Hedonism: An Empty Path

buddha-india-mind-prayer-161170.jpegI am not necessarily opposed to hedonism, rather, I find it to be too shallow and spiritually empty. While I think that, in terms of physical enjoyment, hedonism can be quite grand, for the most part, hedonism simply encourages a form of living that is too materialistic. Hedonism attempts to be a method of escape that lacks any spiritual prowess. The goal of hedonism is to escape suffering, to try and enjoy as much of life as you can. But this enjoyment is based purely on material things, and it also fails to mention that pain and suffering are important tools in creating a stronger individual and thus are necessary for development. There is a reason why, when one thinks of a hedonist, one usually imagines an irresponsible, shallow and idiotic person. There is a reason why “hedonist” is used an insult and the word “ascetic” is not. One must understand that everything material is subject to change, and that materialism will only bring a short amount of joy but a long period of suffering. Hedonism, which is rooted in materialism, is a guaranteed way for a person to fall into spiritual oblivion, emptiness and possibly cause serious psychological or physical damage. One must live a life of adventure and pleasure, yes, but one must also have some sort of anti-materialist foundation to fall back on – otherwise all your materialistic and physical gains will quickly become meaningless and unsatisfying to you. Hedonism is therefore not “evil”, but it is shallow and misguided, and it’s philosophy is only appealing to those who lack any real sense of intellectual or spiritual character.

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On Psychedelics

Image result for psychedelic universeI encourage the use of psychedelics – particularly ones such as LSD, cannabis, psilocybin and MDMA. Now, I do not advocate for ‘recreational drug use’. I am also against those who do drugs simply as a means of escape. The drug use I advocate for is one in which drugs are used to help explore the mind and to change a persons perception of reality.
Aldous Huxley argued that the human brain, when sober, is always on an ‘instinct’ mode. Due to evolution, the human brain works in a very animalistic, non-creative, survive mode that relies heavily on instincts. Now, this applies not only to actions but to perceptions and thoughts. We see, feel, think and experience the world through a ‘survival-instinct’ lens. This is not to say that this ‘perspective’ is untrue or an illusion – rather, this ‘survival-instinct’ lens is only one perception and one way of viewing the world.
Huxley believed that psychedelics help suppress these instinctual lens and thus, we see the world in a new light. Anyone familiar with psychedelics, whether t be acid, psilocybin or most commonly, marijuana, will know that under the influence of these drugs one sees, hears, feels and most importantly, thinks differently. The last part, the thinking process, is most important – because under psychedelics the mind operates in a different manner – ones perceptions and thoughts are different than usual.
The idea that psychedelics ‘suppress’ the ‘survival-instinct’ lens of perception is a reasonable one. After all, any person who has been under the influence of psychedelics will know that hallucinations, abstract thinking and a distorted sense of perception can be very detrimental to everyday tasks – let alone a task as hard as survival; especially thousands of years ago, when our ancestors struggled to survive in the harsh natural environment. The ‘survival-instinct’ lens is a normal and natural part of mankinds perception; it’s what kept out ancestors alive and even today, it is what keeps us alive.
Thus, psychedelics can help one see the world in a new light – a light that is not contaminated by the primitive survival-instinct lens. Even if Huxley is wrong, this still does not take away from the fact that psychedelics distort ones reality and bring about new thoughts and perceptions.
The reason why I advocate for psychedelic drug use is so that an individual can experience a new form of their consciousness – a new area of their mind. Perception is everything, and thus, changing ones perception can change the individual. It is important for people to experience the world in different perspectives and to explore their mind and consciousness. That being said, as a person who suffers from anxiety and paranoia, I warn you that psychedelics can be very dangerous. There were many times when I felt as if I had lost my mind, or events where I would run around, talking to myself, feeling scared and freightened. The worst of course is a ‘bad trip’, which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Nonetheless, even on ‘bad tripsm ‘ one can learn a great deal about themselves. Thus, I am not against drug use, I am simply warning you that these psychedelics can be dangerous. They will it kill you, but they can cause paranoia, delusion and other painful events that are, to say the least – terrifying.
So be careful. Read up on psychedelics before doing them, do them in a safe and familiar environment, have a person trip-sit, and most importantly – be in a good state of mind and open to new experiences.

On Spirituality

Image result for nicholas roerich artI believe in ‘spirituality’ in the sense that it is a psychological perspective. In other words, I do not believe in the ‘spirituality’ which encompasses an objective or existent ‘other-world’ inhabited by sentient spirits.
When most people think of ‘spirituality’, they assume things such as speaking to the dead, or being possessed by spirits, or coming into contact with God. This is largely a result of the Judeo-Christian influence on our western world, which teaches of spirits and angels and the objective existence of non-human entities that live in different dimensions.
However, this is definitely not the kind of ‘spirituality’ I am referring to. Mostly because, as anyone familiar with my work can attest – I am mostly an atheist.
There are other types of ‘spirituality’ which are professed by shamans and spiritual gurus – another group of individuals who, like Christians, expound ideas that I believe to be false or largely imaginative.
Sam Harris, a contemporary philosopher whom I greatly respect, has said that ‘spirituality’ is a psychological phenomenon – one does not need to be religious to follow it or study it.
For almost all religions, spirituality involves some form of altered consciousness. That is my primary concern – the altered states of consciousness. I am interested in the different states that exist within the human mind and how one can achieve them. Obviously, drugs are a great way to do this, but it should be noted that many monks and gurus have had similar states of consciousness without using drugs. Ram Dass, for example, went to India and gave a group of ascetics LSD – he reported that the monks acted normally and that they had experienced these types of visions and thought-processes before. However, while drugs are certainly a good starting point, I feel that one must also try to obtain this altered state without the use of drugs – namely, on their own will and practice.
Spirituality also aims to ‘recover the original shape of man’. In his book Waking Up, Sam Harris writes that’s ‘people of every faith, and of none, have had the same sorts of spiritual experiences. While these states of mind are usually interpreted through the lens of one or another religious doctrine, we know that this is a mistake. Nothing that a Christian, a Muslim, and a Hindu can experience – self-transcending love, ecstasy, bliss, inner light – constitutes evidence in support of their traditional beliefs, because their beliefs are logically incompatible with one another. A deeper principle must be at work.”
In other words, Mr. Harris has noted that spirituality exists as different types of mental states – the problem is that these states are often described by fitting it into a religious dogma for the sake of the religion. However this does not mean that these different states do not exist – rather it simply means that the state was interpreted in a religious way.
Mr. Harris also notes that many altered states of consciousness expounded by Hindu and Buddhist methods require no faith at all in an external, separate entity or spirit. Many of the eastern methods of spirituality rely on a personal, internal will and introspection – not on praying to spirts or submitting to some God (cough cough Abrahamic religions).
Spirituality has, for the most part, been a central tenet of mankind. Even the most primitive of people had some sort of spiritual belief system, and simply because one is an atheist does not mean that one cannot learn a thing or two by studying ‘spiritual’ belief systems.
As mentioned above, many Hindu and Buddhist spiritual techniques do not rely on faith and are thus accessible to anyone.
So, when I speak of spirituality, I mean it in a non-supernatural way – indeed, I mean it in a natural way. Spirituality to me is simply a psychological quest – a journey into the reaches of the mind and what it is capable of. For me, everything spiritual is connected to something personal – something mental – something that is residing in ones psyche.
Since my primary focus and teachings revolve around self-discovery and self-knowledge, it would be a mistake of me to disregard spirituality as merely ‘religious mumbo-jumbo’.
I have an interest in spirituality for the same reason that I have an interest in the occult – not because I believe it can unlock doors to a supernatural other-world, but because it can take one to different realms of their mind and experience things that are not present in ones typical day-to-day consciousness.