I was recently asked if I have a spiritual connection with cannabis. An enlightened person would respond, “It is part of nature, and we are part of nature, and as everything is interconnected, it is a part of our nature.’
But as someone who has grown his own herb for about a decade, allowing me at times to put food on the table, to experience the Zen of a garden, and to see the relief cannabis gives to my ailing loved ones, I needed to make sure that I could interpret the spiritual connectedness of this plant outside of myself. There was one person I needed to talk to: The Smoking Buddha.
The journey to reach the Smoking Buddha can take hours, days, even weeks sometimes depending on the weather. It’s part Apocalypse Now, part arrival at Fantasy Island. After many burnt offerings along the way, I finally climb to the moutaintop, and see him, sitting lotus pose, in the center of my mind.
“Come along if you can” he says, motioning for me to sit before him as he exhales a actual cloud of smoke.
“Hey, Smoking Buddha.”
“Hey, Scott. Did you forget something?”
“What do you mean?” I asked
“You were just here an hour ago.” he said, exhaling another cumulonimbus.
“Wow, what a trip! That was, like, five months in human time.”
“That’s what you think. So, what brings you here today? You need some more eternal bud?”
“No, I had some questions about cannabis and spirituality.”
“Oh, here we go…” he said, rolling his eyes and taking a giant toke from a unicorn’s horn.
“Seriously though. I was asked to write about my spiritual connection to cannabis. I’m not sure what to write.”
“You could give them the old ‘It’s part of nature, and we’re part of nature…’”
“Yeah, I thought of that…but it’s somewhere between esoteric and cliche. And that’s the plant. But there are going to be a lot of arguments from all different perspectives of society who don’t see smoking it as spiritually connected.”
“Like a key, it unlocks certain receptors in our mind, benefits our bodies. We can achieve oneness with the plant.”
“Okay, but let’s say you eat it or consume it.”
“Like tea? Or coffee? Or vegetables?” he said, leaning over to take a hit off of a rainbow.
“Vegetables?! Surely you can’t compare this with vegetables!?”
“I just did.” he said, exhaling. “Now quit calling me Shirley.”
“But it alters your mind!”
“Everything does. Meditation, food, a bad day, a first kiss, a little puppy dog. Love, loss…all alter us to one degree or another. Everything around us, anything we say or do, or put inside of us, has an effect…whether we choose to recognize it or not. Could you pass me those Fritos?”
“Sure. But no matter how you take it, people are going to argue that it gets you high.”
“Better than being low…. Scott, are you high right now?”
“Yessiree, that’s how I got here.”
“And how do you feel?”
“I feel great.”
“And before you got high?”
“To be honest, a little hung over from my out of town friends visiting, and my foot was hurting
from that hike, which I completely forgot about until now…”
“is that not a good thing?”
“It is, but it’s because I’m high.”
“That word again. What do you mean?”
“You know, like somehow elevated above the pain,” I explained.
“Like meditation, isn’t elevation beyond our body part of spirituality? But if you were “high” on alcohol?”
“Well, I may be absent of pain…but I would be absent of a lot more than that too. And be worse off tomorrow.”
“And if you were high off of painkillers?”
“Well that’s not their intended use, but I can’t handle them anyway.”
“That’s because they do not work in harmony with the body. All of those things can kill you, while this plant cannot.”
“All of this is true. But they’re going to make the addiction argument,” I replied.
“One could be addicted or obsessed with any substance, thing or activity. It’s not a problem of Golf…it’s the problem of the golfer.”
“Okay, what about the gateway drug thing?”
“Do you know what every heroin addict has in common from their past?”
“They all drank milk,” he responded.
“Jesus, you’ve got an answer for everything.”
“Jesus isn’t here right now…but we read the same books.”
“Okay…I’ve got one for you. Children.”
Smoking Buddha pauses. He opens the top of the mountain and takes a giant bong hit. “A child should only be given things that nurture growth and harmony. So as the mind is still developing until about 17, maybe not the female plant… unless….”
“Unless what? Oh no, not children! People are going to freak out.”
“Why not the children? Especially the children, if they indeed need it. Is it spiritual to deny anyone a medicine that nature provides if they need it?”
“No, it’s not. But kids getting high, Smoking Buddha?”
“I’m not saying that, under normal conditions. But the Male plant will not get them high. Only the females can unlock the mind and alter one’s mood.”
“Kind of like with human species.” I laughed.
“Touché.” he said, as he hollowed out a birch tree and stuffed it with a tonnage of flowers. “I don’t mean to cut our session short, but I do have a whole Comicon group heading my way…but does any of this help with the question of cannabis connecting with you spiritually?”
“Of course it does. Or we never would never have been able to have this conversation.”
Smoking Buddha smiled with laughing eyes, and lit up his tree.
“One last question…” I asked, “Can I hit that?”
He chuckles as he exhales a tornado, and looks down at me. “This is Enlightenment Kush, Scott. You can’t handle it yet.” And in a puff of smoke he was gone.
As I woke up to the annoying ‘Bong Bong’ and much too bright Netflix marquis, and saw my joint smoldering in the ashtray, a message was clearly spelled out in its smoke by the Buddha himself. “Yeah, it’s Spiritual.”