There are several paths to enlightenment-each are suited to a particular personality. These provide the person with a path and exercises that are comfortable to them and give the most effective growth.
There are ways that are universal to all types of people, that provide rapid experience of enlightened states, and that are easy to use.
One method that can be used in this way is medicinal plants. Certain plants produce compounds that react with brain chemicals to produce certain effects that are similar to states produced by spiritual exercise.
These substances include: ayahuasca, rye ergot, peyote, psilocybin, san pedro cactus, jimson weed. All of these plants have been used by native cultures in ceremonial rites and by shamans to communicate with their deities.
These substances provide several functions that allow approximation with states of enlightenment.
– Energy raising-when using these plants, energy stored in lower energy states rises to higher states more easily. This allows for increased activity at those higher energy states.
– Altered perceptions-when under the influence of these substances, the force of everyday perception is lessened and more subtle perceptions are able to be used. This is an essential part of spiritual development.
– Peak experiences-these plants produce an experience similar to enlightenment-the wordless state of perception. While the plant influence is transitory, it provides a way to learn about the actual experience of at-one-ment.
There are, however, dangers with using these substances. Opening up perceptions and releasing energy are actions which can entrap the unprepared person.
– Overidentification with the altered state and reliance on it to provide actual attainment. This retards the progress of actual spiritual advancement.
– Losing perspective-falsely thinking that the experiences and perceptions gained during the experience are the only real experience. Inability to see the experience for what it is: an artificial method to gain experience in spiritual activity.
– Loss of control-without sufficient preparation and guidance, the power of these substances and the experiences generated are difficult to control. There is a risk of losing oneself in the experience and being unable to return to everyday life.
– Loss of self-as these plants open up the spiritual body, the risk of this body being taken by malevolent inhabitants of non-physical realms becomes a possibility if the user is not properly prepared or unable to control or defend himself.
– Loss of anchor-as energy is released by these plants, spiritual travel is possible. Without proper guidance or experience, the person can get lost during these journeys and be unable to find the way back to his physical body.
– Inappropriate progress-by the use of these substances, great progress in the acquisition of spiritual abilities can be made. There is a danger that these spiritual abilities will be gained without the corresponding spiritual discipline and control. Using these powers without discipline and control can lead the person to error and illusion.
Because of the many risks involved in this particular path, it is not recommended for most people. It is a violent and wrenching experience, and the benefits do not outweigh the risks. For this reason I call it the “trial by fire”, as coming out of it can leave you severely burned, or tempered into steel.
Keep in mind the words of Ram Dass (Richard Alpert)-“psychedelics are like a business call-once you get the information, you hang up the phone, if you’re smart.”