Am I religious?

Spirituality is something that is very important to me. I try to embody it in every decision I make and everything that I do in my day-to-day life. However, this is a fairly new lifestyle to me. About a year ago, I began to shift my heart and mind over to a more spiritual way of living. Up until that point, I was a declared atheist. I was very mad at the world, and myself. I didn’t believe that there could be any higher consciousness outside of our human experience. I was a realist and a rationalist. I had always laughed at religion as a comfort blanket for people who were too afraid of the unknown. I was quite cynical, but the existential issues that I was criticizing were in fact haunting me.

I was very confused in who I was. I had always lived, but never truly understood the complexities of life itself. Looking back, I think most people live like this. They go about their daily lives never looking deeper, and, in the end, never end up fulfilled or truly happy. So that is where I was. About the time that I turned 17 years old, I entered a very dark period. I was entering my senior year of high school, and I was understandably excited to take on the final journey of my high school life. This excitement came to a halt suddenly, when my father got very sick. I lost everything. I lost my home, my pets, and most of my friends. However, the thing that caused my mental health to deteriorate was my new living conditions. We had to move in with my father’s family because we had nowhere to live. I will save the details for a later blog post, but the bottom line is that I was emotionally and psychologically abused for a year and a half. This catapulted me into a place of complete darkness. I gained a lot of weight and I hated myself. I was suicidal. When I finally turned 18, I knew I had to get far away. A couple months after I turned 18, I moved with my current boyfriend to Santa Cruz, California. That is where my spiritual transformation began.

Being close to Santa Cruz’s hippy culture, I learned a lot. I was pretty much alone in a city that I had never been to before. It was completely scary, yet thrilling. The isolation was a much more welcomed environment than the one I had been in previously. I had been a prisoner for so long that the taste of freedom was beautiful. I didn’t need to worry about anyone except for myself. It was beautiful. The vibe of Santa Cruz is very laidback, and I was able to get into Yoga and meditation. Once I had discovered these things, my life transformed. Previously, I had been ridden with anxiety and had severe emotional trauma. However, once I began meditating once a day, these feelings slowly began to leave. I finally had the ability to calm my mind and my therapy began. It was liberating. I began looking into Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. The philosophies struck me, they were transcending and peaceful. For so long I craved the ability to understand and love myself, and the writings and teachings that I found were basically blueprints on how to do that.

I wouldn’t say that I strictly follow one religion. I like to grab bits and pieces from each and construct my own ideas. I mostly like to borrow from Hinduism. I love the cyclical structure and symbolism that presents itself within the religion. I believe in reincarnation and the karma system. While I don’t necessarily believe in a God-like being (or beings), I believe that God is an omnipresent spiritual energy. Everything around us is pulsing with energy, from the rocks that lay on the earth to the chair that I am sitting in right now. This energy flows within and without us as well. Am I a religious person? Not really. But I am very spiritual. I think that we should all question the higher consciousness that surrounds us. Ever since I have, life is much more meaningful. I find bliss in simply pouring a bowl of cereal in the morning. I perform yoga with a vitality I never thought that I had. My spirituality has made me a kinder and more understanding human being. I see other souls, not people. It has strengthened my connection with the planet and its creatures. To limit my beliefs into one category is impossible, they are too expansive. But that is the beauty of it.

Marijuana: America’s Most Wanted Plant

I wanted to talk about a topic very dear to my heart. And that topic is marijuana. This may be a bit taboo, depending on your view on the plant. I’m going to discuss pot, my views on it, and its relation to my life. To begin, I’m going to start off with a bit of history.

Marijuana has had a very complicated history. Early history shows the plant used in food, material, and medicine. As far back as 2,000 B.C.E., cannabis (the dried leaves, seeds, and stems being called Bhang) was considered one of the five sacred plants of India. It was used medicinally, listed in Atharvaveda (Science of Charms) as a “sacred grass”. Indians used it to release anxiety, aide in meditation, and achieve transcendental state. It was also used to treat skin disorders, nervous disorders and wounds. In the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, known as The Vedas, the mystical origin of cannabis is revealed. They state that as the Gods and demons churned the oceans in order to acquire their nectar, a drop of this desirable nectar landed on Mount Madra. This drop sprouted a plant, and a tea was made from the brewed leaves that became a favorite of all the Gods. Lord Shiva in particular was enthralled by this tea, and brought the plant down from the mountain for all of mankind to enjoy. This legend caused cannabis to be used ceremoniously, specifically in ritual offering to Shiva.

Other instances of cannabis’ usage in earlier history include Ancient China, where the earliest extant Chinese pharmacopoeia, called The Pen Ts’ao Ching, greatly details the plant and its many medicinal uses. The West came to value marijuana as well. In 1533 C.E., King VIII came to appreciate cannabis so much that he fined farmers who did not grow the plant. Settlers of Jamestown used the plant’s strong fibers in clothing, rope, and sails. From 1850 to 1915, marijuana became a major medicine in the United States, even being sold in stores and pharmacies. Seeing the popularity and obvious usefulness of the plant for such a long period brings about a very obvious question; how did such a valued plant become illegal?

It all boils down to race. After the Mexican Revolution, the U.S. saw an influx of Mexican immigrants migrating to states like Texas and Louisiana. Along with a rich culture and language, they brought marijuana. Of course, Americans were familiar with cannabis due to it being so prevalent medically, however the word “marijuana” that the immigrants referred to was new. This was used by the media to scare Americans and was basically an extension of the condemnation of the Mexican people.

The mix of cannabis and racism hit the roof in the 1930s, when claims that the plant caused men of color to become aggressive and rape white women became one of the main causes of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which effectively banned sale and use. “Reefer Madness” became a popular term, referring to a propaganda film made to scare young adults away from marijuana. It was quickly removed from the U.S. pharmacopoeia and was no longer recognized as a medicine in the United States. For 59 years it reigned as an illicit drug with no medicinal use, until California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana use in 1996. Since then, many more states have joined California (including Colorado, who legalized recreational use in 2012) and have led many to reevaluate its illegal status.

Considering marijuana’s lengthy and controversial history, it’s hard to see this plant as an illicit drug. All I understand is that a valuable medicinal plant that can produce paper, food, rope, plastics, biofuel, and clothing has been clouded by bigotry and greed. Anyone that agrees with the idea that marijuana is dangerous has been blinded by one very popular study done in 1980 that became the backdrop for Reagan’s infamous campaign against the plant through the war on drugs. Rhesus monkeys were strapped in chairs and fitted with gas masks. Through these gas masks, cannabis smoke (an amount equivalent to 63 joints) was pumped into the orifice of the primates in five minutes. The study concluded that marijuana did destroy brain cells. Obviously, there are many reasons that this study is straight false. First of all, no oxygen was allowed through the gas mask. Secondly, the pure concentration of smoke led to asphyxiation. Although the study demonstrated how cruel, inhumane carbon monoxide poisoning and animal asphyxiation led to loss of brain cells, marijuana was not proven to.

Secondly, marijuana is never isolated from other Schedule 1 drugs such as heroin, meth and cocaine when tested. When demonstrating the “dangerous” nature of cannabis, the plant is lumped into the same trials as the other synthetic drugs. Of course, these studies are conducted by the government, who refuse to de-schedule the drug.

I believe my previous points made demonstrate my opinion on marijuana. Its illegalization is the result of government corruption and systematic racism. I believe that marijuana can be one of our most important resources on this earth, due to its sustainability and versatility. Most importantly, its medical usage is one of the most powerful forces on this earth and could benefit millions of people. Across the country, many cancer and AIDS patients turn to CBD oil for relief that chemotherapy and other costly treatments do not provide.

I am a medical marijuana patient. I have been for a little more than 6 months. Marijuana has a played a large role in my life. I mainly use the medicine as an anxiety and pain reliever. I also use it for menstrual cramps. Marijuana has changed the way I see modern medicine and health. It is innovative, painless, and renewable. I will always recommend getting a medical marijuana card to people I meet who suffer daily from chronic ailments. Why are we spending billions on the pharmaceutical industry each year when the earth yields superior and side-effect-free medicine for a fraction of the price (or free if you are legally able to grow your own plants)? It all comes down to greed. Americans are getting sicker and sicker, and making more money for Big Pharma and the government. When we have control over our own health, they lose money. That is why I support marijuana and its legalization. And if you drink alcohol, consume caffeine, or smoke cigarettes don’t you dare tell me that it’s unhealthy or morally wrong. My advice to you is to put down that poison, sit back and smoke a joint.

 

Sources used:

  1. http://www.advancedholistichealth.org/history.html
  2. http://www.sanskritimagazine.com/indian-religions/hinduism/why-does-lord-shiva-drink-bhang/
  3. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/chinesemedicine/emperors.html
  4. http://www.drugpolicy.org/blog/how-did-marijuana-become-illegal-first-place
  5. https://www.hgabmag.com/40-years-since-marijuana-monkey/

☮ Welcome, friends! ☮

Hi. Let me begin this post by explaining who I am and why I’m starting a blog. My name is Addy and I am 18 years old (turning 19 in less than a month). I currently live in Central California. I have never been one to share my personal life, so this is it. I am starting this blog as a sort-of therapy. I don’t really expect anyone to want to read it. I don’t necessarily want anyone to read it, either. And if someone finds this and decides to follow my journey, great. I would love to be able to relate to someone and possibly make new connections. However, this is not my main goal. My goal is to document my life and hopefully figure some shit out by writing it all out. So I will. This blog will document my experiences, my psyche, my emotions, my political views, and all of that juicy stuff. There are a couple of things I want to make a point of before I begin.

  1. This is not a place for judgment. I try to be fair and see all sides of things, and the people and ideas that I explore will be from a non-hateful standpoint. I will never write someone’s real name due to privacy and respect, however, I will detail my ideas and experiences in the most authentic way possible. This includes my raw emotions and perspective. I will never bash anyone, and will report things as fairly as possible. I expect anyone who reads this to follow suit. However, this is a blog of my private thoughts. I will try my best to write as truthfully and respectfully as possible.
  2. There is no place for any misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, or any discrimination whatsoever on this blog. I have a zero tolerance for hate, especially hate targeted at any minority group.
  3. My ideas are my own. In no way do they reflect anyone else but myself. I will discuss race, religion, politics, etc. frequently. My opinions have been shaped by my past experiences, books I have read, and people I have spoken to. I always welcome structured criticism, however I will only acknowledge respectful discussion. As I would expect someone to treat me, I will treat others that same way.

These are the main points I wanted to point out before we move on with the journey. Any issues that arise inside and outside of my blog, I will always address. Also, any issues anyone has with me personally please feel free to let me know. One of my biggest goals with this blog is to progress. It is an attempt to put my thoughts into words, and to discover the unconscious part of myself that I can never really bring to surface. It is a self-study. Like I said before, this is for myself. And if I do have a positive impact on anybody in doing so, that is all the better.

I hope that we get to know each other a little bit better with these following blog posts. I would tell you more about myself, but I figured the best way to get to know me is gradually. What fun would it be to spill everything now? That would take a bit of the mystery out of it. I will try to post as frequently as I can, but I will tell you that I am a student and beginning a full-time job fairly soon. I promised myself that I would blog at least once a week, and so that is what I will strive for.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. I am very excited to begin this journey and maybe make some connections on the way. I hope that some of you might identify with my content, and with me as a person. I also hope that I will learn myself from the inside out. Take it easy, friends. Until next time! ✌