More Real than This
The clearest and simplest thing to share about the experience is that it was real. It is real. THAT is reality and it is complete. I don’t think I can explain now, but it was so much more real than this. It wasn’t that someone or something told me that it was more real. It wasn’t something I saw or learned. The colors, patterns, music, noises, and words were wholly independent of the level of reality. It was just clear, unfiltered knowledge.
It was like a realization, although it also felt so obvious. Although, using the word realize implies that it was something I didn’t know before. It was like I was playing peek-a-boo with myself. I knew all along that it was me, but had fun pretending that I didn’t know. Since then, I am already now deep into this beautiful mess of “here”, and that knowledge is still in me. The knowledge that I’m pretending this is real. I can touch that knowledge, but doing so requires work. It feels like the volume of that knowledge and experience is inversely proportional to the volume of this experience. Maybe it’s like when I watch the setting sun. I enjoy it and watch it sink and expand. Then, for a moment, I can visualize that it is not setting, it just looks that way due to the rotation of the earth. But as I experience watching the sun again, it is undeniably expanding and setting into an orange oblivion. The perspective I maintain in my mind doesn’t matter, as long as I get to experience this moment of beauty.
About 20 minutes after smoking, I felt integrated with my body and mind again. I was alive and ecstatic to be so. However, the experience was still replaying in my mind and forcing a reprioritization of everything. At the time, it felt like an initial prioritization and not a reprioritization. I was unable and largely uninterested in trying to clearly communicate much about it. I neither wanted to talk, nor write about it. I wanted to experience being alive and in this body and world and mind. It was like I was having the most lucid of lucid dreams. This life was so immersive and overwhelming in the best possible way and I wanted to familiarize myself with everything here. I wanted to ground myself.
The moment of fracture kept striking, not as a memory exactly, but more like a re-living of it. As it did, I felt a sting of perspective, but it didn’t carry that fear and sadness like it did the first time. It was more like the jarring reminder from a loud bell. Instead of anxiety, it bathed me in euphoria. Over the next 12 hours or so, I experienced my life as completely novel and completely without fear or anxiety.
After about 12 hours, I was able to capture some notes, and continued to do so on and off for the next few days. It took me about a month to ground myself comfortably and integrate my experience to the point of being able to write more completely about it. Even then, at more than one point while writing, I felt pulled back deeply, more deeply than I was comfortable with.
The visual and auditory experiences of the whirlwind and the absolute knowledge of the reality of it all replayed in my head a few times, but there was no emotion tied to it, positive or negative. There was no fear or anxiety about what I had seen. There was no happiness or elation from the experience or even from the knowing. I may write the word “seen” out of convenience, but it was much more like knowing. That knowing occurred in a way more like a dialogue, but with myself. I knew I had experienced an initial fear that I felt as I died and the glass broke to spill its contents, but that fear was something I could no longer experience or relate to.
Build and Explore
At this point, I only wanted to focus exploring this beautiful and intense new world through my senses. I maintained an extraordinary sense of euphoria from living the life that I had just created. I saw love in everything and everyone near me. I knew that I had created everything around me and that I was continuing to create through a process of exploring. My mind was mapping and creating symbols, representations, and meanings, based on these inputs. I chose to have others. I chose to have love. I looked at Sam and felt the strongest feeling of love. I looked at Juan and Maria and felt the strongest feeling of love and of thanks. We co-created each other and this situation. Even though my representations of them were as entities disconnected and as other. Even though I intellectually understood that there can never be a way for me to prove that they exist or that they experience a reality like mine, or have constructs like mine, I chose to believe they do and that they can communicate with me. I continue to choose to believe that others are experiencing something similar to what I am and that communication is possible. I am in the most beautiful place and I am so glad to be here.
Juan looked at me, held out the second glass tube and asked “again”? I smiled the most contented smile from my innermost being. I remembered that I had just smoked. I pieced together that only maybe 10 to 20 minutes had passed in this place and for them (or for my representations of them). I saw the two unused glass tubes with thick black tar stuffed into one end. I could do this twice more. But I didn’t need to. I didn’t want to. At that point, there was nothing else to see, do, understand, or create. This was exactly where and how I wanted to be. I smiled at him and waved a simple no thank you. He then looked at Sam and asked if she wanted to smoke. This part is confusing because I clearly remember it happening both ways. There was the time she said “no thank you” and didn’t smoke. And another in which she agreed and said “yes” and smoked. She was sitting to my left, but I don’t remember much else. It’s unclear what happened after that. I am now confident that in this experience/timeline, she did not smoke at that point.
My experience and recollection of time are choppy from that point until about 10 or 20 minutes later. I was embracing Sam. I looked at Maria and I saw her hands. The top of her hands were entirely covered with scars in a beautiful and intricate pattern. I looked at Juan. I motioned and asked if I could hug him. He said ok and smiled and we hugged. I asked him if I could hug Maria. He smiled and agreed. I asked Maria if I could. She smiled and agreed. I hugged her and kissed the baby’s head. I looked at her hands and asked if I could touch them. She appeared to become a bit self-conscious. I said they were beautiful because they were. She let me. I asked them both if I could kiss her hands. They agreed and I kissed her hands. After another moment of soaking everything in, I stood up and went to wander a bit into the jungle.
Juan went off a few feet out of the circle and leaned against a tree and smoked some tepezcohuite. He closed his eyes and appeared to be working. Maria started to roll a joint. Negro was happily sprawled out in the fire pit, coated in pale ash. I don’t recall what Sam was doing.
I stood up to explore. After a few minutes of wandering and touching things and just living my environment, I returned to sit down with Sam to my right. I felt like she wanted a turn. This time, Juan offered her to smoke again and she said yes. I asked if she wanted me to hold her or hold her hand and she said no. She didn’t seem to smoke much, but it’s difficult to tell. Sam does many things subtly. She knelt forward and leaned onto her forearms. She appeared uncomfortable. For a few minutes and made small noises that seemed to indicate at least mild distress. Her forearm had been resting on the edge of a large crystal and I thought it looked uncomfortable. I moved the crystal trying not to disturb her. At one point, maybe 6 minutes in, her distress level and noises seemed particularly high and I reached out to hold her hand. I didn’t talk to her or try to interfere. She held my hand fairly tightly as if she was in pain. My goal was to minimize interfering in her experience while helping her to know she was safe. She made slightly louder whimpering noises. Then Negro got up from the fire pit and came over to comfort her very gently. She laid behind Sam just barely touching her with her back. After a few moments, Negro seemed satisfied that Sam was safe and wandered off a few feet to sprawl out into the cool dirt and continue her nap.
Living without Fear
When Sam was apparently back. Maria stopped her song and lit the joint. She took a few pulls to start it up and passed it to me. I took a small hit. I’m not sure I felt anything from it. My relaxation and euphoria were pretty much maxed out. That’s when it struck me. I was no longer afraid to die.
Historically, my fear of death has not been very high. At least not since Gavin killed himself when I was 16. I also meditate daily on death, which I believe lowers it even more. I’m not sure that I can quantify exactly what my level of fear was previously, but even if it was 99.999% non-existent, the difference between that and 100% is literally infinite. Without being aware of exactly how it happened, or exactly when, I had completely lost all fear of death. It was a superpower that also killed any other fear or anxiety in me. I had been released from all bonds. I was existing only as curiosity and wonder. It would have felt just as silly to fear death at that point as it would to fear the end of a carnival ride or a movie or book. I have this life and it is intensely beautiful and I have no intention to leave, however this experience will come to an end and when it does, it will be no problem. I can trivially understand that intellectually, however at that time, it was completely integrated into me. I was the experience of no fear.
There are Buddhist concepts that can be triggered from a question like, “Where were you before your parents were born?”. Thinking deeply on that question, you may arrive at the ideas of impermanence and of no self. Another thought exercise might be to see all of the non-paper elements that make up a sheet of paper. For example you may see a cloud in a sheet of paper because the paper is made from trees, the trees grew from rain, and the rain came from clouds. You can go in any direction with that thought. You may think about the people who cut the tree, or who built the factory that processed the tree. You may think about the future, and how paper allowed for books, which allowed for knowledge and ideas to be shared, allowing our societies to grow in ways that may allow for our descendants to explore the galaxy in person. With that line of thinking, it may become clear that your only true belongings are the actions of your body, speech, and mind. You may come to realize that like the paper, you have no beginning and no end, therefore death is not as scary as it may have once seemed. It has been my experience that fear of death can be minimized and possibly eliminated through working on this.
The lack of fear I now had came from something different. It was simpler and more direct. It had to do with the fact that time is an illusion. It’s a construct, a side effect. We believe our understanding and experience of time is unassailable, and that once a moment has passed us, it is gone. It’s trivial for me to say that “time is an illusion”, or a construct. But really getting that and understanding it in a fully integrated manner was completely different. I see that all moments “in time” are, and always will be. There is no need for the universe to restart or reboot. There is no need to “go back” in time. The past is always there. I want to say, the past is always there, like a painting that has been painted. However, that doesn’t do it justice, because that moment in the past is not gone or over. At every moment, the moment is still there. It’s alive and always will be. There is no central clock measuring time for the entire universe. Everything is subjective and subjective to its own moment. I don’t know if I have the answer to whether time in the universe is quantized or if it is more like a perfect, connected, analog flow, but to demonstrate this concept, let’s imagine it is quantized into something that looks like a flip-book. Each page in that book is alive in itself with its entire universe in that moment, and it always will be. Always is a tricky word because it has assumptions about time built in. Our experience of time feels so fundamental to our experience of living, that our languages may be unable to express the reality of the situation. Writing about it is proving difficult and awkward. The present is still the present at every moment in the past and always will be. You will have been there before and again. There is no escape, and therefore there is nothing to fear of death. You will always live and relive every moment of your experience. Unless of course, you do escape. But escaping is an escape in and it’s something more like knowledge or understanding. Escape is really only acknowledging the rest of everything you are, always will be, and have been in all directions.
I may have failed to realize the full power of my gift of no fear at the time. Maybe because it was so subtle. How often do I acknowledge the lack of something as a gift? More likely, my failure to acknowledge the full power of the gift was a logical result of the gift itself. In other words, how could I fear the possibility of the gift not lasting forever while I was unable to fear anything. Not for a moment did I consider, or care, that it might ever wear off or end. I didn’t consider what losing it might mean. It just wasn’t important.
Through Buddhist practice, I have learned to understand rebirth as a continual process. I continue myself each time I interact with someone or something, directly, or indirectly. Just as I am the continuation of all who came before me. I am all of those who have passed along their genetic and/or social aspects, going back as far back as possible. Through practice, I have deeply integrated this knowledge and understanding. Now I understood, just as deeply, if not more so, that my birth is always happening. My life is always happening. Not like a movie that is played end to end, over and over. My life is continually being played at every moment, and each of those moments is a beacon. A beacon to me. The past and the future. Each is my present and will always be available as a space for me to manifest.
It was JUST a psychedelic experience
I want to take a moment to acknowledge that this was an experience of less than 20 minutes of my entire life. Also, I feel strong social pressure to minimize the experience and to downplay it. This was not my first time smoking DMT. It was just probably the highest dose. I know that many other people have experienced psychedelics. Many others have experienced DMT. There are even some great books on the subject. Two months after my experience, I read “DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor’s Revolutionary Research Into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences”, by Rick Strassman. In it, Rick details his studies with high-dose DMT sessions on volunteers. The experiences of some of his subjects sound extraordinarily similar with mine. Rick followed up with his subjects 2 months, and 2 years after his study. He ended his book by sharing a fairly disillusioned outlook on the long-term value of DMT. I have a theory as to why, which I expect to get to in part 4 or 5. For now, I’ll try an analogy.
Maybe my DMT experience was like piercing an ear. Sending a needle through my earlobe quickly. Afterward, I have a hole in my ear, but if I don’t continue to keep something in there or stretch it, it will close back up over time. I think the analogy can even somehow include infection, but I’m not prepared to write much about that yet. For now, writing this is working to keep it from closing up. I’m still not sure I even want to maintain this perspective. I haven’t shared the darker aspects yet. While I can find so many positive aspects, I also occasionally touch an existential fear stronger than anything I could have ever imagined. This entry would also be incomplete if I didn’t admit to my fear of sending myself into a permanent psychosis.