How many times have you heard people discuss their use of substances as opening the door to feeling or experiencing a different state of consciousness? A more innovative, unfiltered mind? Maybe you yourself have tried to alter your state with drugs, alcohol, or food to tap into the free flow of imaginative thought, experiencing something you thought was otherworldly or a new layer of consciousness. You are not alone. Been there, done that! …too many times to count.
The memories which most stick out in my mind: smoking marijuana before seeing The Killers perform during their 2005 Hot Fuss Tour in Oklahoma City and later describing how I really “felt the music” to friends, a lame-as-hell comment (judgment…sorry!) I cringe admitting now. Four years later I was filling my wine glass while working on my Bachelor’s Degree to assist in writing papers, claiming the alcohol “let it flow out of my fingertips and onto the page”. The outcome? Mediocre ideas, illogical ordering and sentence structure, and horrendous punctuation. Needless to say my professors were less than impressed and definitely weren’t praising me for my creativity.
In a more broad context, at the societal level we see the justification of mind-altering experiences as a way to heal and touch into (or escape from) our consciousness with the legalization of marijuana, utilizing LSD to cure the maladjusted mind, and Ayahuaska to “open the consciousness to experience the universe”, not to mention the abundant access to alcohol, tobacco, and refined foods which line every super-market, gas station, and eatery across the nation. It seems obvious there are false notions surrounding the use of substances as keys to accessing the inaccessible. I’m reminded of an instance in which Albert Einstein was offered a drink by a colleague, to which he famously declined by stating, “My mind is my laboratory”.
Another great mind who addressed this issue was Rudolf Steiner in this discourse entitled The Origin and Meaning of Wine. In this he states,
“Wine was that which separated man from everything spiritual. He who takes wine cannot arrive at the spiritual. He can know nothing of Manas, Buddhi, Atma. The whole course of humanity is one of descent and ascent…the direction alcohol guided us – downwards”.
If these two great minds don’t make it clear enough, that consciousness is a gift to be cherished and refined, then take it from modern day creatives who are clean and clear minded such as Steve Jobs, Russell Brand, Daniel Radcliff, Lady Gaga, Eric Clapton, Elton John (I could continue but won’t).
Poignant and hilariously the creators of South Park address this issue in the episode entitled Quest for Ratings. In it the main characters “get high” on cough medicine in order to come up with ideas. Upon waking they revisit their ideas which they had written while intoxicated and Cartman describes what is scratched on the page, “squiggly line, circle”. The extent of the “good ideas” I read in my own pre-sobriety writings.
The notion that substances allow one access to more creative states of consciousness is false. In reality, what we are experiencing while altered are glimpses into our subconscious and unconscious mind, not something external and otherworldly at all. Quite the opposite. The experience comes from the mind, and one should develop the mind to the extent where access is unlimited. But doing this takes time and effort which isn’t for those wanting a quick-”fix”, pun intended.
Most clients I see who are recovering from addiction are the most intelligent, hard working individuals I’ve ever met. And I mean that completely and seriously. They know sobriety and habit change take an incredible about of mental energy and effort. There are no days off. Vigilance and longevity are the keys to success. The same effort it takes to change a habit ingrained in our society is the same effort necessary to develop the truly creative consciousness. It isn’t though bypassing the consciousness by use of substances which taps you into a reservoir of creativity. One must utilize the enormity and complexity of the mind to harness ideas. Doing this will lead to clearer, more focused, sustained creative thought, leading to astounding innovations and works of art.
So drop the joint, put down the booze, and start developing your connection to the conscious mind. It will lead you to the depths of the unconscious, a reservoir of creative thought, tapping you into a truly amazing gift; originality.