of all, I’d like to look at some of the basic human motivations. One of these is our natural, and I really emphasize that word, desire to belong. We want to belong to a group, we want to belong to some kind of social and socially identified structure.

[00:01:52] This desire for belonging is based in some genetic natural repercussions of our human status as tribal people. We all initially came from tribes, and tribalism, the desire to be a member of a particular tribe, still persists today, though very few of us actually are in any cultural sense, still engaged with any kind of familial tribe that dates back beyond the modern era.

Tribal Life

[00:02:29] Although here, where I live in Northern Arizona, one of my sons-in-law is a member of the Diné, the Navajo tribe, and so my granddaughter Juniper is a tribal girl. But whether or not we have longevity of the memory of a tribe, going back in time, we can all identify with something.

[00:02:56] “I’m Scottish,” one might say. “I’m Irish.” “I’m Asian.” “I’m Chinese.” “I’m Tibetan.” “I’m black.” “I’m black, only African.” Or “I’m black American.” “I have perhaps political affiliations, libertarian or Republican or Democrat or labor. Or small L liberal or liberal progressive…” and these are our tribal attempts, and we all dress in ways that demonstrate the kind of tribe that we are expressing to the world. We may not realize it consciously, but we do.

[00:03:40] Each one of us, in selecting our clothing and selecting our hairstyle and selecting our styles of behavior, we are creating an impression to the world around us, of the kind of tribe we’re in, even if the tribe is the, ‘I don’t care about anything tribe,’ that’s also a tribe.

[00:04:00] And so then we have baked into our genetic structure, the desire to belong, and we might belong to the group that refers to themselves as nonconformists, who also have very strict rules about how to conform in order to be a nonconformist. And so nonconformity is a tribe, conformities are tribes.

A Sense of Identity

[00:04:27] And looking at this in this way, we can get some kind of an idea about the cultures that surround the use of a variety of substances and the motivations that we have in order to make ourselves distinct, to develop a sense of identity and, particularly, a sense of social identity.

[00:04:51] And these things are very much worthy of some examination in a very candid way. If we take a very candid look at almost any of our human behaviors, we’re going to find identification with a collective is very, very important to us.

[00:05:09] And so I don’t want in any way to poo poo that that is, in fact, something that is fundamental to the human condition. We are, if nothing else, extremely social characters. And this is one of the things that we have had accentuated during 2020 and 2021, during the global coronavirus pandemic.

[00:05:33] The way in which social separation has been a necessity, distancing and whatnot, and are craving to get back to those kinds of behaviors that do not require us to be so care driven about our social behaviors and one of the difficulties with having to administer the rules of the global pandemic protocols.

Join the Club

[00:06:00] But it’s even noted, I read today in the Atlantic Monthly, that there is an entire club mentality that’s built up around which of the vaccines you may have decided to have.

[00:06:16] Are you in The Pfizer Club? Are you in The Moderna Club? The Pfizer Club is considered to be more elite. The Moderna Club is considered to be more working class. The Johnson and Johnson Club, almost right outside the spectrum of social coolness. And so even decisions about what kind of vaccine one may have been vaccinated with, have this kind of stigma of, “Are you in the cool set? Are you in the In Club or are you in the Out Club?”

[00:06:49] And we might look at all of these things and kind of sniff or laugh or roll our eyes, but in fact, in the absence of access to regular benefit-giving, rewarding tribal experiences, we’ll go for almost anything as human beings in order to give ourselves some kind of social sense of belonging and a sense of distinction.

Human Beings Crave Variety

[00:07:14] Why am I raising all this with regard to the use of drugs? It has to do simply with the way in which there are some basic motivations around why people would want to use drugs in order to have an experience that is different to the norm. It is a fundamental fact that the ever-repeating known of routine life feels, in fact, incredibly boring and even potentially dangerous.

[00:07:46] We as humans do crave variety, and we also crave a sense of transcendence. We want to get beyond the ever-repeating known and have experiences of that which might represent the unknown. We might find it a part of our personal hero’s journey that we embark on taking some particular kind of substance to have an extraordinary experience.

[00:08:15] By extraordinary, I mean extra-ordinary experience, to deliver ourselves into a set of experiences that are outside the norm in probably, again, the search for what our true inner nature is.

The Nature of the Knower

[00:08:33] What is the nature of the knower? The knower meaning that baseline of experiential status. What is our basic idea of who we are and what we are, and with reference to the world, not only who am I, but what are the means by which I can have a variety of experiences, those varieties of perceptual changes, a change in the means of gaining knowledge, a change and sensory experience, a change in the degree to which I can have an acute perception of the world around me? To what extent am I experiencing true detail?

[00:09:20] And then, so this is going to be called the knowing, knower and knowing, and there’s a lot more to say about the knowing, but we’ll stop there for the moment.

[00:09:29] And then what is the nature of the known. What is this world around me? What’s it made of? What are its real characteristics? If I’m looking at the piece of asphalt on the ground around me, am I really looking at a piece of asphalt or is there something deeper that I might be missing?

Badge of Rank

[00:09:51] And so if we can enhance the quality of the state of consciousness of the knower, by working with the phenomenology, the means of gaining knowledge, the knowing, then we might get a deeper insight into the objects of the world, the known, and what is the ultimate known? What is it that’s actually outside of me, and what is the distinction between me as the knower and all of those things outside of me?

[00:10:22] And so these are natural human drives, natural motivations. And then coming back to my original point, once we begin to have a consistency of extraordinary experience of some kind, we like to seek company.

[00:10:39] One of the fundamental human drives is to have shared experience and to be able to develop a status of some kind within a company of people who have shared experience. What is my badge of rank inside the group that is having a shared experience? Am I a neophyte, someone who is new to the experience? Am I someone who has been around for a while and knows the ropes?

[00:11:10] Or am I a seer, an elder, a respected elder, a statesperson of the fraternity and sororities of people who have those experiences that are outside the norm. And we’re always looking for this.

The Difference Between a Cult and a Religion

[00:11:29] This explains the popularity of cults. I once asked my teacher Maharishi Mahesh Yogi about cults. I said, “Sometimes people say that people who practice our meditation technique and thrive in the Vedic knowledge, that they look at us and they go, ‘That’s a cult.'”

[00:11:48] And he looked at me with a very slight smile and he said, “Do you know the difference between a cult and a religion?” And I said, “I think you’re going to tell me.” And he said, “Yes, it’s just one word. Numbers. That’s all.”

[00:12:04] That means if you have a large number of people who follow sets of beliefs that are supposed to deliver extraordinary experiences with quite a great degree of exclusion, then you’re the member of a religion that has sets of beliefs that are not available to any, but those who are committed or who believe in the right things or who know the doctrines and who can say the right words at the right time.

Shibboleth

[00:12:39] And we look up the word in the dictionary, Shibboleth, which is one of those words, which indicate that you’re in the in crowd, that you’re a member of a particular group that wink, wink, nudge, “I use the right words, the right phrases. And so I have the lingo down, the vernacular of the particular set of beliefs and experiences that we share.” And what is my status within that? My badge of rank: a beginner, neophyte, been around for a while, showing others the ropes ,or an elder statesperson of the group, whatever that may be?

[00:13:21] And this is all again, bound up with our tribalism.

Drugs

[00:13:25] So now we get onto the subject of drugs and drugs of every kind, whether they are the kinds of drugs that are found in plant products that grow up naturally out of the ground, and we have to include in these, of course, the famous opiates or opioids. The opiates are those drugs that come from a particular kind of opium poppy, and a variety of drugs that haven’t got a great reputation.

[00:13:55] Primary amongst those is heroin, lesser known, and mostly for medicinal use is the drug morphine, and a variety of medicinally-driven drugs, and medicinally-prescribed drugs.

[00:14:10] Opiate drugs have really hit the headlines lately because of massive addiction problems that have occurred all over the world, but very powerfully in the United States, with the prescribed drugs for pain killing being abused by people for simply creating particular experiences that they wish to recreationally and then addiction occurring.

Why Drugs Work

[00:14:35] I’m going to attempt now to explain to you something about why it is the drugs work and why it is they have the attraction that they have, and going beyond simply the tribalism, the sense of belonging, the social impact, the desirability of belonging to a group and being a knower in a particular group, the effect that drugs have, because it’s a very simple thing to understand.

[00:15:01] And so let’s just look at the physiology of how it is that drugs work. The human brain has, basically we can look at the way in which the human brain functions, by looking at two primary and fundamental functions. That is one of the production of a variety of transmitters.

[00:15:27] These transmitters are sometimes called neuro-transmitters. They’re generally protein-like substances, peptides that are produced by various secretion sites in the body and in the brain itself, and then we have another set of functions, which are referred to as receptors, and a receptor looks something like, if you look at it under a microscope, something like a lily pad sitting on the surface of the outer skin of a cell.

Endogenous Chemicals

[00:15:59] At the core of the cell, we have the DNA, surrounded by the RNA, the deoxyribonucleic acid, which is the genetic basis, the double helix of genetic information, that is the basis on which we can continue generation after generation to reproduce, and a variety of other things, the RNA and messenger RNA that surrounds that DNA. Then we have the mitochondria.

[00:16:29] Then we have the cell wall and in the cell wall, we might have a receptor on certain cells, and these receptors are designed by our physiology to receive certain kinds of transmitters, peptides, neurotransmitters, that are produced endogenously. The word endogenous means, they are produced by your own body.

[00:16:55] So, for example, if I have a feeling of love and I’m experiencing the beautiful, warm and fuzzy heartfelt depth of the joy of the experience of love, then my body’s secretion sites are going to secrete a cocktail of neurotransmitters, which will seek and will also be found by certain receptors that are designed to receive those.

[00:17:27] When the receptor takes in the molecules, the cocktail of molecules, that are associated with the experience of love, then a trigger phenomenon has occurred and my whole physiology will move into particular measurable modes of behavior that are representative of the love experience.

[00:17:52] And so we have receptors that are designed to receive the transmissions from inner space, from our own inner experience.

The Prime Directive of the Body

[00:18:03] Likewise, with fear, we produce molecules that are oriented to cause us to either fight for our lives or to flee for our lives. Stress-related chemistry has to find its receptor.

[00:18:17] In sadness, same thing. I experience sadness loss, lack of perspective, a lack of understanding of where things went, a sense of loss, loss of identity, or simply the failure to gain identity, and so then I’m going to create sadness chemistry. But that chemistry has very specific molecular shapes and those shapes fit into, very specifically, those receptors which were designed to receive those shapes and then trigger the experience.

[00:18:49] And then our consciousness, thereby conceives what our body function will be. Our consciousness, that’s our mind, thereby constructs, through our neurotransmission and through our receptors, what our body behavior should be.

[00:19:09] Our consciousness conceives and constructs, governs what our body behavior should be, and then the body obediently prints out, to the best of its ability, whatever it considers our consciousness state to be. This is the prime directive of the body, to become what the consciousness is.

Ayahuasca, LSD, THC

[00:19:32] All right now, when we take a particular drug, whether it is a drug that comes from a plant base, let’s use some examples here to be very realistic. If we take ayahuasca, ayahuasca is a compound made from two different kinds of serums, one from a vine and one from a plant, another plant. One of those is filled with DMT, dimethyltryptamine and the other is filled with another drug, which counteracts the water solubility of the DMT that’s in the first.

[00:20:08] And so when we take ayahuasca, then what happens is we have a prolonged experience that’s caused by dimethyltryptamine, DMT. And DMT normally is water-soluble, and so the body will wash out its effect within an hour or two, but under the effect of ayahuasca, because of part two of ayahuasca, the serum that is used to counteract the water solubility of the DMT, we end up having a prolonged experience.

[00:20:38] Six to eight hours is not unusual, but up to 12, or even up to 24 hours, based upon the compound that this created.

[00:20:49] If we take a lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD, LSD 25 to be very specific, then what’s happening there? If we take a tetrahydrocannabinol, in the form of marijuana, whether it’s being smoked or it’s being eaten in brownies or whatever, the method of ingestion is, what is it that’s happening there?

Mimicking Molecules

[00:21:13] In all of these cases, what’s actually happening is that an exogenous substance has entered the body whose molecular shape happens to mimic the molecular shape of molecules that our own body knows how to produce. That means that the only thing that can actually affect you as a drug, is a thing that mimics the molecular shape of an internal drug that your own body produces and which fits then neatly into a particular receptor site.

[00:21:53] The receptor site, mind you, was not designed for exogenous substances. The receptor site was designed for those substances that are produced endogenously, inside the body. And so a receptor suddenly finds itself being filled with particular kinds of molecular information about how the body should behave, but this molecular information has not come from the mind.

[00:22:22] Its genesis is not in the mind. Its genesis is in either a plant or a laboratory that has produced the particular drug, and so the body and the brain are being instructed to behave in ways that don’t find their genesis in the mind, but find their genesis in the outside world.

Lizards on LSD and Psychotic Dogs

[00:22:44] Now, this is a very interesting analysis because there are few things that we can draw from this. One is that if you introduce into your body, some kind of molecular shape, or molecule, for which you do not have a receptor, then that particular drug will have almost no effect on you whatsoever.

[00:23:09] So for example, in studies on the use of LSD and iguanas, if you take this particular kind of lizard and inject into it, a pure extract of lysergic acid diethylamide, even enough that would send a human on a massive trip, the lizard will have no effect whatsoever.

[00:23:32] Why? The lizard doesn’t have receptors for LSD. And so then with no receptors for it, it’s not an hallucinogen or a psychedelic drug. It’s just a nothing. It just passes through the body. And we very often ingest things which have no effect on us as humans, because we do not have receptors for those things.

[00:23:57] However, if you give a dog certain kinds of food that is specific for humans, that humans love, for example, chocolate, the dog has receptors that will turn that into an absolutely, if not psychedelic, perhaps even psychotic experience. We can sit around eating our chocolates, quite happily socializing in a way that satisfies us and watching our favorite programs on television together, and making urbane comments, the same chocolate given to a canine causes the canine to go psychotic.

The Confused Body

[00:24:31] So then let’s go back to some further conclusions we can draw from this knowledge that a thing that can make you high, or have a psychedelic experience, or have any kind of a drug effect, is a thing which happens to fit into a receptor site.

[00:24:53] The receptor site, having been designed by your biology, your parents, your grandparents, great-grandparents, going back all the way to the very beginning of humanity, receptor, having been designed specifically to receive transmitters that come from the human body itself. Receptors are not designed to process exogenous molecules.

[00:25:19] So when an exogenous molecule arrives in a receptor and triggers this experience in the body and in the brain, it’s something coming from the outside, the receptor has no idea that this is coming from the outside. It makes the assumption that this is something, a command coming from the human mind itself, and that this is an endogenous chemical.

[00:25:46] And also a lot of the molecule passes through the gut, and on the way out of the body, the exogenous molecule is detected as exiting the body, and our body very rapidly comes to the conclusion that the endogenous production of that specific molecule is no longer necessary because there must be a lot of it being produced since we’re excreting it. We’re excreting the drug in larger quantities than that for which we have receptors.

Sublimation and Addiction

[00:26:23] And so this triggers another phenomenon, known as sublimation, where the experience that’s being had, and being produced by particular receptor on the assumption that this is coming from the body, the body begins to sublimate or decrease or downplay, or even eliminate the production of that particular molecular shape, that particular molecule.

[00:26:48] And this is the phenomenon of addiction occurring. Sublimation leads to addiction. When we no longer produce the endogenous substance, which is being replaced by an exogenous substance, then we begin to become addicted to the exogenous source because we need to have these heightened-consciousness state experiences.

[00:27:14] I’ll use tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, which is the active ingredient in cannabis as an example. What does THC mimic? It mimics a thing called endocannabinoid. Endocannabinoid is the endogenous cannabinoid, that is to say the endogenous, if you like, THC that your own body and brain can produce, which is what your THC receptors, your cannabinoid receptors, are actually designed to receive.

An Overload of Experience

[00:27:47] We may not know how to trigger our endogenous cannabinoids, because we haven’t had instruction in phenomenology like meditation. And so when we want to have some experience that’s going to awaken that type of consciousness state, then we have to go to an external source in order to get it. And we go to that external source and we end up having an experience, which is not the measured experience that would be produced by our own endogenous production, if indeed, we even knew how to stimulate such endogenous production.

[00:28:28] Endocannabinoid production is something that is stimulated by the regular practice of Vedic Meditation. When we meditate regularly, our body begins to produce cocktails of very small quantities, but very evenly balanced, molecular shapes that will give us graded access to experiences that are extraordinary, and will give us that experience, in a graded way, that will allow the brain to understand it and not be stressed by it.

[00:29:04] When we take in powerfully exogenous substances from the outside, whether they are lab produced or whether they’re occurring naturally in plants, irrespective of their genesis, the overdosing, the powerful effect that it has when the receptors in cells receive it, is so strong that it creates quite an overload of experience. And that overload of experience in fact, is a stress.

Premature Cognitive Commitments

[00:29:35] Stress is nothing more than having overloads of experience which are beyond what you have adaptation energy for interacting with. When you have an overload of experience like that, it not only conditions the receptors to have an expectation to have these large quantities, but it also stresses the physiology, causes the physiology to have overloads of experience, and to have these overloads of experience stored as distorted memories in the cells that associate other phenomena that happened to be around at the time of you having the psychedelic experience.

[00:30:14] Those other peripheral phenomena will now be experienced by your body as potential stress triggers, which can in fact trigger stress reactions, even when you’re not using the drugs. 

00:30:28] So if you’re looking at a color, or smelling a smell, or you have a flavor in your mouth, or you’re hearing a sound or particular music, or you’re seeing particular sights, are touching particular things, at a time when you’re having an overload of experience, you end up with what’s called a premature cognitive commitment.

[00:30:46] That is, the way in which, prematurely, the brain and body make a commitment to the meaning, the stress meaning, of an overload of experience, then those things, whether or not you have any drugs in you, if presented to you, will trigger stress reactivity in the body, irrespective of whether or not you’re in fact imbibing a drug.

Psychedelic Experiences

[00:31:10] And so there are some problematic issues with the use of exogenous molecules in order to trigger the experiences that we wish to have naturally of going beyond the ordinary and having extraordinary human consciousness experience. Extraordinary human consciousness experience can be summed up in the word psychedelic.

[00:31:37] The word psychedelic means some kind of peak experience, where you’re taken utterly outside the range of what you would consider to be regular, ordinary or normal daily routine experiences. And while you’re having the psychedelic experience, it’s notable that you cannot be responsible for children who might be in your care, you can not operate machinery, you cannot function in a way that is considered to be within the social norm.

[00:32:12] And so you’re really taken right into an absolutely out-of-the-ordinary, extraordinary experience. This is a psychedelic phenomenon. What characterizes the psychedelic phenomenon is the fact that it completely incapacitates you. Because of the intensity of the experience, you’re incapacitated from being able to behave responsibly during the time of that experience.

[00:32:38] And so you have to take time out and drop out of the social structure for a period of time in order to have the psychedelic experience. It’s a high-impact, extraordinary human experience.

[00:32:53] The recovery time from psychedelic experiences varies depending on the kind of substance and on the physiology of the individual, but the recovery time can be anything from many hours, like up to 24 hours, all the way through to hundreds of days.

Where Are the Icons of Drug Use?

[00:33:11] Where are the icons of the effect of this kind of drug use? I mean, we say the most spiritual parts of the world, South America, the Amazon region and Peru, and parts of Brazil and parts of Chile, where indigenous people live, who have been using and had access to these drugs for many years.

[00:33:35] We might say, “Well, that places them in a category that’s outside the range of taking the ayahuasca in a warehouse party in Brooklyn from a home-baked shaman who took a 20 hour course in shamanism online.”

[00:33:50] But the whole thing is this, when we want to look for the icons of higher consciousness states, we don’t have to look very far. We can find women and men dotted throughout history who are the highly documented and highly prized and praised knowers of reality and exponents, expounders of reality, the deeper realities, who’ve created an entire consistent and systematic set of philosophies based on experiences that are had internally, not using any exogenous substances.

[00:34:30] When we read the writings of Shankara, who was a great, 2,500 years ago, twenty five hundred and eighty four years ago, writer in the Vedic worldview, or we look at the writings and speeches given by the Buddha, we don’t ever see anywhere from these great people that a particular plant was the answer.

[00:34:56] “A particular drug is the answer. Take the drug, get the consciousness state.” That we do not see anywhere. Where are the icons of the drug-taking culture who arrived at Nirvana, at freedom at the highest possible spiritual experience?

A Sustainable Systematic Approach

[00:35:19] When we are looking for those icons of drug taking and the systematic arrival at highest-consciousness states, and the ability to come up with a conceptually-delineated, highly-coherent, theoretical base as to how the entire universe works, we do not see this coming out of drug-taking cultures.

[00:35:42] And so I do not agree that these are the most spiritual places on earth. If they were, there would be a lot of evidence of that. And when you visit these cultures, which I have, you do not see people living exceptional lives.

[00:36:00] You see people with lots of health problems, poverty stricken, and living a life that is a rapidly fading existence because their tribal culture is being exposed to more and more, more and more impurity being brought in through externalized contact with outsiders.

[00:36:20] Most of those are people who are drug-seeking people, who bring with them all of their Western culture to those tribal people, who’ve been happily taking their ayahuasca for centuries, but what we don’t see is documentation of beautifully, conceptually-delineated philosophy and theory that comes out of the endogenous experiences that are available all over the world.

[00:36:49] And so I’m not one who agrees that just because something comes from a tribe, and a tribe of people who until only recent times we’re mostly uncontacted by outside culture, that they necessarily have the answer.

[00:37:04] I think if it were true, there’d be a greater amount of evidence for it over the centuries and millennia.

[00:37:10] And so for me, I would be looking for the icons, the great icons, the great masters who have a sustainable systematic approach to self-sufficient gaining of enlightenment, the self-sufficient gaining of enlightenment. And we do not read about that.

What About Soma?

[00:37:32] One of the psychedelics people who interviewed me once said “Yes, but what about soma? Soma is described in the Vedic texts as something that comes from the soma plant, and which gives people access to higher consciousness states.” This is actually an analogy for soma, which is actually produced inside the human physiology.

[00:37:55] Soma is the ultimate cocktail of celestial chemistry that gives the individual experience or access to god consciousness. It does not come from a plant outside. The reference to it as a plant is a reference to the secretion sites inside the human body. And those who are on the great search for the soma plant have never found it. It doesn’t exist.

[00:38:19] I’ve asked all of the top ayurvedic doctors in the world who deal with Indian herbs, “Is there such a thing as the soma plant?” They say, “Yes, it’s your brain. That’s the soma plant.”

Vedic Meditation – A Better Methodology

[00:38:30] And so the self-sufficient use of endogenous chemistry, awakening, the highest-consciousness state, and yielding a sustainable approach and sustainable lifestyle that does not include in it the necessity to live in poverty, and to live in isolated communities, and to be disease ridden, a consciousness state, which creates longevity, that people from these tribes are not known to have longevity.

[00:39:03] They’re not known to live beyond a certain age on average, which is much lower than the average age, even of Americans, who live relatively abusive lives in terms of what they eat, what their diet is and so on.

[00:39:18] So I think that those who are in those tribes should also learn Vedic Meditation. And if they do learn it, they’ll discover that the effects of it far outstrip the effects of drinking the wine from the vine, drinking the tea that is made from the two plants that are used to make ayahuasca. I think it would be far better for them to learn this methodology.

An Overload of Experience

[00:39:44] And they would find it a far more effective method of stabilizing those experiences that otherwise can only be had through taking out 24 hours of your life, and getting sick a lot.

[00:39:58] One of the reasons why when people take ayahuasca, they have to have buckets, diapers, and all kinds of things available, is because the experiences that are had are in fact stressful. The pooping and the vomiting and retching, and all the rest of it that we see, is not, in fact, one of the effects of the tea. It’s the effect of having overloads of stress experience.

[00:40:24] When suddenly you discover that you are a dragon, and not the human you thought you were, and you’ve spent your life as a metal worker who just went on a little holiday to get some ayahuasca, and now suddenly you have this vision of yourself being a dragon, and there are demons all around you, or they’re angels all around you, or you’ve met your maker, but it’s not who you thought it was, it was an earthworm, and the overload experience that you can have from that, is extremely stressful.

[00:40:57] It causes the body to go into extreme stress mode and that’s what’s causing the diarrhea and the vomiting. It’s the stress of it. It’s a stressful experience taking ayahuasca. There are much better ways of getting heightened-consciousness states than having to batter up the body in that way, giving it a chemical battering. Vedic Meditation can do it all.

Supreme, Inner Contentedness

[00:41:21] And so we want to look at a psychedelic experience now and say, well, what does Vedic Meditation have to say about psychedelic experience? We actually are, when we transcend in meditation, having something similar to a psychedelic experience. Not that it is an overload of any kind.

[00:41:40] The experience of the mind settling down into its least-excited states, the ever-increasing charm of the subtler states of thought, going beyond the subtlest state of thought and experiencing absolute transcendence, not recommended while you’re driving a car or carrying your children. Not recommended if you’re in the middle of a social engagement. 

[00:41:57] You have to set aside some time, 20 minutes, where you can sit in the chair and actually allow the mind to settle into its least-excited state and to transcend all boundaries, and experienced the supreme, inner contentedness of transcendence, which is the experience of the foundation of everything, the experience of the Unified Field itself.

[00:42:28] When we experience in Vedic Meditation, these super-subtle states and transcendent states, then neuro-transmitters are created endogenously by our body, which represent a cocktail of chemicals, all of which find the receptors in very balanced doses. And these balanced doses allow, over a period of time, a progressive, eventual and graded growth of ever-increasing perceptual acuity.

An Experience of Self

[00:43:01] As the practice continues, one begins to experience, first of all, from inside-out, an expansion of the sense of who and what the knower is. “What am I? Not just a little thinking machine that is created by others and their indoctrination of me. I am evidently one, indivisible, whole consciousness field that is having a human experience in a body.

[00:43:30] “And then, as that grows, my means of gaining knowledge, my sensory perception capability becomes increasingly acute, and the acuteness of it grows and grows and grows until the knower has become the Absolute field itself. The means of gaining knowledge, the senses, now can detect within the known, even the finest relative structures in that known. The celestial layers.

[00:44:02] And then, with practice continuing and continuing, the knower, through the processes of sensory acuity, can experience in the known, its own Self. All things are an extension of capital. M, Me. All things are an extension of the big Self, which I have become. I’ve become the big Self. And through my senses, I’m experiencing the Self, capital S, in all things. There is nothing with which I cannot empathize because everything is experienced as an extension of me.”

[00:44:45] Now, there are no massive episodes of psychedelia that have to be experienced, that is to say, that overload of experience, that have to be experienced in order to arrive at this.

Our Body is a Drug-Producing Machine

[00:44:57] And so then Vedic Meditation is a means of using solely endogenous pharmacopeia. The pharmacopoeia means the repertoire of drugs that our body can produce. Our body is a drug-producing machine, but these are endogenous drugs, not exogenous, not made from the outside and not obtained from the outside.

[00:45:23] Very often people will make a very snobby distinction between those kinds of drugs that happened to occur in plants, and those kinds of drugs that are laboratory synthesized, purely from chemicals that are not sourced in plants.

[00:45:39] But the fact is there’s very little distinction. If you’re a chemist you know, as I do, that plastic is made from plant material. Heroin comes from plants. We can go on and on about this, but the fact that something is made from an organic substance doesn’t necessarily give it the absolute blessing that everybody might think it deserves.

[00:46:02] Pure gin is made from juniper berries. Do I thereby ingest quarts of gin, simply because it comes from juniper berries? And that’s pretty cool, man. It comes out of the earth. This is not very rigorous thinking.

Unsustainable Ways to Extraordinary Experiences

[00:46:19] And so then first of all, let me say the motivation to have extraordinary experiences is a very proper human motivation. There’s nothing wrong with it. There’s nothing wrong with seeking higher-consciousness states. It’s just that there are sustainable ways of doing it that do not inflict on the physiology, the confusion of overloads of experience. And then there are the unsustainable ways, which do do all of that. 

[00:46:44] And the unsustainable ways are unsustainable for a variety of reasons, whether rightly or wrongly, and I’m not going to make a judgment here about the rightness or wrongness of it, but very many of the drugs that people wish to imbibe, for either spiritual reasons or for pure recreational pleasure, or just to get out of the ever-repeating known have been scheduled by governments to be illegal. Either illegal to obtain, or illegal to create or manufacture, illegal to possess, or illegal to distribute.

The 4/20 Club and Counterfeit Substances

[00:47:26] And part of the club mentality, and drug taking, may often be that, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, “We all know we’re doing something a little bit illegal or maybe quite illegal, but we’re kind of getting away with it. And we’re all in that club of kind of Robin Hoods, who live in the forest. And the Sheriff of Nottingham’s over there and they’re the bad guys and we’re the good guys and we’re all clubbing together and developing badges of rank and having experiences on a regular basis. And we’re members of a tribe, the 4/20 tribe, the April 20th, the great day of marijuana users.”

[00:48:03] You stay home and get high all day and ditch work and have your lovely experience, but at the cost of your own endogenous production of endocannabinoids, because the cannabis, that’s being taken in from the outside, is telling the body to stop making the cannabis that’s available from the inside.

[00:48:26] Exogenous cannabis, by the way, is far less potent than endogenous endocannabinoid, far less potent, and your receptors were not designed for the exogenous drug. The receptors are really being fed a counterfeit, and this really comes right down to it.

[00:48:44] The use of exogenous substances to trigger extraordinary human experiences is the use of a counterfeit to cause the body to believe that it’s, in fact, experiencing something that has been generated by the mind having an extraordinary experience. So physiology-led and exogenous-substance led, realizations and insights are unsustainable.

Consciousness-Led Experiences

[00:49:13] And the consciousness-led, so in Vedic Meditation, we’re doing the consciousness-led extraordinary experience phenomena. We take our consciousness first into its least-excited states. Our body next produces all of the endogenous cocktail of bliss chemicals, which then, third, received by the receptors of the body, then change the body and its status and structure, and change the brain, and give us a deeper insight into the relationship between the knower, the knowing and the known, the relationship between the human and all of the laws of Nature, which govern human life.

[00:49:58] Once upon a time, when I was being interviewed by a person who was very fond of psychedelics, he said to me, “And what psychedelic drugs have you taken, Thom?” And I just said, “Well, I haven’t had the advantage of being able to report on that in my lifetime. I haven’t touched any drugs.

[00:50:15] “As a teenager, I was living in an ashram with a great master of meditation and grew up through my twenties in the 1960s and seventies during a very popular cultural phenomenon of drug-taking. I was absent. I wasn’t there. I was developing internalized experiences of heightened consciousness states.

A Perpetual Psychedelic State

[00:50:35] “So I can’t really report on these crescendo, psychedelic experiences that you are so fond of. But I can tell you one thing, if you were to spend even a minute in my state of consciousness, the way I am right now, speaking to you with clarity, you would probably think you were tripping.

[00:50:56] “You would probably think you were tripping, because I know, from the way that when I’m sitting with anyone or talking, or we’re having a shared experience of the world around us, I know, by virtue of their reports on what’s being experienced at any given time compared with, what would be my report if I was to share my experience, that what I’m experiencing is absolutely extraordinary compared with the average.”

[00:51:24] And so perhaps I’m in a perpetual psychedelic state. Perhaps I’m in a perpetual state, which would be considered psychedelic by the average experiencer, if suddenly they just had that experience, but it was a graded phenomenon, a graded growth that took place over a couple of decades.

[00:51:46] A couple of decades of practice of Vedic Meditation put me in a consciousness state, which I think might have to be described and defined as extraordinary. 

Learning the Sustainable Way

[00:51:59] And this isn’t me boasting. I’m just simply trying to get across to you an idea of how someone who hasn’t taken drugs is not necessarily some kind of a square who’s just experiencing the everyday routines in the everyday ways. That certainly wouldn’t describe me.

[00:52:17] And I’ve never taken a drug in my lifetime so far, anything can change, but so far I haven’t taken a drug or a drink of anything that modifies consciousness. No consciousness modifiers have been placed in this body.

[00:52:33] So that doesn’t mean that anybody who’s had lots of these things is in a hopeless state. You’re certainly not. You were the brave ones who went out and, perhaps, broke the law or who, perhaps, stepped right outside of what society approves of in order to challenge the assumptions and use the knowledge that you had, and what was at hand, in order to try to experience heightened-consciousness states, and I applaud that.

[00:53:02] I applaud that and I even approve of it. But what I really approve of is learning the sustainable way. Learning and making use of Vedic Meditation in a way that brings about regular consistent, systematic development of the cocktail of endogenous chemicals that can give you heightened experiences at all times.

Being in the Tribe

[00:53:28] And now we want to circle right back to our subject of being in the tribe. Our natural desire to be in the tribe of those who are having extraordinary human experiences is very satisfied by being a Vedic meditator, and sharing in the joys of the knowledge available in the Vedic Meditation community.

[00:53:50] Whether you are a beginner, a neophyte meditator, or you’re a more experienced meditator, or you’re an elder statesperson of the whole phenomenology of it, or a teacher of it, there is satisfaction of social identification with a group of people who are having and sharing a common experience.

[00:54:11] And we don’t have to break any laws in order to do it. We don’t have to worry that somebody is going to knock our door down and come and take us away, or that we’ll get drug tested and lose our jobs, or even have our children taken away from us by child protective services, simply because we failed a drug test.

A Regular Daily Practice

[00:54:29] So I highly advocate, for all reasons, all the motivators that motivate people to make use of exogenous substances, are easily and sustainably satisfied through learning Vedic Meditation, and through the regular daily practice of it. Heightened consciousness states beyond anything that even a regular drug user could imagine and ever-growing health, ever-growing capability, and no need to be a social outcast.

[00:55:04] You can be completely included in all of the socially-deemed activities without having to be concerned that the cost of your extraordinary human experience is going to be ostracization from society. And so this is what I recommend very strongly.

[00:55:25] And this is a subject that really deserves probably about five hours of examination, but we’ve been able to do it in about 50 minutes I think. Deep thinking is required. Listen to it again and again and I think you’ll find the answers in this. 

Jai Guru Deva

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