October 15, 2020
[00:01:14] Podcast Sponsors
[00:03:33] Guest Introduction
[00:07:22] Why Tiny Houses Are So Popular Among The Youth
[00:11:04] Paul's History With Psychedelics And Christianity
[00:24:52] Differences In The Use Of Synthetic Vs. Natural Substances
[00:31:20] Podcast Sponsors
[00:34:01] cont. Matter Of Personal Conviction And The Response To It
[00:40:48] The Use Of Psychedelics In The Bible And Early Church
[00:49:33] Balancing Creation And The Use Of It Via Psychedelics
[00:53:38] Are we entering the spiritual realm when we take psychedelics?
[01:08:39] The Tree Of Knowledge: Modern Psychedelic Plant
[01:19:15] Come To Jesus Before Anything Else
[01:23:47] Closing the Podcast
[01:25:10] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Paul: It's very easy to manipulate information to have the end result be what your will wishes to find.
Ben: You better have prayed on the armor of God, you better be in deep spiritual union with God, you need to be saved and washed with the blood of Jesus, you need to be protected going into any of these type of environments.
Paul: Love and light being prayed over from a non-Christian perspective I believe can come from the enemy. And what might be perceived of as a blessing that they're praying over could actually be a curse.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Well, folks, plant medicine, psychedelics, Christianity, spirituality. If you're scratching your head about how all this jives, then you're going to want to listen to today's show because we take a deep dive into Christianity, psychedelics, plant medicine, and a whole lot more with my guest, Paul Risse, on today's show. This one is a doozy.
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Well, folks, we are about to dive into a topic I actually get asked a lot about. I get asked a surprising number of times nearly every week, sometimes every day, about how I navigate the wide world of plant medicine, and even microdosing, and things like psilocybin, or LSD, or marijuana as a person who is also a professing Christian. And we also run into this a lot in just the health sector in general, this concept of psychedelics and what they might do to the brain, whether they're healthy, whether we might get some kind of neurotransmitter issues or other deficits built up. And there's all sorts of little rabbit holes in this whole discussion that we could dive into, but I recently had a guy reach out to me who has a pretty fascinating history. He's taken psychedelics like thousands of times over the course of the past decade. He has a history of DMT, and Salvia, and LSD, and 2C-B and 2-CI. I mean, you name it. He's probably messed around with it a little bit.
But interestingly, he is also a Christian. He's writing a book right now called “The Psychedelic Christian,” and he also has a history in personal training, and fitness, and health. He was a personal trainer on ABC's Extreme Makeover TV show in L.A. He has been a chef. He's been a life coach. He even ate 100% raw vegan for a couple years. He's lived off-grid with no electricity for a year. And as a result of part of that, even wrote a whole book called “Kinda Tiny Home,” which is a whole different book, whole different topic that's kind of an approach to building and owning your own teeny tiny home. And he's kind of a renaissance man. He's got his fingers in a lot of pots, so to speak. I think that's how that metaphor goes. He's also a husband, he's a father, he's up to a lot of stuff, and his name is Paul Risse. So, as Paul and I talk today, I'm sure you guys are going to have a lot of your own thoughts, and comments, and questions to add. So, if you do, just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/christianpsychedelic. And that's where you can discover the shownotes, and also links and resources to everything that Paul and I talk about. So, Paul, welcome to the show, man.
Paul: Thank you for having me on, Ben. I really appreciate it.
Ben: Yeah. And I mean, I guess my introduction begs the question, are you actually hovered in a tiny, tiny home somewhere right now?
Paul: No. I am hovered in a tiny room in a slightly larger home, but yeah, my other house is in Hico that I built. And then, we're building a new house down the road, and that will be what would be considered a normal-sized home.
Paul: Right now, I'm in a tiny room.
Ben: Alright. Well, maybe your next book can be called “Kinda Tiny Room.” Where do you live, by the way, which city?
Paul: Bridge Fort, Texas. Right outside of DFW area.
Ben: Okay. Alright. So, that's closer to Dallas than to Austin, right?
Paul: That's correct.
Ben: Okay. Am I correct, did we meet each other? Was it Paleo f(x) or something like that? Did you ever go to that event?
Paul: I was in town that weekend meeting friends and I happened to find out that that was going on, but I don't think that we met that weekend. I think that several of my friends have met you before and I've definitely watched a lot of your stuff, but I don't believe that we've met in person.
Ben: Okay. Alright. We'll have to make that happen sometime. But by the way also, just to get this out of the way because I know people might ask, what is the deal with tiny houses? Why do people seem super interested in this whole concept of tiny home?
Paul: I think that a lot of the younger generation have observed their parents take on the big mortgage and build a big house, and perhaps pursuing happiness in that, and then perhaps seeing that their parents weren't happy when they got the big house and the big mortgage payment. And so, they said, “You know what, if taking a huge amount of debt on and building a huge house it doesn't make them happy, then perhaps I could be content with something smaller.” I think that also, society is just the carbon footprint and that whole thing has happened last 15 or 20 years. People have become more conscious of how much they consume and how much they need. And I think it also just became a way to have less responsibility and more freedom to travel the world and things like that.
Ben: Interesting. Yeah. I guess my concept of it is my family and I driving each other nuts after about a month living in one room is the way I envisioned the tiny house movement working for us. But yeah, I suppose we could make it work. I remember when we used to visit Thailand a lot and I remember like every single home that we duck into when we visit all these villages, it literally was just like one room, and that one room had a guitar, and pots, and pans, and some fish cooking, and some beds, and a small TV, and it was all just like in one tiny house. So, maybe my concept of a tiny home is a small fishing village in Thailand. And perhaps, there are cooler, sexier tiny homes out there.
Paul: There are some cool, sexy, tiny homes out there.
Ben: Alright, cool. Well, I'll link to your book in the shownotes, but obviously, that's not the topic at hand today. So, something perhaps more meaningful, not that tiny homes aren't meaningful, but something perhaps a little bit more close to home for people who have been asking me a lot of questions about psychedelics. And I've talked before in the past about my own history with the use of psychedelics. For example, it's no secret that I will often microdose, a microdose with variants similar to something like LSD or psilocybin with niacin and lion's mane, or even occasionally something closer to like an MDMA for sociability, or compassion, or connection, or just a date night with my wife.
And so, I certainly use smaller doses of certain substances on a pretty frequent basis the same way as I'd use a nootropic or a smart drug. And I have also delved into these so-called journeys where you get a little bit of ego disillusion, you get a merging of the left and right hemispheres of the brain, sometimes open yourself up to new ideas, new concepts, business brainstorming. If I were to do this with my wife, relationship building, and things that seem to be relatively enhanced via the use of certain compounds that God has made available to us or given human beings the wisdom to be able to create that tweak a few dials in the brain, so to speak. And of course, I have caught some flak for that as a Christian in many cases simply because it seems to be something that can take you into a bit of a spiritual realm almost in many cases.
And so, there's a lot of little avenues to unpack and rabbit holes we can dive into, but I'm curious, first of all, what your history is with the use of plant medicines or psychedelics, Paul, because from what I understand, you actually have a pretty extensive history of use with these compounds, especially as a Christian.
Paul: I'll start at the beginning. I grew up in an amazing house with Christian parents and I actually never partied, I never drank and never smoked and never did anything while living at home because my dad was the leader of the house and we got disciplined if we disobeyed. But also, at the age of 12, started hardening my heart towards Christ and started to look for other answers or create questions for the Bible that were hard to answer.
Ben: And by the way, I may interrupt you a few times, and sometimes I get called out for this by my audience, they tell me I'm rude to interrupt, but I always like to clear things up as we go. Where was the legality in your home growing up around drugs based on your parents having a sordid past in the same way that someone whose parent was an alcoholic might have a completely different attitude towards wine or beer than someone whose parent has a healthy history of proper responsible use of alcohol? In your case, were your parents scarred by previous use of plant medicine, or psychedelics, or something like that?
Paul: I don't believe so. I believe that my dad, in high school, he said that he would party and I think that just involved drinking, grew up in Minnesota. And when he was in college, he partied. And then, when he gave his life to Christ, he stopped that. And the partying, to my knowledge, just involved drinking. My mother grew up in Brooklyn, and I think that there was probably drug abuse and physical abuse at her house growing up, and her dad was in Vietnam and came back and was hurt from the war and abused her. And I think that my mother and I, she passed away a little bit over a decade ago.
And at that time, I was not having the types of conversations where I would have inquired about that. But I think that she probably partied–I imagine she might have smoked weed or she definitely would have drunk, but they both got married fairly young and were both Christians, fairly young. So, I think that my mother perhaps a small amount from her parents, but my father, his upbringing was very–his dad was an ironworker, his mom was a schoolteacher, very structured upbringing. So, I don't think there was any plant medicine that they engaged in growing up.
Ben: Yeah. I was just curious. My mom had a pretty extensive use or extensive history with the use of psilocybin. And in fact, for her growing up, she actually dealt quite a bit. She was involved in some drug dealing. And then, my father had some pretty extensive issues in terms of not only growing up in a wealthy family in Miami and being engaged in drug use, but his brother was actually killed and murdered. It was actually related to some cocaine dealings with some local Cuban gangs. So, both of them were relatively legalistic with me growing up with everything from alcohol to any form of drugs, anything whatsoever. But for them, it was kind of a deal where they had been through so much related drugs in the past that it was not as though they, in some set and setting under the guidance of a facilitator, did a dose of psilocybin with peaceful Johns Hopkins playlist playing in the background. For them, it was the way that I think a lot of people in, perhaps the '60s or the '70s experienced drugs.
Paul: Yeah. That's interesting. That's an interesting question. I'd never really asked my dad that, but I will.
Ben: Yeah. I'm just curious. So, you branched out from growing up as a young Christian kid, you started to experiment with a lot of this stuff?
Paul: Yeah. Once I got to college, I was like, “Man, I'm going to do pretty much whatever I want and rebel against everything that I was ever taught.” And I thought it was cooler than the world and started mostly just drinking and I found out pretty quickly, I was like, “Ah, what happens when you get drunk? You throw up and you make stupid mistakes. You spend a lot of money.” I was like, “This can't be that much fun.” So, then I tried smoking weed and I really enjoyed it a lot, and that was much better than drinking. And then, the first time I ate mushrooms, it actually was like, “Wow, this is different than anything I've ever done and it's actually changing the way I view the world, and I view myself, and my history, and my story.”
And I didn't have any spiritual maturity at all at the time. I just had whatever a 19-year-old's brain is that was in college. That's the perspective I had on that experience, but it made me want to do it more just because I felt like I've always wanted to grow in every part of my life since I was little. I felt like I was pursuing something and that I was more enlightened than people who would just go out and get drunk because I could go into the woods by myself and eat mushrooms, and stay out there, and cry under a tree, and watch the tree grow from a seed to where it was and it tells me a story, and watching a butterfly land on me and watching it go and reverse into a caterpillar. It was much more interesting to me as an experience than going on getting drunk.
Ben: Right. You were experiencing some of the structural and functional neuroplasticity that we see with the use of like a psilocin or a psilocybin. And I think that many people, including myself, will get little pieces of that just by microdosing, for example, throughout the year, throughout the month. But it sounds like you were 19 years old and kind of trip dosing on hefty doses of psilocybin?
Paul: Yeah, absolutely. And I did that for probably a couple years. And then, I had a girlfriend at the time and she became pregnant, and then she became–I have a daughter named Kalee from that and I got married as a result of that, and I was married for three years. And those three years, I stopped engaging that reality, in the same way, I would still do it occasionally. I just loved, loved, loved to either smoke a little bit of marijuana or eat some mushrooms and just go bike riding all day. That was my escape whenever I was married. But I really wanted to be a good father, but I didn't know Christ at the time. And so, I would say for the first two years, I experimented pretty heavily. And then, when I got married, I stopped experimenting in the same way, but then not knowing Christ and I made some poor decisions, my ex-wife made some poor decisions. We hurt each other really badly.
Ben: Wait, can we stop for a sec? I don't understand. I thought you grew up in a Christian home, but then you say you didn't know Christ. What do you mean?
Paul: Oh, yeah. To me, well, knowledge of Christ is perhaps I can say I didn't have salvation. I hadn't given my life to Christ. So, to me, there's a difference between knowledge of Christ, which if you go to Sunday school and they say, “This is who Jesus was,” that's knowledge of Christ. And so, I was not saved at the time, like I hadn't chosen Jesus Christ as my savior.
Ben: Yeah, you had not. I guess the way that I would phrase it would be that my belief is that there is a deity, there is a creator, that there is an all-knowing omniscient, omnipresent being, who designed this universe. And I also of course catch a lot of flak for that operating largely in a sector that is overrun by scientism. So, for me to believe in an old man in the sky in robes gets me called out for fairy magic. Yet I believe that and I also believe that a deity came down, became a man and suffered some of the most horrific torture and shame, and ultimately, crucifixion and death in a very horrible manner in a way that allowed us to be able to take all our shame, all our suffering, all our sin, everything we've ever experienced, and turn it over to that God to be forgiven. And that is what I believe, the deity, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ allows for us to completely be free of sin and shame should we do something as simple, something a little child can do, and simply believe upon that and cast everything that we have at the foot of the cross. Now, what you're saying is that you knew the story, but you really didn't actually cast everything at the foot of the cross, or believe that you could rid yourself of that shame.
Paul: That's correct. And even growing up, I had memorized chapters of the Bible and I probably said the prayer, I don't know, hundreds of times growing up and be like, “Jesus, please save me. I knew I'm a sinner. Please forgive me my sins.” I knew everything to say and I would just open my eyes and like, “I don't feel anything different.” And looking back now, I think that I was doing that based purely out of fear because some of the environments weren't taught so heavily on hell that I was just like, instead of realizing who I was as a sinner, that I just was like, “I don't want to go to hell, and Jesus, please save me.” It was just a mechanism for my parents that I learned to try not to go to hell.
And I think later in life when I finally did give my life to Christ, it was because I was in desperate, desperate need of God, and I tried everything of my own power, and I needed Jesus, and I cried out to God and said, “I'm a sinner and need you because I can't do this on my own, and I'm going crazy, and I've tried everything that there is to try.” So, I think there is a difference and I do believe sometimes children, when they say that prayer that they become a Christian, and who knows one day when I see him before God, maybe God will say, “Back then, I understood your heart and even your place.” But I think that I would say that I became a Christian a little bit after 30.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. And so, up until that time between like 12 and 30, you pretty much took every psychedelic known to man?
Paul: Well, I would say–
Ben: From what I understand.
Paul: –between like 19 and 30, yeah. And so, yeah. After I went through the divorce, it was two years of some of the most intense pain, and anger, and bitterness, and resentment, and jealousy, and manipulation. Even not being in my daughter's life every day, I mean, just literally at that age just broke me down. And because I had developed these systems of thought that said, “Well, I know that religion isn't the answer because I've already found hypocrisy in the Bible and questions that can't be answered, and churches that obviously are judgmental and don't have a relationship with God or else would be a parent. And so, I'd already developed reasons in my mind why religion wasn't the answer to the pain that I was experiencing. And if you don't know the difference between a relationship with Jesus and religion, it's easy to just lump the two of those together into the same category, and that's what I did. And so, I just started eating mushrooms probably five days a week for two years during that period and–
Ben: You ate mushrooms five days a week for two years?
Ben: How many mushrooms are we talking about?
Paul: Oh, man. They say there's certain things in life–like when I was a fireman, they say you remember your first fire call and last fire call and everything in between is kind of a blur. So, there were definitely a lot of heroic doses. There were definitely experimentations with tea like I used to–when I lived in Austin, this is when I was doing it. I had four different jobs. I was a waiter at P.F. Chang's and I would wait tables while I was tripping, and I would pedicab, which is pulling people around on a bike in downtown Austin to make money. I would trip, then I was driving a lot at the time as well, and then I was making jewelry, and then I was also in massage therapy school at Lauterstein-Conway. And yeah, I would say that sometimes those rogue doses on the weekend going to Barton Springs or going the Green Belt or riding my bike around all day. And then, some days, it was like I'm just going to pop a couple of caps before I go into work today to see how interesting of a conversation I can have with the client.
Ben: Couple of cups. Okay. So, you're doing like two to six grams?
Paul: Yeah, sometimes. And I found that you could build up a tolerance pretty easily to them. So, it almost became extremely listed how I took them. It was like the whole two years was a trip in a way. And sometimes there would be amplified versions of it, or I'd go to a concert and there would be like something really huge that would happen as far as like an insight or a breakthrough. But yeah, it became fairly lucid how I used them and started making chocolate with them and teas. I actually tried smoking them, which I pretty much [00:24:11] _____ that you can ingest the mushroom I tried at the time. And I tried other things also during that time, but I felt a lot harsher, and they didn't feel quite as natural and the insights were almost like mechanical or electronic instead of trees, and sunsets, and air, and breath, and birds, and noises. It just felt like the other things I engaged–I didn't know this at the time because I wasn't a Christian, but I do believe that if you have a substance like, let's say, 2C-B, 2C-I, LSD, a man makes that substance. And when a man gets involved–
Ben: You mean they're considered to be synthetically created substances?
Paul: Yes, that's correct.
Ben: Okay. Right.
Paul: And so, I think that whenever you have a substance that can affect your spirit, and your emotions, and your thought process, and someone is creating that substance that an intention can be put into that substance. And I believe that sorcery is something that's very real, and that is something that can be infused with the knowledge that perhaps your portals would be open if you're creating LSD. And you said, “I'm going to use sorcery and put a spell on this,” or whatever you want to do. And so, I felt like mushrooms that comes from the ground and I feel safe doing this. And I didn't know Christ at the time, but just like my natural reaction to it felt that way.
Ben: Well, I certainly know that the hallucinogenic or psychedelic effects of a synthetic substance are often, by many psychonauts so to speak, described as slightly more synthetic, sometimes a little bit more nearly geometric or slightly less natural, something like even an LSD or, as you were mentioning, the 2C-B, the dimethoxy-ethylamine, whatever it is. It was synthesized back in the '70s to do some of the similar things that something like ecstasy or MDMA might do. And many of these compounds that are synthetic are I know not favored as heavily as the natural compounds due to the feeling that it is a little bit more synthetic, yet at the same time–I mean, couldn't say the same thing about like vitamin C? You could take synthetic ascorbic acid or vitamin C from an orange, and technically, it's the same molecule, isn't it?
Paul: Yeah. And I agree with that. I think that the only reason that I drew that line and understand it that way is because I don't know that someone would be putting a spell or have the desire to put a spell on vitamin C because vitamin C does something very specific in the body, and it usually doesn't affect your emotional or spiritual state to such a degree. Yeah. I just think that those particular [00:27:11] _____ and the people that have the desire to explore that reality if they don't know Christ, it's just something to be extremely aware of.
Ben: And where would you draw the line? I mean, would you draw the line with creatine, or theanine, or caffeine, or 2C-B, or MDMA? Where do you say, okay, so this was made by somebody who–how to describe it, not a shaman, but someone was doing some kind of sorcery magic over something in a lab. You actually think that's happening?
Ben: I think that the possibility of it happening is extremely real, and I have known people in the worlds that I was in back then that, travel with the grateful dead, were scientists and chemists, and I knew the spiritual practices in their life at the time. And now that I have a spiritual maturity, I can look back and say, “Wow.” What they said, “I'm going to pray over this as a blessing.” What that means if you don't know Christ is something much different than you would think of it from a new age concept. Love and light being prayed over from a non-Christian perspective I believe can come from the enemy. And so, it's an invitation to what might be perceived of as a blessing that they're praying over could actually be a curse. And so, yeah, that's just something I would just be really aware of.
Paul: Interesting. And I'd be remiss not to mention that some of these compounds in terms of their comparison to a traditional entheogen, they are often favored. I know, for example, there are some South African tribes that would rather use 2C-B than their traditional entheogens just due to the seeming efficacy or purity, or I guess better effects of something like a pharmacologically derived or synthetically created molecule or extract versus what they might get from a plant just due to superior purity. But it sounds like what you're saying is that the source matters because the attitude or the emotions of the person who has created what you might be consuming to enter into a spiritual realm or for a heavier psychedelic trip may actually affect the nature of that trip?
Paul: Yeah, absolutely. I think in the same way that we–in the Bible, it says when you pray and break your food, and anytime that Jesus broke the food and did a miracle, and turn the fish and loaves, and fed a lot of people, he prayed a blessing over it. And I think that the intention of a human being, like if someone makes you a meal and they're mad, you don't really want to eat the meal because the energy goes into the food. You can almost feel it in the meal.
Ben: What if you were to pray over the 2C-B before you took it?
Paul: Then I say that would be a wise thing to do, and I think that you can have protection over many of those things. And simultaneously, I do not want to say that you should do 2C-B and pray over it. I want to be really clear on something, and that is I think that one verse God is–and just kind of praying about this. God's put this verse on my heart and it's Romans 14:17. It says, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” And so, I think that if we elevate this conversation about psychedelics or 2C-B, 2C-I, LSD, any of the plant medicines or anything that is synthetic, if we elevate that to a level of God, then it's an error.
Now, if we say, “God is God and Jesus is Jesus, he's my savior, he's the Lord God, he's the creator of all things,” and now there's a subcategory under that that's going to be a really interesting conversation for us to have. And then, when I think it starts getting into the subcategories, it becomes less of a salvation issue and more of a personal conviction issue. And so, I cannot from my heart encourage people to do 2C-B, 2C-I, or do microdosing LSD. But if they believe that they know Jesus Christ and they don't have conviction in their heart undoing those things, then in the same way that I have to stand before God one day, I believe that they will, too, and they'll have to answer for their heart's convictions and whether or not they responded to them.
Ben: Hey, I want to interrupt today's show because you guys are probably familiar that I'm a fan of either cyclic ketosis or some state of nutritional ketosis to boost brain function. It's a healthy state to be in. It doesn't mean you have to eat butter sticks all day long. And as a matter of fact, my friend Dr. Anthony Gustin, who's super smart, I've been on his podcast, he's been on my podcast, and he is a wealth of knowledge on all things low-carb, trusted medical professional friend of mine. And they have one product at Perfect Keto, probably top of the totem pole for me. It's their keto salt, but they have it in a chocolate flavor. And I can literally put a couple of scoops of that on ice with some bone broth or coconut milk. And I think the total calorie count for me for a smoothie like that is like 50 calories, and my brain and body are humming for hours on end as though I've had like a giant superfood smoothie, and it's just ketones, but they taste really good.
A lot of ketones taste like rocket fuel, not these. They also have ketone bars, they have keto nut butter, they have keto collagen. It's called Perfect Keto. Try out my recipe though. Just toss some of those chocolate ketones in with some bone broth. Sometimes I'll dump a little bit extra stevia in there, even though the chocolate ketones already have a bit of stevia in them, which is probably one of the reasons they taste so good. And then, you could do the bone broth or the coconut milk, add some ice, and you got like an instant little keto ice cream smoothie. Super good and you get 20% off of anything from Perfect Keto plus free shipping if you go to Perfect Keto. Just like it sounds, like Perfect K-E-T-O, perfectketo.com/bgf for 20% off of Perfect Keto plus free shipping, perfectketo.com/bgf.
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Let's say I wake up, I have an intensive writing day, and I'm looking at a cup of coffee, I'm looking at a 10-microgram microdose of LSA or LSD, and I'm looking at a piece of nicotine gum. You're saying that if I were to choose the LSD, the microdose of a psychedelic compound, that in your opinion, that would be unwise as a Christian to choose that?
Paul: I'm saying that for you personally, if you don't have conviction from God and you claim to have a relationship with the Holy Spirit and with Jesus Christ, then you're going to stand before God, and that's between you and God, and that's all I know how to say about it.
Ben: But wouldn't I also have to stand before God for the coffee or the gum?
Paul: Well, I was about to go into that. And so, it says not to be a stumbling block to your brother. So, that means like I feel really comfortable if I have a glass of wine, although drinking is my least favorite thing to do, if I have a glass of wine with my wife, I have zero conviction on that. But I know that it's also possible that someone who grew up and their parents were alcoholics, and they grew up and they started drinking at the age of 12, and they can't even be around alcohol unless they're going to end up just diving into the bottle. And so, that's what I'm saying is like this is a subcategory where it's like a personal conviction and a knowledge of yourself before God that makes it right or wrong. It's not the actual substance that makes it wrong.
Ben: Yeah. Okay. So, that makes better sense to me then. So, what you're saying is if I were to, let's say choose to microdose with a psychedelic, but then I were to tell the entire world that it's totally acceptable and I also would encourage them to, in a similar manner as me, microdose with, say, psilocybin or LSD or something like that, and they were someone who was predisposed to addiction or grew up in a household where those type of things were associated with abuse or the detriment to one's biology, or connection to God, or anything like that, or an escape, or an addiction, that I could, based on the words of Romans 14, be causing someone to stumble or to make an error in a way that they might not do with, say, a cup of coffee, but there's kind of like a slippery slope type of a possibility with something like a psychedelic.
Paul: Yeah. That's 100% what I would say.
Ben: Okay. Although you can kill yourself on caffeine capsules that you buy off Amazon?
Paul: Yeah. That's the weird thing.
Ben: Yeah, the toxicity of the caffeine you can buy on Amazon. Literally, right now, I could go buy a bottle of pills for about 30 bucks and give somebody 10 of them and they would die. I would kill them. And I could do the same with LSD and they'd be perfectly fine the next day.
Paul: Yeah. That is the interesting thing about this moment in history and understanding cognitive dissonance and thought, and programming, and why laws are laws, and all of that. It's a fascinating time to be alive and to contemplate those things. And I think I gave you the illustration, whereas like if I were to go to church or to go to my Christian brothers and be like, “Man, I just took four hits of LSD last night, I sat underneath the stars and I became one with the stars, and I went to the universe, and I learned all these things, and I just saw how much I love the people on this Earth and saw how temporary it was.” And I shared with them my experience. I would say 99% of them would be like, “Wow, that's sinful and you shouldn't have done that,” and it's because there's a certain degree of programming, of how we understand what's right and wrong that has nothing to do with actual sin before God's eyes. It's just like how we've grown up to understand reality.
But at the same time, if a two-year-old kid who comes over to my house and his parents have fed him really healthy all their whole life, he's never had any sugar like processed sugar and he comes over, and I give the kid a Coke and a Snickers and he freaking goes like crazy for two hours. And if you were to study his brain chemistry from taking those substances in, he'd straight-up be on drugs, but there isn't all that 99% of people that would say the LSD was bad, they would be like, “Oh, that's funny. The kid got a little sugar high.” So, there's this disconnect between how we understand I think the law, and sin, and programming, and all of that, and then even drugs in America with food obviously being one of the biggest drugs. I actually asked my friends, I was like, “Hey, if you just right now in America, right before church on Sunday morning, 100% of people that go to church that drink coffee, they're not going to have coffee. How many people go to church that day?” And I said, “I guarantee it would be about 50% would be like, “I'm staying home because I'm going to have a headache, and my wife is going be cranky, and the kids are going to be crying.”
And so, to realize how attached we are to other drugs that we've justified, or even looking back in time, the 1920s when a sin, because it was against the law to consume alcohol, but Jesus turned water into wine and people observing Jesus actually called him a wine river because he was sitting with the alcoholics and drinking, those were Jesus's own words in Matthew. So, it's like because something became a law in America, then it made it a sin to do it, but it's not a sin in the Bible [00:39:23] _____ Jesus didn't. So, I don't know. It's just an interesting one to think about for sure.
Ben: Yeah. When you get into the practice of taking anything before church, that opens up a whole new can of worms. There's actually a new book. It's somewhat controversial. It's called “The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion with No Name,” and it literally is an entire archaeological exploration of the Eucharist, the sacred wine, and also just the entire history of the use of psychedelics in the Christian church. And I actually interviewed Steven Kotler a few years ago about his book “Stealing Fire” in which he claims that this whole idea of koinonia and gathering of early church Christians was actually supported by not only the breaking of bread and wine but actual wine spiced with different psychedelic substances and that the bread may have been the Amanita muscaria mushroom.
It's a very controversial topic, this idea of magic mushrooms, for example, as a way of opening one up to I guess be a little bit more spiritually dynamic in a church or a group worship situation could have actually been something that contributed to early church practices.
I don't know if I'm convinced one way or the other, and I'm not finished with this book that I'm reading about it yet either, but it is kind of interesting how some of this stuff seems to be woven into Christian history, or at least there's some claims that it is, and perhaps a little bit of a rabbit hole, but have you looked into any of this stuff at all like the use of psychedelics in the early church?
Paul: Yeah. It was probably like six years ago. There's a place called Garden of the Gods and had this bookstore. And I went in there, and I guess the owner said that he wrote a book basically showing how mana from above was mushrooms and how that fed people and how they sustain themselves. I read that book and I've known some gnostics as well, and they've shared texts with me that believe those things. But then what I did was I just got the Bible and I said, “You know what, I'm just going to look up every time in the Bible where there is, in any way, the possibility that something is ingested that creates an outcome that is psychedelic in nature.” And everything that I looked up in the Bible, the only thing just in the purely Bible alone that I found was that whenever they did sacrifices, they would use frankincense, which is psychoactive in nature when there's a lot of smoke involved. And if they're putting it on the altar, then that would have been psychoactive. But out of everything I studied in the Bible, that was the only thing that I found.
Now, when you get into exploring the roots of words, or hidden history, or things like that, I believe that it's very easy to manipulate information to have the end result be what your will wishes to find. So, I do not have any comfort in saying that psychedelics were a part of the early Christian church, but also if they were, and I don't know that, then that'll just be something interesting to discover whenever I die, or maybe later in life something will be revealed to me through a person, or through a text, or through God's word, through prayer that I didn't see before.
Ben: Yeah. It's something I'm still exploring. You said that about frankincense. I think the same could be said of myrrh, which I believe was also used by the Magi, possibly also by the Levites. That targets some of the same mu and delta-opioid receptors opium does. And then, frankincense works on GABA receptors almost similar to something like valium. Both are somewhat psychedelic. And many of the spices that were used in even Old Testament times or in many early Christian rituals, the wine actually wasn't just wine, it was spiked with everything from cinnamon to agarwood, which is a sedative, and an analgesic to spikenard, which was the ointment that was rubbed into Jesus's feet.
And a lot of these do act on serotonin, and dopamine, and GABA pathways, but yet God created those pathways. He created us to have a dopaminergic response to everything from sex to wine to ribeye steaks. And I don't necessarily discount the fact that perhaps the use of certain plants to elicit certain mental or spiritual effects could have been part of the early church, or could have been part of the high priest traditions of the Levites or the Israelites. However, again I, like you, tend to turn to the Bible as the ultimate absolute source of truth, and I don't think that we could take those historical anecdotes and then make a justification, for example, for the hefty use of psychedelics for escapism, or trauma release, or many of the reasons that people sometimes seem to turn to these substances as a replacement for God, or a replacement for salvation, or a replacement for even just living in our moral, ethical, upright life. And so, I think that to use this term again, it puts one on the potential for a slippery slope in which the excessive or damaging or escapism use of some of these psychedelics can take the place of God, and then be justified because we might say something like, “Well, the Levites used frankincense and myrrh and it tweaks some neurotransmitters. Therefore, there's absolutely no reason we can't just go ape nuts with this stuff.”
Paul: Yeah. That's good. It really, to me at this point in my life, I've wrestled with the subjects for so long that it has just become this beautiful mystery that I just get to swim in with God because I can create two separate scenarios in my brain. Let's say there's a guy who's 40 years old, he's been married for 13 years, he has a dead marriage, he thinks he has a relationship with Christ, he has three kids, he's overwhelmed by debt, he's out of shape. He goes into the woods with a friend and they eat mushrooms, and he just breaks down and cries and he sees that he hasn't loved his wife, he sees God's love for him, he sees his connection to nature and that he's creating disease within his own body, and he has this intense reflection he goes back, and he's a changed man through one experience.
Like, I could justify the use of mushrooms for people that was like 100% of people if they had that experience, but you can take in the exact same type of person, put them in the woods, and all of a sudden, they have area in their life where they've learned how to manipulate power and it teaches them, a specific demonic entity can teach them something much deeper and they become a powerful agent for Satan and disguised as a Christian because they took that mushroom trip that showed them these really deep things in the spirit realm that they would have never tapped into on their own. And so, those are the two same exact kind of people, but high variability on the outcomes of those. And I could create a thousand scenarios. And I've lived with people and observed people where the most profound, beautiful, amazing things have happened and it just showed them so much about life. And I've been around other people who ended up in mental institutions, full-on possession.
And so, I've seen the outcome go both ways, and that to me is why it's such an intense thing to wrestle with having had as many experiences as I've had. Sometimes I'll be talking to someone. And in my mind, this may not be the correct thought and God convicted me of this. I'm just like, “Man, this dude just went and ate mushrooms and wrote his bike around.” He would not be in this cycle that he can't seem to get out of. And then, simultaneously, my other thought is like, “Well, why am I not praying for this guy and just being brutally honest with him and just be a reflection for what I know that he would discover? And why isn't the Holy Spirit breaking this off of this man? And why is the Bible, him reading the Bible not awakening this part of this man?”
So, yeah. It's something I really wrestle with, and I think it's a mystery, and just the fact the mushroom grows out of the ground. And when we eat it, we have the receptor 5-HT2A, and its only job is to break the psilocybin down into psilocin and our bodies have a deeply intense experience, which means before I was born, before the Earth was here, God had an intention put into the mushroom, intention put into my body, and the intention was for those two things to have a relationship, and the outcome of it is a crazy strong spiritual experience. And I don't know how to answer that because I can't separate–I've asked many, many people and some people said, “Well, it's part of the fall.” I'm like, “Well, everything's part of the fall. You're not going to eat an orange. You're not going to eat an apple because it's part of the fall.”
And then, other people say, “Well, it came down from extraterrestrials and it's one of the few things that can make it through the Earth's atmosphere coming in on asteroids.” And so it actually created consciousness in the evolutionary process. I've studied tons of Terence McKenna back in the day and all those dudes that were wizards with that thought process. And I believe that I had the experiences so that if people are out there searching and they say, “I've tried all these things, I went and did ayahuasca in the Amazon jungle,” or, “I went and ate this heroic dose of mushrooms and met these entities, and broke free from all these fears.” And my job I believe is to say, “I've done those things, too, and at the end of it, I was really just becoming my own God, and my breakthroughs were just personal, and I was just relying on my own power, and you're going to need Jesus, you're going to need salvation, you're going to need God, or else you're going to end up empty, alone, and crazy like I was. And it might take you 50 years, it might take you 80 years, it might take you one trip, but that will be the end result.”
Ben: Yeah. You know, I have a few thoughts about this based on what you've just said. First of all, this idea that God created all things and that all things in creation are in and of themselves created for good or named by God as good. That pops up all the time in Genesis. I think there's like four or five different times in just the first book of the Bible in genesis alone where it says, “God saw it was good. God made it, it was good. God created the entire planet and all things were created for good.” That doesn't mean they can't be bastardized, that doesn't mean that we cannot take anything that was created from a nice Bordeaux that we might get drunk and drink three bottles of and abuse our partner to overdosing on something like psilocybin to, whatever, drowning in a beautiful lake.
There's all sorts of ways that creation can be twisted, and that's just our nature as fallen sinful humans to be able to do so. Yet I think that everything on this planet was created for specific intention for a specific good. I think that in many cases, many of these plants that can tweak one's neurochemistry, or the synthetic variants thereof that smart humans have figured out how to isolate and create can be used for everything from, like I mentioned earlier, merging of the left and right hemispheres of the brain, increased creativity, increased sensory perception for something like hunting, or hiking, or sex, the ability to be able to write, to tap into areas of creativity, to be able to dissolve the ego and brainstorm in different ways.
There was a good use for many of these things, but I think that they can all be bastardized. And I think that the fact that many of these things that we're talking about, LSD, MDMA, psilocybin, 2C-I, 2C-B, you name it, because they act so heavily on neurotransmitters, the addictive potential and the escape potential is much, much higher than, say, an orange or a tomato. And so, you need to be even more careful, even more cautious, even more precise in dosing, and also arguably, even more connected to God and firm in your faith before you would begin to use something like that. So, that's one take that I have. But then you also mentioned this whole idea of the spiritual realm and the capability of these to bring you into what seems to be a little bit of a spiritual realm, or in many cases, a lot of a spiritual realm. We're talking about like demon possession and angels and interaction with these spiritual forces.
And there's kind of like two different camps of thought and I'd be curious to get your take on this. There's kind of like the very, I guess, reductionist, materialistic assumption that the brain is the generator of consciousness. And so, when people say, “Take DMT,” and that interacts with the 5-H2 …what was it, the 5-HT2A receptors, like these serotonergic receptors that when we're seeing elves and aliens and little magical clockwork grasshoppers or praying mantises, or everything else that seems to be almost universal in human consciousness when we take these kind of things, all the way down to sacred geometries and pyramids that all that we are experiencing are anthropomorphic data that would pop into, otherwise, kind of random data that's in our heads that these plant medicines are inducing just due to previous experiences or just general human anthropomorphic data that's floating in our brains. That's one reductionistic assumption.
And then, the other argument is we are literally dropping into, especially with trip-based doses of many of these things, a complete other spiritual realm in which we are actually interacting with powerful beings like aliens, and angels, and demons, and goddesses, and demigods, and spiritual elders, and religious figures like Buddha, or Krishna, or Muhammad.
And so, I'm curious what your take on that is, and if you feel that we actually are entering into a spiritual realm, or this is all just a projection of data floating around in our brain.
Paul: I think that my answer for that is it goes back to kind of it's a mystery. I have read so much on the subject, but specifically read one where a scientist who was an atheist went to an ayahuasca ceremony. And three days later, he came back absolutely believing in God, in the spirit realm. And I'm not saying he gave his life to Christ, but this atheistic scientist–and that's just one small instance. I think that for me personally, I have known when it was a figment of my imagination. I could sense when it was real. Out of the thousand times, and a thousand is just a random, like an approximate number, but out of those times, I had two bad trips and both were with the same person, and both times, the person actually turned into a vampire. And I saw very, very clearly a vampiric spirit, and I wanted to be as far away from that person as possible, like as fast as possible.
And looking back now at the beginning of our relationship, I was like, “Oh, that was absolutely there the entire time and I saw it manifest after.” I was no longer in the relationship and I saw it so, so clearly. To me, I can differentiate between if I look at this wall in front of me, and it's a solid kind of like grayish white wall. But if it were to start turning into leaves and swirling patterns and fragmented reality, I'd be like, “Okay, that's my imagination.” Now, if I start interacting with one of my friends and I see like a deep level of sadness in them, that is the spirit of sadness that is perhaps hidden underneath layers of pretend, and I believe that that is a potential to see something that is real is a spirit of sadness in a person that perhaps had masks over it.
And if you even take it away from–view it from an endogenous perspective or exogenous, but you look at a dream, like what is a dream? What is a vision? What's a hallucination? What's your imagination? All those things, and I just realized the other day when I was writing, I was like, “We're trying to find logic and reason to apply to something that is supernatural in nature and that we interact with half of our lives, whether that's true for taking a substance and it creates an outcome, or whether we fall asleep, or whether we are sitting there exercising.” Like, I rode my bike. When I was in college, I was like, “I'm riding my bike 110 miles,” and that was like old mountain bike. And the furthest I'd ever ridden was like 70 miles, and I wrote it at night–
Ben: Sound reasonable.
Paul: Yeah. And I wrote it at night and I went from San Angelo, Texas to Brownwood Texas in the last in between Blanket, Texas. And between Brownwood and Blanket, which is the last 10 miles of 110 miles, the sun was coming up and it was a hot summer day. And the last 10 miles was like hills and I was like, “Exhausted.” And like that last 10 miles, I can't even describe the things that I saw. It was more intense than any trip I've ever had, and I didn't take any drug. I was eating like peanut butter jelly sandwiches and yerba mate and water, I think. So, I mean, what does it mean whenever our bodies can create that without–what does it mean when we fall asleep? What does it mean when I was lucid dreaming? I taught myself to lucid dream, and very specifically could interact with entities in my dream and either command them to leave or just avoid them, and then that's actually how I went crazy was there's two entities in my dream when I was lucid dreaming and they continually had power over me, and they would taunt me, and they'd say, “Hey, you think you're pretty strong and powerful in this dream world? I want you to come and play with us.” And I couldn't sleep for two days and I was just haunted by these things.
And that is when my friend came over and he just prayed over me in the name of Jesus Christ, and these specific demons that I had in me named themselves without me consciously saying, “I'm going to name this thing.” These demons left me and I felt what those spirits inside of me were manifesting in my thoughts, actions, and words in my life up to that point, and it was so revealing of the spirit realm. And so, I know that the reason I was haunted in that lucid state, which some would say you're hallucinating from the pineal gland, it was a spiritual entity and I had freedom that it not only affected my dream, but it affected my real life where I didn't have these spirits in me anymore. The next day is when I got on my face and just called out to Jesus. And at that time, experience was the only way that I was determining truth at that point in my life. And I just said, “Jesus, I was trying meditation, I was trying mushrooms, I was trying–” this is when I was living off-grid and I was just really in tune with everything. And it just completely gave my life to Jesus and felt the Holy Spirit come over me. And I think that sometimes, it's absolutely a figment of your imagination. I think that sometimes it is the most real interface with the spirit realm, and I think that sometimes, it is a completely manipulated trip. And that's the thing is there's so many variables.
Ben: Yeah. There are a lot of variables. And I would say I don't think you can make a one-sided argument about whether, let's say, an entity exists outside of human consciousness, or whether it's a product of human consciousness. I think that it can be both. I think that I could, for example, and this is something that I've had similar things happen to me before where you might go to the zoo, let's use this as an example, and you might be looking at a whole bunch of–I'm just going to throw a random animal out there, camels. And then, the next weekend, you might actually be doing some kind of a trip dose of LSD or psilocybin or MDMA or–probably not MDMA, and DMT, something like that, and you might experience this whole new spiritual realm where there are camel-like aliens walking around in your dream.
And I would suspect that a large part of that is anthropomorphic and based on your experience at the zoo the week prior, and your brain's neurotransmitters actually processing this trip to the zoo, and you actually seeing strange camel beings in your head because that's kind of what your head was full of before you started to tweak some of these neurotransmitters that amplified that experience. However, I also think at the same time, you can, in this deep spiritual state that one can enter into with a hefty use of a plant medicine or psychedelic, actually be in a spiritual realm in which you, in a very similar way as you might experience during a very long fast, or lucid dreaming, or holotropic breathwork, or prayer, or anything else that opens the doors to the spiritual realm actually truly be interacting with spirits, angels, demons, et cetera, in sometimes a helpful but often a dangerous or potentially dangerous manner.
And I think that that needs to be approached very seriously. I do not deny the presence of a spiritual realm. I cannot as a Christian, as a spiritual man, deny the presence of angels, and demons, and principalities, and powers, and all these things happening in the fourth dimension in and around us that that we cannot even see or witness when we are in our lucid egotistical conscious state, yet I think if there's a lot going on around us, that we are able to delve into and see and perceive once we actually slip into a subconscious or a less perceptibly conscious state as we might do with plant medicine. And so, I think it can be both. It can be a product of anthropomorphic data, and it can also literally be a complete different interaction with entities that exist outside of human consciousness.
And if you look at, for example, a lot of these shaman battles in the Amazon where these guys will go to battle over people's souls and people's spirits, and there are cases of shamans possessing people even in the U.S., good shamans, bad shamans, fighting over people's souls, collecting souls, collecting spirits. And actually, in a way very similar to demon possession, shamans or plant medicine practitioners will literally possess people or take charge over them. And I've seen certain people who are people who I know actually be affected very deleteriously from a physiological and a biological standpoint by working with, say, a shaman who literally just had it out for them and wanted to curse them, or ruin their life, or possess them with the demon, or just completely mess with them so to speak in kind of a power play way.
And I know this kind of stuff happens all the time. I am friends with shamans and I have talked to many people who have had similar experiences in many cases in the Amazon or in places where a lot of this stuff runs a little bit more rampant. And I will not deny that that exists. And again, I think that because of that, for me, my own personal stance is if you're going to eff around with this stuff, if you're going to take trip doses of any of these psychedelics or plant medicines, you sure as hell better know what you're getting into. If you're a Christian, and I think that if you're not, you're playing with fire to even greater extent, you better have prayed on the armor of God, you better be in deep spiritual union with God, you need to be saved and washed with the blood of Jesus, and you need to be protected going into any of these type of environments because you might decide, “Hey, I need a new business breakthrough. Therefore, I'm not going to microdose with 10 micrograms of LSD. I'm going to take a pretty hefty hit of DMT. I'm going to take 100 or 200 micrograms of LSD.”
You may enter into a completely different dimension that you did not expect and open yourself up to some pretty intense spiritual experiences that could change you for the rest of your life. And that's playing with fire. I mean, these are things to be taken very, very seriously, in the same way that you wouldn't hop on a motorcycle and drive 200 miles an hour across the desert without a helmet on or body armor or anything else. I mean, this is the same idea, like you need to approach this stuff with a great deal of caution and preparation. And frankly, I think that some people have no business at all around heftier doses of these psychedelics and plant medicines because they're not spiritually prepared or physically prepared. Whereas other people are called to it, can handle it, and it may actually benefit their lives based on what they come out the other side with.
And again, I know that's a tough pill for people to swallow or to hear well. Some people can, some people can't. It's right for some people, it's not right for other people. God has called some, God has not called others to that type of experience, especially when we're talking about higher dosages. And I just think it's a very fragile topic and it needs to be approached with a great deal of respect and caution, and that's what drives me nuts are the people on their 48th ayahuasca trip who are still searching, experimenting with a wide number of plant medicine-based and psychedelic-based compounds. And there is no trust in God, there is no foundational spiritual health, and they're simply using these type of things as an escape or as a replacement for what God can do in one's life.
Paul: Yeah. I've heard so much about that before and just looked in the Bible, because I did nutrition and coaching and all that stuff for a little over a decade, and I still help people with things like that. And so, let's say that you have somebody and they come to you and they're celiac, and then they say, “Well, my body can't handle wheat. I just get really, really sick.” Someone else will come to you and say, “Well, lactose makes me break out and I get really bloated.” Another person will come and say, “If I have red meat, I'm extremely constipated and it's hard for me to have any energy for the next day or two, and my body is trying to break it down.” It's very reasonable to assume through nutrigenomics and just studying the body that each one of us are built differently, and what our nutritional needs are, and what our body responds to will be different.
And so, imagine if God created the mushroom, that perhaps the mushroom is such a specific thing that there are only specific people that should partake in it in the same way that some people can eat wheat and some people it just messes up their stomach. And if you study the Indian culture, which I used to a lot, the shamans in the Indian culture would say that you should–they would consider somebody foolish if they did not have the calling on their life to eat peyote or mushrooms to go on these journeys where they learned about specific hunts or who they were as men. And they said, “If you don't have the calling on your life, you partake in those things that you were extremely foolish and it would affect your life in a very negative way within those tribes.” And that answer is not biblical and it's just my observation of reality in general as a possibility.
Ben: Yeah. And again, a lot of this stuff is stuff that I think we, as Christians especially, are having to navigate through in a way that due to increasing popularity and acceptability in our current cultural climate is something that perhaps Christians have not at least in recent history had to deal with quite as much before because again, we're talking about things that are now considered culturally to be noble, and laudable, and acceptable, and good replacements for pharmaceuticals, for example, for trauma release, and also as things that many people would equate to, as I mentioned earlier, simply the equivalent in smaller doses as caffeine, or nicotine, or nootropic, or insert the name of your favorite smart drug here.
And so, yeah, there's a lot of avenues that we've explored thus far in this podcast that I think Christians are now having to think about. And I think that one thing that I should say for sure is if you don't know the answer, or you suspect this isn't for you, or you're not called, or you seem to be opening yourself up to strange spiritual dimensions you haven't experienced before, probably not your cup of tea. You're probably not in a place or state where you should be partaking in these type of things because again, I think they can be dangerous.
And there's one other question I get asked a lot in the Christian sector, Paul, and that's this whole idea like back in the Garden of Eden, the tree, if there's a tree of life and there's the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And many people say, “Well, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the ability to be able to delve into the mind of God and know God and really truly understand our fallibility as human beings, or be able to really know what's good or what's evil, that was a mushroom, or that was a plant medicine.” And therefore, when we first took that, and we weren't supposed to back in the Garden of Eden, and God protected it with flaming swords and angels that dictated that we have no business going near this stuff because it is actually the tree of good and evil, or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You have any thoughts on that?
Paul: Yeah. I don't think that that is shown anywhere in the Bible, but I also believe that there is a mystery behind what the tree of knowledge of good and evil is because it could be symbolic because I've traveled a fairly good amount and I've never run into a tree of knowledge of good and evil in all my travels. I've run into lots of other kinds of trees–
Ben: Aka many people may be familiar with this as the forbidden fruit in the Bible.
Paul: Right. And so, some people will say it's an apple, but you're not going to find the word apple anywhere. That's just like a–
Ben: Apple, fig, pomegranate, grape.
Paul: Yeah. You're not going to find those. And so, I personally believe that whatever they ate, it had less to do with the fruit and it had more to do with their choice and discovering their own self-sovereignty and their own free will, and choosing to become their own gods instead of allowing God's will and God's sovereignty to reign over their lives, which would have been essentially heaven on earth for eternity. And so, I think it's less about the type of fruit that they ate, and I think it's more of the choice that they made, and the end result of that was that they became their own gods. And I think that that is the trapping of this whole psychedelic push that's been happening in the world right now is that it is elevated to a place where you can become your own god. You're like, “Wow, I see through religion, I see through societal structure, I see through the necessity for materialism, I see how bad hate is, and I'm vibrating no longer in a level of shame, but I'm elevated to a level of love.”
And so, this experience is now elevated to the level of God, and not only that, but becoming your own god. And I think that is the trapping, and I think it's just like a repeat of history. The same choice that Adam and Eve made is being made right now, and that's just the choice to become our own god. And I can't speak to knowledge of what that fruit was, and I can understand having ate mushrooms before I was a Christian and very clearly seeing things that I was blaming on other people, I saw it inside myself. I was like, “No. I'm angry, I am full of hate, I'm full of manipulation, and I'm full of sadness, I'm full of bitterness. And instead of projecting it onto someone else's their issue, this is my issue.”
So, that to me could be a reflection of what the tree of knowledge of good and evil is that personal reflection that's so intense. And I understand when people view the mushroom experience and say that had to have been the tree of knowledge, that's what it was. And I could be wrong. Maybe one day when I die and I say, “God, what was the tree of knowledge?” He's like, “It was a mushroom.” I'm like, “Wow, that's crazy. I just thought it was something else.” I could be wrong, but to me, I look to the Bible for the answer, and to me, it's not conclusive that it is a mushroom or any specific type of fruit. And it seems to be less about the type of fruit or else would have been specifically named and more about the action that that choice produced as a result for humanity.
Ben: Yeah. I would tend to agree because we could say, maybe it was nutmeg, which we know contains myristicin, which is a natural compound with some pretty significant hallucinogenic and mind-altering effects, which is why it's, for example, a preferred prison source of psychedelics when you can't get your hands on anything else. But if we say that we could therefore point a long crooked finger at every Christian drinking eggnog with nutmeg in it on Christmas and say, “Forbidden fruit, you're opening yourself up to the spiritual dimension.” And again, I think that you are correct in that. The whole story of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is simply a very stark message that we should obey God, right?
Paul: We should obey that the two greatest commandments of the Bible, “Love God and love your neighbor,” right? And so, many of this stuff, once we get through all the crap of, “Was it this? Was it that? What historical fruit was the tree the knowledge of good and evil?” It doesn't matter if it was a banana, or nutmeg, or mushrooms. The message is simple. Obey God. And so, sometimes I think we get caught up in the weeds. And in many cases, that's why I wanted to record this podcast. We short ourselves on being able to partake in what God has called good, which is all of creation because we're holding ourselves back due to preconceived notions and beliefs.
Part of loving God and loving others, as you so astutely noted, Paul, is also not causing others to stumble. And if you are married to, or you are friends with, or you have relationships with people who would be brought into some very painful, or traumatic, or troubling places, if they were to use the same type of compounds as you're using, then that would be another perfect example of, “Hey, you know what, don't microdose with LSD because your wife used to be addicted to LSD in college, had some pretty significant, and disruptive, and troubling trips, and it just shouldn't be in the house.” The same as it might be if your partner was a previous alcoholic. I don't care how much you like Bordeaux, it's just the sacrifice you might need to make for a while is just not have wine around.
So, yeah. I think a lot of this stuff we have to approach from a very practical manner in which we're looking at what scripture has to say using the Bible, which again I believe is the source of absolute truth, absolute right, and we have to have absolute truth in our lives, we must have some kind of natural law on our hearts, and I think the Bible is our manual for that. And whereas I don't think we can find evidence in the Bible where it says, “Don't take psilocybin or don't stir theanine into your coffee.” What we can find is a clear and distinct message that we are called to be sober of mind, responsible, we see situations in which wine is acceptable, and we see situations in which wine, when used irresponsibly or for drunkenness, is not acceptable. We see situations in which the land is overflowing with milk and honey, and honey is just the most amazing super nutrient that God gave to humankind. And then, there are other places in the proverbs where it says, “Don't eat too much honey because it's going to make you vomit and that's irresponsible.”
And so, when you look at the Bible, it's got the practical recommendations in there, and I think most people know, if you're flat on your ass all the time and having horrific hallucinations and lucid dreams that are bringing to a deeply dark spiritual place, and your entire life is becoming disrupted, and you're going crazy because you start to delve into psychedelics. Stop. And if your life is better, and your relationships are better, and you're writing better books, and you're more productive, and everything's humming along quite nicely because you discovered that, whatever, a microdose of nutmeg, or LSD, or psilocybin, or whatever, has been able to unlock that for you. Great. You're using God's creation in a good way. Proceed. But I think that we simply cannot, with a big broad brush, paint a picture that says, “Psychedelics are cool for all Christians and all humans to partake in her your plant medicines. Just go to town and do whatever you want.”
Paul: Yeah. And I think I've listened to a few of your other podcasts and you have instructed people that there are studies being done into–they're experts who are testing these things out with John Hopkins or with PTSD. And I think it'd be very wise to let these tests unfold with the newfound publicity that the psilocybin mushroom is getting. And I have a friend, and I won't say his name, but his wife had some brain issues where she had a brain surgery earlier in her life and it led to some pretty intense depression, which is very uncharacteristic of her normal attitude towards life and it just hit her like crazy.
And so, the doctor was suggesting ketamine, but then they heard the first podcast I did and they were like, “Man, would you suggest microdosing with psilocybin to help her with this?” And every part of myself just wanted to say, “Yes. Before you go get on a bunch of crazy drugs, go and try some mushrooms. Yes, God created the mushroom, it's going to be very inexpensive, there's low risk, you can pray with her.” But I didn't have the freedom to say that because I feel like all the variables we've talked about, like what happens if all of a sudden, it's the opposite effect for her and that she becomes manic depressive and bipolar from that. I'm just like, “Ooh.” Then all of a sudden, I've given him a suggestion, and the outcome of that I have to stand before God and my friend and say, “I suggested this and I didn't fully understand the potential outcome of what I was suggesting, and I'm responsible for that.” That's the balance that we're in right now is that there's so much publicity going around it and the outcomes are so crazy on their potential that you have to have a tremendous amount of not only wisdom and discernment, but also of kind of like, let's slowly, slowly understand this not from the world's perspective, but from a prayer and biblical perspective.
Ben: Yup. And I think that's reasonable, and that is wise, and I'll come right out and say it right now. All these people I've interviewed about psychedelics, ketamine, psilocybin, Johns Hopkins research on trauma release, all of that should be couched in the following terms. I think that anybody going through any of those experiences first and foremost needs God, they need salvation, they need a Bible by their bedside, and they need true connection with their creator and a full union with God and salvation from Jesus Christ. Once those foundational principles are in place, yeah, what God has created on this planet such as plant medicines might be the icing on the cake to help you break through and fully dissolve and release perhaps some of the tangled-up trauma that still might be harbored, whether epigenetically in your MRNA or DNA or some neurotransmitter imbalances that could potentially be corrected through the properly administered use of some of these medicines. I'm not close to that, but ultimately, the foundation, the foundation, and here comes Ben the Jesus freak, foundation must be God, Jesus, and the Bible.
Once you have that in place, then yeah, go and with wisdom, and discernment, and responsibility, and turn into God in prayer, use some of these other elements that God has put on the planet to help some of those things along, but you cannot ignore the foundation, you cannot place your trust in anything, anything, but God because everything else is a shaky foundation that will eventually fall away and fail. Whereas knowing Jesus laying all your shame, and sin, and trauma at the foot of the cross, believing in God, reading your Bible, the only source of absolute truth that exists on the face of this planet every day, you do those things. And then, if plant medicine is something that God has called you to, whether microdosing or journey-based doses, then yeah, proceed but with prayer, and with discernment, and with counsel. And I'm hoping that this podcast today gives some people some direction when it comes to how to approach this the right way, but I would be remiss not to say that every single researcher at Johns Hopkins, I wish before they were heading to work each day, they were reading God's word, had a Bible tucked into their backpack on their way into the lab and were praying with their patients and bringing everything to God, laying everything at the foot of the cross, and then using all these other blessings that God has put around the planet to basically make the process even better in the way that God has equipped us to do. But yeah, the foundational principles cannot be denied.
Paul: Yeah. That's good. Yeah. We just got to read in Ecclesiastes. We do Bible study every Monday morning in our business with the Hayhurst Brothers, and this morning went through the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, and last verse says, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter.” So, Solomon, basically, was the wisest man in the world, richest man in the world, had all the insights into, like everything is just like what we're striving for from an earthly perspective. It's just temporary, and fleeting, and vanity, and vexation of spirit. And he says, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep His commandments for this is man's all, for God will bring every work into judgment including every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
And so, yeah, man, that was good. And I think this is a very, not only timely, but just important conversation to have. I never struggle with conversations ever. This is one that I struggle with because it's a balance between knowing Christ fully and knowing Jesus is my savior, and then having had these really intense experiences in my life where I have no other option but to be honest with what I experienced and the potentialities behind them. And for someone who hasn't engaged those realities, it isn't as easy to understand the necessity for honesty, but whenever you're out there searching and you're willing to go to the Amazon jungle by yourself and with a shaman, like have a 24-hour trip where you have no touch with reality at all, like if you're willing to do that, then you want somebody that's honest and truthful about the things that they've experienced because you're like, “I'm doing this.” Like, the least you can do is be honest. And if Jesus is the answer, then let's be honest about everything else. And so, yeah, this is a timely and good conversation. I'm going to pray that the people that hear this will come to know Jesus Christ as their savior and that is the answer. And from there, it's all just subcategory stuff.
Ben: Yup. And if you want to know more about that, I'll link to it in the shownotes for this podcast at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/christianpsychedelic, a whole article I wrote about “The Hero's Journey.” You'll read that article, it'll tell you everything you need to know about where to find true salvation that lasts a lifetime, and far beyond, where to find the true bliss that goes way beyond the five minutes you're going to get from a DMT vape pen, and it's called “The Hero's Journey.” And I would go and read that. I will link to it in the shownotes again at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/christianpsychedelic. Look for Paul's new book called “The Psychedelic Christian” to come out soon. And I will also link to Paul's website where you can go find out more about that book that's going to be written for people who are searching the spiritual realm for truth. And again, that's all going to be at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/christianpsychedelic where you can leave your own thoughts, comments, experiences with plant medicines and psychedelics, whether as a Christian or otherwise. I read all those comments, so feel free to jump into the conversation.
And in the meantime, Paul, thanks for, despite you not being in a tiny home, coming on the podcast from your tiny, tiny, tiny room.
Paul: I enjoyed it thoroughly, Ben. Thanks for the opportunity.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
My guest on today's show, Paul Risse, is a husband, father, and a bit of a modern Renaissance man—but also happens to be a deep well of knowledge in the realm of psychedelics and Christianity.
He was a personal trainer on ABC's Extreme Makeover TV show in L.A. as well as a personal trainer, chef, and life coach for “Average Joe on the Raw.” He ate 100% raw vegan for a couple of years and lived off-grid with no electricity for a year. He is the CEO of Cleanse America, which has led 10,000 people through a cleansing process over the course of 2 years. He created and ran a smoothie bar called Barefoot Market for 6 years. He built his own “tiny house” with no experience going into the process and wrote a book about the journey called Kinda Tiny Home: An Unorthodox Approach to Building & Owning Your Own Home. He is currently a designer and builder with the Hayhurst Brothers. His business has been on the DIY network show “Texas Flip and Move” the past two years, and he is now preparing to film a new show for HGTV.
Paul has taken psychedelics around 1,000 times over the course of a decade, including DMT, Salvia, 2CB, 2CI, and LSD, but 99% of what he engaged with were mushrooms. He is almost finished writing his new book entitled The Psychedelic Christian, which will be written for people searching the spirit realm for truth.
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-Why tiny houses are so popular among the youth…7:30
- Parents are not content with the big house
- Consciousness of the carbon footprint
- Less responsibility, more freedom to travel
- Paul's book: Kinda Tiny Homes
-Paul's history with psychedelics and Christianity…11:10
- Traditional upbringing; father a steady leader
- Began experimenting with drugs as a teenager (parents not drug abusers themselves)
- Lack of spiritual maturity as a teenager
- Fathered a child; stopped drug use when this happened
- Knew ofChrist, but didn't know Christ on a personal level
- Experienced trauma after a divorce; used mushrooms for relief
-Differences in the use of synthetic vs. natural substances…24:50
- Synthetic substances that affect mood, thoughts, etc. have a different effect than natural ones
- Possible use for sorcery
- Asking a blessing over a meal from a non-Christian perspective can be very different than a Christian perspective
- The intent and spirit of the creator of the substance may affect the quality or nature of the experience
- Romans 14:17“The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking…”
- Matter of personal conviction and the response to it
- Awareness of the convictions of others too
- Disconnect between conventional biblical dogma and real-life practice (ex. sugar highs)
- Book: The Immortality Keyby Brian Muraresku and Graham Hancock
- Book: Stealing Fireby Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal
- Stealing Fire: BGF podcast with Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal
-The use of psychedelics in the Bible and early church…41:00
- Frankincense was used during sacrifices mentioned in the Bible
- Easy to manipulate information to be what you want to find
- No strong evidence of use of psychedelics among early Christians
- Danger in using conjecture on anecdotal evidence to justify excessive use in the modern-day
-Balancing creation and the use of it via psychedelics…49:30
- All things were created for good; does not mean that they cannot be bastardized
-Are we entering the spiritual realm when we take psychedelics?…53:40
- Paul has had experiences when he knew he was in the spiritual realm
- Also knows when visions are simply his imagination
- The body can produce hallucinogenic effects even without the use of substances
- Entity outside of human consciousness or a product of human consciousness
- Playing with fire; take the use of substances very seriously (caution, preparation spiritually)
- Some may be harming by ingesting substances just as we have food intolerances and allergies
- If you don't feel called, or feel insecure partaking, you shouldn't
-Whether the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is actually a modern psychedelic plant…1:08:40
- Adam and Eve became their own gods, rather than allowing God to be sovereign in their lives
- The same temptation is before us today
- Less about the actual fruit than about the result of it on the course of human history
-Why you need to just come to Jesus before anything else…1:19:15
Resources from this episode:
– Paul Risse:
– BGF podcasts and articles:
- The Hero's Journey
- Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work.
- The Immortality Keyby Brian Muraresku and Graham Hancock
- Stealing Fireby Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal
– Other resources:
- Article: Magic mushroom in churches.
- Article: Psilocin Promotes Structural and Functional Neuroplasticity
- What does Romans 14:17 mean?
- Article: Getting High with the Most High: Drugs in the Bible
- Article: Why Does It Matter That God Called Creation “Very Good”?
- Article: How To Get High On The Nutmeg You Bought For Eggnog.
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