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Disclaimer. N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is not to be trifled with or treated as a toy. It is one of, if not the most, powerful psychedelics on the planet. It is also a controlled substance (duh) and therefore you should not buy it or produce it under any circumstances, ever. Obey the reasonable laws of your country.

This article is not going to delve in the details of the place that you may find yourself in immediately following taking DMT, there is already a treasure trove of writing online that attempts to describe that particularly impossible state.

I feel that, despite the common themes and visions that are reported by many point me to presume that there are such incredible similarities in the manner in which the DMT experience is interpreted by humans despite the vast differences in ideologies and belief systems and ethnicities because the substance in some manner affects a very ancient part of our biology that predates almost everything else- an antediluvian part of our minds, perhaps- or there truly is a wondrously strange realm that is revealed to us through the DMT experience, which is currently outside of our ability to measure. I honestly couldn’t tell you which I believe more. It may well be both. This may well be a false dichotomy and there are other possibilities I haven’t considered, but I am not a currently active psychonaut nor am I particularly interested in studying what I feel cannot be measured, and actively resists the attempt. Perhaps it’s just getting high as balls on tree-bark and goofing yourself off about space aliens; but I doubt that very much.

“And then, these colors begin racing together, and it forms this mandala … slowly rotating thing, which I call ‘the chrysanthemum.’ This is a place in the trip that you want to see as you go by it. And the chrysanthemum forms and you watch it for like 15 seconds. If it doesn’t give way, then you didn’t do enough. You have to do more, one more hit.” -Terence McKenna

I would rather in the absence of empirical data on the ins-and-outs of hyperspace to relay the changes I witnessed in myself in the years since my first DMT experience, some time in the summer of 2012. At the time I was not a well-balanced or reasonable person, despite being the wrong side of 30. I had no career as such beyond catering, I was not as smart as I thought I was. I had the suspicion of this, though- and this, in conjunction with a slightly higher than average level of intelligence led me to self-doubt, procrastination, self-loathing at my inability to turn my intellect to anything practical, financially rewarding, or useful. I compensated for this self-made hell with arrogance, the preening cock-surety of the woeful. You know men like me around you today, we are a distinctly common sort. Of course, by your early-thirties you should also be terrified that you are becoming your father, because in many ways you are. In fact I think it is more accurate to say, you should be terrified of not surpassing your father; no mean feat if your father is an excellent man, but nihilism-encouraging if he is a deadbeat.

By this time in my life I considered myself to be relatively well-versed in the arts of narcotic assisted mind-expansion. Psilocybin, LSD and a youth well-wasted at the dawn of the millennium with MDMA had led me to believe that I knew my own mind relatively well, as far as such things can be known. As addressed above, that wasn’t a particularly positive state of being. The list of common drugs I had not at least tried is shorter than the list of the ones that I have. In short, there are some drugs I liked, some I liked less and the universally illegal status of all of these substances never bothered me in the slightest. The consequences and ethics of the prohibition on drugs is a topic for another time. Suffice to say, I have never been arrested, never been beaten or robbed by scary drug dealers or otherwise harmed by others in any meaningful way during well over a decade of narcotic consumption in the United Kingdom.

I had heard about and then read about DMT, but still had only a very vague idea of what this stuff was in a practical sense. As seen from the McKenna quote above, who may be regarded as the most erudite of the 20th Century psychonauts, DMT does not lend itself easy to being described. I asked friends who had experienced the stuff;

Is it like LSD? They said no. Is it like salvia? Hum, hard to say, sort of, but not at all. Mushrooms, then? Yes and no. They told me I would just have to try it myself. So I did.

As I say, this is not an article about what I experienced that night, not through any reticence on my part but from a sense that I lack the vocabulary for the task and in any sense, it is far less interesting hearing about people’s dreams than hearing about the meaning of those dreams. I can’t prove the DMT state to be real, so describing this lucid dreaming state may be a little boring for you. I can’t show you that this experience took place anywhere except inside my own head, and it may well be little more than a supercharged dream, or hallucination. I have hallucinated a lot under the influence of various substances and while there are certain similarities, DMT is in a different order of magnitude entirely.

I have seen the word reset used with regard to the DMT experience, and it is a good one; far better at least than any I could come up with in the aftermath of my own experiences. Initially after smoking DMT for the first time I felt like I had become in some ways mathematically cubed; myself to the power of myself, with access to new and strange mental powers. Admittedly this is a cool conceit, but I think I was wrong, and this is why, and also why I came to see reset as a far superior description than my clunky (and inaccurate) mathematical analogy.
Writing in the Journal of Philosophy in 1964, the scholar of religions Huston Smith observed that;

“in his trial-and-error life explorations, man almost everywhere has stumbled upon connections between vegetables (eaten or brewed) and actions (yogic breathing exercises, whirling dervish dances, flagellations) which altered states of consciousness… We now understand these states to be the products of changes in brain chemistry. From the sociological perspective we see that they tended to be connected in some way with religion.”

The religious experience is not one I had any real connection with until this moment, and though at the time I considered myself atheist, I immediately revised that perspective. Today I consider myself a Christian. This plant-given transcendental experience which I presumed had made me more than myself had in reality liberated me from the invisible chain around my throat and mind, that I had made for myself,and on the end of which I had been hauling around three decades of self-loathing, inadequacies, regrets and shame. There was a surprisingly heavy weight there, far more than I had thought there to be. Imagine the wonder I felt, then, at being suddenly liberated from this self-made bondage; years of self-sabotage (which were not yet behind me- but that’s another story) and grabbing onto the consequences of that sabotage like a drowning man might grab a heavier weight, to end the suffering the faster. It is a strange aspect of the human condition that so many of us feel like we deserve to suffer. It is not the case that we can avoid suffering, but we need not needlessly cause it or wish for more of it- yet we do. Worse, we haul these burdens with us to the top of the mountain, only to hurl them down again. This is truly nihilistic living, without meaning or hope. I do not recommend that lifestyle to you.

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[The Mescaline experience] is what Catholic theologians call “a gratuitous grace,” not necessary to salvation but potentially helpful and to be accepted thankfully, if made available. To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with survival or to a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large— this is an experience of inestimable value. - Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception

Unlike LSD, which is to me a magnification of what already dwells inside your mind, DMT allowed me to weigh, assess and release these past experiences with total objectivity and without fear. It is often said that this experience is akin to a decade of psychotherapy in 15 minutes, and it certainly does feel like you are guided by something or someone(s) who are not you; perhaps this sensation is brought about by a separation of the many-selves that live within us, but it certainly appeared to me to be a fair kinder guide than I would have expected to come from within, at that time.

This release did not come with the obliviation of these terrors, nor did I trivialize them, or their causes. Instead I became more aware of these failings, and instead of keeping these failings in the back of my mind, not to be looked at for fear of Dire Consequences and where the conscious self had hoped to keep them forever, I was permitted to see them clearly for the minor troubles -in the cosmic sense- that they were, and allowed to let them go. If you are of a religious mind the sensation is very much like revealed wisdom; “ah, of course!”

The weight of your past is mostly imaginary, being that we create it ourselves. There’s nothing much you can do about the past, and that isn’t to say that it doesn’t matter but you can’t alter it; you can alter the future with better living today, and you won’t do that if you’re pushing your own boulder up the mountain every day. DMT also leaves many of those who experience the substance with a set of instructions; sometimes these are quite negative, such as the man who decided, post-ayahuasca, to build great pyramids in the Amazon to welcome the new future of mankind. To the surprise of no-one, he spent a lot of time rebuilding wooden pyramids as they rotted in the rainforest- alone.

Like I say, DMT is not a panacea, it is not a toy. My reprogramming (reset) left me with a certain set of new goals, and I think, through following the very basic instructions, I have drastically changed my life. Of course, it is not automatic, you don’t just do a hit of this stuff and become enlightened, and I don’t think I’d recognize what that would be like in any event. The Buddha said, if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him; in an exhortation against the kind of thinking that leads men to believe they are gurus.

What I can say for sure was that I certainly realized what I wasn’t supposed to do with my life, and though more cataclysms were ahead of me, they too were necessary; the more time between myself and the experience, the more correct Aldous Huxley becomes.

I’m not sure if this reads like I am a crazy person to you, and I don’t care. What I can say for sure is that I was certainly crazy prior to DMT, without knowing it. Prior to a millennia of knowledge (99.99% of which is immediately forgotten) crammed into your mind by alien elves who re-make reality at will and then being popped out the other side ten minutes later, lots of things sound crazy. It’s certainly better on the other side, that I will say.

Here is what keeps me thinking, and questioning. There are things we can experience on DMT that are so wildly real I am almost certain that they cannot come from our own minds; it is hard to explain how utterly sure of this people are. The logical part of me suggests that this is so, that we are experiencing the most intense possible hallucination crewed by the machine elves that are our own subconscious given personality and form. The kicker is, that if the subconscious is behind these experiences, then it seems likely that our subconscious can know things that our conscious selves do not; I saw things and was shown things that I did not know and was not smart enough to come up with myself. This is by no measurement a unique experience, many people have reported similar perspectives.

Is it so that the human mind is so immensely powerful that it can, with the addition of a particular chemical derived from an Amazonian plant, conjure an entirely new yet consistent reality that is replete with aspects of ourselves who are filled with incredible love, charity and wisdom; or is it something else? It feels like somewhere else; some-when-else too, and as I say, it feels like we are spoken to by something else. I’m not sure if it is something I am capable of understanding, but I have distilled as much as I can into this article. In any event, the DMT experience has resulted in a more morally sound and ethical path to my life; the call to faith, to reject untruth and self-deception, the desire for genuine knowledge; I ascribe all the roots of my current framework of understanding to this experience.

I have only the regret that I did not encounter DMT sooner, but then; perhaps it found me, when I was ready to listen.


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Ash Sharp

by Ash Sharp

Editor.