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President Mujica and the preparation of a 'joint'.

Mujica’s marihuana legalization: a tool for peace and understanding

The ha-ha-ha religion
The historic suppression of the ecstatic experience
The entheogenic revolution
Overcoming politicians' egos

Indo-Iranian myths from the Rigveda and the Zoroastrian Avesta, tell us about the gods Indra and Sraosa, and how they successfully combat the Dragon of Chaos and Deception, thanks to the divine help of an intoxicating brew prepared with marihuana. The destructive force of these exhilarating drinks that helped the gods in those mythical days slay the Beast of Evil, is identical to the power of marihuana when it destroys the propaganda of consumerism and exposes the lie of contemporary drugs prohibition rhetoric. Far from being an aberration, marihuana use is a natural healing process offering its consumers spiritual happiness; with marihuana's legalization, at long last, istarts true freedom of religion.

The ha-ha-ha religion
Marihuana - unlike coca-based products that reinforce the ego and individual self-esteem, or opium-based products that induce a withdrawal into a happy oblivion of the outside world - has the peculiar quality of diminishing the consumer’s ego, making her or him more aware of the surrounding world. We call it a ‘high’, because in this experience we loosen the bonds that keep us tied to normal everyday thinking and rise above it. In psychological terms one speaks of an ecstatic state of mind. Philo of Alexandria described it theologically as the “entering of the Holy Spirit, which made the mind leave its house, because where the Holy Spirit enters there is no room for the two of them”. This loosening of the mind can be gentle, or overpowering, but in the process we relate in a different way to others, as well as to ourselves. We see ourselves in a different way, which often provokes us to laugh. This is the ha-ha-ha effect that Herodotus mentioned already 2000 years ago. We not only loosen the bonds that tie us to the world, but also re-tie them, and this re-tying is re-ligare, the urreligion of mankind. There is of course a moment of confusion when this mind of ours - our ego - is breaking down. For some people this can be a frightening experience. Once this house cleaning effect has run its psychological course though, a feeling of extreme peace with the world ensues. Then the mind goes gradually back to work, still under the influence of the joyful moment experienced. It is a moment of reinterpretation of ideas and values in the light of the ecstatic communion, a moment of enlightenment that has sparked the minds of mankind since shamanic times.

The historic suppression of the ecstatic experience
In those times, the members of hunting and fishing bands lived in close contact with each other and with nature, stimulated by ecstatic sessions of which all the members of the band would participate. Once man settled to take up agriculture and cattle breeding, accumulation of wealth set in, accompanied by ever-growing individualism and special interests, at the expense of society as a whole. This process happened worldwide. We recognize it in the history of the Jewish nation – 6th century BC - when the priest Ezekiel notified his people that their god Yahweh from now on would hold everybody individually responsible for their acts, and when an anonymous priest made Yahweh say these dreadful words: “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” From that moment on, knowledge was not allowed to come any longer from the ecstatic use of nature’s divine plants, but only from official authority, mouthpiece of the special interest groups holding power. The prophets, who until then had found answers to the nation’s problems - like their shaman forebears - in ecstatic communion, were marginalized into esoteric sects. These held that since justice and righteousness had become unattainable in this world, the just and righteous could only be rewarded in life after death. New ecstatic leaders arose in the margin of society, as in the sect of the Essenes, who had a “drink of knowledge” for the initiated, and a century later, when we read in 4 Ezra about the main character eating herbs so as to be able to receive a message from an angel. It was from this milieu that the story of Jesus originated, a man who taught to forget yourself and embrace your neighbour - the same message the marihuana high gives its consumers - because then the doors of heaven will be opened to you. The reformulation of Jesus’ message by the priests of Rome - for a belief in better times, but only after death - led to a not-so-Christian campaign of mind control at the end of the Middle Ages, when the birth of European individualism went hand in hand with the burning on the stake of all those who dared participate in joint ecstatic communions, infamously branded ‘black Sabbath’.

Nowadays, individualism and the glorification of individual accumulation of material wealth have reached horrifying proportions. The captains of economy all partake of the barrage of propaganda that keeps an alienated populace addicted to the myth of junk, promising a better tomorrow with only more junk so as to keep amassing wealth. This dream of unlimited personal wealth detracts from the fact that the world is turning into a big garbage can and denies the existential truth that community and interpersonal relations are more essential for mankind’s wellbeing than identification with material objects. It is this putrefaction of our civilization that drives people, and especially young people, to espouse mind altering substances, first and foremost marihuana. Authorities claim that marihuana is a poison to be avoided at all costs. But the poison is the culture we’ve created, and marihuana is nature’s very antidote, a means to escape from alienating consumerism and experience the spirit of community.

The entheogenic revolution
At the end of the 1970’s a group of scholars wanted to express this new understanding of the religious function of mind altering substances and coined the term entheogen, a noun defining plants and products that open up the mind to such an extent that the spirit, the divine force inside us, can become manifest. When we say that the divine manifests itself in us we are talking about the revelation of the noblest sentiments that surface at the moment of the entheogenic high. The ecstatic prophet of Israel imagined his god taking hold of him from somewhere beyond the clouds, using his person to give the nation the divine law and admonish it when it would not obey. We hold that the entheogen induced high reveals us the code of proper conduct mankind has written in its genes and has reinterpreted at all the critical moments of its existence. This code is not a monolithic entity being passed on immutably throughout evolution in the human genes. It should be seen as the product of a dynamic process between the physical need for survival of self, family and race, and it’s adaption to the cultural needs of any given moment in history, creating “moral instincts” of cooperation. It is their suppression which over the last millennia has enabled unbridled individualism to colonize and abuse the material world for the enjoyment of short-sighted private pleasure. This material craze is captivating a large segment of contemporary society, which has come to denounce whatever measures are proposed for more social and environment friendly policies as 'socialist', suggesting that a sense of community is some kind of civic aberration.

The entheogenic religion is a personal and intimate ritual in which the divine in man is revealed in a way that is unique for every person. Looked at from a historical perspective the contemporary entheogenic experience is a religious revolution.  No longer does mankind have to accept an imposed belief to enjoy a spiritual life that in the end offers nothing more than a mental crutch, a surrogate for true spiritual experience. The entheogenic revolution combats mental colonialism, the system of absolute mind control that has functioned for thousands of years through officially accepted religions and the propaganda of the state. The entheogenic revolution heralds at long last the era of truly religious freedom, in which every person has the right to live his own spirituality. Paraphrasing Canadian statesman Pierre Trudeau we might say that “there is no room for the state in the spiritual life of the nation.” Of course, the state has the right, and the obligation, to steer the minds of its citizens, but at the moment that its citizens – even if it would be only one - need to grasp beyond the mental structures that state and society-at-large use daily, they should be able to enjoy the possibilities that nature offers to find in their own souls the answers that official ideology has not been able to provide.

Overcoming politicians' egos
But we’ve not reached that era of religious freedom yet. Even though consumers all over the world have organized to oppose the criminalization of one or another mind altering substance and defend its beneficial uses, political authority is officially still committed to the eradication of all those substances and the punishment of their users and especially those that provide them without having obtained the proper sanction. They point to the universally held believe that these substances are plainly bad for human consumption. That is true in as far as their abuse will harm a person’s health, but only as far as too much of any food or drink will harm physical and mental wellbeing. Then there is also the generalized perception of drugs users as being lazy, asocial and inclined to criminal action, without differentiating between marihuana smokers, heroin shooters, coca chewers or crack cocaine sniffers, or considering the fact that poor heroine users are as prone to take another’s money as hungry Bushmen are to take a farmer’s goat. Politicians exploit these stereotyped ideas and the fear they generate to propose the harshest of measures, promising zero-tolerance and an end to the drugs scourge. As if the existential need for a communal and sane society would get healed behind prison bars, or the soul would stop claiming for freedom from under the yoke of an alienated mind.

By the nature of their function government leaders do become aware of the shady side of drugs prohibition and the relative danger of lots of the products on the lists of banned substances. Many of them would like to implement a more humane and respectful drugs policy but are afraid for their political survival. Some have tried and have been forced to retreat. Only after retiring from their positions have some of them been willing to come out in favor of a radical change. So far only one government leader has succeeded in challenging the prohibition: Jose Mujica, the president of Uruguay. Jose Mujica once said that he’s been looking for god but never found him yet. By legalizing marihuana and opening the doors of spiritual happiness to the young, he might not have found the god of other nations or of peoples of eras past, but he certainly has followed in the footsteps of Jesus when he said “Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these." Mujica’s stand against the UN-led prohibition of mind-altering substances is a symbol of a hand outstretched, of a new era in a divided world. It is a promise to bridge the gap between defiant marihuana consumers and the prohibiting society. Hopefully, the start of the acceptance of this consumption by society and the concomitant development of understanding of its use as a natural medicine, historically used for spiritual liberation, might initiate a process of healing in a world, very confused and deeply divided, over its religious legacy.