This is the story of my journey from leaving a stable mainstream job in the US to being a caretaker three years later at an isolated rainforest property in the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil. There, with the invitation of a shaman, I regularly drank Ayahuasca without his supervision. In short, this is the story of radical transformation, or as the subtitle says, this book documents my initiation into plant medicine. SMMM is much more than just a story about me though, which brings us to my intention for writing it. The book serves as a source of information for beginners to Ayahuasca and other sacred medicines. It gives practical guidance that I wish had been given to me before my first ceremonies. There are also many teachings included from my shaman that will benefit a more experienced person.
There are already books available that talk about the healing potential of Ayahuasca. What makes mine unique is the focus on going Beyond Healing. What happens when a person is healed of their suffering, but continues to drink the medicine? I propose that they will continue to awaken, evolve and grow at an accelerated rate. And what happens when a large number of people do this? In my honest opinion, that is the only way humanity will solve the current crisis we face. Politics and technology are simply not enough. To solve problems like environmental destruction, poverty, war and disease we need to transcend our rational minds and access our higher selves. The modern mind is a powerful tool, but inappropriate use of it causes more problems than it solves. My book demonstrates how Sacred medicines can allow us to put the rational mind where it belongs, as servant to the higher self.
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This past April, I had the great pleasure of attending the largest conference dedicated to the scientific study of psychedelic medicine in modern history. Over 3,000 people from 40 countries attended this 6-day conference in Oakland, California. The main purpose was to present the latest results from research occurring at leading academic institutions and nonprofits in the U.S. and around the world. The event was hosted by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) and the Beckley Foundation as part of their missions to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of psychedelic substances for treating a variety of treatment-resistant conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, and addiction.
Prophecy of Time by Justin Totemical, courtesy of threyda.com
Peru It has been more than 2 years since my journey to Peru to explore the healing properties of the sacred plant medicines traditionally used by the people of the region, Ayahuasca and Huachuma. My exploration of entheogens continued upon my return to the US with the therapeutic use of plants and substances available here such as Peyote, Psilocybin, MDMA and LSD. Following many months of deep work while using such a wide range of medicine the benefits were certainly evident and the next step in the process was to integrate all those amazing experiences into a functional daily routine while introducing my friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers to the new me. The primary challenge of my integration has consisted mostly of finding my place in a society that I have become increasingly cynical of. As I discovered, swallowing those foul tasting brews, leaving my job and stepping into the unknown were actually the easy parts. Coming back was the real challenge…
The title of this article is a spin on the famous slogan that was successfully used during the election campaign to make Donald Trump the president of the United States. The slogan “Make America Great Again” raises some interesting questions such as, when exactly was this great time we are attempting to return to? “Make America Great” without the “Again” part might have been a better choice. I think a more important question to ask though is why do we continue to believe one single human is capable of changing a nation of nearly 320 million people in a meaningful way ? During these past 8 years Barack Obama showed us this is simply not possible despite some very inspired voters that hoped it was. He obviously accomplished many great things during his time in office, and there is a complicated explanation for why he didn’t accomplish more, but he alone was not enough. A person like the Dalai Lama can be an effective leader of many people, though I would argue that is because he is much more of a spiritual leader than a political leader. It always helps to have a great leader, and to have your preferred candidate in the White House, but we need to be realistic about our expectations of being saved by one single person.
Forget everything you thought you knew about psychedelics, especially if you never tried them before. A minority of people has ever tried psychedelics and many associate them only with concerts, escape and youthful experimentation. I would say a minority of that minority has intentionally consumed them for spiritual, medicinal or self development purposes. All of this is fine except a great majority of us are completely missing what psychedelics have the greatest purpose and potential for, teaching us how to better exist on this planet together. Not only are we unaware of their true purpose, but we are forbidding those who want to explore this potential from doing so.
Amitabha Stupa, Sedona Arizona. Photo by Sattvic Planet
Like many seekers on the spiritual path, I recently discovered Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now. Admittedly I’m a little late to the show as the book was published years ago but at least I finally got the message. In case you haven’t heard the primary message is that in this modern society we have developed our rational minds to a level that has become more harmful than beneficial. Our rational minds are constantly turned on and as a result our presence is usually turned off. Our lack of presence is evident in the priority that past and future events take over the present moment. We often dream of the good times from our past and constantly anticipate a distant and better future without appreciating the current moment. According to Eckhart the ego is directly related to the mind and as a result of over developing our minds we have falsely identified with our egos. We believe that we are our professions, possessions, clothes, status, emotions, likes, dislikes, etc. Of course there’s much more to his message than this, but that is the foundation.
“In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the mind, there are no limits”
-From The Center of the Cyclone, written by John C. Lilly, M.D.
Isolation tanks, or float pods, are increasingly popular these days and can now be found in large cities throughout the US West. Celebrity Joe Rogan deserves some credit for spreading the word as he often raves on his podcast about the benefits he enjoys from owning a tank and floating regularly in his home. However, the person who deserves the most credit is a scientist named Dr John C. Lilly who invented the concept during the 1950s. You may have heard of Lilly if you ever listened to The Joe Rogan Experience, and you can usually find one of Lilly’s books for sale at a float studio. Lilly did much more than pioneer this meditative therapy, he took the concept further than any of us can imagine. Lilly was fascinated with exploring the human mind, and unlike most scientists today he was willing to experiment with his own mind rather than the minds of his test subjects. One such experiment involved taking LSD and then entering his isolation tank on multiple occasions to learn more about human consciousness. Since I was interested in having a similar experience I decided to read his book The Center of the Cyclone prior to my first journey. The book is a personal account of his LSD influenced float tank experiences along with other stories of mind exploration. Lilly seemed to be writing the book not only to document his pioneering efforts, but also to provide assistance and warnings to others who might follow his path.