Psychedelics: Bridging science and spirituality

In order to bring about a scientific methodology of the mystical experience, we must first end the prohibitive and destructive war on drugs.

Those of us who have researched the many aspects of spiritual, esoteric and occult knowledge and recognise its value and veracity, wonder at the reasons why such knowledge seems so far away from mainstream acceptance. It must be acknowledged that some of the experiential truths that have emerged from these studies are difficult to convey to those who have not had the experience. But often, even explaining basic truths becomes difficult when faced with seemingly intractable positions on either side of the manufactured divide between science and spirituality. To heal the rift that has widened over 400 years between rational science and metaphysical exploration is a major task and one that will need a monumental effort, but the signs are there that a change is coming.

For the past 12 years I have worked for mainstream media, mainly as a production editor of online content. Most recently, I have spent the past five years working at the Guardian newspaper, which is regarded by many as a left-leaning media organisation. In many respects this is true, but, working daily in the office of such a company, I have come to realise how difficult it is to explain the mystical experience in ways that do not shock those used to both the standard scientific reasoning which lends itself to a scientific materialist position which is more or less atheist, and to a world view which regards any experiences via psychedelics, for example, as, at the very least, temporary insanity.

In discussing the direct mystical experience, an acceptance of the validity of the psychedelic experience must be commonly agreed upon as well as the benefits gained from spiritual pursuits such as tai chi, chi gung, yoga and meditation. This is why, before we even begin to discuss bridging the gap between science and spirituality, we must present a valid political discourse that makes a solid case for the necessity of the mystical experience.

Science has progressed rapidly in the past 400 years and the scientific method has been astounding in its ability to manipulate and control the material world. In turns, it has been of enormous benefit and has shown a terrifying destructive capability. This technology has the potential to wipe out life on this planet. But, properly harnessed and with the right creative intent, this technology and the knowledge we have derived from it has enormous potential to synergise people and planet and to create the ideal world of each according to his needs, through transferable systems such as open source and peer-to-peer sharing.

Yet the full implication of such systems and their applicability to real world situations, to banking, agriculture, medicine, relationships and cross-cultural networks have not even begun to be fully understood, stuck as we are in old paradigms of copyright and sense of ownership of ideas and innovation.

The problem is not the technology, it is the sense of trust and community that is absent and this is a spiritual or an existential problem. We have not yet arrived at a spiritual methodology that we can agree upon and this is why I believe that creating a solid interface between the scientific method and the mystical experience is of prime importance.

At present, there are structures in place that derive great power and wealth from keeping humanity stuck in the old paradigm of separation. The few who exist at the top of this structure control not only vast armies and weapons both private and governmental, but also fund in direct and indirect ways a mainstream media that is utterly dependent on corporate advertising and marketing revenue. These companies in turn rely on funding from the banks who loan them money by creating more debt, which pushes more actual wealth to an ever-lessening pool of highly powerful and influential people.

These powerful individuals and companies at the top of the tree use well-researched psychological techniques of manipulation, often termed propaganda, but euphemistically rebranded as public relations or advertising to control narratives. These narratives become what the public commonly agree upon as the truth on various current affairs topics. At the root of these techniques is an ideology of separation, of dualism, of competition, which on one level of reality is certainly in existence, but which limits us to competing for ever dwindling resources and seeing “the other” as the enemy.

On a deeper, mystical level, our true reality is that we are all one energy field experiencing ourselves as separate and that we manifest our greatest potential when we co-operate according to common goals. To understand this is profound esoteric knowledge and it is knowledge that scares many who think themselves to be separate and either superior or inferior. But, truthfully, it is the only path to survival as we create ever-greater scarcity by mining ever deeper for raw materials to build that which we do not need to sustain an inferior system.

In the meantime, any individual, idea or collective that threatens this system is distorted to seem a threat to the majority. So we see that drug prohibition (probably the single most important issue of our time, in the sense that a change in policy would be the single most effective way of breaking this hierarchical and destructive structure) rather than serving the needs of the many, actually services the needs of the few who control the major pharmaceutical industries, brewery and tobacco companies, to say nothing of how this prohibitive system feeds into criminal enterprises such as arms, extortion and murder brought on by competition for scarce resources taken to extremes.

But a case can be put to the majority that would cut through the propaganda that says drugs are a blight on humanity. For example, cannabis is easy to grow and has medically and scientifically proven ways of treating a variety of physical and psychological ailments. This is also true for mushrooms containing psilocybin. The pharmaceutically produced compounds LSD and MDMA also have enormous potential health benefits and are patent free. All could drastically reduce the health budget and lead to healthier individuals, and this does not even begin to address the knowledge of its uses as spiritual tools and the legal case to be made on behalf of individuals to cognitive liberty enshrined in human rights law but ignored by powerful lawyers with vested interests in maintaining the status quo.

Yet, while we have a culture linked so tightly with debt-creation, wage slaves who are deeply traumatised by the vacuousness of their work and unhappy at their inability to escape the mundanity, we have the potential for great abuse of these medicines. Add to that the greater abuse brought on by the contamination of these substances because of their illegality and inability of users to check these substances for quality and we have the ability of those in power to distort the message further by claiming that these drugs are harmful when in reality it is prohibition that is causing the greatest harm. We need a medical network that is not driven by profit but by necessity and we need to make a stronger case in the mainstream media of the medical benefits, the social benefits and the legal right for individuals to exercise their cognitive liberty.

But, before we can have and end to drug prohibition, we must find a platform for the mystical experience, to establish an experiential methodology that can be commonly agreed upon because it can be commonly experienced. Meditation, yoga and martial arts all provide humanity with the tools for self-realisation. But we need to separate the cultural artefacts within these systems, the symbology contained within these disciplines, from the pure functioning of the techniques.

As I work within mainstream media, I find it difficult to discuss such matters, as there is a resistance to spirituality, occult knowledge and radical politics, yet there is a common liberalism, a general belief that drug prohibition should end and that our capitalist system needs radical reform so there is common ground. We must focus on this common ground and seek to establish roots.

The radical reform must come by campaigning in many different ways to end drug prohibition, and the work of Transform, MAPS and the Beckley Foundation is of great importance here. We must also make the case for a radical restructuring of the banking system, by bringing to light the many academics, scientists and legal campaigners currently doing this, and by showing how weaving computer technology, systems theory, permaculture, metaphysics, psychology and cognitive liberty into an established framework will grow from an end to the crippling effect of drug prohibition. Once attained, we can begin to bridge the gap between science and spirituality and create a harmonious environment where technology serves us rather than enslaves us.

I would be interested to hear any similar views on whether we can find a way to pool our resources to make this happen as soon as possible because there seems to be a sense, probably brought on by interest in the 2012 phenomenon, that this is the year we either reach the point of no return in which all our best efforts turn to dust, or save ourselves and bring in the world that we know in our hearts is possible. We have a choice and it seems to me now is the time to act

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