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Marijuana: Existential Connector


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The brain is a filter that has been organized by the culture it has learned. As new information enters, it is processed along the lines already developed. Most of this filtering takes place in the unconscious. It uses much more energy and preforms much more signaling than the conscious.

 

You can think of the conscious part of the brain, what are we aware of, as the tip of an iceberg.

 

How does sensation and thought bubble up to consciousness, anyway? The last sentence was just a random thought that bubbled up-but then everything bubbles up.

 

Do you know what you are going to say before you say it? Or does it just flow out? Do you sometimes surprise yourself with your own thoughts or words? Did they erroneously flow through the filter that your learning imposed on your brain's organization?

 

In the first five years of your life, the culture you were living in shaped the organization of your brain. This is the filter through which you process the information that flows in each and every day.

 

Usually the brain filters out information or thoughts that don't fit into its organizational structure. Huxley mused that psychedelic substances hinder the brain's ability to filter random thoughts. When you are high, more thoughts and sensations pass through the filters so consciousness races with thoughts and new ways of sensing your surroundings.

 

He wasn't alone in this observation. In Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan suggests that psychoactives such as marijuana serve as "cultural mutagens" because they change the texture of your thoughts, taking you off the beaten path that socialization has led you to habitually follow.

 

The process of being high is both very intimate and very expanding. Who knows your thoughts but you? Others have only glimpses of what you think, but most of the ideas and sensations that continually float through your consciousness are internalized and can never be resolved. Describe the taste of chicken. Do we all see the same green? What does an orgasm feel like?

 

We are together, we commune, but still each person is sort of a floating island. Only part of the consciousness is visible; the rest lies beneath the surface.

 

The experience itself, though trapped in our individual brains as a shared state of consciousness that binds people who participate. It is almost Gnostic; the inner circle has the secret knowledge. Everybody has his or her own version of the same event. Everyone knows it, but at the deepest level it is to personal to share. It's not that we don't try; it's just impossible to describe. Words are simply an approximation. They are just our way of making contact with a world outside of ourselves.

 

Music may be an even more universal way for humans to communicate. With words, you have to know the language. But sounds don't need to be translated to affect your brain, which you experience as affecting your emotions. Most people won't play a march to get into a romantic mood.

 

Marijuana is a mild psychedelic. It opens your mind, lets it wander, and helps you to get closer to your senses. Listening to music becomes enveloping. When people listen as a group they develop a bond because although each has had their own experience, they know they have all had one.

 

The universality of knowing that each person in a group is having a profound individual experience creates a bridge across our individual consciousness. It brings to mind videos of groups of squid all signaling together in the same pattern and then all changing the pattern at the same time. The squid employ synchronous patterning to bridge the space between individuals.

 

Marijuana bridges the gap. Everyone likes it. No matter your gender, your sexual orientation, your age, your race or ethnicity, once you share marijuana with another, you develop a tiny bond, even if for a fleeting moment-even if you never see the person again. It's not quite spiritual, but it is often meaningful. It's a reprieve from the ordinary. A time out to regroup and let the brain wander and to experience a little bit of yourself and those around you.

 

Marijuana brings us together.

 

Ed Rosenthal

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