Greg Kasarik

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   Home      Mysticism and Transcendent Compounds      Government Submission - 11 Feb 2011
 

Submission to the Consultation on Implementation of Model Drug Schedules for Commonwealth Serious Drug Offences.

An Australian Wattle. Be careful if you water it, or you might be commiting a crime.

Most people will not be aware that the Australian government has recently been investigating the possibility of making the ownership and cultivation of plants that contain certain Mind Altering Substances an offence.

In response to a Discussion Paper released by the Attourney General's Department, I submitted the following response.

In it, I have addressed only the question of this measure being yet another attack on religious freedom and how such restrictions are in violation of both Section 116 of the Australian Constitution and our international treaty obligations.

I did not address the pointlessness of such laws, especially as there simply is not any evidence that any commercial cultivation of any of these plants is taking place.

If I want mushrooms containing psylocybin, or tree bark containing DMT all I need to do is to access it directly from the Australian bush, where litterally hundreds of thousands of fungi and plants that produce these grow in blissful ignorance of the latest paranoid intrusions of an Australian legal system that is desperate to needlessly regulate and to pointlessly inject itself into the lives of thousands of Australians who use these compounds for religious purposes.

In making this submission and making representatives of the Australian Government aware of my activities, I know that I am potentially placing myself in danger of being targeted and persecuted by the powers that be and by thier gun carrying representatives. However, given that I and those with similar religious practices have just as much right to religious freedom as anyone else, this is a risk that I am prepared to take.
I wasn't born to slink around. I shall hide no longer.
 
This website contains additional information about the proposed changes and thier implications: http://www.gardenfreedom.com/
The relevant Government Website, including copies of the Discussion Paper, can be found can be found here
 
 
 
Submission to the Consultation on Implementation of Model Drug Schedules for Commonwealth Serious Drug Offences

Greg Kašarik - 11 Feb 2011

 

I am writing to oppose any attempts to make plants illegal on the basis of various mind altering substances that they contain. While I am sure that others will address the proposals in order to highlight their impracticality, I do so because your proposals are yet another attack by the Federal Government on my rights, under Section 116 of the Australian Constitution, to practice my religion freely. It is my intention to highlight that these additional restrictions are yet another attack on the principles of religious freedom as contained not only in the Constitution, but also under our obligations with respect to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Within the context of the discussion paper, I am seeking to address Question E:

Is an expanded list of plants appropriate for use in relation to plant offenses?
 
 

Transcendent Compounds and Religious Practice.

I use illegal drugs. I intend to keep on using illegal drugs. Their use is an inseparable part of my religious practice. 

More specifically, I am a mystic and both meditation and a class of substances known as Transcendent Compounds are integral to my religious practice and my experience of the Divine. I cannot in good conscience allow government, police, or judiciary to oppress me to the point where I feel that I can no longer engage in my religious practice. Like those of everyone else, my religious freedoms and my rights to engage in safe religious practice are sacrosanct.

The Sacraments I use have been made illegal by governments, not from any desire to oppress ancient and valid religious traditions, but out of a misplaced fear of what might happen should these compounds be freely available and an abysmal ignorance of their importance within the religious practice of literally thousands of Australians. That this is the case is made abundantly clear by your discussion paper, which contains not a single mention the legitimate religious use that many of these compounds have.  

Given that anyone with even a passing knowledge about the nature of compounds such as DMT, Psilocybin and Mescaline would have to be aware of their importance for religious practice, I found the failure to mention these aspects in the discussion paper to be ominous. At the very least, it demonstrates a failure by policy makers to engage and educate themselves regarding the very compounds that they are attempting to regulate. At worst, it represents an ostrich like desire to bury one’s head in the sand and pretend that what may very well be the oldest form of religious practice simply doesn’t exist.

Transcendent Compounds are part of a group broad group, known as “Entheogens”, as they allow a person to connect with the “Divine Within”. More specifically Transcendent Compounds are:

·         Non addictive

·         Non toxic

·         Psychologically safe to use within an appropriate set and setting.

Examples include and DMT and harmaline, both of which can be found in the sacramental Ayahuasca brew that South American curanderos have been using since well before the time of Columbus. Psilocybin can be found in the sacred mushrooms of Mexican shamans, while mescaline of the peyote cactus sacred to American Indians. Salvinorin A can be found in Salvia Divinorum, also known as "Diviner's Sage" and is used by the Maztec Shamans of South America.

Given that each of these compounds is non-toxic, non-addictive and psychologically safe, it should come as no surprise that each of these compounds is much less dangerous than alcohol. For example, alcohol, for which overdoses are depressingly common, requires a mere ten times the active dose in order to kill. Compared to this, person would (conservatively) need to take more than 500 doses of psilocybin at once. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there have been no recorded overdoses from any of the Transcendent Compounds.

Similarly, while the use of alcohol leads to anti-social and violent behaviours, with recent research linking nearly 60% of Australian murders to alcohol, those under the influence of Transcendent Compounds display quite the opposite sorts of behaviour. The highly spiritual nature of the experience and the wisdom imparted serves to reinforce the perception that all people are connected and that to do violence to another person is to do violence to one’s self.

Transcendent Compounds have no potential for addiction (unlike alcohol). This means that people do not become slaves to the substance and are free to consume it in a respectful manner, in environments in are conducive to the sacredness of the compounds. People choose when, how and where they will partake of a particular compound, without having their decision making short circuited by addiction.

Transcendent Compounds are powerfully psychoactive and provide an equally powerful conduit to making profound, beneficial and potentially life changing connections to the Divine. This connection allows a person to touch the Ultimate Reality of the Infiniverse in a manner that words can simply not describe; it can only be experienced. To connect with the Divine Mind is to connect with the Infinite in all its Glory. The Infinite is simply beyond mortal comprehension, let alone explanation.

But what cannot be denied is that these compounds allow people to form a powerful link with the Divine Mind, of the sort that is only usually reported during meditative trances, Near Death Experiences and other powerful mystical and spiritual states. To touch the Divine Mind is to be blessed with an ineffable understanding. It is to experience the totality of the Infiniverse and to realise that all life is connected on a fundamental level and that all experience is shared. Many modern religions seek to promote rigid dogmas of belief, rather than encouraging direct experience of the Divine. In doing so, they seek to divorce believers from their experience of the sacred and to make the very act of engaging directly with god a “sin”. Transcendent Compounds provide a direct conduit to what many would refer to as “god” and allow people to explore and interpret the Divine in a manner that makes sense on a fundamentally individual level.

Indeed, rather than placing legal restrictions on the plants that contain these substances, government should be doing all that it can to facilitate their safe use. It is my firm belief that these experiences serve to more actively promote a more compassionate, caring and tolerant frame of mind and that wider usage of these within appropriate set and settings would promote a wider cultural shift that better reflects these values.
 

 

Transcendent Compounds, Science and Research

Since the “discovery” of mescaline by Americans working with local Indian tribes in the late 1800s, there has been significant research conducted, in order to determine their effects and any potential risks involved. The result of this research is overwhelmingly positive. It has been discovered that they invariably promote pro-social feelings and behaviours. While nobody would deny the possibility of a person having a negative experience, or a “bad trip”, these are linked to the amount taken, the mindset of the person consuming and the environment in which they do so, the so called “set and setting”. Through educating users, the potential for bad trips is greatly minimised. Despite the avalanche of selective and often misleading government propaganda, there is simply no conclusive evidence that any of these can cause long term psychological harm.

As just one highly representative example of this research, the power of the compound psilocybin, which is found in so called “magic mushrooms”, was highlighted by recent research conducted by the prestigious American research institution, the John Hopkins Hospital. In a paper published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology (see csp.org/psilocybin for links) the researchers reported:

At the 14-month follow-up, 58% and 67%, respectively, of volunteers rated the psilocybin-occasioned experience as being among the five most personally meaningful and among the five most spiritually significant experiences of their lives; 64% indicated that the experience increased well-being or life satisfaction; 58% met criteria for having had a ‘complete’ mystical experience.

 

Given that people were reporting this sort of impact over a year after their experiences with psilocybin, only a fool would deny that these substances are powerful conduits to spiritual experiences that go well beyond anything that people are likely to experience within the course of a normal lifetime. Only the disingenuous would claim that these safe compounds should not form a legitimate part of religious practice of traditions with which their use is compatible.
 
 

Legal Protections of Religious Freedom in Australia

Under Section 116 of the Australian Constitution, the Commonwealth Government is precluded from making laws “for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion”. While restrictions that infringe on the rights of others are obvious exceptions to this, restrictions that can only inhibit the rights of people to engage in behaviours that are not harmful to anybody is an flagrant breach of the intent of Australia’s founders, who waged a difficult campaign to ensure these freedoms were enshrined and guaranteed. Sadly, none of the Australian states have any such constitutional protections, but a basic freedom such as this should be guaranteed by all parliaments of the nation and not simply ignored, or used as a political football.

Needless to say, other people’s views about the correctness of my beliefs are irrelevant. The High Court of Australia, in its 1983 decision, “Church of the New Faith v Commissioner for Pay-Roll Tax (Vic)”, has already determined that for a religion to be valid it needs two essential ingredients:

“First, belief in a Supernatural Being, Thing or Principle; and second, the acceptance of canons of conduct in order to give effect to that belief”.

My beliefs easily meet both of these conditions and as such, my religious practice is afforded the full protection of the Australian Constitution.

While is violated more than it is upheld, Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Australia is a signatory, establishes that:

1. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

2. No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.

3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Clearly, unless one takes the a priori position that the consumption of Transcendent Compounds is somehow “immoral” (whereas strangely alcohol, despite its dangers and deaths, is not), the ICCPR clearly obligates Australia to respect the religious practices of those people, such as myself who use these compounds for that purpose.

Intriguingly, the country that has done the most to ferment and promulgate the international War on Drugs has also recognised the legitimacy of the use of Transcendent Compounds for religious practice. The American Supreme Court has found that the use of Transcendent Compounds in religious practice is legal within the beliefs and practices of religions known as União do Vegetal and Santo Daime. It would seem ludicrous that Australia, a country that similarly seeks to promote religious freedoms throughout the world, should seek to obstruct religious freedoms in a manner that even the United States acknowledges is wrong.

 

Religious Freedom: My Perspective, My Fight.

The High Court has clearly determined that whether or not other people believe what I believe is irrelevant. Additionally, whether or not individuals believe that my religion is “real” is also irrelevant. Like all people of courage and integrity, I believe what makes sense to me and seek to engage with my spirituality in a manner that harms no others. The freedom of religious practice is an ancient and venerable, one, dating back over 2500 years. Its importance lies not just in the fact that it allows individuals to engage in religious practices that make sense to them, but also in the rights that it grants minorities to freely engage in practices that while perhaps seeming a little weird to outsiders, are inherently harmless to both themselves and to others. It is arguably the bedrock upon which modern post-enlightenment civilization has been constructed and lands that fail to recognise and ensure the religious rights of their citizens suffer a huge ethical and cultural deficit.

While some may (and indeed have) accused me of being little more than a “druggie”, seeking a justification for my “fix”, this is not only obnoxiously and ignorantly slanderous, but manifestly wrong. My entire life has been a spiritual journey devoted to understanding the nature of the Divine. It has entailed investigation, discovery and the application of the hard light of reason to all my beliefs and has resulted in the development of a complex, coherent and even innovative understanding of the Divine Mind. (Sometimes, this journey has taken me in surprising directions. For example, the realisation that god can never know if god is God.) While exploring and understanding the Infinite can only ever be a work in progress, my thoughts can be clearly read and appreciated by anybody who cares to view engage with either me, or my writings. If anybody doubts that my beliefs are genuine, or constitute a valid form of religion, an honest assessment of my beliefs, which can be found at www.kasarik.com, will be enough to put paid to that assertion.

Modern democracy is built on the principle that provided that they are not engaging in behaviours that are detrimental to others, all people should have the right to believe freely in whatever religious principles they hold to be true and to engage in practices that bring these principles to life. While I have no intention of becoming a martyr for my beliefs, I am sick of hiding, sick of lying and sick of pretending to be somebody whom I am not. Like millions before me, I am prepared to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to ensure that my basic human rights are respected by the majority and that I can freely practice my religion without hindrance.

Because of this, I will continue to practice this element of my religion, irrespective of what the laws of the land might happen to be. I reserve the right to use Transcendent Compounds and to induct others into their use in a safe and respectful manner, just as I reserve the right to educate anybody who is interested about my religious beliefs and philosophies. In this vein, I also urge you to ensure that your eventual actions with respect to sacred plants work to end the current injustice, rather than merely compounding the problem by adding additional discriminatory laws that those such as myself will inevitably break, as we pursue our inherent rights to religious freedom.

 

My Plea.

In making this submission I am taking a huge risk and perhaps making the foolish mistake of placing my trust in the people who have the power to use force against me in order to persecute me and deny me my religious freedoms under the guise of a failed “war on drugs”. I represent thousands of Australians who are too cowed and fearful of persecution to stand up and demand their religious freedoms, knowing that if they do, their careers, families and even their very freedom may be put at jeopardy.

In having the courage to make this submission, I hope that rather than sending people with guns to arrest, or interrogate me, you will similarly have the courage to address the very real and pertinent issues that I have raised. I beseech you to ensure that the legitimate issues of religious practice are addressed within the context of any legitimate changes to the policing of plants containing Transcendent Compounds.

Kind Regards.

 

Greg Kašarik
www.kasarik.com

 


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