“The seeker should not stop until he finds. When he does find he will be disturbed. After having been disturbed, he will be astonished. Then he will reign over everything, and having reigned, he will rest.” – Gospel of Thomas: 2
Si Vales, Valeo
Thank you for your question regarding the use of drugs. While I usually don’t like to get into the politics of ecstasy, after re-reading your previous email regarding advice about anxiety and depression, I am compelled to respond.
Gnosis is disturbing.
It is disturbing without drugs. Why get more disturbed? People don’t acknowledge this, or think about its implications, before trying to use a catapult like LSD to shorten the trip (pun intended) to the Holy City. Oh, the number of casualties that are scattered on the road along the way.
Truth in of itself is frightening because it contains the entirety of the human experience. It is a question “if this, then that,” which has a lot of disturbing turns. Chutes and Ladders. Not just the pleasant stuff we think about when we dream of being powerful mages and saving the world from itself. Truth contains the horrible, blackness of human history, and the twisted thoughts and desires that have motivated people into committing the most hideous acts against their own. Without the preparation for such a journey, nervous breakdowns and other mental health issues may arise to torment the traveler. Whether you refer to them as demons, or as psychosis is irrelevant when one is stricken.
In other words, our ability to do good in the world, or at least what we perceive as good, is polarized with an opposite and equal quality of evil. One extreme cannot exist without the other. Let that sink in for a few moments because it is important. We will have to determine our actions, and we must be able to identify this horrifying experience not as aspects of our personal selves, but only as potential for all of humanity of which we are a part. This is the dark side of the Universal Unconscious, and the student must keep this in mind to avoid personally identifying with those horrors the same way we identify with those things that are beautiful and right for us to emulate. Love is what saves us, not just in the end, but always.
We live in a time where there is an abundance of knowledge, but a severe lack of wisdom. So how do we get Wisdom? By applying knowledge. How you progress on the path will be entirely up to you, but you must be responsible for any unintentional consequences.
Back to The Drugs
In the West, both psychotherapists and shamans use psychoactive drugs, plants or mushrooms for the purposes of healing and obtaining knowledge. The differences is in the mode or use. No one believes that taking the drug suddenly cures ones psychosis or causes you understand everything. How psychotherapists and shamans use these substances are completely different because the way they are employed depends, as in all things, on their world view.
Psychotherapy may use a drug to intensify (under controlled environments) an experience to induce self-analysis and understanding.
Shamans may use drugs in conjunction with ritual in order to understand the cause of his or her patient’s troubles through divination. The patient is rarely drugged. In fact, “drug tourism” is a relatively new phenomenon, in which people from the West travel to exotic places to get high, and maybe come back a changed person. It is good to remember that in the case of authentic shamanism, the patient is almost always unaltered.
In shamanism, there are various assumptions made to make it work:
- That there are different planes and/or multiple realities that can be explored with the assistance of various substances.
- The belief that the beings one encounters in dreams and visions are demons and are just as real as ourselves.
These assumptions, while under the influence of these powerful entheogens could be the mechanism by which a person suffering with mental health issues may be tipped over into an area of no return. This may be a good thing. One could, ideally, come back better than before. I have seen this happen and experienced it myself in my youth. But I cannot recommend it for a person who is already showing signs of mental imbalance. It is just too risky, and I do not wish to be responsible for someone hurting themselves because of something I have said.
Once again, I do not mention this lightly. I realize the implications of my advice, but do not misunderstand me. I have a long history with these helpers, and I think they have great use in our Work. But anyone with a history of anxiety should speak to someone before attempting to undertake such a thing. If one isn’t mentally prepared for the Journey, the path is dangerous enough without the use of drugs. Why make it even more so, just to save a couple of years. This is a life’s Work: It never ends. You will be doing it forever. Don’t rush. Are you late to a meeting? Do you have a date or something?