“Pain comes with life, closely accompanied by our “solutions” to it, most of which are all about getting away from it, whether through alcoholic, narcotic, erotic, intellectual, material, egoistical, or spiritual means. The fact that these “solutions,” despite their analgesic/anesthetic capacity, only end up catalyzing more pain usually does little to stop us from pursuing them…. Not all spiritual bypassing so blatantly avoids pain; the dance of avoidance can be done with great subtlety.”
– Robert Masters
A common question for participants and practitioners alike is: how often should I be taking this? At what point does use turn into abuse?
Of course, this question is not unique to this substance.
However, with psychoactive substances in particular, one first might look at why one is taking it in the first place. Then, one looks at what is being gleaned from the experience. Finally, one may look at how that is being absorbed and then applied and practised.
I like to think that the what is a sort of guidance or lesson. When I imagine receiving a lesson, I think of a simple scenario like the conventional classroom. In the classroom there is material I am being shown or given—a lesson. In other words, there is information that I am ‘downloading’ via a transmission or demonstration. I then take that transmission out of the classroom. I can begin to contemplate what has been offered. I can then begin to apply the material in my life outside of the classroom. True, it may be helpful to have a tutor or to enrol in some sort of study group, which would offer me concentrated ways to practise that which has been learned.
“Alone, one can go fast. Together, we can go far.”
In another scenario, I could also leave that particular classroom and go immediately to the next one. In the subsequent ‘lesson’, the guiding force—the teacher—might be counting on me to have integrated or at least practised the material from the last class, and reasonably begins the class building on the material already transmitted. Chances are, one lesson builds on the last. Thus, if I went straight into the next class without having practised what I received in the previous one—having done my ‘homework’—there may be a gap or soft foundation onto which the new material tries to rest.
I ask those who come to this question of “how often?”: have you done your homework? Are you content that you have absorbed what was offered from the last lesson? Has the material that was consumed been fully digested? Or is it half-chewed, needing time to settle, or maybe even needing some helpful enzymes?
If you’re not satisfied that the class material has been integrated, what’s the rush to go to the next lesson? Or, if you’re not sure, could there be another set of eyes that could reflect back to you what they do (or do not) see? If not, what expectations might you be harbouring for the next class? If I were to go so far as to label this information as ‘life lessons’, is it not life that occupies much of the time between classes? Sure, life itself is a classroom, as the adage goes. The lessons are all around us at all times and there are countless opportunities to practise. The life-as-ceremony becomes a maxim in ‘spiritual’ circles. And we use this substance in a ceremony. Putting this altogether, I am reminded of something a wise woman told me once (in one of my own classes): the ceremony begins when the ceremony ends.
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