Armistice Day – 11 November – is a celebration that marks the armistice that ended hostilities at the conclusion of World War One. On this day in 1918, soldiers on all sides put down their guns, bringing an end to what had been, until then, by far the most mindless display of human savagery, ruthlessness and murderlust in history. The retrospective sense that it may have been better to not have fought in the first place echoes in the life of the psychonaut.
In the life of an ordinary person one struggles, and fights, and desires, and wins and loses, and always it’s a tremendous battle to satiate the demands of one ego, which yearns to be exalted. And then, if one ever sees the brick wall at the back of the theatre, one laughs because the battling is all so silly when there’s no way for you to ever really lose.
This is a microcosm of the struggle of nations to exalt themselves on the world stage – a struggle which is so bloody that if it ever stops being violent even for a moment we commemorate it almost a century later, in the hope that we never forget the price of peace.
Like the Great War soldier, the psychonaut has to learn how to put down his guns, but in a metaphorical sense. He has to learn how to be open to the world and to reality, to not be afraid of the inevitable, the indescribable, the ineffable or the incomprehensible. His is the path of the shaman, one who sees beyond, and who returns with knowledge that is not accessible from ordinary perspectives.
Putting down one’s guns might mean, spiritually speaking, that one puts down one’s more aggressive egotistic defences and accepts that one will die one day, and therefore that all victories on this earthly plane are fleeting, transitory, and not worth losing one’s dignity over. It’s the kind of realisation that one might just as well get on the battlefield as from a psychedelic.
Believing this means to value peace in one’s life.
Part of this might be to accept the inevitability of the future death of one’s physical body, and thereby to prepare oneself for the profound change to the contents of consciousness that will follow, instead of repressing it, panicking at every mention of it, or denying the magnitude of the chaos that will befall one over the horizon of death.
The vast majority of people, being materialists, can only look at the prospect of the future death of their physical body with whimpering horror, because materialists almost always bear the delusion that the brain generates consciousness and therefore that the death of the brain necessarily means the extinction of that consciousness.
A person who has seen beyond has had cause to put down his guns, because he knows that living a life that expresses an acceptance of the inevitable will cause the environment around him to be more harmonious than it otherwise would have been.
This doesn’t means that the psychonaut must martyr himself on the spot out of guilt. Putting down one’s guns does not imply that one become passive, or submissive, or self-debasing.
It simply means that one stop behaving like a traumatised dog, ever on the ready to lash out in self-defence, and ever vigilant to all possible new threats from any direction. It means to relax, to let go and to forgive. This teaching is in many ways at the core of all religious and spiritual sentiment.
The lesson of Armistice Day is that conflict has a time and place and when those qualities no longer obtain then it’s time for peace. A genuine interest in peace means tuning oneself into a frequency from which conflict does not arise, a place that a Pyrrhonist would all ataraxia, a Luciferian would call apotheosis and a Buddhist would call nirvana.