I’ve been reading Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception (1954). He’s the English author of Brave New World (1932). In the Doors of Perception book he was testing the effects (on himself) of taking a hallucinogenic drug called mescaline.
The thing that most interested me was his reasoning for drug taking. Why do people take drugs, including alcohol and cigarettes? He says it’s because they have a sense of something greater than normal, (their own spirit or their own connection to spirit), and they want to experience that.
We can sense it when we are climbing a mountain, or running a marathon or watching our children sleep or when we’re caught up in creating art. It’s fleetingly there and then gone and it’s a let down to be in the ordinary world We search for a way in normal day to day life to recreate that experience. Maybe we’re not even aware of having had an experience, all we know is there’s more to life than this…..
Huxley says that’s why humans choose to get high or get merry, it gives them a taste of this connection to something extra-ordinary.
This makes sense to me. There’s another drug to add to the list. It has always been easy for me to make that connection to spirit and I didn’t even think of it as something unusual – it was just part of life. As a child I loved going to church, and even went to extra masses during the week. It wasn’t strange when I was a child in rural Ireland, lots of people were doing it and there was an acceptance that this was the right thing to do.
When I became a teenager and started going out with boys, that place where I got spirit connection became unfriendly for me. As teenagers my peers and I were judged sinful and evil by the rules of the religion. Trying to follow the religious rules was difficult because they went against my own wisdom. For many years things continued like that, keeping the rules breaking my wisdom, breaking the rules keeping my wisdom, there was a lot of guilt. But I wanted the spiritual connection so I continued taking the religious drug. For me, there was no separation between spiritual and religious, and to have the spiritual nourishment I had to follow the religious rules.
But how can any religious structure/organisation have exclusive rights to spiritual connection? Spiritual connection came first and religion followed as a man-made symptom (at best) of that connection. When I realised that, I could honour my own wisdom and still have connection.
My drug was religion, I thought it was necessary to experience the spiritual connection. Some people’s drug is alcohol or cannabis or whatever… Is it necessary to drink alcohol, take drugs or attend a service in order to experience a sense of spirit? Would it be enough to have the experience without the drug?