In this episode of The Third Wave Podcast, Jonathan Thompson of Psychedelic Parenting talks to us about his views on community, honesty, religion and spirituality, and how the psychedelic experience can contribute to raising a loving family. He’s been called a Pothead Parent… but Jonathan tells us that there’s much more to his philosophy than recreational drugs.
Jonathan is very active in the psychedelic community, having recently presented at the Beyond Psychedelics conference in Prague, at the Detroit Entheogenic conference, and appearing in a recent interview by Michigan State University in a feature titled “Pothead Parents”. Jonathan also comes from Michigan, currently a hotspot for the psychedelic community, producing many current contributors to the psychedelic movement (including The Third Wave’s founder Paul Austin) and being the location of various festivals such as Electric Forest and Lakes of Fire.
Jonathan talks about the importance of building a community in the psychedelic movement, that goes beyond an online connection. Jonathan believes that meeting in person and being a physical community is important in building a stronger sense of connection between proponents of the psychedelic movement.
Sharing a psychedelic experience with someone is arguably the strongest bond you can forge, says Jonathan. He talks about the permanent connection he feels with his best friend, who shared a psychedelic experience with him in 1999. Jonathan believes that having a common psychedelic experience together makes it easier to open up to that person; to be more genuine, and less easily offended by criticism.
Honesty is a huge factor in Jonathan’s parenting philosophy, and he believes that the psychedelic experience can make it easier to be honest with yourself and others. Of the five values of psychedelic family laid out on Jonathan’s website, honesty is number one. He believes that this is the core of building a loving and trusting family. And not only can honesty bring families closer together; it can make strangers into family in the blink of an eye.
In light of the Hubert Reeves quote, “Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that the nature he’s destroying is the God he’s worshipping”, Jonathan suggests a fundamental link between all mystical teachers, be they Buddhists, Hindu Yogis, Sufis… But this isn’t true of non-mystical religious leaders. In Aldous Huxley’s ‘The Perennial Philosophy’, it’s written that if all the major religion leaders were to get together in the same room, there would be lots of disagreement – but if the same happened with all mystical practitioners, such as monks or Yogis, who were free of religious dogma – there would be much more in common.
Jonathan points out a talk by Bob Jesse at the 2013 MAPS conference, were he talks about the difference between religion and spirituality. He proposes that our negative perceptions of religion are based around dogma, and our positive perceptions of religion are focused on the spiritual side. Jessie suggests that organised religion is often missing a freedom of spirituality, and this is something that psychedelics can give us. Jonathan points out that in the US constitution we have a freedom of religion, but not a freedom of spirituality; we either have to accept psychedelic experiences as religious, ignoring the negative connotations, or we have to start rebranding religion and spirituality.
Most religious people these days have not had a mystical experience. Jonathan points out that psychedelics allow you to enter a mystical, spiritual place that religion alone can often not provide. He argues that the psychedelic experience gives you a form of introspection that can make you a better person, which is the kind of experience religious people strive for. Religions have historically never had a great relationship with their mystics, because it’s hard to control a spiritually open population. Jonathan even suggests that the Medieval ‘Dark Ages’ were the peak of mystical Christianity, producing some very enlightened mystical writings, demonstrating an intense understanding of the unity of the universe.
Nevertheless, there is a negative side of mystical religion. Jonathan talks about his experiences with the more spiritual side of religion, seeing that it can sometimes be out of touch with the world, whereas the core of Christianity has a large focus on helping others and protecting the vulnerable. Jonathan believes that the lessons learned from the psychedelic experience should be put into practice more often, and that the psychedelic community should make an effort to change the world and spread their happiness and love.
Jonathan tells us about his views on psychedelic parenting; he believes that it’s important to communicate honestly with your kids, and points out a talk by Allyson Grey that suggests giving children more information than they ask for; helping you understand where their level of knowledge is will help you to know how much information you need to share in future. Jonathan says that instead of shielding your children from psychedelics, you should be honest about them, without actually exposing them to drugs or drug-taking. Jonathan, for example, does not take substances around his kids, and does not force them to undergo psychedelic experiences. He believes that children should be allowed to make their own decisions, and he would not be upset if his children ended up moving away from the psychedelic community.
Unconditional support and love of your children is the most important aspect of parenting, says Jonathan. For him, psychedelics make that part of parenting easier. He also believes that being able to talk to your family about your beliefs and values makes it easier to raise your children.
Finally, Jonathan mentions that the recent US election gives everyone in the psychedelic community to be more loving and make a genuine difference in the world, perhaps now more than ever.