Mod+ 242. OLIVER HOCKENHULL, NEURONS TO NIRVANA

Your post started off well, and I was preparing to give it a like until you strayed into bottom-wiping territory. Let me say first that I have no idea whether or not the International Order of Sufis is a genuine school: I only say that that particular statement reflects my own views on the subject of the use of psychedelics, and certainly comports with what I have studied about Sufism.

You may have noticed that the quote grants that drugs can bring a certain amount of insight, but that ultimately they are counterproductive. I am glad if using psychedelics opened your mind and hope that subsequently other kinds of researches have led you in fruitful directions. Maybe as an initial eye-opener, there's some merit in them, but my view is that beyond that they lead one down the wrong path and may eventually dull rather than sharpen the capacity for spiritual growth.

People seem to have the idea that Sufism is "classical", almost frozen in aspic. On the contrary, it's an extremely adaptive and organic thing. And some Sufis have actually tested out psychedelics to see how the experience compares with experiences gained through Sufi practices: the verdict is that the former are counterfeit. As to Sufi practices, those constantly evolve: ones that were effective in, say, mediaeval Turkey, like dervish whirling, aren't effective any longer; in fact, just like psychedelics, they may now be counterproductive. That's one aspect of Sufism's organic nature, showing how it is adapted by those competent to do so according to the particular constraints of time, place and people.

There's no substitute for reading Idries Shah on the topic. He wrote many books, but the seminal one is his "The Sufis", available on Amazon. You say psychedelics opened your eyes; well, that book is what opened my eyes some 40 years ago. It's quite astonishing, and will help people see how confusing things are these days: people aren't able to make out the characteristics of religion/cultism and distinguish it from spirituality, or how conventional religion can be of use as a stepping stone towards spirituality, at some stage to be discarded or interpreted in unaccustomed ways.

Loneshaman, I love ya ta bits and on many issues we are of one mind. I don't want any animosity between us, so on the issue of psychedelics we're going to have to agree to differ. We'd be here till kingdom come if I chose to deconstruct what I see as the fallacies in the points you have made, and it wouldn't achieve much. So to you and to Chuck, I make a offer. If you haven't read "The Sufis", I will happily let you each have a copy for free so long as you will agree to read it cover to cover. You may discover, as I did, that it's more than a book: it's an organic, living entity with the capacity to change people. If you want to take me up on this, please raise a private conversation so I can make the arrangements.
If sufism has such a capacity to change people how do you account for the fact that it hasn't even changed too many muslims? Apparently of all those muslims out there, there are only about 2-5 million sufis. If even muslims don't much go for it, why would you expect others to?
 
Loneshaman, I love ya ta bits and on many issues we are of one mind. I don't want any animosity between us, so on the issue of psychedelics we're going to have to agree to differ. We'd be here till kingdom come if I chose to deconstruct what I see as the fallacies in the points you have made, and it wouldn't achieve much. So to you and to Chuck, I make a offer. If you haven't read "The Sufis", I will happily let you each have a copy for free so long as you will agree to read it cover to cover. You may discover, as I did, that it's more than a book: it's an organic, living entity with the capacity to change people. If you want to take me up on this, please raise a private conversation so I can make the arrangements.
Likewise Michael, we are still friends you are one of my favourites here.
I was upset with your one post regarding native cultures. It is something close to my heart. I have an adopted indigenous son who I will be helping to discover his roots with the help of some elders. So I did get upset with that.

I know very little of the Sufi's, I am willing to know more only because of your endorsement. The way you feel about them is probably the way I feel about the Amazonian shamans. They do live and breath spirituality, it is not fair that you say they are any less than any other tradition. That is my only point.

I am sure we can agree on that.
 
Likewise Michael, we are still friends you are one of my favourites here.
I was upset with your one post regarding native cultures. It is something close to my heart. I have an adopted indigenous son who I will be helping to discover his roots with the help of some elders. So I did get upset with that.

I know very little of the Sufi's, I am willing to know more only because of your endorsement. The way you feel about them is probably the way I feel about the Amazonian shamans. They do live and breath spirituality, it is not fair that you say they are any less than any other tradition. That is my only point.

I am sure we can agree on that.
I too studied more about Sufis, so can endorse that. But when you study about them, you better concentrate on the pro-sufi literature, because if you depend on regular muslims, you'll really get an earfull, because most of them are against it. Note my message above that most muslims do NOT go for sufiism and have not been convinced.
 
Likewise Michael, we are still friends you are one of my favourites here.
I was upset with your one post regarding native cultures. It is something close to my heart. I have an adopted indigenous son who I will be helping to discover his roots with the help of some elders. So I did get upset with that.

I know very little of the Sufi's, I am willing to know more only because of your endorsement. The way you feel about them is probably the way I feel about the Amazonian shamans. They do live and breath spirituality, it is not fair that you say they are any less than any other tradition. That is my only point.

I am sure we can agree on that.
I don't wish to upset you and commend your adoption of a Native American son. I feel quite sure you have his best interests at heart and that you love one another very dearly. I'm not quite sure whether you are saying you want a copy of The Sufis, but if you do, please contact me via a private conversation thread and I will make the arrangements. Using your Amazon public wishlist would be most convenient and easy, I'd imagine.
 
I too studied more about Sufis, so can endorse that. But when you study about them, you better concentrate on the pro-sufi literature, because if you depend on regular muslims, you'll really get an earfull, because most of them are against it. Note my message above that most muslims do NOT go for sufiism and have not been convinced.
From the little I know that seems apparent. I will keep that in mind.
 
I don't wish to upset you and commend your adoption of a Native American son. I feel quite sure you have his best interests at heart and that you love one another very dearly. I'm not quite sure whether you are saying you want a copy of The Sufis, but if you do, please contact me via a private conversation thread and I will make the arrangements. Using your Amazon public wishlist would be most convenient and easy, I'd imagine.
Thanks Michael, he's an Australian aboriginal actually. He's a handful, keeps me on my toes. But don't they all.
Talk soon, yes I am interested. And thank you so much for the generous offer.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

Glad that's settled. :)

For my part I think the right take on spiritual experience was said a long time ago:

"We look on the same stars, the sky is common, the same world surrounds us. What difference does it make by what pains each seeks the Truth?

We cannot attain to so great a secret by one road alone. There cannot be but one answer to this great question."
--Symmachus, (c. 340-c. 405)
 
If sufism has such a capacity to change people how do you account for the fact that it hasn't even changed too many muslims? Apparently of all those muslims out there, there are only about 2-5 million sufis. If even muslims don't much go for it, why would you expect others to?
Well, like any religion, when it comes to it. Muslims can be a bit dogged in their beliefs.
 
C

chuck.drake

Your post started off well, and I was preparing to give it a like until you strayed into bottom-wiping territory. Let me say first that I have no idea whether or not the International Order of Sufis is a genuine school: I only say that that particular statement reflects my own views on the subject of the use of psychedelics, and certainly comports with what I have studied about Sufism.

You may have noticed that the quote grants that drugs can bring a certain amount of insight, but that ultimately they are counterproductive. I am glad if using psychedelics opened your mind and hope that subsequently other kinds of researches have led you in fruitful directions. Maybe as an initial eye-opener, there's some merit in them, but my view is that beyond that they lead one down the wrong path and may eventually dull rather than sharpen the capacity for spiritual growth.

People seem to have the idea that Sufism is "classical", almost frozen in aspic. On the contrary, it's an extremely adaptive and organic thing. And some Sufis have actually tested out psychedelics to see how the experience compares with experiences gained through Sufi practices: the verdict is that the former are counterfeit. As to Sufi practices, those constantly evolve: ones that were effective in, say, mediaeval Turkey, like dervish whirling, aren't effective any longer; in fact, just like psychedelics, they may now be counterproductive. That's one aspect of Sufism's organic nature, showing how it is adapted by those competent to do so according to the particular constraints of time, place and people.

There's no substitute for reading Idries Shah on the topic. He wrote many books, but the seminal one is his "The Sufis", available on Amazon. You say psychedelics opened your eyes; well, that book is what opened my eyes some 40 years ago. It's quite astonishing, and will help people see how confusing things are these days: people aren't able to make out the characteristics of religion/cultism and distinguish it from spirituality, or how conventional religion can be of use as a stepping stone towards spirituality, at some stage to be discarded or interpreted in unaccustomed ways.

Loneshaman, I love ya ta bits and on many issues we are of one mind. I don't want any animosity between us, so on the issue of psychedelics we're going to have to agree to differ. We'd be here till kingdom come if I chose to deconstruct what I see as the fallacies in the points you have made, and it wouldn't achieve much. So to you and to Chuck, I make a offer. If you haven't read "The Sufis", I will happily let you each have a copy for free so long as you will agree to read it cover to cover. You may discover, as I did, that it's more than a book: it's an organic, living entity with the capacity to change people. If you want to take me up on this, please raise a private conversation so I can make the arrangements.
I got that book this summer, Michael. Probably after you recommended it elsewhere. I will put it on my reading list.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

Under the Influence: How did enlightenment thinkers distinguish between ‘drugs’ and ‘medicines’? And how should we?

My sister is a witch. Or, more precisely, a Wiccan astrologer and tarot reader. Growing up as a kid who worshipped Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, I found it hard to square her worldview with my own. But that didn’t stop me from feeling a thrill when I visited her shabbily ornate, mist-clad Victorian house in San Francisco’s Mission District in the late 1990s. The city outside hummed with the techno-utopian dreams of the dotcom bubble, but inside candles burned, tarot cards shuffled, and books of occult lore beckoned from attic corners. It was in those candlelit rooms that I began to understand the appeal of the non-rational, and it changed my life...

....In other words, the same novel sensory effects that made substances such as tobacco, opium and cannabis desirable to global consumers also made them fascinating for the earliest experimental scientists. But what did those drugs mean – for them, and for us? How did our modern binary between ‘illicit drug’ and ‘valuable medicine’ come into being?

Drugs have had a bad reputation since at least the time of Shakespeare, whose sleazy, potion-dispensing apothecary in Romeo and Juliet enables that play’s tragic finale. Shakespeare tended to associate drugs with things such as witches (‘mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected’) or Catholic assassins (‘drug-damn’d Italy’). But in the 17th century, drugs acquired associations with the non-European world: the fever-ridden islands of the Caribbean, tropical Africa, or the exoticised ‘East Indies’....
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

Technicolor Medicine: Magic Mushrooms Can Create New Brain Cells

Researchers from the University of Florida recently published a study in the journal Experimental Brain Research that suggests specific components of psilocybin mushrooms have the ability to create new brain cells. The discovery can be used to develop ground breaking new treatments for severe mental conditions…even improve learning.

In fact, researchers suggest that when given to mice, psilocybin mushrooms proved successful in restoring crippled brain cells as well as easing the symptoms of conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression -- sometimes even working as a cure.

To establish these results, lead researcher Dr. Juan R. Sanchez-Ramos conditioned laboratory mice to be fearful of an electro shock, and then monitored the animals after a dose of psilocybin. What he found was the mice on “shrooms” became more relaxed and less likely to react to fear than those left untreated.

“The proposition that psilocybin impacts cognition and stimulates hippocampal neurogenesis is based on extensive evidence that serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT) acting on specific 5-HT receptor sub-types (most likely the 5-HT2A receptor) is involved in the regulation of neurogenesis in hippocampus,” said Dr. Sanchez-Ramos. “The in vitro and in vivo animal data is compelling enough to explore whether psilocybin will enhance neurogenesis and result in measurable improvements in learning.”
 
Well I can say that mushrooms changed my life on several occasions, even the first which was the most terrifying event of my life.
Not everytime will you have what could be a spiritual experience but ocasionally you get a glimpse of something unfathomable.
As well as having some disturbing experiences a good handful have been the most profound and meaningful experiences of my life.
Indescribable, I am hesitant to say it, but the prescence of god.

Then I find the same experiences connected to the roots of all religions and that modern science confirirms the same thing, it can produce profound mystical experiences that are life changing. I can honestly say that is the case with me. Profound mystical experiences may be an understatement. The awe sticks with you for a long time.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

Alexander (Sasha) Shulgin - A fascinating perspective on the nature of consciousness

Some discussion of drug receptors leftover from evolution, and mention of consciousness as mental function being more than brain function -> I think a lot of people have been wondering if the transmission/filter hypothesis can reconcile Psi & evolution by thinking that animals being distracted by the larger/higher realities would die off.

The idea also fits into Strassman's theoneurological model I mentioned before.

Full film from which the above was cut:

Dirty Pictures "The creator of MDMA (Ecstasy)"

DIRTY PICTURES is a documentary about Dr. Alexander "Sasha" Shulgin, the rogue chemist who discovered the effects of MDMA (aka Ecstasy) and over 200 other mind-altering drugs. Shulgin's alchemy has earned him the title "The Godfather of Psychedelics," and a reputation as one of the great chemists of the 20th century.

Working from a lab in his home, and using himself and his wife Ann as test subjects, Shulgin's discoveries have brought him into conflict with the law but made him a worldwide underground hero. The two books they co-authored, "Pihkal" and "Tihkal", have built a foundation for cutting-edge neuroscience and medical research. DIRTY PICTURES examines the impact of Dr. Shulgin's lifelong quest to unlock the complexities of the human mind.

Alexander "Sasha" Shulgin is the scientist behind more than 200 psychedelic compounds including MDMA, more commonly known as Esctasy. Considered to be one of the the greatest chemists of the twentieth century, Sasha's vast array of discoveries have had a profound impact in the field of psychedelic research. By employing unorthodox methods; testing his creations on himself, working from a makeshift lab in his home, Shulgin has gained the reputation of a modern day alchemist within the scientific community
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

HOW WE ALMOST CURED ADDICTION: THE STRANGE HISTORY OF THE IBOGAINE MOVEMENT IN THE UNITED STATES.

The story I want to share here is a little shocking – or at least it was to me. It makes one question the most basic assumptions commonly held about how rational science and modern medicine operate, to find out that a substance like ibogaine could go through all this scrutiny and still end up far from the hands of those who need it. Here is the story of how we almost cured addiction.

To begin I must introduce our main character: a little-known shrub native to Western Africa (mostly Gabon and Cameroon) called tabernanthe iboga. The legend has it that the pygmies first discovered the magical powers of the iboga root, which is powerfully hallucinogenic. The pygmies are said to have taught this knowledge to others, eventually becoming the practice of Bwiti, a spiritual tradition that revolves around the use of iboga. Bwiti belief is animistic, and iboga is used to contact the spirits and the ancestors as well as to heal the sick. Bwiti revolves around a three-day initiation in which the initiate consumes copious amounts of this revolting tasting bark. I should know, I was initiated into the Bwiti last year (but let’s save that for another post)...
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

Mind at Large

A renewed interest in hallucinogensparticularly the Amazonian tea ayahuasca—is giving the substances a new image that emphasises spiritual learning over hedonism and excess. Kerry Stewart talks with the researchers and spiritual seekers working to rid the drugs of their stigma and turn psychedelics into sacrament.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

I don't believe I posted this, though continual traveling has altered my sense of memory...In any case I thought it was an interesting reflection on the "ascetic vs psychedelic" discussion -

Prolegomena to a Guide for the Emerging Yoga Shaman

...Perhaps you, like me, wonder whether and how the paths of yoga and shamanism intersect, and how accessing non-ordinary states of consciousness (NOSC) might be helpful for us yoga practitioners in the West. You might also have wondered what use psychoactive aids, or "plant sacraments," have for the contemporary yoga practitioner, especially those of us who have told that it is not a "pure" yogic path, and not one that has much to do with the ultimate goal of moksha (liberation).

Let's begin by looking at how yoga and shamanism can be seen as distinct disciplines, viewing it from the perspective of a very well-regarded scholar of yoga, Georg Feuerstein, who has done quite a bit of research into this very subject...
 
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