Cannabis and Alcohol Users Must Unite Against the Wowsers and Control Freaks

Some Kiwis might have woken up from a New Year’s-induced stupor long enough to ask: “What happened to the Wellington Sevens?” Well, sit down, folks – I’ve got a bitter and tragic tale to tell.

The short of it, though, is this – New Zealand is full of wowsers, and those wowsers saw Kiwis having a good time and decided that this had to be stomped down as soon as possible, lest anyone get carried away.

The linked article notes that the occasion was essentially “a two day party with a bit of sevens rugby on the side” and it died because “the organisers have slowly strangled the event with tighter and tighter regulations as the years went by.”

Amazingly, putting several tens of thousands of drunks in a confined space in the middle of summer didn’t end without problems.

But, as this essay will argue, so what?

14 years of what had grown to become the single greatest annual festival in the Kiwi cultural calendar, was destroyed by the Fun Police in a couple of years: “the wowsers have killed off the atmosphere that made the Wellington Sevens so popular.”

This year, an event that used to sell out a 30,000+ seat stadium in minutes has struggled to sell so much as 1,300 tickets. The general attitude towards the event from once-loyal partygoers is that “they can’t have fun at the event in case they upset someone.

The question is: why do we let them do this to us?

So what if a few drunks caused trouble and created a sub-optimally family-friendly atmosphere. So what? Do we live in a McDonald’s playground?

It’s time to stop the rout! Everyone who enjoys drinking alcohol has to face up to this fact – cannabis is already illegal and tobacco is being made illegal. What’s going to stop the control freaks from cracking down on alcohol once they’ve banned tobacco?

And will Kiwis do anything it when it happens, or just take it up the arse as we have done thus far?

Is it acceptable that it is gradually becoming illegal to have fun? Are we doomed to end up like the Soviet Union, streets full of dour, grey-faced citizens conditioned to be afraid to crack a joke or a smile, lest they fall foul of some bureaucratic juggernaut that comes after them like a pitbull?

New Zealand has to face the very real possibility that, as our population continues to age, we will eventually ban every possible avenue of enjoyment and turn the whole country into a giant old folks’ home.

Pissheads and potheads, its time to acknowledge that we have a mutual enemy that is only growing in power as the population ages and our politicians become ever more out of touch with reality.

This enemy has existed all throughout history, and it waxes and wanes in strength according to the fashions of the age. It’s an enemy that resents all fun, resents all happiness, and which resents life itself.

The New Zealand Wowser is the single greatest threat to our quality of life. If we do not begin to oppose them, we will wake up one morning to find that everything is illegal except for a curated, Health and Safety-approved set of behaviours on a short list.

Understanding New Zealand: Voting by Industry and Employment Status I

This article looks at what we can tell about the preferred industries of certain voting blocs based on their voting patterns. For the most part, the statistics in this area are fairly predictable, because industry types tend to be class defined and we already know which social classes vote for which parties.

There were few occupations that correlated with a significantly lower vote for the National Party in 2014, which is not surprising considering that National won the election. The most prominent was the transport, postal and warehousing industry, who had a correlation of -0.51 with voting National in 2014. As mentioned above, this can likely be best explained by the fact this is generally a working class industry.

It was a different story with rental, hiring and real estate services, which had a correlation of 0.49 with voting National. This is also not particularly surprising as it is an industry that essentially tries to generate money without performing any labour, i.e. by rent-seeking. Real estate agents and property managers are known for being the types that will do anything for a buck.

For the Labour Party these roles were, unsurprisingly, reversed – the transport, postal and warehousing industry had a correlation of 0.55 with voting for the Labour Party, probably reflecting the fact that if a Kiwi drives for a living they are very likely to be some kind of bogan and therefore a natural Labour voter.

One statistic that will surprise many is the voting pattern of people in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries. Many would expect people in these primary industries to vote Labour or Green, but it is not the case. These people are more likely than anyone to vote New Zealand First – there is a correlation of 0.40 between being in agriculture, forestry or fishing and voting New Zealand First, compared to -0.31 for Labour and -0.24 for the Greens.

This can be explained to some extent by the fact that people working in agriculture, forestry and fishing are more likely than average to be Maori (the correlation between the two is 0.22), and Maoris are significantly more like to vote New Zealand First.

The interesting thing about that is it shows the people who vote Green seldom actually have anything to do with the environment, because they usually live in wealthy neighbourhoods in big cities.

Green voters are more likely than any others to be students – being on the student allowance has a correlation of 0.55 with voting Green in 2014, compared to 0.34 for Labour, -0.18 for New Zealand First and -0.46 for National. They are also more likely than any other to work in hospitality – voting Green in 2014 had a correlation of 0.52 with working in accommodation.

Green voters are the ones most likely to be involved in the new technological occupations. Even though Green voters are older than Labour ones, voting for them correlates more strongly with high-tech occupations than voting for Labour does. Voting Green in 2014 has a correlation of 0.63 with working in professional, scientific and technical services, and a correlation of 0.70 with working in information media and telecommunications.

The Greens also overwhelmingly dominate the arts and recreational services industry. People working in this industry have a correlation of 0.69 with voting Green in 2014, compared to -0.17 for National voters, -0.13 for Labour voters and -0.18 for New Zealand First voters.

Oddly, there’s a pattern based on benefit type. Pensioners vote National (correlation: 0.50), unemployment beneficiaries vote Labour (0.62), students vote Green (0.55) and invalid’s beneficiaries vote for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party (0.76).

This latter correlation is both very strong and will be very surprising to many, until one considers that it is precisely invalid’s beneficiaries who suffer the worst from the Government’s refusal to reform our cannabis laws.

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This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, published by VJM Publishing in the winter of 2017.

How Much Has Peter Dunne Cost New Zealand By Stopping Cannabis Law Reform?

After the reign of Graham Capill, Peter Dunne vied with Colin Craig and Nick Smith for the title of “New Zealand Politician Considered Most Likely To Get Sent Down For Kiddy Fiddling”, as Dunne is also a highly narcissistic, sexually repressed, out-of-touch Bible thumper – the prime demographic. But in the cold light of day, not even a dozen Beasts of Blenheim could have done as much damage to Aotearoa New Zealand as Peter Dunne.

This article limits itself to calculating the amount of financial damage Peter Dunne did to New Zealand through his one-man campaign to prevent even the possibility of reform to our expensive, vicious and counterproductive cannabis laws.

After the 2002 General Election, called in the wake of the collapse of the Alliance Party, Labour Leader Helen Clark had three possible options to help her stitch together a Government: New Zealand First, who wanted no immigration; the Greens, who wanted no genetic engineering; and United Future, who wanted no reform on social issues.

In the end it was apparent that big business strongly supported both mass immigration and genetic engineering, so cannabis users and gays and lesbians wishing to marry got thrown under the bus for the $$$$$. Helen Clark signed on the Wormrider’s bottom line for the support of his 8 MPs and the rest is history.

After the 2005 General Election things were slightly different. United Future had less influence on account of voters not being so easily tricked by a television gimmick this time around, so Labour was in a position to try and unfuck the country.

Dunne was able to get a cabinet position, cementing his reputation as “Hemhorroid of the House” by resisting all progress.

He continued to oppose progress on social issues by voting against the Civil Unions Bill, a half-arsed attempt at a gay marriage bill sold as an ingenious compromise with New Zealand’s legion of elderly Christian bigots, and, of course, by not allowing so much as a discussion about cannabis.

After 2008 the conservative National Government took power, and naturally they did not repeal cannabis prohibition as it directly serves major capitalist interests to have a competitor to the alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical industries crushed.

Dunne managed to worm his way into the position of Associate Minister of Health, from where he was able to garrote all attempts at cannabis law reform in their infancy, most notably by skillful and successful actions in dividing the cannabis law reform movement.

The two most notable examples of this were declaring the grossly unsuitable fraudster Toni-Marie Matich to be the public face of cannabis law reform, thus damaging the credibility of the movement, and the Orwellian Psychoactive Substances Act, which made everything illegal and divided the movement into people who had read it and people who hadn’t.

So, aside from the couple of million that Dunne has leeched from the public funds in the form of an MP’s salary and perks, how much has he cost the country?

There is no simple calculation because it depends on the extent of the cannabis law reform that was prevented in the last window of opportunity presented by the Fifth Labour Government.

We know that full, Colorado-style reform would save New Zealand $500,000,000 per year in Police costs, court costs, prison costs, and lost tax revenue. Multiplying this by the 14 years since 2002, when Dunne first had his influence in preventing reform, gives us a figure of $7,000,000,000.

In reality, the Clark Administration would have likely brought in some kind of medicinal cannabis and/or decriminalisation in 2003/4, with full legalisation coming later, so the immediate savings might have been a third to a half of their final value, increasing as time went on.

This suggests a figure for the total wastage of Kiwi labour and resources due to Peter Dunne’s actions of between $3 and $7 billion.

This thought experiment ought to be a sobering one for anyone worried about Maori beneficiaries having too many kids and Chinese restaurants not paying taxes. If one politician can cost the country $3,000,000,000 because of moral and intellectual incompetence, all of our scrutiny ought to be directed at the ruling classes, and not on each other.

Understanding New Zealand: Voting Greens

Long stereotyped as a fringe movement for harmless eccentrics, the New Zealand Green Party appears to be following the general upward trend for environmentalist parties in the West as the social democrats continue to fragment into special interest groups. The Greens in New Zealand are large and established enough to be a political force in their own right and ought not to be considered an adjunct to the Labour Party.

Despite a nominal adherence to the left wing of Parliament, the Greens have a number of striking differences with the Labour Party to whom they appear shackled.

The most notable is that the Greens are a party for comfortably wealthy people, but not the ones creaming it. This might surprise many who still consider the Greens to be a party for students and semi-employed Golden Bay hippies. The correlation between voting Green in 2014 and Personal Income is 0.31, which is not as strong as National’s 0.53 but is much closer to that than to Labour’s -0.51.

Voting for the Greens in 2014 may have had a negative correlation with Median Age, but it was not significant at -0.17. This belies the image of the Greens as a student’s party, especially if one compares to the correlations between Median Age and voting Cannabis Party in 2014 (-0.55) and voting Labour (-0.70). This suggests that the average Green voter is significantly older than the average Labour voter.

The average Green voter was the best educated of those of all the parties, with a correlation between voting Green in 2014 and having a Master’s degree of 0.64. The only party to come close to this is ACT with 0.57 – National is the closest major party, with a not significant 0.20.

Also, the average Green voter was about as likely as the average National voter to have no qualifications. The correlation between having no qualifications and voting Greens in 2014 was -0.49, for National -0.43, for Labour 0.34 and for New Zealand First 0.79.

One factor that correlates highly with support for the Greens is not being religious. Not being religious and voting Green in 2014 had a correlation of 0.56, which was much higher than for any other major party (National 0.10, New Zealand First 0.12, Labour -0.50). Only the Cannabis Party was close: voting for them in 2014 had a correlation of 0.34 with being religious.

Unsurprisingly, Green voters are very unlikely to be Christians. Voting Green in 2014 and being Christian had a correlation of -0.57. This was at variance with all other parties except Internet MANA (-0.40) and Cannabis Party (-0.41). None of the other major parties are so antichristian. Being Christian and voting National had a correlation of 0.29, with voting Labour it was 0.10 and with voting New Zealand First it was -0.11.

Perhaps the oddest correlation is the one between voting Green in 2014 and having spiritualism as a religion. This is a fairly significant 0.52. This was shared with the Cannabis Party, who had a correlation with being a spiritualist of 0.36, and is a notable point of difference with the ACT Party, with who the correlation with being a spiritualist was -0.43.

Perhaps these points can be explained by the fact that cannabis use tends to turn people strongly away from the exoteric side of religion and strongly towards the esoteric side, an interest they will share with the spiritualists.

Although the Greens are mostly a white person’s party, there is just barely a signification correlation between being of European descent and voting Green in 2014 – this is 0.24. There was also a barely significant correlation in the other direction (-0.27) between being of Pacific Islander descent and voting Green in 2014. For being of Maori descent it was a not significant -0.09, and for being of Asian descent it was perfectly uncorrelated.

So the Greens are an odd mix – like Labour when it comes to taxes, like National when it comes to personal income, like the ACT party when it comes to education and like the Cannabis Party when it comes to religion. The only party they are really opposed to seems to be New Zealand First. Probably the bulk of their voters come from people who are educated in the hard sciences in particular and the humanities to a lesser extent.

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This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, published by VJM Publishing in the winter of 2017.

Is It Time For Gay and Lesbian New Zealanders to Lose Their Victim Status?

Apart from Rugby World Cup trophies, the one thing that New Zealanders fight for with the most intensity is victim status. Being a victim in our society is to wield the power of laying guilt trips on people, which often brings with it a free media platform to convince people to stop their behaviour and adopt others more to the guilt-tripper’s liking.

Once you have achieved the status of victim no-one can disagree with you without feeling ashamed because if they disagree with you they automatically become part of the oppressor class, who all New Zealanders have been conditioned since kindergarten to reflexively despise.

This social pressuring has an extremely powerful influence on the thoughts and feelings of the individual, but the problem with this cozy arrangement is this.

The reason why gay and lesbian New Zealanders have, as of right now, an impregnable position at the very summit of Mount Victim is that being gay and lesbian is not highly correlated with significant measures of social deprivation in the country today.

The average homosexual is actually fairly wealthy on account of being both better educated than average and being less likely to have children, a phenomenon known as the pink dollar.

There’s no denying being gay and lesbian once was highly associated with measures of social deprivation and disenfranchisement. This is inevitable when you can literally get locked in a cage for being who you are. The contention of this column, however, is that this battle has long been won.

Homosexuality became illegal in 1840 in New Zealand and legal again in 1986 – now thirty years ago – so the people that enforced the legal prohibition on it are all long ago dead and buried.

In the 2011 General Election, seven gay or lesbian MPs were elected to Parliament, which is almost six percent of the total – over twice the actual proportion of gay and lesbian New Zealanders (and this is ignoring the known homosexual MPs who are just not public about it).

If your marginalised group is represented in Parliament at 250%+ of its proportion among general society, so much so that when a law is passed in your favour the entire Parliament will band together and sing a song of regret that they didn’t do it sooner, are you really that marginalised?

The irony of the eternal battle for victimhood is this: once your victim status is recognised by your society at large, you are automatically no longer a victim, because you are instantly doing much better than all the oppressed people whose victim status is not recognised.

The reverse of this is also an irony: in order to get into a position where you can do anything about being a victim, you have to get into a position where you are no longer a victim.

This is why the physically and mentally infirm will always be at the bottom of society – simply because they are in the weakest position to advocate for themselves. It is exceptionally rare to meet a sick person wearing a suit and who is articulate as Grant Robertson.

So perhaps it’s time for another marginalised group of New Zealanders to get some attention?

If you are one of New Zealand’s 400,000 medicinal cannabis users, getting completely ignored by all parties is galling when you can turn the television on and hear Jacinda Ardern passionately arguing for legalising gay adoption – an issue which affects perhaps 50 people a year.

Every day you are ignored is another slap in the face, another insult. But no-one will bring up your plight in Parliament, ever, and merely to point out that it’s time for you to displace some of the wealthy and powerful people raking it in at the victim table is seen as effrontery (no doubt many people will read the headline of this article and become outraged without reading the body).

That’s a real victim of societal prejudice.

The Real Gateway Phenomenon Is The Government Telling Lies About Drugs

One of the reasons for keeping cannabis illegal is known as the Gateway Drug Effect (or Gateway Drug Story, for the cynical). The logic goes like this: people who try cannabis will like it and, in doing so, come to reason that drugs are awesome, and will then inevitably try heroin and die.

Apparently this happens with such tragic predictability that the phenomenon has taken the name the Gateway Effect – namely, that cannabis serves as a gateway to the wider world of drugs.

This reasoning, wrong as it may be, is almost logical. There is a Gateway Drug Effect, only – the gateway drug is alcohol. There is also a gateway effect related to cannabis, but it’s not what the Government claims it is.

The real gateway effect usually kicks in the morning after one has tried cannabis for the first time. Invariably one has already tried alcohol and discovered what a hangover is. Waking up after having smoking weed for the first time the night before is often accompanied by a sense of relief, as one might have been expecting an alcohol-style hangover only to find the cannabis one is very different.

So that next morning, and that next day, it sinks in that you have been lied to the whole time about cannabis. That evening, you start wondering what else the Government has lied to you about.

And then you’re on a journey down the rabbit hole.

That rabbit hole can take the neophyte psychonaut to some paranoid places. This is natural when one realises that the police officers who came to your high school to tell you that cannabis causes violence and mental illness were lying. They came to you as if they were pillars of the community, and they lied to your face about a medicine that you might have found beneficial.

Did they know they were lying? Probably some of them did and some of them didn’t. The ones that didn’t know were lied to by someone else – but who are these people?

It soon comes to appear that the lying comes from the very top – from the political class itself.

This lying and forcing other people to lie has the effect of devastating the social fabric.

If I go to see a doctor about pills I’ve ordered off the Internet, I don’t know if I can trust them or not. I already know that doctors will quite happily repeat lies told to them by authority figures, whether those figures are in government or the pharmaceutical industry.

A doctor will look you right in the eyes and tell you that cannabis causes depression if their paycheck is provided by a pharmaceutical company who sells an antidepressant that makes more money than cannabis could.

Does it have to be this way?

Teenagers are going through a rite of passage nowadays that is very common. It involves smoking your first joint and realising that you’ve been lied to, and then following the same reasoning described in this article. This rite of passage (Eleusinian Mysteries aside) is a modern thing – people in the recent past were generally more than happy to march into a meat grinder if an authority figure said it was to their benefit.

The astute reader might have observed the paradoxical benefit here – this exact cynicism about the government is what makes it harder for English-speaking people to follow dictators.

Still, there’s surely a better way to shock people awake then by putting an unlucky minority of them in prison and leaving their friends and family to rue the butcher’s bill.

The Government’s strategy of lying about cannabis to the detriment of the people it governs, and then refusing to stop telling lies even when it’s obvious to almost everyone that they are lying, has devastated confidence in authority figures for an entire generation of Westerners.

If You Want to Think of the Children, Then Legalise Cannabis

When I was working a cannabis law reform booth at a hippie festival in Nelson about eight years ago, I had an unpleasant encounter with a local hysteric. She approached us like she would have approached two fellows who were advocating to legalise child molestation and launched into a rant about the “twelves” who would inevitably get hold of cannabis if it was legal.

Before either of us could respond, she was dragged off by her embarrassed husband. If we had had the chance, we would have responded with an argument out of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook: that a repeal of cannabis prohibition would actually make it harder for teenagers to get hold of cannabis.

Now there is evidence that this counterargument was correct. The stupid thing is that, if one puts the hysteria aside for ten seconds, it’s quite obvious that legal cannabis is safer for teenagers than New Zealand’s current black market model.

It was found that in Colorado, where cannabis was legalised in 2012, legal cannabis stores generally don’t sell weed to minors. In a study similar to the Liquor Board stings in New Zealand, 19 out of 20 Colorado cannabis retailers refused to sell cannabis to a person who looked under 21 and who could not produce ID.

As can be imagined, a 19 out of 20 rejection rate is much better than what it would have been had the 20 stooges gone to tinnie houses instead.

Even though American teenagers are consuming less alcohol and tobacco than previously, rates of cannabis use among teenagers remains constant. Why?

It’s probably because, as centuries of relentless cultural brainwashing has ever less of an effect thanks to the Internet spreading truth about forbidden subjects, people naturally come to realise that they enjoy smoking cannabis more than getting drunk and smoking cancer sticks.

A short history lesson: the Greatest and Silent Generations survived the Great Depression and World War Two and incurred severe psychological trauma in doing so. This trauma was passed down to the Baby Boomers, many of who were fed into the meat grinder of Vietnam. Generation X, who followed, mostly escaped direct trauma but there are many who suffered secondary trauma as a consequence of being raised by mentally damaged Boomers. Now there are the Millennials, who are mostly okay.

It is not a coincidence that, as the generations get younger, they seem to naturally prefer smoking cannabis over using alcohol and tobacco.

This is probably because the less traumatised a person is, the less they desire the brutal sledgehammer effect on consciousness that alcohol has, and the less they desire the serenity-at-all-costs mentality that accompanies a tobacco habit. Alcohol is a brutal drug for a brutal age, and legal tobacco might prove to be an anachronism from a time when considerations like human life weighed far lighter than profit.

The desire to alter consciousness, however, also occurs frequently in people who have not been severely traumatised – and these people appear to prefer cannabis.

Cannabis tends to have the effect of making the user more, not less, sensitive. This means that people tend to avoid using it unless they are around people they like in a setting they find comfortable or in a mindstate where some cognitive enhancement, not destruction, is desired.

There is no good reason to limit the freedom of young people to alter consciousness to using alcohol and tobacco.

It may have made sense in an era when the life expectancy of humans was so low that few had the fortune to live long enough to die of alcohol or tobacco-related illnesses, but in the current age denying young people the use of recreational cannabis has the cruel effect of pushing them towards an early death from cancer or heart disease.

How Much in Taxes Would New Zealand Make From Legal Cannabis Sales?

With the repeal of cannabis prohibition rising higher and higher in the national consciousness, it seems like a good time to assess the economic impact of a change. The figure of $180,000,000 per year has been touted as the potential savings from a repeal, but how much tax revenue would it bring in?

The paper linked above suggests that the figure ought to be around $150,000,000 per year, but an argument can easily be made that it ought to be more.

In the first ten months of 2016, Colorado sold over USD1,100,000,000 of cannabis. This figure was so high that the total tax receipts for 2016 on cannabis sales in Colorado look set to be more than those for 2014 and 2015 combined.

USD1,100,000,000 over ten months works out to USD1,320,000,000 over twelve months or NZD1,830,000,000 at the current exchange rate. Colorado has a population of 5,400,000 compared to New Zealand’s 4,700,000, which means that New Zealand is 87% as populous as Colorado. Assuming that the total cannabis sales per person is equivalent in New Zealand and Colorado, we can assume from this that the market in New Zealand would be 87% of the Colorado one, or $1,592,100,000 per year.

Rounding this to $1.6 billion, we come to the figure of about $340 per person per annum. Hardened stoners might scoff at this figure, as it represents about one ounce per year, and New Zealand very likely has more hardened stoners than Colorado, but let’s assume this represents a conservative lower figure.

Simply taking 15% GST on this volume gives us $240,000,000 per year. So it’s fair to say that the $150,000,000 touted above is a very, very conservative figure.

This figure of $240 million is assuming that cannabis is not subject to some kind of vice tax in the way that alcohol and tobacco are. In Washington, the State Government took a 40% cut of the total sales.

The Washington market is not as well developed or planned as the Colorado one, and is thus much smaller. But if the New Zealand market developed like Colorado, a 40% tax would (even allowing for a 10% reduction in total sales on account of the tax) reap $500,000,000 per annum.

The likelihood is that someone on the Government side will end up making the argument that legal cannabis will reduce legal alcohol sales and thus alcohol tax income, and therefore a vice tax will have to be placed on legal cannabis to make up for the shortfall.

The majority of the country will find this logic entirely reasonable, which is in fact regrettable but this is outside the scope of this article. It will probably get pushed through.

In any case, the chances of a cannabis tax up to or even exceeding Washington’s 40% are very real, as New Zealand has a lot more inbred, out-of-touch, sanctimonious wowsers than Washington.

Realistically, then, we could count on tax money from a mature legal recreational cannabis market bringing in half a billion to Government coffers every year. This figure would be considerably higher if we did so now and got the jump on Australia, as there are legions of Aussies who would happily fly a few hours to New Zealand for a weed holiday.

Psychedelics or Meditation: Which is More Transformative?

Some people wonder which is the more transformative out of psychedelic sacraments or meditation. The apparent forced choice comes from the proscription against intoxication that can be found in many spiritual traditions. This article suggests that a skilled synergistic approach is better still.

Psychedelics can be transformative in an extremely dramatic way. It’s possible for someone who takes a powerful psychedelic to permanently change into an entirely different person in the space of an hour.

One drawback with the psychedelic experience is that, because the new impressions come so overwhelmingly fast and intensely they are mostly forgotten the next day (a similar but less dramatic phenomenon can be observed with naive cannabis users).

This can lead to a sense that one is forever grasping for a truth that remains, ghost-like, just out of reach. One is haunted by the idea that perhaps everything one knows is wrong, perhaps the world is entirely upside-down, and that, no matter how much sense it seemed to make at any one time, it could potentially be tipped upside-down again at any moment.

Such an experience can be unsettling, to say the least.

Meditation is the opposite in many ways. One cannot count on an immediate, life-shattering breakthough within an hour of sitting down to meditate for the first time, but one can usually count on some kind of permanent insight once one gets it right.

Some people take a long time to feel anything pleasant from meditation at all. Certain people have been lurching from one attachment to another for so long with so little questioning that their habits are far too deeply ingrained to simply quit.

Related to this, often it isn’t the actual meditation itself that brings a change but a secondary insight that comes from meditating upon the meditation. After one has had the experience of sitting down meditating and coming away feeling really good, it is only a small cognitive step to the insight that one doesn’t actually need external stimulation in order to feel at peace.

This insight is the beginning of liberation from identification with the contents of consciousness.

This column will resist the temptation to declare that meditation is somehow more ‘natural’ or ‘wholesome’ than taking a psychedelic. For one thing, much of the pleasure that comes from meditation is because the act facilitates the release of the neurotransmitter 5-hydroxytryptomine, which results in the familiar feelings of peace and serenity that accompany it (the main reason is that the topic has been discussed at length here).

In retrospect, a good way to explore the world within might be this. Take a psychedelic in the correct set and setting and let your thoughts flow freely as they do. Allow your mind to be expanded. Allow yourself to become awestruck by the infinitude of psychic impressions, allow yourself to become terrified, allow yourself to feel like God.

Then, meditate upon it all. Meditate upon the question of why ordinary life is not usually as awesome as it appears to be on psychedelics, and on the question of what is ultimately terrifying about the contents of consciousness, and on the question of what, if anything, is the difference between you and God anyway.

Allowing yourself to be shocked by psychedelic insights and then to take the fear out of them by making sense of why they occur is part of the shamanism of the 21st century. It is how modern shamans travel to the spirit world and wrestle demons for the benefit of their loved ones back in the material world.