Stories Of Awakening With Psychotropics
Having come to my awakening through the use of psilocybin, I’ve had a deep interest in all things psychotropic ever since. Now that I’m wading around in the psychedelic world, I find myself a bit surprised I didn’t end up here earlier, given that psychedelics inspired so many of the artists who produced the sci-fi, gaming, digital art and etc. that I’ve delighted in all my life. But though I enjoyed what altered minds produced, personally I had bought into the cultural message that these drugs were more dangerous than helpful and so I barely explored their use myself. And when it came to stories about spiritual revelations at the hands of these drugs, my lack of firsthand knowledge let me to buy into mainstream skepticism about the ‘real’ nature of these psychedelic encounters. Then I had one – which taught me that psychotropic-induced experiences can feel just as real as sitting on a chair in front of a computer, typing out blog posts (which feels pretty darn real, I assure you). In fact, next to experiencing Source consciousness, I’d say feeling the ‘realness’ of existing outside of form and time while tripping on psilocybin was the most surprising part of awakening. (My consciousness exists apart from my body! Who knew!?)
Given the illegality of psychedelics in this country, I was doubtful I’d find many people in the public space willing to share stories of spiritual encounters while on these substances. Wrong! This doubt might have borne out ten or fifteen years ago but today, the internet is awash in content from people exploring altered states of consciousness – even of people tripping on camera (whoa!). Below are four such films, featuring more of these truly courageous and generous men and women willing to share intimate details about their lives and psychedelic experiences. After watching these films, I was better equipped with the tools to both understand my previous journey and prepare for the next. Perhaps just as importantly, recognizing many of the psychedelic experiences shared in these films gave me a sense of having found a community of fellow travelers – a wonderful gift.
“It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.” … <wink>
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Stories Of Awakening From The Awakened
The first time I heard this well-known Timothy Leary quote (from Terence McKenna, if memory serves) it struck a nerve, for what is it we all do when we experience something astonishing? We look for someone to tell and in the telling, seek to discover the others who understand the experience. Such were my first thoughts immediately after awakening; I think I even said out loud, “I have to write a book! I have to tell people!”, statements which give you some idea of how disorienting an awakening can be as I haven’t a clue how to write a book. (Apparently this happens a lot as there are a lot of books about awakening; probably why Eckhart Tolle often jokes about counseling the newly awakened to “wait a bit on the book”.) In fact, what I really needed were the books – and films and websites – of those who’d already explored altered states of consciousness and could help answer the questions whizzing around in my mind: “What the hell just happened? Has it happened to anyone else? What does it mean? What do I do now?”
In my search for the others, I came across a group of films in which ‘awakened’ men and women share their experiences, a few of which I’ve already mentioned. In this post and the next, I’ll share links to several more titles, including some films that address the use of psychotropic substances. As I listened to the encounters of these people, I recognized numerous details from my own awakening but more importantly, I recognized the fundamental truth – a single shared awareness (Source) whose nature is pure and eternal love – they all spoke about. And after the mental tumble of an awakening, hearing the stories these people were willing to share gave me a sense of regained footing – an assurance that I hadn’t broken my brain or lost my marbles and that what I had experienced was as real as I had perceived it to be. It was also interesting to notice the wide variety in spiritual backgrounds of the speakers, demonstrating how the experience of awakening is available to anyone in any walk of life.
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Exploring An Ancient Wisdom & New Mysteries
After bookmarking the rich scientific and spiritual content I found on SAND, my search next brought me to a collection of films and books all having to do with ancient Egypt. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure how this happened; perhaps it had to do with running into Graham Hancock’s banned TED talk about exploring altered states of consciousness with psychotropic plants. Rarely does Graham discuss these topics without looping in a connection to his other passion, ancient wisdom traditions. And no wonder – as the films below show, some astonishing recent discoveries by Hancock, John Anthony West, Robert Bauval and Robert Schoch and others continue to add significant weight to their arguments that 1) the ancient Egyptian civilization began thousands of years earlier than previously thought, perhaps guided by an even older advanced civilization and 2) the Egyptian people had a far more advanced understanding of various technologies, sciences and spiritual philosophies than expected for a Bronze Age civilization, perhaps as an result of contact with this much older and more advanced civilization – or it’s survivors.
Pretty eyebrow raising stuff, eh?
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A Shamanic Brew From The Amazon
If you haven’t yet heard of ayahuasca (sounds like ‘iowaska’) from your usual sources, give it a minute; I was super-surprised to see a fairly factual article about this psychotropic brew posted by Fox News so word has clearly gone mainstream.
Ayahuasca is a plant medicine, a tea used by Amazonian tribes during shamanic rituals for at least the last 1000 years, possibly much longer. The drink is made by boiling crushed pieces of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine with the leaves of one of a handful of DMT-containing plants, usually Psychotria viridis. Over many hours, a big pot of vines and leaves are boiled down into a dark, thick, noxious-tasting potion (or so I’ve heard, I’ve not yet had the pleasure). Fortunately, just a few ounces is usually enough. In addition to the noxious taste, ayahuasca typically produces bouts of vomiting – called ‘the purge’ or la purga – as the ‘Goddess of the Vine’ cleans out the physical and psychic body of the traveler.
And judging by the numerous stories being shared on the net these days, you will be doing some traveling after drinking ayahuasca. Many a book, blog and documentary have popped up recently with accounts of this consciousness-altering experience; it’s interesting that so many people encounter this same ‘Mother Ayahuasca’ or ‘Goddess of the Vine’ entity during their voyage; I’m reminded of comments from Terence McKenna and other widely-traveled psychonauts that each psychotropic plant or substance opens a door to a specific kind of psychedelic space, a unique perspective into the One Mind and the archetypes within just that space.
Another after-effect of the ayahuasca experience seems to be a call to creativity. Explosions of colorful and imaginative ideas and visions, both during and after the ritual, have prompted many to produce stunning works of art when, taken as a group, clearly share a common theme; it’s become known as ‘ayahuasca art’ and I’ll share some gorgeous examples in the next post.
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More Lessons On Human Nature From (American) Human History
After catching ‘docu-fever’ and watching one after another about political and financial systems (Human Nature, Human Systems), I was surprised to find I still had an appetite for more (rip that band-aid off!) so I to wandered over to the U.S. history aisle. Actually, by this time I was beyond feeling horrified or disbelieving and was largely just thirsty for more information – by which I mean ‘more-than-my-white-washed-public-school-education-delivered’ information. Like most people, I’m naturally curious but after the awakening, that curiosity had kicked into high gear and I was in permanent learning mode. It was as if, upon realizing I hadn’t understood reality – I mean, at all – I was determined to find out just what else I really didn’t understand, including the very part of human history that I’d been living through.
I’m sure my decision to watch these films was also influenced by the political and social energies swirling in this country by late 2016 – and ever since then. We’ve seen increasing accounts of verbal and physical violence inspired by nationalism and racism and that this is simply an echo of our earlier history, the films below make unquestionably clear. It’s as if the collective ego that is America finds itself once again at the same crossroads, wondering how we got here yet never willing to truthfully confront the lessons of our past that keep bringing us here.
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Films Revealing The Nature Of Systems Built By Us Complicated Humans
It all started with The Big Short, a fast-paced, well-acted dramatization of the 2008 mortgage crises and financial collapse. I watched the movie for the talented cast but ended up gaining a number of insights about U.S. financial systems – and then was outraged all over again. Afterwards, I found myself suddenly eager to find more documentaries about the other big events that have unfolded during my lifetime: the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, the psychedelic counter-culture – all of it. This interest in documentaries was a new twist for me, by the way, as I prefer films of the entirely fictional, highly entertaining type. But the passage of time and technological advances are allowing us to retell these big stories from our collective past again, this time with far more truth and balance than anything most of us encountered in the classroom or in the media.
I was surprised to learn how many entertaining and informative films about US politics and finance I could readily find on the large streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu). And don’t get me started about the yawning abyss that is YouTube. Films about The Federal Reserve led to films about US history and then to films on human history. After a few weeks of this, the post-Trump election ideas I’d had of joining the political or financial or environmental battles seemed …. not wasteful, exactly; there must be a force stemming the tide to help minimize the suffering that will otherwise run unchecked in areas where profits are to be made. But all these films, especially when taken in quick succession, made it abundantly clear that there’s an underlying aspect to our nature that, as things stand today, would make efforts at political or environmental change short-lived at best. The understanding felt deflating but clarifying.
Of course, now I see these stories of massive wars, environmental stress and human suffering quite differently. It is no longer about who is winning or losing, who victim, who perpetrator. Instead these stories now seem like waves of intention moving through the collective human presence in patterns of upheaval and shift; it’s fascinating to contemplate. And it certainly feels like these massive social waves are coming more quickly now, with surges of invention / discovery / reaching switching back and forth more rapidly with surges of contraction / anger / fear. If a person’s suffering can bring about their individual awakening, then is collective suffering on the scale we now exercise it bringing about a quickened collective awakening? We do seem very intent on bringing about such suffering, us humans. On the other hand, in the US today we enjoy legalized marijuana and gay marriage, two individual freedoms that just twenty years ago would have seemed way out of reach. And now regulated psilocybin use on the ballot in California? Clinical trials using psychedelics to treat addiction? Such an interesting time!
So here’s the first round of what I think of as my ‘human nature refresher course’. I continue to enjoy a good historical documentary (making up time for using history classes to decorate my pee chee) and will share them as I find them.
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