There is a war on your freedom and sovereignty as a human being – not your physical sovereignty but your sovereignty of mind.
A gateway exists in your psyche to certain mental states – states of consciousness – and this gateway belongs to you as much as your hands, feet or eyes.
Through the gateway are some of the most profound and integral experiences available to human beings. And yet, despite the fact that this gateway is right there inside of you – someone else is holding the keys.
Each and every person living in technologically advanced, democratic developed societies is being denied the freedom to experience certain states within their own consciousness.
The same way you decide where to walk, what you touch or don’t touch, eat or don’t eat – shouldn’t you be able to decide what happens inside your own head?
Now I’m talking about drugs – psychedelics – entheogens – mind or consciousness-altering substances – but the term ‘drug’ doesn’t really do this justice, for reasons we’ll get into in a minute.
What I’m really talking about is freedom – individual and societal – and the potential for massive, positive, world-transforming change that can come from inhabiting the states of consciousness these substances allow us to access.
Our current narrative here is so far removed from the truth that it’s difficult to know where to begin –
(Although it is getting better..)
So I’m going to try to break this whole thing down, by no means completely comprehensively, but hopefully well enough to provide some context and a good overview. I would encourage you to continue with your own research, and there are some resources listed at the bottom.
Here we go..
First consider the fact – free of judgement and preconception – that if you eat a plant that grows in the forest, you can be put in prison for years of your life.
Think about the values of individual freedom and human rights – shouldn’t we all have the right to decide what we consume, or how we want to alter our own internal states?
Politically we know that the ‘War on Drugs’ was a catastrophic failure – and that decriminalizing drugs often reduces their harmful effects in society.
We know that the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on the political process is not a good thing – not to mention the Prison Industrial Complex, where private prison companies profit from ‘minimum mandatory sentencing’ and the incarceration of non-violent drug offenders.
Consider how many people are forced to use expensive prescription medication that has high potential for addiction, when there often exists an inexpensive and potentially more effective alternative – one that is less likely to have harmful side-effects and less potential for addiction.
From a scientific perspective, the growing data we have on these substances (from randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies published in peer-reviewed academic journals) is overwhelmingly positive… and there is really no negative data. The large amounts of anecdotal evidence that can be found on the internet and in books is equally positive.
Historically, we know that indigenous cultures all around the world have been using psychoactive substances for thousands of years – and us in our damaged, broken Western society are some of the first and only humans in history not to have ritualized or institutionalized the use of some form of psychedelic.
The facts are stacked in favour of consciousness-altering substances – what we call ‘drugs’. In 2016 a stance that is “anti-drug” is anti-scientific, anti-human rights, anti-freedom and anti-humanity.
One last thing – if you feel resistance to this information, or you feel fear or revulsion when the topic of “drugs” comes up – stop and ask yourself why is that there?
What is causing those feelings? Where do your beliefs on this topic come from?
Did you form these beliefs based on your own experience? On the experience of people you trust?
Or were these beliefs given to you by something external – an individual or an institution?
Were these beliefs given to you when you were young and impressionable, susceptible to fear-based propaganda? (If you grew up in North America any time after the 1960’s – this is almost certainly the case.)
Social programming is very powerful, especially when we’re kids. If ‘drugs’ makes you feel uncomfortable or scared and you don’t know exactly why – just keep that it mind.
The terminology problem (Why ‘drugs’ is a misnomer)
It’s often difficult to start a discussion on this topic because the word ‘drug’ itself carries such a negative connotation. As soon as someone says the word “drug”, the door to open and honest conversation is closed in their face.
This is because of the way ‘drugs’ have been presented to us by government and media. We always heard ”Drugs are bad” “Winners don’t do drugs” and so on.
‘Drugs’ is often shown in relation to violence, as in the popular US DARE program. It’s also often paired with the word “abuse”. For many of us the word ‘drug’ immediately brings up the image of a shivering addict huddled over a crack pipe in a dirty alley – this is the deliberate result of cultural conditioning.
The first problem with the term ‘drug’ is that it’s too loaded to ever use in an even-handed discussion. The bias is too deeply ingrained in our collective psyche.
The second problem is that of using a single word to describe a wide range of different substances, with wildly differing effects.
Here’s what I mean, with an analogy borrowed from Sam Harris –
“Religion” is a term like “sports”: Some sports are peaceful but spectacularly dangerous (“free solo” rock climbing, street luge); some are safer but synonymous with violence (boxing, mixed martial arts); and some entail no more risk of serious injury than standing in the shower (bowling, badminton).
To speak of “sports” as a generic activity makes it impossible to discuss what athletes actually do, or the physical attributes required to do it. What do all sports have in common, apart from breathing? Not much. The term “religion” is scarcely more useful.
The term ‘drugs’ is the same as ‘sports’ or ‘religion’. It’s useless in telling us about the origins of a substance, its molecular structure, what it actually does to you psychologically or physiologically, how potentially harmful it may or may not be, and so on.
Cocaine and psilocybin are both ‘drugs’, yet –
Cocaine is a man-made stimulant that is physiologically addictive and lasts 10-90 minutes. Cocaine kills you if you take too much, and thousands of people die every year from too much cocaine.
Psilocybin is a natural hallucinogen that grows in the forest, is not physiologically addictive and lasts 4-6 hours. No one has ever died from too much psilocybin.
It’s hard to overstate the difference – without even having to mention the different feeling of being on these substances themselves. Why do we group these things together, especially when it comes to public policy and the laws we live under?
Using the term ‘drug’ in the way we do is hopelessly outdated and doesn’t reflect an informed understanding of the substances at hand. ‘Drug policy’ – in the world we’re trying to build – needs to overcome its terminology problem.
The Current Narrative is an Absurd & Harmful Double Standard
So we know what is illegal to use to alter your consciousness – what is punishable by decades in prison and fines of millions of dollars.
Let’s look at what is legal:
Alcohol is freely available to adults, yet –
Almost 2,000 people in the US die every year from drinking too much alcohol – not including deaths from alcohol-related health problems or drunk driving accidents. Those are people who literally drank themselves to death.
Around 10,000 people a year die in drunk driving accidents. One in ten working age adults (20-64) dies from excessive alcohol consumption – these are real statistics.
Cigarettes are also freely available and those stats even worse.
One in five deaths in the US is caused by smoking cigarettes – that’s almost 500,000 deaths per year. Cigarettes are the leading cause of preventable death in the US, etc. etc. We know these things but tend to ignore them because we’re so used to hearing it.
But it’s worth remembering that you can head to the nearest gas station – any time you like – and pick up a pack of these. Then remember that if you’re found with some mushrooms you’ve picked in the forest, you can go to prison. That seems a little odd, doesn’t it?
Alcohol and cigarettes are low-hanging fruit – we know they cause problems and the lobbying and legislation around them is imperfect..
So let’s look at what is not only legal, but also prescribed by medical professionals –
Pharmaceuticals are a billion dollar a year industry, with huge amounts of that money spent on influencing the political process. The government has no problem with drugs, when they are profitable for certain interest groups.
(Also see: revolving door politics)
One quarter (one quarter!) of women in the United States are on mental health medication.
Prescription medication and antidepressants are highly addictive. 44 people in the US die every day from prescription painkiller overdose. (Again real stats)
How many people die from marijuana use? From psilocybin or LSD? None! As far as we know, it is actually impossible to die from overdosing on these substances.
In light of this… it doesn’t exactly take a huge leap of faith to realize that the government does not have your best interests at heart – at least, not when it comes to this.
They lied to you about everything else – why would this be any different?
The same people who tell you:
- A liberal arts degree is worth going into 6-figure debt
- You should sit in a box working for a corporation to be a productive member of society
- You should go into more debt to own material possessions
- You should watch mainstream media because it’s important to “stay informed”
- You should get married and sign away your assets in a legal contract
- Your diet should be based on the “Food Pyramid”
(Not a particularly good set of advice is it?)
These are the same people who:
- Group all ‘drugs’ together under one umbrella term
- Allow free consumption of cigarettes and alcohol despite the massive harm they do
- Encourage mass prescription of pharmaceuticals while outlawing cheaper, safer, more effective alternatives
- Ignore the evidence that decriminalizing drugs is almost certain to lessen their harmful effects on society
- Want to put you in prison for choosing to alter your own internal states of mind
The people in power want to trap you in a mediocre life of subservience, debt, and hollow attachment to material possessions. They want to keep your mind closed to the possibility that there is more to life – and one of the most effective ways of doing that is by enforcing mass cultural conditioning about the usage of consciousness-altering substances.
If you haven’t experienced it – what is your opinion really worth?
Picture a scenario where someone is describing deep-sea diving to you. They explain in detail how dangerous it is, how your lungs could explode if you come up too fast, and how it’s very possible that you could be eaten by a shark.
But – this person has never been deep-sea diving. Not only that, they now go on to prescribe behaviour to you based on their beliefs. They begin telling you where you should and shouldn’t go diving, what equipment to use, and which places to see and which to avoid.
Now along comes an experienced diver who’s been diving all over the world – and he tells you something completely different. What he tells you about diving is actually the opposite of what the first guy says.
Who are you going to listen to?
Now this isn’t a perfect analogy (psychedelics are probably much safer than deep-sea diving) but the point is this:
These substances are being regulated primarily by people who have never done them. They don’t know what they’re dealing with – and like so many other things in life, it’s impossible to really know unless you do it.
What’s more, we’ve somehow been collectively convinced of a myth that because someone took something that altered their consciousness, this person’s account of their own experience now cannot be trusted.
Once you’ve taken something, you are now too “drug addled” (or something) to make a reasonable judgement about it.
Firsthand experiences that people describe as [positive – life-changing – paradigm shifting – the most powerful experience of my life – etc.] are brushed aside as “you were tripping” or “you were on drugs”.
This is the social programming again – and it runs so deep that we choose to ignore the accounts of people who have experienced these things themselves, and instead trust the prescriptions of those who have never experienced them at all.
Consciousness is too subjective to make a judgment from the outside
There’s an added layer here due to subjective nature of human consciousness and the fact that drug experience is almost entirely internal. The contents of one’s consciousness are only available to the person themselves – we can never truly “see” inside another person’s consciousness and we can never truly “see” an internal experience.
Every meaningful aspect of a trip occurs 100% inside the consciousness of the person experiencing it, and by observing from the outside we can barely perceive a fraction of it.
Again, imagine if someone who had never drank alcohol were to describe its effects to you. Now following that, they were to prescribe behaviour to you based on their beliefs about it. Would you trust them? Of course not.
Why on earth should people who have never tried consciousness-altering substances themselves be allowed to regulate them for the rest of us?
In this case – you really can’t know unless you’ve done it.
Current Scientific and Medical Research is (re) Discovering the Truth
Recently there’s been a resurgence of interest in studying the potential benefits of consciousness-altering substances, for really for the first time since the 1950s and 60s before it was all made illegal.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is currently doing studies with MDMA to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in military veterans, with extraordinary results.
Their paper on treating PTSD with MDMA was the most cited paper in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2015. 83% of subjects were essentially “cured” of PTSD and every single subject experienced “significant and lasting improvements.”
There is also encouraging research on psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychedelic (“magic”) mushrooms
Psilocybin has been shown to relieve stress and death-related anxiety in terminal cancer patients. There are more studies on psilocybin and cancer patients going on at Johns Hopkins and NYU. Psilocybin shuts off the part of the brain that causes depression and it also provides “mystical type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance.”
(Psilocybin is being used to relieve “death-related anxiety” – that is fear of death)
The African psychoactive ibogaine is being used to cure addictions to heroin, meth, and other *actually* harmful drugs.
There’s also plenty of research being done on Ayahuasca, demonstrating it can be used to treat depression and provide a host of other benefits.
The research is encouraging and this list isn’t exhaustive – I’m just trying to prove a point. The scientific data is, for the most part, entirely in favour of these substances.
Microdosing LSD is also catching on in Silicon Valley – using psychedelics in very small doses to enhance creativity, problem-solving ability, focus and concentration. These are all extraordinarily positive traits that make for innovative and world-changing entrepreneurs.
We’ve actually had positive data on psychedelics since the 1960s. University and government-sanctioned studies showed the potentially positive benefits of LSD way back in 1966.
The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience (Amazon) is an entire book cataloguing positive psychedelic experiences – it too was published in the mid-1960s.
The evidence is abundantly clear: MDMA, marijuana, LSD, psilocybin – when used responsibly in an appropriate setting – are the farthest thing in the world from harmful.
Read more about psychedelic research here: 7 Remarkable Things I Learned at Psychedelic Science 2017
They can treat conditions that are otherwise extremely difficult, expensive, or completely impossible to treat – with high levels of success.
Human progress in this realm was derailed for 3 decades by the ‘war on drugs’ – and now we’re finally getting back on track. And here we’re seeing only a fraction of the potential good that consciousness altering substances can do for humanity.
Welcome to the Future of Human Consciousness
If you are afraid of “drugs” or what they will do to you – I’m afraid you’ve been sold a lie.
21st century Western society has lied to us about almost everything through mass cultural conditioning.. not only consciousness-altering substances but also the nature of reality itself.
The idea that you are an isolated individual existing only inside your skin – entirely separate from the surrounding environment – is a false idea that has been given to you, just like all the others.
The illusion of the ‘self’ – the ego – is not the deepest level upon which human beings can understand reality.
(This is going to be too ‘out there’ for a lot of people, but if it isn’t… welcome to the party ;))
The entire universe is just one continuous process and everything happening inside your consciousness – including the feeling of there being a “you” at all – is a part of that same process.
Remember that psilocybin relieves fear of death
The psilocybin studies are particularly telling. How do we explain this? Here’s my take:
Dying people are relieved of their fear of death because – upon consuming psilocybin and experiencing the corresponding altered state of consciousness – they realize something fundamental about the nature of being human:
The truth is that you are not just a random evolutionary mutation or a piece of biological machinery fighting for survival in a cold and uncaring universe – you are part of something beautiful and complete and you are no less part of it when you’re dead than you are part of it now.
The ego may disappear, but it was never real in any meaningful sense in the first place. A person’s sense of “self” is an illusion.. Eastern philosophy has understood this for millennia and Western science is just now beginning to realize it too.
Every person can know this to be true through their own subjective experience. Meditate for long enough and your “self” disappears. Take LSD and the same thing will happen. Even when you are completely present – no meditation, no drugs, nothing required but complete presence in the moment – there is no sense of a separate self!
‘You’ are not your ego – you are the infinite matter of the universe, made from the same substance as the earth, the sun, the planets and *indistinguishable* from everything around you.
And yet powerful forces are trying to stop you from breaking through this illusion.
How else can they keep people trapped in menial jobs, deeply in debt, and slaves to a system of status-based competition that feeds the economic machine?
Free your mind. Free your consciousness. There’s a revolution happening – evidenced by the studies mentioned above and the growing acceptance of consciousness-altering substances in society. This is the next step in human progress and it can’t happen fast enough.
If you ask me..
[This is what’s going to save our world]
Resources on Consciousness, Psychedelics, Spirituality & More
It’s important to say that I didn’t invent many of these ideas – I just want to bring them to your attention, and I would encourage you to continue with your own research.
Here are some helpful resources to get started:
Spirituality & Consciousness
- Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (Amazon) is an excellent place to start, especially if you are scientifically or intellectually-oriented or generally skeptical about “spirituality”
- Alan Watts remains my favourite speaker on spirituality and consciousness – try the Nature of Consciousness lecture series to get started
- Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad Gita (Amazon) is another excellent book on spirituality, which I wrote about in some detail in this post
- Whenever Duncan Trussell is a guest on Joe Rogan’s podcast they always end up talking about this stuff.. Here’s one of those episodes
- The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience (Amazon) is a comprehensive and fascinating (but quite academic) account of studies/experiments done with psychedelics in the 1960s
- Check out James Fadiman on Tim Ferriss’ podcast to learn more about microdosing psychedelics. Fadiman’s book is The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide (Amazon)
- Read about my experience microdosing 1P-LSD
- The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is doing amazing, unprecedented research in this field and they are funded entirely by private donations. Explore their website and donate if you can.
- Check out 7 Remarkable Things I Learned at the Psychedelic Science 2017 conference
I really do believe this will change the world.
We live in a society where the true “medicine” – the stuff that heals you, that helps you solve your problems, that brings you back in touch with the nature of reality – that’s the stuff you’re not allowed to have.
The medicine is illegal while the really harmful drugs are openly sanctioned by the government and cultural institutions. Our laws are hopelessly outdated in the face of a modern understanding of these issues.
If you agree – if you support rational drug policy and exploring altered states of consciousness for the benefit of all – please “Like”, share, or send this article to anyone you think might enjoy it.
Thanks for reading and take care :)