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How ayahuasca changed my perspective (pmoncada.medium.com)
90 points by pmoncada 12 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 158 comments

I am of the opinion that resolving trauma that causes a person to "zone out" and sleep walk through life can have equivalent effect to psychedelics. I've done both, so I can compare them. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy and Wisemind done with a knowledgeable therapist can produce excellent results. Meditation and mindfulness (pay attention to what you pay attention to) are also metacognition techniques that produce results. These tools are in my bag of what I call my debuggers for removing automatic thoughts that produce negative emotions, or what ancient Hindus call a "vasana." A vasana can also be a memory of a good feeling, which drives behavior for more, which is a problem for gamblers for example. If you yearn for adventure in South America or like the idea of doing mind altering drugs, by all means do it, but just know it is not the only way. Ram Dass called psychedelics training wheels and said you don't need them after awhile. The point is to break out of the box, but once out, you don't need to keep doing it.

"The point is to break out of the box, but once out, you don't need to keep doing it."

Well, it is easy to get into a box again real quick, so there is some logic to keep doing it.

But I really don't like the idea of needing a drug to be free, so yes, there are other ways. But if some have a working system with regular Ayuhasca or some other drug, why not. It used to be a community ritual as far as I know and I can really see benefits in doing so, if done right.

I did such a Ayuhasca ceremony 14 years ago in some australian jungle (including the traditional preparation of the drug) and it just was the right time and place and I would not have mind to have such a experience in a group regulary.

But I really don't feel it to go to one of those Ayuhasca centers that are now also around europe for example. And Ayuhasca is also no magic eye opener. The last person I spoke to, who did such a thing, was overall quite happy with it - but his main takeaway was a feeling of righteousness in his personal belive system - and since his believes were very spaced out - it was a reason for me to still pass on that. I don't want my believe system to reimbursed. I want to get new insights and reflexion of what I am doing and let go of things I don't need anymore.

> The last person I spoke to, who did such a thing, was overall quite happy with it - but his main takeaway was a feeling of righteousness in his personal belive system

Sounds like someone decided to follow the techno-demon

But the techno-demon is only called so because the perceiver has filtered it through their belief system. Could just as easily be a techno-angel.

I'd like to help Pachamama to give birth to us again into space. I think she's down.

> it is easy to get into a box again real quick, so there is some logic to keep doing it.

It's probably not a good idea to do psychedelics frequently, but you can do the therapies I outlined daily or even continuously. I'm in the habit now of noticing my limiting thoughts and emotions.

Frequently in this context means once or twice a year. I think that was the idea of those communities in question, but its been a while, so I am not sure exactly.

> Well, it is easy to get into a box again real quick, so there is some logic to keep doing it.

Once you've been out of the box, it's easier to get yourself out of it the next time.

Or harder, when you assume yourself to be enlightened after the first time, with no further work required.

I got to know too many of such people.

Fair enough. For me, self awareness is a prerequisite for responsible consumption of any substance that alters one's mental state. But it's not safe to assume that everyone practices self awareness. And you're right, a lot of people do not.

Along with the training wheels analogy, Ram Dass also said, (badly paraphrased), "To remove a thorn from your foot, you use another thorn – then you throw them both away, or you'll likely get pricked again."

That sounds like the Hegelian wound.

I knew a few people who did it [ayahuasca], first time(s) seemed ok and very insightful, but after that, it seemed to become more like a need for a trip, or an escape. I only seen one good result with someone who used it a few times in a 1:1 therapy setting.

LSD and ayahuasca have a somewhat low potential for abuse, each trip is so emotionally exhausting, at least for me, and though the experience is enriching I would not want to repeat it anytime soon. There is enough to be processed for a while. Granted, I don't think I have any trauma or at least I am not aware of any. Last time I did LSD feels like yesterday but it was around 10 years ago. But like with everything, people who in general abuse things can abuse these two as much as they abuse food, sweets and so on.

Same thing with mushrooms. You start to come down and then all you want to do is sleep for days. IMHO, they have almost zero potential for abuse.

Not sure if "zone out" is the right word - that is more akin to disassociation which is exactly what you should not do with traumatic memories eg bury them.

The promise of psychedelics is to do the opposite and help you resurface and process traumatic memories.

I think the parent comment is in agreement. They are saying there are many ways to resolve those traumatic memories that the person is living with, buried and inhibiting a better life.

OP is equating zoning out with doing psychedelics. I completely disagree with that. Psychedelics don't numb and distract liked drinking alcohol. They do pretty much the exact opposite.

No, I am not. "zoning out and sleep walking through life" is what Gurdjieff calls "the robot." My experience with trauma was to dissociate. Others I have talked to have the same experience. For example, I did my therapy with veterans, and a drone operator began dissociating after she killed people with a drone in Iraq and was found wandering the streets. We did therapy at the VA. The VA is also looking at MDMA and mushrooms therapy.

You're misreading this sentence:

> I am of the opinion that resolving trauma that causes a person to "zone out" and sleep walk through life can have equivalent effect to psychedelics.

The phrase "that causes a person to 'zone out' and sleep walk through life" is meant to describe "trauma", not "resolving trauma".

You should read it as "resolving (trauma that causes a person to 'zone out')", not "(resolving trauma) that causes a person to 'zone out'".

>Psychedelics don't numb and distract liked drinking alcohol. They do pretty much the exact opposite.

This is only very generally if at all true. Psychedelics can numb and distract. Psychedelics can dissociate people further from their feelings. Psychedelics can also make people more aware of their feelings. Psychedelics can make people in touch with their feelings. But it really varies on a case by case basis. It depends on the person, the drug, the particular situation, and so on. A drug that gives one person a dissociative bad trip can give another person a minor escapist experience and can give yet another person a powerful, beneficial, emotionally moving experience.

Reread OP. This is not what they are trying to convey.

They are saying that taking psychedelics can provide a similar breakthrough like awakening after resolving trauma.

which is why I said "zone out" was bad phrasing...

OP is saying that it is the trauma that causes the person to “zone out and sleep walk through life”, not the resolution. He’s comparing psychedelics to any more direct resolution of the trauma itself in that they both wake the person up. In other words, if you’re zoning out you have two choices: take psychedelics or just fix the trauma that is causing the zoning out in the first place.

A dozen hyphens might help: “...resolving trauma-that-causes-a-person-to-zone-out-and-sleep-walk-through-life can have equivalent effects to psychedelics.”

I guess it's California surfer slang for being spaced out and not really present

I'll admit I'm pretty skeptical that the psychedelic drug experience is actually putting people in touch with any kind of external experience that is otherwise hidden to us, but at the very least tripping like this puts people into an internal experience that is otherwise hidden from us, and has some fascinating common patterns like a new perception of inter-connectedness.

And having spent a long time immersed in fields related to computability and information theory, I'm not so sure that it's reasonable to say that if something "only" exists in the minds of a large network of humans, then it is not real.

> at the very least tripping like this puts people into an internal experience that is otherwise hidden from us

Oh yes, I had a fun one on truffles. There were a few minutes (or more) where I couldn't parse the world anymore. All I knew and understood was "don't move and you'll be safe" (I was on a bed).

I was so scared of everything beyond the bed! I could barely understand the bed itself, so I knew being on there was safe. Everything else felt so terrifying, because I had no understanding of what I was looking at. Were the objects in the room friend or foe? What happens when you fall of the bed? Do you fall in a dark pit, does your reality change, or do you simply fall 0.5 meters? I don't know.

Heck, even describing this assumes much more knowledge than I had back then. But it did teach me something: when I don't know something, it seems that one of my base emotions is fear. And I've seen it at certain moments when I've been sober as well (like not knowing what's going on).

Since then I've told myself: "Mettamage, whatever you don't understand, you're gonna be fine." And that helps :)

It's the ego crush that is the most fascinating. Most of us bury trauma deep inside and do a pretty good job automatically keeping those thoughts from resurfacing. With psychedelics it's as if you're powerless to keep those hidden which is why they work well in a therapy setting.

"I'm not so sure that it's reasonable to say that if something "only" exists in the minds of a large network of humans, then it is not real."

What is the mind? What are its boundaries?

Does the mind only exist in the brain or as an epiphenomenon of the brain?

Many scientifically-minded people think so, and it's often an unstated assumption among them, but it's an open and highly debatable subject among philosophers, as is the question of what is reality, what are human beings, and so on -- questions again, that many people consider settled and decided in favor of a materialist/physicalist, internal/external, dualist viewpoint.

But for many philosophers it's not so clear, and many people in this world have a very different world view, where the boundaries of the mind extend beyond the individual, where people have non-material souls, where spirit being exist, where (for some religions) the individual is (in some sense) god, or at least has something divine in them, where lives are predetermined or perhaps directed from outside by some entity (like god or the devil), etc, etc...

These sorts of accounts are usually dismissed by the scientific-minded, or (even more commonly) not even given any sort of consideration or acknowledgement, yet they are quite common among huge portion of humanity (including some scientists, who themselves can be and often are believers in one or more of such "unscientific" beliefs about the mind, humanity, or reality).

So, what is really going on? I don't pretend to know, but I consider it far from a settled question, and suspect if there is any single, stable "truth" about the world, it's much stranger than any "scientific" explanation currently in fashion.

Psychedelics tend to put such questions right in front of one's nose, front and center, as they pull the rug of certainty out from under the most dogmatic of us as we realize we're not in Kansas any more. This I consider one of the potentially most valuable psychedelic effects, if it can be greeted with openness, wonder and curiosity, instead of closing down, running away, or doubling down on dogmatic certainty.

Tripping wasnt life altering for me for the first time because of some universal or god realization. It was just a headspace that I had never been in before and I did not feel entirely in control of that headspace. It was interesting, and scary, because of that.

While I agree with a lot of the comments about how we shouldn't trust hallucinations as being real encounters with God/gods/beings, I think there's tremendous intellectual and emotional value in these experiences.

Mainly, once you experience things like this, you're forced to confront your own understanding of consciousness.

For example, many people who take MDMA have a sudden realization that their concepts of themselves and others were based on unchallenged assumptions and paranoia. Someone who has lived their life in fear of intimidating people (jocks, bosses, "cool people", whatever), for example, might come to the realization that we're all far more alike than we are different, and that we're all just trying to make our way in the world. This realization can last years or even a lifetime.

Someone who takes LSD or shrooms or Ayahuasca and experiences an encounter with what they perceive to be a spiritual being has to then confront what that meant. Even if it's a manifestation of their subconscious, they're tapping into something that was previously hidden from them.

For my 2 cents, I think psychedelics are amazing -- once. After than first experience, you get diminishing returns. What's the benefit of encountering that "being" a second time? Unless "it" teaches you something new, you're just tripping and messing with your brain chemistry.

That part about controlling the body of a monkey compels me to add a related comment.

Changing my diet (and by that I mean what I consume and put into my body as a lifestyle, not some temporary change in nutrtion) and ultimately altering my microbiome through my diet and lifestyle changes has given me greater insight into how little control over the most basic decision making processes I really ever had or have. There is no doubt that being host to microorganisms blurs the line of “me” and free will, from conscious thoughts to involuntary biological reactions, I don’t think any of us are independent beings free or separate and apart from microorganisms living within us that we play host to, they want to live and create an environment they can thrive in as much as we think we do.

From the ancient tradition of fasting (including our better understanding of the biological changes that occur), to the author’s Ayahuasca experience (reference to the specific foods the author was instructed to abstain from leading up to the experience), it is interesting but not surprising there is a common denominator of manipulating our microbiome. If you want a better perspective on life and oneself, you don’t need to travel to Peru and take Ayahuasca, though I don’t discourage that, but try starting with your diet and lifestyle.

I think there are probably at least a few PHD thesis that could be built around how psychedelics affect the microbiome and the so-called "gut-brain" (or "brain-gut") connection.

I look forward to the day that such research shines a light on this possible connection.

Can you elaborate on what you experienced?

Everything from improved immune system, improved vision (color perception), but mentally there was a lot. The crazy things are difficult if not impossible for me to reduce to words.

Where I always had a “sweet tooth” and cravings for various foods, those would completely disappear, but it was more than that, it went from my favorite foods I consciously abstained from to those very foods being viewed as poison. So I’m not just talking about a lack of cravings, but mentally the same way I may have once had strong cravings or looked forward to cheat days/meals my mindset changed where it would have become unfathomable how I could have even eaten those things much less viewed them as special treats or rewards. My sensory experience of taste/flavors changed, so even though I never disliked a kale salad with oil/vinegar, salt/pepper, something like that became more delicious and apprising than my prior favorite foods. Physically if I were to eat a previous “favorite foods” I wouldn’t even care for it taste wise the way I once did (plus depending on the food itself I might actually get sick and be unable to hold it down). There are noticeable improvements to my energy levels, breathing, skin, hair, and nails.

Finally, as a runner the differences are night and day, from the run itself being easy, to recovery being improved, to being able to forgo water/electrolytes/gels on some pretty long runs. But this is where I have also had experiences I call spiritual, might just fall in the spectrum of runners high, but I never had them otherwise and now I seek them out sort of like a drug. It’s everything from out of body experiences, feelings of enlightenment/nirvana, to connection with something beyond me if not a connection with everything or what the great poets write about when writing of love (not at all unlike the author’a discussion of God and love). I’m not suggesting any of it is real or some attainable state of being if you just do what I did, but I experience them just as much as I used to experience cravings for a given food, think I enjoy a given food or battled what I thought was my own desire for a given food.

Fasting isn’t a personal favorite of mine, but I’ve dabbled, and when I say dabbled I’d do a 48-72 hour fast per week. My longest was a 5 day fast, I was working 8-10 hour days in law, I ran 7.5 miles everyday and found them pretty easy (granted I’m slow and not setting any records). I think most of the benefits people subjectively describe with fasting I achieve through my own methods, there may even be a term for it but it slips my mind, but essentially a continuous state of long term caloric deficit combined with the specific foods I consume and avoid. The body adjusts so by no means is it like I’m losing weight or wasting away, I think the body compensates with increased HGH and testosterone which is seen in fasting.

Thank you for the long explanation! So I gather you reduced sugar and increased vegetable intake?

I had been eating paleo, so it’s fair to say I reduced sugar at that point. Minimizing sugar intake insulin spikes was probably the best step I could personally take, but none of the mental changes came from that.

Then I incorporated kale, spinach and upped my broccoli intake (which was the sole vegetable I had really been eating). Also consume some spirulina (Cyanobacteria). Becoming maybe 50% of my diet this would be where I noticed I was having improvements to my immune system, hair, nails, general inflammatory response (improved recovery from runs and no more soreness). Also when my tastebuds began to change and sweets lost their pleasantness.

Finally I upped the fat, and began going into ketosis (I was trying to avoid saying this bc some people consider it a turn off/fad diet), in general this is where my mindset can change in terms of my thoughts and feelings toward what I put in my body. Though I only enter the wild mental states while running, certain keto friendly foods I have noticed block these experience in particular dairy (basically cheese as I didn’t really consume other dairy).

Otherwise I haven’t experimented very much with pre or probiotics, and haven’t really incorporated much in the way of fermented foods.

Again, thanks for answering! :)

I had the opposite experience with LSD. I was an agnostic mid teen when I started experimenting with it (and mushrooms). I never found the peak particularly spiritual. During one philosophical downside of a trip I thought about god quite a bit and came to the conclusion the entire concept made absolutely no sense. I've been an atheist ever since...

"I never found the peak particularly spiritual."

That's really interesting.

It makes me wonder:

- Did you ever take it in a religious setting such as a church, mosque, or temple?

- Did you ever try priming yourself with religious-themed literature, music, or artwork?

- Did you ever spend the entire trip in nature?

I suspect any of these would make it more likely to have a spiritual or mystical experience.

On the other hand, if you're at, say, a party with lots of distractions, or if your mind rarely dwells on religious subjects, you'd be less likely to have one.

My group was pretty intense with experimenting with LSD. Early trips were always fairly controlled environments in that it was away from people. Countless trips in nature (the forest of nisene marks if you are in the bay area). We always fasted eight hours before taking the drug. We found that anytime we tried to prime the trip with stuff, music, movies, specific places, what have you, we would almost always forget/ignore/not care about the priming once the peak kicked in. On the other hand we were never "turned on" to it by anyone. A friend and I were reading High Times and there was an article about it. After reading it we knew we had to try it out. We did read quite a bit more about the drug before taking it. I knew Peter Stafford and as a teenager did graphic work on his book: Psychedelics Encyclopedia. I guess we came to LSD from a scientific rather than spiritual perspective. We already understood how the drug worked and why. That likely lessened the mystical impact that we might have had otherwise.

Humorously enough I did take it once in church. My friends dragged me off to a seventh day Adventist camp to hit on the christian girls, as only one of my friends had family in that church. Walked in to a giant packed hall right before the opening sermon and just as I was starting to peak. Got a giant Nope, this is not the place for me and walked right out...

"I knew Peter Stafford and as a teenager did graphic work on his book: Psychedelics Encyclopedia."

That's really cool. I loved that book. Cheers to you and Peter Stafford from a fan! And thank you both for the good work you did.

Regarding priming, perhaps the priming material needs to be seen or heard near the peak in order for it to influence the peak, and of course if you're getting a message from the sermon that seems to be the opposite of sacred to you (such as self-righteous fire and brimstone admonitions which you don't believe in or consider ridiculous) then you're likely to have a negative reaction.

But you could choose to be in a sacred space you actually like.. like a peaceful, beautiful cathedral or mosque with gorgeous stained glass, mosaics, or other artworks you really appreciated, and go there in a quiet time when you can meditate on the material rather than be yelled at from the pulpit by someone you don't respect. That's when I'd expect mystical experiences to be most likely.

Peter passed years ago, brought down by alcohol. Lesson in there somewhere. I think it's the 2nd edition that has a thank you to my father in the forward. My father ran a graphics arts photography house that I worked in all through my youth. I did most the halftones for the 2nd edition. "A Friend With Weed is A Friend Indeed" was definitely in the book it's also in one of the compendiums of clip art, I think that is where Peter found it. My favorite was the spider webs where they fed various drugs to orb weavers and see what effect it had on the webs and the near perfection of the LSD web. One year Peter gave drug talks. Each week would have it's subject be a single drug. I went to the MDMA talk. A bunch of us took the drug then answered questions and shared our experiences as the talk went on. To this day I am shocked the authorities let him get away with it. Peter Stafford was a trip. Brilliant guy but goofy as hell. He was tall and lanky and talked like goofy the Disney cartoon character. Picture goofy explaining graduate level organic chemistry, strange and wonderful at the same time.

I first did LSD on a warm rock in a babbling brook in Aspen. The next few were in the fore mentioned Nisene Marks. A state park and redwood forest. It had been clear cut in the late 1800s and has mostly grown back with fairy circles of redwood trees surrounding the huge stumps of cut old growth redwoods. If ever there were places for me to get mystical, those two would be at the top of my list. I also read Carlos Castaneda's The Teachings of Don Juan during that period, so I am familiar with the idea of mysticism with Psychedelics. In my and my friends case it just never took for whatever reason...

I'm sorry to hear about Peter Stafford's passing. What a loss.

I also loved those spiderweb photos. It's fascinating that even tiny little critters like that could be profoundly affected by these substances, and that such striking visual evidence of this could be found.

It reminds me of an article I read about octopi who were given MDMA. Usually, according to the article, octopi are very solitary creatures who avoid contact with others of their kind and if two are placed in the same tank they'd move as far away from each other as possible, but when MDMA was put in the water they tentatively extended their tentacles towards one another and touched.

Engineer does Ayahuasca, quits Waymo to start a cryptocurrency. I think I'll pass on this one. But classic medium.com stuff. I'm delighted to see that this website is still around.

The segue from "...this is commonly referred to as “faith” where you have to make a leap of faith to experience some level of spirituality. Ayahuasca, maybe, accelerates that leap" to "I’m just trying to take distil some fundamental features of the positives of religion and some ideas of where to start in terms of my own self-actualization" to "we have created a peer-to-peer smart contract that allows people to hold collateral against each other in an easy way" was truly something to behold.

This could be sort of like a debug mode of your brain where you can enter a dream like state while being conscious and forming permanent memories as opposed to sleep where you lose your dreams when you wake up.

I feel the 'spirits' they encounter are abstract personalities that the person forms this is why they don't need to speak to communicate.

If you can switch from work mode to family mode when your kid enters the room, what guides you? They are probably encoutering parts of their own personality with the addition of a dream like state where the brain just fills in gaps and creates a narrative out of seemingly unconnected dream sequences.. they are probably real because they are 'you' + some imagination thrown in..

One experiment I'd like to see is the following: if people take Ayahuasca in a non-Amazonian setting do they also get in touch with Pachamama and friends?

In other words, how much is priming responsible for the types of experience one has under the influence of Ayahuasca?

This has been studied quite extensively and at least semi-scientifically for Ayahuasca specifically and also "clinical" DMT experiences (DMT is the main psychoactive ingredient in Ayahuasca) and the upshot is that yes, the imagery is surprisingly consistent even when removed from the typical ayahuasca-ceremony context and cultural factors. For some references see "The Antipodes of the Mind", a book by an Israeli cognitive psychologist who spent years doing phenomenological study of ayahuasca experiences, and "DMT: The spirit molecule", a book about studies using DMT done in the 90s.

I don’t know about Ayahuasca in particular, but with psychedelics in general, one of the most important aspects for the experience, is the setting that you are in. It is well known that whatever the setting and how you feel about it in that moment, will have a great effect on your experience.

A good example is the Good Friday Experiment at Harvard, in which they gave psilocybin to some people and took them to church, then quite a few of them had “religious experiences”: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsh_Chapel_Experiment#Expe...

Was there a sermon? That could definitely make/break the experience.

An empty chapel is probably an ideal place to facilitate that type of experience regardless of religious affiliation. Good lighting, acoustics, clean, ornate glass windows, no outstanding obligations from your life manifesting themself in the space.

Tripping is not only about the substance itself, no. Set and setting is extremely important also, and decides what kind of trip the user will experience. Further reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Set_and_setting

This article might be particularly interesting to you: "The Impact of Set and Setting on Religious Experience in Nature" - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272579916_The_Impac...

> if people take Ayahuasca in a non-Amazonian setting do they also get in touch with Pachamama and friends?

Yes. I've never participated in an ayahuasca ceremony outside of the US, and I was very intimately in touch with Pachamama.

Too, simply drinking the brew likely wouldn't be enough to trigger a mystical experience. An experienced shaman is crucial for allowing such an event to arise.

The generic name for these technologically advanced "spirits" is machine elves [0].

They can be very beautiful [1].

They have some similarities with Google's deep dream hallucinations.

[0]: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terence_McKenna#Machine_elve...

[1]: https://www.google.com/search?q=machine+elves

The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.

> What I saw and what I felt were literally beyond my imagination, it was so exotic and specific in a way that I could never have anticipated.

I have this many nights when I'm conscious of falling asleep. I get wildly fantastical thought patterns for which I feel that I'd never be able to make them up. Also the randomness is sometimes insanely wide.

Like, I'd go from seeing a woman in a field, to a fragment of a golfball (being chipped off from the actual golfball), to something gaining the gestalt of a zom-, oh wait, it looks like a bir-, no it's now a canoe and I'm enjoying the ride on this thing! Whiieeejjj!

^ My conscious mind made that up, so it's a lot less random and a lot less uncategorized yet categorized.

There's a Rick and Morty scene that feels a bit like this, but less existential, less orderly and more random (in my case) [1].

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XE9pbj1gd-Y

I have used marijuana for approximately twenty years to deal with anxiety and PTSD. The VA hasn’t been too bad but day in, and out, cannabis has had a more positive effect on my overall being, personality, and coping abilities, than the pills the VA used to give me.

It’s funny how differently cannabis affects people. For you it has helped treat your anxiety, for me I never had a panic attack until I tried an edible.

"I never had a panic attack until I tried an edible."

You probably overdosed.

Anxiety is an extremely common symptom of cannabis overdose, and it's very easy to overdose with the highly potent cannabis that's on the market today, especially with edibles where the appropriate dosage is very difficult to control compared to smoking.

A wiser way to approach cannabis consumption is to smoke the smallest dose of the weakest strain you can find.. ideally something below the threshold of perception, and slowly, very slowly, over a period of days or weeks, work your way up from there until you achieve a dose that's effective but not overwhelming to you.

Edibles are tougher to use this way, as you have to wait much longer to see if there's an effect (and often people give in to the temptation to up their dosage if they don't feel anything), but the principle is the same: start with the smallest dose you can find, and slowly (no more than once per day.. ideally with at least a couple of days in between) work your way up.

Also, mixing substances is a bad idea. I don't know if you did that, but synergistic effects from multiple substances can also easily lead to overdose.

> You probably overdosed.

Maybe but maybe not. I myself smoke cannabis every day in order to avoid anxiety, but I know plenty of people who can't even sit in the same room as someone who is smoking as they'll get enough cannabis in their system to trigger some reaction.

So while anxiety could be because of an overdose, some people really do get a strong reaction to even the smallest amount of cannabis.

If someone who's not a smoker, and who therefore has absolutely no tolerance for cannabis sits in the same room as someone who's smoking (especially someone who's smoking highly potent cannabis, which is very common these days) they're not just going to get "the smallest amount".. they're probably going to get an overdose.

Yeah, I guess that depends on your definition of "overdose". Usually I refer that to cases when you ingest too much of something, so much it affects your health.

Oh I absolutely took too much with that edible. But I tell you, I did not have a single panic attack until I tried weed (I got minor panic attacks smoking weed but an edible was the first all out panic attack). Haven’t touched weed in years and unfortunately I still get panic attacks here and there. I’m doing cognitive behavioral therapy and it works very well.

Yes cannabis also would consistently give me panic attacks, swore off it years ago due to this.

What does VA mean here? Did the pills have Ayahuasca in them? Otherwise I'm not sure about the relevance of your comment on this story.

In the US, the VA is probably the veterans administration.

Sorry, yes, VA means the Veterans Administration, which supposedly provides healthcare and benefits to active and former military.

I take it to mean Veterans Administration.

The article says some very positive things.

Now, if several or more people similarly had such an experience (or similar enough), without drugs, and all came out of it saying ~ "God seriously spoke to us, and this is His plan that he wants us to follow in an organized way (but only voluntarily, no one can be forced, everyone can learn this for themselves if they are sincere, read, and pray about it, asking God for themselves)", and they remained faithful to that statement and Plan to the end of their lives, at great personal risk (financial losses, legal & physical persecution and abuse, at least one to the point of loss of ability to bear children, also being driven from place to place, and/or death, which some knew would result and it did), and their associates and successors who said they had similar personal knowledge built a new society in multiple places, with beliefs in serving others humbly, lawfulness under the principles of the US Constitution, etc etc., that would be impressive, would it not?

"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." Etc. (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/bofm/2-... or in English specifically https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/bofm/2-... :)

Reminds me of another article about the lead singer of Imagine Dragons[1]. He also had a life changing Ayahuasca experience that totally rewired the way he thinks about god.

[1]: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/cutthroat-imag...

Most balanced (i.e. no preexisting mental illness background) people should try imo.

My anecdata from knowing 3 or 4 people who have tried ayahuasca and from knowing a shamen who guided people through the experience, is that ayahuasca does have a temporary change but the change is not permanent.

My own anecdata from working at a retreat for the last six months in the Peruvian Amazon is that it definitely can. It doesn't always "work" for most people immediately (one could drink a hundred times and not actually make any progress)- it highly depends on the willingness of the person to go in to their past and work with their unprocessed traumas. It is not easy; proper intentions and concentration make a big difference. The visions can be interesting but truthfully are more of a side effect and can be a distraction if you are trying to get real work done. A good shaman will be able to "move the medicine" (really your focus) with their icaros to different areas of the body that they might see trauma stored in; this in turn can bring up memories or thoughts to push you into processing those ignored emotions.

I'm talking 4-5 years later, the patterns they were trying to escape and thought their trip ended, still remained, were still a struggle.

Highly recommend the author of this post, or any other psychonauts, to read Cosmic Trigger by Robert Anton Wilson. He recounts a period of several years in his life where his psychonautic explorations left him believing he was in contact with an alien intelligence.

He wrestles with trying to find scientific explanations and whether that’s important or not since the experience deeply impacted him regardless of its cause.

I don’t personally dabble in hallucinogenics, but I’m always fascinated by what bubbles up from the brain given various stimuli.

> It seemed obvious to me at the time that God is just a thing people tell each other to feel at ease with the greater questions in life: where do we come from, is there a meaning to life, what happens when we die, why am I trapped inside of a monkey I can control with my thoughts etc… Then I started to explore altered states of consciousness and I realized that there is much more to life than meets the eye.

Fun topic,

I liked the intro in terms of things we don’t discuss very often.

It is quite interesting that free-will is by any meaningful definition supernatural since atoms just follow the laws of physics. If you believe in free-will, that is a leap of faith, like many other leaps of faith in life.

Taking time to analyze the axioms of your life down to the deepest level is a great exercise. The best reflections will improve your life :)

So... selling a book attributing greater meaning to cognitive defects?

It sounds like tripping scrambled his brains a bit and he's having trouble reconciling this with the rational part of his brain.

There is no evidence that any of these spirits exist so I don't know why people seem to think that taking a hallucinogenic drug somehow connects them to another plane of existence or w/e.

As for why these spirits seem to have a history with humans, I can think of a number of possible explanations. Perhaps human brains are wired in such a way that we tend to hallucinate similar things? or perhaps the various religious symbols he was surrounded by somehow triggered specific thoughts? Or maybe the peruvian environment causes certain mental associations.

Either way, I feel like I've read and heard similar stories before. This seems like yet another story like "hey guys, so normally I'm a rational person, but I did some drugs and now I think higher-dimensional beings exist."

EDIT: Another interesting thought. It's been shown that AI tends to "compress" data into forms that seem weird and trippy when visualized. I wonder if the spirit Pachamama is really just how our brains tend to "compress" information about animals.

There's something a bit more subtle than whether DMT elves or Ayahuasca gods exist agents in the fashion imagined.

It is pretty certain that the do not; there are anecdotal first hand accounts to be found of DMT cosmonauts putting the screws in and never TMK got anything verifiable, e.g, requests for factoring for large numbers, etc. Nothing.

But, the consistencies in how humans report and "feel" about these things, is also interesting, and this is a kind of gray area existence that is more than just word-play. I'd describe it as a domain in which one can experience and prod first-hand one of the higher levels of the "stack" of the human psyche, that is: the order, categories, logic, projected agency, etc., our own perceptual->cognitive processes imposes on the world.

One of the promises that psychedelics realize is the rare opportunity to see something akin to the console/debugger view of these processes, which by design are usually imperceptible to us.

The low levels of the stack (trippy visuals, coarse emotional tides) are popular entertainment.

The high levels of the stack (awe and foundational meaning and divine agency/purpose) are more dangerous maybe to engage for the lolz but there seems to be a lot there we can work with to our betterment which is real, in the sense that he universe we perceive and inhabit is real, whether we analytically know that it is fabricated or not.

Analogy that comes to mind: walking a 2x4 plank placed on the floor, while inhabiting open air 50 stories up with VR googles.

I knew damn well there was drop.

I couldn't step forward, or off, and had to crawl.

What we know to be real, is not always what is causally and experientially real...

>Either way, I feel like I've read and heard similar stories before.

Yes, stories like this one are reasonably common.

>There is no evidence that any of these spirits exist so I don't know why people seem to think that taking a hallucinogenic drug somehow connects them to another plane of existence or w/e.

This topic is fraught with pseudoscience and charlatans exploiting people, so I do understand your intense skepticism and desire for hard evidence.

What evidence would you require for proof of these spirits? Is there a minimum number of independent testimonies you need, which all claim the same event happened?

I've found most people have never given those questions serious thought. The most common initial answer is "I'd need to see these spirits for myself," but this answer is unscientific, as published research articles must automatically be dismissed (Have you ever seen CRISPR work in person? How do you know it's real?). I'm genuinely curious as to what evidence you would need.

I have an idea: how about a spirit telling me a piece of information that I have no way of knowing myself? It can be a specific prediction of the future, location of an undiscovered artefact, or simply a sentence written on a piece of paper that I couldn't have seen. As far as I know, nothing of this sort happened, ever.

Exactly. Why are these spirits completely irrelevant, and "communicate" only thoughts one could already have?

The basic premise of minds as being independent from physical brains is desperate fantasy in any case.

The traditional pre modern formula in the west was that they were necessarily linked, in a union that was separable only death.

Your answer still focuses on something that happens to YOU. If that happens to another person, and they claim it occurred, you are implying that experience wouldn't hold weight to you. From this, I must conclude you believe it is impossible to utilize the scientific method to demonstrate their existence. Is this correct?

I recognize the following example is extreme, but it does fit the bill: in the past years, we've had many people come forward claiming they were sexually assaulted by various powerful people decades prior. Now, I have not been sexually assaulted, but I understand that a certain portion of the population has been. While you and I did not observe those assaults, we still accept as true what these people are claiming without dismissing or disbelieving them.

My point is: society accepts testimony as evidence for things the judge and jury has not seen. Testimony from one witness is the minimum, and corroborating evidence from multiple sources will indicate something is occurring. I am generally inclined to dismiss claims of conspiracy in these cases, so I must accept their claims as true. Of both the original scenario and the one above, from a purely scientific perspective, it's difficult to lend credence to one and not the other.

You accept testimony from one man whose judgement is compromised by psychedelics and whose testimony will be inconsistent with others who believe in gods and spirits and do drugs and get high?

We cannot confirm which reality is real. The drug induced experiences or the reality you experience while sober. However when you talk to sober people they describe a reality that is consistent. A shared consistent reality with concreteness. All other descriptions are inconsistent. This man's experience is inexact and will no doubt be very different from what another man experiences when high on some drug.

Bet on the shared consistent experience. Science and logic and common sense is the shared and consistent reality and these things point to man whose brain cells and judgement have been compromised by drugs. You don't even trust a man high in drugs to drive, you gonna trust his judgement about reality itself? Don't be stupid.

You make a good point, namely that it's not possible to trust an individual's testimony when under the influence of a substance. In this case, you or I may well be an outside observer, seeing that the person's ability to perceive the world is impaired. To the impaired person, however, their experienced reality must be true; without being told otherwise, they would have no reason to assume anything else.

I'm now thinking of a society where the majority of people consume a variety of substances which impair their perception of reality. In that scenario, the majority of people believe their interpretation of reality is true. The unimpaired knows those people are incorrect, but the impaired don't know better.

But this case creates a potentially uncomfortable situation for us. If some substances impair, what's not to say other substances enhance? If we know both performance-enhancing and performance-inhibiting substances exist, it stands to reason that both perception-enhancing and perception-inhibiting substances also exist. We know the latter exists, and our primary issue is that it's presently claimed the former does not. A performance-enhancing substance allows an athlete to perform beyond normal limits, and it stands to reason a perception-enhancing drug would do similarly.

However, what if a group of people are under the influence of an identical substance and, at the same time, observe real things which the "unimpaired" do not? The tricky word in the previous sentence is "real": what is real depends on your vantage point. The shadow of a cylinder may be either a rectangle or circle; to only debate the difference between which shadow is "real" obscures the true nature of the illuminated object.

So, a line of scientific inquiry may be the following: is it possible for a mind-altering substance modify an observer's vantage point of the universe? In a more illustrative framing, can a person in Plato's Cave eat something to see beyond their slice of reality? I don't know, but I believe the question is worth consideration.

Enhancement is a matter of opinion. One man's enhancement could be another man's dehancement. So this is an unreliable metric. We cannot truly know which reality is more actual. The reality experienced while sober and the reality experienced while high. Whether one reality is enhanced is again a matter of opinion.

The key metric here to recognize is consistency. You give a thousand people psychedelics how consistent are there observations? Does every man describe the same thing? In addition how clear and exact are their observations?

Science and logic described by normal sober people is more consistent and more exact then the reality described by people on psychedelics. People who are sober generally agree on the basic principles of logic and mathematics. Consistent consensus is the diffentiating factor.

Additionally which drug better enhances the mind? Cocaine? Heroin? Bleach? Whose to say one experience under one drug is more enhanced than the other? This world described by drugs is cloudy and inconsistent not only among individuals but also across your drug of choice. So you not only have different descriptions of reality from different people, but different descriptions when they use a different drug. Which reality do I trust?

Trust in the consistent description of reality. It's the best bet in my opinion. But of course this also a personal choice.

> Your answer still focuses on something that happens to YOU. If that happens to another person, and they claim it occurred, you are implying that experience wouldn't hold weight to you. From this, I must conclude you believe it is impossible to utilize the scientific method to demonstrate their existence. Is this correct?

No. I'd believe another person if they _credibly_ demonstrate that useful information was conveyed to them from sprits. The more people demonstrate this, the more I'll believe it.

In general, the more extreme the claim is, the better evidence I require to believe it. To put it in concrete terms: Given N reports of 2 different kinds of claims, I'd sooner believe that Harvey Weinstein is a sex pest than we made contact with interdimensional spirit entities.

Entities revealing previously unknown information is actually a very, very common experience under psychedelics.

Now, whether such revelations would have satisfied the Skeptical Inquirer crowd is another question.

It would be interesting if that crowd actually did some serious studies of psychedelic revelations, and doubly interesting if they themselves took strong doses psychedelics as part of the study, as psychedelics have a habit of making true believers even out of skeptics, and I suspect many of these skeptics would be a lot less skeptical after taking them... though that'll probably never happen on a large scale as many of them are really not as open-minded as they like to pretend, or are afraid of either losing their "objectivity" or their mind (not completely unfounded fears).

So solipsism basically?

I think basically the same evidence as telepathy.

The spirit would tell me "I'm going to tell you a story you have never heard before, and I'm simultaneously going to tell it to 50 people around the earth, and I'm going to tell you the phone numbers of those people so when the trip is over you can call them and ask if they were just told a story by a spirit and if so what it was.

Something like that. Then we would need to somehow verify that those 50 people never communicated with each other before.

But spirits, I don't think they are interested in doing that, at least from what we've seen so far. And that gives credence to the idea that they don't exist because if they care about suffering there would surely be something they could tell us, how to prevent it from happening. Don't go out tonight, there's going to be a fight.

It goes back to the old question if there is God, why is there so much suffering in the world?

I feel like this kind of argument relies on the spirt/god/being being willing to do something that is meaningful to us (but perhaps not to them), or something which is not possible even for them. This reminds me a lot of when our children, raised on Netflix, encountered cable TV for the first time. When they were very young, they did not understand that we (parents) could not make their favorite shows come on when they wanted to watch them

Perhaps higher-dimensional beings exist, and have an understanding of the universe that we don't -- but perhaps they are not capable of performing these "miraculous" events that people would consider irrefutable proof of a god's existence. I seem to recall an anecdote (I forget where?) where the human planned to ask the entity they encountered to factor some hard primes, or do something that they knew their own brain couldn't make up -- and the entity dodged it as something that wasn't important.

"But spirits, I don't think they are interested in doing that, at least from what we've seen so far. And that gives credence to the idea that they don't exist because if they care about suffering there would surely be something they could tell us, how to prevent it from happening. Don't go out tonight, there's going to be a fight."

Some cosmologies (in the religious sense of the term) posit that there is a variety of spirits in the world, with a variety of natures and motivations, some benevolent, some malevolent, others indifferent.

So some may want to help you out, others might want to trick you, yet others might hurt you or use you.

Such a view is common, for example, in shamanistic religions, which frequently deal with what they understand as the spirit realm, often with the use of psychedelics.

Pertinent to this article, such a view is common in ayahuasca shamanism.

This is why the shaman uses all sorts of techniques to communicate with, appease, and direct the spirits. They're not, in the common view, spirits that would necessarily be benevolent and helpful were it not for the intervention and skill of the shaman... and there are dangers in the spirit world too, or so it is believed.

Right, there are bad trips and a good shaman can help you avoid them.

The evidence is very simple - a spirit telling someone something that they couldn't possibly know.

> now I think higher-dimensional beings exist."

I think he said something more like I am now open to the possibility that they might be real.

But ... we know there are people who are schizophrenic, who switch from one personality to another. Which of them is "real"? They probably all are. But that does not mean they exist anywhere outside of one's head. If you can experience another you, then it seems not implausible that you would also experience "God" inside your head.

It is fun to think that there might be higher-dimensional conscious beings around us or even within us. But that's all it is, fun. There doesn't seem to be any practical implications of whether there are or not.

Another part of the article considers (quite materialistically) the possibility that "God" is something society creates in our heads. I think Sigmund Freud called that the "Super Ego". It is what makes us better survive as a species. It causes us to co-operate rather than just selfishly abuse others as much as we can. It is clear how such a function could evolve by evolution. We see it in all species, they don't spend their energy trying to kill other individuals of the same species. It's the Selfish Gene.

"It is fun to think that there might be higher-dimensional conscious beings around us or even within us. But that's all it is, fun. There doesn't seem to be any practical implications of whether there are or not."

Well, it is fun, when you assume those spirits to be friendly. But if they exist and they are not allways friendly - then there would be very practical implications because of that.

Is your bad luck random, or did you anger some god or spirit? Then you would benefit from doing things to calm them. Many, many people believe that.

But yes, the point is, why assume their existence in the first place, when science so far is very good at creating a working model of the universe. But since we do not have a complete model at all and maybe never will, I would not assume it is proven that billions of people on this earth who believe in magic etc. are all wrong. Because if you do that - then you would never find hints that they do exist. There is a theory in the spiritul world, that there is a mind censor in ourself, that is blocking all information on those magic things as we would not be able to focus on the tasks at hand, if we would be distracted by ghosts all the time. So main technics there, are how to control your inner censor and open your eyes to see and do much more.

Well, what I can say for certain, is that the various magic traditions developed very powerful psychological technics to achieve various things with your mind. Whether there is real magic one has to see and decide for themself.

> the various magic traditions developed very powerful psychological technics to achieve various things with your mind

This alone is reason enough to study/practice "magical" concepts, which can range from CBT to various forms of meditation and cue spooky sounds sorcery. Having a hammer with which you can form your own mind is, like, extremely important.

The spookier stuff you can just think of as either A) fun, existential decorations or B) embarrassing accretions to otherwise useful ways of thinking.

Or heaven forbid you fall into the C) camp where you start to believe you're in some kind of spirit war for the aeons.

> we know there are people who are schizophrenic, who switch from one personality to another

(schizophrenia) != (dissociative identity disorder == multiple personality disorder)

even though

etymology(schizophrenia) == "split mind"

Sorry for my ignorance. Is there a simple way to tell the difference? Is dissociative identity disorder a subset of schizophrenia?

No problem.

> Is dissociative identity disorder a subset of schizophrenia?


> Is there a simple way to tell the difference?

Yes. DID is what is colloquially referred to as having a split personality or multiple personalities. The easiest way to remember this is that a person with DID has multiple, alternating streams of experience and affect that do not share memories or volition.

Schizophrenia is more like what we might call "madness". Believing wildly untrue ideas, being out of touch with reality, having hallucinations,... these are some of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

So they're not really related.

I guess some folks with DID could have a personality who is also schizophrenic, and that would make for a difficult diagnosis and treatment, I'm sure.

“ doesn't seem to be any practical implications of whether there are or not.”

On one hand everything is material and deterministic (whether you confess to it or not — eg Dan dennet), on the other hand you have the possibility of free will, of human nobility and virtue.

Selfish genes sounds like doublespeak to me. I’m sure it’s true to some extent, but I’m confident that it’s not the whole Truth.

Then what is The Whole Truth? What piece is missing?

It's the Russell's Teapot thing. It COULD be out there, and there COULD be something more.

But the Selfish Gene -- Evolution -- is reasonably easy to demonstrate. Different verities of viruses, like new strains of COVID, come to mind...

I don’t think any human mind can know the whole truth in the typical sense of knowing. My view is one that allows for mystery and features an unknowable or imperfectly knowable Truth. I’m inclined towards a more humble assessment of human progress, seeing most knowledge as imperfect. Science alone points me towards full determinism, but the reality of experience tells me free will exists. There must be something other than just genes and neurons and randomness. If you believe in free will and accept materialistic reductionist explanations, then it is on you to say what that “something other” is. I’m all ears but if dennet can’t convince me then you probably won’t either. For me, my “something other” is faith, which is recursive is an appealing way.

> I think he said something more like I am now open to the possibility that they might be real.

People use the word 'but' all the time to justify beliefs that they worry others will view negatively.

"I think Donald Trump is an asshole but..."

"I'm not racist but..."

"I'm a rational person but..."

I think, deep down, he believes the god stuff but is trying to justify it and soften it so that we don't think he's crazy.

It's kind of funny (and entertaining) thinking about what another person we have never met might be thinking. But let's go with it. I don't think he believes the God stuff, but he wants to. He doesn't want to let go of that possibility and I don't blame him for that. I believe that people believe mostly what they want to believe, by which I mean that they don't really believe it (since they only want to believe) but that they pretend, tell themselves that they do, believe.

Hey I'm the author and I can jump into what I actually believe:

Basically, I'm still working on integrating my experience into a rational worldview. I definitely had the experience of meeting entities and speaking to them, and that's hard to reconcile with our everyday "sober" experience of reality.

There are tons of testimonies of people reporting similar things, so that makes me feel less alone in the potential delusion of thinking it's all "real."

Whether it's real or not actually doesn't matter so much to me. The experience is the same no matter if it's coming from my brain or from elsewhere. The only thing that matters is how I live my life as a result after having these experiences.

I've made peace with not having all the answers. If you asked me "Do I believe in God?" I'd say yes. But my definition of God is probably very different from the usual one. Since I now think of God as being an emergent property of communities of people coming together and forming a social contract through shared stories, morals, and goals. Where they are trying to make sense of a shared mystery of life and capture the ineffable transcendental experience into stories and myths. Personifying that into a "real" thing is useful for some, and experiencing that personification is a very interesting phenomena that I don't really understand, yet I've had the experience myself.

Anyways, I hope that's helpful :)

Good stuff. Just curious you experienced both "God" but also "spirits". What was the main difference between them. What made you think one of them was God and others only "spirits"?

I experienced different "spirits" for sure. Pachamama, the "techno-demons" as someone referred to, at points I saw a sea of souls as I was being taken on a boat -- I forgot what that "underworld" spirit is called. I saw a huge golden bird multiple times. All very interesting phenomena.

The only thing I'd refer to as maybe experiencing "God" was when I went into a white light. At that point I have very little recollection of what actually happened. I remember going in, and then everything was white, there was no concept really of time, or of me, or of anything else like that. I wasn't "seeing" anything, it was all just white. Coming out felt extremely "weird," everything felt so full of meaning and "spiritual" for lack of a better word. There was no personification of "God" there, but it was just a feeling. The one thing I do remember when I was there in that light was a deep feeling of peace and one-ness.

I don't know if that's all helpful, but it's what I experienced, at least.

Sounds like a great experience. If more people would experience something like that the world would be a better place no doubt

> I'm still working on integrating my experience into a rational worldview

Then it's not a rational worldview.

At some point you have to make peace with open questions you don’t have the answers to. That’s not being irrational, it’s just accepting that our rational brains are very limited.

I’d encourage you to try the experience for yourself. I may not be able to convince you that these visions are anything more than “scrambling of neurons” with my testimony. If you are intellectually curious enough and open to trying DMT/ayahuasca, then it can only give you more data to base your worldview on. Worth a shot imo.

Do not mistake an open mind for an unbiased mind. A higher dimensional being is equivalent to the cosmic hippo in a tutu, prancing across the stars. One concept sounds absurd but both concepts have in fact the same level of absurdity.

The evidence of god, or higher dimensional beings is equivalent to the amount of evidence that exists for the cosmic hippo.

Both concepts do not have zero probability of existing but are you really open minded by being agnostic and considering the possibility of the cosmic hippo existing? I just made up the cosmic hippo, like just now. Zero material evidence exist for either concept. But we lend more credit to profound descriptions of god. This is human bias at work. Higher dimensional is a complicated word that is just as absurd as hippo in a tutu.

Agnosticism is not open mindedness it is closed mindedness because the logic behind agnosticism supports consideration of the cosmic hippo as a valid argument for existence.

The key insight is that all descriptions of god are equivalent in absurdity to the cosmic hippo and therefore agnosticism is an an absurd philosophy.

We do not know what created the universe. But because virtually zero evidence exists or hints at what created the universe I can safely say any guess you come up with is completely and utterly wrong. It's like guessing a number between 1 and 9999 trillion trillion. I can safely say if any human on earth made a guess about what this number is... They'd be wrong.

Good points. But what about Bolzman Brains? Are they absurd too? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain)

Yes. By probability any attempt at an answer is absurd.

I have a giant box, guess what's in the box. I'm willing to bet 1 million dollars that any guess you make is wrong simply because there are too many possible things that could be in the box. Is that a reasonable bet? Yes.

I have a universe, guess what created it. I'm willing to bet 1 million dollars that any guess you make is wrong simply because there are too many possible things that could have created the universe. Is that a reasonable bet? Yes.

The agnostic makes a different bet. He says he doesn't know what's in the box but there's a 50% chance it's god and a 50% chance it's not.

The real probability is god is but a 1 out of infinite probability where the domain encompasses Bolzman brains and cosmic hippos. The better bet is to say it could be anything BUT god.

Anything but god yields a (infinite - 1)/infinite probability of being correct, aka 100%.

This crosses into religious flamewar. We're trying to avoid that here, so please don't.


The article itself is about a man validating the truth behind his drug induced spiritual experience of god.

I can't use science to disagree with that opinion because it's religious flame war?

Then logically the article itself is instigating religious flame war.... He argues his side I argue mine.

I don't think your being impartial here. His post attacks my beliefs and I attack his in return who is instigating war here? Your saying he can attack my belief but I can't argue for mine.

Are you saying that if an article shows up on HN supporting logic and science and atheism no religious person can argue against it or offer their opinion?

It's not about the article or the topic, it's about the quality of response. Begging your pardon, your comment was noticeably lower-quality, and clearly flamebait.

Grandiose rhetoric on an inflammatory topic makes for low-quality threads and flamewars. We don't want that here.

Grandiose rhetoric... Is the article itself not grandiose? God and spiritual experiences are grandiose topics. Take a very careful look at the language I used here dang. It's carefully worded to avoid personal attacks.

I'm willing to bet your being biased here and you can't see it. It is very hard to recognize in yourself without asking for personal opinions. I'm willing to bet that you personally highly highly disagree with what I wrote.

If I am right then I think it's quite likely you are completely unaware that your personal opinion influenced you to see what I wrote as grandiose because frankly this entire topic is grandiose. He makes grand claims about the nature of reality citing drug induced experiences as evidence, is that not grandiose?

Psychedelics have the ability to bring, through subjective experience, evidence of the mystery that has been passed down through the worlds spiritual traditions; mankinds' relation to that mystery is ubiquitous throughout the worlds civilizations.

I give due respect to anything that stands the test of time, irrespective of our ability to measure it with modern instruments or understand it with our primate mind.

While drugs like ayahuasca can produce a wild and vivid experience, I think it's pretty ordinary to "talk" to characters in your dreams. Sometimes they're bizarre creatures and sometimes people you know, sometimes morphing between things and ideas. I always have the sense that I know what they're saying and what they're thinking even when I can't really "hear" them. This is obviously because they are created by my own brain.

“ human brains are wired in such a way that we tend to hallucinate similar things?”

Yes, somewhere between jung and Oliver sacks — a biological basis for the collective unconscious. Religion IMO offers the most parsimonious explanation, to date.

I think it is much more likely that what he is hallucinating is a representation of how the brain stores information.

"a biological basis for the collective unconscious"

This is in fact what Jung believed... long before Oliver Sacks.

Sounds like my brother after his 4th or 5th psychotic episode and medication not working anymore. I guess you could call it spiritual.

"The schizophrenic is drowning in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight." - Joseph Campbell

Why people believe what they experience while tripping is one of the great open questions regarding psychedelics.

It is quite common for psychedelic experiences to feel "more real than real", and often what has been revealed under their influence can feel like The Truth with a big fat capital T.

I suspect that most people who become true believers after such experiences (and there are a lot of them) are just not very critical thinkers, and don't have a habit of questioning themselves, the world, or what they experience, and so are more liable to swallow the revelations they get line, hook, and sinker without critically diving in to them or coming up with alternate explanations for what might have happened.

Then there are the die-hard atheists and materialists/physicalists, who may be err on the other extreme and hand wave everything they experience as "neurochemical noise" or whatnot. There are a bunch of these also, and when I read their dismissive reports I often wonder how strong their experiences were and how many of them they've had.

Sam Harris, a prominent figure in the so-called "new atheist" movement, actually gave a strong dose of a psychedelic mushroom a try, and reported on his experience.[1]

It's a fascinating account, given by a clearly intelligent and famously critical, anti-religious physicalist which I personally expected to be very negative and glibly dismissive, but to his great credit he treated it very respectfully, seriously, and not dismissively at all.

He did not become a true believer after his trip, but it really made me suspect that if he'd continued taking strong doses of psychedelics even he would have.

Such powerful, convincing experiences are how religious movements start, and no small number of them have started from psychedelics. In fact, some have theorized that many (all?) of the world's great religions ultimately had their roots in psychedelic experiences (see, for example, Allegro's "The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross"[2]).

I hope one day there'll be some serious research in to what is going on here, beyond simply reporting that mystical experiences are common on psychedelics.

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKGddvmU0fA

[2] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sacred_Mushroom_and_the_Cr...

Do you trust a man experiencing a high or a "powerful experience" to drive? If such a man cannot be trusted to drive why should we trust anything that comes out of his mouth.

For all intents and purposes physical evidence points to a brain that is compromised and intoxicated.

There has been a lot of serious research into LSD. The research points to an intoxicated brain just as common sense does.

" Do you trust a man experiencing a high or a "powerful experience" to drive? If such a man cannot be trusted to drive why should we trust anything that comes out of his mouth."

Imagine there was some alien civilization that chose to transfer some enormous amount of information to you, flooding your senses and completely overwhelming you with information, visions, schematics, sounds, voices, and the emotional impact from having that sort of experience happen to you in a short amount of time.

You would not be fit to drive, because your experience would be completely overwhelming to you, or at the very least you'd be greatly distracted.

That says absolutely nothing about the value of the information you received and whether you should be believed.

Another example: dreams. Clearly you're not fit to drive while dreaming, yet significant discoveries (most famously Kekule's discovery of the ring-structure of beneze) have been inspired by dreams.

Creative, non-scientific output is yet another realm where psychedelic experience has value. You don't have to "believe" a song that someone composed or was inspired to make due to a psychedelic experience for that song to have value. Here [1] is a great example (it starts at about 49 minutes in to the video).

Artwork inspired by psychedelics is incredibly common, and its value is not a matter of belief but of aesthetic appreciation.

"For all intents and purposes physical evidence points to a brain that is compromised and intoxicated."

Compromised or enhanced? Research in psychedelics has clearly shown their healing potential -- quite the opposite of compromising people, they can greatly help them. Enhancing creativity, as mentioned above, is yet another potential benefit. There are many others, such as increasing emotional openness, enhancing empathy, and so on.

You should definitely not drive while on psychedelics.. just as you shouldn't drive while having sex. But it's ridiculous to judge the value of these experiences by whether you can drive safely while having them.

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nm5p9w63QN0

Standard trip tale and ramblings of someone who doesn't know how to reconcile with the revelation that their brain is a sack of chemicals.

>Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the Weather.

- Bill Hicks

Everything old is new again; maybe we'll get lucky and have another '60s-'70s as covid wanes, if people are starting to put trip reports on Medium blogs under their real names without any "SWIM" disclaimers. If y'all like these kinds of trip write-ups, erowid.org has loads of them.

There is somewhat of a dissonance that I detect from trip reports like this. On one hand, authors acknowledge that the whole trip might be just the result of their brain acting weird. But on the other hand, they start emphasizing how real the experience felt, therefore there might be something real to the entities/sprits encountered during the trip.

But if we already acknowledge that any feeling of "realness" can be purely the result of the brain acting weird, doesn't that invalidate any appeal to how "real" the experience felt? It literally means nothing, if our underlying theory is that the brain's "realness" detectors were malfunctioning.

It is interesting. I was in hospital pumped up with all kinds of medicine and I saw from the window how the whole hospital building took off flying. And I "knew" it was real, I knew it could not be a dream.

So I wondered afterwards why did it feel so real, unlike any ordinary dream? I think it may be because I remembered that dream so vividly and it was a dream where I was fully conscious about my experience, and was able to question it rationally, and that didn't stop the dream from happening.

Whereas in ordinary dreams we just experience the dream, we don't much experience ourselves experiencing it. And seems like if we ask in a dream is this a dream the dream is over soon enough. Seems some drugs can cause us to "dream" in a way that does not immediately break when you start questioning it. And why couldn't they.

OP: I have no idea why, but the name of this posting was changed from "How Ayahuasca change my perspective on life and God" to simply "How Ayahuasca changed my perspective"

Also, the post abruptly dropped in ranking on the front page after the name change, it seems to have been de-ranked dramatically... Strange

Went from top 1-50, to now 200+... in a matter of a minute

438 right now. Strange indeed.

"Man does drugs. Claims to see God."

Really, I'm all for drugs and if they give you perspective that’s awesome. If drugs help you deal with trauma, addiction, depression go for it! Just don’t try to convince me that it all didn’t just happen in your head.

Well, he tries to reconcile his experience with his old rational view pf religion by almost semantically re-defining God. I can relate to this experience based on my own passed experiences but I drew different conclusions.

Everything just happens in your mind. Anything else is metaphysical speculation.

Woah, we need to back up and define "everything" "just" "happens" "in" "your" and "mind"

We can do that, but it will just happen in your mind.

In my mind yes. Not in his :)

This definitely reads as someone with low/no experience with psychedelics trying to derive some meaning from them. I was exactly the same way when I was younger, trying to analyze my trips, reading about others, upping the dosage, attempting to find the meaning of life or god or whatever.

Psychedelic experiences are just experiences, they can exist unanalyzed. At best you might have some self-realizations, but there is no god/collective-consciousness whatever waiting at the end of the road.

All available evidence points to the materialistic viewpoint. You cannot trust your feelings or experiences. You cannot even fully trust science and logic.

However science and logic delivers more consistent results. You may feel like there's other "wavelengths" of reality when you do a psychedelic but everyone's experience is different. The only consistent experience most of humanity shares is the scientific and logical reality we experience when sober.

So as far as we know science and logic is the more accurate and consistent barometer. This man has a claim, his article does not give adequate evidence for that claim. In fact this article shows an intense lack of basic understanding of the nature of logic and science and it's relationship with reality.

If 1000 atheists did Ayahuasca will that change all their perspectives? Does a change in perspective or a the opinion of a brain compromised by an hallucinogen serve as accurate evidence? No.

Don't be stupid. Not even photographic evidence or a video of a god serves as adequate evidence.

If you have a clear perspective on the nature of logic, probability and science and it's relationship with reality... drugs will not change your viewpoint. These kind of experiences are only valid for people who have a lack of deep understanding of reality and the tools we use to understand it.

Let's just put it logically and plainly. If drugs compromise your brain and it's ability to drive and it's ability to perceive things than how on earth does a claim about god by a person on drugs serve as an accurate account? You don't trust a man high on some drug to drive, you're going to trust his opinion on God? Don't be stupid.

The man's description and judgement is compromised and I'm surprised and disappointed so many HN readers voted this up.

>All available evidence points to the materialistic viewpoint.

The materialistic viewpoint has failed to explain consciousness in the sense of describing a mechanism by which material phenomena could give rise to subjective experience.

Failure doesn't validate other forms of explanations.

Materialism is an imperfect explanation but imperfection is not a metric for reliability. Evidence is the metric for reliability and so far as imperfect as materialism is... it has the best evidence.

Moving to other explanations means moving to explanations with less or no evidence and therefore are at high risk of being false.

Materialism does not have an imperfect explanation of consciousness - it has zero explanation of consciousness. Materialism does have a non-zero explanation of things other than consciousness, but there is no good reason to assume that this should mean its success at explaining some other things means that it has any possibility of ever explaining consciousness.

>Materialism does not have an imperfect explanation of consciousness - it has zero explanation of consciousness.

First off zero explanation does not validate other explanations. Second off what you said is strictly false.

Much of neurology research operates on physically manipulating the brain through material means including brain surgery, drugs and even removal of certain aspects of the brain.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split-brain

Subjects with Material damage to the brain where the connections between the two hemispheres of the brain are physically severed display behavior that is consistent with two consciousnesses existing in a single person.

This is physical evidence that your consciousness is tied to physical and biological material. It further implies that because this consciousness is material based that consciousness can be recreated by simply simulating the material structure that creates it.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Brain_Project

The blue brain project is a research endeavor with the first step goal of emulating a full mouse brain and consciousness on super computers by using models of cellular neurons.

This is real material based research on consciousness that is funded with a lot of money.

"How drugs messed up my brain and made me see god"

Man this drug normalization needs to stop. Drugs can permanently fuck you up. It's just not worth it.

Is this view point based on your own personal experience?

Its based on a lot of stuff. My experiences, my friends experiences, the scientific literature.

I get that everyone loves to say that ketamine and mushrooms are so magical but if you read into these studies they urge extreme caution. The patients need to be careful screened (never mind that study participants self select from previous drug use), the dosages are exact, and they are monitored by professionals. Plus, there is 0 evidence that ketamine helps long term and a TON of evidence it causes severe addiction and withdrawal

Point is, illicit drugs are not some magical thing that will solve your problems. In fact, they will make your life a hell of a lot worse the majority of the time.

He made the same error the ancients did: trying to find meaning in hallucinations.

Be aware that sometimes drugs damage the blood brain barrier and cause all sort of fucked up health issues.

I'm not aware of DMT causing any physical damage to the brain.

Unfortunately, now having read this and seen his pictures, you really can't come to any conclusion.

If you'd gone into things not having read this/seen the pictures, had an experience like his, came across his post, then things get interesting to think about atleast.

Sucks haha.

As absolutely outright inhumane as it is, all I'd like to see in my lifetime (which is in effect nearly impossible) is a human raised in practically a clean room (or idk, just any enclosed environment) where they're fed and cared for, but without any actual human interaction (all automated), then given psychedelics such as ahuyasca. After that, attempt to somehow integrate them for the purpose of, well, you get the idea.

Then comes the issue of even if that all works out, not knowing how the environment they were raised in contributed to the experience and such.

I'm drunk, the above is most definitely probably torture (and also very poorly worded but i think the jist is there haha), but damn, I'm just so curious.

edit: Didn't entirely read before commenting either. Typical HN right. Can guarantee if my dead grandmother were to be a vibrating entity in my head that would sparsely speak to me, she would've definitely said something about the porn by now. Gotta dismiss his thoughts on that one

Unfortunately, now having read your post, we really can't come to any conclusion about what your point was :)

Someone training their GPT-3 bot to refute different positions, perhaps?

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