Rastafari are monotheists, worshipping a singular God whom they call Jah. Rastas see Jah as being in the form of the Holy Trinity, that is, God being the God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Rastas say that Jah, in the form of the Holy Spirit (incarnate), lives within the human, and for this reason they often refer to themselves as "I and I". Furthermore, "I and I" is used instead of "We", and is used in this way to emphasise the equality between all people, in the recognition that the Holy Spirit within us all makes us essentially one and the same.
For Rastas, smoking cannabis, usually known as "herb", "weed", "sinsemilla" (spanish for "without seeds") or "ganja" (from the Sanskrit word, "Ganjika", created by the Hindus of India), is a spiritual act, often accompanied by Bible study; they consider it a sacrament that cleans the body and mind, heals the soul, exalts the consciousness, facilitates peacefulness, brings pleasure, and brings them closer to Jah. The burning of the herb is often said to be essential "for it will sting in the hearts of those that promote and perform evil and wrongs." By the 8th century, cannabis had been introduced by Arab traders to Central and Southern Africa, where it is known as "dagga" and many Rastas say it is a part of their African culture that they are reclaiming. It is sometimes also referred to as "the healing of the nation", a phraseology adapted from Revelation 22:2.
The migration of many thousands of Hindus from India to the Caribbean in the 20th century may have brought this culture to Jamaica. Many academics point to Indo-Caribbean origins for the ganjah sacrament resulting from the importation of Indian migrant workers in a post-abolition Jamaican landscape. "Large scale use of ganjah in Jamaica... dated from the importation of indentured Indians..."(Campbell 110). Dreadlocked mystics, often ascetic, known as sadhus, have smoked cannabis in India for centuries.
According to many Rastas, the illegality of cannabis in many nations is evidence that persecution of Rastafari is a reality. They are not surprised that it is illegal, seeing it as a powerful substance that opens people's minds to the truth — something the Babylon system, they reason, clearly does not want. They contrast their herb to alcohol and other drugs, which they feel destroy the mind.
Rastafari see cannabis as a sacramental and deeply beneficial plant that is the Tree of Life mentioned in the Bible. Bob Marley, amongst many others, said, "the herb ganja is the healing of the nations." The use of cannabis, and particularly of large pipes called chalices, is an integral part of what Rastafari call "reasoning sessions" where members join together to discuss life according to the Rasta perspective. They see cannabis as having the capacity to allow the user to penetrate the truth of how things are much more clearly, as if the wool had been pulled from one's eyes. Thus the Rastafari come together to smoke cannabis in order to discuss the truth with each other, reasoning it all out little by little through many sessions. They see the use of this plant as bringing them closer to nature.
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