Greg Kasarik

"Act with Empathy"
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The Freedom of Religious Practice

Freedom for all individuals, of religion and from religion, is an essential part of maintaining a healthy, pluralistic democracy.

I, and thousands of other proud Australians find ourselves living in a country that denies us one of the most basic of human rights: The right to freely practice our religion. With our Consitution expressly prohibiting the Commonwealth from making laws that prohibit the free practice of religion and Australia one of the initial signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is clear that as a nation we are fully aware that the principle of allowing the free practice of religion, providing it causes harm to no others, is one of the fundamental cornerstones upon which modern civilisation is built. But despite this, the very act of practicing aspects of my religious belief could have me in jail.
I am a mystic, a person who communes directly with the trancendental Divine Mind, of which we are all but a part. I have been fortunate enough to be able to touch the Divine Mind and my spiritual and religious beliefs are a result of my interactions with this Consciousness. My interactions with the Mind of God have allowed me to develop quite a detailed theology, which I am gradually making available on this website.

Many people will think that I am “wrong” about my religious beliefs and that I am perhaps, in the words of Richard Dawkins, “delusional”. I don’t particularly care; I believe what I believe both because it makes sense to me and because of the powerful, genuine and awe inspiringly beautiful nature of my contact with the Mind of God. I certainly don’t expect other people to believe what I believe. But, I do expect other people to respect my right to believe and my right to engage in the practice of my religious and spiritual beliefs, just as I respect their right to exactly the same freedom of (or from) religious practice. The whole point of religious freedom is that the correctness of belief is not held to be an issue.

In order to establish contact with the Divine I use meditative techniques and substances known as “Entheogens”. Broadly speaking, Entheogens are substances that allow one to touch the “Divine Within”, but in the context in which I use it, they are also substances that are non-toxic, non addictive and which are psychologically safe to use in an appropriate set and setting. In other words, with minimal safeguards, these substances are perfectly safe to use.

However, despite being incredibly safe, these substances are illegal in almost every part of the world. Despite millennia of use in spiritual contexts, the modern world has, against all reasonable evidence decided that they are too dangerous to allow people to consume.

But what are these substances and who has been using them to touch the Divine? The main ones are Psilocybin, which is found in mushrooms and has been used by the Mexican Indians, Mescalin, which is found in Cactus and is used by the North American Indians, DMT which is brewed into the potion known as Ayauasca by the natives of Central South America. Another is Cannabis, which has been used as an Entheogen for over 4000 years and has been found throughout the Middle East, Europe and China. Lastly, there is the more recently discovered LSD, which lead the social revolution of the 1960s, and of which the author Huxley felt so confident with that he took some on his deathbed, to better ease his transition into the next world.

For many people these substances are really scary drugs! But the truth is that each of these is non-toxic, non-addictive (although THC can create dependence) and psychologically safe to use in an appropriate set and setting. For example, it is nearly impossible to overdose on LSD, as the lethal dose is over 5,000 times the active dose. Compare this to the highly poisonous alcohol, which regularly kills at only ten times the active dose. Similarly, while our streets are being held to ransom by the random, senseless aggression bought on by the consumption of alcohol, there is no link between the use of Entheogens and violence. Indeed the opposite is true, with people under the influence of these typically experiencing a sense of interconnectedness and empathy for others that actively works to inhibit aggressive feelings.

Most importantly, these substances are not “drugs” in the pejorative sense of the term. Rather, each has the potential to take the user into the glorious, uplifting realm, of the Divine, where they are able to interact with the Infinite and reap benefits and understandings far beyond their current human comprehension. Entheogens differ from normal drugs, such as cocaine, crystal meth, heroin and alcohol in that their effects are felt to be transcendent, intensely profound and directly spiritual in nature. For example, in a recent study conducted by the prestigious John Hopkins hospital in America, 80% of participants who were given psilocybin described the experience as one of the five most profound experiences of their lives, on par with the birth of their first child, marriage, or death of a parent. None of those given methamphetamine described it in the same terms.

Certainly, these substances are not for everyone, and can be confronting, especially if one has failed to ensure that they are mentally prepared for the experience, are not in an environment that is felt to be secure and safe and with people who are trusted and understand the nature of the “trip”. For evidence for this, one need look no further than the disaster that was San Francisco ’s “summer of love”, which saw massive uninformed consumption of LSD, along with alcohol, cocaine, heroin and resulted in a massive spike in person’s being admitted to hospital after having “bad trips”.

So while it can be said that these substances require regulation, in order to prevent a repeat of the mistakes of the 1960’s, this can be said of nearly every area of human endeavour, ranging from sport to work.

The undeniable truth is that used appropriately, Entheogens are not only perfectly safe, but also form a key part of the religious practice of thousands of Australians, and as such should be made legal for religious and spiritual use by persons who wish to use these in pursuit of their religious belief. Failure to do so is not only a grievous breach of a fundamental human right, but undermines one of the basic principles upon which this country was founded, namely the freedom of all citizens to freely practice their religion.



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