Our masters taught: Four men entered the Garden, namely, Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, Aher, and Rabbi Akiva… Ben Azzai cast a look and died… Ben Zoma looked and became demented… Aher mutilated the shoots. Rabbi Akiva departed unhurt.

-Babylonian Talmud, Hagaig, 14b in H.N. Bailkik & Y.H. Ravnitsky, Sefer Ha-Aggadah/The book of Legends

There is no stronger antidote to the intoxication of youth than the fears accompanying parenthood, and when I contemplate the prospect of my children (twelve-year-old boy/girl twins) “entering the Garden,” I become very sober.

The hazards are many. An LSD trip is not an amusement park ride, delivering safe thrills within set parameters; it is an intense, day-long experience of altered brain chemistry, and its outcomes are strongly influenced by many factors, both subjective and environmental. Psychosis and exaltation walk side by side; the dissolving of ego borders and the uprooting from mental certainties can be terrifying, even lethal. The thirteenth-century Jewish kabbalist Abraham Abulafia could easily have been discussing LSD when he wrote of “spirits of jealousy”” that gathered around him during his own mystical “trip,” even as “God touched my mouth” and “a spirit of holiness fluttered through me.” Over the course of the next fifteen years, “I was confronted with fantasy and error.” Abulafia admitted. “My mind was totally confused, since I could not find anyone else like me, who would teach me the correct path. I was therefore like a blind man, groping around at noon” and “Satan was at my right hand to mislead me” (Tr. By Aryeh Kaplan; see Diane M. Sharon’s essay in The Fifty-Eighth Century, ed. By Shohama Wiener, 1996.)

Beyond Psychosis, I dread having my kids physically injured or even killed while intoxicated by misjudging their own physical limits, disregarding the laws of physics, or simply driving a car. Although LSD is known for its peculiar virtue of provoking fantastic visions while maintaining and objective, “watcher” frame of mind, I would not want my children’s lives to depend on the steadfastness of that “watcher.” Instead, I want to serve as the watcher; the principle of ‘syag ;’Torah, making a fence around the Torah, has no greater application for me than in protecting the lives of my children through prudent parenting.

It is, however, the criminalization of drugs, rather than their inherent dangers, that most prevents me from serving as “watcher” over my children’s safety and mental health. Certainly, the hostile policies of America have kept me from discussing drug use in as honest and nuanced a way as I would like to have with my kids, for fear that their naïve interpretations and adolescent gossip might lead to serious stigmatization, despite our being a drug-free household. As a result, their main source of drug education has been their school’s DARE program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) a program awash with repressive mystique that violates my values, while its deterrence power is very questionable. My own father, a pharmacist with detailed knowledge about the dangers of drugs, gave up a two pack a day cigarette habit in the 1960s to deter my drug use by example. If such intimate heroism failed in the 1960s to exalt my experimentation, why would a local sheriff’s corny propaganda be effective?

Criminalization further assures that if my kids ever do mess with drugs, I will be helpless to assure “quality control” and maximize their safety. They will be left to procure their substances from whatever unsavory sources, in whatever dosages, for use in whatever environments, because they will lack my cooperation and guidance – guidance that could lead me to prison and loss of custody. American law thus throws up a huge wall between me and my children and all but assures that the spiritual possibilities of their drug use, it is transpires, will be seriously compromised.

Extract from Drugs and Jewish Spirituality by Lawrence Bush

Hallucinogens: A Reader
features essays by: Terence McKenna, Jeremy Narby, Albert Hofmann, Ralph Metzner, Rick Strassman, Myron J. Stolaroff, Gary Fisher, Charles S. Grob, Lawrence Bush

(Highly recommended by The Monochromatic Knight)

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