Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Drugs and Spirituality

Some people described as religious leaders who include Catholic, Orthodox and Presbyterian priests, Rabbis and a Zen Buddhist recently took part in an experiment in which they were given powerful doses of psilocybin, a psychedelic drug, to see how they would react and if they would report any mystical experiences. See here. This prompts me to revisit some comments I made elsewhere on the subject of drugs and spirituality because I am firmly of the belief that the two don't mix and those who try to mix them on the basis that drugs can offer an experience roughly simulating the mystical are making a mistake. I apologise if these remarks seem a bit piecemeal. I originally made them in another context and have only edited them slightly for this post.

To begin with, why should one even consider associating consciousness altering drugs and the spiritual path? After all, the real aim of the spiritual path is not to achieve a higher state of consciousness (if it were, why be born?) but to acquire virtue using that word to encompass all that is involved in the idea of the good, the beautiful and the true*. You might say that experiencing these states could reorient a person to the spiritual but even if that were true (and I don't dismiss the idea) then once is enough. You don’t need to keep going back even in the context of ritual or so called worship. The point is that it is an artificial means to try to take the kingdom of heaven by storm and therefore a fundamentally irreligious thing to do. It is putting your will above God’s. If he wants you to experience transcendent states he is perfectly capable of giving them to you. However he knows the strong likelihood that a person gets attached to these states and loses the reason for being on the spiritual path in the first place which is to get closer to God through the heart not by means of drugs. The latter will make the former more difficult not less so.

I took LSD a few times in my youth and I also took morning glory seeds which have a similar effect to LSD but are a natural substance. I know how powerful the psychedelic experience is. But what does it really teach you? That higher states exist and that some of them might be something like those you have experienced? To put it bluntly, so what? That's not going to change you fundamentally, not as you are in your character though it may change the way you think. It's a mechanical technique and mechanical techniques don't work in the spiritual world. The best they can do is offer a parody of spirituality. Advocates claim it reveals a world of oneness and love but I'm afraid, even in the best case scenario, all that will happen as a result of that is that you will start behaving in a way you think corresponds to that. That is to say, your behaviour will be considered rather than spontaneous and coming from an inner realisation. There will be a gap between you as you are and your behaviour caused by what you think. You'll be a fake.

You see, drugs operate in the world of experience but spirituality, true spirituality, the spirituality of the saints, is a matter of innocence meaning precisely that it is a natural not artificial expression of what you are inside.

Even setting all this aside, the fact is that taking drugs can open a person up to the influence of dark forces even if done in a supposed religious context. Your (to use a New Agey kind of term) energy fields are open and anything can get in. Drugs can introduce you to the inner side of creation (this is the world of the shaman and quite distinct from the higher spiritual world), and there are many different kinds of inhabitants there. However it is not the realm of the true saints and sages who are humanity's teachers. This is not accessed through drugs.

The fact that no proper spiritual teacher or prophet or guru has ever advocated drug taking in any context should be enough to make one aware that it is not the route to go down. Indeed, my own teachers told me that my use of them had damaged my brain to a degree, and I was by no means a heavy user.

It could be said that one's motivation determines the legitimacy of taking drugs. For instance, what if one is truly seeking divine reality and not just doing it for kicks? I'm afraid that alters very little. Good intentions certainly mitigate a wrong action but a wrong action is still a wrong action, and the point about trying to bend God's will to your own still stands as does the one about prioritising experience over being.  I don't think drugs of any kind have ever made anyone a better person, usually the reverse.

The truth is that the attempt to break into the next world by any artificial means, whether through drugs, chemical or natural, or even fasting, dancing, drumming etc is not the way forward. It belongs to our evolutionary pre-rational past and comes from a time when connection to perceived oneness was being lost and people sought to recapture it. So it’s essentially degenerate behaviour.  It is not a spiritual practice because when you come right down to it it is self-seeking. It is valuing God's gifts above God himself. In our present state of being meditation and prayer are the way forward. Can you imagine any of the saints doing this? Can you imagine Jesus or the Buddha recommending it?

You might think these strictures apply only within the context of theistic religion and are not relevant in terms of an approach that seeks higher levels of consciousness without bringing God into the matter. Setting aside for the moment whether that is an incorrect approach or not (it is!), I would still say that drugs actually reduce one's ability to access these states naturally and, even more important, to respond to them from the standpoint, moral and spiritual, of their own level. By which I mean that if you trespass where you have not earned the right to be you will not be able to understand where you are. Only when you have earned the right of entry by the inner quality of your own being can you respond to these levels properly and in terms of what they really are. Spiritually speaking, you cannot separate knowing and being, and if you try to circumvent that rule you risk inner disconnection. 

The point about higher states of consciousness is not that we should experience them but that we should be like them. This won't happen through drugs but through repentance, self-purification and dedication to the light, principally the light of Christ. Ultimately it's a question of 'thy will be done'. Trying to storm the kingdom of heaven by means of drugs is doing 'my will'.


*Note:  It could be argued that's just the Christian aim but I think it is the universal aim as in what God wants for us. However even from a Buddhist perspective of enlightenment the goal is to go beyond the idea of 'states' altogether so anything tending to affirm that idea could only increase attachment and cravings. Hence for the Buddhist the use of drugs would simply be seen as perpetuating illusion.








Saturday, 22 July 2017

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Remember the Creator blog

I've started a new blog called Remember the Creator which can be found here. It is somewhat similar to this blog in that it is about spiritual matters but is more focussed on the idea of God, his nature and reality or as much of them as I can comprehend in my mind and imagination. 

I've done this because I think that acknowledging the fact of God is the single most important thing in the world today. He is the subject of all subjects and the fact behind all facts but we have lost sight of this fundamental and essential truth. Consequently we are drifting towards destruction. These are days of material prosperity for most people in the Western world (though how long that will last is anyone's guess), but we are also the most spiritually impoverished people there has ever been.


Our existence is a gift from God. Not to recognise this gift is a great sin. We need to put that right and turn our faces towards the source of our being which is God, the Most High.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Overturning of the Natural Order

Is the West, and by extension the whole world, under spiritual assault?

A polemical piece on this subject on Albion Awakening.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Incoherence of Modernity

Today's world does not believe in any underlying structure to reality and thinks it can make what it calls reality according to how it (currently and for the time being) thinks it ought to be. But in that case if you believe in what is acceptable according to modern lights and I am a racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobe, how can you say that I am wrong? How can one set of morals be any better than the other? Why should one have morals at all other than for purely utilitarian reasons? According to what yardstick are you saying you are right and I am wrong?  Any yardstick by which sets of morals are judged must be something that stands above and beyond them. Otherwise everything is equally valid or equally invalid, and even if you say that that is good which offers the greatest happiness and the least suffering to society as a whole I could say, why?  Why should that even matter? It might be good in a purely functional sense but that doesn't make it objectively better and, even if it did, by whose criteria, yours or mine?

If there is no underlying structure to reality then there is no truth. Nothing is better or worse. Nothing is right or wrong. Everything is what you want it to be. Life is basically a horror film in which we cover up the yawning abyss of nothingness by self-deception and self-distraction. The most reasonable attitude is that of the criminal who just seeks to exploit as many people as possible for his own benefit, up to and including murder, rape and anything else he feels like doing. This is the only logical conclusion, not that logic means anything either. The world is a nightmare from which we can never wake up. The blackness of unconsciousness is the only release. This is the absurdity of the modern world.


Luckily it is a completely false view of the world. There is an underlying truth, there is a reality to reality. But then that means we have to conform ourselves to it. We cannot just behave in a way that might seem to benefit us or be pleasing to us or even be regarded as fair according to the standards of the world. There is right and wrong, truth and falsehood, good and bad and we must seek the one and avoid the other. Of course, we always know this on some level and even in our deluded state we try to fabricate something along those lines even though, if we really examined our thoughts about this, we would find they just didn't add up and were completely contradictory.  We don't believe in an absolute but try to 'absolutise' the relative. 

Life only makes sense if there is a spiritual reality behind it. Without that it is completely meaningless. Once you see this things start falling into place but it also puts you in a difficult position with regard to the world for you now judge by a different set of rules and right and wrong are not what they were, indeed are sometimes almost the opposite of what they were for they are based on something beyond the outward appearance of things. They are based on an unchanging spiritual reality not fashionable ideology and that puts everything in an entirely different perspective. It is only spirituality that can give coherence to the world. It is the only foundation on which any moral system can stand.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The Intolerance of the Politically Correct

It's been said a hundred times but the politically correct really are unable to extend the same tolerance they demand from others to those who have breached their standards. They position themselves as guardians of morality but are really only concerned with the letter of the law. Its spirit passes them right by. Is this because that fundamentally they are self righteous Pharisees whose real pleasure is in signposting their virtue by condemning others? Quite obviously, yes it is.

A foolish politician has used a phrase which should have been allowed to fade into obscurity long ago. But when she was growing up it was not uncommon as I can attest, being of a similar age to her. These things might slip out in an unguarded moment but generally they don't signify much more than a person's age and background. When will we realise that whether a person appears racist or sexist or anti-racist or anti-sexist is largely immaterial? These are intellectual positions or habits, cultural or generational. What really matters is the state of a person's heart and how much true loving kindness they possess. I know people who tick all the politically correct boxes but whose hearts are dead. I have known others who would have said worse things than this politician did but who had true love for all, regardless of race or whatever. 

Think twice before you cast stones. Don't judge by appearances. Judge by the heart.



Monday, 10 July 2017

How should a spiritual person behave in this world?

Aaron, an occasional commenter on this blog, asked a question in response to the post on the persecution of the innocents. As it's both an interesting question and one that requires quite a long answer I thought I might include it here in the form of a new post.

Basically the question is this. How should a spiritual person behave in the context of the unthinking opposition of this world? When the world regards serious and dedicated spirituality as foolish at best and sometimes a lot more than that how can we, who reject the world's goals and values, deal with that without getting crushed? I give some extracts from Aaron's remarks here, but they are at the end of the earlier post if you wish to read them in full.

He asks: "I am tentatively testing the idea that spiritual people must wear a disguise in the modern world - that failing to do so simply causes too much strife. When one is in a "enemy territory, one would be foolish not to wear a disguise!

Is it really helpful to me spiritually to generate enormous amounts of strife in my personal life? How can I practice serenity, detachment? Does this really help those who cling to material things to generate rage in them and a desire to attack me, or does this just make them even more attached to physical things, and more immoral?

The thing is to use disguise as and when necessary - if the temper of the times change, then one can be more open, but in certain periods higher levels of disguise are called for.

This is a serious spiritual problem that has never been resolved  - if you reject the World the world will reject you to the point where your very survival is imperilled. 

In the past if you "gave up the world", you were seen as no longer a threat to Power, and indeed Power was glad if people surrendered the earth to them. It was detente.

Today, somehow, if you give up the world, you appear as a threat to those who cling to it. Power needs you to cling to the world like they do, both politically and in personal life."

The first thing that occurs to me when I consider this matter of disguise is Jesus’ instruction to "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven".  Here we are plainly told not to hide our light under a bushel (that's a bowl in case you were wondering), but to let it shine. So Jesus told us to manifest our faith and proclaim it. However he also told us elsewhere, as you point out, not to cast pearls before swine, and, even more pertinently perhaps to the case in point, to be as wise as serpents which means judge each situation prudently and not rush into things without thought as to possible consequences.

So the advice in the Gospels could be said to be somewhat contradictory. It's not really because these words apply to slightly different situations but at first sight it might appear to be.

Looking at the matter without reference to scripture I would make the following points.

You're not going to be killed nowadays if you express unorthodox points of view. So the risk of announcing one's spiritual beliefs is not going to be fatal as it once might have been, especially if they were unorthodox.

On the other hand, you may well be mocked and ridiculed. That in itself is not something a spiritual person should worry too much about. Yes, it can be exhausting trying to defend yourself but, at the same time, you can learn from that. You can learn to articulate properly what may initially just be quite unsubstantial intuitions, and you can also learn detachment from worldly opinion. We must all learn this detachment from the world and from our own ego which might be embarrassed or feel humiliated in a particular situation. This can be an effective way to do that. To learn not to care about your image and how you are perceived. Remember that serenity and detachment are only real when they hold up under fire.

Then there is the question of disguise.  I do agree that sometimes it is necessary to protect oneself especially in the early stages of our spiritual journey when we are trying to put down roots. If we are attacked then it can be hard to develop in the way we could or should. However I don’t like the idea of pretending to be something you are not for the site of expediency, and as you grow in spiritual maturity you should be able to deal with unbelievers.  If you pretend too much there is a danger of building a kind of falseness into your character and then starting to become that. If spirituality is not entirely honest then it has the potential soon to degrade.

Nevertheless there remains the problem of living spiritually in a materialistic world especially if one is not a monk or hermit both of which it is hard to be in the modern world; the former because you pretty much have to subscribe to orthodox beliefs, the latter because our world is not set up to support it, and also because of the spiritual dangers of solitariness, principally pride and illusion.

So what is one to do? Maybe the best approach is not to speak unless you deem it necessary or beneficial to someone. Or if the situation clearly demands someone to stand up for truth. It may be you. I think we should rely on God to put us where he wants us to be, both for our sake and for any good we might do there.  Which means we must be flexible and not expect hard and fast rules to apply. 

Remember that truth is always preferable to dissimulation. How will the world change if spiritual people don't stand up and be counted? How will potential converts to truth be given the opportunity to convert if there is no one on hand to guide them when they need it? But then I agree it is foolish to expose oneself to ridicule and abuse unnecessarily. Perhaps the answer is to ask oneself this. Can good be done by speaking truth or harm? Not personal harm so much as needless conflict which gets no one anywhere. And sometimes it's the way one speaks. We can speak in a way that is perceived as arrogant and intolerant or we can speak in a way that is firm and assured but does not make the person we are speaking to feel belittled or that his views are rubbish. We must speak to benefit the person we are speaking to not seemingly promote ourself.


Online I use my real name and put a photo on this blog so as not to disguise myself but be completely open. However in my everyday life I don’t go around saying what I say here. If I am asked I will say that I believe in God and in Christ though in a slightly unorthodox fashion, and then wait to see where that goes. 

So what's the conclusion? As I see it the conclusion is that it all depends. If we really risk aggression then it makes sense to hide behind a mask. For the time being, at least. The question is how far do we go with that? When asked to go along with worldly views which we know to be spiritually false do we go along with them or do we refuse? There's the risk. That we become complicit in falsehood to avoid unpleasantness. That's a slippery slope to hypocrisy and self-deception. And then how will anyone whom we contact respect us if they know we have been playing a part? I mean by that how will they respect our spiritual integrity, and by extension the integrity of any spiritual person, if they see we have dissembled? You mention enemy territory and this world can often seem like that. But I don't think God needs spies behind enemy lines so much as foot soldiers in the field. He needs people to bear witness to the truth and that might be you.

Finally we should remember the most important thing and that is love. If we act from love, principally of God and then of our fellow men and women as images of God, then whatever happens we have done the right thing. You might say that our fellow men and women are very far from being true images of God which is quite correct but then so are we for the most part. The best way for them to become true images is for us to be a true image ourself. 

And so my final conclusion is that disguises are not right except in extreme circumstances when they may be. Unless there is real risk involved which, let's face it, is usually not the case nowadays, then we have a responsibility to stand up and be counted. Only thus will others, who may be searching, even unbeknownst to themselves, be given the opportunity to hear about the kingdom of God which is, when all is said and done, everyone's real heart's desire.