A Trinitarian Theory of Psychedelics

What do psychedelics do? Good question. There is a neurological answer, a phenomenological answer and a metaphysical answer. The neurological answer has to do with the 2A receptor in the brain. The phenomenological answer has to do with visuals and visions. Here I will give a metaphysical answer.

Psychedelics open the channels between transcendent Parashiva, beyond all horizons, and immediately given conscious awareness, Shiva. Shiva comes from Parashiva (the Son is from the Father), but under the influence of psychedelics, it comes trailing clouds of glory.

The influx of spiritual energy (for want of a better term) from the infinite wellspring of life and light that is the Godhead (Parashiva) charges the consciousness of the shaman (Shiva) to such a pitch of intensity that every object of awareness (Shakti) is charged with the grandeur of God.

Thus Shakti is received by Shiva in wonder, awe and beauty, and with a sense of inexhaustible sacredness. All things disclose the Holy Spirit, and are revealed as profoundly numinous and holy.

Alternatively, the influx of spiritual energy fails to find its way from Parashiva to Shiva and Shakti, but is diverted and hijacked by the ego, the psychological mental construct we call our “self”. In which case, the super-charged, hyper-active ego produces a plethora of confused thoughts and feelings, sometimes resulting in hallucinations, fantasies, delusions, anxieties and paranoia.

If you can put your ego to one side, and get out of your own way, then, and only then, will psychedelics do what they were sent to do – sanctify you and the world.

Watch and Pray

Successful talking therapies clarify issues and produce insight. They help bring unconscious patterns of thought and behaviour into the light of consciousness, where they are processed and resolved, ideally to the point of closure. It’s a bit like tidying up the mess in your house and putting it away neatly in drawers. Or like a lawyer working through a heavy case load, one “case closed” after another.

Unsuccessful therapy just moves the mess around in interminable analysis. It ends up being “all talk” and loses sight of the fact that it is a means to an end, which is peace and quiet. (See the blog post Cynical Clowns and Fearful Bores).

Thinking, talking, reflecting, ruminating, analysing, are essential to understanding ourselves and the world. This is the specialty of the left brain hemisphere, and it is a big part of what makes us human. It is also an essential component of growing up and of being mature and responsible adults. However, when we rely too much on our thinking, we are in danger of getting lost in a dream world of mental representations and fabrications. We are in danger of “falling asleep”.

This is why Ken Wilber talks about growing up and waking up. Talking therapies helps us to grow up, but we need to look elsewhere if we want to wake up. We need to look to spiritual practices and to religion. Specifically, to meditation and prayer.

Psychedelic ceremonies are hot-houses of intense experience and sensory overload. Where quiet sitting (zazen or centering prayer) help us to wake up by gently shifting our attention from our habitual left hemisphere ruminations to right hemisphere mindfulness, psychedelics help us by brutally shaking us awake. And it’s often a rude awakening.

The psychedelic experience is not for the faint hearted or for the big headed. As the old cliché has it, the only way out is through, and the only way through is not by the way of thinking, but by the way of meditation and prayer.

Let your mantra be watch and pray (Matthew 26:41)

Be More Zen

On earth and in heaven,

Be more zen.

In the deepest pit of hell,

Be more zen.

In sickness and in health,

Be more zen.

In joy and in dread,

Be more zen.

In all things,

Be more zen.

Zen Is It!

The cycles of kenosis, gnosis, pistis ultimately point to one thing. Zen.

But what about God? What does God want from us? Zen.

But what is God?

I AM THAT I AM.

And what is Zen?

Uninterrupted sustained first-person awareness,

The flow state of total presence here and now,

The alignment of Parashiva, Shiva, Shakti,

Right hemisphere mastery,

The presence of God,

Self-remembering,

Buddha Nature,

Wholeness,

Holiness.

The Five Grades

When P.D. Ouspensky embarked on his search for the miraculous, he soon realized that he would have to find an esoteric school where he could learn the secret teachings of spiritual enlightenment. Eventually, this led him to G.I. Gurdjieff and a life long study of The Fourth Way.

The basic premise of a “school” is that it has levels and grades. You cannot access the fourth grade, for example, until you have mastered the third. Teacher and student are bound together in such a way that the teacher cannot progress until she has helped a student progress and the student cannot progress until the teacher has progressed. There is an element of Catch-22 here, which can only be broken by a kind of magical synergy.

The Way of the Holy Mushroom is a new “school”, although it is securely based on the tried and tested wisdom of the ancients. There are five levels in this school, which can be described as follows:

First Grade: Interest and participation in the school, especially via the mushroom tea ceremonies. There is a glimpse of the potential benefits of the work and an (unconscious) deepening of gnosis, kenosis and pistis.

Second Grade: Further interest in and deeper engagement with the specific teachings of the school. The mantra is practiced and the writings of the teacher and other recommended texts are studied. Gnosis, kenosis and pistis are now consciously cultivated.

Third Grade: The twelve ceremonies, the twelve books, and the Biblical corpus are completed. Gnosis, kenosis and pistis, and the six yogas, are progressively realized and strengthened with the aid of the continued rotation of the ceremonies and readings.

Fourth Grade: There is a withdrawal as much as possible from Babylon for the exclusive training in and mastery of the practices and teachings of the school. The word is made flesh and the flesh is made mushroom.

Fifth Grade: Full spiritual enlightenment. Bodymind dropped. No trace remains.

Or to put it in more Learyesque terms:

First Grade: Turn on.

Second Grade: Tune in.

Third Grade: Stay tuned.

Fourth Grade: Drop out.

Fifth Grade: Return with helpful hands.

Medicine or Madness

Channel the holy mushroom spirit into the bodymind via the right hemisphere in open focus and it will work its medicinal magic on you.

Channel it into the discursive mind via the left hemisphere through discriminative thought and it will take you on a psychotomimetic trip into madness.

That’s why we meditate.

Hollywood Love Confusion

A young man at the last Psychedelics and Faith Discussion Group recommended the film Everything Everywhere All At Once, citing it as a psychedelic masterpiece, so I duly took my partner and one of my children to the local cinema to watch it. It was very entertaining and I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, it stands as another cinematic monument to Hollywood Love Confusion.

The basic story arc is classic Hollywood: an exciting but confusing struggle against a misguided nihilistic teenage villain, including a healthy dose of hot pursuit and cool fighting. In the end, however, the only way to defeat the villain is not by fighting, but by loving. Love, somewhat predictably, wins the day.

The love that defeats cynicism is the protagonist’s rediscovered love for her daughter (the nihilist) and her husband, and compassion for everyone else. In terms of The Four Loves (C.S. Lewis), this is basically the loves storge, filia and agape.

Filia mean friendship. Storge is usually translated as affection – the “pipe and slippers” type of familial love, domestic, homely, comforting. Toward the end of the film, the husband produces a kind of paean to storge, presenting his kindness and apparent weakness as a kind of strength, his way of “fighting” the dark forces of nihilism.

Agape can by translated as unconditional love or compassion, but as C.S. Lewis makes clear in is book, this is not a human love, but the love that flows down from God, the unconditional divine love that rains on the just and the unjust. In his words, it is “the love of God”.

However, for a secular people, there is no such thing as God. Ergo, there is no such thing as the love of God. In a godless multiverse where “nothing matters” because “everything is possible”, the only way of not falling into the black hole of cynicism and despair (a black bagel in this case) is human love – the kindness-affection of storge and a kind of human version of agape.

This is where the Hollywood Love Confusion kicks in. The Hollywood version of agape is a kind of unconditional love, yes, but one understood on a human level as licentiousness. In other words, everyone should be given licence to satisfy their desires and do what they want. This inevitably ends up being all about the third of the four loves, namely, eros, or sexual love. And it inevitably ends up being about letting everyone satisfy their erotic drives however they like.

Hence the BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) and the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, bisexual, gay, transsexual, queer, etc.). Unconditional love ends up meaning little more than “let the kids have their fun”. Through the secular prism, agape becomes something like hyper liberalism – summed up as “anything goes” – which is the optimistic complement of the pessimistic secular belief that “nothing matters”.

At the end of the film, the previously hostile and violent characters hell-bent on destroying the protagonist are, through the magical fulfillment of their personal, idiosyncratic erotic proclivities, as she showers them with her new-found agape, completely neutralized as they lie around sucking, licking and being spanked, each in his, her or their own private reverie.

Is this what Saint Augustine meant when he said “love and do what you will”? Was he a hyper liberal? Obviously not. The key difference is this: Augustine is talking about spiritual agape, the love of God, not the human idea of it. The human idea is purely logical – unconditional love should logically imply total permissive acceptance – “anything goes”. However, spiritual agape is a living force, energy, power, not just a mental idea or attitude.

If you are filled with love of God, you are filled with the Holy Spirit, which is to say, you are filled with holy love-energy. What Augustine is saying is that if you are filled with holy love-energy, whatever you do will be good, so there’s no need to worry about working out what you should or shouldn’t do or why you should or shouldn’t do it. Agape, the love of God, will flow through you so that you do the right thing.

Which doesn’t mean that you will do anything or that anything goes. You will do those things which the holy love-energy moves you to do. In other words, the “do what you will” part doesn’t mean “do what you want”, it means “act freely in accordance with the dictates of your will when your will is perfectly aligned with the will of God in the fullness of His love”.

The redeeming love that the film (and secular humanism) offers to the problem of teenage nihilism is the unconditional love of a mother for her daughter. However, the natural love of a parent for a child (storge) is not really unconditional unless it is underwritten by the supernatural love of God (agape). There are always strings attached.

Equally, the rational answer that the film (and secular humanism) gives to the problem of teenage nihilism, “we must cherish those rare moments that actually make sense”, just like the humanist sop, “you must make your own meaning”, has no foundation without the possibility of non-contingent truth. Accidental sense in a nonsensical multiverse and arbitrary meaning in a meaningless one is too close to nihilism to stop at least half the teenage Joys from diving straight into the black bagel.

Either you believe in love or you believe in evolutionary adaptations, the survival advantages of which are to nurture helpless infants (storge), to bond in tribal groups in order to gain a competitive edge over other groups (philia) and to reproduce (eros). Either you believe in “natural” love or you believe in “supernatural” love (agape). If you believe in the latter, not only do you have a romantic sensibility, you also have a religious one.

Belief in love is the gateway drug to belief in truth, belief in goodness, belief in beauty and ultimately belief in God. God is love. This is what will set you free, not the half-arsed stoicism and sentimentalism of secular humanism or the confused love of Hollywood.

For more on The Four Loves, see my blog post Love in Babylon

The Religion of Divine Love

“Oh Humanus, love is my bait; you must be caught by it; it will put its hook into your heart, and force you to know, that of all strong things, nothing is so strong, so irresistible, as divine love.

It brought forth all the creation; it kindles all the life of heaven; it is the song of all the angels of God. It has redeemed all the world; it seeks for every sinner upon earth; it embraces all the enemies of God; and from the beginning to the end of time, the one work of providence is the one work of love.

Moses and the prophets, Christ and his apostles, were all of them messengers of divine love. They came to kindle a fire on earth, and that fire was the love which burns in heaven. Ask what God is? His name is love; he is the good, the perfection, the peace, the joy, the glory, and blessing, of every life. Ask what Christ is? He is the universal remedy of all evil broken forth in nature and creature. He is the destruction of misery, sin, darkness, death and hell. He is the resurrection and life of all fallen nature. He is the unwearied compassion, the long-suffering pity, the never-ceasing mercifulness of God to every want and infirmity of human nature.

He is the breathing forth of the heart, life, and Spirit of God, into all the dead race of Adam. He is the seeker, the finder, the restorer, of all that was lost and dead to the life of God. He is the love, that, from Cain to the end of time, prays for all its murderers; the love that willingly suffers and dies among thieves, that thieves may have a life with him in paradise; the love that visits publicans, harlots, and sinners, and wants and seeks to forgive, where most is to be forgiven.

Oh, my friends, let us surround and encompass Humanus with these flames of love, till he cannot make his escape from them, but must become a willing victim to their power. For the universal God is universal love; all is love, but that which is hellish and earthly. All religion is the spirit of love; all its gifts and graces are the gifts and graces of love; it has no breath, no life, but the life of love. Nothing exalts, nothing purifies, but the fire of love; nothing changes death into life, earth into heaven, men into angels, but love alone. Love breathes the Spirit of God; its words and works are the inspiration of God. It speaketh not of itself, but the Word, the eternal Word of God, speaketh in it; for all that love speaketh, that God speaketh, because love is God. Love is heaven revealed in the soul; it is light, and truth; it is infallible; it has no errors, for all errors are the want of love. Love has no more of pride, than light has of darkness; it stands and bears all its fruits from a depth, and root of humility. Love is of no sect or party; it neither makes, nor admits of any bounds; you may as easily inclose the light, or shut up the air of the world into one place, as confine love to a sect or party. It lives in the liberty, the universality, the impartiality of heaven. It believes in one, holy, catholic God, the God of all spirits; it unites and joins with the catholic spirit of the one God, who unites with all that is good, and is meek, patient, well-wishing, and long-suffering over all the evil that is in nature and creature. Love, like the spirit of God, rideth upon the wings of the wind; and is in union and communion with all the saints that are in heaven and on earth. Love is quite pure; it has no by-ends; it seeks not its own; it has but one will, and that is, to give itself into everything, and overcome all evil with good. Lastly, love is the Christ of God; it comes down from heaven; it regenerates the soul from above, it blots out all transgressions; it takes from death its sting, from the devil his power, and from the serpent his poison. It heals all the infirmities of our earthly birth; it gives eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, and makes the dumb to speak; it cleanses the lepers, and casts out devils, and puts man in paradise before he dies. It lives wholly to the will of him, of whom it is born; its meat and drink is to do the will of God. It is the resurrection and life of every divine virtue, a faithful mother of true humility, boundless benevolence, unwearied patience, and bowels of compassion. This, Rusticus, is the Christ, the salvation, the religion of divine love, the true Church of God, where the life of God is found, and lived, and to which your friend Humanus is called by us. We direct him to nothing but the inward life of Christ, to the working of the Holy Spirit of God, which alone can deliver him from the evil that is in his own nature, and give him a power to become a son of God.”

From The Third Dialogue of The Spirit of Prayer, Part 2 by William Law