A visitor to physicist Niels Bohr's cabin in the woods pointed to a horseshoe mounted above the door. "Surely, Professor Bohr, you do not believe in such superstitious nonsense."
"Certainly not," Bohr replied. "But they say that it works whether you believe in it or not."
Niels Bohr's horseshoe is a lot like quantum mechanics which works like a charm whether physicists really understand it or not (we don't). Niels Bohr's horseshoe is also like a psychedelic drug which can offer an ordinary person a glimpse of Ineffable Reality unmatched by what any religious ceremony can produce. LSD works no matter what you believe. You don't have to fast, meditate for hours, memorize the catechism, read the sacred books or go to church. NO BELIEF IS NECESSARY. As Terence McKenna once put it: "Now even bad people can see God."
Physicists are learning to come to terms with the utter madness of quantum theory and our society has benefitted tremendously from their ingenuity in deciphering what physicist Heinz Pagels called "the Cosmic Code". However our culture has yet to discover how to effectively deal with the plants and molecules that allow "even bad people to see God" in any other way than by fearfully outlawing their use and severely punishing heretics with long prison terms.
Raiding medical marijuana dispensaries and arresting Administers of the Sacrament at Burning Man are really bad ideas--such actions seem more characteristic of an ignorant totalitarian state than a nation that truly cares for its citizens' freedom, well being and sense of adventure.
Many primitive cultures valued psychedelic exploration and created social forms in which the use of psychedelic substances was ritualized and channeled into beneficial directions. If unlettered peoples who live in the jungle can devise ways to safely explore deep inner space for the benefit of their fellows, one can only imagine how a society that invented space travel, quantum mechanics, symphony orchestras and compound interest might benefit if responsible use of these remarkable substances was encouraged rather than banned.
Andrew Rutajit's video "Manifesting the Mind" explores some of the possibilities that the imaginative use of psychedelics might hold for a technologically advanced society. This Youtube clip is a trailer for Rutajit's video which is scheduled for release sometime in February 2009.
Also coming soon: "2000-year-old Pickup Line"
to be published here on St. Valentine's Day.