Chapter 7. Sacred Technologies
I’d like you to recall the earliest memory you have of viewing a clear night of stars. Try and remember the true awesomeness of the visual, the incomprehensible amount of space, the thoughts of infinity, and the feelings of immensity that overcame you as you wondered what it’s all about. Is there something other out there, what are we doing here, what does this all mean?
These feelings are, of course, not isolated to looking up at the stars. They find their way into our lives through various avenues if we are keen to notice. Other examples include profound synchronicities, witnessing an orange full moon rise just above the horizon, or recurrent visits from certain animals after a loved one has passed. Such moments remind us that there is something else happening here, and somehow, we each play a part. They suffuse us with an invisible type of magic we’re taught is reserved for the protagonist of childhood bedtime stories, but which we secretly hoped was real. Something of such high order and complexity could exist not just beyond the valley, underneath an unturned rock, or on the next page, but somewhere within us.
These spontaneous expressions of wonder allow us to temporarily transcend the materialism and egotism supported by the ideology of fragmentation, revealing a glimpse of unity underneath. What makes these experiences unique, is their inherent implication of an even bigger connection--unity is not just the predominate trait of humanity; it is the underlying principle of reality. Every organism and every action is connected through a highly complex web of often-unseen interactions. We all exist, and we all are, together.
Ironically, if we are to observe this reality as true, we must go beyond the capacity of the human eye. Just as mirrors reveal our own reflection, telescopes unveil the cosmos, and microscopes expose the smallest objects, sacred technologies illuminate unity as the underlying principle of reality. Given the importance of such an experience, these technologies have been carefully passed down through countless generations.
There are both practice and substance based sacred technologies, although the two are not always mutually exclusive. Practices include meditation, yoga, praying, fasting, dancing, drumming, chanting, breathing techniques, and various ceremonies and rites of passage. Substances include the consumption of certain herbs and plant/fungi psychedelics.
Each of these technologies has a unique purpose, but they all have the ability to turn our gaze inward, dissolve the facades of fragmentation, and reveal our innate unity. Some do so subtly, through years of daily practice. While others are so powerful, they can provide this perspective within just a few hours.
Due to this range, the perception and use of sacred technologies fluctuates with the shifting values and needs of a given culture. For example, subtle practices such as meditation and prayer have been used by many of our religions for thousands of years and are, at minimum, accepted as “normal.” On the other hand, ceremonies that involve accessing a non-ordinary state of consciousness have been regarded as sacred in some cultures, while being taboo or illegal in others.
As we are currently experiencing a shift in needs and values due to the accelerating pace and magnitude of crises, it is imperative that we not let prejudice cloud our judgment on any of these practices and/or substances. By taking an unbiased and timeless perspective, we will now discover how these technologies can guide us out of an unnatural ideology of fragmentation and into a natural ideology of unity - a process that will not only save us from causing irreparable damage to our species and many others, but also show us how to prosper as respectful, creative, productive, and happy beings.
From Chapter 9. Natural Substance-Based Technologies
Perhaps you awoke this morning to flickering rays of sunlight entering gently though your blinds. Or more likely, an alarm jolted you out of a dream. In either situation, if you live like most of us in western society, you opened your eyes, realized you did not get enough sleep, and sought out a cup of caffeine before interacting with anyone else.
As we consider everything else that we ingest on a daily basis, we realize that the majority of these natural substances are indeed used for some sort of purpose. This can include survival (food/water), health (naturally derived medicines), alertness (caffeinated coffee/tea), and inebriation (alcoholic beverages). Despite the possibility of misuse or adverse side effects of medicine, caffeine, alcohol, and even certain foods, we still consume them and consider them normal because they provide us with value.
From this same perspective, we can now approach a class of naturally occurring substances that are as sacred and important as the practices discussed in chapter 8: natural plant/fungi psychedelics. Just like caffeine, alcohol, and certain medicines, these substance-based tools can alter our reality to better approach our lives. Yes, there is a possibility of misuse or adverse side effects, but even more so than the other substances just mentioned, they have immense value.
The plant/fungi psychedelics that I’ll be referencing for the remainder of this book--and the ones that have been used for thousands of years in various cultures as medicine, sacraments, and tools for personal development--are psilocybin-containing mushrooms, mescaline-containing cacti such as Peyote/San Pedro, and DMT-containing plant mixtures such as Ayahuasca.
These natural psychedelics are so potent in their ability to dissolve the facades of fragmentation and engender an experience of unity that they only need to be used once. While the safety and efficacy of such powerful experiences relies upon certain guidelines--having a trustworthy and knowledgeable guide, being in a comfortable set and setting, preparing for the experience, having support during it, and integrating it afterwards (discussed further in Appendix H)--their level of efficiency perfectly matches the needs of our current culture and calls for a reassessment of these plants/fungi. We will now go on to discuss these plant/fungi psychedelics in great detail.