All thought patterns have intrinsic flaws. Every person, no matter how smart or wise, has a crucial weakness. It’s not impossible to remove it entirely, but then a new one will emerge. Consciousness means having focus and focus means that there will always be something out of focus. By its very nature our brains are set us up to fail at completely understanding the world. When you spend a large amount of time thinking in a particular way, your brain gets used to it. It becomes the default. This obscures your understanding of ‘true’ facts which don’t fit into that particular worldview
I’ve known for quite some time that my flaw is the analytic mindset; a logical, scientific way of seeing the world. It’s a flaw, but I’m happy with it; I have no urge to switch to something else. And that’s not to say that it’s the only valid option, it’s just what works for me and what I want from life. To be at peace with that flaw I must confront it. I do so with drugs, mind altering substances to be more specific.
So yes, I’m going to argue in favor of drugs. Sure, they can be fun but that’s not why I’m recommending them. This is for educational purposes (seriously, I’m not being glib). I don’t encourage or discourage recreational usage, it’s just not what’s being discussed. There’s more than one reason to use a mind altering substance; medicinal, therapeutic, recreational, or educational. I’m saying this because the anti drug prohibition movement mixes those into the same issue. Arguing in favor of one is not equivalent to arguing for the other. It’s just what the poisonous binary mindset encourages.
Marijuana, LSD, and mushrooms are all substances I’ve tried and feel they can be of real benefit. They change the way one thinks and how you process information. They alter how you interpret your physical senses. With hallucinogens (the latter two) they can fundamentally alter your internal monologue. This is crucial for confronting your intellectual weaknesses. You shift yourself and therefore you shift that weakness. When you see it from an alternate perspective you can understand it far better. Normally the glare from your worldview obscures the details; it leaves it in shadows.
In a stronger dosage you must give up on the most fundamental aspect of yourself, your consciousness. You lose the ability to navigate your own mind. This is the ultimate removal of control, of letting go. It’s scary, it feels like it won’t ever end because your narrative of events has been disrupted. Nothing has fundamentally changed about you physically though. Your body and mind are still operating roughly as they were before. A few different brain chemicals are around, nothing significant. This is the best test of one’s ego, of accepting the real nature of being a domesticated ape.
As modern people we’ve been stripping ourselves of rituals, of trial and tribulations. I don’t advocate following traditional values, they can lead to many negatives but we’ve lost something important. We need trials of life to overcome. We need them in order to learn about ourselves and how we fit into the world. School and work provide us with tests but they don’t teach us anything internal. They’re actually just tests of domestication, not challenges of life.
As an intellectual the greatest challenge is to face one’s meat brain as a chemical machine. Drugs force this on you. Acid and mushrooms last for hours and you don’t get to control your brain. You can embrace the feelings and enjoy it, or fight it and have a bad time. But no matter what you’re committed. And really it’s not that long, 12 hours maximum. Hell, most of us have slept for that long so really, what’s the problem in trying?
A number of years ago I did a low dosage of mushrooms with 4 friends. We were in the city, at Queen Elizabeth park. I had the most profound feeling of connection to the world. Sitting on the grass looking out over the mountain in North Vancouver, I knew I was a collection of cells. I felt my ego dissolve, imagining the eons passing as the earth shifted, the grass grew, the animals lived, and finally the humans colonized. I could see a rewind of the earth as the buildings disappeared and the humans went back to being less domesticated. I saw a human fundamentally the same as I, sitting on that same hill, over looking that same mountain, but thousands of years ago. I felt connected to them.
Discussing the fact that we are fundamentally animals is not the same as feeling it. Knowing that the boundaries from one organism to the next is fuzzy isn’t the same as experiencing it. Calculating the distance to the stars is not feeling that vast insignificance. You have to feel these things at some point in your life to truly understand them.
I see this as the last step in overcoming one’s ego, but I wouldn’t start with this. If you have unresolved emotional issues, this could force you to face them, and that’s not always helpful. In can be downright traumatizing, so I’d recommend it with a note of caution.
Marijuana is much less extreme than the other two I discussed. It doesn’t fully challenge the ego part of your brain, so I don’t recommend it for that. What it does is enhance your depth of thought. Now sure, being high can lead you to some very stupid thoughts, but it has definitely helped me achieve mental connections I wouldn’t have otherwise. It breaks the generic patterns you form in your head and then allows you to connect things seemingly at random. Many of them are silly connections that were clearly separated for a reason, but not all. Sometimes you can see a parallel in two facts which had previously seemed starkly unrelated. Upon sobering the connection stays and still makes sense. It’s also helpful in breaking into a different mindset, like when trying to immerse yourself in a new point of view.
As with the others, it can bring unpleasant thoughts to the surface. Anxiety can take over, which is not the goal, so you need to be in the right headspace. Additionally our brains are not identical and yours may not react well with these substances. It’s unfortunate but we all must accept our own personal limitations.
The last caveat would be that I don’t recommend it for someone still growing. I doubt it’s hugely damaging to a teenager since it seems most teenagers will try it. From a completely not health perspective (and really, I’m not a doctor you shouldn’t take my advice on actual health), but from a learning point of view, it may just hinder your mental growth. You’ve got to have figured out who you are and where you’re at before a drug can pull that false confidence out from under you. And make you see the true reality your mental flaws obscure.