IN THE LIGHT
"Everybody needs the light." - Led Zeppelin
A couple of weekends ago, I had one of the most remarkable experiences of my lifetime. Perhaps the most remarkable. It was a subjective experience, however it was shared with four other people. All others present had their own version of the experience, reported it similarly, and shared its' aftermath. I will try to communicate to the reader what I experienced as well as I am able.
In other essays, I have alluded to psychedelic experiences. I have a long and positive history with psychedelics, that goes back over thirty years. The first time I used Psilocybin(the chemical that makes mushrooms magic) I became aware of parts of myself that had no origins in my historical biography. Part of my consciousness of which I had previously been unfamiliar, had no connection with my family, my history, my culture or the self narratives I had used to define my experience in every moment I could recall. Like a dream(of which I have recorded thousands) the experience washed over me in a sensation that I could only describe as profoundly healing.
In the past three decades since that experience I have used Psychedelics in stops and starts. I'd say probably twenty five times between the ages of eighteen and twenty six. Then roughly five times or so, between the ages of twenty six and forty six, and perhaps that many in the years since. My experience has been overwhelmingly positive and expansive. I have utilized Psilocybin mostly, on rare occasions LSD(two or three times) Mescaline occasionally(once or twice) and DMT, which is found in Ayahuasca five times, and MDMA twice. I have written previously about Ayahuasca and Mushrooms providing identical experiences from identical molecular structures and will not reference that here. LSD felt synthetic compared to Psilocybin and bit more unpredictable. To me it was a synthesized version of a plant entheogen that democratized psychedelics and brought them to places in the world where plant entheogens were not locally available. However, I had always thought if the plants were available, better to just use them. MDMA was heart opening, but made me feel worse the next day than anything I had ever done in my life. Mescaline I have encountered a couple of times in cactus form, and found it quite pleasant and mellow. Funnily enough, these cactus are in almost every neighborhood in Los Angeles. All the Psychedelics I have used had virtually no post use physical impact, and to be honest, usually I felt phenomenal in the days afterwards.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to experience 5 MEO DMT. This has been described to me by people that know as "The Crown Jewel of Psychedelics." It is also known as "The God Molecule." In Nature it occurs in the venom of the Bufo Alvarius Toad, which appears in the rainy season in the American Southwest and Central Mexico. It has also been synthesized by chemists. It is ignited with a flame then inhaled as smoke. I had done a couple of years research on this particular agent as I am actually pretty meticulous about what I take into my body. I also have a healthy respect for the fragility of the psyche and did not want to do myself any damage. Though it may seem from my disclosures that I am pretty adventurous, I have, I promise you been very careful with these substances. I have always kept my dosages fairly conservative and always been very careful about the setting I used psychedelics in(though I had been dragged toa few Grateful Dead shows) as well as the people who were present when I used them. I have rarely used them recreationally, and I don't use other intoxicants. I have probably smoked marijuana ten times in my life and haven't been intoxicated by alcohol since I was a teenager. Psychedelics however, have been a path of development for me, for most of my adulthood.
I have had several noteworthy experiences using psychedelics and very few negative ones. Quite a few experiences have verged on the mystical, and I have always found upward stratas of consciousness to experience and incorporate that were separate from my everyday egoic state. What was most interesting to me about Psychedelics was that the insights or experiences of a broadened consciousness that I had while using them, had utility in the times afterwards.
To be honest though, I was sort of a middling psychedelic user. I didn't really do too many "heroic" doses out of fear of damaging my Psyche. I once was given 5 doses of LSD surreptitiously by a malevolent associate, and found the experience upsetting to the point of considering having a friend to take me to the hospital in search of Thorazine. The only way I could describe the experience subjectively was that it was like having physical reality broken up into its’ sub-atomic origins, with no hope of it ever coming back together in its usual ways. I talked myself through it, and ended up fine, but it left me wary, and unwilling to turn myself over to Psychedelics in that uncontrolled manner again. In recent years, I have attended Ayahuasca ceremonies where I passed on the opportunity to "top off" my experience to take it to a higher level. I found these experiences challenging enough, and always found myself holding myself right on the edge of the the psychological, emotional, and yes I'll say it, spiritual chaos that these experiences offered. Instead, I peered over into an unknown abyss and said, "No thanks, this is far enough for me." These experiences left me feeling disappointed with my untrusting spirit, and maybe even my lack of courage. So, while they were useful, and broadening, they were not as transforming as I would have liked them to be.
The limits on my Psychedelic experience were self created. There was an experience that I was not willing to engage. The experience of releasing control. It often felt like I was standing in an open doorway of a skydiving plane, but not being willing to relinquish my hold on the frame and let myself fall. I was strong enough to hold myself in the whipping winds, interested enough to stick my head outside the plane to feel the wind rushing by, more adventurous than those who sat on the floor or who wouldn't even fly in such a plane, but envious of those who had the courage to fling themselves into the open sky with the faith that they would return safely to earth.
A couple of months ago, I met someone who was talking about their 5 MEO experiences like teenagers who had actually had sex talked about it with those of us who were still virgins. As I had felt as a teenager, I felt suspicious of this man's enthusiasm. He literally had no reservations about people using this substance, and referred to "full releases," and "godgasms". It sounded intriguing and I discussed it with him further. I gathered my courage and composed a group composed of experienced friends who took their development seriously. I spoke with our enthusiastic leader about my reservations, and about my historical fear of letting go. He assured that in this instance that wouldn't be a problem, because it wouldn't be an option. This made me feel worried.
In the week before the sit, I felt anxious. I imagined reasons to cancel it, and stacked events before and after it to make it less and less likely. Two nights before it was scheduled, I had the following dream. "I was in a room with two women. They had a pipe filled with smoke that they offered to me. I inhaled the smoke and at the moment I did, the whole scene began to recede away from me very rapidly. It was like a 1970's television that was turned off where the whole picture collapsed to a colored pinhole at the center of a black screen, until it was gone. " In the dream when this began, I felt a acute panic, which very quickly gave way to feelings of bliss as I recalled this void catacombs that I now found myself preceded and followed all my lifetimes, and was connected to all of them as an entranceway and exit. The dream made me feel remarkably hopeful and I released all thoughts of canceling the sit.
On the day of the sit, the momentum brought me to the front door of the building where the sit was to occur. The other sitters whom I had recruited were there and the facilitator arrived. There was no turning back. Our leader discussed some yogic philosophy, read a couple of inspiring passages from the Upanishads and gave us a few breathing exercises to prepare us for the experience. Our bravest member went first and had what appeared to be very dynamic experience. From his inhalation to the end of his experience, it was about twenty minutes. Of the four of us who sat, his experience seemed the most complicated, and it did nothing to decrease my anxiety, and probably increased it. The second sitter, was a good friend of mine, and a very strong and inspired yogi and healer. When he inhaled, he went straight into super blissful state, and stayed there the whole time. His experience seemed inspired, and made me want to go next. But I had another friend who wanted to swim in the yogis wake and he hopped in. He also had a great experience and when he was done said, “I don’t want to say too much about it, but I’m excited for Robert to go there.” So there I was. Everyone had gone and was looking at me, and I had no reason not to go, so I entered the center of the room.
The facilitator asked me some questions about my previous experiences and dropped what looked like a few grains of sand into the pipe. I was seconds away from liftoff and all my reservations were gone. He flicked the lighter and the material in the transformed into smoke and began to circle the pipe, and I began to inhale. I kept inhaling until all the smoke was gone. It wasn’t harsh, or acrid, it was warm and comforting and smelled like corn tortillas. I lay back and held the smoke a good long while. Then I exhaled. I lay back and the room disappeared and my consciousness was pushed right into all the boundary lands that I had refused to enter in all my previous experiences. Then, they flew past me, at the speed of light. In the first 3 seconds I went further and faster beyond the previous self imposed limitations of my experience than I had gone in all my previous experiences combined. There was nothing I could do to resist or control the experience it simply was happening. Fear was not an option. There was only the unassailable flight into the unknown.
It is difficult to describe the indescribable, so I will not bore the reader with anything but a brief synopsis. Colors, and sensations of unimaginable movement streaked past me at indescribable speeds. My whole being felt like the Starship Enterprise looked after Captain Kirk asked Scotty for Warp Speed. Colors were bending as they were being stretched by the speed I was moving. Gradually colors were being funneled into the center of my experience while the outsides began to lose their integrity. I felt as though I was the edges of my consciousness were going to break apart while the center moved into a tighter whirl. I was being released from a notion of "I" and simply becoming the tightening and accelerating center.
Then it happened, the center reached such velocity that the only color it would contain was white. A bright white light that appeared a bolt of lightning as it appeared from the inside was coursing through me at unimaginable speeds with unimaginable force. This felt like the true center of all existence. Beyond galaxies and the known physical universe, this was the energetic center from which all existence, physical and non physical, sprang. I wanted to slurp it up. I wanted to get as much of this experience inside of my body to recalibrate my cellular experience, but also to free me from all conceptual limitations. The only thing that seemed necessary was to bring this brilliant stream through my consciousness as clearly and and voluminously as I was able. I spread out my arms and legs as broadly as I could. I relaxed my physical core The light had a tonal quality and I wanted it to reverberate throughout my physical body. I began to tone it as closely as my inner ear would allow me to. It was a high pitched, metallic sound. When I made the sound, I could feel areas in my body that were tight from conventional thinking open in response to the sound. In my heart I knew that making these noises were a translation of the experience. As I continued to move through the experience, the speed changed and so did my tones, but I stayed committed to articulating the sounds of the experience. It was completely exhilarating . The sounds like the white light had a metallic tone to them. The louder I got, the more they affected my body, which no longer felt like my body, but an energetic experience.
So, without sounding too nutty, I'm going to write a few words about the white light. It wasn't physical, it existed outside of physical reality in a quantum, non local location. It instantly relativized all physical life. My life itself seemed like an experience conditioned by my biological nervous system. All memories, concepts, and histories were shown to be something assembled by my nervous system and my brain. Perhaps it was predestined and shaped by some non physical force, perhaps it was shaped by the intelligence that I experienced in the white light, but it was relativized. It was a hypnotic state that was not relevant in the experience of the light. I was instantly made aware that there was an experience of existence outside physical life. It wasn't conceptual, it was the actual experience. All answers about an existence after physical life were provided. It was not an etheric version of physical life with other disembodied persons, nor was it a void ending. There was only union with the light. All struggles in this life were a measure of the distance between oneself and the light, and all struggles at the end of life were resultant of not willing to let go of the conditioning of one's nervous system and brain, and reenter the light. It was simple. There was nothing to fear. There had never been anything to fear.