By Johnny Mumbles
It blows my mind how kids have to decide their career track so early in life. My nephew is going to a special magnet high school for biomedical science. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I considered high school a breeze and college a foray into self-discovery, immersed in a cloudy purple haze. Did I take for granted the toils of my parents, the real cost of my education? My brother got a vasectomy after he calculated the cost of putting his kids through college. That’s real.
I was liberal with my arts but I’m still not sure what my degree means. My major was Daoist Business. My thesis was titled “The Legend of the Liquid Sword, approaching the context of ineffability through Daoism, Buddhism and the Wu Tang Clan.” Needless to say, it was a real page-turner. As the West studies the East, understanding enlightenment must play out spiritually as well as intellectually. And then I got high.
My thesis was titled “The Legend of the Liquid Sword, approaching the context of ineffability through Daoism, Buddhism and the Wu Tang Clan.”
Buddhists believe it takes three incalculable eons to achieve enlightenment. Seems like a long time to me but with the concept of rebirth, I see a horizon of self-determination. One may feel like they are at the beginning. You may be a rebirth away. The question is, how far one has travelled along this immeasurable span? Perhaps rebirth doesn’t require physical death. Travellers on the path to enlightenment magnetize to each other. Some of my favourite people are bodhisattvas.
I went to my Buddhist philosophy classes so high, dropping gems about non-dual awareness and the limitations of language relating to a conditionless state of being. So stoned, I typed papers on my first typewriter, an electric Brother I found in a trash shed. Every staccato strike of the hammer turned lead ink to pure gold. No grades at my college—those professors had to provide written evaluations for whatever spouted out of my baked brain. More often than not, my words were well-received. When tasked with describing the indescribable, there is no fakin’ the funk. And shit got real funky.
When tasked with describing the indescribable, there is no fakin’ the funk. And shit got real funky.
College provided what one would hope—critical skills in thinking, writing and research, lifelong friends and in this case a circular diploma. A liberating experience, I still walked away with sticky questions. Real sticky. Sticky-icky-icky. What future am I accountable for? Is every minute I am not working toward a goal a lost opportunity? Does every missed action have a reaction, amplified into countless cosmic repetition? Is this the weed talking? My third typewriter didn’t have a functional question mark key. Maybe it was better that way.
My tai chi teacher offered a special class in seated meditation. I have been practicing tai chi for some years now, and I treasure its power to centre my being while moving at the speed of honey. A daily repeated activity echoes through eternity, especially one aimed at quieting the mind. Once one commits to meditation they begin to craft the foundation. Each session another step closer to the goal. What if one sits down to breathe deeply, blinks, and then opens their eyes to non-dual awareness? The Buddha abandoned his family. That may have allowed him to take the first step on the path to enlightenment, but it definitely made him an absent father and husband. As the second Noble Truth decrees, desire is the root cause of suffering. Then knowingly I desire and therefore I suffer. These things that I hold dear feel worth the pain. My family, my friends, my hopes and my regrets all swirl around me into a vortex of conditioned existence. My attachments paint the texture of my life. I like this world.
Studying compassion is the highest form of education—academically, personally and spiritually.
The final stage is bodhicitta, or ‘awakening mind.’ “Bodhicitta is a spontaneous wish to attain enlightenment motivated by great compassion for all sentient beings, accompanied by a falling away of the attachment to the illusion of an inherently existing self.”* The message is clear, but wiping clean the mandala of reality through ultimate selflessness is tough to put on the calendar. Most days, I’m just trying to smoke a joint, play rap music and mischievously eat all of the Oreos in the cupboard. What kind of karma is that?
Marijuana can be an obstruction to clarity, but sobriety can be completely overwhelming. So, I smoke weed every day, like it's my job. I love this euphoric gift from nature that allows me to press pause in a world that never stops, imbuing me with critical moments of inspiration and introspection. I would be a different person without cannabis in my life, crankier for sure. The chronic has taught me that elevation is a state of being. I love the process—the grinding, the rolling, carefully crafting the perfect euphoria. That itch that only weed can scratch. It is my wand of wellness, a soothing cream in an inflamed world, a powerful tool to create, connect and feel good. I don’t smoke pot all of the time. There are moments that require my focus. Otherwise, I stay lightly toasted. Wearing this weighted armour woven from the finest chiba in the world.
I don’t smoke pot all of the time. There are moments that require my focus. Otherwise, I stay lightly toasted. Wearing this weighted armour woven from the finest chiba in the world.
The journey of knowledge of self to eventual selflessness isn’t a race, but I shouldn’t drag my feet. The euphoria of marijuana is a great place to visit, but I wouldn’t call it home. The only way for the conversation to move forward is for everyone to get on the same page. Cannabis can help to bind that book. Attachment to self and others may be the final obstruction, but it is also the source of love, empathy and community. In the six realms of rebirth, Buddhism states that the human condition has the greatest potential for enlightenment due to the balance of pleasure and suffering. I don’t want to waste the opportunity; I’m just looking to catch a little buzz along the way. Is that so wrong?
Studying compassion is the highest form of education—academically, personally and spiritually. High as a kite or deep in meditation, we can all be present. Kind words, kind actions, kind intentions... kind buds? This year was tough. I hope 2021 will be kinder to everyone. For those we lost this year, may they rest in peace. For those of us still here, may we work tirelessly to create peace to rest in.
Listen on Spotify
For Johnny Mumbles, making mixtapes is a religious experience. In this first installment, he delves into marijuana's spiritual role and the path of compassion through reggae and hip hop, along with a few other gems sprinkled in between. Let these tracks be an awakening to new artists and alternate dimensions of sound, and lead you into the New Year with positivity.
Listen to our custom Johnny Mumbles-curated "Higher Education Mix" on Spotify.
* Fischer, Norman (2013). Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong. Shambhala Publications. p. 11. ISBN 9781611800401.
Johnny Mumbles is a lifelong cannabis connoisseur. After years of exploring America's marijuana meccas, he’s settled down as a card-carrying medical cannabis patient. An adult diagnosis of epilepsy inspired the exploration of the medical benefits of CBD along with his faithful compatriot, THC. Aside from travelling the path to enlightenment, he spends his time making hip hop cassette mixtapes, watching VHS movies and rattling away on a typewriter. His goal is to elevate the cannabis conversation by any means possible, one head at a time. The Tao te Ching says, “Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.” He knows just enough to not speak clearly.
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