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Illumination and Illusion
When shamans are asked how they discover the medicinal and spiritual uses of plants, they always respond. The plants tell us. Knowledge is imparted directly, they say. The link between humans and plants, between humans and the earth, is elemental, primordial, and pure. On a very deep level we are shaped by what we ingest. At the same time, what we consume is a reflection of our fundamental relationship with the earth.
We have two options, individually and as the
human race: We can take, ingest, consume, and use just exactly enough to feed
ourselves in the sustaining cycle of biological and spiritual growth. With
this choice we accept our place as one of innumerable species of animals and
plants. We can choose to live open-eyed and awake, aware of death as one stage
in an endless and evolutionary cycle of life.
Or, we can gorge ourselves. Believing we are above and distinct from all other forms of life, we clutch the illusion that this life is our only chance to have it all. We can devourˇ plants, animals, minerals, water, and other people ˇ to stave off fear and live in a comfortably drugged and disconnected state, anaesthetized from the illuminating reality of death.
Herein lies the seductive power of the poppy;
and the insatiable hunger of empires.
With humble upward steps we can choose ascending
consciousness, ever aware that the ladder continues beyond the farthest point
we can reach in physical form. We can honor the sacred datura for the transforming
power inherent in the processes and elements of the earth. Or, we can wear
a crown that proclaims: I am here! I have arrived! And then slumber
in a self-delusional state, side by side with the specter of death.
The poppy and datura gloriously bloom. They make
no judgement about what we do with them. Yet everything we choose to ingest,
and every way we interact with the earth has inescapable effects.