The materialistic and consumerist world in which we live encourages us to believe that we are all atomised individuals; we are all striving for our own personal happiness, which we are told can be attained by acquiring or adding things to our otherwise isolated selves – whether in the form of possessions, power or relationships. Similarly, when this sense of isolation becomes too depressing, we seek to heal only our own personal wellbeing, and in so doing we contribute to the notion that we are indeed just a solitary being whose consciousness is a private affair.
It is this underlying belief that we are all bounded individuals, rather than a connected whole, that spawns so much existential confusion and psychological suffering, and often results in depression, anxiety, addiction or other emotional conditions. It is also impossible to heal one’s sense of isolation by attempting to heal in isolation. The only way to truly overcome this quandary is to begin to understand how our own scars are the result of a wounded collective consciousness – and that’s where psychedelics come in.
It is certainly no coincidence that virtually every shamanic culture around the world uses visionary plants not as tools to fix some psychological imbalance within the individual, but to help individuals re-discover their connection to their community, their ancestors and the cosmos as a whole. Anyone who undergoes such an experience comes to understand how all acts of selfishness are driven by the pain of feeling isolated from the universal whole, and at the same time cause more pain by reinforcing this sense of isolation.
Once this is grasped, the path to individual wellness becomes obvious: we cannot heal in a selfish way, by tending only to our own personal needs and insecurities. Rather, we must play our part in redressing the collective sense of disconnection that has come to characterise our culture, leaving us all feeling so alone and lacking in meaning or purpose. The better this is understood, the easier it becomes to see all the ways that this can be achieved. By living a life that contributes to the restoration of these connections, we begin to heal the collective consciousness and therefore our own at the same time.