How Psychedelics Might Help Save the World (Or At Least Humanity)

Unless we change several factors of our everyday behavior, humanity is facing a serious problem of imminent extinction. Through an examination of the possible psychological and spiritual causes of the types of behavior that threaten the survival of our species, it appears that the judicious use of psychedelics could mitigate such maladaptive behaviors and replace them with alternatives that are likely to be far more adaptive.


The Problem

It seems quite clear that humanity is moving in the direction of destroying itself, primarily through climate change, but perhaps also through increasing hatred and war, each fueled by increasing wealth disparity and dictatorial/oligarchical governments.

Attempts at Solutions

Countries pass laws to require their citizens to be kind to one another and to the planet. They also make treaties to try to promote global peace and stability. The overall success of these attempts at creating external controls over human behavior has not been very promising.

An Alternative Solution

Rather than trying to control the behavior of individuals and countries by imposing external structures or laws, perhaps it would be more helpful to bring about a change in consciousness (which is intrinsically internal) in as many people as possible. A change in consciousness that might be helpful would involve moving from external structures and laws to internal values as a way of influencing human behavior in such a way that it would lead to more kindness in general—toward other humans and toward all life on the planet. This has been suggested by many respected thinkers, such as the Dali Lama, Thomas Merton, and Paramahansa Yogananda.

Psychedelics’ Role

There are two ways that psychedelics might contribute to a positive change in consciousness.

First, when used skillfully they can lead to peak or mystical experiences in which the boundaries of the individual ego dissolve and one knows that they are intimately connected through love to everything and everyone else on the planet. After having had such an experience most people find that it is much more difficult do things that are harmful to anything or anyone. This is one of the more generic outcomes of mental health research on psychedelics that shows they may be very therapeutic in treating depression, anxiety, addictions, and a variety of other mental health conditions.

Psychedelics’ second possible contribution to a positive change in consciousness has to do with acquiring helpful information about how best to save the planet. When one’s mind is opened up to connections with all other life forms, it is possible that these other life forms may actually provide helpful information to the person having the psychedelic experience. This is not unlike the way that a shaman’s journey can lead to being helped, guided, and informed by shamanic allies outside of physical reality. For many centuries shamans in the Amazon have used a variety of techniques to access such connections, with the use of ayahuasca and other plant-based psychedelics being one of them.

Where to Start

As noted above, psychedelics have a long history of helping humans, especially those working as shamans, to make positive and helpful connections with all life forms. Positive connections can also be facilitated between humans (MDMA seems especially powerful in this domain). It therefore seems logical to start with ways of expanding consciousness in as many people as possible who are interested in doing so, whether through the use of psychedelics or through non-drug techniques such as Holotropic Breathwork and a variety of ancient spiritual practices. Experiencing such expanded states of consciousness together, might be particularly helpful for groups with a particular need for positive and helpful connections.

Palestinians, Israelis, and Ayahuasca: Can Psychedelics Promote Reconciliation?
Dr. Leor Roseman, Centre for Psychedelic Research, Imperial College London

Perhaps if those who create laws were exposed to more information about the possible benefits to humanity of psychedelics and enriched states of wellbeing, they would be inclined to repeal laws that hinder research and develop new ways for communities to safely access psychedelics.

Conclusion

Humanity and this planet face a very real crisis with regard to its survival. If more people could have access to ways to expand consciousness, such as the careful use of psychedelics substances, there is a chance that enough wisdom could be acquired by enough people to avert disaster.