Inner work, spiritual awakening and global transformation aren’t usually topics we’re used to hearing about in the mainstream music industry, but musician Ben Lee has been rather open about them recently, following the release of his latest album, Ayahuasca: Welcome to the Work.
A collaboration with Argentine-Australian actress and musician Jessica Chapnik Kahn, the album is inspired by Lee’s and Chapnik Kahn’s experiences with ayahuasca, the powerful plant medicine administered by shamans to individuals in a ceremonial context for the purposes of spiritual awakening, healing and the expansion of consciousness.
But while ayahuasca has played an important role in Lee’s awakening, helping him become more comfortable with change, he’s quick to point out that the concept of the album is really symbolic of the process of raising consciousness, an undertaking that can be achieved through other methods as well as ayahuasca.
“Ayahuasca is simply one tool that can be used to amplify consciousness and help us identify our flaws,” he told me. “Meditation is another tool, music can be another. No tool is completely good or bad, it is dependent on the intention with which it is being used.”
Taking the listener on something of a spiritual journey and featuring tracks with titles such as, Invocation, I Am That I Am, and, Welcome To The House of Mystical Death, Lee says the album is an expression of gratitude for the expanded perspectives that come from inner work. “It’s a celebration of work that does not focus on changing the outside world, but work that is about radical transformation of the individual from within,” he said.
Lee says it’s precisely this sort of inner work that is required if we are to correct humanity’s current destructive and unbalanced behaviour. “We have already lived through many societal revolutions and have seen first hand that one corrupt system simply replaces another, there is no external change that can give us the answer we are seeking.”
I asked Lee if he thinks ayahuasca is illegal in western countries because of ignorance, or if he thinks there is a deeper government agenda behind the decision. “I can’t be certain why particular practices or plants are illegal,” he replied, “but I do imagine that they seem to threaten the stability of a society’s mechanical consciousness. In other words, they make people ask questions, which is never a good thing from the perspective of the collective ego.”
Stressing the danger of hoping for a quick fix to current global issues, Lee believes that a shift in consciousness isn’t likely to occur by itself or within a short period of time, but that transformation is something we must all work towards every day, by focusing on raising our individual consciousness. “Any change that occurs will be the result of our hard work, it’s not going to happen for us, without our immense effort,” he said.
As well as hoping we’ve developed a more sustainable relationship to the natural world and our planet in the future, Lee predicts we will be more open minded when it comes to spiritual practices. “I think some of the more fringe aspects of culture such as transpersonal psychology and shamanic practices, as well as more esoteric approaches to mainstream religion, might have made their way into our collective psyche in a more substantial manner.”
Honouring the energy of the album and proving that it’s possible to work for something other than financial gain, Lee has decided to donate all of the royalties from the album to two charities. “It was a decision made in an attempt to align the financial aspect of the album with the emotional and spiritual content and they are good causes to support,” he said.
“I donated 50% to the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, as they are creating interesting dialogue around the potential uses of amplified states of consciousness within the medical and therapeutic worlds. The other 50% went to the Amazon Conservation Team. The Amazon can be considered ‘the lungs of the planet’, so it seemed like a good cause to support.”
Finally, Lee warns how unproductive it is to blame greedy corporations and government agendas for the issues stacking up in the world today. “The problem is internal, meaning we possess the same corruption, greed and hypocrisy within us,” he said. “When we realise this, we can address the problem with compassion and earnestness, rather than with an external ‘us vs them’ conception of things.”
In the end, it all comes down to love. Lee says that’s the overall essence of the message. “I’m speaking of a powerful love that we might fight for internally, to become worthy of emanating. It is this love that we came from, and it is this love that I believe we will return to.”
Indeed. You can get your own copy of Ben Lee’s higher vibrational album, Ayahuasca: Welcome to the Work, and do your bit to support the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and the Amazon Conservation Team from his website.