Seeking A Bridge Between Body And Soul – Part 2
What science knows about the pineal gland is that it is an endocrine organ that synthesizes and secretes neurotransmitting hormones such as melatonin known to control the circadian rhythm effecting sleep, growth and perhaps the perception of time and space. One theory hypothesized by Dr. Rick Strassman, a psychopharmacologist, is that the pineal gland also synthesizes entheogenic substances which, historically, have long been classified as “psychedelics.” He emphasizes that the pineal gland connection would explain a great deal about common transcendental experiences, but adds that not enough studies have been done to draw any conclusions.
Since the nineteen sixties entheogenic substances, also known as hallucinogenics, have been considered taboo by politicians and scientists who have regarded them as nothing more then an escape from the real world that leads to addiction with other drugs often associated with the counter culture revolution of the baby boom generation.
The reality is that this judgement has been made without the proper scientific evidence. Substance abuse is a real problem, but the search for a higher state of consciousness is a powerful drive that transcends arbitrary restrictions. It also appears to be an urge in all living things, whether conscious or not. Science needs to design credible studies with reasonably defined boundaries, and then conduct them objectively.
Ayahuasca, a vine indigenous to the amazon region of South America, contains high levels of (N,N-Dimethyitryptamine), also known as DMT. It has, for decades, been classified as a controlled substance having no medical value. In February 2006, the US Supreme Court unanimously upheld a lower court decision to permit a New Mexican sect of a Brazilian religious order to continue using Ayahuasca in tea for religious purposes. But where should the line be drawn, using an exogenous substance as part of a religious ritual on one hand as opposed to including it as part of an individual spiritual search with no connection to any particular religious sect, on the other?