entheogens and the mind of society, part 1
Freedom of Consciousness and the Cage of the Civilized Mind
To talk of entheogens (i.e. psychedelics or visionary substances) is to talk of the freedom to explore one’s mind, a freedom of consciousness. This quintessential freedom, expressed through the capacity to ask ‘why’, has been buried by the operant conditioning of the modern world. It has been replaced with egoic assurance that what we have been told, shown, and lead to believe, are unquestionably true.
These rarely correct perspectives keep us stuck in a closed loop of self-limiting thought patterns. Embedded in the subconscious, these thought patterns are derived from the internalizing of implicit lessons present in our environment throughout our lives. The information in our environment, our habitat, works with the nutritional information of our diet in a feedback loop to inform how we experience life. These self-limiting thought patterns are further accentuated by our modern western diet of low nutrient, highly processed, modified and ultimately toxic foods, which make our bodies weak and brains undernourished. This is the co-creative result of what we call ‘civilization’ (root word civic: of, relating to, or belong to a city), and the incidental domestication of the human species over the past few thousand years.
Evolving from the need to ensure the prevailing security of the civic, of civilization, we are adapted to a standardized state-education program that conditions the way we think, cultivating a populace en mass that remains predictable and controllable. It aligns us subconsciously to the perceived imperative of producing capital for society, of being a ‘good citizen’. Through this education, the institutionalized structures of the modern, Eurocentric civic life, and the narrow-minded paradigm of reality that goes with it, becomes the unquestionable truth of what it means to be human and alive.
With this paradigm comes a set of stigma, presumptions, and disinformation that trips our logic and keeps us disempowered. This is what holds us back from freedom of consciousness, freedom to think about what we choose, in whatever way we choose. It is what keeps us civilized.
But the civilization of the human species is destroying our planet, our bodies and our potential. So it seems vital that we break free of this conditioning and explore a better way for ourselves, for humanity, and the planet as a whole. This is already underway, and you, reading this, are a part of it. But there is another vital part that the rest of this article will focus on: Entheogens.
The very nature of an entheogenic experience is that of deconditioning one’s prevailing thought patterns, catalyzing creativity, questioning the meaning of human life and the nature of reality, and engendering in one the distinct sense of being connected to the essence of life itself. It is these changes in the mind, with or without entheogens, that can free us of conditioned ignorance and set us forth on the wings of true conceptual freedom. But modern society often pushes aggressively against these changes, played through the agents of institution (highly conditioned individuals acting on ‘moral imperative’) that represent the collective consciousness of the civic. To allow change such as that which we are speaking of would be catastrophic for the controlled predictability of the populace, required by civilization to maintain its trajectory, however ill-informed it may be.
This makes entheogens dangerous to society, which is why the average person perceives them as dangerous. Institutionalized drug education conditions us to this perception, but through a supportive reasoning that is contorted with disinformation, induced fear, contradiction, and ignorance. The use of these substances is thus suppressed by making people afraid of them. Their danger to society is mitigated, and we are kept distracted from the truth about whose security they really threaten.
This education began with the prohibition campaigns of the 1970’s; however, the media-generated stigma and ignorance left echoing from that era is thankfully beginning to dissolve in the light of cultural evolution. Entheogens are coming back into the realm serious consideration. Leading-edge scientific research on their psychotherapeutic potentials, and increasing cultural openness to the paradigm of indigenous or native people, is awakening the potential for a deeper awareness of the possibilities for these substances as a part of contemporary human life.
Yet, entheogens are still considered extremely taboo and are far from being openly discussed. Many incorrect ideas and assumptions left over from the post-60’s consciousness movement and beyond are still recycling through the common discourse on this subject. The resulting abundance of logical fallacies embedded in the commonly accessible rhetoric about these substances holds us locked into our present thinking about them. This, along with a contorted drug education, keeps our perception of their potentials under a conceptual veil of ignorance. We are left blind to our historical relationship with these ancient tools of revelation and release. We are left blind to our potential relationship with these tools for mental-emotional wellbeing and a sense of connection to each other and the planet.
If we are to change this situation and transform the rhetoric in a way which abolishes this conceptual veil, we need to start practicing a different kind of conversation. In the same way that we have been coming together to free ourselves from sexual repression by speaking openly about human sexuality, we need to start coming together for mature, open, and intelligent discussion about entheogens.
Bringing this type of discussion into the social commons will not be easy; we are facing 40 years of heavy prohibition conditioning wrought with aggressive ignorance. It will require clarity around the facts and fictions about the role these substances have played in the story of humanity. However, when this clarity is developed and structured in a language that is accessible and free of presumption, ignorance and unnecessary metaphysical abstractions, its lucid quality will cut through the haze of the domesticated mind’s contorted education on this taboo.
By developing, practicing, and applying such language openly with the confidence to discuss entheogens (or any subject sentenced as taboo by the ‘civilized’ groupthink), we can free ourselves by at least making visible the bars of our civilization.