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"Light, everywhere light", recount the ancients who came back from heaven, a space still accessible in the early days of the Christian counterreligion.

After having my first toke of marihuana, the light in the middle of the room exploded and turned into a bright wall that captured my whole field of vision. Little did I know then, in my state of bewilderment at the extraordinary things that started happening, that the brilliance of the ecstatic state is a common feature of the experience, reported already in the Epic of Gilgamesh, when the hero enters the garden of the gods, "there was brilliance"¹. The Christian apostle Paul being struck by light on the road to Damascus is of course the classic example of this phenomenon, the lightning in his brains having been so severe that he lost sight for three days, according to a report in the Christian New Testament².

This brilliant light is the visual aspect of a cerebral process that expresses itself in mental enlightenment. Thus, the knowledge we receive after having left our mind a bit, or a lot, depending on one's mindset and the particular circumstances of the moment, comes from an infusion of light. It might be that only a small percentage of the people using mind altering substances do experience a moment of brilliant luminosity, but enlightenment does occur, irrespective of this particular trait of the experience.

 
The effacement of self in the muslim prayer
   

 

If we imagine our mind as a cabinet full of information, all neatly stacked and ordered over the years in response to the ups and downs in our live, than the cannabis induced ecstasy has the effect of a big jolt that shakes everything in the cabined temporarily out of order. All the information in the cabinet that we automatically use to respond to whatever we are involved in, is gone, and we are left bereft, naked, like Adam and Eve in paradise³. Whatever we perceive through our senses appears new, that is because all the reference material enabling us normally to recognize things, has been lost. By looking at otherwise familiar objects it seems as if we never saw them before, but when focusing on them, memory will come back, bit by bit, and the just discovered object is recognized for what it always was and put back in its indicated spot in the cabinet.

However, by looking at people we realize that they are essentially different from what we had imagined them to be. Civilization has bestowed some basic ideas about others that make us look at them, maybe unwittingly but always present somehow in our brains, with circumspection, always on our guard, ready to judge and condemn him or her at the slightest indication of imagined peril. When these prejudices have vanished together with all the other information, we are able to look at people openly, without the interference of our self-conscious mind. We become aware that we held mistaken beliefs, which in retrospect seem ludicrous, maybe hideous, ridiculous and hilarious, ha, ha, ha. By laughing about ourselves, we absolve and accept ourselves, and in the act we can let go of our self and become one with the world, the cosmos, the all, whatever you might call it or not want to call it. Bliss it is called by the blessed.

Since professor Tart last studied marihuana users in the 60s, no other studies have been made of this phenomenon, as is made clear by the plea of the scientific community asking the government to free marihuana use for honest study. Thus, if we talk about the cognitive processes of the marihuana 'high', we can only extrapolate from personal experience and the little literature on the theme.

The knowledge gained in the realm of the supramental comes a bit the way Albert Einstein saw his famous formula fly by on a wave in the sky, or the Indian clerk Ramanujan heard in his dreams village goddess Namagiri whisper advanced mathematical equations in his ear.
Cannabis consumers might not have a genetic predisposition to tap into such extraordinary sources of knowledge like the two savants mentioned, but they have Maria Juana, as the Mexicans aptly have baptised her. It is the same Maria who, according to the Catholic Faith, opens the doors of heaven. Now, what the adept does with that experience depends entirely on him or her.
There are persons who, finding themselves at these doors, recoil, because they don't want to lose their mind; they feel as if they're dying, and call for a doctor or the police. They'll never have a 'spirit enhancing' experience - what in technical English is termed mind-altering - because they are barred from going through the doors, into heaven, the space beyond the mind.
Other people let their ego die and look inside heaven and marvel. When looking back they are stunned by their different perception of things and often burst out in laughter at the thought of the erroneous ideas they held, till this moment.

Seshat, the Egyptian goddess of wisdom, crowned with a cannabis leave.

 
 

If you are so lucky as to be able to forget about yourself, if you let go completely of your self-conscious mind, then you will be forced to listen to your heart, and perceive the world exclusively through your senses. In that state, you only can think along with your feelings. Not the feelings of hate and anguish cultivated to partake competitively of social life, but feelings of belonging, of happily being part of the world around you that you normally distance yourself from. When that happens, you have it all and are king of the world. And when afterwards your mind takes control again, that feeling of belonging is always present, if not it can be called up at almost any moment, to give the assurance that although from a societal perspective you are just another zero in the equation, you know that you are an equal part of it all.

 

 

 

That knowledge is not the objective knowledge that academies provide, it only serves the person who receives it. But that knowledge is the most essential knowledge any individual can receive, since it gives, more than the most brilliant mental constructions of the mind that the smartest people on the face of the earth might invent, the assurance of one's intrinsic value and existence beyond the philosophies and faiths of the day. That existential knowledge can be just accepted and serve to live a richer life, or it can be used for individual development, to form the basis for original and revolutionary ideas. Differences apart, the mind-altering experience roots the essence of life in one's own existence, beyond blind commitment to the world of official spin, the world of the vested interests. As a result, the heart liberates the mind from the stock-market, Hollywood and Washington, to unveil the world around us.

The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Gilbert Sheldon

There are some things that all of those who have gone through the experience have learned. It is a knowledge that comes from the feelings of happiness and togetherness, and the awareness of the existential security obtained : government can neither be trusted nor taken seriously in its discourse on mind-altering products. As Charles Tart aptly noted in his study on marijuana users:

 
"Drug-education programs sponsored by schools and government agencies are viewed with scorn and amusement by users, since their own and friends' experiences with marijuana convince them that the instructors are ignorant or lying."
 

It are not just today's Trickster governments that unleash "alternative truths" on its audiences. Cannabis users have never heard anything but "alternative truth", a century of the same alternative truth, brought, oh so ironically, by the very same people who scream loudest to protest the new "alternative truth" that calls the shots today.

¹ The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet IX - 171 Translation. Andrew George, 2000 (page 75 of the pdf document)
² Acts 9:9

³ Genesis 3:10-11
Gilbert Sheldon
On Being Stoned, Charles T. Tart, 1971 p 8 (p 22 of the pdf document)