Raising Earth Consciousness on Earth Day

Raising Earth Consciousness

This Earth Day 2016 feels like a particularly poignant moment in the relationship between humans and the Earth. Just as on Mother’s Day we take extra time to reflect on our debt of gratitude to Her who gave us life, we similarly take the opportunity on Earth Day to consider our connection with and appreciation for our Mother Earth.

Earth Day began in 1970 as a reflection of the growing awareness of our responsibility to the planet and the web of life – including us – that it supports. At the time the influence of Eastern spiritual thought and the introduction of psychedelics inspired a more holistic view of our relationship with the natural world. The realization dawned that our industrialized civilization was having negative impacts on the biosphere and that environmental protection was a growing necessity.

In the following video, Allan Badiner, editor of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics, discusses the connection between psychedelics and Earth consciousness, and the importance of these ideas in the Anthropocene.
(read more below the video)

Observing Earth Day in the Anthropocene

As we reflect on the Earth in the early decades of the 21st Century, we see radical imbalance. The Ecologist reported that climate scientists have reached a consensus that human activity has been driving climate change. There is a growing recognition that we have entered a new geological time period known as the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene Working Group has found that “humanity’s impacts on Earth should now be regarded as pervasive and sufficiently distinctive to justify a separate classification.”

Humans have introduced entirely novel changes, geologically speaking, such as the roughly 300m metric tonnes of plastic produced annually. Concrete has become so prevalent in construction that more than half of all the concrete ever used was produced in the past 20 years.

Wildlife, meanwhile, is being pushed into an ever smaller area of the Earth, with just 25% of ice-free land considered wild now compared to 50% three centuries ago. As a result, rates of extinction of species are far above long-term averages.

But the study says perhaps the clearest fingerprint humans have left, in geological terms, is the presence of isotopes from nuclear weapons testing that took place in the 1950s and 60s.

The Guardian

We can feel overwhelmed when we see the environment faced with so many threats. How do we begin to change our lives in ways that will have a meaningful impact on the global situation? We need to embrace the challenge of living in harmony with the planet.

A new kind of nature is being created, one that is shaped by humanity. It consists of the sum of all the changes caused by humans on earth.

As we come into a deep understanding of the impact of our actions on the global community, Nature is calling us to redesign our lifestyles, adopt new social structures, rewrite the codes of our major institutions, and regenerate the planet’s natural systems. To do this requires breaking free from conditioned consumerism and enforced separation.  We have the responsibility to care for the Earth by making choices that support the flourishing of the planet and its people, from our next-door neighbors to the members of remote tribes. This responsibility is also to ourselves, as we owe our existence to this interdependent web of life. By making changes in our lives at the individual level, we will see that change reflected in the whole world.

Taking on Earth Consciousness – and Taking Action

Now is the time—the critical moment on our timeline—to leverage the overarching vision and tools afforded by our understanding of Earth Sciences and the wisdom provided by traditional indigenous cultures. The message of Earth consciousness is growing louder. It reaches us from the voices of Amazonian plant teachers, such as ayahuasca, and from indigenous wisdom. Scientists have been confirming the healing effects of these ancient sources of wisdom, affirming the use of these tools that lead us to a more integrative, whole system perspective of our relationship to the biosphere.

By changing our habits and activating solutions, we can regenerate the planet; by changing our hearts and spreading compassion, we can heal the world. This Earth Day, you can try one of the four daily practices of love and gratitude for the Earth shared by Pachamama Alliance. By working with practices such as these, or any way that you feel deepens your connection to Pachamama, Mother Earth, we grow in Earth Consciousness.

Get the Code!

Books are some of the most powerful tools to we have to evolve our consciousness and guide our actions. Synergetic Press publishes books that carry the code of a sustainable, regenerative, thriving human future. We focus primarily on Earth science and evolving human consciousness, which we see as complementary aspects of humanity’s continuing evolution. See some of the titles below to explore the ideas that form the foundation of Earth Consciousness.

anthropocene_720Me and the Biospheres

Wastewater-Gardner-Coverayahuascacoverfront_coverzig_zag_zen_front_covervineofthesoulcover

 

 

 

 

 

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Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World

Written by Alessandra Campos-Miller, MA

muggiiii

Giger’s cat, Muggi III

The documentary film, Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World, filmed one year before his death in May of 2014, provides an intimate portrait of the life and work of revolutionary artist of the subconscious, H.R. Giger.

The film takes the viewer on a spectral journey, drawing us irresistibly into Giger’s inner world. The work of Hansruedi, as he his affectionately called by his friends and family, is traced from the perinatal through his childhood, youth, adulthood, and present. The work of H.R. Giger is deeply connected to the subconscious and to the personal experiences with darkness and fear that Giger had throughout his life. Carmen Maria Scheifele Giger, H.R. Giger’s wife, eloquently describes the connection between his work and the deep levels of our subconscious, saying “You see his pictures and you feel like you’ve known them forever. They represent the deepest depths of our souls.”

Grof exploring Giger’s Ghost Ride

Dr. Stanislav Grof, whose book HR Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century is seen being prepared for publication at Giger’s home, further explains Giger’s connection to the subconscious. Grof guides the viewer through Giger’s “Ghost Train,” which recreates the perinatal journey in ride form. The ride features a train car which guides the rider through tunnels of lush plant life, flesh, blood, stony fetuses, mechanical bodies, and feminine anatomy.

A still from the movie, showing Giger and Grof working on  the book, HR Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century

The ride had been a dream of Giger’s in his childhood, which Grof explains by stating that Giger clearly represents the “dark areas related to the trauma of birth which we have never consciously processed.”

The documentary features never-before-seen artwork, beautiful descriptions of Giger’s work by his loved ones, the opening of the H.R. Giger Museum in Switzerland, and even dedicates screen time to the mischievous prowlings of Giger’s cat, Müggi III. Devotees of Giger’s work, along with those who are new to the visionary work of this influential artist, will appreciate the loving treatment that is given to his life and work in Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World.

Dark Star: H.R. Giger’s World is available to stream on Netflix. Stanislav Grof’s HR Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century is available for purchase via Synergetic Press.

 

Dark Star Cover

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Embrace of the Serpent at the CCA in Santa Fe

Life of legendary ethnobotanist and Synergetic Press author, Richard Evans Schultes, portrayed in Academy Award nominated film, Embrace of the Serpent, starting March 25 in Santa Fe at the CCA.

An image from Embrace of the Serpent with Schultes in the background

An image from Embrace of the Serpent with Schultes’ character in the background

Embrace of the Serpent was Academy Award Nominated for BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM inspired by the real-life journals of two explorers: Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes who traveled through the Colombian Amazon during the last century in search of the sacred and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna plant.

Filmed in stunning black-and-white, SERPENT centers on Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people, and the two scientists who, over the course of 40 years, build a friendship with him.

Embrace of the Serpent will be playing at The Center for Contemporary Arts , Santa Fe

Starting March 25

vineofthesoulcoverRichard Evans Schultes classic book, Vine of the Soul, is published by Santa Fe based Synergetic Press.

VINE OF THE SOUL: MEDICINE MEN, THEIR PLANTS AND RITUALS IN THE COLOMBIAN AMAZONIA By Richard Evans Schultes & Robert F. Raffauf Preface by Wade Davis

Read more about the connections between Vine of the Soul and Embrace of the Serpent.

About the Book

This book is the story of a time that was—a time when the Amazon Indian was free to roam the forest and rivers, happy with their social institutions, unencumbered by acculturation or the cultural destruction of their ancient societies and virgin forests. The story is told through over 160 black & white photographs taken by renown Harvard ethnobotanist, Richard Evans Schultes during the ‘40s and ‘50s when he spent fourteen uninterrupted years living with the Indian tribes of the Amazon. Combining his scientific eye for documentation with a photographers eye for lighting, composition and character, he created an extraordinary record of the medicinal plants and flora of the Colombian Amazon.

Co‐authored by Robert F. Raffauf, an outstanding plant chemist, VINE OF THE SOUL contains some of the most significant photographs on this subject ever taken accompanied by detailed descriptions of the Amazon Indians use of medicinal and other sacred plant substances, with information on the bioactive chemistry and medicinal properties of the plants.

VINE OF THE SOUL (or ayahuasca) is a sacred drink used for millennia by shamans throughout the Amazon basin. This book is not just for readers interested in ayahuasca, and other psychoactive drugs; it is a remarkable record of a rich heritage that is in danger of disappearing altogether and should be examined by anyone interested in preserving the Amazon rainforest and the cultural heritage of its people. Thanks to attention drawn to the Amazon Indians by Schultes and others, the former President of Colombia, Virgilio Barco, in 1988 returned over six million hectares of land to the Indians for their exclusive use. The Colombian government further created a number of biological reserves, bringing the total area under protection to more than 20,000,000 hectares.

Dr. Richard Evans Schultes in Vine of the Soul

The second edition contains a Preface by Wade Davis, Explorer‐in‐Residence for the National Geographic Society; a Foreword by Sir Ghillean Prance, Former Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, England (Emeritus); and Epilogue by Michael Balick, Director of Institute of Economic Botany, NY Botanical Gardens.

Recipient of numerous national and international awards including the annual World Wildlife Fund Gold Medal, Schultes was awarded in 1983 the Cross of Boyaća, the highest honor offered by the Republic of Colombia. In 1992, Dr. Schultes was awarded the Linnean Gold Medal, the highest award a botanist can receive. Possibly more famous on the streets of Bogotá, Schultes was nevertheless the quintessential Harvard man, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Bostonian, a gentleman and a scholar.

Co‐authors Drs. Schultes and Raffauf passed away in recent years. This reissue is in commemoration of the authors life’s work. Remarkable plants; remarkable people; remarkable men.

“The medicine men of the Kamsa and Inga tribes of the valley of Sibundoy have an unusually extensive knowledge of medicinal and toxic plants. One of the most renowned is Salvador Chindoy, who insists that his knowledge of the medicinal plants has been taught to him by the plants themselves through the hallucinations he has experienced in his long lifetime as a medicine man. It is such knowledge, fast disappearing, that we must salvage for the potential benefit of all mankind.”

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Why is Ayahuasca so Popular Now?

As so many shifts are occurring on the planet and people look for ways to adapt their lives, more and more have been finding ayahuasca to be an invaluable tool in their transformation. We answered some questions about this mysterious brew and why it’s been getting so much attention.

Drawing by Kathleen Harrison. In the Ayahuasca Reader.

What is Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is a sacred drink used for millennia by numerous indigenous groups primarily in the Upper Amazon and Orinoco basins for divination, healing, and other cosmogonic/shamanic purposes.

-from the Ayahuasca Reader

It’s known by many names throughout South America and is also known as yagé or yajé. The name ayahuasca translates to “vine of the soul” in Quechuan.

What is it made of?

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive brew or tea most commonly derived from Banisteriopsis caapi, a vine containing monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and the leaves of Psychotria viridis or other plant containing N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), and often several other admixture plants.

-from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

Why do people use it?

There are many reasons why more people are choosing to drink ayahuasca including:

  • spiritual and religious reasons
  • shamanic journeying
  • personal growth
  • medicinal and therapeutic purposes

What kinds of medicinal and therapeutic properties does ayahuasca have?

It’s been gaining attention around the world for its ability to heal a wide range of diseases and conditions. Thousands of people report emotional, mental and physical healing from a wide range of conditions. To contribute to the abundance of anecdotal evidence, there have been more clinical studies scientifically investigating ayahuasca’s healing properties, including recent studies showing the effectiveness of a single use in treating recurrent depression, significant improvement among participants in therapy for treatment of addiction, and possible antitumor effects.

Untitled, gouache on paper, © Marlene Lopes Mateus, (Cashinahua, Brazil). Collection of Elsje Maria Lagrou. In the Ayahuasca Reader.

What are the religious or spiritual reasons for drinking ayahuasca?

People report an expanded sense of connection with all of life through visions that reveal the nature of reality. Oftentimes during ceremonies, healing songs or icaros are sung to guide participants through their journey.

In indigenous groups in Amazonia, shamans drink ayahuasca for many reasons that have spiritual significance, including to travel to other realms, gather information, finding and treating illnesses, and to communicate with other beings. For more detailed information on these rituals, see Ayahuasca Reader and Vine of The Soul: Medicine Men, Their Plants and Rituals in the Colombian Amazonia.

There are also several recognized churches that use ayahuasca as an entheogenic sacrament, including Santo Daime, Barquinha and União do Vegetal (UDV).

“Ayahuasca has a very insistent message. It’s one of those universals that almost everyone who drinks the brew sooner or later reports. It’s about the sacred, magical, enchanted, interconnected, infinitely precious nature of life on earth, and the interdependence of material and spiritual realms.” -Graham Hancock

Allen Ginsberg, speaking at the University of Pennsylvania in 1967. Photograph © by Roberth Hahn. In the Ayahuasca Reader

Don Ignacio, Shipibo shaman, Ucayali River. Photograph © Angelika Gebhart-Sayer. In the Ayahuasca Reader.

Who’s using it?

Indigenous groups in the Amazon have been using ayahuasca for thousands of years, with written records of ayahuasca ceremonies emerging in the early diaries of Spanish colonial priests.

In addition to the populations who have traditionally used ayahuasca, there has been a surge of interest among people all over the world. Many people including scientists, doctors, artists, musicians, writers, journalists, those who wish to be healed from disease and those who want to seek to go deeper within themselves.

Is it legal?

Ayahuasca is legal in many countries in South America. The United States Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in favor of the legal religious use of ayahuasca by the União do Vegetal, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the Santo Daime Church’s freedom to use ayahuasca for religious purposes. However, ayahuasca’s principally active ingredient—DMT—remains a Schedule I controlled substance.

-from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

Why is ayahuasca so popular now?

At this critical moment in human history, we are seeing a remarkable increase in the use of Ayahuasca. This voice of this profound Amazonian plant teacher has been getting louder. It calls us to find balance with the rhythms of the planet. As we see the effects of consumeristic excess waging war on the planet, the message of ayahuasca calls us to raise our Earth consciousness by examining our lives and coming into a state of harmony.

“. . . the ubiquitous simultaneous therapeutic, religious, spiritual and medicinal roles of these plants have implications for understanding the nature of human consciousness and the spiritual.” -Michael Winkleman

How can I learn more?

Join us for a SYNERGETIC SYMPOSIUM & SALON on Earth Consciousness & Lore of the Amazon

Conversations on Ayahuasca, Ethnomedicine, and the Biospheric Imperative with

RALPH METZNER • DENNIS MCKENNA • RICK DOBLIN • ALLAN BADINERJOHN ALLEN • VALERIE PLAME WILSON • GAY DILLINGHAM • MICHAEL GARFIELD

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6 4:00 – 11:00 PM

Talks • Dinner • Visionary Art • Poetry • Music • Dancing

Synergia Ranch Santa Fe, New Mexico

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You can also find a wealth of comprehensive writings and images in Ayahuasca Reader, more ethnobotanical information in Vine of The Soul: Medicine Men, Their Plants and Rituals in the Colombian Amazonia, and a discussion of ayahuasca and Buddhist practice in Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics.

vineofthesoulcover

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Synergetic Symposium & Salon with METZNER, MCKENNA AND DOBLIN

This year we are organizing a series of events to deepen our conversation with pioneers and visionaries working in an array of fields of study about the world around us and within us. Our first event is in Santa Fe is next month, details are below. Future events will be held in San Francisco and London.

01SP-home-slider-EventSOLD OUT!  We will prepare a webcasts in near future for those who missed getting tickets. please sign up for our newsletter to receive notice when that is available.

SYNERGETIC SYMPOSIUM & SALON

on Earth Consciousness & Lore of the Amazon

Conversations on Ayahuasca, Ethnomedicine, and the Biospheric Imperative with

RALPH METZNER • DENNIS MCKENNA • RICK DOBLIN • ALLAN BADINER • JOHN ALLEN • GEORGE GREER • VALERIE PLAME WILSON • GAY DILLINGHAM • MICHAEL GARFIELD

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6
4:00 – 11:00 PM

Talks • Dinner • Visionary Art • Poetry • Music • Dancing

Synergia Ranch

Santa Fe, New Mexico

 

Program

Symposium 4:00 – 6:30 PM
Talks by Dennis McKenna, Rick Doblin and Ralph Metzner
Panel Moderated by George Greer
Dinner 7:00 – 8:00 PM (optional)
Salon 8:30 – 11:00 PM 
Earth Consciousness Roundtable with Ralph Metzner, Dennis McKenna, Valerie Plame Wilson, Gay Dillingham and others (TBA), moderated by Allan Badiner
Poetry with John Dolphin Allen
Music & Visuals by Lightlab with DJ Goz and other TBA
Dance performance by the Daughters of Lillith
A time during the program will be made for introductions and brief presentations from local leaders of communities and groups engaged in Earth awareness, in raising consciousness, spiritual studies, and frontiers in developing frontiers in medical research with entheogens.
The Symposium & Salon are designed to share the wisdom and inspiration of our speakers and artists, to generate ideas and insights, and to nourish our vibrant local community.
Tickets:
• Symposium  $40
Dinner  $25
Salon  $20
• Package  $75
Your hosts, Deborah Parrish Snyder and Michael Gosney, are happy to answer any questions, or provide further information at
deborah at synergeticpress.com
About the Speakers and Moderators
RalphMetzner
Dr. Ralph Metzner is author of many books, practicing psychotherapist and Professor Emeritus at the California Institute of Integral Studies including a book coauthored with Ram Dass, Birth of a Psychedelic Culture (Synergetic Press). Dr. Metzner has been involved in consciousness research for over fifty years, including psychedelics, yoga, meditation, and shamanism. He is co-founder and president of the Green Earth Foundation, a non-profit educational organization devoted to healing and harmonizing the relationship between humans and the Earth.
 
dennis
Dr. Dennis McKenna is an American ethnopharmacologist, research pharmacognosist, lecturer and author. He is the brother of well-known psychedelics proponent Terence McKenna and is a founding board member and the director of ethnopharmacology at the Heffter Research Institute, a non-profit organization concerned with the investigation of the potential therapeutic uses of psychedelic medicines.
 
doblin
Dr. Rick Doblin is founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). His undergraduate thesis at New College of Florida was a twenty-five-year follow-up to the classic Good Friday Experiment. He wrote his doctoral dissertation (in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government) on the regulation of the medical uses of psychedelics. His professional goal is to help develop legal contexts for the beneficial uses of psychedelics and marijuana and eventually to become a legally licensed psychedelic therapist.
 
Allan BadinerAllan Badiner is the editor of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics (Synergetic Press), as well as two other books of collected essays, Dharma Gaia: A Harvest in Buddhism and Ecology (Parallax Press, 1991) and Mindfulness in the Marketplace: Compassionate Responses to Consumerism (Parallax, 2002). Allan is a contributing editor of Tricycle, and serves on the board of directors of Rainforest Action Network, Threshold Foundation and Project CBD. He has been a student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh for more than 25 years.
 
john_allenJohn Dolphin Allen is author of Me and the Biospheres (Synergetic Press), poet, playwright who invented, conceived and co-founded the Biosphere 2 project – the world’s largest laboratory for global ecology. Biosphere 2 set a number of world records in closed life system work including, among others, degree of sealing tightness, 100% waste recycle and water recycle, and duration of human residence within a closed system (eight people for two years). Allen has also conceived and co-founded nine other projects around the world, pioneering in sustainable co-evolutionary development.
 
bioGreer
Dr. George Greer conducted over 100 therapeutic sessions with MDMA for 80 individuals from 1980 to 1985 with his psychiatric nurse wife, Requa Tolbert. Their review of this work remains the largest published study of the therapeutic use of MDMA. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and Past President of the Psychiatric Medical Association of New Mexico. He was also the Clinical Director of Mental Health Services for the New Mexico Corrections Department during the 1990s. He has been the Medical Director of the Heffter Research Institute since 1998.
Valerie Plame Wilson is a former career covert CIA operations officer who worked to protect America’s national security and prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Valerie sits on the boards of Global Data Security, a cyber security company that safeguards digital data, and Starling Trust, a predictive behavioral analytics company. She also serves on the nonprofit boards of the Ploughshares Fund, Global Zero, the Penn State School of International Affairs, the United Way of Santa Fe County, and Postpartum Support International. Valerie is affiliated with the Santa Fe Institute, a trans-disciplinary scientific think tank addressing the most compelling and complex problems in the world today.
dillingham_gayGay Dillingham is Co-Founder, former President and Chair of Earthstone International, LLC, an environmental IP company manufacturing recycled glass into an engineered “white foam glass.” Gay served as Chair of the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board for six of eight years of her tenure and passed historic greenhouse gas regulations in 2010. Gay owns a production company, CNS Communications, and is an award-winning producer/director. Her latest film, Dying to Know, celebrates the unique friendship of Timothy Leary and Ram Dass, exploring their extraordinary lives and perspectives on death. She is executive director of the Livingry Foundation, served two years as board chair for the New Mexico Association of Grantmakers, and currently serves on the boards of Santa Fe Community College, New Voice of Business, and the World Security Institute.
Michael Garfield writes music for the head and heart – intelligent, emotional performances that captivate attentive audiences and reward repeated listening.  Alternately tender and apocalyptic, simultaneously chill and energetic, his intensely technical yet vulnerable music reimagines folk and psychedelic rock alike, updating “solo artist with guitar” to suit an age of existential wonder, cybernetic systems, and emerging planetary consciousness. Michael’s music has been featured in the award-winning PBS documentary series Arts in Context, as well as on numerous podcasts (including Expanding Mind and The Psychedelic Salon).  Passionate about interdisciplinary collaboration, he frequently co-improvises with fire dancers, aerialists, live painters, and visual projectionists. 

Synergetic Press is proud to support and collaborate with Rick Doblin and his team at The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) This membership-based non-profit research and educational organization has been working for three decades to develop medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. We are honored to introduce Rick to our community here in New Mexico at this event. Here are just a few of the ways MAPS is working —
MAPS supports research into the safety and effectiveness of ayahuasca-assisted treatment for drug addiction. They also support conferences, meetings, and publications about the scientific, therapeutic, sustainable, and spiritual uses of ayahuasca, and serve as non-profit fiscal sponsor for organizations that support these uses. They completed the first North American observational study of the safety and long-term effectiveness of ayahuasca treatment for addiction and dependence. The paper describing the results of the study was published in June 2013 which you can download by clicking here: Current Drug Abuse Reviews

MAPS Anniversary Event in Oakland and Psychedelic Dinner Salons

MAPS will celebrate it’s 30 year anniversary on April 17, 2016, Oakland, California. Addresses from leading psychedelic researchers, participants in MAPS-sponsored research, forward-thinking philanthropists, acclaimed visionary artists Alex and Allyson Grey, and others. Keynote from MAPS Founder and Executive Director Rick Doblin, with a multimedia performance by  Android Jones and Phadroid, a visual musical performance by DJ Spooky. Tickets and information at: 30 Year Anniversary. More information on their series of Psychedelic Dinner Salons at Psychedelicdinners.org, a community outreach effort to support MAPS program of medical research with MDMA for treatment of PTSD.

 Forthcoming Titles

AYAHUASCA READER, Edited by Luis Eduardo Luna and Steven F. White, Second Edition (JUNE)
JOHN C. LILLY READER, Edited by Gerard T. Houghton and Craig Ingles
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Vajravision by Alex Grey, featured in Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Nature of Mind (Panel 4) by Alex Grey, featured in the new edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics

This passage was taken from the essay “Vajravision” by Alex Grey in the new edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Startlingly clear inner visions often accompany our most profound and memorable meditative or psychedelic experiences. Distributed throughout Zig Zag Zen are images by extraordinary artists, offered to help visually contextualize the complex subject of the relationships between psychedelics and Buddhism. Some of the artists appearing in this volume have never done drugs, and some of these artists have probably never meditated. Nevertheless, their work is relevant to the themes of liberation of the mind, “altered states,” and depictions of transcendental emptiness, and includes nontraditional images of the Buddha or Buddhist-influenced iconography. The works of Odilon Redon, Mark Rothko, Ethel Le Rossignol, Francesco Clemente, Mati Klarwein, Ed Paschke, Robert Beer, Paul Laffoley, Michael Newhall, Mariko Mori, Ang Tsherin Sherpa, Robert Venosa, Dean Chamberlain, Luke Brown, Amanda Sage, Carey Thompson, Android Jones, Randal Roberts, Suhki Barber and Fred Tomaselli as well as pieces by my wife, Allyson Grey, and myself are woven throughout the pages of this book. Also presented are select examples from the Japanese Zen and Tibetan thangka traditions of Buddhist art. The connections and resonances between these diverse works are a quality of artistic consciousness I call Vajravision.

Perhaps one of the primary benefits of psychedelics is their capacity to make the subtle realms explicit. . .

The vajra is a spiritual tool, a thunderbolt scepter owned by the Hindu god Indra. It was adopted by the Buddhist sages as a symbol of the diamond-like clarity and brilliance of the mind’s true nature, and has come to stand for a special class of Buddhist teachings. These are known as the Vajrayana, which incorporate complex visualizations of deities, Buddhas, gurus, and sky-dancing dakinis. During carefully prescribed meditations, an exchange of transforming and enlightening energies takes place between the practitioner and the intensely imagined spiritual archetypes. Accomplishment in the Vajrayana approach depends on developing proficiency in opening the wisdom eye, navigating the subtle visionary realms, and confirming their luminosity, emptiness, and truth. Vajravision helps us see beyond the opaque material world to the spiritual reality behind appearances. A dependable way to introduce one’s self to the brightly colored and minutely articulated visionary inner worlds, to “see” with Vajravision, is through an entheogenic or psychedelic experience. Perhaps one of the primary benefits of psychedelics is their capacity to make the subtle realms explicit and inescapable to the percipient under their influence. To a consciousness familiar only with perception of the gross physical world, an immersion in the dynamic, overwhelming, and uncontrollable visionary imagination may result in ontological panic. Fear and paranoia then become infinitely magnified to hell-realm proportions; the classic “bad trip.” But given the proper set and setting, a vast panorama of mysterious archetypal beings and highly articulated heaven realms becomes accessible. Visions of both heaven and hell are frequent for the intrepid Psychonaut.

 . . . a vast panorama of mysterious archetypal beings and highly articulated heaven realms becomes accessible. . . 

Rainbow Body Padmasambhava photograph by Claudia Müller-Eberling, featured in the new edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics

As with many contemporary artists, my first encounter with Buddhist art was through the paintings and statues I’d seen in museums and art history books. Buddha’s intriguing smile appeared even more mysterious than that of the Mona Lisa. It was only after I had taken LSD that the thangka paintings of Tibet and Nepal began to make sense, with their glowing beings surrounded by rainbow light and horrific many-headed, multi-limbed deities surrounded by patterned flames. My pursuit of the meaning of those images then began in earnest, with study of Buddhist scripture and my becoming familiar with the art’s unusual perspective on existence.

It was only after I had taken LSD that the thangka paintings of Tibet and Nepal began to make sense, with their glowing beings surrounded by rainbow light. . .

Thangka paintings interlace representations of the physical worlds with subtle visionary beings and geometrically dense mandalas that are familiar to those who have had psychedelic experiences. Only art in the visionary tradition begins to hint at the multidimensional glory the psychedelic voyager has experienced. Many people from the West who wind up studying Buddhism have had drug-induced altered state experiences that opened them for the first time to the infinitude and mystery of consciousness. Artists who have entered psychedelic states and are also practicing Buddhists are still something of a rare species, but are becoming less so. The confluence of these inspiring forces is helping fuel an underground artistic renaissance. Artists who have accessed deeper and higher aspects of their being via meditative disciplines or psychedelics are no longer content with the formal games and transgressionism of much contemporary art. A worthy subject is the most important discovery for artists—it’s the magnetic passion that burns at the core of their work, attracting or repelling us, and determining whether they will attempt to evoke what is deepest and highest in us.

. . . art in the visionary tradition begins to hint at the multidimensional glory the psychedelic voyager has experienced. . .

Visionary mystical experiences are humanity’s most direct contact with spiritual reality and are the creative source of all sacred art and wisdom traditions. The best currently existing technology for sharing the mystic imaginal realms is a well-crafted artistic rendering by an eyewitness. Mystic visionary artists distill the multidimensional, entheogenic journey into externally crystallized theophanies, icons embedded with evolutionary worldviews. Since mystic visionary artists paint the transcendental realms from observation, their work offers a growing body of evidence substantiating the divine imaginal realms and by extension, Spirit itself.

Consummation by Ethel Le Rossignol, featured in the new edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics

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Many thanks to visionary artist Alex Grey, for this essay and all of the art chosen for the new edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics. For more third eye-opening art and mind-expanding essays, you can get your copy in our bookstore.

 

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Interview With Tony Juniper: ‘No Nature, No People’

Tony Juniper was interviewed for Forbes by  to talk about about climate change, sustainability, and how nature is actually the basis of economic activity.tj 

Here are a few of the responses that Tony gave, and you can read the full interview here.

What were the most pressing issues now, and how have they changed?

For a long time, effort was necessarily devoted to gaining some agreement as to the scale of the challenge at hand, while making the case for what with hindsight looks like relatively narrow action to address some of the symptoms of it, such as pollution control laws and protection for some areas of especially important natural habitat. Today, the job at hand still embraces this kind of work, but is now also about making the case for completely new ways of looking at business, and indeed the economic system that determines which ones do well and those who don’t. There are also big questions of culture on the table, for example about what follows ‘consumerism’ as a viable and sustainable way of meeting people’s needs and desires.

There’s a growing body of research that suggests that when we fail to protect nature we end up with long-term losses, despite potential short-term gains. Why is that not only difficult to understand and accept, but also to act on?

One big reason why we fail to act in the face of overwhelming evidence is because of our human propensity for short-termism. This is a well-known psychological phenomenon and is manifest in politics, economics, and the media. Politicians have short terms of office. Economics works in part on quarterly financial results, while the profile of stories in the media is generally fleeting and very much about events, rather than the trends that shape the long term, such as climate change and ecosystem degradation.

On top of this is the fact of uncertainty. For while we know that there are long-term risks inherent in unsustainable behavior, no one can predict how they will unfold in the real world. Various skeptical voices have focused on this to create doubt as to the need for any action, nevermind decisive moves in the short-term so as protect more distant interests. Despite the blockages toward longer-term thinking, a lot of people are seeing the need for it and finding ways to do it.

The world’s climate scientists have explained how to avoid drastic global warming and… well, it’s not easy. But what is working best, and what do you consider to be our best hope for sustainability?

One thing we need to realize is that sustainability is not only about climate change. That is a big part of it, but there is a whole lot more. It is also about society and the economy, and how we can share the productive capacity of our Earth between even more people than we have now. That is a big political issue, and political issues tend to get resolved when voters demand that solutions are provided by the people they elected. This leads me to believe that a very big part of what is needed relates to the rather neglected subject of awareness and how to spread it. The more people know about what is happening, the more likely they might be determined to see solutions to protect them and their children. The fact that sustainability issues are rarely debated properly in the media is a serious cause for concern.

For more from Tony Juniper on recognizing and appreciating the value of the services provided by nature, check out What Has Nature Ever Done for Us? How Money Really Does Grow on Trees

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Vernadsky’s Revolutionary Vision of the Biosphere

In 1926, Vladimir I. Vernadsky introduced the term “biosphere” to the scientific world in his seminal research paper “The Biosphere.” Many of his ideas outpaced their time, but we’ve finally been starting to understand what he meant. We can continue to uncover Vernadsky’s comprehensive mind through the writings he left, such as essays like Geochemistry & the Biosphere.

The following video examines the groundbreaking work of Vladimir Vernadsky and the ways that his ideas continue to inform scientists today.

He was born in the 19th century, the prime of his career was in the 20th century, but to talk about Vernadsky’s work we can look at the present day:

vernadksy_bioAt an Antarctic research station, his idea of bio-inert bodies is shedding light on the life that exists below the surface of the rocks. Communities of green cyanobacteria thrive as they conduct photosynthesis with sunlight that penetrates the top layer of rock. The interaction of the rock and cyanobacteria forms a system of life, creating a unique, natural bio-inert body. Vernasky coined the term “bio-inert substance” in 1926 to describe a substance that results from the interaction of living organisms and abiotic natural processes. But we don’t need to travel all the way to Antarctica to find an example of this phenomenon.

He advocated that all rocks, all materials on Earth contain the presence of life. The idea of “the everywhereness of life,” that life spreads in a way similar to gas throughout the biosphere was revolutionary. He conceived the idea of considering the living organisms on the planet as a whole, which he called “living matter.” This living matter participates in the geochemical processes of life on Earth, such as the Earth’s crust. This led to the formulation of the study of biogeochemistry. Vernadsky’s ideas were so comprehensive, they encompassed the interactions of systems into more holistic understandings of the processes on the planet. He formed generalizations at the largest scales of life based on examples from the smallest realms of matter.

He understood the unity of life to include all of the living organisms on the planet, bringing him to the concept of the biosphere. What is a biosphere? Vernadsky explored this question and included the deepest depths of the oceans in the hydrosphere, into the lithosphere including the Earth’s crust and extending upwards to the heights of the troposphere in the atmosphere surrounding us. The term biosphere was first coined by geologist Eduard Suess in 1875, but Vernadsky formulated the modern understanding of what we mean when we talk about the biosphere.

Many misunderstand the biosphere to mean a community of organisms, but Vernadsky was saying that the biosphere is the medium of life itself, the environment in which life exists and is created. Following successful research on Vernadsky’s biospheric ideas, UNESCO established Biosphere Reserves to serve to protect ecosystems and act as hubs for research. There are over 600 of these Biosphere Reserves around the world today!

Biosphere 2

John Allen, ecologist, writer, engineer and adventurer was the key ideologist who inspired the project of Biosphere 2. The works of Vernadsky, such as “Biogeochemical essays,” “Biosphere,” “Biosphere and noosphere” acted as the starting point of the experiment. The goal of the project was to create a self-sustaining, closed ecosystem that could support human life in an externally hostile environment. Seven biomes were created with the closed system of Biosphere 2: desert, savannah, tropical rainforest, ocean with coral reef and mangrove estuary, and an agricultural area for farming. Many lessons were learned about balancing oxygen and carbon dioxide levels for human life when considering the balance of soils and plant life within a closed system. One of the biggest lessons from Biosphere 2 is how little we understand of the incredibly complex nature of life in the biosphere. Vernadsky’s ideas continue to serve as the foundation for the ongoing research in Biosphere 2 which transcends disciplinary boundaries.

Vernadsky viewed all life as impacting the geological processes of the Earth, and considered humans to be “a geological force of planetary scale” in the short time that we have been on the planet. From his view nearly a hundred years ago, he foresaw the Anthropocene Era, describing how through human activity the features of the Earth are being converted along with the entire biosphere.

Tvernadskyhe power of humans in this situation, according to Vernadsky, is the power to predict and foresee possible outcomes. In foreseeing what may happen, we have the power to change our behavior. The biosphere with intellect “noos” becomes the noosphere. In his final work “A few words on noosphere” in 1944 he wrote, “…We are now experiencing a new geological evolutionary alteration of the biosphere. We are entering the noosphere…” The idea remained undeveloped by Vernadsky with his passing, but we continue to work with the concept today. With the coming of the noosphere, humanity will work with nature in facing critical conditions with technology and insight. Vernadsky remained optimistic that reason will win and bring not only power to humanity, but also a sense of self-restraint based on an understanding of our place in the biosphere.

The comprehensive, scientific mind that Vernadsky brought to our understanding of life has increased in relevance since his lifetime. His visionary viewpoints are captured in Geochemistry and the Biosphere: Essays by Vladimir I. Vernadsky. Now available in an ebook edition, Geochemistry and The Biosphere contains Vernadsky’s groundbreaking work on the biosphere and the noösphere, as well as his seminal work on geochemistry. A recognized catalyst written over sixty years ago, this premier scientific work addresses in detail humanity’s impact on the living systems of the planet. An understanding of Vernadsky’s work is absolutely crucial to grasping planetary processes and acting as better stewards of the earth.

You can purchase paperback and ebook editions of Geochemistry and the Biosphere: Essays by Vladimir I. Vernadsky in our bookstore.

 

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Facing the Darkside with Stanislav Grof, Erik Davis and the art of HR Giger

Contributed by Alessandra Campos-Miller, MA

Exploring Perinatal Matrices with the art of HR Giger, in HR Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century

In the episode Facing the Darkside of Erik Davis’s Expanding Mind podcast, Davis speaks with groundbreaking transpersonal psychologist and psychedelic researcher Dr. Stanislav Grof about nightmares, pathology, psychedelics, and the visionary art of H.R. Giger. Psychedelics have the ability to activate dimensions of the psyche that may otherwise remain inaccessible to the conscious mind. As Dr. Grof explains, the psychedelic experience acts as a catalyst, “activating deep contents in our unconscious” that provide opportunity for cosmic transformation. Experiences of ecstatic or “celestial” states of consciousness provide one means by which these contents can be accessed. However, there is also an underworld of the psyche that is made up of the darker elements of the unconscious. In his discussion with Erik Davis, Dr. Grof employs the work of artist H.R. Giger to explore this darker side of psychic terrain. According to Dr. Grof, the artwork of Giger depicts the psychological traumas that make up the landscape of our dark unconscious as he explores in his book H.R. Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century.

In his discussion with Davis, Dr. Grof points to the experience of birth as the locus of our primary trauma. Grof explores the intimate relationship as shown in Giger’s artwork and experienced in the perinatal journey. The exploration of the initial traumatic experience of birth is essential to holotropic healing, which literally means “moving towards wholeness.” By dealing with the nightmarish realm of the unconscious, we move towards wholeness, healing, and perhaps even the next stage of human evolution. Listen to the episode here:

 

And delve even deeper into the dark side of modern consciousness with the work of Dr. Stanislav Grof and the art of H.R. Giger with your copy of H.R. Giger and the Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century.

Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D., is a psychiatrist with more than fifty years experience researching the healing and transformative potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness. His groundbreaking theories influenced the integration of Western science with his brilliant mapping of the transpersonal dimension. On October 5, 2007 Dr. Grof received the prestigious VISION 97 award granted by the Foundation of Dagmar and Vaclav Havel in Prague. He is one of the founders and chief theoreticians of Transpersonal Psychology and received an Honorary Award for major contributions to and development of the field of Transpersonal Psychology from the Association for Transpersonal Psychology in 1993. Dr. Grof is also the founding President of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA) and was its President for many years. He has organized large international conferences throughout the world and continues to lecture and teach professional training programs in Holotropic Breathwork and transpersonal psychology. Currently, Dr. Grof is Professor of Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in the Department of Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness in San Francisco, CA, and at Wisdom University in Oakland, CA. Dr. Grof was born in 1931 in Prague where he received an M.D. from Charles University and a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy in Medicine) from the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences. Between 1960 and 1967, he was Principal Investigator in a psychedelic research program at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, Czechoslovakia. In the United States, Dr. Grof served as Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. He was also Scholar-in-Residence at Esalen Institute. Dr. Grof’s extensive research includes experiential psychotherapy using psychedelics and non-drug techniques, especially the holotropic breathwork (a method he developed with his wife Christina), alternative approaches to psychoses, understanding and treatment of psychospiritual crises (“spiritual emergencies”), the implications of recent developments in quantum-relativistic physics, biology, brain research, and other avenues of the emerging scientific paradigm, for psychiatric theory and consciousness studies. Among his publications are over 150 papers in professional journals and many books including Beyond the Brain, LSD Psychotherapy, Psychology of the Future, The Cosmic Game, and the newly-released When the Impossible Happens and The Ultimate Journey. Recently, he wrote the essay to that provides a psychoanalytic framework for understanding the work of H.R. Giger.

from Synergetic Press

Erik Davis was born during the Summer of Love within a stone’s throw of San Francisco. He grew up in North County, Southern California, and spent a decade on the East Coast, where he studied literature and philosophy at Yale and spent six years in the freelance trenches of Brooklyn and Manhattan before moving to San Francisco, where he currently resides. He is the author of four books: Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica (Yeti, 2010), The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape(Chronicle, 2006), with photographs by Michael Rauner, and the 33 1/3 volume Led Zeppelin IV(Continuum, 2005). His first and best-known book remains TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information (Crown, 1998), a cult classic of visionary media studies that has been translated into five languages and recently republished by North Atlantic Press. He has contributed chapters on art, music, technoculture, and contemporary spirituality to over a dozen books, including Future Matters: the Persistence of Philip K. Dick (Palgrave), Sound Unbound: Writings on Contemporary Multimedia and Music Culture (MIT, 2008), AfterBurn: Reflections on Burning Man (University of New Mexico, 2005), Rave Ascension (Routledge, 2003), and Zig Zag Zen (Synergetic Press, 2015). In addition to his many forewords and introductions, Davis has contributed articles and essays to a variety of periodicals, including Bookforum, Arthur, Artforum, SlateSalon, Gnosis, Rolling Stone, the LA Weekly, Spin, Wired and the Village Voice. A vital speaker, Davis has given talks at universities, media art conferences, and festivals around the world. He has taught seminars at the UC Berkeley, UC Davis, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and Rice University, as well as workshops at the New York Open Center and Esalen. He has been interviewed by CNN, NPR, the New York Times, and the BBC, and appeared in numerous documentaries, as well as in Craig Baldwin’s underground film Specters of the Spectrum. He wrote the libretto for and performed in “How to Survive the Apocalypse,” a Burning Man-inspired rock opera. He has hosted the podcast Expanding Mind on the Progressive Radio Network since 2010, and is currently earning his PhD in Religious Studies at Rice University .

from Techgnosis

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The Psychedelics of Compassion: Don Lattin and Allan Badiner

In this conversation for Tricycle between Allan Badiner and Don Lattin, they cover the spectrum of spiritual and psychedelic practice. In under half an hour this discussion moves from extreme ayahuasca encounters meeting death and dragons with Terence McKenna to the power of the humble Buddhist techniques of breathing and smiling with Thich Naht Hanh. They track the history of the academic approach beginning with the scholarly insights of Huston Smith and examine the expansion of psychedelics in the realms of clinical research. Badiner is the editor of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics, the only book of its kind that offers a conversation about Buddhist practice and the psychedelic spiritual experience. Lattin is a reporter and author of the bestselling book, The Harvard Psychedelic Club.

 

Regeneration, Amanda Sage, 2012

Regeneration by Amanda Sage, featured in the new edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Allan shares his experience at a Vipassana course in Sri Lanka where he felt miserable, until the end of the retreat when his pain was replaced by peace:

 

“I felt an incredible shocking kind of kinship to all life around me: the environment, the breeze, the bugs, everything, the trees. People were coming up to me and engaging me in ways they had never done before, so I realized I must be putting out something different or there must be something about me that has changed that has caused this all to happen. I wanted to know more about what that was.” –Allan Badiner

“…It’s like nothing happened, but something extraordinary happened at the same time.” –Don Lattin

 

 

 

Timeless by Matti Klarwein, featured in the new edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Timeless by Matti Klarwein, featured in the new edition of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics

 

“There’s a lot of work on multiple paths that you can be doing, and probably should be doing, if you really want to evolve.” –Allan Badiner

 

To continue this conversation on psychedelics and spirituality, you can read more from Allan Badiner, as well as Terence McKenna, Huston Smith, Alex Grey, Ralph Metzner, Ram Dass, Joan Halifax Roshi, Jack Kornfield, Rick Doblin, and many more thoughtful figures in the numerous essays, and interviews, poems, reflections and stories in Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics. Zig Zag Zen also contains an expanded display of stunning visionary artwork including new pieces from Alex Grey (who curated all of the art for the book), Android Jones, Sukhi Barber, Ang Tsherin Sherpa, and Amanda Sage, as well as the work renowned modernists Robert Venosa, Mark Rothko, Robert Beer, Francesco Clemente, and others.

 

You can get your copy of Zig Zag Zen in our bookstore.

 

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