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MP,

It is very cool of you to continue the discussion of psychedelics by parsing out DMT from other compounds.

DMT sounds like it might induce some just plain crazy experiences. And when ingested in ayahuasca it sounds like it might combine crazy with physically unpleasant.

The mushrooms, as I have come to know them, can be superb plant teachers. There is much wisdom and knowledge to be gained in their use.

I am not so sure about enlightenment being gained from their use because I still don't know what anyone means by that ;-)

Even I have to admit that I have had some scary or otherwise unpleasant moments while bemushroomed. These always resolved in a positive manner, but that was because I was experienced and/or had experienced companions to talk/relate to while dealing with the "bad trip". I can see how it could go south real fast for someone not prepared, alone or in a bad setting or with the wrong company.

By "south" I mean something really bad, permanent or even terminal happening.

DO NOT ENTER INTO PSYCHEDELIC USE LIGHTLY. PSYCHEDELICS SHOULD NOT BE TRIFLED WITH.

I really do think it is important to emphasize that these plants must be used safely. I started to feel guilty for being a firm advocate on the internet where anyone can read a comment and take it to heart and go out and do the wrong thing and get hurt.

"I started to feel guilty for being a firm advocate on the internet where anyone can read a comment and take it to heart and go out and do the wrong thing and get hurt."

This is an excellent point. I need to remember that myself.

But I also think (and you may agree with me on this) we have to weigh that sort of danger, against the danger our civilization is in because it discounts (and even outlaws) these spiritual aids and the kinds of values they help to teach.

Bruce, right. We drive in cars every day despite the knowledge that there is a statistically significant risk in being involved in an accident resulting in injury or death. We feel the risk of accident is worth the commute from the suburbs to work or for that late night run for pizza and beer (or whatever).

It's a matter of values. For some reason many of us don't value the mind expanding experience enough to justify the risks, which are, in all evidence, real, but pretty small.

Obesity and the unwholesome foods that contribute to it is not illegal despite the huge risk of costly and fatal illness associated with it. Smoking pot or eating psylocybe mushrooms is illegal because.........well because...............

At the end of the day, I think there is a prejudice - a taboo - against mind expansion because the expanded mind sees the falseness of our institutions; religious, political and so on and so forth.

It's all about controll of the masses and whose going to be a tool and how they can prevent people from not escaping toolhood

I meant, From escaping toolhood.

freedom of thought is antithetical to social order.

Mind exapnsion is antithetical to groupthink.

"I started to feel guilty for being a firm advocate on the internet where anyone can read a comment and take it to heart and go out and do the wrong thing and get hurt."

That kind of thing worries me also. For the record, I have never taken psychedelics in any form and have no plans to do so. The only conceivable way I would even consider such experimentation is if it were closely supervised by a medical professional doing serious research (e.g. Rick Strassman's DMT research, which was done in a hospital). And even then I would be wary, and probably wouldn't risk it.

As I've said before, I recommend meditation as a way of getting in touch with your spiritual side. Meditation doesn't have to mean sitting in a lotus position and chanting - something I've never done. It can be as simple a setting aside some time each day to be alone with your thoughts, or posing questions about spiritual (or other) matters while drifting off to sleep ...

MP,

I am a firm believer in the value of medititaion. As I have mentioned, meditation practice led, quite surprisingly for me, to OBEs. But even the less spectacular effects have always been beneficial; calmness, clarity.

But meditation isn't psychedelics. I find that Meditation is a practice that builds the mind to where it can make optimal use of psychedelics.

Meditation is like daily exercise. Psychedelics are like running a marathon.


MP,
I understand your concern about being seen as an advocate(by some) of psychedelic substances. There is a lot of fear based thinking regarding psychedelics. Some of the fear seems centered around the negative physical and psychological side effects of the substances that can be part and parcel of the experience. I certainly concur that psychedelics are not for recreational use. I know that some designer drugs (MDMA) are used for recreation (e.g. raves) but I do not put DMT,Ayahuasca or LSD in the same category. Proper psychospiritual set and setting are essential for psychedelic safety. Our mass culture was exposed to psychedelics in the Sixties where they were marginalized and lumped in legally with other dangerous recreational and addictive drugs. This has been an unfortunate setback for their proper study. Psychedelics are powerful change agents in a different way than meditation. They are intense mind altering agents and their overall psychological effects are more akin to NDE's and OOBEs.

There is an excellent interview by Martin Ball PhD of Rick Strassman on Strassman's website.
www.rickstrassman.com/?q=node/14

Post Script

Martin Ball has his own interesting website www.martinball.net.

He has a PhD in Religious Studies with an emphasis on Native American Traditions and Entheogenic Shamanism.

Another thought...putting a mind/mood altering substance into a culture that has no psychosocial history and unfamiliar with it's use can be dangerous, even devastating for some members of a culture. See alcohol in Native American cultures.

I read this article by Stephen Braude on OBEs he compares the ODE and NDE with drug experiences. His critque of the NDE seems clash with what experts on the subject say, at times it almost reminded me of one of Keith's NDE articles.

I thought it was interesting, and thought you guys would find it so as well.

http://www.survivalafterdeath.org.uk/articles/braude/obe.htm

Chris, That was, indeed, an interesting article (the link you provided).

I see a huge problem in research pertaining to any of these topics. The experiences are so far removed from the spectrum of ordinary experience that we don't have language to describe them. As a result, experiencers talk around what they experienced. They use analogies, similes, approximations, metaphors, etc when questioned. It is too easy for the researcher to get lost in the linguistic approximation - especially if biased - and to arrive at false or incomplete conclusions and/or comparisons.

Furthermore, if the researcher has not personally had the type of experience under investigation, he or she does not know what questions to ask, let alone how to ask them, such that pertinent information is teased out of the subjects.

Finally, peer review often tends to fail because the peer reviewers suffer from the same paradigm failure as the original researcher.

On another tangent, I am still hoping that people here will step up and tell us what this "enlightenment" that they seek - or know to be possible - is and why they feel that psychedelics won't lead them to it.

On another tangent, I am still hoping that people here will step up and tell us what this "enlightenment" that they seek - or know to be possible - is and why they feel that psychedelics won't lead them to it. - Erich, April 29

I'll answer, albeit in a different way, Erich. I'm not looking for enlightenment, in the sense of some great wisdom, connection, or whatever. It sounds very high-falutin' stuff to me. All I want is clear contact with Louis, my soulmate, and that's coming along nicely. Incremental improvement in my ability to communicate, rather than a "whoosh" of change, so to speak. For the afterlife - well, simply living our lives together is what I want there. Certainly it will involve spiritual growth and learning, more abilities and different duties, but that too will be gradual. There's no rush ...

For me, the physical risks of drugs, their illegality, my dislike of the thought of the effects, and the way I want to be in connection with Spirit, all exclude their use. Don't need them, don't want them, and am happier than I can describe with the way things are now anyway.

I hope that's one sort of worthwhile answer from one perspective, anyway! :)

Fair enough Louise. Thanks.

I actually think that the quest for "enlightenment" ( as proposed by gurus and certain sprititual texts) can be as dangerous and harmful as anything.

I'm inclined to agree, Erich.

Anyway my cats would be unimpressed if I devoted more time to that sort of thing than to seeing to their needs and wants! :)

This may be of interest to you, MP. I was holding back because I thought it was too far fetched for the non-Native mind to accept, but, what the heck, I'll put it out there anyhow.

There is something else about the mushrooms. It really is as if there is a spirit in them that talks to you. Not your own brain on drugs, but an entity that conveys information in an astoundingly accurate and concise manner.

Natives that use the mushrooms speak of this. In fact, gaining specific knowledge is usually why they take the mushrooms in the first place (not for some more generic "enlightenment"). The late Terrance McKenna, who was a big advocate, referred to this voice that one hears in answers to questions as "the logos". I myself have been "spoken to" on several occasions. He was a westerner that wasn't afraid to go native.

At a certain point in the trip, just before the voice - that I call the "voice of knowledge" - appears, one becomes very calm and centered and the visions become slower and deeper. Then, out of the blue, something speaks. What is said is typically a clear concise answer to a specific question that one has been harboring or that one has asked directly. The voice does not speak in riddles or similes. It makes a statement in unambiguous terms.

The voice, if I had to assign a gender, is male (others have said the same thing). It doesn't waste words. It is very authoritative. It is not "loving" nor is it harsh or cold (again, others who have experienced it describe it the same way, more or less). It definitely seems to come from "outside" of one's self, yet is heard in one's head.

It can provide information as to events occurring far away, the location of lost objects, the outcome of future events.....

One doesn't dialog with the voice. It speaks the truth and then vanishes.

It is always correct. It is a little spooky in that it is always correct on multiple levels if such are involved in the situation under question.

Some call this sorcery. Whatever.

There's an episode of The Simpsons in which Homer accidentally ingests a hallucinogenic substance and goes on a psychedelic trip. At one point he encounters a coyote, who speaks to him with the voice of Johnny Cash.

Somehow I'm reminded of that now. :-)

Ayahuasca users in the Amazon state that the plant itself told their ancestors how to prepare it and use it (a complicated process), and that it also told them how to find and use other valuable plants.

"The late Terrance McKenna, who was a big advocate, referred to this voice that one hears in answers to questions as "the logos".

Erich, you may find this interesting. McKenna wrote somewhere that his single greatest revelation, through psychedelics, was the existence of "Other". He was referring, at least in part, to what you're describing.

My single greatest revelation, in repeated journeys, was exactly the opposite! Time and again, I discovered/knew/experienced that there IS no other. It is all Me.

I capitalize Me, because the Me I'm referring to is really big. It is God, All That Is, All-Of-Us-Put-Together-And-More.

And this understanding, I stress, was not intellectual. It was experiential. These were profoundly ecstatic moments, when it became completely impossible to separate Bruce Siegel from every other person I knew (and didn't know) and from every other aspect of the universe.

I remember thinking about a dear friend, for example, and saying to myself: "Of course! I created her! She's simply a part of Me that I designed to display these priceless qualities that she, above all others, embodies."

Perhaps this sounds egotistical, but of course it's what the Perennial Philosophy—as well as Art's beloved Holographic concept—suggests: that each of is not only part of the whole, but has the ability, under the right circumstances, to experience ourselves as ANY part of the whole, or in fact, as the whole itself.

Of course, Mckenna was right, and I'm right, too. I guess each of us needed to learn a different lesson. For me, who spends so much time and energy, it seems, trying to get others to like me and respond to me, it is a marvelous relief to suddenly see what a silly game that is. I'm really trying to love myself, and that's all there is to it.

Bruce, what you said is a pretty good condensed version of what I've learned from reading a whole lot of NDEs.

As I think about past journeys now, I'm remembering how important this notion of "I created" was. I spend so much of my life feeling a victim of circumstances. (I'm sure we all do.) I live in a world that seems to be not of my making, a world in which I have to put up with all sorts of indignities and limitations.

But time and again, in my deepest experiences, along with the knowing that "there is no other", was the delightful revelation—Of course! I created the Dodgers! (My favorite team.) I created Barnes and Noble! (My neighborhood bookstore and hangout). All these wonderful parts of my existence are there because I put them there.

To feel myself as creator, rather than victim, is such a powerful healing.

I'm remembering your quote, Michael: "The transcendent God is the hobbyist who sets up the train set."

And Grof writes about this in The Cosmic Game. Before we come into this earthly life, we write the rough draft of our "play." (We do this between lives, if you want to think in reincarnational terms.)

And when we arrive here, we get to improvise within the limitations set up by that somewhat flexible script.

And part of the fun is discovering, bit by bit, that we are not just the actor, but the playwright.

"Bruce, what you said is a pretty good condensed version of what I've learned from reading a whole lot of NDEs."

Right, Art. I had these experiences a few years after I began reading about NDE's. And they served as confirmation, for me, that all those books were (as the British like to say) spot on.

Bruce I've had the same experience as you many times, but is was more being one with everything....I am you as you are me....

However, I'm sure that voice is the voice of another.

"Bruce I've had the same experience as you many times, but is was more being one with everything....I am you as you are me...".

That's what I was saying, really, with a slightly different emphasis.

"However, I'm sure that voice is the voice of another."

But wouldn't you agree that, on a deeper level, the owner of that voice is the larger—or Largest—You?

"But wouldn't you agree that, on a deeper level, the owner of that voice is the larger—or Largest—You?"

`Bruce, I don't know.

I have had experiences where I touched my larger self; this through meditation, OBEs and psychedelics. Although some times that self feels like a wise and magical/powerful stranger, I still understood that it was me; the real me behind the historic personality built on personal, familial and social molding and demands. Being able to touch these higher aspects of myself is what has always caused me to continue my explorations.

Most of what I have seen, heard, felt or otherwise perceived while under the influence of psilocybe mushrooms, I understand to be facets of me and my connection to aspects of reality that I normally don't pay attention to. That, and then there is always the random "noise" caused by the drug and brain. I ignore that.

But, I insist that voice gives all indications of being not me. I have never heard it while using peyote. Peyote, to me, is a teacher of the right path to walk. It is spiritually fortifying and refreshing.

The mushrooms are more dark. They are more of a tool for gaining specific knowledge. Like an ESP inducing plant, IMO. And this is exactly what the native cultures that use them say they are. Mushrooms are for divining, obtaining answers about hidden things, observing distant activities, diagnosing the source of illness and, sometimes, even for magically inflicting illness on others.

And all of this is possible, according to the natives, because there is a spirit either in the mushroom itself or that the mushroom puts one in contact with. Again, that sure is how it feels to me.

White men don't understand this. They laugh at it. Because white men, erroneously, think that humans are the pinnacle of existance and they don't know nature (in fact they fear her). If white men think at all about spirituality, they think of a god as a man who lives in the sky or some other realm. Even white people who believe in the validity of NDEs and all that, generally don't accept that a plant can put one in contact with spirits.

I'm not talking about you, Bruce. I'm just speaking generally. One thing I learned from psychedelics is that everything is known to everyone. Sometimes we just don't pay attention or we don't want to accept what we know and we lie to ourselves to avoid it. Or we engage in neurotic behaviors to distract ourselves from the knowledge (I consider intellectualism to be one of those types of neurotic behaviors). So maybe that voice is, as you suggest, just our deepest self cutting through the crap and telling it like it is. Then again, at that level, inside? outside? don't make a difference. But we still have to talk about these things and I elect - admittedly a bit arbitrarily - to say it is a voice from outside; a logos.


"But, I insist that voice gives all indications of being not me."

Yes, but then so do I, right? And I'm certain that at the deepest level, there is no separation between you and me.

Having said that, I would LOVE to have had experiences where I felt that "a wise and magical/powerful stranger" were addressing me. Though I guess the universe knows that isn't what I've needed the most, and I feel lucky to have had the experiences I have had.

"Peyote, to me, is a teacher of the right path to walk. It is spiritually fortifying and refreshing."

Did you ever read Ann and Alexander Shulgin's Pihkal? Ann's description of her first peyote experience is one of the most beautiful passages I have ever read in ANY book, on any subject.

" . . . we don't want to accept what we know and we lie to ourselves to avoid it. Or we engage in neurotic behaviors to distract ourselves from the knowledge."

I find that to accept what I truly know at any given moment, often means feeling pain. And one of the great themes of my life has been learning to allow myself to fully experience my own pain. Doing that, I find, is what makes all the good stuff possible! And there's enough of that, I'm happy to say, to make the whole enterprise worthwhile.

"Yes, but then so do I, right?"

Right. And you could be, ultimately, correct.

"Did you ever read Ann and Alexander Shulgin's Pihkal?"

No. I saw it on the shelves of bookstores maybe 20 years ago; give or take. I have, however, fairly recently read their book on tryptamines.

I was a member of the native American Church for a short period. Not being of Indian blood, I was able to get in because I spent a lot of time on the rez and had many friends there, but the law (not the church's, but the Federal Gov't) started to target people like me and I did not want to put my friends in jeaprody (let alone my own family). So my peyote knowledge is of definite native leanings. I would be interested to see what Shulgin says about it.

"I find that to accept what I truly know at any given moment, often means feeling pain". Yeah, me too. I cannot escape the conclusion that life is as much about pain/agony as it is about joy/ecstacey. That is what I was trying to relate, symbolically, on the other thread with my recounting of having to put a young filly down last fall. Then there is also pain that I generated within myself from my weaknesses, from my wrong doings, etc

This is where I have a problem with what see as utopian spritituality. Like Buddhism, where pain and suffering comes from desire and by eliminating desire we can transcend all of that.......and then what? Sit around in a blissed out state for ever and ever and ever while the world goes by. I think their theory of the origin of pain and suffering is correct, but so what? Trying to achieve the pain free state almost sounds a little psychopathic to me. It also sounds like the goal of an opiate addict.

I'd rather take the bull by the horns and jump on its back and ride it; albeit understanding it for what it is. My spritituality says that we are each a free spirit and a force of nature. I choose to be me and because I am me there are things I desire.


"I'd rather take the bull by the horns and jump on its back and ride it; albeit understanding it for what it is."

Beautiful.

"by eliminating desire we can transcend all of that"

It's not even logical, if you think about it. If you're going to eliminate desire, wouldn't you also have to eliminate the desire to eliminate desire?

I don't know much about Buddhism, but there's at least one Buddhist author whose work has been helpful to me—Pema Chodron. She writes beautifully of the need to live openly and vulnerably.

"if you're going to eliminate desire, wouldn't you also have to eliminate the desire to eliminate desire?"

Now THAT is beautiful.

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