There’s been an ever-widening divide between two forces in our country and on our planet, and that is the big bold line between science and spirituality, facts and faith, logic and hope, heads and hearts. For innumerable reasons, some understandable, some completely irrational, we’ve gathered our collective egos and decided there needs to be war between the two instead of a respectful collaboration, perhaps even a friendship full of intelligent debate, where we throw all the unanswered questions into the pot and then work together to ask new questions. Due to human’s knowledge of their impending and inevitable death, often we’re lead into two corners to placate that frightening feeling surrounding the unknown. We seek solace under the exquisitely crafted religious structures to pray, sing and connect with a group of like-minded believers. Or, we throw on lab-coats and delve into the black hole that is scientific research, barely coming up for air, or god forbid food, sex, laughter, pleasure, just emerging for a brief interlude to explain why previous researchers were wrong and why we think we’re right today. Both science and scripture tries to explain the unexplainable, seeks eternal life and aims to quell the anxiety over our seemingly inescapable mortality. Both are right. Both are wrong. The space between the thinkers and the feelers has been filled with awkwardness, disrespect, and silence. Of course this isn’t the case with every single country, organization or person, but similar to the vast aisle separating democrats and republicans these days, there are more rooms filled with contention and hate, deaf ears and big mouths, than there used to be. There’s independent, atheist yogis like me in the middle, not knowing where to go, not wanting to offend the lefties who seek immediate progress and growth or the righties who seem hell-bent on resisting change. No coincidence here that science and spirit tends to align both left and right along the political spectrum, accordingly, thus creating a canyon, deep and wide, making it even more difficult to bridge and find away across. I feel strongly we could all be less rigid, less feverishly attached to our opinions and more open to a common understanding. This isn’t hippy dippy bullshit I’m spouting. World Peace! The concept of peace as it is understood within yoga and within most spiritual practices, is finding that very special essence within you and living, breathing, expressing and interacting from that space, the place of connectivity with all beings, the bridge from unknown to known, a real down n dirty lotus under the mud groundedness combined with an infinite potential for evolution, an enthusiastic curiosity about the expansive possibilities that not only we as individual human beings possess, but the mystifying unfamiliar presence lurking above the crown of our heads, beyond what meets the eye, beyond what the brain can grasp.
Last night I watched a fascinating documentary about DMT N,N-dimethyltryptamine, a natural occurring substance located in the pineal gland of human brains and active in many sentient beings, including plants and animals all across Earth. DMT has been labeled the spirit molecule, embraced by the brilliant minds aligned with both science and spirit, DMT is a biological locus to consciousness elevation, a molecule when activated, takes us out of our bodies and into the unknown, the infinite, above and beyond what our normal consciousness absorbs and into a heightened realm so potent, so indescribably interwoven and connected with all things, with all that ever was, is and will be, and then gently brings you back down to your body after only 15 minutes, leaving you spellbound and ecstatic. The book and film showcase how DMT, when activated and risen, either through the safe administration of psychedelic drugs (like Dr. Strassman executed in his careful research study) OR experiences felt by delving deeper in the spirit (chanting, praying, meditating) provides this hypnotic experience and leaves its beings changed forever. I’ve never taken DMT, or other psychedelics, but I have many memories and on-going experiences through Yoga and meditation that put me in that place, some with a higher frequency than others. And when I’ve spoken to friends and family about their experiences, either with natural substances or through spiritual ceremony, of course we all experience it uniquely, but the truth we all reach is the same. Oneness.
Let me digress for a moment and talk about drugs. Another divisive topic in our country. We are seemingly determined to remain uptight. If we let go and let live, we’d be so much happier. Anyway, with the loss of Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger and copious more we’ve never known through the unhealthy use of man-made drugs, the rich debate stirs on. I am and always will be on the side of natural substances, meaning plants and other elements found on our planet and through very few processes we end up ingesting them. Yes I’m speaking of marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms specifically, and now DMT too. Do I believe you need these substances to achieve this level of connection, truth and bliss? No, of course not, nor do I subscribe to psychedelics as I mentioned above. But make no mistake, I am not against them in the least and know these experiences are very powerful and unique. Why there is a stigma behind these substances and why there is a very obvious divide between drinkers and pill-poppers, and smokers and hallucinators is beyond me. During my college education, I delved deep into the studies of physiology, neurology and biology, during which I took what may be my favorite class of all time and the one whose information has stuck, permanently to my brain and bones, and that class was Psycho-Biological Aspects of Drug Use. A mouth and mind full. What I came away with was the knowledge that alcohol and government constructed medication works against our bodies, seemingly curing some symptoms or issues while creating disease elsewhere. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, alcohol is poison. It is slowly killing you, destroying your filter systems, brain, heart and tissue.
Do I drink? Socially, yes. Do I get drunk anymore? No. Do I take Advil, antibiotics or other pain meds? Not if I can help it. All of these are depressants and suppressants, with physiological and psychological evidence to show as you take them, your body needs more and more to experience the same result. Alcohol disrupts your sleep, dehydrates you, depresses you mentally and physically, and for some reason I still cannot fathom, it’s our drug of choice. That, caffeine, sugar, fat, and can’t ever forget, MONEY. Somehow many Americans are uncomfortable with the cliché image of hippies high off their asses on shrooms or acid. Understandably, those people can act like utter buffoons and make their fellow man a tad uncomfortable, but for the most part they’re just happy and swaying with the breeze. But watching people fight outside a bar, puke on the street, or cast webs of verbal violence toward others because of their alcohol induced stupor has become not only forgivable, but acceptable. Who stands to profit off either? There’s the answer right there. European settlers came to this country, watched Native Americans worship the animal they were grateful to catch, sheltered under their hide from the rain, using bones as tools and then ceremonially smoking peyote to come together in a celebration of life and gratitude. Who are you to judge that? We are a society that says, you had a bad day, go have a drink. It’s the same damn thing, except these natural substances give you something to take with you besides stinky, painful diarrhea, splitting headaches and multiple apologies. You experience truths, connection, sensation of love and hope, and you don’t forget it. There’s a reason they call marijuana a peace pipe and why most people you know who smoke are fairly happy and laid back. There are exceptions to every rule. There should be a strong application of moderation and balance to everything that gives us sensation and pleasure. Retail therapy, emotional eating, drinking, smoking, and sex are just a few examples of widely abused activities that are healthy when utilized as treats, a ceremony, a method of connection and release, and not as a means of escaping your normal, sober consciousness. Easier said than done, but well within our potential.
I prefer preventive medicine, proven homeopathic remedies that work with our bodies instead of against them, and I prefer to empower myself with knowledge so I can make informed decisions on how to better take care of myself each day. Nutrition, yoga, simple contentment and gratitude, laughter, sex, water and Love. And the recreational puff, puff pass. Judge all you want. Your definition of contentment and personal health will differ, but our focus should be in being healthy and happy everyday, on our own accord, and treating our bodies in a way that we can prevent disease, obesity, heart attacks and cancer, depression and anxiety, work with them when it comes up and not just live unconsciously every single day until inevitably our stressful lives, alcohol and pill use, and chicken mcnugget habit leads to even more disease and the need to pop even more pills. I do not judge your choice, truly. I’ve known family and friends who’ve suffered tremendous illnesses and injuries and in serious need of medical intervention, which improved and many times saved their lives, but instead of fostering a deeper, larger gap between yet another two groups, western and eastern medicine, my desire is to merge the two, work together, just as with science and spirit, both have something valuable to offer. A staggering amount of research has been uncovered and released into the public about medical marijuana (One from a spiritual scientist, One from a book researched and expressed the outcomes of balanced application and use). There’s a good start. Laugh, think freely, eat and love.
I sincerely believe the many controversial issues I’ve brought up here all lead back to the same distance and irreverence, the debate of science and spirituality. The development of the human ego has led to the belief that in order for me to be right, for me to win, to be on top, you must be wrong, a loser at the bottom. Fuck that bullshit. Sometimes a painful reality can only be crossed with fervent truth. And so it requires a staunch “Fuck that”. As I get older and I learn more, I realize how much more I’ve yet to discover and absorb. I know there is far more that I do not know and will never know and this truth does not scare me, does not send me into a church or a bottle of whiskey, it makes me look up into the wondrous sky, engage in thoughtful debates with intelligent minds of differing opinions, it inspires me to get lost staring at a majestic tree, or delving into a nonfiction book or mind-bending piece of art, discovering more about myself and others through yoga, and being open to how much there is to grasp about this planet alone, the life that inhabits earth and finding how much more we are alike than different. We are run by fear, whenever we judge or write off, we reveal more about ourselves and our ignorance. When we are open and humble, we reveal our potential and our essence, Love.
The reason we have so many religions on Earth is because human beings have creative ways of expressing universal truths. Some are based in nothing, are pure fabrications of man and they point to dangerous and unhealthy truths aimed to control, limit and stifle the expansion of knowledge and consciousness. A collective ego leads to more strict applications of what were initially peaceful practices, open and kind. But knowing so many fantastic people of varying faiths and backgrounds, I can accept and attest to the essence and goodness of most, and I think the majority of reasonable people follow these paths to enlightenment and understanding because of a resounding fascination with the unknown. They feel the same pulse and vibrancy I do, a connective thread between us all, the knowledge that each human being is unique and special but none more than the other, and however different our personal expression is, we are conscious souls seeking love and understanding, comprehending space, time, a supremely intelligent and elevated consciousness, that when unattached to materials, to forms, when detached from the fear of death, we can relate and experience, radiate and project out, making our existence and our ticking mortality clock more acceptable; and when exploring both spiritual and scientific research and knowledge, we arm ourselves with the inner and outer reality of immortality, of eternity.
We must transcend and evolve through and beyond where we are now. It might sound frightening, but it’s true. We cannot resist, we must submit and surrender, not as dead fish stuck in the flow, but as a simultaneously knowing and unknowing light, one with the order of the universe. This doesn't fill me with sadness or anxiety. It fuels me, makes me feel empowered. I want to learn. I want to explore. I want to live. I want to breathe with reverence and gratitude, that air is connective, energetic. I want to study and soak in visceral elements, ad then gaze into the boundless starry abyss and imagine how much more there is to discover. The unknown is not haunted or horrendous. It is fascinating, humbling, enigmatic, similar to life on Earth. Let’s acknowledge that the scientist exploring space or molecules, engrossed in his study of the unknown, is just as passionate and eager as our favorite religious leaders and teachers, in a similar path toward connection and truth. There is value in investigating both and infinite possibilities when choosing to respect and affirm the duality of existence, and the exciting areas in between.
Embrace the unknown. There is tremendous beauty and truth in what we cannot see.