Cannabis, Sin, and the Joy of Novelty

Modern shamanism, as a practice within our journey toward individual actualization, incorporates several aspects of nature into our rituals and beliefs. We draw from our understanding of humans' symbiotic relationship with the universe and their environments. From the water and food we consume to the rare minerals that power our supercomputers, nature supplies us with the resources necessary to thrive and create. It was true when human time experience was limited to nomadic hunting and foraging and will be true when our species is harvesting stars and gas giants for resources we haven’t yet discovered. Beyond the means necessary for survival and progress, nature provides us with novelty. From the beans that make our morning brews to the yeast that ferments our sugar waters into beer and wine, humanity has always found a way to enjoy small pleasures with nature's assistance. In our efforts to align ourselves with the single truth, we recognize the joy of novelty as an aspect of individual spirituality.

Cannabis is one of nature’s most miraculous bounties. It relieves physical pain, aids and intensifies our spiritual practice, and helps us enjoy novelty in the moment through states of deep relaxation. We understand that cannabis use in spiritual rituals is at least 2,500 years old, dating back to funeral rituals in China during 500 BCE.44 The earliest evidence of cannabis consumption in India dates back to around 2000 BCE,45 and the Vedas call cannabis a source of happiness, a joy-giver, and a liberator that was compassionately given to humans to help us attain delight and lose fear.46 It’s not too difficult to imagine that although our evidence of ancient use is limited, the practice was likely widespread amongst any with access. Our historical connection with cannabis in ritual highlights its proper classification as a sacred plant. Cannabis aids in our practice of modern shamanism by augmenting our small and high rituals and helping us engage in the enjoyment of novelty. 

Smoking or ingesting cannabis and practicing meditation can lead to a visionary experience, especially for the veteran practitioner. When entering a deep meditation, marijuana encourages hallucinations that are less intense than high ritual mushroom ingestion but greater than standard meditative practice. They come in many forms and, like the mushroom, seem to be communicating at times. Unlike the overwhelming experience of high ritual, augmenting meditation with cannabis results in distant hallucinations—visible but out of reach. In my personal journey, I have experienced cannabis-induced hallucinations that come in the form of layers of depth and dimension to my standard visual perception, as if shapes and imagery were superimposed over my standard field of view of darkness within the meditative state. Cannabis also can unlock audio hallucinations that, from my experience, can best be described as the sound of vibrations pulsing up and down—a rhythmic pattern of sound and silence. Cannabis as an aid to this small ritual assumes the ability to focus and concentrate on your breath which is developed through practice. I would not personally recommend cannabis-enhanced meditation to the novice but would not fault them for experimenting. Be aware that different strains of cannabis impact the individual in different ways, and in my personal practice I have found that some strains make reaching meditative states that transcend the physical very difficult. We become too busy thinking about everything at once. Where meditation is the primary small ritual for the individual, the addition of cannabis is exploratory and lacks priority. 

Earlier I shared my small ritual of practicing yoga, which at times I enjoy under the influence of cannabis. It allows for a deeper meditative practice. I find that each pose feels spiritually different in a way I have yet to experience during standard practice, especially when practicing a slow flow with extended position holds. When using cannabis to enhance aspects of your journey, be mindful of your commitment to restraint, relation, and awareness. There is nothing wrong with enjoying nature’s bounty. You should not feel guilty; there is no higher power judging you. Cannabis, like all else, is simply a form of information we interact with as observers. It is as much a part of our experience as any other plant we eat or use for industrial production. It is simply one that has many medicinal and spiritual benefits. 

There is also evidence to suggest that cannabis should be avoided by anyone under the age of twenty-one, as the brain is still developing. Youth marijuana consumption strongly correlates to the development of fewer neural pathways in specific brain regions such as the precuneus, where we draw alertness and awareness from, and the fimbria, which is responsible for learning and memory.47 I have my doubts about reason’s ability to triumph over the experimental urges of youth, but we should have candid conversations about cannabis’ impacts. When we demystify the cannabis experience through decriminalization and awareness, we diminish its allure.

Part of embracing cannabis and the joy of novelty is overcoming the stigmas of discussing personal drug use with our children. Whether our use is medical or recreational, it serves a valuable purpose. A culture of hypocrisy is significantly more damaging to our youth than the transmission of knowledge. The idea that children should not be exposed to the knowledge of small and high ritual drug use only mystifies the experience, allowing for the influence of others who may not have their best intentions in mind. With this being said, small rituals are no excuse to be absent of responsibility to ourselves and others. Cannabis can be addicting, especially through the lens of novelty. The individual must exercise their core value of restraint to ensure they do not engage in self-harm. 

Sin is the act of engaging with others and the universe in ways that do not align with our core values. There is no such thing as original sin or birth sin, as humanity is born into this world without burden. Such an idea only serves to bind the individual to a specific, predefined path of belief and perspective. Original sin is a convenient religious tool for political and economic dominion but holds no value or place in our shared journeys toward self-actualization in the age of crisis. 

Like all other words, sin is a context of our own creation. We associate the word sin with some external judgment from an omnipotent being, but this concept is a relic of a human time experience lacking our present knowledge. In the future, we may decide to replace rather than redefine the word, but for the sake of exploration, we examine it as is. As the single truth ensures that we are only ever here now, sinning is, in many ways, forgetfulness. We either forget about our core values entirely through some form of stupor, or we are aware that our future actions will break from our core values and act anyway—forgetting why we chose to align ourselves with the single truth and the relational universe in the first place. We know sin best after the act because only then can we reflect on how it makes us feel compared to the person we believe ourselves to be. More often than not, it’s not a positive feeling. We must separate sin from guilt by reimagining it within the single truth. While the individual time experience is embodied infinity, we, as observers, are still bound to our humanity. 

We are fallible beings who never possess perfect information and, therefore, always lack the capacity to make the ideal decision. At times, our emotions and the neurochemicals they coincide with rapidly shift our perceptions of the universe and bring about a more impulsive and instinctual state of being. Sin is, therefore, a part of us, aspects of our past that make us whole within the immediate present. We cannot escape the misalignments of our past, but we can avoid fetishizing them. Just as we seek to eliminate expectations of our outcomes, we abandon the falsehood that we are beyond error. 

We abandon the guilt associated with sin in favor of a renewed commitment to being more in our chosen directions. Both require the same amount of focus and energy, so why choose to be better? At times we may not be able to simply reject guilt, especially if our sin breaks our commitments to others. Although these circumstances certainly illuminate a serious misalignment with our core values of restraint and courage, they do not transform us into static beings existing permanently within these states. Recognizing sin is a self-taught lesson in what we do not want to be. What matters most is the direction of our focus and energy within the immediate present. 

But what of the individual who uses our rejection of guilt as a justification for sin? They were never genuine about embracing the single truth and the relational universe in the first place. The single truth tells us to approach others with a focus and energy free from the prejudices of our immediate perceptions, but the individual still retains the responsibility of breaking connections with bad actors. The journey toward individual and collective actualization will be long and hard fought. The individual should not concern themselves with those who willingly abandon their relation to the other in favor of temporary and fleeting progress.

Novelty has been known to us well before the observing time experience ever inhabited human form. Humans have observed play in mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and some amphibians.48 Humanity has been observing consciousness, in its many forms, for hundreds of thousands of years before the establishment of our present social orders. Joy and novelty are part of nature. We discover something interesting and pursue it. In doing so, we create time experiences of joy that expand our humanity and love. Therefore, spiritual practices that exclude or demonize the pursuit of joy are not worth our attention. 

The single truth ensures us that our experience simply is. Therefore, it is only within the immediate present that we ever recognize the totality and richness of being. The greatest joys we can experience occur only within the moment, and we should embrace them. Have you ever felt guilty about enjoying novelty? You aren’t alone. The joy of novelty has been tempered for centuries thanks to religious, political, and corporate propaganda. Today our information streams are full of information supporting the cult of hyper-productivity. For-profit media churns out stories about billionaires and their one-hundred-hour work weeks, constantly reinforcing that it was hard work and focus that brought their fortunes—conveniently leaving out luck and network. It’s a necessary information regime for propping up economic systems that prioritize competitive consumption but are diminishing to the individual spirit. 

This is not a critique of those willing to immerse themselves in their passions, simply a recognition that the standard for individual value should not be judged solely by our productivity and participation. One of the unspoken secrets of the success of highly technical labor today is how much time is spent creating systems and processes to automate tasks and reduce workloads. Many share a common disdain for working on things they find unworthy of focus and energy. More often than not, they only serve to heighten our awareness of what we would rather be doing. The joy of novelty is innate within our being, but the systems surrounding us have made it difficult to embrace it to its fullest.

In knowing novelty as an aspect of transcendent humanity, we can connect the dots between creation and joy. The elevation of novelty as an experience to be embraced without guilt or fear of judgment encourages the individual to wholly embody enthusiasm in their life. Instead of compartmentalizing our joys as separate and unrelated to our work, we seek to combine the two into a single experience. In time experiences past, the individual had no alternative but to accept the occupations prescribed by the collective social order. Within our immediate present, the changing nature of work allows for plentiful opportunities to weave productivity and passion into a single thread. To do so is one of the greatest expressions of divinity within the moment. 

Individual actualization as a process of alignment with the single truth is, by definition, a reimagination of the self. Although many aspects of this journey are important, perhaps none are more important than the embrace of the joy of novelty within our time experience. We temper our enthusiasm with restraint so that our pursuit of novelty does not transform into obsessive excess. We reject the notions of sin reinforced by spiritual technologies out of alignment with the single truth and the relational universe. As the individual develops their practice of active soulcraft and small ritual, they begin to understand novelty in a new light. By crafting personal visions of joy, the individual sets the theme of their journey and guides their embrace of the good. The individual deserves novelty and joy within their time experience for no other reason than their inhabiting of the now. Exercise your divinity within the moment and have fun doing it. - Cannabis, Sin, and the Joy of Novelty
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