The Tree of Life

Mankind has been using the cannabis plant for thousands of years, it has given us food, fuel and shelter. Some of the oldest artifacts of ancient man show how early and comprehensive our interactions with the hemp plant have been.

The seeds, it’s fruit, are an excellent source of nourishment, and have been used as a food source since recorded time. It’s fibers have been used as rope and textiles, it has lashed our homes together, clothed us and powered our great sailings ships. Hemp seed oil has lit our lamps, bringing light into our darkest nights, it can even fuel our modern means of transportation. Henry Ford designed his first cars to run on hemp based bio-fuels. There are thousands of ways we have found the hemp plant beneficial to our physical survival and comfort.

Cannabis has also secured its place in our religious and spiritual lives, the intoxicating effects of THC have been associated with numerous religious traditions. In Hindu beliefs the god Shiva is said to have discovered cannabis’ “rejuvenating” qualities and is sometimes pictured with Bhang, a beverage made with cannabis still widely used in India today.

Some entomologists have argued that the holy anointing oil of the Bible contains cannabis as one of its main ingredients. The Sufi leader Haydar is said to have promoted the use of cannabis for spiritual purposes and Sihk worriers used it to treat fatigue and wounds, mental and physical, sustained on the battlefield. Today Rastafarians use cannabis regularly for both recreation and religious purposes, espaousing its physical and mental benefits.

Nearly all cultures that have related spirituality with cannabis have spoken of a “lightening of the heart” and a feeling of inter-connectedness with with world. Not just the world of man, but the animal and inanimate worlds as well. A sense of belonging to and being of natural world, not simply some distinct identity apart and separate from it. Many describe heightened awareness of nuance in music and art, feeling more like they are part of it than simply as an observer.

“The cannabis experience has greatly improved my appreciation for art, a subject which I had never much appreciated before. The understanding of the intent of the artist which I can achieve when high sometimes carries over to when I’m down. This is one of many human frontiers which cannabis has helped me traverse.” Carl Sagan

For some the use of cannabis is a truly spiritual experience, one of harmony and wholeness with the world, bringing a sense of peace and tranquility to their lives. It may not be for every one, and some may just be getting high, but to others it is a loving and life affirming sacrament of spiritual awakenings. Giving insights into the human condition and how we all share this amazing adventure, with the ability to sustain us in mind, body and soul it truly is a tree of life.

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Charlie’s Challenge

I love Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, a comedy classic. The movie is greater than the sum of its parts, but one of those parts stands out, the speech Chaplin gives at the end of the movie. In that speech he touches on the hope for humanity, and sets before us a challenge, one to form a more reasoned and compassionate world.

Even on the verge of WWII he offers us a view of what we could be, with the strength of our ingenuity and the force of compassion we could make this world a free and beautiful place. He recognized how modern communications, even back then, held the key to universal brotherhood, that our ablility to communicate with each other would begin to usher in a more enlightened humanity.

Today we still struggle to take on that challenge, to put aside our hate and greed, to view all mankind as our brothers and sisters, to give our youth a future, to give comfort and security to old age, and to give, those who can, a chance to work in humane and equatable conditions.

I watch this speech at least once a month, I like to find new versions that people make, there are some truly entertaining and illuminating ways fans have used this soundtrack with their creative video behind it. I urge all to listen at least once, and even search around the web for fan videos.

To get you started:

The Original

A Stirring Fan Made

For more check out my HubPages article about The Greatest Speech of All Time.

 

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Resist Not the Unchill

With all the hubbub around the Aurora shooting and anti-gay sandwiches at Chi-Fil-A, Dudeists may be wondering, what can/should we do? The line “this aggression will not stand man” comes to mind, but how is that accomplished? We can’t be lured into using aggression to undo aggression. In the Bible it says, “resist not evil” (Matthew 5:39), to understand that is to know that un-Dudeness can not counter other un-Dudeness. If we get sucked into arguments that go nowhere and just raise the level of disharmony, then we also become part of the problem. 

Two major debates are raging on the internet theses days, gun control and “Chicken-gate”, seems everyone has opinions to share on these topics. Opinions that are, at times, emotionally charged with hyperbolic claims and language, at the heart of these debates is freedom and how different people interpret that freedom.

In the case of Chic-Fil-A, almost no one says that Cathy doesn’t have the right to an opinion, what some are saying is that opinion is wrong minded. Yes he has the right to not recognize gay marriage based on his religious beliefs. But does he have the right to deny others equal opportunity to the basic human right to fall in love and start a family? When I channel my inner Libertarian, I see the rights of those seeking equality of marriage outweigh his right to deny that to them.

It is not a simple case of his having an opinion, it is that he actively donates to organizations that try and strip equal protections from other Americans, and that’s not cool man. However, if we are not careful, we will only make those that hold these ideas more determined to stand their ground, calm reasoned disagreement with out picking a fight is what we are after.

When it comes to the gun control debate, what we need to do is not get too uptight in either thinking, letting this cause us all to lose our shit wont help anyone. Reasoned debate is the order of the day if we want to work on these problems. For some of us, it will be a long time until there is no feeling that we need guns, no matter how soon others of us would like that day to come. If we listen to the wisdom of the Tao, we would not be rash in our haste to restrict gun ownership, or enthusiastic in advancing guns in our society. We shouldn’t let our passions run away from us, we must remain calm and rooted in our belief it can be better, yet flexible enough to to not break when the winds of passion blow.

Frightening Statistics

As Dudeists we get no clear answer to the gun issue from our favorite fictional prophet, the Dude doesn’t tell Walter to not own a gun, just to put the fucking thing away. Ultimately guns are neither the problem or the cause, we don’t want to get all reactionary here, we want to abide, and give the world the option to abide with us.

Probably the most important thing to do is encourage a more peaceful tolerant society, maintain and project the “take it easy” attitude. When debates get too reactionary, we should withdraw, put on our sunglasses and say “fuckit”. If we get drawn into the heat of the moment and let our own opinions rule us we become the aggression we hope to diminish. Sometimes one just needs to sit back and let the Tao run its course.

 

 

Whelp that’s like, just my opinion man; putting on my sunglasses.

 

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Take a Seat Man!

One way to help keep the world chill and friendly is to meditate, it opens and relaxes the mind, and helps maintain the take it easy attitude. Something that the world seems a little short on these days. By finding our center and abiding we can help others find their’s, positive change has to start with the individual.

Seated meditation

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.” Gandhi

There are many forms of meditation available to the novice to explore, what they all have in common is that they ask us to see beyond the ego, to reconnect with the world around us on a more fundamental level. Keeping the mind limber with meditation can have lasting beneficial effects, not just on the practitioner, but on their environment as well.

Read more about meditation here, my HubPages article with an easy exercise to get you started meditating today.

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Serenity Dude

In these crazy times it helps to step back and chill for a moment, while you contemplate what, if anything, you should do next.

With so much happening in our hectic world don’t forget to take time to chill out and decompress. Life has always been a hurried rush in between moments of serenity. Nowadays people go from work to family to social media with nary a break in between. Everyone has to slow down and take a quiet break from time to time. These breaks helps to let the dust settle in our lives, and see what we are working for.

You don’t have to bathe with candles and a good joint to chill, like us Dudeists, although it works quite well. One only needs to slow down and get a handle on their rambling thoughts. A little quiet serenity goes a long way, by reducing mental stress we let the body heal and prepare to face reality. Our minds become more limber and ready to find ever more skillful ways of expression.

When we take time to chill out it is not retreating it is regrouping. With so many important issues in front of us, no matter what side of the dynamic you fall on, we all need to stay calm and centered. Through calm reasoned debate we may be able to achieve compromise and progress, but if you let your self be pushed by anxiety your discussions with others may devolve into shouting and animosity. You can see much more clearly from the chill perspective, which will make your arguments stronger and more grounded.

With so much happening right now, it is important that everybody just stays chill, stays focused on reform and not on the fight. Taking a few moments to relax and recognize your place in this whole durned human comedy will give you insight and perspective.

So even if you are on the front lines of all these social upheavals, don’t forget to take time to be quiet and serene, find inner peace, so you can share it with the outside world.

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