Sacred plant medicines and other tangents

I had a pretty long meeting with David on Friday. We talked a bit about my thesis but the main point of the meeting was to discuss ideas about the workshop I did at the PESGB conference a couple of weeks ago on psychedelic education. I’m keen to develop these ideas into an article or chapter. David’s pulling together a number of pieces on cognitive enhancement and thought this would probably be a good fit.

He’s going to send me a description for the special issue – and also promised to send over what he’s got been working on about Eros and education (which intrigues me).

His advice for approaching the article or chapter on psychedelic education included shifting from talking of spirituality to sacredness and/or reverence, to focus on phenomenology, and to resist the temptation to resort to persuasive but reductive neuroscience. I think he wants me to leap further into the profound. That’s not a comfortable place for me to go, but perhaps some inspiration might help. He’s still encouraging me to watch Jacob’s Ladder (eek), and read Carlos Casteneda.

David thought the notion of preparation in psychedelic education was particularly important, and there’s a lot of literature I can draw on around that.

Pretty much all these ideas are touched on by Peter Sjostedt-Hughes in his recent interview for Psychedelics Today. Peter’s interests overlap significantly with my own, and I suspect he’s much more qualified to write this piece than I am. I may have the edge on the philosophy of education angle, but only just!

I spoke to Peter this weekend about it and we’re going to meet up to discuss this and some other things, at the Breaking Convention conference if not before. And he’s agreed to do one of Richard’s Philosophy at 3am interviews, so I’ve been working with Richard on getting the questions together for that. That little task stretched me in good ways, because he works at the speed of light and I felt compelled to knock out thirteen questions as soon as I got the nudge. Concentrating on one task is something I’ve started to really struggle with; it makes sense that as my mind has become more free and open to new connections, it’s become less focused. I’m not sure it’s possible to have both.

But, I recognise that I am going to have to take action to switch to focused mode in order to make real progress with all this reading and writing. My chat with David yielded a couple of great ideas, and since then I’ve downloaded a simple, free social media blocker app for my phone, and subscribed to a programme called ‘Freedom’ which makes it really easy to turn off access to social websites and really hard to turn them back on again. So hard, in fact, that I still can’t access them two hours after my last session expired, and I have no idea how to get them back again. So I don’t think I’m going to be tweeting much.

I found a playlist called ‘Natural Concentration’ on Spotify which seems to really help to maintain my focus, and if the birdsong gets too shrill I turn to the Honest Guys’ youtube videos – particularly ‘River in the Shire’ and ‘Windy Enchanted Forest’ 😉

I think more in relation to my thesis, David told me about a book that brings together Newman and Gadamer in the context of religious education. Waterstones said they could get it for me for only £16 so I pulled out my birthday book token and signed on the dotted line. This foray also led me to the wonderful Waterstones Marketplace, which looks like a great alternative to Amazon. Noted.

David also suggested I read the chapter by Hubert Dreyfus in the Cambridge Companion to Heidegger on the Ontology of Art. I found a pdf online of the entire book (weird), so I’ll just print out the relevant section.

I think both the above sources are relevant to both my thesis and my interest in psychedelic education. In fact, the more I read, the more crossover I see. The paper I was reading on Friday for example – Carolin Kreber on ‘graduateness’ – argues for higher education as the development of certain dispositions such as responsible engagement and an ability to cope with the strange and uncanny. I have a few notes on that paper which I’ll be posting up over the next few days, along with some thoughts about the Stefan Collini lecture I went to last month, and a couple of other things.

My deep reading of Newman’s Idea of the University is progressing pretty well – I’ve had plenty of insights and it was a great thing to go through and consider every sentence.

So… all ticking along!

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