The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Using Psychedelic Drugs in Your Search for Healing & Truth: Why It’s a Bad Idea

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Throughout human history, the use of psychedelic drugs has been enormously popular.  Because humans feel that their earthsuits are a central part of their existence, they have always been intensely fascinated by anything which evokes strong sensations in their earthsuits.  A strong shot of caffeine can quickly result in an improved mood and a higher level of energy—what’s not to like about that?  The right kind of sexual stimulation can result in an intense orgasm, and many humans find themselves addicted to that particular kind of rush, while others prefer a good massage or a terrifying movie.  Just as you can cause your car’s engine to rev by pressing down on the accelerator while you’re in a neutral gear, there are many ways that you can rev your earthsuit.  You can stimulate it physically, sexually, emotionally or mentally.  And once you rev one area, the others will be affected as well.  But here’s where we come to the important question: what’s the value in intentionally jolting your earthsuit?  What’s the value of revving your car’s engine while it’s in a neutral gear?  Because you’re not in drive, you’re not moving forward, you’re just forcing the machine to exhaust itself by going through useless motions.  What happens if you keep the accelerator pressed all the way down while the car is stuck in neutral?  Eventually you’ll do damage to the machine, because cars were designed for specific purposes and they have limitations.  If you don’t respect those purposes or those limitations, you’ll end up permanently damaging the car until it can no longer do what it was designed to do.  In the same way, if you don’t respect the purposes or limitations of the earthsuit God has given you and if you go through life forcing it to rev just because you can, you will end up permanently damaging it. 

Now there are many kinds of drugs.  The big attraction to using psychedelic drugs is to whack your brain out of its normal state of functioning and go on some kind of mental “trip.”  Since your brain is the computer that keeps the rest of your body functioning well, causing your brain to go temporarily haywire often results in physical problems, which is why folks who are high on psychedelic drugs often have trouble doing basic functions like walking, seeing, or speaking clearly.  For the users of psychedelic drugs, the party happens privately and it’s often difficult for the user to describe the new and bizarre sensations that he experiences.  Some feel they experience new sensual abilities, such as the ability to smell colors.  Others find their minds flooded with bizarre imagery which they interpret as being some kind of vision.  Others feel that being on psychedelic drugs reduces their mental limitations and therefore gives them access to new powers and insights which are normally hidden from them.

If we were to examine the use of drugs in various cultures over time, we would find that psychedelic drugs have a long history of being promoted as essential tools for spiritual development and expanding one’s self-awareness.  But is there really any truth to this?  Or is this belief yet more evidence of how foolish humans can be?  To make wise choices in life, you need to learn to think critically, and that means asking questions. So let’s now ask some important questions that the fans of psychedelic drugs have overlooked.

IS IT BAD TO BE LIMITED?

Human beings are extremely limited beings.  This is a reality that we have no control over.  Because God didn’t invite us to participate in His creation process, we didn’t get any input on how He designed us.  Instead, we’re stuck living with the choices He has made, and He has chosen to make us extremely limited.  But how should we respond to this?  Should we instantly take offense and decide that being limited is bad?  This is what many humans do, and once you decide that being limited is a bad thing, you’ll naturally seek out ways to reduce your limitations.

Those who promote psychedelic drugs view them as limit-reducing tools and they want you to get excited about taking the drugs merely based on the idea that you can overcome some limitation in your personal life.  But before you attempt to blast some limitation out of your way by dumping chemicals into your earthsuit, you need to consider how that limitation came to be.  Since God is the Origin of all created things, we can trace all of our limitations back to Him.  In other words, God gave you all of the limits that you currently have.  And since God is a purposeful Being who has very strategic reasons for what He does, you’d be a fool to try and undo something God has done without talking to Him first.  To avoid this trap, you need to be practicing a soul attitude of submission which says to God, “I want You to have Your way in my life, even when I don’t like what Your way is.”

The second common trap you want to avoid is that of assuming that all limitations are bad.  Many of the limitations that exist in your life are there for your protection.  This is particularly true when it comes to psychological limitations, and since psychedelic drugs are promoted by some as useful therapeutic tools, let’s discuss the importance of not trying to force your mind to deal with stressful memories and concepts before it is ready to do so.

CAN THE USE OF PSYCHEDELIC DRUGS AS A THERAPEUTIC TOOL BE HARMFUL?

Yes, absolutely.  Because God designed your brain to be such a delicate, limited organ, He also equipped it with many self-defense measures.  In cases of psychological trauma, the mind finds itself dangerously overwhelmed by stress.  Because your mind is the computer which keeps your entire earthsuit functional, it is imperative that your mind remain as functional as possible.  For this reason, your mind will go to great lengths to protect its own functionality.  Let’s use a metaphor to see how this works.

Imagine a huge wall that has 500 high tech monitors on it.  Each monitor has an ever changing list of incoming data and alerts that describe how one section of your earthsuit is doing.  One monitor reports on your heart, another on your liver, another on your ears, and so on.  In this analogy, your brain is like the man who stands at a high tech control station, watching all of those 500 monitors.  The man watches the monitors day in and day out, and as alerts pop up, his fingers fly into action, typing out commands on a keyboard which are then sent out to the team that is responsible for maintaining the organ in trouble.  When the team in charge of your liver reports a crisis, your brain instructs that team how to handle that crisis, and once those instructions are received, the maintenance team goes into action.  There are 500 different maintenance teams, but none of them can think on their own—they all need to be told what to do by your brain.  If your brain were to suddenly stop sending out orders, or ignoring the alerts he is receiving, those maintenance teams would not act, and soon your whole system would be in a royal crisis.  So your brain is critical—your brain is the one keeping your whole earthsuit running smoothly.

Now suppose in the midst of your brain doing his thing, a rabid dog somehow gets into the room and tries to attack your brain.  The dog is vicious—snarling, growling, and foaming at the mouth.  The dog is trying to attack and kill your brain right in the midst of all of the critical work your brain is doing.  What happens if your brain stops everything and turns all of his attention to that troublesome dog?  While your brain is totally taken up with the dog, your whole earthsuit will fall into a crisis because all of those maintenance crews will not be receiving any instructions on how to manage their problems.  That wild, vicious dog represents a traumatic experience.  Severe traumatic experiences are problems which your brain feels it doesn’t have enough resources to deal with right now so it finds a way to corral them. In our metaphor, your brain quickly throws a net around the rabid dog and locks it away in a cage.  The dog is now barking and snarling in the cage, which your brain finds very upsetting and distracting, but at least the dog can no longer physically attack your brain.  With the dog locked up, your brain can now go back to dealing with all of those alerts that are popping up on the 500 monitors.  Only because the dog is making so much noise, your brain isn’t able to concentrate as well as he could before, and that affects the quality of his work.  He’s slower at getting the orders out.  Sometimes he misses things.  His judgment is impaired.  All of this has a negative impact on the overall health of your earthsuit.

Now suppose that another dog gets loose in the master control room and your brain must trap him in a cage as well.  Now there are two angry beasts snarling and barking at your brain all the time.  Suppose more traumas keep coming until your brain has 10 large dogs making a cacophony of noise in his control room.  What is going to happen to your brain’s ability to function well in the midst all of that stress?  With every new dog, your earthsuit has more and more problems until soon it’s barely getting through the day.  Many of your organs are functioning poorly.  Your immune system is overwhelmed and you’re frequently feeling sick and tired.  You’ve been diagnosed with several illnesses and you’re popping pills just to try and make it through the day.  This is how it works in cases of unresolved psychological trauma: until those traumas are processed, they keep barking and snarling in their cages.  Your brain has found a way to restrain them so that they can’t entirely incapacitate him, but he’s very stressed by their presence.

So what’s the real life parallel to locking dogs in cages?  What does your brain really do to try and corral traumatic memories?  It uses tools like suppression and denial to try and submerge upsetting memories down in your subconscious where they can’t interfere as much with daily activities.  Suppressing memories and emotions has very practical applications.  The soldier who feels himself turn emotionally numb when his friend is blown up in front of him is using a form of mental suppression to quickly stuff overwhelming emotions into some kind of mental closet where they can be dealt with later.  In the middle of a battlefield with live ammo flying around him, the soldier can’t afford to immediately stop and deal with the intense grief and fear he feels in response to seeing his friend blown apart.  His brain essentially says, “If I try to deal with this now, I’ll get killed, so I’ll have to shove it out of my way and deal with it later.”  This strategy can work well as long as “later” comes along soon enough.  But in real life, many military personnel feel forced to keep stuffing down horrifying sights and feelings for months or even years on end.  By the time they finally get sent to an environment where processing is technically possible, they feel so psychologically overwhelmed that they don’t even know how to start unpacking all of those suppressed memories.  So they don’t.  Instead, they keep allocating enormous amounts of mental resources to try to keep all of those terrible memories suppressed.  And when that doesn’t seem doable, they often turn to drugs for help in distracting themselves, or they start acting out in violent ways as a means of trying to relieve emotional stress.  The same negative cycle also happens in many cases of childhood abuse, where the child feels forced to suppress years’ worth of immense emotional and psychological distress until he doesn’t know how to live any other way.  The point is that your mind has limits, and there is only so much stress it can handle at once.  When it feels overwhelmed, it prioritizes its tasks and it uses suppression to put off dealing with stressful memories.

Now when you don’t understand what a delicate operation your mind is running, and when you can see that you’re dragging around anchors from the past which you want to get cut loose from, then it can be pretty easy for someone to sell you on the idea that using drugs to blast through the mental shields that your mind has built is a good idea.  Here’s where some people try to use psychedelic drugs to force their minds to face everything they’re trying to keep suppressed.  This is like you going into that master control room and letting all of those wild dogs out of their cages.  What is going to happen if you do something like this?  Is this “good therapy”?  No, it’s like throwing yourself into a fire because you’re tired of feeling cold.  You’re not going to solve anything—you’re just going to increase your crisis tenfold and possibly do irreparable damage to yourself.  You see, your mind isn’t suppressing things because it enjoys feeling strained.  Your mind uses suppression to try and protect itself from what it feels it cannot handle.  How good are you at judging what your mind can or can’t handle?

RESPECTING YOUR EARTHSUIT

As we keep saying, your mind or brain is the central computer that runs your entire earthsuit.  But here’s where it gets really interesting because you are not your earthsuit.  You’re not your brain, either. You are the soul who is currently dwelling inside of your earthsuit.  Your soul is a totally separate entity from your earthsuit, which is why your soul finds your earthsuit so mysterious. Just as most of the people who drive cars in this world have no idea how their cars work, your soul doesn’t understand how your earthsuit works.  Simply drawing anatomy charts and labeling parts of your body with words like skin, nerves, and blood is not the same as understanding how your earthsuit actually works.  Using special technology to film your brain in action is like watching a brilliant mathematician writing out a bunch of complex formulas on a blackboard. You can watch the man all day—merely watching him won’t help you understand what all of those strange numbers and letters mean.  You see, as much as humans love to collect data on their earthsuits, we still remain very much in the dark about how our earthsuits actually work and why they do what they do.  Our brains are by far the most mysterious parts of our earthsuits, which is why we should be very cautious about tampering with them.  When someone says to you, “Take this drug and it will expand your mental abilities,” you should ask, “But why do I need a drug to access those abilities?  Why aren’t they always available?”

It’s quite true that your earthsuit can do a lot more than it allows you to do in daily life.  But greater feats come with greater costs, and some of those costs are so severe that your earthsuit feels they aren’t worth the risk. To keep your ambition in check, your earthsuit uses things like pain and fatigue to prevent you from exerting it more than it wants to be exerted.  But in situations of dire crisis, your brain has some clever tricks that it uses to allow you to tap into your earthsuit’s more extreme capabilities.  A classic example here is the man who manages to lift part of a car off the ground a few inches in order to allow someone who is trapped beneath it to crawl free.  Such things happen in normal life—people do physical feats which would normally cause great physical agony, yet they don’t feel any pain in the critical moment.  This is because the brain produces its own painkiller which temporarily blocks the pain sensations from being registered.  What you never hear about is what happens after the heroes go home and the natural painkiller wears off.  In one real life story, a man who lifted a car a few inches off of a trapped biker later discovered that he’d clenched his jaw so hard in the moment that he’d shattered eight of his teeth.  You can find other accounts of people breaking free of chains in moments of superhuman strength, only to break their own bones in the process.  The point is that, yes, your earthsuit has more resources than it makes available to you in normal life. But the reason it limits your access to these things is for your own benefit.  Do you want to go through life with shattered teeth, broken bones, and torn muscles?  Being able to do something is not always worth living with the consequences of having done it.  So when someone comes along offering you a drug that will force your mind to give you temporary access to abilities which it normally reserves for emergency situations, you would be wise to respect your earthsuit’s wisdom and not override the safety mechanisms it has in place.  God is the One who has programmed your earthsuit with its self-preservation instincts, and when our sole motivation for wanting to do something is just because we’ve been told that we can’t, how should we expect God to respond?

WRONG MOTIVATIONS & FALSE INTERPRETATIONS

When are you the most likely to speak sincerely and think clearly: when you’re hyped up on adrenaline, when you’re staggering drunk, or when you’re in a calm, sober state of mind?  Listen to the absurd lyrics of popular love songs and you’ll be reminded of how idiotically humans talk when they are caught up in the rush of hormones.  “I’d swim across the ocean for you.”  Really?  So you’d really take on the Atlantic in your swimsuit just because your girlfriend asked you to? Of course you wouldn’t. In real life, you’d dump her for being such a demanding twit.  “I can’t breathe without you.”  Really?  Because your boyfriend left four hours ago and you have yet to reach for an oxygen tank.

When we’re overstimulated, we say things we don’t mean and we start treating sheer idiocy like profound wisdom.  We are way too impressed with new experiences and we mistake our own confusion for a sign that we’re spiritually “gifted.”  Given all of this, why would you want to hype yourself up on psychedelic drugs?  What is your true goal?  Are you trying to make God free you up from psychological stress according to your timetable?  Are you trying to force Him to reveal spiritual insights to you that He’s been currently withholding?   Are you trying to manufacture evidence that you have divine powers?

When Maxine gets high on psychedelic drugs, she hears voices telling her that she’s a god who outranks every other god in existence.  This is the first time Maxine has ever heard voices talking to her, and she decides that she’s just unlocked the gateway to a whole new spiritual dimension. She then hurries to get high again in order to once more “ascend” into that “higher realm.”  But is Maxine really ascending anywhere?  No, she’s just sitting on her couch, impairing her brain with toxic chemicals while demons tell her what her ego wants to hear.  The drug isn’t doing anything to help Maxine spiritually advance.  The drug is just adding an element of confusion that is causing Maxine to be even easier to deceive than she usually is.

When Rob gets high on psychedelic drugs for the first time, he feels a rush of new, shocking sensual feedback.  He feels like he can smell colors and see sounds.  His emotions swing wildly, and he experiences an intense rush of euphoria.  He then attaches great significance to these experiences simply because they are new and confusing.  But is Rob practicing good discernment here?  No, he’s not.  When God teaches you something new, He is clear about what the new insight is.  He doesn’t blast you with sensual feedback and then encourage you to project any interpretation you want onto it.  It is demons who love to use confusion and vagueness.  It is demons who want you to use your earthsuit’s sensations to try and interpret reality.  But God tells you that you need to be relying on Him to guide you in life—not an earthsuit which can be so easily thrown into chaos with a simple injection or pill.

A WORD TO ADDICTS

If people can profit off of you consuming their drug, then naturally they will try to sell it to you.  When people are trying to convince you to buy their product, they will often play off of a need that you have.  Today some psychedelic drugs are being promoted as a way to overcome addictions to other drugs.  And when you’re tired and ashamed of being chained to a drug that you know is bad for you, it’s easy to fall for “quick fix” scams.  Here is where you need to realize that many addictions are driven by psychological stresses.  In other words, people don’t drink just because they love the taste of alcohol.  While there certainly is a physiological aspect to alcoholism, it’s often the psychological element of the addiction that’s playing a far bigger role.

Let’s take Jack, the man who drinks because he’s ashamed of who he is.  Jack is the gay son of a pastor who teaches that all gays are going to Hell.  Because Jack believes that both his father and his God consider him to be a loathsome abomination, Jack struggles with brutal chronic depression.  Getting drunk is the only time Jack feels any relief from the psychological, spiritual, and emotional pain that he is always in.  Now suppose we take Jack and put him in a strict addict recovery program.  Are we helping him by making a federal issue over the fact that he drinks?  No, we’re just giving him one more reason to feel like a failure in life.  You see, Jack’s main reason for drinking is to get relief from overwhelming despair, and that despair is being fueled by Jack’s false beliefs about God.  If we’re really going to help Jack, we need to look past the surface addiction and dig down to the root of the problem, which in this case is the false belief that God loves or hates people depending on what kinds of targets they feel sexually attracted to (see Are all sexual perverts going to Hell? and Misdirected Sex Drive: Why do I feel aroused by inappropriate targets?).  If we help Jack correct his wrong beliefs about God, Jack will finally have reason to hope, he’ll stop feeling so despaired, and he’ll stop feeling such a desperate need to drink.

Now because many addictions are being driven by complex psychological and theological issues which take a lot of time to resolve, promising addicts a quick cure to their problem only raises false hopes and increases misery in the long term.  To treat addiction correctly, you need to emphasize what’s important.  The addiction itself is not the critical issue.  What matters is what is driving the addiction.  Most addictions begin as an attempt to solve a problem.  Everett started looking at porn as a way to solve his desperate need for sexual release.  Amanda started smoking pot as a way of trying to cope with the emotional pain which results from her inability to stand up to her mother-in-law.  Sam began taking psychedelic drugs in order to be accepted by the guys in his fraternity.  In all of these cases, the addicts can’t break free of their addictions because their underlying crises have not been resolved.  Everett needs help coping with sexual frustrations.  Amanda needs to learn how to stand up for herself.  Sam needs to find a better source of affirmation than the fools in his fraternity.  Even if we could manage to coerce these people into stopping their bad habits, they’d only pick them up again when the internal pressure became too unbearable.

Addicts are not flawed failures.  They are strategically coping with their situations using the tools which are available to them.  They’re caught in dilemmas which they don’t know how to resolve, so they are trying to get through by improvising with less than ideal options.  It’s rather like popping aspirin to help with the pain from the headaches you’re getting from breathing poisonous gas.  The aspirin brings you very real temporary relief, but it’s not a long-term solution.  The real solution is to get away from the toxic fumes, and maybe that’s easy to do.  But in real life, the solution to the issues that drive addictions are often not simple.  Even if they can be simply stated, resolving them requires a lot of practice with rejecting lies that you’ve spent years embracing as truths, while you try to get your mind around a lot of new concepts which sound too good to be true.  To promise a “quick cure” in this kind of situation is an outrageous abuse of trust.

PURSUING GOD

Never let someone tell you that you’re beyond hope, because with God there is always hope.  But realize that God is not a huge fan of quick fixes.  He prefers to drag out the healing process and accomplish epic changes one little step at a time.  He doesn’t do this out of indifference to your suffering, but because His primary interest is in developing a personal relationship with you.  Suppose you and a guy named Joe spend six months slogging your way through a dense tropical rainforest.  Or suppose you just fly over the whole thing in a plane in a matter of minutes.  Which scenario is going to result in you and Joe bonding on a personal level?  Which scenario is more conducive to inspiring heart-to-heart conversations and the development of trust, loyalty, and love?  If forming a relationship is your top priority, then the long, arduous, foot journey is clearly the best choice.  This is why God saddles you with problems in life only to take His sweet time in fixing them.  His point is not to persecute you, but to set up a good bonding experience.  Once you understand this, you can see why you shouldn’t view your current problems, addictions, or unresolved questions as negative, pointless burdens.  Instead, you should see them as fabulous opportunities to progress in the only thing that really matters: your personal relationship with God.  And since the pursuit of God is best done in a sober state of mind, there’s simply no value in you intentionally seeking out chemicals which will throw your brain into a temporary state of confusion.

Psychedelic drugs are valued for the shock waves that they seem to send through our earthsuits: for the way that they can stir up our senses, vault our emotions, and overwhelm us with new experiences.  But you are not your earthsuit, and activities which cause you to obsess over your earthsuit’s sensual experiences only end up hampering your spiritual growth.  If the thing you’re calling “god” only shows up when you’re high on some drug, then you need to realize that you’re being duped by demons into misinterpreting irrelevant sensual feedback for a Divine Being.  The real God cannot be accessed on our schedule.  We can’t make Him talk to us by downing drugs.  We can’t force our way into new spiritual realms simply by blasting our brains with toxins.  If you really want to know God, ask Him to help you know Him better.  Ask Him to make you all that He wants you to be, and to teach you how to treat Him in a way that He finds pleasing.  Since your soul is the only part of you that forms a relationship with God, and since your soul cannot be chemically manipulated, don’t fall for the lie that playing with psychedelic drugs can help you spiritually progress.

FURTHER READING:
Dealing with Distressing Voices & Visions: Validation, Explanations & Hope for Schizophrenics
Real Help for Your Identity Crisis: Is it possible that you’re Jesus Christ?
Dealing with Trauma: Protecting Yourself from Bad Counselors
Temporary Deliverance: How to Interpret the Return of Old Struggles
Can mental illness hinder your relationship with God?
You’re Sick Because You Sinned: Dealing with Misguided Christians
Soul Before Earthsuit: Understanding God’s Priorities
Mind Wars: Defending Against Demonic Voices in Your Head

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