—-Working and doing so much work in the Zendo this summer has really taught me a lot about the true nature of harm reduction and what people need in their lives. When people become a guest of the Zendo they are overwhelmed. Many guests are not actually on psychedelics and realize that the Zendo is a safe space for coming forth with whatever is on their mind. Most guests, however, are and the experience of being on them creates an overwhelming situation within their minds and bodies that need to be expressed and let out. Contrary to the person who walked in who had taken nothing, the person on psychedelics has way less control over what is coming forth within them. They are in an altered state and this state is forcing them to go within and confront all the things that have been brewing in them for a long time. If this person is not allowed to process in a safe space the situation could be negative for themselves, others, the community, etc. The feelings, emotions, thoughts, etc. that are normally easier to control for the person who is not on psychedelics is almost impossible to control for the person who is on them. They can easily fall victim to all these suddenly overpowering thoughts and feelings and maybe even hurt themselves, others, get arrested, ruin their time, embarrass themselves, generally land themselves in a lot of trouble, etc. That’s where the Zendo and the people working it display magic. It allows time for people to interact with these feelings in a zone where they will be safe, not judged, and cared for with people who will mostly just listen, mirror conversation coming at them, and possibly offer gentle guidance. It is a remarkable process and place to be where difficult experiences that could have easily been negative are transformed into challenging then transformed into positive. It is truly a wonderful wellness experience.
—-It takes actions and little steps of moving forward to live your truths to actually create new levels of healthy routines, thoughts, perspectives, brain neurons, etc. And then of course, there is the idea that we will never be free or rid of the process of expanding. It will perpetually be in motion and growth is often an uncomfortable experience. We suffer without perspective as we can’t really see where that growth is moving towards yet. It takes time and patience before we start to get some perspective for our suffering and then at that point it’s off to the races and re-birth is something we can see and feel. However, even with re-birth, it is just a temporary stop in the repeating cycle. We won’t get to some magical place and then sit down and say, “Well, we made it” enough expansion for me and glad that’s over. When you’re on the right path there will be moments of extreme accomplishment and seeing/feeling that, but then it becomes relative and you continue to move forward to the next growth. There is no magic pill, magic place, magic partner, magic job, magic food, magic workout routine that will relieve us forever. We will constantly go in cycles of angst, suffering, hating life, perseverance, trust in the process, rebirth, flourishing and then various cycles of that all over again. It is a marathon race of constant movement. It’s a lifestyle approach and when your habits and thoughts take on this reality, and dips and spikes are all balanced out and work off of each other and seen as leading to eventual growth, you are nicer to yourself.
—-Consider two groups of characters: a monk or hermit who takes a vow of poverty and spends years in silent meditation or even a self-indulgent mountain climber set on climbing Everest, and a homeless person who supports a crack habit while doing no harm to others in pursuit of that high, or even a compulsive gamer living in their parent’s basement could be used here too.
The monk is seen as holy and dedicated to a meaningful life and the climber seen as giving it his all, while the other two more likely to be regarded as sick, or even worthless. All of them, however, are not raising children or doing productive economic or artistic work during the hours they engage in their obsessions. They are all, generally, searching for meaning or relief from life’s stresses.
Should we let meditators or climbers off the hook simply because they believe their pursuit is praiseworthy, cool, or effort based? If the meditator is so calm that they wouldn’t flinch from a gunshot going off, is being that disconnected from shared reality really something to value? Or perhaps the climber who is physically disconnecting himself from reality? Is it not more important to consider whether people are left more open to the world and integrated as a people or shut down and left fractured by whatever action they choose to participate in?
A high percentage of users of one class of psychedelic substances like LSD, mescaline, ayahuasca and psilocybin (“shrooms”) describe their experiences as being meaningful in ways that are quite different from how we typically talk about alcohol and other drugs. Even after a terrifying or apparently self-dissolving psychedelic experience, many people find that psychedelics have taught them something important. The fact that the teacher here is chemical is less important than the fact that growth and learning occur.
If we look at whether pleasures allow us to grow and connect, or if they simply take us out of ourselves, we’re better equipped to understand their value. No one can be always “on,” and simply zoning out on something isn’t always wrong. But psychedelics are different from other drugs in that they frequently make us face aspects of ourselves we might prefer to ignore. This could be one reason they are rarely addictive. The more habit-forming drugs like heroin, coke and alcohol (even TV) all tend to allow the user to escape from unwanted thoughts and emotions. Psychedelics, instead, tend to concentrate people on them.
Americans have probably also tended to be skeptical of unearned pleasure for spiritual reasons. The Puritan in them can’t value it without effort or worthiness, and if blessings are simply experienced rather than earned, and feelings are just chemicals moving about in the brain, it’s easy to start questioning whether anything matters. Psychedelics make people uncomfortable because they raise images of the homeless crack addict above and don’t have the work and effort symbolism of the climber or meditator attached. Psychedelics are godlike in their ability to change our minds, feel connected and integrated to the world, and have us see new pathways. That is revolutionary, as well as a threat, to the status quo.
If we want a better 21st century drug policy, we need to grapple with what drug experience means and not simply assume that a drug is a drug is a drug, and that being high is always worthless and inevitably leads to unhappiness in the end.
—-It’s not necessarily going against our brain that is the solution but in giving our brain back it’s freedom. It’s finding some sort of enduring energy pathway that will deliver us from a river of narrow thought that usually dries up in some desert somewhere to instead delivering us to the expansive ocean of experience.
It is interesting to observe what happens to our bodies when we encounter fear. We emotionally and physically become inflamed. If we go to the doctor we are prescribed a cure. If we don’t then we apply our own cure. Both usually involve short term numbing of the pain. The numbing makes it easy to continue to participate in doing things we’ve always done; watching tv, drinking or using drugs to oblivion, scrolling through facebook or tinder, having jobs or relationships that don’t serve us, having the same conversations you know the outcomes to, having the same friends you’ve always had, relying on safety and security and comfort over vulnerability, not growing overall, etc.
Ups are no problem but the downs can be devastating where we freak out, get injured, crack and will do anything to get back to that comfortably place before we were hurt. Yes, getting hurt sucks but not getting hurt sucks even more if you were to look at your life as a whole.
—-For people to be most helpful to one another, it is important to have travelled their own path with careful diligence and arrived at a state of compassion that gives one knowledge that we are all here to help one another in our own search for our own truth.
How do we become ‘stabilized’ in an ego-free state where we are most receptive to tracking the voyage of another and be in a state of consciousness where transcending one’s own ego boundaries and tapping into the consciousness of another and knowing where they are coming from is more possible?
As individuals learn to sit in a state of total self-acceptance they automatically accept everyone else without reservations. When one holds reservations about another’s acceptability, one automatically rejects the other. What makes this all so difficult is the difference between experiencing phenomena vs only having intellectual beliefs about them. The greatest obstacle to knowing something is to think you know it before you actually have the experience of the phenomenon. Reservations we hold over people in deeming them acceptable are very often coming from thought as opposed to experience.
It is of titanic importance in relationship building to uncover what “agendas” each person has for the other. When we have an agenda for someone it pretty much always means we are not accepting them as they are in present-time state. Regardless of the “realities and niceties and positive intentions” of our agendas, the result is that we are not accepting the individual “as is.”
One of the strongest forces in creating a positive shift in an individual’s experience of themselves is to have them experience being totally accepted by another…