In these MindfullyHigh blogs I want to explore some deeper implications of our American culture turning so rapidly to grass. Yes, cannabis is fast becoming the drug of choice for easing our pains, healing our afflictions, and expanding our perspectives. But is grass in fact good for America's future? Fifty years ago when I took my first toke (of hashish) at Princeton, the act was considered revolutionary - a direct challenge to the culture I'd been born into. Faced with the late 1960's non-choice of being drafted into the army and going off to kill strangers in a foreign land, my small Princeton consortium of secret smokers felt caught in an impossible dilemma.
What to do? We couldn't find any spiritual heart path into doing what our culture was demanding of us. And so instead we did all we could find to do - we smoked grass and blew our minds at least temporarily clear of the situation, since we couldn't escape otherwise. This desperate situation seems to have been the driving pressure of the anti-war/pro-psychedelics movement that rapidly swept the country. Old-time activists were afraid that getting high would make us passive - but instead we took to the streets and did in fact force our politicians to get out of that war.
Back then we didn't yet know of the positive medical and psychological effects of grass - all we knew was that when we got high our perspective shifted and, for at least a few hours, we felt free from an impossible dehumanizing and violent future. Now, fifty years hence, we know from research that marijuana does ease emotional pressures. Especially, using grass reduces anxiety about the future, and eases related feelings of depression and no hope. That's one of the main reasons we started getting high fifty years ago - when we got high, we felt hope. And with renewed hope in our hearts, we could act.
So - getting high with cannabis did the trick back then, at least temporarily - but do we still need it?
The Self-Medication Question
Is it to America's advantage if more and more of us in 2018 start self-medicating our emotional constrictions with cannabis? The answer seems to be a resounding but qualified yes, once we let go of old negative knee-jerks about the supposed dangers of getting high. We're in a mental-health crisis just now, pushed by future shock and political discord. Depression is becoming our national mental-health problem, and it's extremely dangerous for a culture. As a nation, if we lose hope and fall into depression (pushed greatly by negative media news) we're in serious danger of collapsing into despair and inaction, or into violence and chaos.
If as a culture we feel we have no positive future, if we lose all hope for a better world, then our own negativity will pull us rapidly down. It takes hope to sustain a democracy, after all. Marijuana helps us let go of habitual old-order negativities, and shift into a brighter perspective on life. Grass is now medically proven to reduce depression, much more effectively than the so-called anti-depressant drugs the pharmas are pushing like soft drinks on TV.
When people get high, at least their spirits temporarily rise up, their hearts feel lighter and more open, and their imaginations come alive with new ideas and visions that might lead us beyond our current historic quagmire. I am well aware of several downsides of grass - but the positives outweigh the negatives. And I say that after fifty years of professionally observing grass and its effect on everyday people's lives. Self-medicating with cannabis is far better than using alcohol or pharma drugs for relief from emotional suffering, not to mention relief from physical aches and pains.
Does Grass Encourage Personal Growth?
Ii'm going to use several upcoming blogs to delve into this key question of whether we actually grow and learn and heal while high. If not, then self-medicating with grass will make us feel better, but it won't help alleviate the cause of our emotional suffering. I smoked grass from 20-35 quite often, and that was definitely a deep period of personal healing and awakening. Then for 15 years, while immersed in raising a family in Kauai, I didn't use grass much at all (I personally feel that parenting and being high don't mix well).
Then around the age of 50 I started using grass again - but more mindfully than in earlier days. And I did notice an increase in self-observation, in the healing of old memories and wounds, and in the expansion of my sense of self. If anything, I became more creative and engaged in the world, not less, through smoking fairly regularly. But I also realized the necessity of including my meditation practice in my high times, if I wanted to encourage inner growth.
We're also dealing with the lucky fact that grass is becoming more and more potent as time goes by and the farmers improve their stock and trade. I haven't felt the urge to take a psychedelic trip with LSD or mushrooms or peyote for many years - but I do find potent THC grass to be an optimum regular boost. It encourages my ability to honestly look to see who I am deep-down, and to act according to what I discover. Mindfulness and cannabis work so very well together!
Cannabis And Democracy
If indeed the medical community is correct in reporting that cannabis helps users feel more hopeful, positive, insightful, and compassionate (while reducing aggression, and depression) then I say YES, bring it on, America. Let's use the natural herb that God provides to modify our mental, emotional and spiritual perspective in positive directions. We're already a heavily-drugged nation (for instance, 1 in 4 women over 40 are currently taking a prescription anti-depression drug) so at least let's take a drug that does some good.
In this broader context, I'm deeply committed to the MindfullyHigh theme and movement. We more and more have the freedom and opportunity to get high. If we also assume full responsibility for how we focus our attention when high, then I feel there's hope for us as a nation and world culture. When used mindfully, marijuana is indeed an insight drug - and we're going to need all the heart-centered insights we can muster, in order to survive and even thrive during these dangerous historic times.
So even though I know I'll get shouted at a lot, I want to say loud and clear - getting high can help us preserve our democracy. Using grass to shift our perspective and discover realistic new alternatives to the current Trump plague - let's do it. Mindfully!