My Discovery of Cannabis Spirituality
The time has now come for me to answer Timothy Leary’s nagging question, “When will you accept that you are a messenger of God?”
First, we are all messengers of God. What greater calling could there be? Second, I answered this calling some forty years ago with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. And like most children of the 1960s, I had planes to catch, businesses to run, family, children and now finally retirement to that blissful life of my youth. Now, after more than 25 years as the Mintmaster at the Royal Hawaiian Mint, where I excelled in creating over 700 numismatic issues, plus 10 years as the Monetary Architect of the Liberty Dollar, it is time to devote my life to that age-old quest of Higher Consciousness.
Sometime during my 30 years in Hawaii I realized something was wrong with my life. Oh sure, it had changed from living with Telle without electricity or a car on the Big Island for three years in the early 1970s to living on Diamond Head with our two sons. And while I still kept a roach in my desk drawer, I rarely smoked. In fact, many years ago, I discovered that one toke was more rewarding than a lot of tokes and I became a ‘one toker.’ But I still couldn’t find time for even one toke!
Then one day, in 1996, I opened my desk drawer and noticed the cannabis roach, and like so many times before, I told myself that I would take a toke ASAP. But this time I realized that it had been over a month since I had a toke! A month, I thought! How in the hell could I be a “druggie” if I didn’t have any time for drugs?! Where were my values? Where was my dedication to the idealism of the Sixties?
So I quickly put the matchbox with the roach in my attaché case and promised myself that I would get stoned ASAP. And quickly went back to work. As usual, I was late getting home for dinner. Then there were the boys to play with, and before I knew it, the day was over. Never even opened the attaché case.
The next morning, when I got up at 4:00 a.m. as usual, I had a full schedule. I was on the job. Oh, I might have seen the matchbox with the roach, but I paid it no attention. I had my list for the day and there was nothing else to do. Day after day it was the same mind-numbing schedule. Maybe you know the feeling. Even Saturday was full, with early-morning minting, then soccer and the family. All wonderful, but never a toke!
Finally, on Sunday, April 21, 1996, when I got up about 4:00 a.m. as usual and opened my attaché case to check my daily list – I discovered the matchbox with the cannabis roach. Very quickly, I reasoned that Telle and our two sons usually slept late on Sundays. And with as little business as possible on Sunday and church not a requirement or even an option, I decided to keep my promise and finally have a toke. I quickly retreated to a darkened spare bedroom, adjusted the bedside light to a nice warm glow, took one good toke of Hawaii’s finest, and lay down in peaceful solitude. As I closed my eyes, I felt at peace. I was even a bit smug in the fact that after more than a month, I had finally found time to get stoned!
I lay there with no preconceived thoughts or agenda. After all, I just wanted to get stoned. I just wanted to enjoy the high times a la the Sixties! So I was not prepared for what happened. My mind was a kaleidoscope of ideas. I was bemused by the experience. But suddenly, even with my eyes closed, I sensed that someone had turned on the bedroom lights. I wondered who could be up this early, as I opened my eyes.
Voila! The room was aglow in a wonderful golden color. I was amazed, but quickly realized that the heavy gold-colored blanket that I had hung over the east-facing window was now aglow from the morning sun.
I closed my eyes and continued to have the most amazing, introspective, creative experience. I was amazed that one toke had given me such a personally rewarding spiritual experience.
Of course, I knew the rewards of only one toke, but I was unprepared for this remarkable cannabis experience. And while it was nothing like the WOW of the White Light experience on LSD, the cannabis experience was still, in the words of Alan Watts, a “Joyous Cosmology.”
After a couple of hours, Telle and the boys were up and the family day was in full swing. Monday started at 4:00 a.m. as usual and I was off to the Mint. It took a lot to keep the Mint on track and the bills paid. It was more than a full-time job: it was a king-size job. And while I may have seen the matchbox in my attaché case during the week, there was never time to take a toke.
The week went by in a blur. Appointments, calls, problems, sales and a million things to do. Life in the fast lane, living on Diamond Head and raising a family Hawaiian style. It was not until the following Sunday that I opened my attaché case and again found the matchbox with the cannabis. I immediately thought back to the previous Sunday – back to the wonderful experience – to the cascade of thoughts and creativity – and wondered if it had been a fluke. Could it happen again? Maybe it was just my mindset. Maybe it was just a particularly good joint. Or maybe there were some other factors of which I was not aware.
These naïve thoughts bemused me. But after all, it was Sunday again and the boys were still in bed, and it was 4:00 a.m., so why not take another toke? I had paid my dues with many “mind blowing” drug experiences in the 1960s and reasoned that it would be interesting to see what would happen. After all, I was in the privacy of my own home. So why not give one toke of cannabis another test?
Quickly, I returned to the spare bedroom, had a good toke and lay down to see what would happen. I immediately reasoned that I should not have any expectations and that I should not expect anything great like last Sunday, as that was so wonderful and fulfilling. With that understanding, I closed my eyes – only to be surprised a short time later that someone had turned on the lights! No, that was not the case: again the sun had come up, just as it has been doing for a few billion years, and was shining into my room and my mind again.
I lay there amazed. But this time not just by the thoughts, insights and creativity that I experienced, but that it was happening again – just like last Sunday! I had never considered cannabis a serious drug, and certainly not a real “psychedelic” drug with any inherent spirituality. After all, I grew up taking LSD with the Brothers, and while we all smoked cannabis, LSD was the sacrament that tuned us in to God.
Now I was experiencing a whole new level of higher consciousness with cannabis – an experience that was easily available and very insightful. It was even very inexpensive. And while it did not deliver the “Clear Light” or the mind-blowing flood of ideas that LSD delivers, the cannabis experience lasted over two hours and was immensely rewarding.
It was so rewarding that I looked forward to the next Sunday. As it turned out, Sunday was the perfect day. Not that it has any special religiousness attached to it. There is simply less business, fewer calls and more open time. So Sunday became the right day for me to tune into a higher consciousness rather than my usual day-to-day experience.
For that reason, I have enjoyed one toke of cannabis every Sunday since April 21, 1996, and refer to it as my Special Sunday Service (SSS) that I observe “religiously” every Sunday. Even with the demands of my schedule, national speaking engagements and public life, almost without fail, I have taken one toke and communed with God every Sunday for over twenty years.
Since April 21, 1996, I have learned to listen to the God within my own mind and have often been compelled to write and draw during every SSS experience. Sometimes more pages than others. Sometimes about God, business, family, and sometimes about nothing or everything. Sometimes I have a focus or agenda. Over time, I have learned to just tune in and listen to the spirit within me.
Along the way of the Tao, the idea of starting a Free Cannabis Church came to me. I did not quest after it. But periodically the idea of a church would present itself to me during SSS as a means for other people to experience their inner high consciousness with cannabis. But starting a “Church” seemed so foreign to me. I had friends who had started “churches” and I thought they were slightly crazy. And as I didn’t want anybody to think I was crazy, I kept trying to forget the church idea.
Then one Christmas my older son, Random, gave me a copy of Timothy Leary’s autobiography, Flashbacks, to me. Random had grown up hearing my wild stories of the 1960s, the smuggling adventures, the high times and the outrageous parties. He knew I had hung out with John Lennon in London and met Leary, and thought I would enjoy his book.
Enjoy was an understatement! I was enthralled from the very beginning! Not only was it very well written, with lots of history and names of people I knew, but the enthusiasm of my youth came alive once again. It confirmed that all the higher-consciousness experiences I had in the 1960s were real: the book was tremendous proof that convinced me I was having genuine spiritual experiences of a higher consciousness with just one toke of cannabis every Sunday.
I was deeply moved by Leary’s writing, so I contacted an old friend. He gave me a copy of High Priest that detailed Leary’s sixteen most notable LSD trips. It was a terrific read that was also well written, with great details and even greater insights. Then I remembered my box of “Drug Books” and dug them out of storage. Reading all the great works from the 1960s was more proof that my SSS cannabis experience was a genuine way to open the “doors of perception” to a higher consciousness.
Sunday after Sunday, year after year, the voice within me urged me to start a church. Finally, in 2008, the lessee of the Royal Hawaiian Mint in Hawaii invited me to the Grand Opening of the Mint’s new $4 million building, and I decided it was time to answer Leary’s nagging question, “When will you accept that you are a messenger of God?”
As I prepared to retire to Hawaii, I decided to start the Free Cannabis Church of Honolulu as a non-physical, Internet-based “church” that would be decentralized and would exist in each individual’s mind. I invited people to enjoy the joyous cosmology with just one toke of high-grade cannabis and listen to the God within each of us. Very simple. Very rewarding.
I have now personally enjoyed the spirituality, insights and high times with one toke of cannabis every Sunday for over two decades. My SSS experiment is the world’s longest recorded case study of cannabis-inspired spirituality. I encourage you to take one toke and listen to the God that dwells within you – within all of us. It is an easy and inexpensive way to higher consciousness. Seek out your own inner spirituality by whatever means works for you. Every American has a Constitutional right to freedom of religion. Use it or lose it!
Bernard von NotHaus was an international architect during the 1960s. On September 11, 1974, he experienced an epiphany; wrote To Know Value, an economic research paper equating gold, value and God; and co-founded the Royal Hawaiian Mint, which designed over 800 numismatic issues. He retired in 1999, founded NORFED, wrote Liberty Dollar Solution in 2003, and issued the Liberty Dollar for 10 years. Eventually convicted of counterfeiting, he was named the Rosa Parks of Monetary Policy, and remains a cause célèbre for sound money. On April 21, 1996, he took one toke, rediscovered the spirituality of cannabis, and originated the Special Sunday Service. He has enjoyed one toke every Sunday for over 21 years – the world’s longest recorded case study for using cannabis spiritually. He founded the Cannabis Spiritual Center of Malibu in 2016 and published One Toke To God to popularize the spirituality of cannabis.