A Nepalese Hindu Sadhu (holy man) smokes marijuana from a clay pipe as a holy offering for Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of creation and destruction, during the Maha Shivaratri festival in Kathmandu on February 17, 2015. Hindus mark the Maha Shivratri festival by offering prayers and fasting. Hundreds of sadhus have arrived in Pashupatinath to take part in the event. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA

Cannabis: Religious Reverence Throughout History

By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness

If you still think cannabis is a dangerous drug with no medicinal or spiritual benefits, read ahead and try to keep an open mind toward a misunderstood plant that’s been revered throughout history and was only outlawed in the past century.

Millions of people who’ve been healed by the cannabis plant are taking a stand for it, igniting a revolution more powerful than its suppressors can handle.

We know it can heal the mind, body and spirit if used with proper intention, and we’re willing to defend it against those who know little about it beyond what the government and biased media outlets tell them.

A Spiritual Crisis

The world is in the midst of a spiritual crisis, and cannabis could very well be the answer.

It doesn’t work for everyone and some might actually feel worse or less spiritually ‘conscious’ if they use it, but in my opinion, the world would improve significantly if everyone were open to it.

More important than the effect it has on society is the effect it has on the individual. You may have heard or read reports of what it’s like – joyful, euphoric, etc. – but the focused spiritual cannabis user would describe it as essential to their meditation.

Image result for cannabis and meditation
Credit: myheadisweak.tumblr.com

You may disagree if you think sobriety is the best or only way to approach enlightenment, but different methods work for different people. As long as you find what you seek, the methods that get you there can be judged by you alone.

Most people are unaware cannabis can help them because of their preconceived ideas of a drug they think makes you lazy, leads to something harder or holds you back in some other way.

They have no idea it can help the mind and body (not to mention the soul), and if we can change the way people perceive it, we could very well solve our spiritual crisis by sharing the truth about it with a society that’ll finally be open to what we have to say.

Cannabis = Temporary Higher Consciousness

The cannabis plant has so much to offer mankind that it’d take several books to accurately describe, and in this article, we’ll look at its role in the evolution of the soul.

The idea that cannabis can open the door to higher consciousness and oneness with God is nothing new.

Many religions past and present view it as sacred, and it’s often paired with prayer, meditation and other practices intended to invoke the presence of God (or depending on the religion, various gods).

If used together with meditation, it’s believed to act as a channel to God by inducing a temporary higher consciousness.

Image result for cannabis and meditation
Cannabis and meditation. Credit: pinterest.com

In his book Cannabis and Spirituality, Stephen Gray writes that in the spiritual sense, cannabis can be a tricky subject (1).

Working with the plant properly to induce higher consciousness often involves a learning curve, and various factors influence the outcome of the high (1).

Some of these factors include dosage; your attitude toward the plant; how frequently you use it; the strain; your mind/body state; the setting; and your ability to calm the overactive mind, among others (1).

The herb is at its most powerful when used with intention and focus, and it probably won’t do much for you in the spiritual sense if used aimlessly (1). With no knowledge or focus on a higher consciousness, you’d never be guided to something you didn’t seek.

When used with proper intention, it can illuminate the illusions we carry, invite us to open the heart to a higher consciousness and enable mindful, meditative awareness, which gradually becomes our natural state of being (1).

Religious Use

According to Sparkcsf.org, cannabis has been used by some of the most advanced cultures throughout history as medicine and a spiritual aid (2). The religious sects that have used it through the centuries include Tibetan Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and Sufism (2).

The plant has been (and still is) particularly popular in India. For ‘at least three thousand years’ it has been used in Ayurvedic and Indian medicine to treat various health conditions including nausea and wasting syndromes (2).

It has also been prescribed for general health and longevity (2).

Today, bodybuilders in India use the herb as part of a ‘training regimen’ to build strength, promote digestion and gain muscle mass (2).

Religious cannabis use is prominent in South Asia: Buddhists, Shaivites, Naths and ‘Goddess Worshippers’ use it with meditation (2) and it’s used to halt the mind and induce a state of profound meditative stillness known as Samadhi (2).

Image result for cannabis and meditation
Credit: jonathontwiz.com

Today its religious use is prominent among Tantrics in Nepal, India, Tibet and Sikkim (2).

According to the Mayahana tradition of Buddhism, the Buddha once subsisted for six years only on hemp seeds (2).

Hemp and cannabis come from the same plant; a plant which is good for society in more ways than one. Ancient and modern day societies around the world clearly were (and are) aware of this.

An Important Meditative Aid

Many spiritual texts, including the Buddhist Tara Tantra, list cannabis as an important meditative aid (2).

In Himalayan and Northern Indian Tantric Buddhism, it plays a ‘significant’ role facilitating deep meditation and heightened awareness (2).

Stephen Gray writes that entheogens can ‘dramatically potentiate’ the manifestation of intention in ceremonial environments (1). Cannabis is included in this, provided it’s used mindfully (1).

When you can maintain a degree of non-thought (an important concept in nearly every spiritual tradition) during use, cannabis can help soften the armor of the constructed self and free the heart to be open to compassion (1).

The effect is even more powerful when intention is fueled by love (1).

Image result for cannabis love

The effect is even more powerful when intention is fueled by love. Credit: medicationdaily.com

Physical and Spiritual Healing

Cannabis helps the soul and the body (1).

Physical and spiritual healing are one and the same, and the spirit heals when the body’s relaxed and in good condition (1).

Emotional and spiritual wellbeing increase, and as you become aware of this synchronization of mind, body and spirit, you experience what’s commonly known as spiritual awakening (1).

Long-Term Awareness

According to Stephen, the most significant benefit of cannabis is not what happens during its use, but the long-term awareness it illuminates and the ease with which you can integrate this awareness into your life (1).

You’ll find one day that you can induce this meditative state on your own.

By becoming familiar with the state of wellbeing induced by cannabis, you can train yourself to recognize and attune to it long after your meditation has ended (1).

You’ll find one day that you can induce this meditative state on your own. This is what we’re ultimately meant to gain from the herb (and the spiritual path in general): the freedom of enlightenment induced by willpower alone.

The key to experiencing the long-term benefits of cannabis, besides opening the heart, is to dissolve the busy mind (1).

This is an ongoing process that takes time whether or not you use cannabis, and Stephen writes that the herb can ‘do its work effectively’ when the ego-driven ‘me’ is out of the way (1).

Cannabis in the Indian Creation Myth

Sparcsf.org tells us that cannabis is mentioned in the Indian myth of creation (2). It’s named as one of the five nectars of the gods and designated a reliever of suffering (2).

According to the original myth, the gods churned the ‘Ocean of Milk’ in search of the elixir of eternal life known as Amrita; cannabis was one of the nectars that resulted (2).

In the Vedas, the herb is referred to as a ‘source of happiness’ (2).

Bhang: The Cannabis-Based Drink Offered to Shiva

As I’ve shared before, it has even been made into a drink in India which is consumed by locals and believed to be the ‘favorite’ drink of Indra, king of Indian gods (2).

The drink, known as bhang, is offered to images and statues of Shiva throughout India, most notably during the Festival of Shivratri (2).

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Bhang. Credit: myheartbeets.com

Cannabis use is closely associated with worship of Shiva, one of three principle deities in India (2). Due to its spiritual properties, it’s considered Shiva’s ‘favorite herb’ (2).

Shaivite Yogis, ascetics and Shiva Worshippers commonly consume it as an aid to their sadhana (spiritual practice) (2) and Sadhus smoke it out of a clay chillum (2).

The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission’s Conclusion

Cannabis is so popular in India that the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission concluded the following in a government study of the plant’s use in the country:

“…It is inevitable that temperaments would be found to whom the quickening spirit of bhang is the spirit of freedom and knowledge. In the ecstasy of bhang the spark of the Eternal in man turns into the light the murkiness of matter.

“…Bhang is the Joy-giver, the Sky-filler, the Heavenly-Guide, the Poor Man’s Heaven, the Soother of Grief…No god or man is as good as the religious drinker of bhang…The supporting power of bhang has brought many a Hindu family safe through the miseries of famine.

“To forbid or even seriously restrict the use of so gracious an herb as the hemp would cause widespread suffering and annoyance and to large bands of worshipped ascetics, deep-seated anger.

“It would rob the people of a solace on discomfort, of a cure in sickness, of a guardian whose gracious protection saves them from the attacks of evil influences…” (2)

As evidenced here, cannabis is a valuable plant in India for mostly religious reasons.

In future reports we’ll examine its use in other cultures, because there’s plenty of information available on its religious use and you’d be surprised to see how widespread such use is.

Introspection, Healing and Bliss

The truth is slowly emerging regarding this plant and what it can do for society.

Being open to cannabis may not the sole solution to the world’s problems, but using it meditatively could provide solutions to problems we face on the individual level by opening us up to a world of introspection, healing and bliss.

Image result for cannabis religion

Credit: babylongfighting.blogspot.com

The truth is slowly emerging regarding this plant and what it can do for society.

Since it’s finally being accepted as a normal aspect of life rather than a taboo we should avoid, it’s only a matter of time before the floodgates burst and we’re inundated with information regarding its revolutionary uses and benefits.

When that time comes, spiritual seekers and cannabis enthusiasts around the world will share with everyone what we’ve known all along: this plant was put here to help us.

Sources:

(1)    Excerpt, Stephen Gray, Cannabis and Spirituality. Inner Traditions, n.d. – http://www.innertraditions.com/cannabis-and-spirituality.html

(2)    “Spiritual Use of Cannabis”, Sparcsf.org, n.d. – http://www.sparcsf.org/learning-center/spiritual-use-cannabis

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