Sunday, June 18, 2017

Book review: Trying Not to Try, by Edward Slingerland

The thing about ancient Chinese philosophy is, it's ancient. As relevant as the core teachings might still be, the metaphors and original context sometimes suffer from antiquity so severe that many modern-day folks (myself included) simply can't relate, and therefore miss the message. These days one typically isn't faced with dilemmas such as how to most elegantly butcher an ox for ceremonial offering, or what to do with a crop of comically oversized gourds.

And from a Western point of view, the other thing about ancient Chinese philosophy is, it's Chinese. That is to say, it's incredibly foreign. Many Westerners (myself included) sometimes struggle to understand even modern Chinese culture, simply because Western and Chinese cultures differ so greatly. The two take radically different approaches even to something as fundamental as language: non-tonal pronunciation versus tonal, a phonetic alphabet versus a complex logography, etc.

Friday, April 28, 2017

A secular commentary on Ayahuasca

Discussions about Ayahuasca often come saturated with mystical or spiritual overtones. This is particularly true of discussions that involve the discovery of Ayahuasca, the "intelligence" of Ayahuasca, and the concept of Mother Ayahuasca. In this post I'll go against the grain and take a very down-to-earth, nonspiritual approach to discussing these three aspects of Ayahuasca. (The video version of this post can be found here.)

My only goal here is to offer some different perspectives on these topics. I am no expert, and I'm not trying to prove anyone wrong, so take this for what it's worth.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Preparing for an Ayahuasca Retreat, Part 4: the Psychological Effects of Ayahuasca

I spent twelve days in the Amazon rainforest attending an Ayahuasca retreat where we drank the brew on seven nights. It was both the most difficult and the most therapeutic experience of my life. In part 1 of this blog series I discussed some preliminary considerations regarding Ayahuasca. In part 2 I discussed the preparatory diet. In part 3 I discussed dosages and the physical effects of Ayahuasca.

Here in part 4 I'll be discussing the psychological effects, broken up into four phases: the come-up, the plateau, the comedown, and the residual after-effects. (The video version of this post can be found here.)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Preparing for an Ayahuasca Retreat, Part 3: Dosages, and the Physical Effects of Ayahuasca

I spent twelve days in the Amazon rainforest attending an Ayahuasca retreat where we drank the brew on seven nights. It was both the most difficult and the most therapeutic experience of my life. In part 1 of this blog series I discussed some preliminary considerations regarding Ayahuasca, and in part 2 I discussed the preparatory diet. Here in part 3 I'll be discussing dosages, and the physical effects of Ayahuasca intoxication. (The video version of this post can be found here.)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Preparing for an Ayahuasca Retreat, Part 2: The Diet

I spent twelve days in the Amazon rainforest attending an Ayahuasca retreat where we drank the brew on seven nights. It was both the most difficult and the most therapeutic experience of my life. In part 1 of this blog series I discussed some preliminary considerations. Here in part 2 I'll be discussing the preparatory diet, which helps minimize the chance of adverse reactions, and which helps prepare your innards for the potentially grueling task of drinking Ayahuasca. (The video version of this post can be found here.)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Preparing for an Ayahuasca Retreat, Part 1: Preliminary Considerations

I spent twelve days in the Amazon rainforest attending an Ayahuasca retreat where we drank the brew on seven nights. It was both the most difficult and the most therapeutic experience of my life. If you're thinking of trying Ayahuasca, here are some things to consider before taking the plunge. (The video version of this post can be found here.)