Welcome to Sermons From Psychedelia - a blog for sourcing the mind and mapping new dimensions beyond the imaginary. Dream sequences, hallucinations, and the insight they bring will begin to unfold towards a colorfully fractal hierophany.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Part 1 - Calcification of The Pineal Gland & Its Effects on Divine Consciousness

For many years I have considered the basis for spirituality as an essential component to our most basic biological functions. Although I sensed much of this, quite frankly, I needed a better model to be able to put it into perspective. Things didn’t quite fit together until I stumbled on the pineal gland a couple of years ago. This followed with research into work that had been undertaken on this gland by numerous professional disciplines. Following is a theory on how calcification of the pineal gland could affect our ability to fully connect with higher dimensions or enlightened spirituality if you will.

Let’s begin by looking at how the religious experience in the west and probably most parts of the world has been relegated to ritual symbolism as a means of connecting with the Other or God. Most of what we encounter to be a spiritual experience is only a symbolic gesture of an experience we are told took place between those before us while the actual experience escapes us. As a result we are taught that mere faith and the following of certain rituals is the spiritual experience – this is enough apparently to constitute a genuine connection to the divine. However, from my own upbringing in these very relgions who hold the key to the divine, I have found there to be little of this personal connection taking place. At best there is a group psychosis which evolves amongst adepts that can be loosely translated as a spiritual experience. But this type of experience is often times dependent on the group following the group in order for it to manifest itself – ie speaking in tongues and other charismatic practices. The trance that occurs is most often the direct result of nothing but a suggestion to people who are so conditioned to accept this suggestion. I don’t wish to include all religious experiences in this definition as I am sure that there are moments when some of these groups do experience the divine but translate it into thoroughly misleading concepts such as the evolved state of Christianity. In this purely spiritual context I have no issue with Christianity, it is it’s dogmatic adherence that tends to take away exclude others from this experience that worries me.

Indeed, often times, in the last century our spiritual side has come to be viewed as nothing but the unnecessary creation of the imagination, with no scientific explanation and therefore no validity in a logical and tangible world. Most of those who become nonbelievers or atheists are parting from the only obvious alternative – Christianity and monotheism in general. Due to this bi-polar schematic of spirtuality vs. non-spirituality it has often come down to being either a Christian or an atheist with no room for other alternatives. This deduced view of life serves only to limit our full potential as sentient beings and it also makes for easy control of the masses by dictating the discourse coming from each side. Both Christianity and science are based on specific models or guidelines which by definition confine themselves to a limited dimension of reality. These conscience limiting models are easily controlled by the powers that be, while obviously forcing us farther and farther away from our genuine consciousness. Both of them develop and depend heavily on specific stereotypes of reality.

When you begin to throw alternative concepts into the mix the control is suddenly not as easy to maintain as people begin to think for themselves, come to their own conclusions and ultimately change the rules should they see fit. This is very dangerous for the structure of our modern society and both of these seemingly contradictory belief systems. We are only allowed a left and right, good and evil, black and white, god or no god paradigm – again control is facilitated by fomenting this simple model and there is a great deal of energy put into managing this paradigm and expelling alternatives.

It is also worth noting that during the last century or so much of humanity has also begun to search within themselves for a new link to the divine. Some would say we are awakening from a five thousand year old slumber, a manipulated illusion and spiritual imprisonment by the forces of religion and science. As a result we have begun to search backwards to find out where that connection to the divine was lost. This has brought about the interest in esoteric knowledge, spiritualities of the ancients, the psychedelic revolution, alternative approaches to scientific disciplines and the like. As we have begun to journey back to a genuine personal connection with the divine there has been a growing attempt to suppress this reconnection on behalf of the two prevailing paradigms – religion and science. Both go out of their way to dispell any alternative which claims to offer a personal relationship with the divine. To what extent they may go to in order to keep us away from our ultimate divine potential is the basis of this series of essays on the calcification of the pineal gland.

It is important to keep in mind that the following essays are assumptions in which to begin to make an argument for a conscious and deliberate plan to limit our communicative abilities with the divine – a conspiracy of the most sinister sort. This work is not a conclusion but speculation based on the sum of accumulating various research which leads me to question the possibility of a concerted effort to block our own “Godlike” potential as true sentient beings. This assumption begins with the pineal gland.

For those of you who do not know the pineal gland, it is a is a small endocrine gland that is located near the center of the brain, between the two hemispheres and outside of the brain/blood barrier. It is shaped like a tiny pine cone (hence its name). Until recently this gland was considered to be a vestige of a more primitve brain structure and apparently served no particular purpose. However, research into the pineal gland over the years has revealed it to be a central organ that dictates many other functions within us. It’s primary fuunction is to produce an amino acid called tryptophan which converts to seratonin and melatonin for distribution throughout the central nervous system. Melatonin is a hormone that affects the modulation of wake/sleep patterns and photoperiodic functions (seasonal) functions and recently has been identified as a regulator of other hormones as well. It is light sensitive and these signals communicate to the gland through responses sent from the retina. Melatonin also influences aging, the balance of our immune system, sexual reproduction functions, and our sense of direction among others. The pineal gland is also known to be sensitve to electromagnetic energy and the production of melatonin is directly related to the different stimuli provided by this energy. Researchers have found magnetites near the gland which are speculated to be the residual of a homing potential to geomagnetic directional cues (similar to those of Pigeons and whales). The dysfunction of this gland has shown to adversely effect each of the mentioned functions and research continues in many other areas.

The pineal gland has also played a significant role in metaphysics throughout history. In the 17th century the french philosopher, physicist RenĂ© Descartes who centered much of his work on the pineal gland called it the “seat of the soul”. Earlier still, Hindu traditions have referred to it as the “third eye” where you can see it depicted as an eye on the forehead in many artist renditions of the god Shiva. In Hinduism, the pineal gland is also related to the sixth chakra or Sahasrara chakra which symbolizes detachment from illusion; an essential element in obtaining higher consciousness of the truth that one is all and all is one. It is through this chakra – the pineal gland as we know it in the west – that we are able to channel down enregy from the heavens and into our consciousness. Interesting too is the appearance of the gland at precisely forty nine days in developing fetuses. This period coincides precisely with the 49 days that Tibetan buddhists believe to be the time it takes for the soul to leave one body and reincarnate into another into the next body. Coincidentally, it has been said by some Christians (notably St. Augustine) that it takes 40 days for the soul to enter into the fetus. Scientific research into this appearance has also shown that at 49 days when the gland appears there is also a discharge of melatonin which serves to regulate the developing functions of the growing fetus. Still further, the Egyptians would remove the brain of their pharohs with the belief that by disconnecting their spirit from the carnate world they would automatically transcend into the heavens to become Gods. If the brain and most importantly the pineal gland, remained then they would continue the cycle of reincarnation from one body to the next.
Most recently there have been attempts to reconcile both the metaphysical and scientific functions of the pineal gland. Dr. Rick Strassman performed extensive government funded research on the pineal gland in the 1990’s and he speculates that it may be able to produce a powerful psychedelic known as DMT. DMT (N-N dimethyltriptamine, 5-MeO-DMT) is a plant based alkaloid which is nearly identical in chemical structure to Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine). DMT has been discovered naturally in humans, particularly in the lungs, but also in the brain. Strassman pointed out that the pineal gland is more capable than any other tissue in the human body to synthesize DMT from its precursor melatonin, it apparently possesses the prerequisite biochemical structure and transforming enzymes that would make this possible. To date there is no further research into why or how the body can produce DMT without exogenous plant based stimuli. His work is so far inconclusive and we do not know yet that the pineal gland can actually produce DMT.
However, his work is groundbreaking in that it opens the door for more research into the area of the Pineal Gland and it’s relationship to the divine or the location where the soul is physically manifested . His hypothesis serves as a starting point for further investigation – through his work he speculated that DMT is produced at critical or very stressful moments such as the near death experience, death itself, birth, intense mystical experiences, etc. The pineal gland is well protected due to its location but it can be overridden in these stressful moments and thus possibly be provoked to produce the DMT according to his argument. He lays a specfic biological foundation for the possibility that the pineal gland is the very location where the DMT is synthesizd naturally. In his book The Spirit Molecule, Strassman says, “The similarities between naturally occurring and DMT-induced phenomena support my suggestion that spontaneously occurring ‘psychedelic’ experiences are mediated by elevated levels of endogenous DMT.” This begs to be studied further.

What is known and lends itself to Strassman’s hypothesis, is that when DMT does occur naturally in the body, it is quickly broken down by enzymes which keep it in check. These enzymatic functions degrade as life nears an end or reaches critical stress levels and this could very well rigger a significant rise in the levels of DMT being produced by the body to equal those experienced in ritualistic use of the same compound as an externally induced psychedelic.

DMT is the prinicpal psychoactive compound taken in many native American brews and snuffs. It has been used for thousands of years in spiritual ceremonies and healing processes by many tribes in South America, most notably the brew called Ayahuasca which is comprised of two essential components, the DMT and a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (any of various beta carboline containing plants used in the brew) which prevents the DMT from being immediately broken down and metabolized. These concoctions are beleived to be the vehicle to direct communication with the divine whence the shamans or curanderos are able to recieve hidden wisdom and insights that can be used to heal or give guidance in spiritual matters. The relationship to the psychedelic effects of plant based DMT consumption and those witnessed by people who have had near death experiences are strikingly similar and it is very typical for users to walk away with a hightened awareness of spirituality and connectedness with the divine.

We now have a basis to begin to explain how the known and speculative attributes of the pineal gland may influence the physiology of the spirit as well as other biological functions. In part two of this series I’ll begin to oultine the various effects that a dysfunctional pineal gland has on both of these and how this dysfunction occurs.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – Calcification of The Pineal Gland and Its Effects on Divine Consciousness...

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