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Do Psychedelics Have The Power To Wake Us Up?

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Death: The root of all our fears. The underlying reason we hold back, take the safe route, stay in our comfortable abodes, and live platonic lives ruled by our fears. Death is the biggest mystery in our lives with the most speculation about what it entails, and it’s the fact that we can never really solve the mystery until it happens that keeps so many of us paralyzed.

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But is death really so terrifying? What if we could glimpse death before it occurred? Would we feel more open to life’s innumerable possibilities? Would we greet the demise of our loved ones with grace and acceptance instead of resentment and anger?

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The answer is yes. Because when we’ve seen what lies beyond this realm, the afterlife isn’t nearly as terrifying. When we’ve felt an endless sense of oneness, even if it’s still, on some level, only speculation, most will find they’re much more comfortable with the idea of their bodies withering away. Such is the cycle of life, though rarely do we humans see it that way.

They say perspective is everything. This is partly why researchers are now using psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and MDMA as a treatment for people with terminal illness. People who are in pain, depressed, and whose reality is seeped in despair are finding solace by being catapulted into an entirely different perspective.

The anecdotal accounts of perspective-shifting experiences from psychedelic substances are plentiful. But that’s not what I want to focus on here. I want to talk about the ancestral uses of psychedelics, as well as the modern research in regards to the benefits of these substances for healing our negative attitudes towards death.

The Death Of The Ego

It’s important when talking about death to talk about the ego, the ‘I’, the driving force behind the majority of our motivations as inherently selfish humans.

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When we take psychedelic substances, we experience a death of the ego. We can see ourselves from a much larger viewpoint and our selfish drives that often lurk in the shadows are brought into the light.

In this way, although eventually we snap out of it and return to our daily lives, we remain forever changed. Perhaps after such an experience with a diminished ego, we find it easier to humble ourselves, to remember that we may be alone in the world yet we’re still all in this together. We stop making ourselves the primary and experience the world, our surroundings, and our loved ones in an entirely different way.

For some it’s quite subtle, and for others their entire worldview may be shaken. Either way, it goes to show why we are where we are on a collective level. For thousands of years, our ancestors before us revered psychedelic substances and viewed the Earth as sacred. Contrasted with a society that condemns plant medicine and puts people in jail for trying to challenge the norm, all the while destroying the planet and embarking on more and more missions of violence and glorification of war, it’s easy to see how perspective changes everything, and how our egos have gotten out of control.

The Ancient Use Of Plant Medicines

Perhaps the most well-known description of the ancestral use of plant medicines is Terence Mckenna’s Food of the Gods. Terence references the use of psilocybin mushrooms being revered by ancient cultures long ago. The evidence shows that as far back as 3500 BC, images of dancing shamans holding mushrooms in the presence of white cattle are painted on the rock surfaces of Tassili Plateau in Southern Algeria.

While it’s difficult to know for certain how ancient cultures used these substances during death, it’s quite apparent that they honoured them deeply. On every continent, in every indigenous culture, there’s evidence of mind-altering substances being taken. Even today the use of ayahuasca, peyote, psilocybin, ibogaine, and san pedro continues in tribal settings around the world.

It’s been speculated that soma, described as a leafless, rootless plant in the Rig Veda, an ancient text written by the Aryans who came from Siberia to India, is in fact psilocybin mushrooms.

“We have drunk the Soma; we have become immortal; we have gone to the light; we have found the gods.” (Rig Veda 8.48.1-15)

Modern Psychedelia & Acceptance Of Death

DMT, psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA have all been studied for their potential to help us better understand and accept our inevitable demise.

And what do we have to lose when a person is already facing certain death? When the worst has already been conquered, we can allow our fears to wither away and begin to try new things. Perhaps this is why we’re starting to see a reemergence of mainstream research into psychedelics for helping the terminally ill cope with death.

This is happening in the U.S., with huge discussions taking place even on mainstream media like in this New Yorker article titled “The Trip Treatment,” which talks about the reemergence of psychedelics as therapy for those approaching death. The article focuses on one study in particular, documenting one man’s experience taking psilocybin to ease his fears surrounding his coming death from a terminal illness.

The study involving terminally ill cancer patients is described by researchers as “two treatment sessions, one with the active drug and one with a placebo, along with additional meetings for emotional preparation and supportive counseling. The meetings are designed to insure comfort and safety for participants in the study.”

So far the research has shown promising results to reduce anxiety, depression, and feelings of despair in terminally-ill cancer patients.

Trickling behind psilocybin research is LSD, the substance that changed a nation. Before 1966, LSD was being studied intensely for its medicinal benefits. Thousands of research papers were published on LSD, involving over 40,000 participants. The famous author and psychonaut Aldous Huxley asked for LSD while he died of laryngeal cancer.

In Huxley’s famous interview with Mike Wallace, he had this to say about his various psychedelic experiences:

The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.

LSD is finally creeping back onto the research scene. A small study done by psychiatrist Dr. Peter Gasser in Switzerland which tested the effects of LSD along with talk therapy involved 12 terminally ill patients.

Gasser explained in his follow-up, 1 year after ending the study, that his patients’ anxiety went down and stayed down before their death.

A question apt to come up in this discussion is whether or not we’re simply deluding ourselves with the notions brought to light by psychedelics. The answer is unknowable. But the real question is: Who are we to impose the necessity of scientific proof upon the fact that someone’s life was made better because of an intimate experience they had with plant medicine? Should we all not be allowed the freedom to choose our own experiences, especially when it comes to preparing for death?

MDMA is also being used to help people find acceptance in their terminal diagnoses. A substance that was once freely researched in the 60s is only now making a comeback for its medicinal potential.

When we examine mortality, there is one very important molecule which comes to mind, and that is Dimethyltryptamine, otherwise known as DMT. Released only when we enter and leave the world, DMT is present in every living form on the planet, naturally occurring at higher levels in certain frog species and very few plants. To take DMT is to on some levels mimic the experience that comes along with death.

Rick Strassman, MD, is famous for his research at the University of New Mexico in the 1990s involving DMT to induce a near-death experience. In a world where even talking about death is taboo, experiencing it before it happens is practically incomprehensible.

Pure DMT is very different from other plant medicines, as the actual psychedelic experience only lasts for, at most, 30 minutes. Yet personal accounts describe no perception of time.

In plants like ayahuasca where DMT is naturally occurring yet combined with a myriad of other compounds, the experience is said to last anywhere from 12-24 hours. In a world obsessed with time constraints, this kind of trip is far more daunting than a 30-minute deep dive into one’s psyche.

Strassman’s research was made into a documentary as well as a book called The Spirit Molecule. There haven’t been any studies on isolated DMT since, even though it causes no side-effects aside from the discomfort encountered when we enter a state of no control.

A Good Death

While it may be a slow process, the medical community is beginning to come around to giving these methods a chance. Although nearly every study must be privately funded, organizations such as MAPS (the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) are making major headway in the midst of endless challenges.

The reason that governments and pharmaceutical companies are hesitant to help with funding studies using psychedelics substances is twofold. One, they would be forced to acknowledge medicinal purposes and have no choice to remove these substances from their Schedule 1 drug class index which declares ‘no medical uses.’ Two, the pharmaceutical industry, fueled by profit as it is, would be unable to patent these natural substances, nor are these substances the type of thing that people would find long-term uses for.

This leaves us stuck between a rock and a hard place. Death, as taboo as it may be, needs to be talked about. Both in the literal definition and the spiritual death of the ego. Were we able to tame our egos earlier in life, perhaps we would find more freedom to truly live and break free from our invisible shackles of fear.

Stephen Jenkinson, author of Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul, has worked extensively in the medical community helping dying people and their families. His powerful statement “Not success. Not growth. Not happiness. The cradle of your love of life . . . is death” speaks to our society’s aversion to this topic. We hide from it, yet in the end, it is incredibly important to infuse deeper meaning into our lives.

Coming to grips with the fact that one day we all pass away is liberating, yet difficult. To die a good death is to leave the world with a certain level of peace and acceptance. What better way to do this than to glimpse the ego’s death and see the world without our culturally imposed filters and unnecessary fears?

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Autistic, Alzheimer’s & Multiple Sclerosis Brain Tissues Have Significant Amounts of Aluminum In Them

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CE Staff Writer 5 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A 2020 study found that the aluminum content in brain tissue of people with Alzheimer's disease, familial Alzheimer's disease, autism spectrum disorder and multiple sclerosis is significantly higher compared to tissues used in the study as controls.

  • Reflect On:

    Could aluminum be playing a role in these, as well as other diseases? How does it get into our brain?

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There is no shortage of studies demonstrating that aluminum is present in human brain tissue. This is a problem given the fact that aluminum is neurotoxic and wreaks nothing but havoc on biology. This is firmly established in scientific literature. There is no debate on whether or not aluminum exists within human brain tissue, the science is settled. The debate is now focused on how much aluminum is too much. How much aluminum does it take to impact the health of a human being in a negative way?

A study published in the journal Nature compared the aluminum content in human brain tissue of people with Alzheimer’s disease, familial Alzheimer’s disease, autism spectrum disorder and multiple sclerosis with healthy controls. According to the authors, “detailed statistical analyses showed that aluminum was significantly increased in each of these disease groups compared to control tissues.” They go on to mention that,

We have confirmed previous conclusions that the aluminum content of brain tissue in Alzheimer’s disease, autism spectrum disorder and multiple sclerosis is significantly elevated. Further research is required to understand the role played by high levels of aluminum in the aetiology of human neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disease.

The researchers used tissue from twenty control brains of healthy individuals to compare against the brain tissue of people who have had a diagnosis of the neurodegenerative conditions mentioned. The fact that all disease groups had significantly higher brain aluminum content than the control group is quite concerning. That being said, it’s not proof that aluminum actually plays a direct role in each of these diseases. The important takeaway from the study and what we know about aluminum toxicology is that there is absolutely no debate, at all, as to the neurotoxicity of aluminum in humans. It’s just not a good thing to have in your body.

The study emphasizes,

Animal models of aluminum intoxication reproduce the neuropathologies and neurodevelopmental effects of human neurodegenerative disease, if not the diseases per se. Cell models and in vitro studies demonstrate mechanisms of aluminum toxicity known to be involved in human neurodegenerative disease. Perhaps the information that is still missing from understanding of aluminum’s role in each of the diseases compared herein is how much aluminum is too much in human brain tissue. The comparison we have made herein between control brain tissue showing no signs of neurodegenerative disease and the disease groups…is beginning to answer this question. Only further measurements on more donor brains will enable a definitive conclusion to be reached on the role played by aluminum in human neurodegenerative disease.

The authors make it clear that aluminum and its presence in human brain tissue “cannot be without consequence” given everything that’s been discovered about aluminum toxicity. There is a great need for further study here and to determine how much aluminum the brain, and other organs for that matter, can tolerate before there are detrimental effects. These effects may be short term as well as long term, and they may play a role in neurodegenerative disease like the ones the study examine. It’s hard to think that the high aluminum content in the brain tissue of people with these diseases  is simply a coincidence, especially given the fact that the aluminum content in “normal” brains is significantly less.

Once you start to see these sort of data together, once you start to see the levels of a known neurotoxic metal accumulate to these levels, it is absolutely inevitable that they will contribute to disease. – Professor Christopher Exley, lead author of the study, taken from the interview below.

Exley is a Professor at Keele University, and arguably the world’s leading expert in aluminum toxicology. Exley and his work is supported by many scientists from around the world, yet he is facing a potential set back with regards to continuing his research on aluminum and disease. One hundred scientists came together and recently wrote a letter of support, stating,

We are writing to express our concern over the possible interruption of research on aluminum and disease conducted by Christopher Exley and his group in your (Keele) University. We feel that Christopher Exley’s work conducted for so many years in line with the previous research of late Pr Birchall at Keele University has been an important service to the scientific community, patients and society in Europe and globally. We firmly declare that Pr Exley has always defended rigorous research independent of commercial conflicts of interest, and has freely carried out his research without any control by any of his sponsors.

You can read more about what’s going on with regards to this situation, and access the correspondence that’s happened between Keele University (Exley’s employer), Exley, and the academics who support his work, here.

Below is a very informative interview with Exley if you’d like to learn more about aluminum and its accumulation within humans. On a side note, ask yourself, what products and substances may contain aluminum that could be contributing its accumulation in various human organs like the brain?

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Texas Bans All Government Entities & Businesses From Requiring Proof of Vaccination

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CE Staff Writer 4 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Greg Abbott, the Governor of Texas, recently announced that it will be illegal for government entities and businesses within the state to require proof of vaccination in order to access their services.

  • Reflect On:

    Is the idea of "vaccine passports" just? Should governments have the authority to implement measures against the will of so many people? Do we give them too much power?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

“Texas is open 100%. Texans should have the freedom to go where they want without any limits, restrictions, or requirements. Today, I signed a law that prohibits any TX business or gov’t entity from requiring vaccine passports or any vaccine information,” tweeted Greg Abbott, the Governor of Texas. He made the announcement on Monday and the news went viral across social media platforms and independent media outlets. It hasn’t really received much substantial coverage from mainstream media, in fact, debating or calling into question the idea of “vaccine passports” has not really been a welcomed conversation despite the fact many health experts have been condemning the idea since they were first introduced.

Texas will be the seventh state to sign such a measure into law. Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, and North Dakota have also banned businesses and government entities from requiring proof of vaccination, while Utah and Arkansas have barred just governments from requiring proof of vaccination.

As far as the United States as a whole, the Biden administration has said on multiple occasions that a national vaccine passport won’t happen. Instead the U.S. is working on a system that will allow Americans who travel internationally to show proof that they have been vaccinated. This will be required given the fact that multiple countries around the world will saying they will require it, like several European Union nations, and Canada.

Why ban vaccine passports? Well, there are multiple reasons, and I’ve covered these reasons in depth before. In an article I published in April titled “The top four reasons why some people, doctors & scientists refuse to take the COVID vaccine,” many of the points outlined indicate why freedom of choice and informed consent are paramount when it comes to COVID vaccines.

The fact that many of these points, as well as the doctors, scientists, and peer-reviewed papers that are raising concerns about the COVID vaccine, are being completely censored, and in some cases ridiculed and called a “conspiracy theory,” is also very unsettling and suspicious. You would think in a time of a global pandemic, all concerns that are being raised would be open to discussion, transparency and a healthy debate.

Critical criminology repeatedly has drawn attention to the state-corporate nexus as a site of corruption and other forms of criminality, a scenario exacerbated by the intensification of neoliberalism in areas such as health. The state-pharmaceutical relationship, which increasingly influences health policy, is no exception. That is especially so when pharmaceutical products such as vaccines, a burgeoning sector of the industry, are mandated in direct violation of the principle of informed consent. Such policies have provoked suspicion and dissent as critics question the integrity of the state-pharma alliance and its impact on vaccine safety. However, rather than encouraging open debate, draconian modes of governance have been implemented to repress and silence any form of criticism, thereby protecting the activities of the state and pharmaceutical industry from independent scrutiny. – Paddy Rawlinson, Law Professor, Western Sydney University. (source)

Is the push for vaccinating the entire population actually justified and scientifically sound? If it’s not, then why is there such a hard push for it? Is it really about our health? Or are there other agendas and conflicts of interests at play here? Why can’t freedom of choice remain for people who want to travel, attend sporting events and more? Do mandatory vaccine measures separate and divide society even more? Should people who want to take the shot and those who do not want to take the shot all unite as one to push for the freedom of choice? If a large portion of the citizenry can be made to believe that vaccine passports are just, what else would they agree to in the future? Would they agree with the idea that unvaccinated people cannot work, that it is just to take away their ability to feed themselves and keep a roof over their head? Would they agree with the idea that the unvaccinated should simply be exterminated?

A lot of questions, and important ones.

We are in a time where humanity must question the power and authority they are given to governments who implement these measures against the will of so many people. We have to question the motives of governments and whether they have the best interests of the citizenry at heart, or whether allegiances exist elsewhere.

Perhaps it is time to look elsewhere for solutions instead of constantly relying on our political system for significant change.

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Facebook Fact Checker ‘Lead Stories’ Can’t Answer Why My Report on Masks Is “Missing Context”

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CE Staff Writer 6 minute read

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Do masks work in stopping the spread of viruses? Do they work to stop the spread of COVID? Are they harmful to human health during prolonged use? These are all key questions that have been asked since the start of this pandemic, however, getting clear answers has been tough. Then came a meta analysis on mask wearing that I wrote about at the end of April 2021. This large meta analysis was published in the journal Environmental Research and Public Health and is titled, “Is a Mask That Covers the Mouth and Nose Free from Undesirable Side Effects in Everyday Use and Free of Potential Hazards?”  It looked at 65 studies pertaining to prolonged mask wearing to examine whether or not there may be any health consequences. In short, the study found that masks can lead to “relevant effects and consequences in many medical fields,” and also clearly outlined why the effectiveness of masks to stop the transmission of COVID is highly questionable.

Not long after we published our balanced reporting on the study, it was subjected to a “fact check” via third party Facebook fact-checker Lead Stories. When I clicked on the notification sent through our Facebook Page (Collective Evolution), it took me straight to an article published by Lead Stories claiming masks are effective at stopping the spread of COVID. They claimed that my article was “missing context” and were essentially saying the scientists who published the large meta analysis I reported on were wrong, and that they (Lead Stories) were right.

Lead Stories’ article and headline irrefutably claiming ‘masks work.’

Meanwhile, the Lead Storied fact check article did not address any of the points I made in my article, nor did they reference it. It felt clear to me that the people at Lead Stories didn’t even read my article, although I can’t know that for sure. My article contained science suggesting masks are not effective, as did the meta analysis, but it also contained a discussion around the science showing that masks may actually be effective in stopping the spread of COVID. It was a well balanced piece, and as a result it was clearly, inarguably, not “missing context” at all. It seems any article or scientific publications that even suggests may be dangerous as well as ineffective is just not allowed to be shared without consequences. This is censorship at its finest.

Furthermore, the bulk of my article, as well as the meta analysis, focused primarily on the health consequences that can occur from extended periods of mask wearing. The Lead Stories article that Facebook was leading our readers to instead of mine didn’t even touch upon that topic at all. This made me wonder, how on earth could a fairly recent, large meta-analysis published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal be considered to be “missing context”? And who exactly at Lead Stories is responsible? How could such a punishment and label be handed down on an article that wasn’t even read? Keep in mind, when a Facebook page receives some sort of ‘fact check’ multiple things happen: the brand’s content reach can be cut, and thus their revenue is cut. The brand has the notion of ‘false information’ associated with its name, defaming and hurting the credibility of the brand. And of course, Facebook users don’t see the content the brand posted as easily, and instead are pressured towards reading the ‘fact check’.

I decided to contact Lead Stories to find out what happened. The contact information on their website provides information for a man named Alan, and another named Maarten. I sent an email to them explaining my concerns, suggesting it felt quite obvious that they did not even read my article before labelling it “missing context”. Perhaps the title and what it implied set them off? But there was nothing misleading about it, I was simply reporting on the study. “Large Meta Analysis: Mask Wearing May Lead To Health “Consequences In Many Medical Fields.”

In an email to Alan I wrote on April 29th, 2021,

Although the article is more so about the physiological and psychological changes that can occur as a result of mask wearing according to the meta-analysis cited, we do not believe our article was read by you. The article clearly outlines many studies that show masks can protect against the spread of coronavirus…So we are quite confused.

Furthermore, this article wasn’t posted on Facebook yet our reach/distribution etc. seem to have been severely punished, and we got the notification via our Facebook Page. I’m not sure if you have put any restrictions on our page as a result?

Please let me know if this is sufficient enough to remote the rating.

Kind regards,

-Arjun

He replied,

This was flagged with a Missing Context label. There is NO punishment imposed by Facebook for that rating.

We are not directly involved in that aspect, but we are assured by Facebook it is only the label.

I have my staff reviewing the merits of the appeal and we will reply soon.

I’m not sure I agree that “NO punishment is imposed by Facebook.” Our business metrics stem greatly off of data, we watch data everyday. It’s always strikingly clear when a Facebook ‘fact check’ has dramatically reduced our traffic. Perhaps Facebook is not being forthcoming about its censorship of pages?

It took over a month and multiple requests to Lead Stories to finally hear back from Alan. And when we did he said:

“Your article is missing context, which is what we rated it. Let us know when you have added the context.”

Once again, Alan has made it clear he has not read the article, nor can explain what the problem with our piece is. As journalists who work incredibly hard, Facebook fact checking has become a joke where ‘fact checkers’ do not respect the hard work of journalists and have the power to hold their stories hostage with little respect given to properly stand by their strong handed claims.

The “missing context” label has yet to be removed, and thus we are unable to post this article on our Facebook Page, because if we do that message will come up for our readers – further harming out brand and potentially adding more ‘instances’ where we ‘repeatedly publish false information’ which is something Facebook has said can lead to permanent page deletion.

Alan has failed to explain how this article is missing context.

I stand by my feeling that there is nothing that Alan and his team can say about this article to claim it is missing context. I still assume they didn’t even read my article before putting a rating on it, and I am still awaiting an appropriate reply Why won’t they simply remove the rating, email me back, and apologize? You can find his contact information at the bottom of this page if you’d like to ask him the same question.

Dive Deeper

Click below to watch a sneak peek of our brand new course!

Our new course is called 'Overcoming Bias & Improving Critical Thinking.' This 5 week course is instructed by Dr. Madhava Setty & Joe Martino

If you have been wanting to build your self awareness, improve your.critical thinking, become more heart centered and be more aware of bias, this is the perfect course!

Click here to check out a sneak peek and learn more.

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