(part II of V)
Psychonauts do not avoid extreme challenges, they look for them.
Extreme sports players scour the globe for new places to jump, raft and ski from.
Mystics and spiritualists scan their inner world and their outer world for new horizons and experiences that will leave them different than before.
Many drug users are attempting the same thing:
to go beyond the parameters of their known self and conventional experiences to learn more about themselves and find the boundaries of their own identity.
But this book is not about extreme sports.
It is not about a quest for enlightenment either,
but it is not possible to discuss the culture of drugs and their effects on the minds of those who use them without at least drawing comparisons and wading into the
philosophical/mystical waters for discussion.
Like participating in extreme sports, becoming a psychonaut requires:
- a) Training and preparation,
- b) A sober, intellectual attitude
- c) A spirit of adventure and exploration.
When these requirements are adhered to it is often as safe—
than trekking down 800 meters into an unexplored cave!
but exhilarating and satisfying too.
Yes, drugs can hurt you,
and so can base-jumping.
Yes, drugs can kill you.
And so can climbing Mt. Everest.
Drugs can cause brain damage and the more drugs you do the higher the odds you will eventually damage yourself or someone else.
Just like other dangerous things.
The more you train and take caution,
the more seriously you take drug exploration,
the safer and more satisfying it might be.
Another similarity between the two is motivation:
Most extreme sport players are out for nothing but themselves—a big rush and a good time.
They will work hard jobs just to fund their expeditions,
hoping to be good enough to get funded by a sponsor like Red Bull so they can pursue their sport full time and gain access to more and better challenges.
Do you have any idea how much it costs for Sean White,
world famous X game winner and extreme snowboarder /skateboarder,
to take a helicopter to a crazy peak in Tibet, Nepal, Alaska, or the Dolomites?
Me neither, but sponsorship helps!
Most extreme sport-extremists,
are in it for themselves:
what they can accomplish, achieve and acquire.
Psychonauts, by definition, are largely motivated by sharing research and experiences in an attempt to enlighten others and lead them out of the darkness of mundane consciousness and into a higher, more evolved state of being.
The majority of drug abusers are also in it for themselves.
They not only do not share anything of evolving, enlightening value,
but instead become parasites to those around them.
They do not train nor are they trying to do anything
but fulfill a self-serving agenda of experiencing pleasure and they often lose interest in how this affects others.
Most of the heroin addicts I encounter in my community
(a suburban-community of superficial, spoiled adults and youths)
get loaded and torment hard working mothers, fathers and spouses without a conscience.
While I feel for them and work my hardest to liberate them from their addictions,
I see their issue as something so much more than being enslaved to the pleasure-compulsion of a drug.
They are inherently selfish and unevolved and will take, take, take until there is nothing left to take.
Some require “Rock-Bottom” as the only way to get them to stop hurting those around them.
The equation is almost always the same:
cowardly family members
unwilling or unable to do the difficult emotional task of stopping the cycle.
Yes, I know, I make it sound obvious and easy to judge,
but I do not see it as obvious or easy to judge at all!
A minority of sports-extremists and drug-abusers are motivated to share their experiences and realizations to assist others in their liberation of mediocrity.
If I’ve learned anything in my 10 years as a counselor
(and I’ve learned a little),
it is that there are people of varying levels of intellectual and emotional capacity.
It is frustrating to see people who
seem like they get-it,
sound like they get-it,
look like they get-it
who simply DON’T GET IT!
And cannot get themselves together without outside leverage and help.
Recognizing that everyone has varying limitations has taught me compassion as I found myself
initially judging so many people who had lesser intellects or emotional stability before I began to work with them;
I have learned humility and perspective through their suffering.
Instead of seeing people as stupid or small minded,
I began to see them as human beings trapped by limitations
the same way a physically disabled person has limitations they simply cannot overcome.
A mentally, intellectually or emotionally deficient person is simply limited and it is not by choice.
They often seem to understand what I’ve explained and even appear to make breakthroughs,
when I see them in their very next session it is as though we never shared a cathartic breakthrough the week before.
Like a rubber-band snapping back to its original shape once the pressure of exerting it beyond its natural shape is released,
the mind reverts back to what it is familiar with.
Some people improve and some downright change,
but many stay within the circumference of their existing pathologies,
never straying too far from them or to an outer ring that could be liberating.
It is an odd phenomena:
they look like they get it,
they sound like they get it,
they act like they get it;
they do not get it.
As if there is some block or invisible, elastic shield that slingshots them back to their most familiar mentality!
As a counselor, I learn to accept people as they are
with their limitations,
yet wanting them to change and never wanting to give up trying to help liberate them from the limitations that cause them to suffer.
Accept them as they are and yet facilitate and encourage change: what a paradox!
I fully acknowledge that I myself have limitations
and that I also am ignorant and do not easily move beyond my limitations:
I don’t know what I don’t know.
A teacher and guide of mine revealed to me,
in ways that were embarrassing and humiliating,
what a dope I am
compared to the total spectrum of knowledge and humanity.
The lesson was embarrassing and humiliating, yet liberating.
In his presence I was able to accept what I dope I am compared to the total spectrum of knowledge and humanity.
That is a teacher’s role:
point out your shortcomings while simultaneously accepting your faults without condition.
Psychonaut part III