If you wish to know my ontological beliefs, then it is as simple as stating that I worship a plant known as Salvia Divinorum, the Diviner’s Sage. We live in the Golden Age of Psychedelics and within that era, Lady Salvia remains the most misunderstood and the most underappreciated. Few people know about this plant, those who do will tend to have terrifying stories of turning into a chair when they bought some herbs at a gas station fifteen years ago because they couldn’t get real weed.
Materialist ideologies like capitalism and communism interpret the Earth as simply composed of natural resources for us to exploit. It’s impossible for most people to imagine that nature as it exists around us today exists for a deeper ontological purpose. The reality is that plants have messages to convey to us.
We can come to a consensus on small questions, but to the bigger questions in life there exists no real objective truthful answer, there only exist different angles of observing the same problem. People who observe the world from a particular angle won’t say so of course, because it’s hard to win someone to your side when you say “this is just one way to look at things but it’s the way I happen to support”, but it nonetheless happens to be true. And just as humans cast different angles on the same questions through words, plants cast different angles on these same questions too.
The natural state of being for the man who thinks is existential depression. If you genuinely think about what you inhabit, if you genuinely manage to step outside of your day to day conditioning that tells you all of this is normal, then you will be terrified. That’s why you’re continually conditioned not to think. All the propaganda around you serves one purpose before all else: To keep you focused on the little questions, because you can’t handle the bigger questions.
You inhabit a mortal coil that will last you perhaps eighty years if we haven’t exhausted the Earth before then, by virtue of the mysterious luck of being born into a developed country in the information age. Had you been a little less lucky, you could have been roaming the streets in central Africa as a hungry orphan, slowly disfigured as the bacteria in your mouth begin to consume your own skin until the bone begins peeking through. So, the kind of big question that might occupy your mind, if you allowed your mind to roam over the big questions, could be as following: Why was I born here? Why this life, why this time, why this body?
All propaganda starts out by grounding you in this reality here. Before Mercedes convinces you that you need their car, they need to convince you that you want a car. And to convince you that you want a car, you first need to be convinced that you want anything. The most prime directive of all propaganda you are exposed to today, is the opposite of what the Buddha taught you: To cultivate desire. That’s the most basic messaging you receive on a constant basis, continually reinforced in all the information you’re exposed to, but when a particular message becomes pervasive enough, the people pushing the message cease to be aware of the fact that they are pushing it.
When people ceased to treat religions as self-evident truths, when it became possible for people to reflect critically on the religion they were raised in, life lost its self-evident meaning. If the purpose of your eighty years in this place are not to find Christ, then what is the purpose? New philosophies emerged that attempted to fill the void, by formulating an answer to the bigger questions in life.
One such philosophy is existentialism. The existentialists proposed that there is no inherent meaning to anything in this universe. Rather, the individual should strive to create their own meaning. Invent something that has meaning to you personally and then just spend your time pursuing that.
On the other side of the spectrum, we find nihilism. The nihilists also propose that there is no inherent meaning to anything. However, they reject the existentialist idea of creating meaning for yourself. You can’t create meaning in a world that is inherently devoid of meaning, it is like trying to breathe in the cold barren vacuum of outer space.
And somewhere in between, we find the golden middle road of Absurdism. According to the famous absurdist Camus, judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. The absurdist answers this question with a very tentative yes, the only kind of yes that can still be persuasive to the man who made the brave choice of choosing to understand what he inhabits.
The absurdist recognizes the tension between trying to live a meaningful life and the reality of a world that shows us no clear signs of having any inherent meaning to it. That is the absurdity, the contradiction between our quest for meaning and the universe’s unwillingness to cooperate. In this world, where you try to be friendly to your neighbor to improve his day, even though he could have his son gored beyond recognition by a truck tomorrow, you create the absurdity.
And to the absurdist, this is where ultimate freedom can be found: You’re free to create meaning for yourself, but the universe isn’t going to hint you in any direction, or imply in any form or shape what might be the right path. You can decide today to donate your life savings to a charity that takes care of the street children in India, who are made to beg on the streets and have their limbs amputated by criminal gangs, so that they can earn more money through begging.
Or, if you were so inclined, you could register an Instagram account for yourself, buy a really big boat, buy a nice suit and a mechanical watch, sail to St. Tropez, get some cocaine, invite a couple of dumb local bimbo’s on board, feed them drunk, ask them to bend over and “accidentally” let your pinky slip as you slap them all on the butt. It’s up to you.
And that’s why you’re genuinely free. Because nobody will reward you, nobody will punish you. There won’t be a cloud in the form of a big thumbs up in the sky. You won’t have a terrifying nightmare to warn you. You won’t reincarnate as a deformed child. You decide what matters to you and the only real reward or punishment you’ll find lies within yourself and is produced solely by yourself. Insofar as God exists, you create him, he will exist within your soul if you choose to cultivate him.
The only reason you can do such a thing as good, is because there exists no evidence of an afterlife where you’ll be rewarded for doing the right thing. Feeding the hungry in exchange for the promise of sitting on a cloud after death is not charity or virtue: It’s a transaction with God, delivering a service in advance of payment. And similarly, if you had evidence to believe in a deity who rewards your charity and punishes your greed, then any real freedom you had is gone. Who is going to let his pinky slip, if he is faced with the prospect of eternal torture after death as opposed to some #metoo allegations when he’s old and grey?
The Divine Shepherdess Speaks in Metaphors
I’ll say it again. The plants around you are not blind ignorant Darwinian actors on a quest to maximize their domination of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity. At least, they are no more ignorant Darwinian actors than you are. The boundary between you and not-you is an artificial one, the plants are extensions of your own self. The only reason you can even observe them, is because you have the neural pathways within your skull that allow you to contemplate them. They already exist in a dormant state in your own psyche as a possibility and they will show you different ways of looking at reality when you introduce them into your nervous system.
Among the plants, we can find nihilists too. Go out, find the Jimsonweed and you will be exposed to the sordid gospel of Nihilism. The first sign you’ll notice is a dry mouth. Then the delirium will set in. It tends to start out nice. You’ll enjoy music, you’ll generally find yourself surrounded by your friends all of a sudden. But then it turns dark.
You’ll witness the most frightening things. You’ll see your friends hanging themselves from the ceiling, or with blood dripping from their eyes. You’ll see terrifying deformed creatures. You’ll see piles of corpses. You’ll bump into walls, you’ll smoke cigarettes that disappear. You will probably injure yourself and you may never recover your sanity.
And you’ll learn nothing from it all. There is no message to decipher. There is no Gnosis. Why is that? Because the absence of the message, is the message. Datura is the silence of the universe, as man cries out in search of meaning. Do you wish to understand the totality? Do you wish to understand what your own brain protects you from? Then off you go, Datura shows you the way. Almost everyone regrets going there, but there exists seemingly no force that can stop mankind’s hunger for understanding.
But there exists a friendlier alternative. Salvia Divinorum tells you the same things as the Nightshade plants do, but Salvia Divinorum tells this story through the lens of absurdism. It’s not just coincidence, that Salvia Divinorum is the cure for a brain that has been damaged by the anticholinergic deliriants. Kappa opioid agonists are used effectively in mice, to cure damage caused by scopolamine. It doesn’t matter whether we’re looking at the molecular, the individual or the societal level: The antidote to nihilism my friends, has always been absurdism.
Absurdism is growing popular in our era, but it is rarely recognized as such. Everyone loves the Joker, a young marginalized man who dresses up like an evil clown and begins to engage in spectacular violence, for no apparent purpose other than his own enjoyment.
In right wing corners of the Internet, popular among young marginalized men, you will find the “clown pill”. You’re angry because your culture has been irrevocably ruined and your people don’t have a future? Well angry young man, the way to cope with it is to laugh at it. That is what the “clown pill” proposes.
If you were to read Vice Magazine, Vox or the Huffington post, then you would find essays arguing that these are dangerous far right extremist dog whistles, but the reality is that it’s psychologically difficult to be a young man in this society who had hoped to live a normal life. For every blue-haired plus-sized non-binary feminist with a five dollar a month onlyfans account with six subscribers exists the opposite reaction as well: An angry young man who spends his days making wojack memes and hopes to return to some forgotten golden era.
And if these angry young men were to smoke Salvia, the things they would see would be familiar to them. A creepy carnival. An evil clown with a terrifying grimace, who only speaks to you with sarcastic mockery. There can be no doubt about this: If you smoke enough Salvia you will meet the clowns.
The clowns will mock you. They will sit in a clown car, they will drive into your living room and film you with a camera. “There he is, the hero of our story!” They will teleport you into outer space and they will be vacuum cleaning the universe and telling you to hurry up, because they have other stuff to do. Your fear, your profound terror, is little more than a joke to them.
If you have no experience with this plant, you will think this is an exaggeration. “That can’t be true.” No, this is what you will literally experience. It’s more insane and more extreme than you hold possible. It is as if you’re transported to another world, an extradimensional circus. It might start out as a mere fantasy in your thoughts, but go deep enough and it will feel more real than your day to day life does.
I won’t forget the clown who spoke to me, as a corner in my field of vision ripped open and I was greeted by the sight of three evil clowns in front of a circus tent. “So, you think your life is difficult, and you think the solution is to head off to the forest at dusk and smoke Salvia? Well, how about I help you out and teleport your consciousness into another being. How about that tree?”
These clowns have one message to teach you: At some level, you need to treat this all as a joke. You need to avoid falling for the temptation of treating it all as real. You’re not just one random guy or gal among many. How is a man supposed to cope, with the realization that he was born into privilege and could have spent his childhood in a concentration camp instead? The answer is that you shouldn’t take this life too seriously. You need to allow yourself some disbelief, some solipsism, some doubt about whether all of this is real. And most importantly: You need to allow yourself to have importance.
The other thing you will notice, is that in the Salvia world, you are not a nobody. You are a celebrity. In my own experiences, they have movie posters of me on buildings, they have toy stores where they sell action figurines of me and my friends. Why does this plant do this to my consciousness?
The reason is because it’s giving you another message: This is your story. You need to treat it as your story, in which you play the role of the hero. Don’t treat yourself as merely a cog in the machine. Recognize that you’re existing in a tool for what effectively amounts to narrative fiction.
When we watch Star Wars, we don’t ask ourselves how some hobo from Tatooine can destroy a Death Star with no real training, or how a bunch of little toy bears manage to defeat the Stormtroopers. They’re the good guys, they are on the right side of history and that is enough to win. They demonstrate the bravery, they throw themselves into the void, their hearts are pure and so the universe helps them out.
Our world is ultimately no different. The invasion of Normandy, where young men ran out of a boat onto a beach filled with the corpses of their comrades, succeeded because Hitler was asleep and nobody dared to wake him. The American revolution was won because the British suffered from a massive storm. History is filled with the kind of true stories that make more sense as stories than as things that truly happened.
What then of the other metaphors that Salvia shows us? The book with the pages? Again, you are a character in a story that is being told. Your brain constructs the illusion of continuity, but there is ultimately no true continuity between your conscious moments, they are like pages in a book. Why the cartoon figurines? Why does it feel like you’re on a psychedelic for children, like you’re watching a Disney cartoon? From the perspective of whatever other world you enter under Salvia Divinorum, you are little more than an actor in a story, deluded into believing there exists continuity in his experience.
It’s easy for a man to be paralyzed by the problem of evil. Why do people have to suffer such seemingly purposeless lives? Why are we destroying the only planet we know of with life in this universe? Why the cruelty? Why the suffering? What Salvia tells you, is not a moralizing lesson about reducing your carbon footprint and reusing your plastic bags. Salvia tells you: “Relax. It’s a story. It’s a joke, an absurdity. You don’t have to understand it all. Play your part, embrace the absurdity.”
And so, like the Divine Shepherdess, I say to you: Do not despair. Do not succumb under the weight of your own thoughts. Go out, smoke Salvia and be the absurdity you wish to see in this universe.