The connection between drugs and spirituality is a long-lasting one. From the grasslands of savanna to the ancient cave paintings to the modern times – people like to perturb their minds for divinatory reasons.
There are many layers of consciousness, and experiencing only one (occasionally dazed by alcoholic intoxication) would be a shame.
There also are many psychedelic compounds available. The safest ones are totally natural and easily digestible by the human body. All of them are conducive to altered states of consciousness, but obviously, some of them are stronger than others.
There’s THC (coming from cannabis) which has many applications within the world’s religions – especially Rastafari, Hinduism, and Sikhism. In our culture, it’s treated like a soft, social drug, but given the right dose and setting, it can be incredibly powerful.
There’s also psilocybin (coming from the Magic Mushrooms), Ibogaine (coming from the Iboga Plant), Ayahuasca (a mix of plants coming from the Amazon basin), and of course, LSD, the greatest discovery of Albert Hoffman.
Each of these substances has been used to provoke deeply spiritual experiences, and you can find lots of information about them online. Many people take them casually, but that may lead to psychological damage rather than spiritual enlightenment.
Set and setting are key
The trick is to use the right combination of the set, and setting. In his book, The Psychedelic Experience, Timothy Leary, the famous advocate of psychedelic research, described these two elements in the following way:
The nature of the experience depends almost entirely on the set and setting. Set denotes the preparation of the individual, including his personality structure and his mood at the time. The setting is physical — the weather, the room’s atmosphere; social — feelings of persons present towards one another; and cultural — prevailing views as to what is real.
Everyone should use caution before venturing into the unknown areas of their own psyche. If you’re up for the challenge, consult a medical adviser, and don’t forget to get acquainted with The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide by James Fadiman.
DMT – the spiritual molecule
There’s one more natural psychedelic substance that I haven’t mentioned, and it’s the strongest one of them all. It’s called N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). It’s indigenous to the human brain, and it’s connected to dreams and near-death experiences.
As you will soon realize, the strangest things happen on DMT. I first heard about it from Terrence McKenna, the grandmaster of psychedelic trips and all things peculiar. Online, you may find many of his lectures where, among other things, he praises the value of the psychedelic experience.
During one of them, he talks about the self-transforming machine elves he met during some of his numerous DMT trips. He described them as beings with consciousness separate from his own. They welcomed him each time he came back, and they were showing him worlds unimaginable (all within the trip that lasts no more than five minutes).
As any partially sane person, I thought that the reason was purely biological. Given the right combination of neurotransmitters affecting the right parts of the brain, an illusion of a council of supernatural independent entities seemed plausible.
I also connected it to the Jungian idea of a separate personality that may reside in the depths of the subconscious mind – something like Anima and Animus – but existing on some other level. Jung also treated UFO like a part of the subconscious mind that wants to heal itself. “The UFO is inside of us,” he said.
When I came into possession of the most curious book, DMT: The Spirit Molecule I realized that he was at least partially right. The book is a truly fascinating scientific investigation into the effects of the psychedelic compound on many volunteers, over a long period of time.
Dozens of patients reported similar experiences to those of McKenna’s. They were encountering beings of many kinds. They were totally different from whatever they’d seen in their lives. There was no connection to the myths, human culture, or the collective unconscious. These beings were as alien as they could be.
And they were welcoming, asking questions, and showing gifts of immense beauty, and structural complexity. Many volunteers claimed to have ventured into other realms, far beyond three dimensions. In many cases, these beings acted as guides or experimenters. They asked: “Now do you see? Now, do you see?”
Now the question is: should we dismiss these claims as a mere afterglow of the psychedelic experience, and rely on materialism and strict science, or should we rather entertain some outlandish possibilities?
I’m always interested in hard evidence. In this case, we don’t have any, but the phenomena are so interesting that they cannot be just passed over. What if deeply spiritual experiences and contact with extraterrestrial beings caused by DMT were not simply produced by neurotransmitters and brain chemistry? What if it’s a doorway to another dimension (whatever that means) that enables human consciousness to get in touch with some advanced interstellar civilization?
That sounds crazy, but after reading this book, I really wondered why in every newspaper in the world, there’s no headline saying “We’ve opened doors to the higher dimension.” In most cases, claims about UFOs come from American Mid-West maniacs with big imaginations. But what about dozens of carefully reported cases coming from the DMT study? When McKenna was talking about it, that was one thing. But when you hear a very similar kind of story from dozens of people, it gets you thinking.
And how the hell it is possible that there is no huge research center that deals with this? There should be scientists working on this 24/7 because if that would be true, it would mean an unimaginable leap for humankind. And yet, in the mainstream, psychedelic drugs are still treated as something only bad people do. And governments put hurdle after hurdle to hinder the progress in this field.
So what are the possible explanations for this DMT phenomena (from the most to the least probable):
Brain biology – DMT creates a vastly realistic experience of going into another dimension. The experience is similar in many cases because DMT stimulates some specific region of the brain that creates this kind of response.
Dreams and unconscious mind – there are hidden realms of the unconscious that we don’t have access to. It’s this kind of “wholly other” thing that lives inside of your brain and you connect with it through DMT (yet during the DMT trip, one regains full consciousness). But the strange thing is that on DMT trip you don’t actually connect with the archetypes or entities that are universal to the human psyche. Rather, you meet with aliens – with something that you’ve never seen before or didn’t even expect.
Hyperdimensional communication – you meet with beings that exist in another dimension. DMT allows the brain to access some kind of frequency that aliens are able to detect. They may live in the same cosmos in another galaxy and be able to connect with the human psyche somehow. Or they may live in a different space-time altogether.
That would explain a lot of things that mystics are talking about. The meeting with the Friend and all that might be a result of an abnormal brain that released DMT to their brains at one point on another. Even non-duality seems like a trivial idea right now…
There are even crazier ideas. The highest amount of DMT in the brain fluid can be found during REM 3:30-4:30 AM. Maybe that would explain the vivid dreams that people are sometimes able to remember for a very long time (especially upon suddenly waking up during that kind of dream). Also, most alien abductions take place at that time.
And what about 49 days during which (according to the Tibetan book of the dead) the traveling of the souls about to be reincarnated takes place? The same 49 days are needed to define gender and create a pineal gland (the seat of DMT in the brain) in the mother’s womb. Now isn’t that creepy?
Of all of the sources of spiritual inspiration touched upon in this article, hallucinogens seem to be the most reliable but also the most dangerous source of getting into the higher realms of consciousness. They are worth exploring. As William James put it:
“One conclusion was forced upon my mind at that time, and my impression of its truth has ever since remained unshaken. It is that our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness. Whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.
We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch, they are there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which probably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation. No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves those other forms of consciousness quite disregarded.”
I invite you to leave comments and share your opinion on the subject. Please tell me what you think.
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