An Astrophysicist by profession I have had a longstanding interest in shamanistic cultures, not only in terms of their cosmologies, but also in terms of their usage of entheogenic plants to access realms unknown to science until thousands of years later. In my pursuit of an understanding of the beginnings of the universe, I have tried to unpack the cosmology of many tribal cultures, deciphering the metaphor of their oral traditions and putting them in context with the lives of the people at that time. This lead me to look the details of the shamanistic practices involved and thus to look at the relationship with entheogenic plants.
As a physicist, I believe that, just as we have learned much about medicine through observation of tribal cultures, we can also learn much about the mysteries of our own universe through acknowledgement and integration of this traditional body of knowledge into a modern scientific context.
“Cleaving To The Path of Meditation”
The birth of meditation is steeped in mystery with many questions being asked as to both the primal source and the impetus from which the idea arose. Papers and publications have tried to identify the beginning of this practice, the first thinkers, and a timeline for the emergence of meditation pre-dating the Samhitas, but as yet, its origins and motives leading to this practice remain unknown. This lecture will explore possible factors in the emergence of the meditative practices for the purpose of attaining alternate states of consciousness. In this lecture I will argue that meteorological-induced changes in the botanical biomes in India would have resulted in the decline of entheogenic plants, forcing the cessation of shamanistic cultural practices. These once-shamanistic cultures would have had to adapt to new environments as they dispersed throughout the region, and, in order to preserve the beneficial outcomes of their former practices, would have had to devise other means of attaining these alternate states of consciousness. Hence the continuum this lecture promotes is one that begins with an established shamanistic culture and its attainment of alternate states of consciousness through entheogenic plants, the decline of that culture through global changes of a meteorological and botanical nature, and the creation of a new means of attaining alternate states of consciousness with the emergence of meditative practices.