Explore mind-expanding, soul-tickling aspects of cannabis

by DGO Web Administrator

“When the state sends us to prison for, essentially, exploring our own consciousness, it’s a grotesque abuse of human rights.”

— Graham Hancock, author

What are we, homo sapiens? Just another mammal species, perhaps; milk-making, lightly covered with hair, mostly built of water, a group of chemical equations bubbling around between junctions of flesh and bone … but somehow different from the rest of our earthly cohabitants.

The difference between us and a badger or a mountain lion or, to bring things a bit tighter, a chimpanzee, may not be a difference in essence. Rather, it is one of process, one of a longer, more organized, more unified use of our faculties – memory in particular – to expand upon our survival base, to establish a steeper learning curve in order to end up what we are today: holders of dominion over all but the most extreme conditions presented to us here on our earthly home.

Sometimes in the evening, the Missus and I sit on our back porch and watch as the sun works its way west over the mountain’s ridge, that time of day when the light is filtered beyond the horizon, through the atmosphere to create those oranges and purples and pinks that seem to have been designed to shorten our breath at that very moment; and sometimes, as we wait silently, a fox comes trotting down the neighbor’s fenceline, sniffing and poking around to spook a mouse or a mole – dinner!

The point of this little idyll? When I watch the fox, that beautiful little guy with his gorgeous red coat stippled with black, bathed in the glowing light over the edge of the foothills behind him, I become soaked in the sublimity of the moment. He is following his genetic code – burrow, hunt, eat, breed – in pursuit of smaller creatures, escaping the bear or the lion or the pack that might hunt him. I sit freed of that cycle, a few steps from shelter, cabinets full of food, knowing (sapiens) that I have the luxury to appreciate this moment – the colors, his fluid movement; my separation from the fight for survival affords me the option to sit quietly, allowing myself to be filled with the beauty in this world, to let it happen, to take a quick breath as he freezes, tenses, and then jumps a few feet in the air and comes back down, leading with his paws, maybe a small squeak from his prey, and then he pads off to a less open place to eat, sleep, repeat.

My chemical processes create a slowing and shortening of breath, a stillness of anticipation of the moment to come, a wash of profundity and insight soaks my mind – a vision into the moment and the recognition that this is one of many paths that leads to the sublime, that moment explored by artists from Lascaux to Mozart to Hendrix to preschool children wearing a parent’s shirt as a smock stained in fingerpaint.

Botanist and author Terence McKenna argued that our species’ development came about as a result of interaction with “plant teachers,” mostly psilocybin mushrooms ingested by our ancestors, which led to the development of better hunting skill and teamwork, the expansion and improvement of language and symbolic understanding and an expansion of shamanic rituals that form a base for appreciation of all that we see. They lead to artistic representations of both the literal and the interpretative elements of the world around us, foundations of the higher-order thinking processes upon which we have built our current world.

Cannabis, perhaps more than any of these plant teachers, grew from the same swampy primordial earth that we human beings did; our body’s endocannabanoid system provides ample evidence of the evolutionary relationship. And things are shifting politically and culturally. Our Mexican neighbors have declared its use a human right, our Canadian neighbors recently elected their prime minister partially on his promise to legalize, and, here in the states, the fight for nationwide recognition travels state by state with NORML chapters underscoring its essential health benefits. Accordingly, it is a proper time to look at cannabis as a right given to us not by an assembly of elected officials, but rather, as part and parcel with the expansion of our consciousness – a mind state that any occasional user can testify to.

This will be the focus of Seeing Through the Smoke as winter melts into spring, DGO, an opportunity to step back from the petty politics surrounding the Little Plant That Could and to explore some of the more mind-expanding, soul-tickling aspects of cannabis and some of the work done by its staunchest advocates. Have a great week; this is going to be fun.

Christopher Gallagher lives with his wife and their four dogs and two horses. Life is pretty darn good. Contact him at [email protected]

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