Almost all the great religions of the world are in some way associated with a drink. Judaism and Christianity with wine, Islam with coffee, Hinduism with the milk of sacred cows, Buddhism with tea. And in one way or another, these sacred drinks are used for sacramental purposes. And the sacrament defined at least in the Anglican Church, as the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace is a very common feature of religion throughout the world, although one which is, I would say, highly disapproved of by many people living in the modern West under the influence of Protestantism and humanism. A sacrament. In other words, is a method of giving spiritual power or insight through corporeal means. As, for example, in the sacrament of baptism. Orthodox Christians believe that through the pouring of water, a physical substance, a person may be in some way united with the power or the grace of God, or that the right formula set by the right person over bread and wine may transform them verifiably into the body and blood of Christ, so that whoever partakes of them on the principle that you are what you eat, becomes transformed into Christ behind the more obvious drinks of sacramental liquids associated with the various religions. There are some religions which imply more potent substances, and so one associates Islam and the whole Arabian culture with the use of hashish. And no one can doubt who knows anything about the effects of the substance that the people who painted Persian miniatures and who designed the great Arab asks of Islamic civilization. No one can doubt that those people had had the sort of vision which comes through participation in hashish. Likewise, the earliest Vedic texts of India mentioned is something called Soma, and nobody really knows what Soma was.
But one may guess in view of modern practices in India that it was some derivative of the plant cannabis, which is today in India and has probably for centuries been used by certain types of yogi. For example, the Shiva worshipers use it very widely in the form that is called bum, which is a drink or ganja which is smoked in China.
There was for a long time in the dullest school of philosophy, a quest for the elixir of life.
And this was associated with Darwin’s alchemy. And when you read alchemical texts, you must realise that they are always veiled. The dullest sages were apparently looking for an elixir of immortality that would convert a human being into any model.
And it was suppose that if you hit on the right elixir when you became an old man and your skin shriveled, it would eventually peel off and reveal a youth underneath as a snake changes its skin. And there are statues in certain parts of China, a venerable old sages with their skin falling off to reveal a young face below. Many sages and and indeed even emperors died from drinking concoctions that purported to be the elixir of life. One of the ingredients of the elixir was always tea. And of course, tea as drunk. In Buddhist circles is not the tea that you ordinarily drink. The real ceremonial tea of the Far East is not steeped tea leaves, but tea ground green tea grounds to a very fine powder. And this is has hot water poured over it and then with a whisk it is stirred up into a thick mixture. And drinking a few cups of this puts you in a state of extraordinary wakefulness and therefore has long been used by Buddhist monks for purposes of meditation.
It has a mild psychedelic or consciousness expanding effect. The Tibetans likewise brew an incredibly thick tea, which they mix with yak butter and to acid is an appalling concoction. But to them, very soothing and comforting and also wakeful. And as you know, throughout the AMA, Indian cultures, religion is very greatly centered around divine plants. The use of the peyote cactus, the use of yogi of mushrooms such as psilocybin Mexicana, the convulsive Alice type flower obliquely, the use of its seeds, and a very considerable number of other plants which have been cataloged by Professor Shorter’s of Harvard. Even seaweeds. All sorts of. Funny things are considered divine plants, and the mushroom psilocybin Mexicana is known, of course, as Tale Canal among the Indians, a word which means the flesh of God. To an enormous degree, then throughout the world there has been the use going back as far as we can find any record of some sort of plant either chewed or distilled or boiled or whatever, which transformed consciousness and was alleged to give mankind the vision of divine things. And therefore it was in the precise definition of the term, a sacramental plant. Now, then, the objection to this is very strong in the modern West. And there indeed have always been people who found that this kind of practice was to be deplored. And I want to add in a moment to go into the reasons why. But it must be said in the modern West that the use of any material aid to spiritual insight or development is always looked upon with disfavor because it is described as a crutch and our type of culture feels happier if it doesn’t use a crutch. In other words, if you do it yourself somehow or other the use of a crutch or as people call it. With that question begging word, a drug seems to be something which is a sign of weakness. If you are a real gutsy fellow, and if you’re going to get this thing in a manner which is natural, legitimate, and the manner in which it will really stay with you, you ought to work at it by your own efforts. And you will find this extremely exemplified in, say, Christian Science, where they didn’t want to use even ordinary medicine for physical health, even though every Christian scientist is dependent upon daily food, both vegetable and meats, and eats them quite gaily without any feeling of guilt. Whereas actually he ought to realize that if he had sufficient faith, he would be able to live even without air. I suppose as a crutch on which we depend on Earth is a lamentable ball on which we have to stand in order to hold ourselves up.
But if you explore deeply into the doctrines and the history of almost all religions whatsoever, you will find that there is simply no. Do it yourself way. Invariably, whatever path and whatever method is followed, there comes a point in which the efforts of one’s own will or of one’s own ego have to be abandoned. You know, perhaps that in Buddhism there are two schools which are respectively called gimmicky and tricky. In Japanese, gimmicky means one’s own power. Tariq Qi means another’s power. And most forms of Buddhism are classified as gimmicky. On the principle of the Buddha’s final words to his disciples, be lapse into yourselves. Be you a refuge unto yourselves. Take to yourselves no other refuge. Work out your own deliverance with diligence. And so in Zen in ten die in the Sarah Varda or Southern forms of Buddhism, you will always find that meditation practice or spiritual growth is a matter of using relentless effort to control the mind, to be concentrated, and so on. But as this effort develops, its term always is that you reach an impasse in which your will and your ego comes to a state of absolute frustration, where you find that there is nothing that you can do to reform yourself, to make yourself unselfish, which is of course, a form of lifting yourself up by your own bootstraps that not only is there nothing that you can do, but is also nothing that you can not do. In other words, your energy will be as phony as your relaxation. And at this point, in the process of yoga or meditation or whatever it is, there must transpire a state of surrender of total giving up. And it is precisely at this moment that the transformation of consciousness, which all these various religions are after, can come about because in one way or another, all of the religions, without any question so far as I can see. I would say the great religions of the world, we might exclude a few weird cults, but all of them are concerned with achieving a state of consciousness which is no longer ego centric.
Furthermore, a state of consciousness in which we see through a trick which during the egocentric state we always play on ourselves.
And that trick is that we become unable to be aware of the relativity of opposites, black and white. Light and darkness. Good and evil. Pleasure and pain. Life and death.
All these things. All say one’s self and the external world. While the South and the other.
All these things in the egocentric state of consciousness seem to be separated, opposed to each other, whereas the most elementary logic should tell us that they necessarily go together. In other words, if you are a superior person in any way, morally, intellectually, physically, you have no means of knowing that you’re a superior person except through the presence of relatively inferior people. And where are they to disappear? You would be in limbo and you wouldn’t know where you were at all. The higher always depends on the lower in the same way as the flower of the plant, depends on the soil, the rows upon the manure. And so to the subjective, the self goes along with the objective, what the self knows. And an inseparable union that we have managed to screen this out of our normal consciousness and to conduct our lives as if we could make life exist without black and light, without darkness and pleasure, without pain. But when the egocentric state is surpassed, it is seen that these things all go together. And the curious consequence of this is not that the world is thought to be a near balance between opposing forces. Not a simple compromise.
But somehow it becomes obvious when you see the unity of all opposites that the world is transformed into a thing of glory. It’s very difficult to explain that logically, but it simply is so with reference to this different kind of consciousness.
In other words, what happens is this that everything that you tried formally to exclude and to deny and to overcome is seen to be part of a harmonious construction so that the whole world is seen as profoundly harmonious with everything in it is as it should be.
And this is so difficult to explain to people who don’t see it that there are many people who have this kind of experience remain tongue tied. Not only is it difficult to explain to ordinary people, but it’s very shocking to ordinary people because it seems to undermine all the game rules and all the moral rules of the social order. And to be saying that it’s the evil things and bad things are perfectly all right because they are actually in a secret harmony with the good. And if you understand that superficially and you are not a very intelligent person or a very sensitive person, you might indeed run amok and justify any kind of conduct whatsoever on the grounds that it’s all part of the universal harmony.
And this, of course, is why there has through all the centuries been a kind of ease of terrorism, the kind of secrecy attached to these deep matters.
Those to the state of consciousness itself and to the various means of bringing it about, whether those means be sacramental or whether they be some form of meditation, prayer or other type of spiritual discipline.
In both cases, let me remind you, in both cases, there has always been a certain secrecy about it, or rather, these things have not been taught to people or given to people who were inadequately prepared.
And this is a grave, grave problem in the modern world, because we are today living in a world where there are very few secrets.
That is to say, scientific knowledge of any kind is of necessity, public knowledge, or at least public among scientists. There are types of scientific knowledge, of course, which laypeople simply cannot understand, because the language in which this knowledge is expressed say, for example, mathematical language has to be learned and is difficult to master. And so many popularization of scientific ideas are at the same time partial falsifications, because these ideas cannot be said in English or French or German, or even though they can be said in algebra.
So in a way, all knowledge gods itself, because to understand it, you have to follow to some extent the past, which was followed by the people who discovered it. But nevertheless, as a result of scientific technology in the modern world, an enormous number of things, very dangerous things made available to fools.
Not to mention the fantastic powers of destruction, which technology has given us. And so it is very difficult indeed to keep secrets in this day and age. Everything has been published, all the mysteries practically have been let out.
And in the sort of ancient Hindu philosophers, this would be regarded as a sign of the final decadence of the world. The coming on of the Kali yoga or the black destructive epoch at the end of the cycle in which the whole world is destroyed.
Be that as it may.
So I would start out by saying then that even among those religious or spiritual disciplines which follow along the lines of an extreme exertion of the will, they those gimmicky or self disciplines eventually come to a point which is the same as the charity. That is to say, those that rely on the power outside the individual will be beyond or deeper than the personal ego. They come to the same place.
Really, the difference between the two schools depends upon a definition of oneself. If you start out by defining yourself as your ego, then what is other than you or a greater power than you will seem to be different from you. But if you start out by defining yourself as something more than your ego, then the power which transforms you will still be your own. For example, most people define their hearts as something other than themselves. We say I have a heart rather than I am a heart. The heart is an engine for most of us, which supports the existence of the ego. And somehow we have it. It’s an engine that goes on in us, like the engine in our car, which if you’re not a mechanic, you don’t really understand. You just use it. And so if you think of your heart as other than you, it is something that mysteriously happens inside you beyond your control. But on the other hand, if you regard your heart as very much you as the center of your physical being. Then you will be accustomed to think when you beat your heart that you are doing it. So for people who come in the Judeo-Christian tradition, they are in time to feel that their heart is not themselves. The psalmist says, Behold, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He looks at his own body and is astounded and says, Since I don’t understand it, it must be the work of a God who is other than myself. On the other hand, when a Hindu defines himself, he doesn’t define himself merely in terms of those types of behavior which are voluntary. He decides himself also in terms of involuntary behavior, and so his heart seems as much himself as anything can be. So it’s really a matter of semantics as to what his self and what is other within you. Depends where you draw the line. But it seems to me unquestionable that in all spiritual traditions whatsoever, there comes a point at which the personal ego, the individual, will reaches a limit by one means or another, and where it is transformed by something that is not willed, but seems to happen spontaneously.
The Christians call it Grace. The Hindus call it Prasad.
The Buddhists call it body illumination, but in every case it happens of itself or as the Chinese would say, it is, John, of itself. So spontaneous.
So there is really no grounds. For objecting to sacraments, because they are something that come to us from, as it were, outside and do something to us which is beyond the control and understanding of the will, it always is that way. But now this is not an experience in which the will and the ego have no part to play, no part at all.
And here comes the danger of all types of transformation, of consciousness, mystical experience, sense of union with the divine or whatever you want to call it, however obtained.
It is essential that they be what I would call grounded, brought down to us, harmonized with everyday life and with human society. And this requires a disciplined.
Every tradition looks with disfavor upon those who simply steal the divine secrets and enjoy them without some kind of discipline. That should go along with it.
And thus the destructive effects of all these things are particularly manifested in people who have no capacity for the kind of discipline that must go along with them. And that is true not only of sacraments and divine plants and yoga practices. It is true of all things whatsoever which we might enjoy the cause enjoyment of any kind is really impossible without an accompanying discipline.
Just think of a few things which are pleasurable and which can be simply snatched and swallowed. Start with candy. Would there being such a thing as a palatable candy bar unless there was some expert in the making of sweet meats? Think of booze. You know, it isn’t just alcohol up on throws down, that is to say, if you want to have any lining left to your stomach, but skillfully prepared wines and liquors required based on a long tradition of the vintners art, which is a discipline. Consider roaring along in a fast car and you have an exceedingly short career in this thrill. If you don’t know how to drive and the car itself depends upon the skill of master mechanics, I can’t think of any pleasure at all.
Which does not require an accompanying discipline. Take sex. A lot of people do take it like that, and they I guess have a kick out of it, but it has no profound pleasure to it unless there is the discipline of an intimate relationship with another human being, which requires a great deal of intelligence. And also the merely physical aspect of sex is a considerable art which very few people ever seem to learn.
That is why our culture has sex on the brain and is perpetually thinking about it and perpetually obsessed with it in a kind of way arresting way because there is so little satisfaction and so little discipline and so little knowledge of how to use it.
So every pleasure whatsoever involves. A method of grounding it in method of integrating it with everything else, and thus if there are ways of attaining what is potentially the greatest delight of all the sense of the divine or whatever. I’m using that word as the vaguest possible word, the sense of transcending the gulf between the individual and the eternal universe. If you snatch that and have that experience and you don’t do anything with it and you’re not properly prepared for it, you’re liable to get into the same sort of trouble as you would get through the insensitive use of any pleasurable thing whatsoever. And it is for that reason, then, that it is very true to say that psychedelic substances, the chemical chemicals derived from the divine plants are dangerous. There is no question about it, and especially those like LSD, which produce their effects as a result of taking an extremely small quantity.
You know, if you want to get drunk on beer, you have to get put down quite a bit of it. And there is a limit, you know, to how much beer one can swallow in an evening. It’s a pure bulk, but you don’t run into that kind of limit with far more potent substances which don’t involve any difficulty in eating. You see the way the Indians take peyote cactus, it’s pretty difficult to put down. It’s nauseating even though they get used to it. But even so, to chew all that stuff. And so there is a limit set that way. But in these highly refined delicacies, there isn’t that kind of limit.
And our culture is full of plain, downright goofy people who will try anything and don’t know anything about it. And at the present state of affairs in the United States, the whole matter of psychedelic substances is in a state of inane confusion, which beggars description. So let me say, first of all, a little bit about the the the the nature of these things. They’re called drugs, but this is obviously a word which is unclear. There is no definite clear line that can be drawn between a drug and something used for food, say, like vitamins. A group of physicians and a group of lawyers got together not so long ago to see if they could arrive together as a legal definition of addiction. That is to say, dependance upon some chemical. And they kept finding that whenever they thought they were right on the definition that they’ve really got somewhere, that their definition also applied to dependance upon a foodstuff.
This is a very, very difficult thing to define now as between various types of chemicals that do produce changes in consciousness. There are wide differences.
All of them could be said to be addicting in perhaps a psychological sense. That is to say, supposing you belong to an in group where taking LSD is dirty guy.
It is a thing to do. And everybody compares notes as to how often and how much and engage in a kind of one upmanship with each other as to how often they’ve been on a trip.
Well, this is asinine because you’re following this practice simply to be one of the boys or girls, as the case may be, and to remain in an in group when you should. If you have disciplined yourself in the use of consciousness transformation, you should assume come to see the folly of belonging to an in group.
So in that sense, some of these things could be said to be addicting. Others are addicting. In a much more physical sense, the opiate, for example, has a very difficult withdrawal symptoms if one doesn’t use them constantly. But this addicting factor is not characteristic of all substances used for this purpose.
In other words, not everything that is used for the expansion of consciousness is a narcotic. This, of course, is. I’m going over things that some of you are elementary. The word narcotic means sleep inducing and that which makes one soporific which dowels or dims the senses. So of course, alcohol is a narcotic in sufficient quantity. Opium, likewise is a narcotic is used for dulling the sense of pain. Morphine is a narcotic in the strictest sense of the word, but substances such as mescaline, which is the derivative of peyote or a chemical synthesis of the same thing that is in peyote is not a narcotic. LSD is not a narcotic. Psilocybin is not a narcotic from the mushroom. And cannabis is not a narcotic because these substances tend to do something very different from producing sleep. They tend instead to produce a peculiar kind of wakefulness, a sharpening rather than a dimming of consciousness.
And so they must not be lumped in the same category as things which are true narcotics. And I would say it would be part of the definition of a true narcotic. That is, it is also addicting as alcohol is addicting as the opiates are addicting, that you become dependent on them and only with great difficulty can shake them off. The same is true, of course, of tobacco. It is very difficult for a hardened smoker to drop it, and it is therefore addicting.
Although I doubt whether it is actually a narcotic in the sense of the sleep inducing thing or an insensitive something, it makes you insensitive.
Now, our absurdly paranoid government agencies have never learned in 50 years how to handle these problems, despite the lesson of prohibition.
The authorities still think that the only way to deal with even dangerous narcotics is simply to suppress them, not clearly realizing that this makes them all the more attractive and that it creates an enormous crime problem which without suppression would not exist because the minute you suppress something and it becomes illegal.
People know that there must be something extremely exciting about it, and it’s it’s very difficult to suppress these things and you can suppress it a little bit. In other words, you can pick out a few feral guys and make terrible examples of them by electrocuting them or putting them in prison for an incredible number of years. But this invariably only scratches the surface because when something wrong or illegal is really popular, there is no way of suppressing it because all the hotels in the United States would not be sufficient to jail all the criminals involved. This has never worked, and why people don’t learn from history is beyond my comprehension. It becomes much worse as people become aware that there are an enormous number of varieties of things that will produce psychedelic effects and that in particular such substances as LSD can be compressed into such small areas or volumes that the detection is virtually impossible.
So at the moment it becomes a racket and something. Therefore, which organized crime can put a good price on the possibilities of playing games with LSD are enormous. It’s a real good racket and all it will do, the suppression of it is to encourage the proliferation of crime and lead to total nonsense.
We have never really understood what control is. We don’t see the difference between controlling oneself and strangling one’s self. In other words, the person who is a controlled automobile driver is certainly not a person who has no car or keeps his car locked in the garage. A very controlled dancer is certainly not a person who never dances. The control of things is not the suppression of them, but their use in a sensible and proper way. And this has not penetrated the consciousness of our authorities. You cannot suppress sex.
You cannot suppress mankind’s fascination, curiosity for whatever motive in other states of consciousness than the normal. These things are eternally fascinating to human beings and will always be pursued. Whether you think it’s a good thing or whether you think it’s a bad thing makes no difference. It will be done so at the present time. For example, if some people wanted to make experiments with any kind of consciousness changing material, say LSD or masculine, they are in the ridiculous situation that they cannot even pay a psychiatrist to sit with them and take care of them while they do it, because that would be illegal. What they will therefore do is not have a psychiatrist, not have any experienced or responsible person, and they will try it out all on their own without any preparation and endanger themselves because these things will come under unfavorable circumstances.
And with people who haven’t got a good psychic balance can bring about prolonged bouts of psychosis and lead to a good deal of trouble. But the difficulty is that we are, as a culture, not prepared for the control of these substances. And that is why there is a panic. That is why we are doing things that are worse than probably. Worse than allowing them to circulate freely.
I would not for one moment advocate the total free circulation of these things so that anybody could go into a drugstore and buy it.
But I think although I wouldn’t advocate that, I think it would be better than suppression, less destructive.
But what you see we don’t know, is how to apply a proper control to the transformation of human consciousness by means that are relatively easy because we are not clear.
One of the reasons is we are not clear as to the role in life of these chemicals, nor are we clear as to the role of the physician.
This I want to consider, you know, of course, that in ancient times there was no clear distinction between priest and physician. An individual might be primarily a priest and secondarily, a physician, but in course of time, the function of priest and the function of physician began to separate. And with the advent of scientific medicine, because the development of the sciences was always opposed by the church. Therefore, priests tended not to practice scientific medicine and the practitioners of scientific medicine being other than priests, the religious and the medical professions separated and in the development of medicine in the West. The deep concern of the physician was to preserve people from death to be a healer, and the function of looking after death was abandoned to the priest and the minister. So when the doctor in treating a patient gives up hope, he is out of road, he doesn’t know what to do beyond that point.
And therefore, the priest is summoned.
So the the work of a doctor is throughout curative.
He is in all his activities opposed to death and regards death as the enemy. This is, of course, not true of every individual physician. It is true of medical ethics and of the generality of physicians. So that, of course, terminal cases. Are people being tortured, beneficent? Yes. With a good motive, but nonetheless being tortured by being kept alive in a state of near mummification, because while there is life, there is hope. And in the next few days, there might be some amazing medical discovery which would cure them. And it would have been a shame to let them die and not reap its benefits. Yes, there always might be. So if the physic the this fact that the physician is in general out of role and does not know what to do in the face of death has a very important connection with another aspect of the physician’s trade that he does not know what to do with chemicals or drugs, which do not have the function of healing a physical disease.
In a way, all consciousness expanding drugs have something to do with death. Why? Because all spiritual disciplines are, as young pointed out, preparations for death.
It is a commonplace of these disciplines, spiritual disciplines that what you do in them is die in the midst of life. You are born again a second time, and that death refers to the death of the ego.
That is to say, you leave behind the state of consciousness in which you thought you were no more than an isolated individual center of consciousness that drops back. And so in that sense, you’ve died. And spiritual disciplines very often involve, as an aide to that, the contemplation of death. We think it’s rather ghoulish nowadays, but monks used to keep skulls on their desks. Buddhists meditate in graveyards. Hindu yogis meditate beside the burning guts on the banks of the Ganges, where they are always confronted with death. Knowing this is going to happen to me, good. Jeff once said that if anything would possibly save mankind from its idiocy, it would be the clearest possible recognition by every individual that he and all others around him are almost certainly going to die, because this, when it becomes something perfectly clear to you, surprisingly, becomes a source of intense joy and vitality. Because when you have accepted your own death in the midst of life, it means that you’ve let go of yourself and you are therefore free. You are not any longer plagued by worry and anxiety.
You know that you are done for anyhow. So there’s no need constantly to fight to protect yourself, because what’s the point? And it isn’t just you see that people spend all their time really doing something to protect themselves. Like say, taking out an insurance policy or seeing that they eat properly. It’s what we do that doesn’t issue in any action at all. The constant inner worry, which leads to no action except more worry. And that is what has given up. You see by a person who really knows that he’s dead. So do you see that transcending yourself, going on the arm? Your ego is the great preparation for death.
Now then you see we come back to the medical profession. If this profession takes the side of the ego against death, opposes death, regards death as the supreme evil, then the doctor really is out of role at the bedside of a dying patient. And he also is out of role when it comes to the handling of drugs that are not designed to heal death, bringing sicknesses, as we ordinarily understand. But what happens? What happens? We’d actually very few people take priests seriously.
I mean, even even churchgoing Christians, because this is what happens when somebody in the family of a good Christian shows signs of mental derangement, the priest is very seldom called in.
One calls in a psychiatrist.
Why? Because in our culture, he’s a scientist and the scientist has a far greater reputation for magical power than a priest or minister.
We only call in the priest when all hope is abandoned. The scientist hasn’t been able to work and say, well, maybe proud. Do some good and the poor priest gets it. In our Catholic priest, our Anglican priest.
By and large, they are very used to handling death. They know what to do.
Come in and open the book at the right place without any embarrassment. Proceed to administer the last rites. And really, that’s rather good. I mean, here is a man who knows what to do. It isn’t flustered in the face of death. That in itself has a calming influence. Not a lot of people feel that this isn’t really the way to handle it because they don’t really dig or understand this. These last rites. And if the priest is called in only in desperation, this argues that he doesn’t have very much power anyway, may have power to do something with the Lord in the world beyond, but very doubtful in this world.
So under such circumstances, both the priest and the physician. And I’m referring, of course, to the priest as he is found in the United States or in Europe at the present day. They need to take another look at death. And to bring out the all important fact that life without death has no value. Death, as Norman Brown pointed out in his book, Life Against Death. Death is what confers individuality upon us. It is your limits in time that constitute you just as much as your limits in space. Death, therefore, always overshadows the whole of life. And life would have no meaning, no point if it didn’t have death to balance it in breath and out breath coming and going.
A rising and falling are mutually interdependent. So death is a very valuable and very important thing which is being swept under the carpet.
So then in a culture where priest and physician have become widely separated, the sudden bursting upon us of sacramental substances is an embarrassment to both. It is embarrassing, first of all, to the priest for many reasons, because supposing we were to say psychedelic substances are not the province of physicians and psychiatrists, they are the province of the clergy, everybody would throw up their hands.
But these people have had no scientific training. They only think about neurology. They don’t know anything about the subtle effects of these things on the human organism.
How could they be responsible? And alas, it’s true. The clergy have not had training in neurology and so much the worse for them. On the other hand, the psychiatrist, with very few exception and the neurologists have no no training in theology. And when they most of them and they talk about theology, they reveal their abysmal ignorance of the whole matter. So the thing absolutely fall back between two stools and there is no class of people, although there are individuals. There is no accepted. There is no recognized class of people who might be called, for example, field botanists. All CEO neurologists and we very much need the development of such a profession. And until we have it, we will be in a difficult situation as to how to deal with drugs, if you will, or chemicals that do not seem to have as their primary use the healing of a physical disease.
But there is a sense in which these substances are medicine rather than diet.
What is the difference between a medicine and a diet and medicine is something you need when something is wrong, when something is out of order. A diet is what you live on permanently. Of course, corrections in diet can have a medicinal effect.
But surely there is a very true sense in which we can say that our world, based on the ordinary egocentric consciousness, is very seriously sick, psychically sick.
I’m not going to you know, everybody knows why we can see it all around us, that we are stark staring, raving mad and are busy preparing to destroy ourselves, and that is a sickness which needs some kind of remedy and maybe even a desperate remedy. The use of things that would lift us out of the egocentric situation could therefore be met, considered medical as healing for a social disorder. But again, I would say that they used in that way should be used as medicine in the sense that they don’t become diet, because in my experience and of course in this matter, everybody speaks for themselves.
But say, I consider just myself alone.
I wouldn’t feel very put out if, say, LSD were to vanish from the earth tomorrow.
Because I have discovered that this is not the sort of thing you sort of take every so often, like you go to church or if you do that, it’s something that you can take several times and gradually diminishing quantity and then you had it. Beyond that, it’s up to you to integrate your vision with everyday life and with all the various kinds of knowledge that say enough is enough.
But there are other people who seem to think that the great thing to do is to start out with a little and then keep on going, making it bigger and bigger and bigger, as if they were looking for something that should lie at the end of the line.
And then it becomes a diet. Now, that is indeed getting hooked on medicine and doctors don’t like to hook you up medicine, and very rightly because the ideal of a good doctor is to get rid of you as a patient. He doesn’t want chronic patients. Poor people always hanging on to him, always rushing for help. He wants to set you back on your own feet. And that is an excellent principle. This is where the doctor really has something to say to the priest. Course, priests tend, by and large, to want to hook you.
In other words, to keep you coming to church so that you will pay your dues. And the church will prosper. So the more people they can get hooked on religion, the merrier. Now, priests in this way ought to learn from the doctors and try and get rid of people by telling them the gospel or whatever it is they have to say and say, now you had it go away because you see, if you do that, you will create a vacuum and there will always be filled just as when the doctor the faster a doctor can get people out of his office, they go round and tell everybody, this man cured me. I didn’t have to go back to. So more people will be coming in. There are always plenty and plenty of people never come to an end. So in a way, the religious man ought to handle a huge turnover of people coming through and going away, coming through and going away. Then he’s really working. But he should not get them hooked on the medicine.
Indeed, there is a famous Latin phrase Crooks met Tina Mundy, the cross the medicine of the world, but people get hung up.
You see on the cross and Jesus, didn’t you remember? According to the the Christian mythology, Jesus came alive again afterwards. He didn’t get hung up only for a while. And so in the same way, if Christians really believed in the inner meaning of the doctrine, they wouldn’t get hung up on the cross either, except temporarily. I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live.
So also, when it comes to the use of any technique whatsoever, whether it’s yoga or LSD or what have you for spiritual awakening there applies to it. The Buddha’s symbol of the raft, the Buddha likened his method, his dogma or doctrine or method to a raft. It’s also called a genre of vehicle. Hence the Mahayana, the big vehicle, the Hindu Yana, the little vehicle. And it takes you across the river of which this shore is birth and death. And the other shore liberation nirvana. Now you get on that raft and you go over. And when you get to the other shore, you leave the raft behind. Same way they say in Zen Buddhism, their technique, the use of the Koran or meditation problem is like knocking at a door with a brick when the door is open. You don’t carry the brick inside, you leave the brick behind. So with all these things, they are means to pyre and they have as their objective deliverance from means. The Christian mystics speak of the highest state of contemplative prayer or union with God as a union without means. And I would extend the the sense of the word means even to ecstasy. In other words, ecstasy is in variables in the great religious traditions, not a final state. Ecstasy is an intermediate state. So, for example, in in Zen, when the experience of Satori or awakening comes about, there is an ecstasy. You feel marvelous. You feel as if you were walking on air. You feel absolutely unobstructed. You feel as happy as a lark. You feel, you know, this fantastic bang.
It’s marvelous. But that in itself is only incidental.
Zen saying says that Monk, who has a story, goes to hell as straight as an arrow. In other words, to have it is to cling to it.
And if you think that the ecstasy is the important thing, it isn’t. The ecstasy is an intermediate stage to bring you back to the point where you can see that everyday life that your ordinary mind, as they say in Zen, is the Buddha mind that everyday life. As it is, is the great thing and there is no difference between that and the Divine Life. So this is why you should read, especially there’s a new little book out on Zen. Edited by Lucian Strike. What’s the name of it, Jenna?
It’s Powers Poems. Six. Yes. Well, yes.
This has got some very good things in it about how the great masters insist that for everything you seem to have attained, every great insight, every great ecstasy, you must drop it. Let go of it and immediately. Go ahead. Because in the end. Thank you. If you think that. Here it is. Zen poems, prayers, sermons, anecdotes, interviews by Lucian Strike and Takashi came out.
Don’t say good. But they insist on the point that so long as you as you think that there is a state of affairs in which you can say about the big thing, whether it’s God or whether it’s Nirvana, Brahma, the Divine, the Tao, I’ve got it. You haven’t. Because the moment you regard it as some sort of object, some sort of state, some sort of thing, which you can lay your hands on.
You’ve put it away from yourself. Did one thing you can’t lay hands on as you never find it out in a million years.
You can’t find out who it is that wants to find out who it is. It wants to find out who it is that wants to find out. Now get at it. You see, but that’s the thing. It’s the thing that is most close to you, as Francis Thompson said, nearer his he than breathing closer than hands and feet. So what is absolutely central to you is what you can never make an object of knowledge. And so when you finally get to the point that you don’t have to have anything because you’re it and you don’t even need to to insist on yourself that you’re it, because you have to you have to insist on that, it means that you doubt it in order to go around saying to yourself. Be still and know that I am God. I mean, that’s the beginners thing. That’s for beginners. When they really get at the end of it, there isn’t a trace. See? No. No means I left. No method. No. No getting hold of it. No meditation, no LSD, no nothing. Because it’s just the way it is. But before a person sees that then means are used, whether it be yoga, whether it be chemicals, whether it be anything else.
So let me sort of sum up. In the last analysis. All spiritual awakening involves something beyond the will and the ego. You cannot do it yourself. So it makes little difference what you use for this.
Some ways are easier than others. It’s easier if you use SEO Botany, a divine plant than if you just bang your head against a brick wall.
But with the very ease of it, there is the danger that you may neglect the discipline that must go with it. In the banging your head against a brick wall method, they are sure at least that you know the discipline before anything happens. And so that is the danger in a relatively easier way. But of course, as Aldous Huxley once said, to insist upon using the more difficult ways to attain the mystical state is rather like having to burn down your farmhouse every time you want roast pork.
The problem for us is that we don’t have that.
The split between the role of priest and the role of physician has left those roles impoverished. And so there is nobody who is really competent to deal with death or to deal with preparation for death. And that’s what makes it a problem for us.
Finally, that the most subtle danger in all these things, whether it be yoga methods or whether it be chemical methods, is fixation on ecstasy, not to know how to go beyond ecstasy and beyond looking at the divine as something that one can possess personally.