What is enlightenment?

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.43.25 AMEver see the 1941 film The Razor’s Edge? It purports to be a celebration of Eastern philosophy, but it’s really  a rabbit hole dug by a spook. The film was based on a novel by Somerset Maugham, who was revealed to be a lifelong agent of MI6 after his death. Spooks come in all types: bankers, lawyers, politicians, activists, mercenaries, gangsters, journalists, and even novelists upon occasion.

In fact, all the so-called “spiritual” parts of the film are hoodwinks, dry holes with zero juice behind them. Larry Darrell is a WWI pilot suffering from PTSD who goes on a quest for enlightenment. While working in the mines of Eastern Europe, he meets a German alcoholic with anger-management issues who turns out to be a defrocked priest running from his past by getting drunk. In the film and novel, this sad character is portrayed as a noble role model and the man who informs Larry enlightenment cannot be found in books. Like Hitler later on, he suggests all books on enlightenment should be burned. Instead, he recommends Larry visit his guru in India, which he dutifully does. Upon arrival in India, the guru directs Larry to an isolated shack high in the mountains and tells him to stay there until he reaches nirvana. Sometime later, the guru instinctively knows Larry has had his epiphany and visits the shack, where the ecstatic Larry describes “becoming one with god.”

Larry goes back to his former life an expert in hypnosis and mind control, although neither the book nor film explain how he picked up on those skills. Maugham’s idea of a guru is humorless, same as the defrocked priest. There’s a lot of intense staring going on, as well as a symphonic soundtrack to convey a sense of importance, but if you analyze what’s actually being spoken, none of it makes sense. It’s a cartoon version of Eastern spirituality that looks a lot like Christianity. The book did, however, open the floodgates for a parade of charlatans from the East to invade the world to cash in on the confusion created.

11694752_1096341923727827_3028084207419145056_nOne of my favorite lines in my new hymnal for cannabis ministries goes like this: “Well, I believe in a God above, and what I know, I learned from love, and being close when love was goin’ through ya. It’s not some cry you hear at night, or illusion when you see a light, but a completely pure and undamaged hallelujah.”

As Stephen Gaskin once explained to me: “Enlightenment is not like ringing a bell.” You don’t suddenly reach a state of nirvana and remain there for the rest of your life. If you’re looking for inner peace, that is something that comes from right-livelihood, which means your profession provides meaning to your existence. Unfortunately, our economy produces mostly wage-slave (demeaning) jobs, and few in the way of right-livelihood, so it’s rare to find it, although it’s widespread among artists, musicians, entertainers, farmers, builders, healers, and those who devote themselves to helping others.

When you are radiating serenity, it’s a telepathic vibration that can be shared and you can zap people around you similar to getting a contact high. People in a serene state are creative and fun to be around, which is why I find Maugham’s humorless version of spirituality so dry and pompous. If you want to amplify serenity, it’s best done in group ceremony, not isolated alone in some high-mountain cave. When you harmonize with others, you can amplify your empathy. We humans are social creatures, and yearn to pass through life’s transitions in groups so we can share sympathetic energy with our peers.

10959809_643934592377813_5976336687812218823_nThe history of cannabis and ceremony is long but strangely uncelebrated. There are but a handful of scholars who have shown any interest in this subject, and the true story has yet to penetrate the mainstream. Later this year, I plan to publish Killing Jesus: The Real Story, which will explain how the world’s greatest medicine and sacrament was virtually disappeared from history for centuries.

In a nutshell: Judea was at the crossroads of the major cultures of the time and the wheat, spice (and drug) trade was running through it. Consequently, a new hybrid religion began forming that mixed ideas from Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, as well as Greek and Egyptian concepts of spirituality. This new hybrid culture became known as Christianity, and as soon as it blossomed, the Temple in Jerusalem was razed and all its followers scattered to the winds. At this time, Christians were vegetarian Jews who believed in non-violence and the medicinal powers of cannabis. A century after this culture was shattered, however, it was reinvented and turned upside down by Romans and eventually morphed into the state religion of imperialism.

If you study the history of spirituality, you’ll find trails of cannabis smoke almost everywhere you look. It was only though the brutal Inquisitions that Christians were able to beat back awareness of the role played by cannabis in the creation of Christianity and many other religions.

Some say we should do away with all religion entirely, but that’s just another jihad under a new name and reminds me too much of Marxism. My solution is to reform religion from within by creating micro-religions. If you want to learn how to do that, download a copy of my free ebook, The New Pot Enlightenment. Then gather your stoner friends and inform them you want to form a cannabis ministry that will shield all of you from harm. Provided you are over 21 years-of-age and sincere in your belief in cannabis as a sacrament, if you do band together and hold ceremonies with cannabis, the Constitution will protect you. It will only take one court case to bring down these walls of oppression because our aim is true.


The 420 Address

420flyinggrafOne day, I went to Amsterdam and said, hey, it’s legal here, let’s have a harvest festival. So I started one. It was only me and two other fellows the first year. The second year there were five, including the first Freedom Fighter of the Year. The third year it was seven. The sixth year it was finally open to the public and 50 attended, 40 of whom bought travel packages. But now there are hundreds of thousands of people flocking to Denver to the Cannabis Cup and 420.

At first, I thought it was about having a party and for the first couple years, that’s all it meant to me. But then I started to realize, hey, there’s something deeper going on here because there are all these cultures using marijuana as a sacrament. And marijuana is so much more spiritual that alcohol. So much more. So I said, we need to honor the 5,000-year-old history of ceremonial use of cannabis.

The first thing I did was start a band, because you can’t have spirituality without music. Music, marijuana and mathematics are the road to spirituality and don’t forget it. Right away we decided we weren’t going to have any dogma because we wanted to invite all cultures to our ceremonies. We only have one rule: don’t hurt anybody. As long as you don’t hurt anybody, everything is cool.

This culture really started in Congo Square in New Orleans because that’s the only place for a hundred years where all cultures could get together. And marijuana is what elevated Louie Armstrong and those guys, just like it elevated Bob Marley. It’s part of our spirituality.

So we made up our ceremonies as we went along, and the stuff that worked is what stuck with us and we evolved a ceremony with seven candles. Why seven? Why are their seven points on a cannabis leaf? Seven is the marijuana number of ancient spirituality. The seven-pointed star is called the Star of the Magi. There were seven planets are the time when religion was born. When the three kings came to visit baby Jesus, it was cannabis they were bringing. And when Moses talked to a burning bush, that was cannabis he was listening to.

What does this plant bring? Just the world’s greatest medicine, and the world’s greatest food, and the world’s greatest path to spirituality. And by the way they banned if off the face of the earth for 2,000 years.

So I’m trying to change that best I can and I created the Pot Illuminati. I’m taking the Illuminati sigils away from the Illuminati and making it a very exclusive cannabis secret society so I can bend evil magic against itself.

Most candles you buy are totally toxic, by the way. Throw them away; don’t use them because they will poison you. I wanted to use seven candles in ceremonies, but soon discovered I had to make them. Seven colors to the rainbow, seven notes to the scale, seven days to the week, and seven chakras. There’s a lot to magic and you don’t have to learn it from someone else because it runs through you naturally and you can make it up as you go along, and the proof it works is we created an evolution in candle magic.

Beat Street Tribute Rocks B.B. King’s

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 9.09.44 AMI didn’t know what to expect when The Aquariusboyz announced a Beat Street Tribute for B.B. King’s.

But it was a chance for me to reconnect with a lot of people I hadn’t seen in 30 years, so I knew I was showing up.

But when the world’s greatest turntablist GranWizzard Theodore took the stage, and hip hop queen Sha-Rock got on the mic, and a circle formed on the dance floor (60-year-old b-boys went to the floor battling kids less than a third their age), I knew we’d reached epic status.

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 9.11.56 AMI brought 20 copies of my just-released 300-page book Hip Hop: The Complete Archives to give away and Sha Rock never let go of her copy (that’s the back cover in her hand). She shouted out my name repeatedly over the course of the night, and at one point took my hand and did a little hip hop dance with me. It was quite an honor to be so recognized by such a great goddess.

Things were getting so hyped I wondered if some aging b boy or b girl might injure themselves while bringing back 30-year-old moves.

The magic this crew gathers whenever they congregate is palpable. They were the kids who reinvented everything as they were entering high school. And even though they were told by the media they lived in the worst ghetto in America, they proved cultural skills and improvisational energy have nothing to do with bling. This was the generation that created art for its own sake, as a proof of their worth to the universe. And they still haven’t cashed in. And most people just don’t seem to understand what hip hop was before it went off the rails. If you want to find that true hip hop spirit, these are the people that manifest it best.

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 9.11.13 AMAs far as the wheels of steel go, nobody compares  with Theodore, the inventor of the scratch. When you want to have a true South Bronx old school party, he is always the first deejay of choice.

Which is not to put down the trinity, Kool Herc, the Godfather, Afrika Bambaataa, the prophet who realized “peace, unity and having fun” was the mission, and graffiti, breaking and rapping the vehicles, and Grandmaster Flash, originator of the quick-cut endless peak that took deejaying to new levels. Sadly, none of the trinity made it to the show, or at least I didn’t see them, but the house was packed, so I’m sure I missed a few in the chaos that emerged after the b boys and b girls started going off.

Busy Bee opens my new book Hip Hop with a performance at Bronx River Projects in the early 1980s, and he’s considered the greatest lead-off batter when it comes to old school.

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 9.10.36 AMAnd Bee did not disappoint as he delivered a classic that transported everyone back to 1980, or at least the ones in the audience like me old enough to have been there when Bee took emcee crown at Harlem World three years in a row, a reign that lasted until Kool Mo Dee elevated rap to a new level.

The club was packed with video cameras so you’ll probably be seeing the evidence on YouTube any day now.

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 9.09.05 AMEmcee G.L.O.B.E. and Debbie Dee were the first two I ran into, so they were the first two to score a free copy of the new book.

G.L.O.B.E. and I once worked on a project with Whiz Kid for a record that was supposed to come out with my original hip hop book. Tommy Boy records was working on that project, but it got hopelessly bogged down in legal issues as I was trying to use the real hip hop anthems in a mix-up that would recreate the sound of the original parties. He asked me, “When’s the last time you saw Tom Silverman?” “Probably around seven years ago at a Deepak Chopra event in SoHo,” I answered. And suddenly there was Tom Silverman standing at our table and waving hello.

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 9.10.12 AMThere were only a few writers passing around piece books, but the work was epic as well.

I find creativity is telepathic and when you have an orgy of creative energy, it can be amplified and shared around the room. And the first generation of hip hop remain the world’s greatest masters at manifesting improvisational energy, and it’s an awesome feeling when that energy starts going off in all directions and all forms of artistic expression. Sadly, this generation never really made anything off their inventions, and someday I hope the world discovers they are the fountain of the real hip hop magic as well as the road home.

Munchie Cup Opening Ceremonies

Munchie Cup Opening Address by Grandmaster Caz at the Gant, Aspen, Colorado at 4:20 PM, on August 18, 2014.

Man, I been smoking’ weed since they called it reefer. Since then I’ve learned the term cannabis sativa. And I’ve smoked more than Steve, Snoop and Queen Latifah… combined, so don’t pay me no mind, I’m high; but I’m here fresh off a ping of kush from my new friend Bret, the King of Kush. Judgin’ the first Munchies Cup out here in Aspen. This is another place I can say my ass been. Where I’m from you used to buy a bag of weed, and after you took out the sticks and seeds, you had about seven joints in a big bamboo. If you was smart you sold five and smoked two. That was back in the by we call the Boogie Down. When the majority of the weed we saw was brown. Sold in trey and nicklebags through a hole in the door. Lucky we ain’t gotta do that no more. Not here, ’cause we’re in Colorado getting’ Rocky Mountain High. They got the medicines in these plants that’ll get you by. And for those of us who smoke an’ ain’t sick, you know the reason why we’re Rocky Mountain High In Colorado; Rocky Mountain High in Colorado. I gotta thank Steven for flying’ me out with the wife and literally we’ve never been this high in our life. Not to mention the altitude when we came for the ride, nobody told us we were crossin’ the Continental Divide. But thanks to Jason our driver and guide, the sights were breathtaking and we made it alive. So to the Pot Illuminati and the Temple Dragons, let’s recruit the brethern onto the bandwagon. Cannabis for all smoke, oil, drinks or medibles, simple put my friends salute…

This shit is incredible.


Casanova’s Revenge

Grandmaster Caz is one of the major creative forces behind the birth of hip hop. He began as a b-boy in an East Bronx crew called the Casanova’s, but after battling one of their top breakers, he was awarded the name Casanova Fly and welcomed into the crew. Soon, he joined Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash as one of the original hip hop deejays, only Caz was the only one who also established himself as a premier rapper, along with Melle Mel and Kool Moe Dee. Caz was in a group called the Mighty Force when his manager employed one of his tapes to engineer a record deal. Only Caz wasn’t part of that deal. And since his lyrics helped manifest one of the biggest-selling hits in hip hop history, it’s been a little painful for Caz to answer questions about that hit song for the last 25 years. Caz told the story at the first Abakus Munchie Cup in Aspen last August. The next Munchie Cup will be held in May, 2015. Hope to see you there, and stay tuned to abakusmagazine.com for the latest details.

The hidden history of marijuana

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 7.46.22 AMChris Bennett recently posted a 30-minute documentary of Michael Horowitz describing the resurgence of cannabis use in Europe in the early 1800s, something sparked by Napoleon’s invasion of the Orient.

Horowitz brought up an illuminating point never mentioned in the history books. The spread of cannabis through Europe after Napoleon’s invasion helped spark a student revolt in central Europe. As evidence, The Club des Hashicians was formed in Paris in 1846 and included many who were about to become the leading artists and intellectuals of their time, a list that included Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and Honore de Balzac, among many others. Those widespread student revolts in Europe occurred two years later.

Shown above is a lithograph of marching students in Paris during the period. Notice one carries the banner: “Hatchish,” an obvious reference to the substance that probably helped spark their revolutionary fervor.

One hundred and nine years later, Jack Kerouac published On the Road (Viking Press, 1957), a book that sparked a similar social revolution, and although this one took a decade to manifest, Kerouac’s book planted the seed because the greatest mystical moment in that spiritual odyssey occurred late in the novel in Mexico under the influence of cannabis. After reading the book, obtaining cannabis became my primary mission in life until I located some because I was looking for a spiritual path I could trust, and I know this must have been the case for thousands of teens just like me.

All this makes me wonder if periodic awakenings that have taken place in art and culture under cannabis didn’t also contribute to political upheavals that accompanied those art movements. For example, we know that in the 1300s, a “Society of Smokers” was born in Northern Italy and Southern France, and they were the first people of their time to compose written music not associated with the Catholic church. Little is known about the society today, leading me to believe they were wiped out by soon-to-arrive Inquisition. They may have been the reason the Inquisition got started since the official book of the Inquisition indicated possession of cannabis was proof of witchcraft. Since the midwives of Europe had been using cannabis for centuries, a lot of women possessed cannabis, and countless thousands were soon murdered by the Church.

But then a few hundred years later, cannabis use was exploding across North America, spread by jazz musicians. Their use of cannabis stretched back to the early 1800s in New Orleans, when Congo Square became the only place where blacks and natives could play drums and dance in public. There’s a reason why blues, jazz and rock were born in New Orleans and cannabis played a role because it manifests improvisational creative energy wherever it appears.

Robert_Gordon_WassonDon’t you find it odd that the same year On the Road was published, a Vice President of J.P. Morgan Bank published an explosive cover story in Life magazine about magic mushrooms? Robert Gordon Wasson would go on to write a book claiming Soma of the Rig Veda was a mushroom, a huge blunder (unless it was an intentional bait-and-switch.) Soma is cannabis and always has been, although if you want to read the forensic evidence, Chris Bennett has an excellent and exhaustive book documenting Wasson’s many deceptions.

I suspect this diversion from revolution-making cannabis to the more unstable and mystical world of psychedelic mushrooms may have been part of a longstanding war against cannabis. And while Wasson may have delayed the Great Cannabis Awakening, he could not forestall it for very long.