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Shaman, sculpture by Karoo Ashevak

The uniquely personal character of cannabis induced spirituality

If you would ask a cannabis consumer about the religiosity of its use or its spiritual content, that person would probably look at you in amazement and wonder if he heard your question right. Most people using the herb relate to religion as some institution, a Church, or a Faith, and often have a negative view about whatever it is other people believe in. It happens also that they might get very upset when hearing about a supposed religious aspect of the marihuana experience. Religion is something that traumatized them and that they struggled to escape from and don't want to hear about ever again. This can hold true of course also for people that don't use cannabis products, but they will, most probably, have decided to put their faith in reason, rejecting out of hand whatever reeks of transcdendentalism.

The issue of the religiosity of cannabis use would be moot if it were'nt for the fact that its religiosity is the reason for its prohibition. That religiosity is not the pious following of a spiritual shepherd from an officially condoned faith. Those faiths are based on doctrines and dogmas, irrefutable truths that nobody dare question. These faiths demand total submission from their followers and indoctrinate the faithful in the sacred beliefs. In so doing they reinforce the personallity of the believer, elected for future glory thanks to her or his belief. But during that person's lifetime there is no lucid escape from the mind and its powerful master, never a moment of rest and reunion with the inner-most self, the one we all hold in common and allows us to be in complete peace with the world. The spirit of the believer is but a mental construction. It does not make the body shake, to loosen the grip of the ruler, not even on the day of the Lord of one's believe. The spirit of the believer is a dead spirit, deceased on the day that the mind-altering products became taboo.

The religiosity of the cannabis consumer, instead of constructing an acceptable personallity that will lead to a post-morten reception in heaven, empties the person's personality to give her or him the opportunity to enjoy heaven on earth. For the marihuana comsumer there is no supernatural world -whatever that might be - populated by all the elected, the angels and a divine master enjoying each others company eternally. Marihuana doesn't alienate its consumer from nature, but to the contrary, it deconnects the brain from all its cultural luggage, allowing the senses to function freely. The eyes see what is presented to them, not what the mind tells it what to see. The letters on the front of the store, mentioned earlier, are a good example, because they were appreciated one by one, and only after a while did their combination take on meaning. Normally we'd scan the word "night store" in a second and move along, or enter the store. Also, when we meet a person, we scan her or him, and when we engage that person we do so mentally, according to a whole set of criteria we keep stored in our brains, ready to function expeditiously, leaving our feelings as much as we can out of the picture. Under the influence of marihuana we are inhibited from using this mentalizing tool society has graciously forced upon us, and must engage the world and especially the people we encounter directly. Problems, sorow and anguish are momentarily left for the mental constructs they are, while the joy of the encounter makes the heart leap up in praise of life. - back to article