Didymos Thomas;45039 wrote:
I've been through the thing as well, my dear fellow psychonaut. But I still worry: is it better to pursue the spiritual path with or without the use of psychedelics? My intuition says without, but I wonder.
I was one of those hippie types who gleefully joined in with the psychedelic experimentation of the late 60s and early 70s. Well before I read Castaneda I somehow knew to treat the peyote experience with reverence. After over 200 journeys I started saying to myself, "Okay, this time you are going to remember EXACTLY what you are experiencing, and keep it for yourself from now on." Yet, no matter what I tried, somehow I lost the expanded, open, internally-silent experience the drug gave me.
My next step was to wonder if consciousness really was capable of achieving that experience naturally. Nothing in mainstream American culture addresses that, but as it turned out, there actually is a long history of people who sought the same natural way to the experience as I dreamed of, and who devoted their lives to achieving it.
In the East the experience is attained through through a practice that results in what's called samadhi
; the result of the same practice in the West is called union
A lot of people have heard of the Eastern term, but relatively few Americans know of the Western version. I myself was so surprised to find such a rich tradition that I changed my university major back in the '70s from biology to religious studies (specializing in Western Mysticism).
I highly recommend exploring (if you haven't already) the writings of the Desert Fathers, the writings of the early monks found in the Greek Philokalia, the writings of the discalced Carmelites (John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, etc.), and a great many others who participated in this little-known Christian pursuit of a devoted few from shortly after Jesus well into the 18th century (I am only emphasizing Christians because your title here seems to suggest you trust Christian sources most; and of course, the gospel of Thomas offers the most mystical portrait of Jesus).
Now, you might wonder if my trust in this tradition is blind, or if I have tried it myself. I am able to report that as of last December it has been 35 years of daily practice of union for me, and therefore I can confidently say that it is not only possible to naturally achieve the experience peyote (mushrooms, etc.) give, but it is possible for one to realize something even better.