Having been raised in a traditional family in the Midwest, and even attending a private Christian high school, I spend most of my life avoiding drugs use. Sure, I’ve smoked pot to varying degrees over the past 10 years (me and, surprise, the rest of America), but anything harder than Cannabis came with a social stigma I chose to avoid. Besides, the reason many people take psychedelic drugs – to expand their consciousness – I wasn’t interested in. I had already been practicing meditation, Kundalini Yoga, remote viewing and NLP for years and had seen better results from these practices than I saw in my burn out friends who relied on drugs to expand their perspective. I didn’t need a spiritual “performance enhancer.”
But I had to know – what is it about these 100% organic fungi of psychoactive indole alkaloids that has garnered such vocal opposition? I considered the ancient lineage of psilocybin. Many ancient cultures used mushrooms in religious rites. Paintings found in the Sahara desert as early as 9,000 B.C. depict dancers wearing clothing decorated with psychedelic geometric patterns while holding mushrooms. Some theories, such as Terence Mckenna’s research into primitive human migration patterns, even suggest that psilocybin played a major role in our evolution as, no pun intended, higher primates. But that lineage has been erased from our collective memory. Why? Is there, as Graham Hancock suggested in his (now banned) TEDx talk, a “war on consciousness” prohibiting thoughts and behaviors that do not support the dominant capitalist paradigm? Is the suppression of psychedelics a result of ignorance or agenda? (I’ve always found it ironic that a culture fueled by synthetic, habit-forming pharmaceuticals would stereotype freethinking adults as irresponsible and reckless should they opt for natural, non-addictive plant life, whether for recreational or spiritual purposes.)
Full of questions and seeking answers, I took a shaky Brooklyn G train to Williamsburg to pick up the chocolate-coated fungi.
“Turn off your mind / relax and float downstream.”
[2:00 p.m.] Paid $50.00 for 1/8 oz. chocolate-coated psilocybin mushrooms.
[2:30 – 3:15 p.m.] Took the subway into Manhattan’s richest neighborhood, the Upper West Side. (It’s worth noting that under New York Penal Law section 220, criminal possession of a hallucinogenic substance is considered a 5th degree felony and is punishable of 6–12 months in jail and a $ 2,500 fine.) I got off the train at 77th St. outside the American Museum of Natural History and walked into Central Park.
[3:30 p.m.] Took 1/2 of the plant.
[3:30–3:45 p.m.] Felt nothing. Waited.
[3:45 p.m.] Took the other 1/2.
[4:00 – 6:00 p.m.] Woah.
Slowly but powerfully, the effect of the mushrooms came into focus. The first indication that my cognitive state was shifting was the added element of humor in everything I saw. I watched Japanese men with suits and briefcases hurry past me. I saw native New Yorker parents playing with small children in the park. Steep buildings made of metal and glass rose behind the tall trees in the distance. Quietly, trying to stay incognito in my altered state, I chuckled at it all. Everything seemed funny. Why? Because my mind was slowing down and the fast pace of this hustle-at-all-cost city suddenly seemed, well, silly.
“What a strange place this word is,” I thought. “Everybody is running around New York City on a mission they think is very serious and important. But rarely do we slow down to consider the meaning of our actions.” Stress and worry were spreading through the city like a virus. I could smell the fear. But for the moment, operating from a steady, non reactive mindset, I was immune to it. Rolling my eyes at the tight schedule kept by Moloch, I laughed at the absurdity of it all.
I decided to go for a walk. It was a beautiful day so the park was crowded. As I passed Shakespeare Garden along the 79th St. Transverse, I found myself engulfed in an international petri dish of humans. Chaos set in as the crowd buzzed with kinetic energy. I recognized at least six different languages being spoken by the likes of children, businessmen, elderly couples and tourist families. The diversity surrounding me – the grand experiment of New York City – was fascinating. But quickly it turned overwhelming, and the sunny day, beautiful as it was, took a dark turn.
There is a fundamental question, I think, at the heart of every philosophical debate. Is the Universe based on randomness or design? There are certainly elements of both, but which is the dominant infrastructure? For example, are genetic mutations in lifeforms truly random, or do they result from a specific impetus from a creature in relation to its environment? Walking alone through crowded Central Park, tripping on mushrooms, I felt the pattern of design breaking down. The hustle and bustle no longer seemed funny; it was all encompassing and unavoidable. I looked ahead to a seemingly never-ending path in front of me. There was nowhere, it seemed, to rest. In a moment I understood, for the first time in my life, my greatest fear – that my journey in life would never end, and I would be looking endlessly for an answer I would never find, doomed to search, search, search in vain. I was scared. “The Universe is random,” I thought. “There is no pattern or design governing this mess. I’m on my own out here, lost in the woods.” My mood had shifted quickly. Things got heavy.
I needed to sit down.
As fast as I could, I escaped the 79th St. Transverse and sat under a tree. Reaching into my backpack, I pulled out a water bottle. I took a sip. I felt fine.
No, I felt better than fine. I felt energized. The randomness I had perceived started to arrange itself into a clean narrative. Chaos swirled into synchronicity. The paths of the people around me, the placement of trees, and even the migration pattern of birds, started to make intuitive sense. The fearful feelings of randomness had converged into a complex pattern of energy that aligned both macro and micro elements into one elegant stroke of life. This is when the real experience began. It sounds crazy (trust me, I know) but over the course of the next two hours I experienced a mini-movie of my life. I understood who I was, where I am going, why I am alive, why I had been afraid minutes before and why that fear (why all fear) is an illusion, a misunderstanding of reality.
At that moment one thing was clear. Nothing could happen to me that I did not allow into my experience. I knew this to be true so I no longer felt any fear or worry. I realized that this was a microcosm of a Universal truth. Nothing can happen to me that I do not allow into my experience. The same is true of you. Nothing can happen to you that you do not allow into your experience. I breathed a sigh of relief and took another sip of water. It was the best water I had ever tasted.
[6:00 – 6:15 p.m.] I sat in silence under a tree, doing my best Buddha imitation, honoring the moment. Birds circled and darted west into the city. I sat in meditation, enjoying an alignment with source energy that was effortless. I felt gratitude for everything in my life – the good, bad and ugly. While sitting, two truths echoed in my mind and shook me to my core. I had no choice but to write them down:
- Life is not something that happens outside of us; it is a story we create.
- Be real with yourself and the world around you. Only create the story you want to experience.
[6:15 p.m.] Stood up and walked back to 77th St. to catch a downtown train to Brooklyn.
“If we as adults are not allowed to make sovereign decisions about what to experience with our own consciousness, while doing no harm to others, including the decision to use responsibly ancient and sacred visionary plants, then we cannot claim to be free.” – Graham Hancock
I am not advocating drug use.
I am advocating something more important – an independent and honest examination of truth. Psychedelic drugs are certainly not the answer, but they could be part of the puzzle. At very least they should be treated with a scientific and medical curiosity (University of California psychiatry professor Charles Grob’s psilocybin treatment for anxiety in Cancer patients is a good place to start). When we see life through a narrow belief system (reinforced by media, religion, government, and even co-workers and family) we experience a narrow sliver of the potential available to us.
Let’s not settle. The future will exist in proportion to our imagination today. Understand that you have a direct relationship with the source of limitless creative potential. You don’t need the media, celebrities, politicians or drugs. Imagine more; worry less. Sit down. Take a drink of water. You’ll be fine.