Saturday, January 22, 2011

The hallucination of contemporary life

In the book 'Lila', Phaedrus attends a Native American Church ceremony at a Northern Cheyenne reservation with his anthropologist friend. During the ceremony the Indians use a sacramental food called peyote that produces visions that are important for a certain understanding they seek. Peyote in its synthetic form is LSD.

"...The majority opposition to peyote reflected a cultural bias, the belief, unsupported by scientific or historical evidence, that 'hallucinatory' experience is automatically bad. Since hallucinations are a form of insanity, the term 'hallucinogen' is clearly pejorative. Like early descriptions of Buddhism as a 'heathen' religion and Islam as 'barbaric', it begs some metaphysical questions. The Indians who use it as a part of their ceremony might with equal accuracy call it a 'de-hallucinogen', since it's their claim that it removes the hallucination of contemporary life and reveals the reality buried beneath them.

There is actually some scientific support for this Indian point of view. Experiments have shown that spiders fed LSD do not wander around doing purposeless things as one might expect a 'hallucination' would cause them to do, but instead spin an abnormally perfect, symmetrical web."

'Lila. An Inquiry into Morals'
Robert M Pirsig

Note: I am not advocating drugs here. That was a thought-provoking observation worthy of, and requiring, reflection and further study, that's all.

1 comment:

kabir said...

I think you would like Daniel Pinchbeck's brilliant work 'Breaking Open the Head'- the name comes from the initiation ceremony amongst the Bwiti of Gabon where Iboga, a hallucinogen rootbark is consumed to induce a trance state that lasts close to thirty hours and introduces the initiate to the Bwiti cosmovision

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