A Non-Spiritual Explanation for Spiritual Experiences

One of my favorite contemporary thinkers is a guy named Jordan Peterson. He’s mostly a psychologist and deals with a lot of work around “Archetypes”. Throughout our human evolution we have noticed characteristic patterns, and group those together into abstract mental images. So like when I say, The Trickster, you intuitively think of a set of characteristics that make up this archetype. Be it lying, stealing, joking around, etc. The evolutionary aspect is very important here. Not only have we evolved to understand archetypes of people but archetypes of events (birth, death, etc), and archetypes of myths, narratives and symbols (resurrection, The Hero’s Journey, lions as a symbol for strength, etc). Deep in out psychology there are “spiritual” symbols and experiences waiting to be tapped into when the moment is right. I don’t mean these things are ideas shared from a god or whatever. They can have purely physical explanations. One example Peterson brings up, is the commonality of symbols in ancient religions all around the world. Both European and South Americans cultures shared the symbol of a tree connecting heaven and earth, with a snake circling around it. Sometimes this included a hell aspect below the tree. The easiest explanation is to consider that most of our evolutionary history was literally that. Our ancestors lived in trees. The heaven of sorts was near the top of the tree. That’s where all the socialization and eating happened. With the ground of the tree being the dangerous place filled with snakes and lions. You can see how generations of animals evolving in these situations would start to develop these archetypal associations. The early animals that survived would have to have had instincts deep down inside them, that made them see the tree as good and the snakes below as risks. Any animal that didn’t would have been bread out of the gene pool pretty quick. These instincts would have obviously stuck around in our evolution. They become more of an abstract association. You don’t need to be presented with a reason for thinking of the world as a tree connected to heaven and hell. You just have to have the subconscious instincts. This offers up a pretty thorough explanation for a lot of spiritual phenomenon. When people enter into hallucinations, they often see the same symbols and archetypes as other people. Not because there are literal demons and ghosts to see. More because these ideas are deep in our psyche and can come out at times when they are triggered.
How exactly we trigger these spiritual things to come out is important to address. The human mind is very complex and still misunderstood. However I have some personal experiences and ideas that might help us flesh this out. I’ve had sessions of prayer that were so moving and powerful that it could be explained as spiritual. Moments that brought me to tears. I don’t think it was because I was actually interacting with God. A more simple explanation would be to write it off as just normal brain chemistry interactions. These moments only ever happened when there was psychological priming. It could be a lack of sleep from staying up late at night, causing my brain to amplify my emotions and induce minor hallucinations. If I already believe (and i did at the time) that God exists and that I’m interacting with him, then it makes sense that in a vulnerable mental state, I start to fill in the gaps of my experience with my assumptions on God. I’ve noticed too, that often spiritual experiences happen in spiritual places while doing spiritual things. Maybe you’re listening to a great worship song that is touching you deeply. You zone out into this song. You dance wildly, spinning in circles and doing repetitive, almost animalistic actions. Or maybe in a more traditional church you find yourself standing up and sitting down in rapid succession. What if these are the exact things that prime us to have intense feelings of being possessed by the holy spirit? Cults are well aware that they can trick people by psychological priming them to have spiritual experiences. In the 80’s there was a cult that almost took over a huge voting block in Oregon. The Rajneeshpuram. There’s a Netflix doc on this. It’s great and worth watching. The videos of their initiation process show people dancing wildly, screaming, singing and spinning in circles. This lowered a lot of their psychological barricades. Weakening the mind’s ability to tell fact from fiction. If followed by a sermon like lecture from a charming and wise old man, it makes sense were a defenseless mind might start to believe nearly anything said.
The mind is so sensitive. Even the chemical interaction of what food you eat that day, can have notable impacts on your psyche. Drugs like DMT can induce amazingly visual hallucinations tapping into the dreaming parts of your brain. Ingesting chemicals can be a simple explanation for a lot of spiritual phenomenon. If you dig around demonology reports, drugs are extremely common. People attempting to summon a demon almost always have ingested some sort of drug first.
If we can explain away an experience with basic psychology, why bother to complicate our metaphysics with things like gods and ghosts? With all these insights, it’s hard to see where there’s room left for legitimately spiritual experiences. When you have a spiritual experience, remain skeptical. Do no attribute to a God what could be easily explained with simple psychology.

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Legalization makes everyone nicer.

Legalization makes everyone nicer.

Today I bought some marijuana. Like thousands of Americans do everyday I went to a building and met with an entrepreneur to purchase a product. However I live in a state that has legalized recreational marijuana. There is an insane over supply of products and a flooded market of businesses and competition.

Prices are low. Quantities are priced around 8ths for $20 and whole zips for $100. Agorist of course. Gray market prices I speak of. More importantly though the experience is so much better. I know all the products. I literally had a tasting of 6 different strains today before buying. I left the experience feeling amazing and safe.

Legalization just makes things better. Maybe we should give some other drugs a chance.

Thoughts from a tolerance break

It’s been a little over a week since I last smoked pot. I’m on what you could call a tolerance break, letting my brain readjust to sobriety so that it’s easier to get high when I get back to it. A tolerance break is always a great time to reflect on my drug use so here’s some thoughts before I return to the Devil’s Lettuce.

It’s great that cannabis is so easy to quit

I smoked pretty much daily up until last week when I stopped. It really says great things about this drug that you be a frequent user like me and have little trouble cutting cold turkey. If I had been doing coke everyday for a few weeks I’d probably be finding some excuse to sell my PlayStation for another line at this point. That isn’t to say cannabis isn’t addictive in some sense. Anything fun is addictive. But it’s addictive to the same degree as a good TV show or a fun book, you wanna do it again not because you’re compelled but simply because it’s a habit and it’s super fun.

I’m not more or less productive without weed

There’s this unfortunate stigma around smoking pot, that it makes you brain dead and unproductive. Though it’s true sometimes while high I’d rather melt into the couch with a plate of tacos than get any work done it’s not really a universal smoking experience. When stoned I often find myself energized to do creative work. Some of my best art was a result of THC igniting the creative spark in my brain. My tolerance break hasn’t really affected my productivity overall. I read less and I’m doing less spray paint art but I’m still kicking ass the same way I was while smoking daily. It’s important to pay attention to how individual strains change my work habits (I’m not gonna go for a jog on a 90% indica) but for the most part, I believe weed has little noticeable effect on my ability to get shit done.

I do sleep better without it

Probably the only real noticeable side effect of not smoking is my sleeping patterns. When I smoked daily, especially when I had more indica than sativa, I’d pretty much always take a nap halfway through my day. This would totally mess up my sleeping schedule. Making me wake up at 6am some morning and 1pm others. An important thing to pay attention to and keeping this in mind maybe I’ll learn to only smoke at night or only buy sativa.

Nothing new

Overall, haven’t learned much that I didn’t already know. It’s nice to take a break and reflect, it reminds me that contrary to the propaganda smoking doesn’t make me a junkie. Sobriety is it’s own type of adventure and it’s just another possible perspective to see my day from. Looking forward to getting high at a lower cost now that my tolerance is back down.

Smoking pot makes me a better reader

“I don’t smoke marijuana, man. Marijuana is a girl from Cuba…Ganja…is a bird from Australia, I smoke HERB.” – Peter Tosh

This might come as a surprise but I actually really struggle when it comes to reading.

I love books, my childhood was spent surrounded by them. Both my parents are active readers and I’ve always had a pretty huge collection to choose from. However as much as I adore books, I’m a terrible reader. It can take me months to get through a book. I just can’t focus on it. Things around me become distracting or I just get lost in thought. I get bored so my mind starts to wander and I begin to lose track of the words. It’s pretty normal for me to be reading, get through a page and have to reread the whole page because I wasn’t paying attention. Maybe this can be blamed on school and the dread of having to read for an authority. Maybe I’m just high energy and sitting around focusing on one thing makes me uncomfortable. Regardless of the reasons, this is a problem I’ve always had, getting through a book is a complete struggle.

Yet when I smoke pot these problems go away. A good toke silences the world around me and makes it easier to focus in on the content. It keeps my mind from flying off or getting bored. It sparks my immigration as well without taking away my focus from words on the pages. I can get an idea, write it down and move on without it distracting me throughout the rest of the session. It just makes reading more fun and ensures I’ll be enjoying my time with no risk of boredom. Pot helps me focus in on the book and keeps me constantly entertained so I don’t start looking for things to distract me.

I’m sure they are many solutions to my problem but for the time being this works and I have a lot of fun doing it. Getting high during a hike (what a stereotypically Colorado thing) and sitting down to read has become a part of my weekly routine. If you struggle with reading maybe try giving this a shot.

Fuck Coffee

I find the damn stuff repulsive. That doesn’t mean I don’t drink it mind you, I maybe have a cup or two once a month when I can’t score something better, but when faced with all the possible drugs in the world it baffles me that people are daily coffee drinkers.

It doesn’t even taste good without drowning it in milk and sugar. Plus every time I drink coffee I find myself spending an unnecessary amount of time in the restroom. Why would I do a drug that makes me poop when i’m trying to be more productive? Even when i’m just using it at a social event i’m still likely to end up upsetting my stomach and not being able to focus.

The culture around coffee is annoying as well. We’re conditioned that coffee is the acceptable stimulant, but god forbid we use some adderal or all of the possible LEGAL and SAFE nootropics on the market. I see a deep irony that we demonize some drugs but accept the usage of highly addictive substances like caffeine. Look I love drugs, drugs are a technology used to hack your body and it’s okay to use them as you see fit. However like all technologies there is risk and drug users can find themselves going overboard or getting addicted. Caffeine addiction, usually through daily coffee use, is just as real and concerning as nicotine addiction. It’s not cute when I see “don’t talk to me until i’ve had my coffee LOL :D” memes posted by anti-smoking, anti-alcohol or anti-marijuana advocates. Fuck you and fuck coffee.

The habits of the coffee-fiend appear to be very unhealthy levels of dependency. It’s rarely ever a good idea to use caffeine (or any drug for that matter) to pull an all nighter. Your marginal productivity will suffer if you don’t get a healthy amount of sleep. I’ll give you some advice, If you find yourself unable to work at night don’t make another cup of coffee, just STOP WORKING AT NIGHT. Go to fucking sleep, go for a walk or drink some water, just stop living like a keynesian economic model (artificially simulate now, crash later).

Coffee is dumb. I’m not gonna tell you to stop drinking it but maybe reconsider how you’re mentally categorizing it. If you think of it as more of what it is, a drug, then you’ll maybe rethink your habits and use of it. Hopefully you’ll come to my mindset. Fuck Coffee.