• Psychedelic Medicine
  • Psychedelic Medicine Moderator: mr peabody
  • Bluelight HOT THREADS
  • Let's Welcome Our NEW MEMBERS!

Science Self-actualization

mr peabody

Moderator: PM
Staff member
Aug 31, 2016
Frostbite Falls, MN
Another wonderful article (and now new thread!) submitted by @Hylight

Psychedelics as a tool for self-actualization

Paul Austin | The Third Wave

Perched at the apex of the pyramid illustrating Abraham Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs, you will notice a mystifying concept— self-actualization.

To Maslow, the pinnacle of human existence meant the pursuit of self-actualization. After one meets the basic physiological needs and attains a certain level of love and comfort, then the individual begins to explore and realize his or her full potential.

Maslow’s theory was first published in the early 20th century and has since received its fair share of criticism. Still, Maslow’s approach has permeated into mainstream awareness because the structure of the hierarchy makes sense to the average layman.

It makes so much sense, in fact, that the desire for self-actualization, for realizing the full human potential and becoming better, has blossomed into a multi-billion dollar mega-industry. Self-help books, fitness trainers, gym memberships, health foods, non-profit, even for-profit social ventures are always promising the customer some self-fulfilment or satisfying development.

These tools and services can all be very useful. But they can’t work magic alone. Too many people expect to buy something or pay someone and have the work done for them. They want to set and forget any questions of restlessness or potential. It doesn’t work like that. Self-actualization is an ongoing, self-critical, challenging process. No product can change that fact, and no product should.

So, what now?

In a culture awash with distractions, how can someone interested in personal growth navigate past the emotionally enticing services sold around every corner? How can they understand and, even, challenge their greatest potential?

Two ways come to mind :

1. Reaffirm self-actualization as a process that is rewarding because it is a process
2. Use psychedelics

Self-actualization as a process

As an animal, it is part of our nature and instinct to seek. Exploring gives our life meaning and pleasure. It takes us from A to B. Humans need this ability to grow. Self-actualization, ultimately, is a more sophisticated and knowledgeable version of this primitive, seeking instinct.

But a big problem arises when people expect an external pursuit to finish the job. For, pursuing an external object for internal satisfaction will never amount to becoming a whole, permanently satisfied being.

Seeking and self-actualization are processes. They must constantly be pursued for a person to remain happy. Think of your left bicep. Yes, you can train your bicep to lift or move certain amounts of weight and accomplish. But, to maintain a high level of strength, you must test it. You must subject it to the timeless pursuit of bicep curls and one-arm pull-ups (maybe?) If you do not test it, the bicep will become weaker.

Unfortunately, many people mistake their natural desire to evolve as a hassle to deal with, like pulling a tooth. When they can’t shake their seeking impulses, they often misunderstand such desires as an outcome of unfulfillment or lacking.

But this idea of seeking, of exploration, signifies a person’s basic needs are met. People should feel blessed to have the urge to seek because it means they are ready to become better.

Treating self-actualization as an instinctual process allows a person to hear their internal voice, instead of seeking the final attainment of an external object or achievement. It’s about the journey, not the destination.

After realizing this, you will no longer expect objects to save you from imperfection. Instead, you will begin to focus on the tools that can help you continue to explore and grow.

Which brings us to those lovely drugs called psychedelics.

“Pursuing an external object for internal satisfaction will never amount to becoming a whole, permanently satisfied being.”

Sasha Shulgin

Psychedelics as a tool for self-actualization

Currently, we are within a period of resurgent interest in psychedelics, specific to how such substances uncover mysteries about the nature of our mind. Recently, scientists revealed brain scans of people under the influence of LSD. The scans showed increases in activity between areas of the brain that usually do not communicate with each other.

The results go a long way in supporting the idea that psychedelic usage takes us out of our “default mode network”, or DMN. The DMN is a name given to the network of brain regions accounting for everyday patterns of thought, including memories, ruminations, judgments, and all the thoughts that contribute to the sense of self.

The default network, more or less, is responsible for thoughts in your head that appear like an unexpected present from your Great Aunt at Christmas. Yes, you weren’t expecting them. Yes, sometimes the gifts are most excellent. But many times, you only get the same pair of gray wool socks that came in the stocking last year.

Still, in other situations, these default thoughts become barriers. They stand between you and your better self. Chronic anxieties, grudges, fears, and doubts remain common to any person who calls himself a homo sapiens. And since they are endemic to humankind, we often tie them to aspects of human character. Many times they remain this way – at least as long as you allow them to control your actions and limit your beliefs.

Psychedelics, however, provide a radically different and liberating experience, removing you from this default mode. Aside from the science, there is a wealth of anecdotal testimony attesting to the transformative and educational effects of psychedelics. Seasoned psychedelic users (a.k.a. Psychonauts), or even those lucky enough to have experienced a single transformative trip, often report losing their sense of self.

Many have used psychedelics to help find new solutions to old problems. Psychedelics make many users feel like children, a byproduct of the decreased default mode network activity, which becomes cemented during adulthood. Often, users discover new insights or examine habitual thoughts, behaviors, and feelings from an outside or detached perspective.

Psychedelics, when under controlled and informed use, offer so much more than out-of-this-world hallucinations or funny stories. In truth, these substances reveal deeper aspects of self by expanding consciousness.

As a tool, psychedelics can be used to confront challenging aspects about one’s self, to examine and re-examine goals, desires, and beliefs from a new perspective, and to discover hidden facets of our minds that have been obscured by default, automatic thinking.

In realizing your potential, having the ability to step back and perceive your life from a different perspective proves incredibly valuable.

As you think, so shall you become

The beauty of self-actualization as a process comes from its expansive nature— your potential is only limited by imagination. And when self-actualization becomes an enjoyable process, you experience discontent without feeling shameful, knowing that it signifies bounty and human instinct.

Psychedelics play an important role in self-actualization by acting as a powerful tool in overcoming our default mode, which often provides limiting, discouraging, or misguided thoughts and beliefs. Furthermore, the experience of an altered state of mind while under psychedelic influence often acts as a wake-up call.

In taking psychedelics, the point is not to just ‘get high’ and replicate the empty process of chasing to feel fulfilled.

Rather, consuming such substances provides an insight into the possibility of a different way of thinking. It shows you that there is more to your mind than you know. It provides new content for you to think about, and entirely new perspectives and lenses to view such novel content through.

As Bruce Lee said, “As you think, so shall you become.” When you take the plunge to explore your mind, you consequently explore our own possibilities.

Last edited:

mr peabody

Moderator: PM
Staff member
Aug 31, 2016
Frostbite Falls, MN

Albert Hofmann

LSD as a spiritual aid

by Thomas B. Roberts | Inner Traditions | 7 Jun 2012

Albert Hofmann, Ph.D., Dr.Pharm.H.C., Dr.Sc.Nat.H.C., is best known for his serendipitous discovery of LSD and for his chemical work identifying the active principles of the sacred mushroom of Mexico. He was the retired director of research for the Department of Natural Products at Sandoz Pharmaceutical Ltd. in Basel, Switzerland. Dr. Hofmann was a fellow of the World Academy of Science and a member of the Nobel Prize Committee, the International Society of Plant Research, and the American Society of Pharmacognosy. He wrote many scientific papers and several books: The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens and Plants of the Gods with Richard Evans Schultes, The Road to Eleusis with R. G. Wasson and Carl Ruck, LSD: My Problem Child, and Insight/Outlook.

Born January 11, 1906, Albert celebrated his 100th birthday in excellent health with thousands of grateful admirers at the Spirit of Basel — a celebration of his life’s work (www.lsd.info/en/home.html). Albert died two years later, on April 29, 2008, four months after his wife, Anita, had passed away. His archives and legacy are managed by Dieter Hagenbach at www.gaiamedia.org. Following are Dr. Hofmann's comments on the the role LSD played in his spiritual development.


"Before I start with the report on the role LSD has played in my spiritual development, some general remarks on this very special psychopharmacon are appropriate."

"LSD is not a product of planned research. I did not look for it, it came to me. This means to me that a higher authority thought it was necessary now to provide mankind with an additional pharmacological aid for spiritual growth."

"LSD is not just a synthetic substance from the laboratory. After the discovery of lysergic acid amide and lysergic acid hydroxyethylamide (very closely related to lysergic acid diethylamide) as the entheogenic principles of Ololiuqui, an ancient sacred plant of Mexican Indians, LSD had to be regarded as belonging to the group of natural entheogenic drugs of Mesoamerica."

"These two characteristics of LSD legitimate its use in a religious framework."

"Now I come to the report of how LSD was a spiritual aid to me and how it influenced my worldview (Weltanschauung)."

"After my first experiences with LSD, the question arose for me: Which is true, the picture of the world as we perceive it with our everyday consciousness or the overwhelming image under the influence of entheogens?"

"This caused me to analyze what we know about the mechanism of perceiving reality."

"Perception presupposes a subject that perceives and an object that is perceived. In human relations the subject that perceives is the individual human being, more exactly his consciousness, and the object perceived is the outer material world."

"It is of the greatest importance to be aware of the fundamental fact that the outer world consists objectively of nothing more than matter and energy."

"In order to make conspicuous the mechanism of our experiencing reality, I have chosen a metaphor from television. The material world functions as transmitter, emanates optical, acoustical, gustatory, olfactory, and tactile signals that are received by the antennae, by our sensory organs, eyes, ears, tongue, nose, and skin and are conducted from there to the corresponding center in the brain to the receiver. There these energetic and material signals are transformed into the spiritual phenomena of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching. One does not know how this transformation of material and energetic impulses into the psychic dimension of perception takes place. It includes the mystery of the connection between the material and the spiritual world."

"The transmitter-receiver metaphor of reality makes evident that the picture of the outer world comes into existence inside, in the consciousness of the individual."

"This fundamental fact signifies that the screen on which the colorful world is perceived is not in the outer but in the inner space of every human being. There are no colors, no sounds, no taste, no odors in the outer world. Everyone carries within himself his own personal image of the world, an image created by his private receiver. There is no common screen outside. This makes us fully aware of the cosmogenic (worldcreating) power invested in every human."

"Before making use of these considerations to explain the ability of LSD and the other entheogens to change the experience of reality, our knowledge about the essence of consciousness must be reviewed."

"Consciousness defies a scientific definition and explanation; for it is what is needed to contemplate what consciousness is. It can only be circumscribed as being the receptive and creative center of the spiritual ego, which has the faculties of perceiving, thinking, and feeling, and which is the seat of memory."

"It is of fundamental importance to be aware of how consciousness originates and develops."

"The newborn human possesses solely the faculty of perceiving — possesses, or more correctly, is this mystic nucleus of life. He owns — to use again the metaphor of television — a blank videocassette, where the incoming stimuli from the outer world are transformed into images and sensations that can then be stored in the memory, providing the groundwork for thinking. Without these signals from outside, no consciousness could develop."

"There is common consent that the evolution of mankind is paralleled by the increase and expansion of consciousness. From the described process of how consciousness originates and develops, it becomes evident that its growth depends on its faculty of perception."

"Therefore every means of improving this faculty should be used."

"The characteristics of entheogens, their faculty to improve sensory perception, makes them inestimable aids in the process of expanding consciousness."

"It was LSD, the most potent entheogen, that, to use Blake’s famous line, cleansed my doors of perception and made me see everything as it is, infinite."

"In my childhood I experienced spontaneously some of those blissful moments when the world appeared suddenly in a new brilliant light, and I had the feeling of being included in its wonder and indescribable beauty. These moments remained in my memory as extraordinary experiences of untold happiness, but only after the discovery of LSD did I grasp their meaning and existential importance."

"As mentioned at the beginning of this short essay, it was my experiences with LSD that caused me to think about the essence of reality. The insights I received, as described, increased my astonishment about the wonder of existence, of which we become conscious in enlightened moments."

Last edited:

mr peabody

Moderator: PM
Staff member
Aug 31, 2016
Frostbite Falls, MN

Nick Sand

Journey into the realm of ibogaine

by Nick Sand

Back in 1964, when psychedelic exploration was still legal, I obtained three doses of ibogaine. I had previously been doing extensive exploration with LSD, peyote, DMT, and mescaline, both in my laboratory as chief alchemist for the League of Spiritual Discovery, and internally on my own quest for illumination. Always on the lookout for new and effective ways to access God-consciousness, I was eager to try ibogaine. I'd heard fascinating stories about ibogaine from older friends who had turned me on to my first psychedelic experience with mescaline. One told of a parade of cosmic proportions. Another described a pageant of incredible detail and completely realistic visions, like watching a movie. These were some of the tantalizing descriptions presented to me about ibogaine.

LSD tends to magnify, intensify and empower the vision of a timeless moment. DMT, on the other end of the tryptamine spectrum, tends to transport one into a totally “other” realm, replete with elaborate and intensely colorful designs, strange guardian creatures, and visitations from divine messengers. Having retrieved rich treasures of spiritual secrets from the DMT realms, I am intrigued by the descriptions of ibogaine.

Looking through my anthropology books, I found passages describing members of the Bwiti cult in central Africa using Tabernanthe iboga, a traditional plant source for ibogaine, in ceremonies to visit their ancestors and receive instructions. In lower doses, ibogaine is said to give hunters the ability to stay motionless for many hours while they became one with the jungle.

My two intrepid cosmic companions, Alan and Raymond, and myself are all enthusiastic about trying it. We decide to take it at their flat in Brooklyn Heights—a brownstone building that had fallen into disrepair—that lay on the boundary between the black and Puerto Rican neighborhoods. They had fixed the fireplace and transformed the flat into a psychedelic temple. Now assembled, we discuss the preparations. We fast for two days and spend the day before quietly reading, meditating, and doing yoga to ensure the best possible experience. We disconnect the phone and put a “do not disturb, meditation in progress” sign up on the door.

We each take about 800 mg of ibogaine hydrochloride, a chalky white powder with a bitter, earthy taste. We sit on mattresses arranged on a carpet around the fire. We wait one, two, three hours, and nothing happens. The fire burns low, but no one moves to build it up. The shadows grew long and night fell. Simultaneously, we all lay down, as the lethargy that had subtly been coming on grows more intense. I have no desire to move. Everything is silent and still. I feel that I am in a soft, humming, electric cocoon that gives me little “funny bone” shocks if I touch it.

I am in the middle, centered between euphoria and depression. I feel balanced. My sense perceptions are heightened. The little glow from the fire brightens the whole room. My eyes focus in a different way—clear, but taking everything in. And then the room starts to spin. It is similar to an alcohol drunkenness, but with no feeling of vertigo or nausea at all. I am glad that I fasted! The whirling increases and I feel like I am in the center of a pinwheel. Faster and faster it spins, and then I am rising like a projectile through the room—with great chunks of wall and brick peeling back and falling away in slow motion. I shoot up into the stars: a pair of disembodied eyes wandering, searching. I am an essence - a solo awareness flying through the universe, exploring, seeking.

After an immense journey, I come to a planet. It is a sandy yellow color. I am able to project my vision down to it, and I look around the surface of the planet. It is an inhospitable looking place; with winds strong enough to blow rocks and sand past me. It looks lethally hot and dry. I move on. Next, I come to a dark green planet. No clouds. No seas. No mountains. It looks as though it is covered with a poisonous mold. I do not want to go any closer. I continue on through the galaxies until I arrive above a whirling vortex that is coalescing into a solar system. I watched a sun and its planets form, and come closer to observe. I am drawn to one of the middle planets. The fiery liquid surface is cooling and turning from yellow and red to black solids, broken by red rivers of lava emitting flames. Slowly, the planet cools until fumes and vapors veil the entire surface. As I circle the planet, I sense a long epoch of torrential rains, as water vapor forms and condenses in the upper atmosphere and falls toward the burning surface, only to evaporate again long before reaching the ground. Eventually, the planet cools and the rains arrive on the lands below. After what seems like a long time, the clouds begin to clear. I scan the planet now, seeing and being everything that I come across. I watch mountain chains rise and volcanoes burst, and everything subside again and again into flat plains and meandering rivers. Time and time again, mountains rise and dissolve and continents appear and disappear. Then this slows down, and I watch the seas and plains. All is sterile—a tan land with smoking volcanoes and no life, yet fecund and ready.

As I watch, I see life appear. I observe spots of green forming along the seashores. They shoot along the banks, forming a green margin, and then run up the rivers and tributaries like the veins in a leaf. The barren spaces between these branches are filled with proliferating plant life. The oceans seem to be teeming with life, and then the first bug-like creatures start to crawl out on land. They spread all over, rapidly changing into a variety of insects and strange lobster-like creatures. Fern-like plants appear. Vast varieties of life appear and then disappear. Elaborate life experiments succeed one another with awesome complexity.

Then suddenly I am in a steaming swamp-like environment that looked familiar. With awe and amazement, I realize that I am watching the age of the dinosaur, and it slowly dawns on me that I am witness to the history of life evolving on the planet Earth! With a speed that defies accurate recall, life forms change again and again, spreading and multiplying in a dizzying array of shapes and colors. Humanoid creatures appear and soon after are hunting, then farming and building. Civilizations bloom, spread, and subside, like bubbles on a fermenting pond. Ages of war and conquest express the speed of civilization and technology. I witness slaughter and mayhem, torture and mutilation, rape and castration. Man’s inhumanity to man is illustrated in myriad forms. I am there, “in” it, feeling it as both the doer and the done to. For what seems an interminably long time, civilizations rise and fall in inter-folding waves of creation, and brilliant innovations in arts and sciences, only to fall in smoking ruins followed by ages of darkness.

Then, points of light appear in the dark, interconnecting again in new waves of discovery and renaissance. Undulating waves of humanity are crashing and washing over the planet in a succession of expansion and contraction. As I live through this flux and change, there arises in me an awareness of the noble and brave potential of humanity and its duty as the intelligent species to protect the forests and life forms and water of the planet. I experience a feeling of the sacred unity with all life. I see the whole planet’s surface as one organism, inhabited by one spirit, growing its forests to protect its surface and provide even moisture and temperature for all its creatures. I see one species, humanity, as the natural intelligent guardian of all life. I realize that it is humanity’s intelligence that must understand, preserve, and care for the earth’s surface—and life that is its nutrient substrate, its womb, and its mother. I feel how all life was precious, interconnecting, and supportive of all other life. I dedicate my spirit not to destroy any part of this puzzle of divine mystery that is the milk of creation. Throughout, there is this balance, and an acknowledgment of the intertwining of opposites, the negative and positive, the base and noble. This feeling flows through me as a dual aspect of one energy - total, deep... sweeping me away on this immense journey of life’s history. It was like falling in love, so entrancing was this vision.

Hours had elapsed. The fire was long gone, yet this movie continued with fantastic detail, one pageant coming on the heels of another. An example of the incredible detail that ibogaine shows: through my constantly available “zoom lens,” I am observing a French king and his retinue during a formal promenade in the gardens of Versailles. Of this large group of people in courtly splendor, one woman’s dress catches my eye. I can see from a great distance the hem of her dress, an intricate and tiny embroidery of inter-linked fleur-de-lis. Simultaneously, I see both immense and complicated scenes and vistas as well as small details with great precision. On and on it goes, and I never move. This peak experience goes on for at least 14 hours. I am watching scenes from the industrial revolution when the sun shows through the window. The movie continues in stronger and weaker waves, dimming in the light and finally fading out, although I know it is still going on at some internal level. Although I can move around now, I am still high, and it is still going on 24 hours later. This is a long trip!

By afternoon, we are all getting pretty hungry. I decide to brave the world and pick up some food at the corner store. I exit the house, which was located on the black side of the street, and head for a Puerto Rican store on the opposite corner. This is New York, a place where people don’t usually greet strangers on the street. I walk past this old man who glances up and says, “Hello.” Down at the corner I meet a black woman; we also greet each other and smile. I cross the street and enter the store. Pretty soon I am chatting and joking with the owners, and they are putting extra fruit in my bag as gifts. As I exit the store and cross the street, on my return I have to pass through a group of young black gang members who had just arrived. To my surprise they let me pass with no incident. What was going on? As I walk back it hits me. I know where we all came from. We all came from the same source—the same mother. There is no difference between us. I see it, I feel it... I “am” it, and that is recognizable instantly by others. I am transformed into a being at one with all other life. Racism and prejudice are incomprehensible to me. I know where we all come from, from the same universe: we are all one.

What I learned from this trip is that there is a new paradigm arising for humankind. Transcending mind, one finds the spirit or soul. Rejecting the bias of politics and the destructiveness of fear, one finds that life and unity and harmony are served by love. Humanity’s role as guardian of the planet becomes all too urgent as we go beyond the carrying capacity of the planet’s surface. This is the dream we must realize: to bring back the health of life and nature on this planet. Protect the womb that has borne us and still serves us. Bring back the forests, let the waters run clean, and live in love and harmony with each other. It is time to understand the roots of fear and deal with them. Let us join in a dance to celebrate life and love and rediscover the beauty of inner sacredness.

What is this stuff called ibogaine that tastes like earth and lets you see your ancestors? Is it a DNA-designed communication link to our origins? How far back are these origins? Are we visitors from space, planted here on the wings of the God-DNA? Is this cosmic panorama it reveals created to give humanity a real look at our history to understand who we are and how we are connected to the universe? One thing is certain: ibogaine is one of the true, deep psychedelics. It is flesh of the Gods. Use it with preparation, respect, and care, and you may grant yourself a taste of truth, a vision into the nature of reality and an inspiration to enter into the path of unity and knowing.

One of richest uses of psychedelics is giving them enough time and attention to allow the sacred messages to filter through and become meaningful. A day before for preparation and one afterwards for contemplation is ideal. The peyote people would spend the morning after, for a traditional breakfast and sharing the visions they had had and finding meanings in these messages from beyond. In like manner, we can also find new meanings for these visions as the years deepen our perspectives.

So as time passed, I wondered who it could have been that was seeing the evolution of life on our planet. Many years later I came across two ideas that gave new meaning and depth to these ibogaine visions. The first idea came when I read about an explorer in the Amazon questioning the chief of the Mayoruna about the purpose of all the intense psychedelic journeys that the entire tribe participated in. He said that the purpose was to go back to the beginning. The second idea came after reading Jeremy Narby’s book The Cosmic Serpent. I realized that it is quite possible that the DNA molecule has an extraterrestrial origin. In fact, due to the complexity of this life-evolving molecule and the relatively short window it has had to evolve on this earth, DNA’s evolution here on planet earth is just another geocentric earthling myth.

Putting these two ideas together started a process that gave a whole new meaning to my ibogaine vision. I was going back to the beginning, to the beginning of life on this planet. Certainly, it was not my persona that was going back. Then what or who was going back? Who was the “I” that was observing, and so intensely participating in all these lives and journeys? Suddenly I realize the common denominator and the origin of life is the DNA we all carry, whether the simplest bacteria, or modern man. Now my vision takes on a whole new meaning — our consciousness predates this solar system. I'd gone back to the beginning — when I (all of us) were space-borne DNA, looking for a new home to create life. I'd been seeking through one solar system after another, until coming to the nascent solar system we call our home. Down I rush to the surface... after waiting eons for conditions to be right for the formation of life... Down I go, creating new life, evolving from the beginning... into the vast mystery...

Last edited:

mr peabody

Moderator: PM
Staff member
Aug 31, 2016
Frostbite Falls, MN

Utilizing psychedelics for personal growth

by Dr. James Cooke | Reality Sandwich | 31 Jul 2020

Psychedelics can assist personal growth because psychedelic states offer unparalleled opportunities. It’s not uncommon to hear people describe their trips as like years of therapy condensed into a few hours. Science is finding that these dramatic effects are real, with psychedelic compounds helping to heal trauma, treat depression, and even resolve people’s fear of death. Efforts to decriminalize psychedelics have achieved unprecedented success in recent years. Perhaps you live in a city, state, or country where you will not be physically imprisoned if you choose to cultivate and consume your own magic mushrooms. Perhaps you’ve heard stories of people transforming for the better after using psychedelics and it has peaked your interest. Where do you begin?

Are psychedelics right for you?

The first thing to consider is whether you’re currently in the right place to use psychedelics for personal growth. It is imperative that you honestly assess your mental health. If you have any symptoms of mania or psychosis, psychedelics may exacerbate these issues. For this reason, using them may not be right for you. If you feel particularly isolated and have no social support around you, these dramatic experiences may serve to destabilize you, instead of providing healing and growth. It is also a good idea to have taken part in conventional talking therapy. Become familiar with the terrain of your own mind before turning to the big medicine of psychedelics. Psychedelics for personal growth is an advanced technique.

Why trip?

Psychedelics are widely used for recreation, to simply shut off from the world for a while and have a good time. This is no surprise. The psychedelic state is perhaps the single most beautiful and awe-inspiring experience an individual can have. People routinely experience their psychological burdens melting away to reveal an enlightened state of perfect peace and boundless love. With the right preparation, an altered state of this kind offers a wonderful opportunity to turn inwards. This may help you resolve the issues that could be keeping you from being as happy as possible in daily life.

The dark side of the mind

Below the surface of our minds, there are memories and feelings that we’d rather weren’t there. Perhaps they are traumatic or shame-inducing. But typically, instead of bringing awareness to them, we avoid them. We let them sit undisturbed in the depths of our minds. The problem is that we never truly forget they are there. From their place in the darkness they can dominate our lives without our realizing it. This side of yourself is what Carl Jung called the shadow.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
—Carl Jung
Facing your shadow

While it makes sense that we typically avoid the parts of our minds that are upsetting to engage with, the psychedelic experience offers a window of time to shine some light on these inner demons. This allows us to be released from their control and become more whole as a person. During recreational experiences, people typically try to tiptoe around this shadow material. When it comes up, they may see it as unwanted and distressing. People typically describe this type of experience as a “bad trip.” When using psychedelics for personal growth, however, the aim is to allow this material to come up. You must understand and welcome it as a part of yourself.

How does it work?

Psychedelics act in the brain to reduce how tightly we hold on to preexisting beliefs. Without our knowing it, these beliefs can weigh very heavily on us in daily life. This produces states of stress and unhappiness. As psychedelics gradually dissolve these states, a blissful peace can be found at the core of your mind. From this place it becomes possible to see yourself with fresh perspective, with more objectivity and acceptance. You transition from normal waking consciousness to a euphoric state. In this way, it becomes possible to identify the psychological factors that limit your mind in daily life. These factors too often keep you from feeling contented in the present moment. However, deep insights into yourself can occur from this place of self-acceptance. This allows you to take steps in the real world to improve your life.


A renaissance in interest in psychedelics is currently underway. Of the classical psychedelics, psilocybin is arguably the poster child for the new movement. Psilocybin has not been propagandized against as extensively as LSD. This makes it easier for governments to grant approval for research projects. What’s more, since decriminalization is not the same as legalization, in most cases it is still illegal to procure substances such as LSD via routes such as the dark web. However, psilocybin-containing magic mushrooms can be easily grown at home from ingredients that are legal to own. You can purchase them online, making them a popular psychedelic in the decriminalization movement.

Starting small

Microdosing, the practice of taking a very small dose of a psychedelic, is the safest place to start. People microdose for many reasons, from treating the symptoms of depression to increasing one’s focus and creativity. A microdose is such a small amount that there is very little risk involved. The aim is to experience a subtly altered state but one in which you are thoroughly grounded in your everyday experience of the world, just with a little twist. A microdose of 0.2 g of dried magic mushrooms will typically produce positive effects. These include improvement in mood, focus, and creative thinking. The effects typically last for 4–6 hours. For a 10 microgram microdose of LSD, the effects will be similar with a greater stimulant effect, and can last for 9–12 hours.

Playing it safe

The two major dangers to be avoided when taking psychedelics come from intoxication and from feeling overwhelmed. As with any other intoxicating substance, you might injure yourself if behaving irresponsibly while under the influence of a psychedelic. The risk of feeling overwhelmed comes about when harm reduction practices have not been taken into account beforehand. This may create a sense of anxiety that can build into panic. Unless one is very susceptible to panic attacks, a microdose should be so far from an overwhelming or intoxicating dose that the risks involved are minimal.

Full dose sessions

When planning a psychedelic experience for personal growth, the preparation stage is as important as the experience itself. Arranging the physical environment, setting an intention, and knowing how you plan to navigate the experience are key factors. This will transform an otherwise forgettable recreational experience into an opportunity for transformative change. You may also consider having a trip sitter.

Early preparation

In the early stages it is crucial to do your research. Reading guides like this one, listening to the reports of others, and generally familiarizing yourself with what you might be able to expect from the experience are all valuable practices. At this point you will also want to consider harm reduction practices like ensuring the substance you plan to take is what you think it is. Finally, practicing mindfulness for 10 minutes daily is excellent preparation for navigating the experience. It will train you to surrender to whatever is coming up in your mind and to just experience it, instead of resisting it.
You may also want to consider purchasing an eye mask and either headphones or speakers to play music through during the experience. The dose you choose is also crucial. Two to three dried grams of mushrooms is an average full dose. Consider starting at the lower end in order to play it safe. This is comparable to 100–200 micrograms of LSD.


In the days leading up to the experience, prepare the following items: eye mask, speakers or headphones for music, a blanket, comfort items, tissues, and light snacks, such as pre-peeled oranges, pre-sliced apples, crackers, dark chocolate, etc.
You can also prepare a method for note-taking—pen and paper, a voice recorder, a laptop—in case you want to record your insights. Just be careful not to spend the whole time writing and thinking about the experience, rather than experiencing it.

Download a music playlist for playing offline. The playlists used in clinical trials can be found online, and the author’s personal playlist can be found here.
Prepare a comfortable space where you can lie down and sit up. Make sure that you won’t be disturbed for six hours. Put your phone in flight mode before beginning.

The actual experience

  1. Put your phone in flight mode
  2. Start your playlist
  3. Take the psychedelic
  4. Put on the eye mask and lie back
  5. For the first 20 minutes, relax, take deep breaths, and listen to the music
  6. Images, memories and emotions will come. Just observe them and breathe.
When in the experience, all you have to do is let go and relax into it. Memories that produce sadness or fear may come up and your instinct may be to turn away. All you have to do is surrender and experience whatever is coming up. If we don’t accept and experience these emotions, they become like knots that we carry around inside us. The emotion can’t hurt you. Experience it. and let the knot unravel. Experience the profound sense of well-being that’s on the other side of the emotion.

Accepting your shadow

Whatever comes up is part of you. Welcome it; let it come out and move through you. Struggling with what we are, rather than accepting it, is the source of a lot of unnecessary suffering. When we allow all emotions to come out and to exist, we can find ourselves in an enlightened state of perfect peaceful presence. This is the core nature of your mind, but it’s usually obscured by all the thoughts and unresolved emotional issues we struggle with. You can discover that at your core is perfect contentment, peace, and well-being. All you have to do is surrender to what is in the present moment. By being taken to this mental space we get a chance to see what keeps us from it in our everyday lives. So the only thing to remember is “surrender and breathe.”

Returning to normality

For mushrooms, after approximately four hours you’ll feel yourself returning to normality. You should be fully down by around 6–8 hours. For LSD, you may begin coming down after 9 hours, fully returning to baseline after 12 hours. Start to write about your key insights if you feel like it. Talk with a friend if that feels right. Eat some food to ground yourself and enjoy reconnecting with the world.


Integrating the insights of the experience is as important as the experience itself—if it’s going to produce lasting change. Wonderful methods for integration include journaling about the experience, and cultivating a meditation practice in order to connect with the core peacefulness of your mind.

Macrodosing and mystical experiences

In the clinical literature, psilocybin-induced mystical experiences have been found to be particularly effective for treating depression. This involves taking a high dose of psilocybin, typically the equivalent of 3.5 grams of dried mushrooms or above (250 micrograms or above of LSD), in order to experience one’s psychological sense of self dissolving and being replaced with a blissfully altered state of consciousness. These deep waters should only be explored once one is familiar with the process of surrendering to the experience, and welcoming whatever material comes up, as resisting difficult material at this dose could leave one feeling overwhelmed. Starting with a 2 gram mushroom dose, followed by a further 2 grams—if all is going well after an hour or two—can also help ensure you don’t enter this terrain too steeply.

Other substances

Psilocybin mushrooms and LSD have been widely used for personal growth for decades. Ayahuasca ceremonies also offer an excellent approach to using psychedelics for self improvement. Non-classical psychedelics such as MDMA and ketamine are best experienced in a clinical setting with trained medical practitioners. Substances such as NN-DMT and 5-MEO-DMT have also been found to offer therapeutic potential. Rather than providing insight into one’s own psychology, they instead produce highly altered states of consciousness, similar to the effects of macrodosing outlined above.

Growth mindset

When using psychedelic experiences for personal growth, the experience itself is just one moment in an ongoing process. Unlike with recreational use, the preparation and integration of the experience is as important as the experience itself. The experience can allow you to see the terrain of your mind with enough perspective that, perhaps for the first time in your life, the direction of growth becomes visible. From that point on you have the opportunity to release yourself from your unconscious patterns. Your life can become an ongoing transformative process of ever greater fulfillment and well-being.

Dr. James Cooke
Dr. James Cooke is a neuroscientist, writer, and speaker, whose work focuses on consciousness, with a particular interest in meditative and psychedelic states. He studied Experimental Psychology and Neuroscience at Oxford University and is passionate about exploring the relationship between science and spirituality, which he does via his writing and his YouTube channel, YouTube.com/DrJamesCooke. He splits his time between London and the mountains of Portugal where he is building a retreat centre, The Surrender Homestead, @TheSurrenderHomestead on Instagram. Find him @DrJamesCooke on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, or at DrJamesCooke.com.

Last edited:

mr peabody

Moderator: PM
Staff member
Aug 31, 2016
Frostbite Falls, MN

Macrodosing psychedelics*

by John Williams | The Independent | 20 May 2018

Microdosing is hot. If you haven’t heard – but you probably have, from reports of its use at Silicon Valley workplaces, from Ayelet Waldman’s memoir A Really Good Day, from dozens of news stories – to microdose is to take small amounts of LSD, which generate “subperceptual” effects that can improve mood, productivity and creativity.

Michael Pollan’s new book, How to Change Your Mind, is not about that. It’s about macrodosing. It’s about taking enough LSD or psilocybin (mushrooms) to feel the colours and smell the sounds, to let the magic happen, to chase the juju. And it’s about how mainstream science ceded the ground of psychedelics decades ago, and how it’s trying to get it back.

How to Change Your Mind is a calm survey of the past, present and future. A book about a blurry subject, it is clear eyed and assured. Pollan is not the most obvious guide for such a journey. He is, to judge from his self-reporting, a giant square.

In the prologue, he describes himself as someone “not at all sure he has ever had a single ‘spiritually significant’ experience”, a pretty straitened admission even for an avowed atheist. “I have never been one for deep or sustained introspection,” he writes later. You often find yourself thinking: this guy could really use a trip.

And he takes one. More than one. He learns things from them, but he also doesn’t overplay his experiences, admitting that he never felt his ego had “completely dissolved”, as some others report happening.

Pollan’s initial scepticism and general lack of hipness work wonders for the material. The problem with more enthusiastic or even hallucinatory writers on the subject is that they just compound the zaniness at the heart of the thing; it’s all too much of the same tone, like having George Will walk you through the tax code.

Like another best-selling Michael (Lewis), Pollan keeps you turning the pages even through his wonkiest stretches. We get history, starting with Albert Hofmann, who first synthesised LSD in 1938 and embarked on “the only LSD trip ever taken that was entirely innocent of expectation”; profiles of current-day proselytisers and mushroom hunters; analyses of brain-scanning technologies and government policy.

If Pollan’s wide-ranging account has a central thesis, it’s that we’re still doing the hard work of rescuing the science of psychedelics from the “countercultural baggage” of the 1960s.

Timothy Leary and his tuning-in, dropping-out crowd so successfully branded the drugs as accoutrements of hippie culture that in the mid-Sixties “the exuberance surrounding these new drugs gave way to moral panic,” and soon after that “the whole project of psychedelic science had collapsed.”

Before collapsing, though, that project discovered in psychedelics the same potential that scientists are exploring as they reclaim it today: possible help in treating addiction, anxiety and depression, and “existential distress” – common in people “confronting a terminal diagnosis,” which of course, broadly speaking, is all of us.

From 1949 to 1966, the pharmaceutical company Sandoz dispensed free amounts of “however much LSD any researcher requested” to conduct trials. In 1957, before Leary had even tripped for the first time, R Gordon Wasson, a New York banker, published a lengthy essay in the far-from-radical Life magazine about taking mushrooms in Mexico.

In Mexico and elsewhere, experiences with naturally occurring hallucinogens predated Hofmann’s discovery of LSD by a long, long time. The wonderfully named but factually dubious “stoned ape theory” posits that great evolutionary leaps were made when early humans ingested psilocybin.

It’s unlikely that tripping led directly to, say, the development of language, as some proponents of that theory claim. But more convincing conjectures include the one Wasson made about mushrooms in Life: “One is emboldened to the point of asking whether they may not have planted in primitive man the very idea of a God.”

Like many who claim to encounter the divine, trippers often come back with knowledge comically difficult to convey. Plenty of testimonies cited in How to Change Your Mind are nontransferable mental checks.

“I became the music for a while,” one person recounts after a trip. Another: “I don’t know why he’s yellow and lives in my left shoulder.” And Pollan himself: “It suddenly dawned on me that these trees were – obviously! – my parents.”

You get the point(lessness). But unlike people drunk or high who feel compelled the next day to shake their heads at what they did or thought under the influence, psychedelic users often feel the opposite, as if it’s important to keep a foot in the place they were while gone.
They might not credit the man in their shoulder, but their philosophical revelations about self and relationships and need and perspective last longer than you might expect. Pollan writes: “The traces these experiences inscribed remain indelible and accessible.”

One researcher says that describing his own mystical experience involved “metaphors or assumptions that I’m really uncomfortable with as a scientist.”

Perhaps the hardest thing for the more sceptical and less mystically inclined of us to accept is that mulling these metaphors often turns people into, in Pollan’s handy phrase, “fervent evangelists of the obvious.”

Yet you end the book wondering if obvious things are all that bad. Aldous Huxley wrote of feeling, on psychedelics, “the direct, total awareness, from the inside, so to say, of Love as the primary and fundamental cosmic fact.”

These words, Huxley continued, “of course have a kind of indecency and must necessarily ring false, seem like twaddle. But the fact remains...”

Last edited:

mr peabody

Moderator: PM
Staff member
Aug 31, 2016
Frostbite Falls, MN

Ego death: The science of self-actualization*

by Dr. James Cooke | Reality Sandwich | 4 Sep 2020

When it comes to certain spiritual experiences, words truly fail. One experience in particular dominates in conversations on psychedelic and spiritual experiences and is hard to put into words. Self-transcendence, the mystical experience, the unitive experience, ego-death, non-dual awareness, nirvana, enlightenment, satori, kensho, rigpa, samadhi or the experience of oneness – all names for the same concept. What is this experience? How does it come about? And what does it mean?

The self

At the core of this experience is the loss of our everyday sense of self. Our experience of the world around us is structured so as to give the impression that there is a self at the centre of it. Sights, sounds and smells don’t just arise and hang in the air, they feel as if they are happening to someone. The self believed to be at the centre of consciousness seems to have experiences, if something is seen it is seen by the self, if a thought arises it is the self that is thinking that thought.

The sense of self also divides the world in two. Certain features of experience and of the world are experienced as belonging to the self while the rest is relegated to the world outside the self. In this way, our typical experience of the world is far from one of “oneness”.


As well as providing our experience with a certain structure, the self gives us the sense of feeling like the same person over time. We feel this self to be the unchanging nucleus of our mind, the “I” that stays the same as our body and mind changes throughout life. In certain religious traditions it was believed to reflect an immortal soul that is not only unaltered by our experiences in this world but can even survive death unscathed. We imbue the self with a sense of permanence and solidity but the fact that the self can be transcended suggests it may be far more ephemeral than we like to think.

Glimpses of selflessness

Despite the widespread illusion that the self remains unchanged throughout our daily lives, we routinely experience moments of selflessness. When in deep sleep, you are no longer there experiencing the world. When lost in a gripping movie, you can lose the awareness of being a person in a room watching patterns of moving lights, and are transported into a disembodied witness of a fictional world. Once these moments are over, however, the mind retrospectively fills in the gaps and gives the illusion that the psychological sense of self was there all along.

What are we, if not a self?

Science shows us that, rather than being disembodied souls that come into the physical world, we are patterns in reality being flung into existence by the laws of the universe. Living systems are patterns in physical reality, we exchange our physical parts with the world around us resulting in a complete turnover of our material makeup every decade. We do this by consuming parts of the world around us, making us more a feature of reality that is inseparable from the universe itself, rather than a separate creature inhabiting a universe. What’s more, your body has more bacterial cells living in it than animal cells. While not human, we depend on these creatures for our survival–are they part of your sense of self? Our biological understanding of life shows us that our sense of having an identity that is separate from the world around us doesn’t fit well with the facts. What seems more accurate is that the evolution of the universe produces living patterns that claim to be separate, even though that would be impossible.

Why do we have a sense of self?

As evolved organisms, having a concept like the self that can be used to differentiate us from the world around us is crucial for survival. The physical organism and the psychological sense of self that appear in the mind are not the same thing, through they are related. The sense of self largely consists in the mind pointing to the organism and part of its experience and labelling them “me” as opposed to “not me”. It detects a pattern that does exist but imbues it with a false sense of solidity. This creates the illusion that, at the centre of this process, there is a solid, stable “me”, one that feels like it might be able to survive the death of the body. In reality, they’re just the pattern. As organisms, we evolved to tell stories about the world that were useful for survival but that don’t match up with objective reality. The self is one such useful fiction.

The Default Mode Network

It takes a lot of activity to keep the illusion of the self going. Since there is no pre-existing objective called “the self”, we can understand the felt sense of self as synonymous with certain processes in the mind – The self is a verb, not a noun, it’s something the mind of the organism does, not what it is. In the human mind, it is tied up with the process of mind wandering, evaluating memories and considering the future in ways that are aligned with the organism’s interests. A constellation of brain areas known as the default mode network appear to underpin these abilities and are therefore crucial to perpetuating the illusion of the self.

Psychedelic self-transcendence

Brain cells in the default mode network have a high density of chemical receptors that are sensitive to serotonin and related compounds, known as the serotonin 2A receptors. If you think of psychedelic compounds as a key, these receptors happen to be the lock in the brain into which the key fits and, when this happens, a psychedelic experience is triggered. The effect of a psychedelic on the brain cells in the default mode network is to disturb their typical activity, impairing the ability of the brain to engage in the mind wandering that props up the illusion of the self.

When these thought patterns fall away there can be a full confrontation with the nature of experience in the present moment, an experience lacking in a self that is separate from everything else in experience. With the usual patterns of thinking out of the way, there is a wordless appreciation of, and identification with, the fact of existence. One can realize that they never were the voice in the head saying “I, me, mine” and are instead the same kind of thing as everything else in reality.

So what?

Why should we care about self-transcendence? If your sense of self doesn’t give you any trouble, why should you be concerned to get rid of it? Even if your sense of self is not pathological, it’s functioning takes us away from optimal well being in the present. Why would such a ubiquitous feature of our minds serve to make us less happy that we might otherwise be? Our thought processes were forged by evolution, which teaches us how to survive, not how to be happy. Evolution only makes us happy if it happens to keep us alive and reproducing. Our sense of self is tied up with concerns for the organism’s survival, with anxiety, rumination and fear. The Buddha teaches us that when we drop the sense of self and the attachment that comes with it, there is full liberation from suffering. For creatures like us that tend to suffer as a result of our deluded sense of what we truly are, the freedom from suffering that comes with seeing through the illusion of the self seems like something worthy of attention.

In search of psychedelic ego-death

In psychedelic circles, many seek for the states of consciousness discussed here. This is unsurprising and can be part of a healthy exploration of one’s mind, but there is also the risk of the ego treating it as just another achievement to be sought after. States of self-transcendence are typically experienced during higher-dose psychedelic experiences. Psychonauts who aim to explore these psychological states would therefore be well advised to have the concept of harm reduction front and centre in their minds. These states should only be explored after one is very familiar with the psychological terrain of a psychedelic experience and knows how to surrender to challenging experiences. Going into the experience with the intention of observing whatever arises can take one into this psychological space. Cultivating a meditation practice before and after such an experience is therefore advised.

The selflessness of consciousness

What effect does a brief period of selflessness during a psychedelic trip have on people once they’re back to normal, everyday consciousness? For some it can trigger an interest in meditation that can be used to access these states again without chemical assistance. For others, it may be nothing more than a memory or a strange story of what it was like to not exist or to be one with the universe. The self is always an illusion, even as you read these words, as this can be seen in any moment of life if you know how to look for it. Learning to cut through this illusion through meditation is one of the most valuable ways you could spend your time here as a living creature.

*From the article here:

Last edited:

mr peabody

Moderator: PM
Staff member
Aug 31, 2016
Frostbite Falls, MN

One mystical psychedelic trip can trigger lifelong benefits

by Christopher Bergland | Psychology Today | 28 Apr 2019

New research corroborates how taking psilocybin once forever changed my outlook.

As a science reporter and blogger in the digital age, I keep my antennae up for research trends and look for patterns that capture the zeitgeist of this era and reflect our collective unconscious. One noteworthy parallelism I observed this month is between two research papers that address religion, spirituality, and life satisfaction from different angles—but reach similar conclusions.

The first paper, “Oneness Beliefs and Their Effect on Life Satisfaction," was written by Laura Marie Edinger-Schons of the University of Mannheim in Germany and published April 11 in Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.

The second paper is by researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, “Survey of Subjective "God Encounter Experiences": Comparisons Among Naturally Occurring Experiences and Those Occasioned by the Classic Psychedelics Psilocybin, LSD, Ayahuasca, or DMT,” and was published April 23 in PLOS ONE.

The chronological timeline of these two April 2019 papers from peer-reviewed journals and my reportage on their empirical findings has evolved over the past two weeks. On April 13, I wrote a post about Edinger-Schons work, “Does ‘Flow’ Open Our Minds to Believing in ‘Oneness’?"

My initial post on this topic framed her findings on increased oneness beliefs being linked to greater life satisfaction through the lens of flow. In her paper, Edinger-Schons speculates that losing oneself in an ego-dissolving state of flow may be a secular way for each of us to nourish stronger “oneness beliefs” over time, regardless of someone’s religion. I concur.

After digesting the Edinger-Schons paper, I realized that the triad of (1) manifesting a state of flow/superfluidity regularly through sports, (2) experiencing sublime awe in nature, and (3) a mystical psilocybin trip during adolescence had cemented my lifelong oneness beliefs. Over Easter Weekend, I wrote a post, “Psilocybin, Sublime Awe, and Flow Made “Oneness" My Religion,” that unpacked the genesis of my lifelong oneness beliefs based on these three interconnected factors. I published that post on April 20.

Serendipitously, my faith in Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity and “meaningful coincidences” was corroborated on April 23, when, out-of-the-blue, I received an email blast from the Johns Hopkins University newsroom, “Experiences of ‘Ultimate Reality’ or ‘God’ Confer Lasting Benefits to Mental Health." In a woo-woo, Twilight Zone kind of way, reading this study (Griffiths et al., 2019) about the long-term psychological benefits of having "ultimate reality" or so-called "God encounter experiences" (with or without psychedelics) gave me goosebumps because it provided evidence-based affirmation of so many things I’d tried to articulate a few days earlier based solely on my anecdotal, autobiographical experiences.

The new research by Roland Griffiths and colleagues at Johns Hopkins reaffirms the universal ability of one mystical psychedelic trip or having a profound "God encounter" without drugs to improve life satisfaction and psychological well-being for an indefinite amount of time.

Interestingly, Griffiths and colleagues found that over 66 percent of people who self-identified as atheists before having an “ultimate reality” or “God of your understanding” experience (with or without the use of psychedelics) no longer considered themselves atheists after having some type of “God encounter experience.”

"Experiences that people describe as encounters with God or a representative of God have been reported for thousands of years, and they likely form the basis of many of the world's religions," lead researcher Roland Griffiths, who is a professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement. "And although modern Western medicine doesn't typically consider 'spiritual' or 'religious' experiences as one of the tools in the arsenal against sickness, our findings suggest that these encounters often lead to improvements in mental health."

Griffiths and his Johns Hopkins co-authors explain the design and terminology of their "Survey of Subjective 'God Encounter Experiences'" in the paper's introduction:

"The present study was undertaken to advance our understanding of both naturally occurring and psychedelic-occasioned religious experiences that are interpreted as an encounter with God (e.g., the God of your understanding), Higher Power, Ultimate Reality, or an Aspect or Emissary of God (e.g., an angel). [Nota bene: To simplify the writing of the present report, the term "God encounter experience" will be used as a label to refer to all four descriptive variants of these experiences. We have chosen to capitalize the word "God" to be consistent with the survey instructions and question wording.]

Most participants reported vivid memories of the encounter experience, which frequently involved communication with something having the attributes of being conscious, benevolent, intelligent, sacred, eternal, and all-knowing."

Taken together, my interpretation of the latest empirical evidence on “Oneness Beliefs” and the four categories under the umbrella of “God Encounter Experiences” is that all of this terminology is using different words to describe the same phenomenon.

In my opinion, the main takeaway of these two April 2019 research papers by Edinger-Schons and Griffiths et al. is that psychedelic substances and flow states are both tools we can use to nourish our belief and connectedness to something much bigger than "I" or "me" — while simultaneously counteracting the global epidemic of "us" against "them" divisiveness that is often driven by religion.

There is an important caveat: Mystical psychedelic experiences can be extremely difficult. In a sub-section of their paper titled "God encounter experiences are not infrequently psychologically challenging" Griffiths et al. write:

"That such experiences may be both attractive and extremely difficult is consistent with the classic description of the dual nature of encounters with the "Holy" both as "mysterium tremendum" (referring to its awfulness and absolute overpoweringness) and "mysterium fascinans" (referring to its fascinating and attractive nature) by the theologian Rudolf Otto. Likewise, that psychedelic experiences can involve both positive emotion including transcendence as well as highly distressing feelings such as fear and insanity have been well-documented."

Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons

As Edinger-Schons (2019) posits, flow is a universally accessible, drug-free way to open our eyes to the power of "oneness" and our human commonality in ways that transcend religious differences. Psychedelic substances can also facilitate this process, but come with many more risks and, in my opinion, are not a sustainable way to tap into a sense of connectedness on a daily basis—even when taken in "microdose" quantities.

For their recent study, the Johns Hopkins researchers conducted international online surveys that asked a total of 4,285 people around the globe to recall their most memorable encounter with a “higher power,” “ultimate reality,” “God of their understanding,” or “an aspect or representative of God, such as an angel.” They also asked survey respondents how they felt this experience had changed their lives.

There were two different 50-minute surveys. One survey was filled out by participants who had used psychedelics in the past; the other “non-drug” survey was for respondents who hadn’t ever tried psilocybin, ayahuasca, LSD, or DMT.

A total of 3,476 people responded to the psychedelics survey and 809 responded to the non-drug survey. Those who reported having a “God encounter" experience on psychedelics tended to prefer the term “ultimate reality" experience. Below is a bullet point list of other findings from this study provided in the Johns Hopkins press release:
- About 75 percent of respondents in both the non-drug and psychedelics groups rated their “God encounter” experience as among the most meaningful and spiritually significant in their lifetime, and both groups attributed to it positive changes in life satisfaction, purpose, and meaning.​
- Independent of psychedelics use, more than two-thirds of those who said they were atheists before the experience no longer identified as such afterward.​
- Most participants, in both the non-drug and psychedelics groups, reported vivid memories of the encounter experience, which frequently involved communication with some entity having the attributes of consciousness (approximately 70 percent), benevolence (approximately 75 percent), intelligence (approximately 80 percent), sacredness (approximately 75 percent) and eternal existence (approximately 70 percent).​
- Although both groups reported a decreased fear of death, 70 percent of participants in the psychedelics group reported this change, compared with 57 percent among non-drug respondents.​
- In both groups, about 15 percent of the respondents said their experience was the most psychologically challenging of their lives.​
- In the non-drug group, participants were most likely to choose “God” or “an emissary of God” (59 percent) as the best descriptor of their encounter, while the psychedelics group were most likely (55 percent) to choose “ultimate reality.”​

Reading the final bullet point on this list is a reminder of the innumerable minefields surrounding the word “God.” Back in October of 1959, Carl Jung got into some hot water when asked the question during a "Face to Face" interview on the BBC with John Freeman, “Do you now believe in God?” Below is a YouTube clip of this legendary interview:

C.G. Jung's answer, “I know. I don’t need to believe. I know,” ruffled a lot of feathers in the religious community.

As someone who has had “God encounter" experiences both with and without psychedelics and under both secular and religious circumstances, I understand what Jung is trying to say on an intellectual and intuitive level. Once you've had any type of "conversion experience" that opens your eyes to the existence of Something (with a capital "S") mystical and understand "oneness" as the interconnectedness of everything—you “KNOW” that there is some type of "God-like" existence in the universe.

Unfortunately, the semantics of finding appropriate language to describe these agnostic or religious “God” experiences often opens up a controversial can of worms. C.G. Jung addressed the backlash from referencing "God" the way he did during the BBC interview in a lengthy November 16, 1959 letter to a pastor named Valentine Brooke. In an excerpt from this letter published in The New God-Image: A Study of Jung's Key Letters Concerning the Evolution of the Western God-Image, (p. 136 ) Jung writes:

“When I say that I don’t need to believe in God because I “know,” I mean I know the existence of God-images in general and in particular. I know it is a matter of universal experience and, in so far as I am no exception, I know that I have such experience, which I call God. So I say: "I know Him.” But why should you call this something “God”? I would ask: “Why not?” It has always been called "God." An excellent and very suitable name indeed. Respice finem! I know what I want, but am doubtful and hesitant whether the Something is of the same opinion or not. Hoping I have succeeded in elucidating the puzzle. Sincerely yours, C.G. Jung"

Since temps immémorial, people from diverse worldwide cultures have described having profound mystical and religious "God" experiences while under the influence of psychedelic substances such as psilocybin-containing “magic mushrooms” or the Amazonian brew known as ayahuasca. There is growing evidence that these deeply meaningful encounters with "God" or an "ultimate reality” have healing properties that can last a lifetime after one “conversion” experience.

Although I had one mystical experience on psilocybin as an adolescent that hardwired my “oneness beliefs” and concepts of an “ultimate reality" in ways that I am eternally grateful to have encountered; I also had one terrifying “bad trip” that left some psychological scars and PTSD. Having one colossally bad trip (after ingesting a mega-dose of 5+ grams of dried magic mushrooms on an empty stomach) makes it impossible for me to even consider ever experimenting with psychedelic substances again.

"I don’t know if you’ve ever had a bad trip, but it feels like all the tumblers in your brain are turning and re-configuring; unlocking doors that should stay shut, closing windows that should stay open, all the while re-etching the blueprints of your psyche and the foundation of your soul. Psilocybin fuses your synapses into new configurations, permanently rearranging the architecture of your mind.” —Christopher Bergland

Based on my life experience with accidentally ingesting way too many grams of psilocybin when I was still in high school, I agree that drug-based experiences with "Something Holy" can trigger both "mysterium tremendum" and "mysterium fascinans."

You may be asking: 'Based on the potential risks of ingesting psychedelic substances, is it worth it?' I would recommend reading a highly informative April 25 post, "Your Questions About Psychedelics, Answered," by fellow blogger Tom Shroder, author of Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal.

Last edited:

mr peabody

Moderator: PM
Staff member
Aug 31, 2016
Frostbite Falls, MN

In 1968, psychedelics were my WHOLE LIFE, and they are still the #1 most important thing in the world to me. I was just a kid when I watched Tim Leary dance out on stage at a Moody Blues concert in a white robe playing tambourine, with them singing "Timothy Leary's dead..." Leary was all the rage back then, but the damage done by Leary and others during those years was catastrophic. Some time ago I ran across this comment by Albert Hofmann:

"I was visited by Timothy Leary when he was living in Switzerland. He was a very intelligent man, and quite charming. I enjoyed our conversations very much. However, he also had a need for too much attention. He enjoyed being provocative, and that shifted the focus from what should have been the essential issue. It is unfortunate, but for many years these drugs became taboo. Hopefully, these same problems from the Sixties will not be repeated."

Now I haven't the slightest interest in anything religious, but I feel strongly that psychedelics are the key to life's deepest secrets, and that...

"Behind it all is surely an idea so simple, so beautiful, that when we grasp it, we will say to each other, 'How could it have been otherwise?'" (Wheeler)

The problem is the virtual unavailability of PRACTICAL information concerning psychedelics and their preeminent purpose which, unfortunately, is presently beyond the means of science to address. Psychedelics inexorably collapse the scientific paradigm.

Hundreds of trips have introduced me to certain "facts," for example, that matter is solidified light. Now I can't prove this, but I know that it is so. And I'm NOT imagining it, any more than I'm imagining that I love my wife. I know these things are so, even though I can't "prove" them.

What if the following were true?

Human beings are astronomical instruments, with an aperture like a camera. Psychedelics force the aperture open, in relation to the amount of substance consumed. Like water seeking it's own level, light will flood through any open channel with full force, according to aperture dilation. More than one is prepared to handle can result in a "bad" trip.

What if psychedelics were the only known tools for developing light throughput? What if star birthing were life's ultimate purpose, and psychedelics key for enabling that?

Just saying - WHAT IF?

Last edited:

mr peabody

Moderator: PM
Staff member
Aug 31, 2016
Frostbite Falls, MN

You are a light being with unimaginable powers.

Your celestial body resides at the stellar location you came into existence.

Your physical body is merely an astronomical instrument engaged in the transmission of free will to and from your celestial body.

Over many lifetimes, we who are born into the evolving worlds of time and space attain the maturity necessary for star birthing.

You have advanced to the celestial nursery. Find your beloved, and prepare for the next chapter of your great adventure.

Psychedelics are the key to life’s deepest secrets. Use them wisely.

Last edited:

mr peabody

Moderator: PM
Staff member
Aug 31, 2016
Frostbite Falls, MN

An interview with Albert Hofmann

by David Jay Brown, M.A [2008]

This is a brief interview that I did with Albert Hofmann, shortly after his 100th birthday.

What originally inspired your interest in chemistry?

My interest in chemistry was inspired by a fundamental philosophical question: Is the material world a manifestation of the spiritual world? I hoped to find deep, sound answers from the solid laws of chemistry to answer this question, and to apply these answers to the external problems and open questions of the spiritual dimensions of life.

When you first discovered LSD did you have an intuitive sense that this drug would have the enormous impact on the world that it has?

I was convinced from the very beginning of the fundamental impact.

What motivated or inspired you to go back and synthesize LSD a second time in 1943?

I synthesized LSD a second time for a deeper pharmacological investigation.

How has your own use of LSD effected your philosophy of life?

LSD showed me the inseparable interaction between the material and the spiritual world.

What sort of association do you see between LSD and creativity?

Since LSD opens up what Aldous Huxley called “the Doors of Perception,” it enhances the fields of creative activity.

Do you think that LSD has effected human evolution?

I do not know if it has effected human evolution, but I hope so.

What are your thoughts on why LSD is almost universally prohibited by governments around the world?

LSD belongs to a class of psychoactive substances that provide the user with a new concept of life, and this new way of looking at life is op-posite to the officially accepted view.

What role do you see LSD playing in the future?

In the future, I hope that LSD provides to the individual a new world view which is in harmony with nature and its laws.

What do you think happens to consciousness after death?

I think that each individual’s consciousness becomes part of the universal mind.

What is your perspective on the concept of God and spirituality?

God is the name of the universal creative spirit.

What sort of relationship do you see between science and mysticism?

Science is objective knowledge and mysticism is personal spiritual experience.

Are you hopeful about the future, and how do you envision the future evolution of the human species?

I am hopeful about the future evolution of the human species, because I have the impression that more and more human individuals are becoming conscious – that the creative spirit, which we call “God,” speaks to us through his creation – through the endlessness of the starry sky, through the beauty and wonder of the living individuals of the plant, the animal, and the human kingdoms.

We human beings are able to understand this message because we possess the divine gift of consciousness. This connects us to the universal mind and gives us divine creativity. Any means that helps to expand our individual consciousness – by opening up and sharpening our inner and outer eyes, in order to understand the divine universal message – will help humanity to survive. An understanding of the divine message – in its universal language – would bring an end to the war between the religions of the world.

Last edited: