Great topic. Thank you, I believe it is a needed conversation.
The title of the article starts: How to Return to Normal Life... Is that why the guy went all the way to Peru? What is the desired goal of this "integration?" Do the psychedelics give us something, or do they take something away? Sure, it's both, but is the gift of the altered state, what we are getting; that it's really starting to see what's no longer needed and can be set aside? Isn't it that we begin to see some things, things which it's high time we be finished with? Just yesterday I wrote a short history of my psychedelic life's journey. Perhaps it can be applied here. Certainly, it crossed over into, or was always a major part of, my spiritual life.
The text below came out of a conversation discussing first time use of varied psychedelics, where it involved several users' first time experiences of certain entheogens. This writing started as a response to one person's admission that words don't do all that well in you-had-to-be-there situations. I was listening at that very time to a podcast of the person known as The Drunken Taoist (mentioned in your linked article) when I joined the conversation, hence, the initial reference to Tao.
Calling anything, anything, we find these limitations; the Tao that can be told…? Not ever it. I have long loved the Tao, and these days, my Advaita masters. So much of my own little tao/way led through the entheogens, having my first breakout experience the first time I smoked hashish. Gotta love those first times!
I had to leave the THC behind in my late twenties, this body being hypoglycemic. THC appears to put me into insulin shock, which was perhaps that first hashish event’s mechanism. (Before electroshock therapy, there was insulin shock therapy.) Whatever it was, there, in the dimly lit quiet room alone, there was what I could only describe as a return to where I had been before birth. The experience was of a void space, a nothingness, but still, a recognized real home. I called it at the time, “the land of the dead.” There was only happiness and peace to have returned there for a time. So far as words or symbols can be used, I think of it as an NDE. Just ain’t going to be able to tell that Tao, right? You just had to be there.
In my early twenties I tried every hallucinogen I could get my hands on. In my mid- and late-twenties, it was an Indian guru, and after that, more tripping. The gurus always seem to want you to be winging it without the substances. I honor my first guru, though I found I didn’t have it in me to hold to his prescribed path. What I did take away from that time was the practice of ‘karma yoga’ (selfless service), which became the practice for 40 years. Practices, I have come to see, are great place-holders. It seemed this ADHD body/brain/mind was just not made for meditation, which was a part of that initial path which was apparently not going to work for me. Plus, any fellowship with my brother and sister devotees was tough, as the ADHD kid never really got properly socialized, and as it seemed, I was even going to be a spiritual misfit.
But, service was comfortable, so long as I didn’t expect to have it appreciated, as doing selfless service is quite the feat, while any ego is present. I could only do it as well as I could do it, and that was not with full detachment. But, no regrets, as it was a great place-holder.
But there were those wonderful mushrooms to show me so much, for so many years. I live in mushroom heaven up here in the SW corner of Washington State. I never bought or sold a magic mushroom. They just come out of the ground! I tried peyote about that time, but it seriously kicked my physical ass at age 25. I just couldn’t do it, though I had some access to it for a time then.
Synthesized mescaline was my first experience after that hash (I was just 23). I had a vision of a bear and then encountered that bear (IRL), just as it had been seen in my vision. The vision didn’t scare me, but that huge bear certainly did. Fortunately, I think the bear had issues about humans, and after an endless moment of the bear and I standing, facing each other, looking eye to eye (the bear was standing in a ditch while I was on the high ground on a road), it was at last the bear who wheeled around and hauled ass.
Soon after that there came my first acid. I had been a three drink blackout alcoholic since joining the navy at 17. I never had much tolerance for the booze, and loved the oblivion of being pickled. Upon that first taste of LSD, I saw real beauty in myself, for the first time really. My hated image of me, engendered by growing up ADHD in an age before the diagnosis even existed (beyond, “problem child”), the me that sought that merciful boozy oblivion never wanted to black out again. Then I had only to learn that acid would not be my panacea. Each trip fell short of the one before it, and in a little over a month and thirty to forty hits of acid later, I was one crispy critter. I had tried to be an acid addict. Sorry, try something else.
Then came the mushrooms, and except for my one fresh Amanita muscaria overdose (never to be repeated), there were the beloved Psilocybes to carry me along over so many decades. When taken in the mode of teachers, they gave so much. Taken as recreationals, they usually treated me caringly, but I was to leave recreational use mostly aside as I aged. There was a difficult lesson in taking them lightly on a couple of occasions. I learned to hear that, I guess.
I was 65 by the time there came any possibility of acquiring smokable DMT, and I was advised by experienced partakers that maybe my physical constitution would not be up to the test. It is the same concerns about having the energy for what might be called, “shamanic doses,” that slowed me down a few years back, even on the wood lover mushrooms [Psilocybe cyanescens] which had become my go-to trip of choice. I will be turning 70 next month, and have found my state of being to be one which I have very little desire to be messing with. Just over two years ago, in a moment of personal crisis, there was a seeing, a change of perspective, which came spontaneously without the psychedelic chemo. It was reminiscent of that peaceful home I had seen to be before this body/mind with the hashish (not exactly that same void, but certainly vast). I see now that all the tripping, the practices, whatever, are not it, not in the sense of gaining anything that isn’t what is here all along.
That void nothingness, seen when that first hash did its thing, a vastness of being, appeared as that in which all of this imagining takes place. The imagining didn’t stop. It just became recognized. Some old story of my life is all well and good. But, it is only a story. What was getting blown away in so many trips was what is not. I guess I was a very slow learner, but then, there really was nothing to learn; except maybe just the letting go to what is. Upon this awakening (for lack of another word) it soon dawned that I was still not prepared for this changed perspective of two years ago last October, and as grace would have it, the student was ready and teachers appeared.
So, keep that urge and that open heart. You will see the perfection hidden in everything, whether judged to be good or bad. If you allow yourself to see, you will even see the judgment taking place. It all happens right there in front of us, all the time. I feel that all those tripping glimpses were completely valid. In what we might call “coming down;” this is where what might not be trusted might be seen, for what it is, and is not.
The discovery of truth is in the discernment of the false.
You can know what is not. What is – you can only be.
Well, I hope you don’t mind all this, as I know I write this stuff for myself.
I hope that fits in here.
Edited by Alder Logs, 11 January 2017 - 07:39 PM.