The apparent
frequency of animals eating entheogens is really fascinating to me.  It strengthens my suspicion that what
our society calls “normal” consciousness is as deficient as a diet without
certain crucial vitamins.  Life
continues, but is crippled. 

To a point our
need-driven and distanced way of relating to the world and others is necessary
for maintaining physical life, but by itself does not make that life
particularly satisfying. And so many people, maybe all, seek ways of relieving
themselves from that constant strain. 
This is a major reason for the appeal of entheogens from the natural ones like  amanita muscaria, psilocybin, ayahuasca, and peyote, among others, to the more processed DMT and LSD, as well as alcohol, marijuana,
cocaine,lthe opiates, and all kinds of intense experiences
that remove us from this need driven distanced consciousness.

I think meditation falls in this category as well.

Some of these
experiences expand our sense of self to be more inclusive, putting what we
normally call our ego in a much bigger context that is far more satisfying. At
its outer limits we enter into experiences of the NonDual.  Others lead to such a focus on the
immediate moment that the constant background of worry and fear are overridden.
Others deaden our awareness. 

Some are
ultimately helpful, some are ultimately physically or psychologically harmful,
and some are simply palliatives.  The
entheogens such as psilocybin and amanita muscarie are perhaps the
quickest way most people are able to experience the larger context of value in
which they exist.  Now it seems the
same may be true with many animals. 

Expanding the
ego, our isolated sense of self, to include others is satisfying, and the more
that ego can be expanded while maintaining physical well being the more
satisfying it becomes.  This is why
experiencing love, giving it and receiving it, is so satisfying and important.
We can love an individual, with a smaller or greater level of personal need
entering in to the relation.  In a
different way we can love a group whether small or large, or even the world,
and again with a greater or lesser level of need.

I personally think
that beauty and that kind of love which is the perception and experience of inner beauty, is the redemption of the pain of physicality.  As a species we are not particularly
good at this, but neither are we  complete failures.  And we can always improve. That is why those I
regard as genuine spiritual traditions place open-ended love, compassion,
forgiveness, and generosity at the core of their message.

People operating
at a level of anger and fear are concerned to preserve their personal boundaries intact
and extend their power to make themselves feel safer.  Because an isolated self is intrinsically incomplete and knows it, these strategies never succeed. The person is ruled by fear and anger. 

Such people are deeply threatened by these alternate ways of
experiencing life, and unable to muster the courage to open themselves up.  Or if thy once did, their encounter
with the fear covering the core of their being convinced them not to go there
again, and to prevent others from doing so as well.

That animals are
wise enough to know altering their awareness can be desirable at times is a sad
commentary on these poor lost souls and the pain they cause themselves and the
rest of us.

More from Beliefnet and our partners