Ever notice that when people smoke marijuana they are frequently overcome with feelings of deep introspection and metacognition which often lead to lively discussions with overt existential themes?Cannabinoids increase introspection, metacognition, emotional sentience, and entheogenic experiences.
Perhaps these effects are responsible for the sharp decrease seen in suicide rates of young men?
Perhaps medical marijuana makes life worth living!
This curious, and well known effect of marijuana’s overall euphoria “to bear well” is apparently caused by activating emotional sentience pathways in the amygdala — and that’s a good thing!
Marijuana stimulates people to want to talk and express their internal states of consciousness regarding spirituality, philosophy and religion, and this is the primary evidence that specific cannabinoids are entheogenic in nature.
In conjunction with this, evidence is now also showing that an increase in these four mental / emotional functions leads to an increase in creativity.
“Cannabis intoxication enhanced the effects of ‘semantic priming,’ in which the activation of one word allows people to react more quickly to related words”“One way that creativity can be described is the ability to find novel connections between different concepts. In psychological terms, the ability to see connections between words is called “semantic priming.” This 2010 study found that subjects linked distantly-related words and concepts significantly quicker when they were high than when they weren’t.
This “hyper-priming,” as the researchers called it, is evidence that the flow of loose associations that cannabis users report is indeed real, and not an illusion, as some skeptics have claimed.
And unlike alcohol, which produces stupor and violence, marijuana induces insight and kindness towards others. People who use marijuana are not violent; they are the mystics.
Violence is the domain of the prohibitionists, that small group of narrow-minded individuals who want to control you and your behavior and restrict your freedom to change your consciousness.
Some people go to church, temple, or mosque to find spiritual fulfillment; some people smoke marijuana for the same reason.
This real, and quite pleasant inner experience of deep introspection, metacognition, sentience, and mysticism is really at the heart of why marijuana use is found to be so advantageous by so many.
The increase in emotional sentience and the ability to feel and experience reality and consciousness through a different lens is similar to being bilingual, having the ability to look at reality in a different light.
The essence of health is to frequently experience emotions that put a big smile on your face and provide homeostasis. The reductionists who degrade this experience by attempting to reduce it to cellular function miss the forest for the trees.
Huxley wrote, “How it is that anything as remarkable as a state of consciousness that comes about as a result of irritating nervous tissue is just as unaccountable as the appearance of the Djinn, when Aladdin rubbed his lamp.”
What Marijuana Increases
Introspection is the self-observation and reporting of conscious inner thoughts, desires and sensations. It is a conscious and purposive process relying on thinking, reasoning, and examining one’s own thoughts, feelings, and, in more spiritual cases, one’s soul. It can also be called contemplation of one’s self, and is contrasted with extrospection, the observation of things external to one’s self. Introspection may be used synonymously with and in a similar way to human self-reflection.
Metacognition is “thinking about thinking;” how, as a silent observer, a person is able to catch him or herself in the actual process of real-time thinking.
Or, as John Lennon says:
I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go.
Sentience is the ability to intensely feel, perceive or experience consciousness, or to have subjective experiences that leave deep emotional memories, as opposed to thinking and reasoning.
Marijuana is an EntheogenAn entheogen (“God inside us”) is a psychoactive substance used in a religious, shamanic, or spiritual context.
Historically, entheogens were mostly derived from plant sources and have been used in a variety of traditional religious contexts.
Entheogens can supplement many diverse practices for healing, including transcendence, meditation, psychonautics, art projects, and psychedelic therapy.
Entheogens have been used in a ritualized context for thousands of years; their religious significance is well established in anthropological and modern evidence.
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience of and even communion with a supreme being. Mystics seek a flow state in which there is no duality separating subject and object.
”In the widest sense, mysticism is every guidance to the immediate awareness of what is not reached by either perception or conception, or generally by any knowledge.”
The mystic is opposed to the philosopher by the fact that he begins from within, whereas the philosopher begins from without. The mystic starts from his inner, positive, individual experience, in which he finds himself as the eternal and only being, and so on.
To believe a self exists or that there is no self is to fall into extremes; the middle path is that “form is emptiness, and emptiness is form.”
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 20th century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject–not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual.
Existentialism is the study of the human experience that exists after all of the cultural baggage is subtracted. Just plain, naked existence or a state of radical freedom, where you are totally responsible for finding your own meaning and happiness in life.
In existentialism, the individual’s starting point is characterized by what has been called “the existential attitude,” or a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world.
￼Enter Carl Sagan, the marijuana mystic.￼The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of planet Earth taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 spacecraft from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles) from Earth.
In the photograph, Earth is shown as a tiny dot (0.12 pixel in size) against the vastness of space.
The Voyager 1 spacecraft, which had completed its primary mission and was leaving the Solar System, was commanded by NASA to turn its camera around and to take a photograph of Earth across a great expanse of space, at the request of Carl Sagan.
￼I am sure that when Carl Sagan composed the text for the “Pale Blue Dot” it was after smoking a therapeutic amount of cannabis.
“I do not consider myself a religious person in the usual sense, but there is a religious aspect to some highs. The heightened sensitivity in all areas gives me a feeling of communion with my surroundings, both animate and inanimate.”
“When I’m high I can penetrate into the past, recall childhood memories, friends, relatives, playthings, streets, smells, sounds, and tastes from a vanished era. I can reconstruct the actual occurrences in childhood events only half understood at the time.
“Many but not all my cannabis trips have somewhere in them a symbolism significant to me which I won’t attempt to describe here, a kind of mandala embossed on the high. Free-associating to this mandala, both visually and as plays on words, has produced a very rich array of insights.”
Why Entheogenic Experiences Can Be Healthy
In skeletal form, the Emxis hypothesis is based on the following observations: the immune system is boosted by a number of emotionally positive events in people’s daily lives; these events are weaker forms of similar experiences that occur during mystical states; and under the right psychological state and physical location — known in the literature as “set and setting” — entheogens induce mystical states.
Might (cancer) spontaneous remissions occur more frequently under such conditions?
“Do entheogen-induced mystical experiences boost the immune system? Psychedelics, peak experiences, and wellness” From Advances in Mind-Body Medicine / 1999
“Daily events that boost the immune system (as indicated by levels of salivary immunoglobulin A), some instances of spontaneous remission, and mystical experiences seem to share a similar cluster of thoughts, feelings, moods, perceptions, and behaviors.”
Entheogenic psychedelic drugs — used in a religious context — can also produce mystical experiences (peak experiences, states of unitized consciousness, intense primary religious experiences) with the same cluster of effects. When this happens, is it also possible that such entheogenic-induced mystical experiences strengthen the immune system?
“We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers.”
￼Editor’s note: Ron Marczyk is a retired high school health eduation teacher who taught Wellness and Disease Prevention, Drug and Sex Ed, and AIDS education to teens aged 13-17.
He also taught a high school International Baccalaureate psychology course. He taught in a New York City public school as a Drug Prevention Specialist. He is a Registered Nurse with six years of ER/Critical Care experience in NYC hospitals, earned an M.S. in cardiac rehabilitation and exercise physiology, and worked as a New York City police officer for two years.
Currently he is focused on how evolutionary psychology explains human behavior.