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The Hacker Who Drank Ayahuasca (medium.com)
123 points by tby on Mar 21, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 81 comments



I have taken Ayahuasca plenty of times and it has been an incredible experience for me thus far. Like everything in this universe there can bad sides to it, but with the correct people and when correctly brewed it can be extremely enlightening. What in life doesn't have a negative side to it? And when people say someone has been transformed for the worse after taking Ayahuasca what does that really mean? Worse for who? What's really good and bad? Stuff determined to be legal by a bunch of conservative males? I guess tobacco and alcohol are fine..


I have heard stories of seeing a mother kind of thing? What's that all about - have you experienced this?


Aya can have a very feminine, mothering aspect to it at times, and in many traditions, it's referred to as "la madre", or even just "she". It's not something I've experienced often, but it's lovely when it does show up.

As for what it's about, there's no real universal answer to that. Everyone's every experience of aya is different; it's what happens when that individual drinks that dose on that night. There are commonalties and themes you start to see and be able to work with, given enough experience, but there are very few absolutes.


I've taken it three times, and all I can say is these experiences were FAR MORE VAST than anything I could imagine. It exists in a category entirely of its own and hit me completely, all the way to the cellular level. And even in that unfathomably wide and galactic space, there's a strange humor to it that you have to experience to understand...


No. Everyone has their own experience. Some feel like they completely disappear from this planet. But the job of the shaman (and the group) is to not let you go to far into your mind and yet allow you to experience the medicine fully.


There are also stories of people dying and the locals dumping their bodies elsewhere so that they don't ruin others experiences or stop people from coming to try the 'Medicine'. IIRC, the primary drug in Ayahuasca is DMT, which can be acquired other ways (that are less likely to make you puke) than drinking their jungle juice.


Yeah, that happened. There's another center in the jungle I know of that changes its name every time they have a guest die. And I've heard stories of "shamans" who add a paralytic to the dose they give attractive young female guests...

But you know what? Those are the exceptions. I've taken ayahuasca dozens of times, and am booked for another trip to Peru next month. I've been fortunate only to work with reputable people, and have consistently only met others in my travels that have also worked with reputable people.

Please don't judge a tradition that's thousands of years old, and actually remarkably safe — with a few caveats, that the reputable folks will screen for — on the basis of a couple of cretins who look at the plants and the gringo tourists and just see dollar signs.


All that kind of shadiness is a consequence of prohibition -- since it's illegal, black and grey markets staffed by crooks and irresponsible flaky types fill the vendor niche. Without prohibition you could go to a professionally run center and take pharmaceutically pure DMT+MAOI instead of shaman piss, and do so with experienced genuinely psychologically educated guides and with modern medical care available in case of a reaction.


I disagree. It's legal in Peru, where all of the cases I listed occurred. (Technically, it's a gray area where, in the case of indigenous practitioners working on foreign guests, the law literally has nothing to say — neither legal nor illegal, but tolerated because tourism dollars. Indigenous folks treating indigenous folks is black-letter legal, and protected.) It's not prohibition, but rather greed and predation, that create most of the harms that have happened in ayahuasca practice in the jungle.

I've never done it, but I have a strong sense that pharmahuasca would be cold, sterile, and missing some of the je ne sais quoi that the "shaman piss" [1] experience offers. I'm sure it would still be a valuable experience, and one I'd be open to exploring, but drinking trees works well enough for me, thanks.

I mean, sure you can puke (I often do, sometimes several times in the course of a night), and it tastes horrible, and your sweat smells like tree bark at the end of the night — let alone the end of the week. That's just the process, though, and "optimizing" it out would probably also remove many of the things that are actually among the most valuable (for me, and everyone else who does this more than once with whom I've spoken) aspects.

EDIT: footnote added.

[1] Interestingly, in one of the earliest-documented shamanic traditions, tribes on the Siberian steppe would use amanita muscaria mushrooms, which are visionary, but also mildly toxic. The shaman would take a shaman-sized dose, and journey, then collect his urine (which still contains threshold doses of psychoactive metabolites), and serve that to his "patients".


It's prohibition in Wastern countries, which drives a "drug tourism" industry that distorts local markets and encourages that kind of "tourist trap" predation. Prohibition tends to export the corruption it breeds.

I agree about set and setting. The "clinics" I picture are probably not what that word normally conjures up.


I take your point, and don't disagree, but there's an element of the gestalt of the experience that calls for its being done in its ethnic and ecological context. For many of the people I know through my time down there, the act of taking the journey to the jungle to do this work is an integral part of the process. That is to say, it's not just "jurisdiction shopping" (but by the same token, that doesn't mean there's none of that, either).


I don't disagree. It would be our shamanic experience, not theirs. It would have a different set, setting, gestalt, mythology, and symbolism around it.

I'd be fascinated to know then if certain underlying themes and insights would remain similar or not. So far the western experience with psychedelics does show some commonality with that of indigenous peoples-- it's common for people to report a kind of cosmic oneness experience, insights about their character, etc. But there are also unique cultural twists. Ours have a flavor reminiscent of Greek and Roman Dionysian and Bacchanalian ceremonies, and then there is stuff like:

http://www.matrixmasters.net/salon/2006/06/podcast-042-–-“us...


You beat me to the story about fly agaric being distributed to the tribe through the shaman's piss. :)


>> Please don't judge a tradition that's thousands of years old

Somewhat off topic question but I'd like to ask anyway - How exactly do you know its thousands of years old ?

I'm not saying it isn't, but how do you know for sure ?


It is DMT + an MAOI which allows the DMT to not be destroyed when you drink it.

The MAOI has a prolonging and intensifying effect, and has psychedelic effects of it's own. Smoking DMT isn't the same as eating pharmahuasca, which isn't the same as drinking ayahuaska.

That said, it is very, very rare for anyone to have a reaction. The quality tours have trained medics in the village, and the villages are jammed deep in the forest like some of the hippy tours.

Smoking DMT is a very clean experience. It is intensely visual in nature and completely cerebral.

Pharma/Ayahuaska is a heavy body load as you drift in and out of the altered state often called "hyperspace".

I don't really recommend the MAOIs because of the complications they can cause, and you can have just as spiritual of an experience without drinking their "jungle juice". haha ;)


> The quality tours have trained medics in the village

Somehow I don't derive much reassurance from that. :\ I guess some people are just more comfortable rolling the dice with their brains than I am...


"I guess some people are just more comfortable rolling the dice with their brains than I am..."

I feel the same way with people who take pharmaceutical anti-depressants.


>"Somehow I don't derive much reassurance from that."

If you live in a major urban area, and hang around in the right circles, it's very likely you can find a local party with which to partake, and thus get to take advantage of top-notch medical care in case of emergency (if that's your worry).


Agreed, you don't need to go to South America. Good luck


> IIRC, the primary drug in Ayahuasca is DMT, which can be acquired other ways (that are less likely to make you puke) than drinking their jungle juice.

I strongly suspect that with psychedelics, the context in which they are taken is far more influential on the kind of experience you have than the actual neurochemical effects. A sugar pill given to you by a man in a white coat and a soothing bedside manner is going to have a bigger effect than the same pill given to you by your next-door neighbor the handyman.

The service these fake shamans are providing can be of value even though the shamans are fake.


It's currently an 'ayahuasca-boom' going on, that is taken advantage of by many locals who want to earn easy money. Another risk is that some of the shamans mix in other plants than the core ingredients, which can be dangerous. There is also the possibility of unwanted interactions with pharmaceuticals.

With proper research and preparation, the 'jungle juice' is remarkably safe to consume.


Not to mention you can legally buy all the supplies you need to make Ayahuasca at home in the States.


"We modern smart men have figured a way to have trippy experiences without puking and going into an uncomfortable jungle with this funny superstitious shamans, we are the best!" As if doing a hit of DMT was nearly the same thing as a proper Ayahuasca ceremony done with a shaman coming from a 10.000 years lineage. Sigh.


Of course it's not the same. For one thing there is a lot less bullshit involved in simply smoking DMT. Seriously though, there are a lot of factors involved but I'm sure going into the jungle to drink ayahuasca under supervision of some self-proclaimed shaman isn't the only reasonable or effective way to have your spiritual experience with DMT.


Yeah, lets listen to superstitious people!

Why appeal to the age of an authority? If there's anything measurably beneficial about Ayahuasca I'm certain it can be extracted into a precisely dosed pharmaceutical.


I doubt that anyone who has actually tried ayahuasca (or a similarly potent hallucinogen) both with a shaman and without would agree with you. Do you have any citations to back up this opinion?

The danger of your opinion is that it precludes research into things like drumming and chanting. Humans have been using rhythm to build a sense of community for thousands of years. Could there be something here for science? Could we learn how to help therapists and patients bond much faster?

I don't know these answers. Do you?


Oh interesting, I hadn't thought of this from a therapy point of view. Any time you mix spirituality and treatment my mind goes immediately to scam, which is what I assumed this was.


Any time there is treatment, there is spirituality. It's just that western medical approaches pretend there is none, whilst a lot of other approaches pretend there is more than there is.


The New Yorker wrote a good piece on the use mushrooms and hallucinogens (which are similar to ayahuasca) having the ability to improve mental illness, depression, addiction, etc. They are testing this is troopers who return from battle http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/09/trip-treatment


It doesn't sound like your definition of spirituality and my definition match at all. IMO, spirituality is understanding the significance of you, all of us, and the universe; it's empowerment of self, and understanding that we're all essentially "gods", able to change reality as long as we put our mind, and actions to it.

The shaman by him/herself won't do anything. Neither would the Ayahuasca on it's own. It's having the right combination of both (setting), and your intention (set) that leads to an amazing experience.

The funny thing is, the experience itself is not the most important thing.. it's what you do after the ceremony with your life, and how you change your lifestyle to make you happy.

Obviously, if the shaman isn't giving you the real tea, mixes stuff in, doesn't take care of you, and such, I'd call it a straight up scam.


> Yeah, lets listen to superstitious people!

If you like, you can think of it as a kind of placebo effect. Which, you may be able to imagine, can get really strong under the influence of psychedelics.

Disclaimer: I've never used Ayahuasca, but I did organise a few shroom trips, where I paid a lot of attention to the "set & setting". Compared to other times, it makes a lot of difference.

Also see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Set_and_setting


There is only been one documented case of that ever occurring. I've taken Ayahuasca on several occasions and have only puked once which is very normal as it is part of the purging process. In fact, I prefer taking DMT orally (via Ayahuasca) as the experience is much easier to control even though it lasts longer compared to smoking pure DMT.


Citations please?


In the interest of fairness, I will share a few decent articles, then give my opinion:

http://www.cbc.ca/m/news/canada/jennifer-logan-s-death-in-pe...

https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/ayahuasca/ayahuasca_death.s...

http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/24/justice/ayahuasca-death-kyle-n...

The first article is not about ayahuasca, but provides some excellent advice for spiritual seekers. The second is the best article. The third is CNN, but it is likely the incident the OP is talking about.

Ayahuasca and salvia both completely scare me. They are not meant to be administered recreationally, and they can both bring about some states that can lead to dangerous behaviours or permanent mental illness. However, if administered correctly by a well trained shaman, each have therapeutic qualities.

The problem is too many people with western dollars read Carlos Castaneda and embark in search of a shaman. And, there are many unscrupulous people who will say anything to make a buck.


This article was rambling devoid of much substance. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement for the state of mind the product puts you in.


That's largely because the experiences are ineffable and simply can't be accurately related. It would be like trying to describe the color "red" to a blind person. At best you can try to make an analogy to something with which they are familiar. But they will never be able to imagine it in the way that they would consciously see it.


> ineffable

Reminds me of Shpongle's album Tales of the inexpressible--for me, I feel like they managed to capture the experience in music with an accuracy that verges on brilliance. Especially the text "people laugh, and cry at the same time, they get horny and holy at the same time, have you seen it?" hits right home to me (the crying bit reminds me of a particular strain of shrooms that just makes your eyes and nose very leaky at some point during the start of the trip, about the same time you also tend to giggle a lot--though I'm not sure if that's what Shpongle are referring to intentionally).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBQRkl7_K4M (btw just want to note that TwistedUK has all the tracks published on their own channel as well, but this link's the whole album)

But if you've never experienced a trip, I doubt this album will help you much in that regard :) But it's also absolutely beautiful music on its own.

Before my first trip I read loads of trip reports and stories, didn't tell me much about the real thing. But afterwards, I agree those stories were about as accurate as one can get with words. It's nothing paranormal, but it is really inexpressible :)


They should have sent a poet.


+1 for the Contact reference


I found the anecdote placed next the calvin and hobbes incredibly moving and relevant to my own life experience, albeit with some details different for myself.

Maybe it's a personal thing if your personal things line up, I personally am glad he wrote it, and am thankful for the state of mind that would cause him to share in that manner.

A picture of the part of the article I meant: https://www.dropbox.com/s/l5ozxsvmhq50wgv/Screenshot%202015-...


You simply missed the substance that is there. You're saying 'I didn't get it, therefore it is not good.' A little humility is good sometimes.


I know a guy whose personality changed completely, and not for the better, after he took ayahuasca. Be careful.


Hallucinogens aren't to be taken lightly. Personality, pre-existing conditions, latent psychiatric issues, and especially environment all play huge roles. They can affect not only your subjective experience, bust also how those experiences affect you sub-consciously.

The way I often explain tryptamines to people who've never tried them is that it's a bit like rooting your phone. It's great and important to learn in more depth how the machine works. And yeah, you can sideload some sweet apps, but you can also brick the thing.


I know a guy whose personality and health changed completely, and for the better, after he took Ayahuasca. Do your research, think for yourself.


I agree.


We all know what's said about correlation and causation.   Of course, it applies on the flip side of the argument as well.   My experience (including pharmahuasca, smoked dmt and 5meo-dmt, and so much more) is hallucinogens just hold up a magnifying glass to what's already there.


What do you consider "not for the better"?


He’s vocal and somewhat threatening about his newfound religious opinions about death. I mean, he’s probably happier, but at the cost of transplanting himself to an entirely new friend group and lifestyle. The person I knew is effectively dead.


From the first comment I read which was posted about 30 minutes prior to yours: >And when people say someone has been transformed for the worse after taking Ayahuasca what does that really mean? Worse for who? What's really good and bad?

Your description of how he changed seems objectively neutral; but disappointing for you because you can no longer identify with him.

>he’s probably happier, but at the cost of transplanting himself to an entirely new friend group and lifestyle Honestly I don't get how you can perceive that he's happier, but still see him as having changed "for the worse".


>Honestly I don't get how you can perceive that he's happier, but still see him as having changed "for the worse".

Is it is "for the better" for someone to be happy and ignorant/naive/delusional or to be of sound mind and unhappy? Not that this applies to the OP's post, but I've known people that have changed (by drugs or otherwise) where they've become happier, but also less mentally stable.


>Honestly I don't get how you can perceive that he's happier, but still see him as having changed "for the worse".

Well, from his perspective it's a worse change in personality, but from his friend's perspective he could be happier. So he's recognizing that his friend seems happier despite the change in personality he perceives to be bad.


I'm interested in the 'somewhat threatening' part, can you elaborate?


He made vague death threats to a friend of mine:

“I am the throne dragon holding your eternal death inside a citrine cristal, threatening to break the crystal open so that it engulfs you back into the shroud of darkness.”


In what context was that sentence spoken?


My friend and I were talking about cryopreservation. He chimed in insisting that my friend agree to give him his “eternal death”. When asked to stop, he made creepy comments to the effect that blocking him would not help.


Hmm, that's a shame.

Your friend has lost the plot as you suggest, or at least he didn't have the mental framework at the time in order to process what he was shown, there's still potential for that to change in the future.

If your friend acts up again, ask him what he learned from his ayahuasca experience. Give him time to tell you his answer. There is something he's almost bound to have either missed or misunderstood. I like the way Oliver Sacks puts it... “Every act of perception, is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.” http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/246355-every-act-of-percepti...

Enlightenment is realising your own part in the world you know, that the two are inseparable. By seeking truth you create a falsehood. You cannot obtain enlightenment by looking for it. The truth we can experience is shaped by the observer, our knowledge is born from our senses. The purpose of introspection is not to pinpoint 'the one truth' but instead understand truth from a broader perspective.

Perhaps that'll help, perhaps not, it's up to your friend to be receptive, and it's not something to worry yourself about anyway, but even so, best of luck.


I've taken Ayahuasca more than a handful of times and it's been the most therapeutic experiences of my entire life.

Not only was I able to recover some of my traumatic memories when I was a toddler, it's revealed so many things about myself that I've repressed, like sexuality, and didn't know.. and taught me how the universe may work. It's given me a direction in life, and my attitude towards others have significantly improved compared to before the experiences.


Some background on Ayahuasca: https://erowid.org/chemicals/ayahuasca/


Is http://ayaadvisor.org/ a reputable source in terms of reviews? If not, how could this problem be fixed?

Scraping and analyzing a few million reviews on tripadvisor a few months ago left me at a place where I don't trust any review site anymore. I've been thinking about solutions to this problem ever since and can't come up with anything that would reliably fix that problem.


I posted a link to a CBC article in which someone with the Institute of Shamanic Medicine (in BC, Canada) suggested that people contact her group and let them make an intro to a good shaman. I don't entirely trust the institute (they have a six month online course in shamanism), but that could be a good place to start.

http://www.cbc.ca/m/news/canada/jennifer-logan-s-death-in-pe...


Yeah, right. Narcotic delirium is the best source of life advices.


DMT is the gateway to reality. You don't know what reality is until you've consumed DMT. I highly recommend everyone in a stable moment in their lives (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, et cetera) give Ayahuasca a chance. It will change your life.


Kind of annoying to read honestly, but I agree with his message and experience. I grew up on the internet and don't know how to happily fit into the world as a young adult. Have had deep depression and social anxiety for more than a decade, found out I have ADHD, turned to psychedelics out of curiosity and to see if they helped at all. They helped me realize how unsatisfied I am, and the more I take the more unsatisfied I become. But drugs don't change your lifestyle on their own and it still takes a lot of courage to do that, especially when you have a secure tech job. I haven't made that leap yet.

Society is sick, and I don't think the internet is helping. Information overload distracts us from looking into the experiences around and within us; is addictive and keeps us from sleeping or thinking when bored, affecting mood and energy; encourages perpetually increasing productivity without even providing a reason to be productive in the first place (beyond arbitrary societal rules); keeps many of us inside and away from sunlight or fresh air; makes it too easy to jump between shallow interests rather than sticking with one deep interest; and hides us from other people while causing us to see them as phones or handles rather than faces and behaviors. That has been my experience, anyway. There are plenty of other problems caused by misuse of technology but they're well known on this forum.

I used to wonder how people kept themselves from going insane from boredom in pre-agricultural societies. But I realized all the days where I have been most content involved taking in little information and just existing for a while, wandering around in the woods, napping, introspecting, being with friends and family I have deep relationships with, etc. I spent one summer in college almost entirely without the internet while living in a small, close, rustic community. The days seemed to last forever and I had never been so happy or felt so connected to others as an adult. Being in one place for a long time with few other people forced us to develop deeper bonds than we would have outside of a community like that.

I'm not a fan of capitalism, but I think it's a self-correcting problem. Eventually technology WILL automate all of life's difficulties and we will transition back to a simpler and more comfortable way of life as humans. It will be a while until AI gets us there though. Until then we have stimulants, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety pills to try to hammer in those aspects of humanity that make it hard to fit into contemporary society.

P.S. If you're looking for answers to "life's big questions", here they are: We and everything else are deterministic emergent patterns stemming from the laws of thermodynamics (or whatever fundamental laws exist) and an initial state (or some reference state) of the universe. That's the only solid foundation I have found for my personal philosophical and spiritual inquiries, but I spent a LONG time looking for it. You can easily answer all the big questions with an understanding of that foundation. I have finally been able to move on to smaller but more complex and practical questions without feeling like I'm missing something.

P.P.S Always read the word 'spiritual' as 'relating to the subconscious workings of the mind'. A lot of people use the word 'spiritual' in a vague mystical way, but you can adjust for that with this definition. They may not know how the brain works, but they still have brains and their spiritual experiences can still be fascinating and full of insight.


Though I don't currently suffer from depression or social anxiety, I can relate to much of what you're saying. But, I also feel that small, controlled amounts of computer time can be incredibly educational and even expressive (through art, writing, and programming). The internet helps spread ideas like never before, and you probably wouldn't even have many of your ideas without it.

Like everything in life, there are pros and cons, and deciding how this technology fits into your life and community is important. Mindless adoption is the real problem.

I do wish modern society had more opportunities for close community though, especially for people who are non-religious or do not view their work as part of their identity.


I totally agree, small amounts are great and I wouldn't have any of my ideas if I hadn't spent so much time learning and connecting random facts via the internet. It's hard for me to limit myself, though. Since I'm a software developer I'm always online, and brain-sucking vortexes are two absentminded clicks away at any given time. That's a big problem I'm trying to fix right now.


If you don't mind me asking, determinism precludes free-will, so how does your philosophy reconcile our legal systems, which punish people for their choices? What would you propose in lieu of them (if anything)?


Unwavering compassion and rehabilitation. The way their existence unfolded meant they had no choice but to commit a crime. All the systems around them shaped them into doing that as much as they shaped me into the person typing this message. Design rehabilitation programs accordingly, there should be no trace of 'punishment'.

(Of course it would be nice if crime never happened in the first place but that would require a major reorganization of society, probably comes with the AI overhaul. Also, if laws exist to regulate society they should be designed with that instead of moral values and regularly tested/verified to ensure they are working properly.)

Edit: And there are those who think free will and determinism can coexist [1]. I haven't looked into those ideas yet, still trying to work it out myself.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism


Fair answer. :) And it makes sense. In a deterministic world, then a rehabilitation system instead of a 'justice' system is the only thing that makes sense.

And cheers for the link, it's given me some thinking material.


I have to say... that was an excellent post. I would have just voted it up and left it at that, but I thought it deserved a little extra. Very good take on the subject.


Thank you! That really means a lot to me, I don't get to discuss these ideas often.


I haven't had ayahuasca but I suppose it's the same as with any mind-altering drug: don't take it for recreational purposes but for spiritual purposes. Take it if you're willing to suffer through mental work in order to gain an expanded view of yourself and how you fit into the universe. If you want it because you want to have fun, escape stress or trauma, or fix something, then don't.


While I mostly agree, ayahuasca is particularly good at helping you (sometimes forcing you) to work through stress and trauma, and helping you fix things. It allows you to observe your memories (in vivid detail) as a third party and guides you through them. There are many accounts of rape survivors, veterans, and other PTSD sufferers finally being able to let go after taking ayahuasca.


The way it works on the memory is totally phenomenal. I liken it to clicking through folders on your computer; you jump in, explore in great detail a space that seems so familiar, then go deeper into other folders. When you're done you jump out and can't quite remember exactly what you saw, but the experience stays with you as though the work you needed to do had been done. In my minds eye I even had a crazy software-like environment playing out as I explored. Its so so wild.


I highly recommend the book _The Antipodes of the Mind: Charting the Phenomenology of the Ayahuasca Experience_ for those interested in serious scholarly research about Ayahuasca and its subjective effects.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Antipodes-Mind-Phenomenology-Exper...


There are no sure-fire shortcuts to happiness or enlightenment or whatever it is you're seeking. The Internet isn't "It" and Ayahuasca (or other hallucinogenics) aren't "It" either.

There is joy and life to be found in pretty much anything. If you're unhappy with your existence, there are other, more convenient ways of going about it than trying dangerous chemicals in dangerous environs.


> There are no sure-fire shortcuts to happiness

Cannabis Sativa/Indica blends have been known to artificially satiate your needs hierarchy, as explained by maslow, pretty well (except sometimes for hunger), allowing one a temporary shortcut to self-actualization.

I've gained massive insights into myself through the use of psilocybin, and I'm not alone. it isn't uncommon to hear someone compare one night with a breakthrough dose of psilocybin to a few years of therapy. These insights, and the resulting lifting of depression, lasted upwards of 3 months the first time it happened to me.

is it better to get to a happy/enlightened state without them? absolutely. but make no mistake, there are shortcuts. like every shortcut, however, make sure you watch your step while you're going through them in order to avoid pitfalls.


Like?


I've found it very helpful to listen to lectures by and practice behaviors taught by people who have made a habit of "trying dangerous chemicals in dangerous environs."

IOW, there are some people having the ayahuasca/DMT experience who are able to communicate it back to the rest of us well enough that we can make modest changes in our behavior and end up much happier.

IME, it's been learning to treat myself better, love myself and be nicer to other people. Eventually, if you look enough for it, you start to realize that you can't actually treat yourself different from others... (you can't actually break the golden rule!) So if you get into the habit of complimenting people, soothing them when they're upset, you'll find your own mental state vastly improving, because you're judging yourself the same as you judge others. It's strange and I don't understand it, but it's been working for me. And it sounds like "empathy," but empathy is a side effect of this process that I could still choose to practice separately or not.

My experience resonates with the OP. A lot of the world doesn't really matter much unless it's been infused with love. This sounds corny b/c advertisers have the jump on such phrases, but it's pretty much true. Unless someone is physically defective, you can psychoanalyze them to death, describe their problems a million ways, but if they simply start being nicer to other people (and there are some specific ways to do this, not just making cakes for everyone), they begin to heal. It also has to do with reframing pain and some other ideas. If anyone's interested, I can share some yt links...


Interesting tie back to common HN discussions on the Wikipedia page for ayahyasca[1]:

Someone successfully patented the plant at the core of ayahyasca (B. Caapi) in 1986. That's right, UPTO granted a trademark on a plant.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayahuasca#Legal_issues


For anybody else interested in learning more about DMT, the active ingredient in Ayahuasca, I'd recommend the excellent documentary "The Spirit Molecule": http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1340425/


That Calvin and Hobbes comic really hit me hard.




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