Extract from The Psychedelic Master
I believe that used responsibly and in a mature way, the entheogens mediate access to the numinous dimensions of existence, have a great healing and transformative potential, and represent a very important tool for spiritual development.
– Stanislav Grof
To know when to take a break so as not to hurt oneself or lose one’s footing is an art every psychonaut worthy of the name must master. This applies to drug use like anything else. Experimentation demands intuition, vigilance, the capacity to listen and responsibility. There is no point in traumatizing oneself to the point of not being able to continue experimenting. Alcoholics who will never drink another drop in their lives, or acidheads who end up committed, deprive themselves of healthy pleasures because they do not know when to stop. Because we want to keep enjoying a glass of wine, or partake in psychedelic ceremonies with friends, our research must be invested with consciousness, especially in a potentially dangerous area like entheogens. When I hear the voice telling me to stop, I respect this natural clock that sets the pace to my experiments; I moderate my impulses, study them and scan them to better understand. I become aware of my every step and lie in wait like a leopard.
Psychedelics are allies and teachers that rarely become crutches because they show us reality as it is and teach us not to need them. They warn us if the manner in which they are used, or the frequency of use, is not beneficial. Those who hear the message are smart… the others are kamikazes who will ultimately end up in the psych ward or worse: floating in the air like a helium balloon attached to a thin string that threatens to break at any moment.
The twentieth century saw the creation of a wide variety of psychedelics and their numbers are growing exponentially. We are activating a new component of the program etched in our DNA to found a new civilization. Everything is moving so fast… but it’s not a reason to flame out. It is easy to find just about any drug and consume doses to which few humans have been exposed to date.
The example of tobacco is very evocative. Indigenous cultures consider it a sacred plant and use it in psychedelic ceremonies to ensure the link between the spirit world and ours. Compulsive smokers have no idea, because the quality of the experience matters little to them as they nervously smoke without paying attention to their frenetic autodestructive gestures. Those who want to prevent us from enjoying tobacco, or any other substance for that matter, are usually those who, because of their own primitive nature, do not know when to stop. They believe, by projecting, that we are like them and make it their duty to impose their weakness. Moreover, governments fatten their coffers by maintaining that smoking kills and causes cancer, when in fact it is the hundred-and-one chemicals added to tobacco that cause the real damage. Have humans, who have smoked tobacco since time immemorial, always died of cancer as much as they do today? Fortunately, many have opened their eyes and cigarettes containing pure additive-free tobacco are readily available. And none too soon. I sometimes buy a pack and smoke a cigarette or two a day, then stop for a few months. I will never be a compulsive smoker. I do not see why I would make myself sick of smoking to the point of never smoking again. I love smoking in my backyard in summer, with friends or when I write. I do not want to deprive myself of these small pleasures that inspire me. I apply the same philosophy to psychedelics.
Today, the recklessness of drug users is often proportional to their ignorance. In contrast, Shamans receive an advanced and rigorous education passed down from generation to generation, and that ancestral knowledge is a fundamental tool that young psychonauts definitely do not possess. Today, anyone can take a super-dose of drugs, and many of these kamikazes go too far, too fast. The return trip awaiting them is via the stomach pump at the hospital, one of the worst places to have a psychedelic experience.
The sixties saw an explosion of spirituality linked to the arrival of LSD-25 on the black market, in universities and in underground culture. The massive doses hippies took in the sixties were unparalleled in the history of entheogens. The boundaries of the invisible world were pushed back dramatically and many left their sanity over there for want of relevant information on the subject. Many of the acidheads who tripped during the Woodstock era sought other ways to reach ecstasy once prohibition ran amok. Some turned to the great spiritual masters of India once they learned that though psychedelics offered good access to subtle realms, they did not come with an operator’s manual or lifeline. This created an osmosis between East and West, each possessing answers for the other.
I have never had a bad trip and never had to work with a therapist or shaman, because I already had the knowledge and wisdom to maneuver through psychedelic states. My exceptional intellectual velocity allows me to understand what is happening to me and this helps me convey the sublime beauty which I experience in my visionary trances. I have a passionate love for art and that is enough to keep me grounded in this reality. I know how to go too far and come back with new ideas that I use later in my social life and my art. I have never had intractable problems, and my happiness has always guided me like a light and put friends of my essence on my path. But I realize now how different I am from the majority, and I am happy to have chosen to venture out with unfailing trust in my success; as I have in me all the knowledge and skills I need to undertake psychedelic work.
A possible danger with psychedelics is forcing the process without securing a safety net. It is beneficial to accept the truth when it stares us in the face, but this is not always easy. Each experience generates in us a specific process which is relatively easy to come by – the difficulty lies in our ability to integrate the experience in everyday life. It is not always wise to share our experiences with the non-initiated, as they might think us crazy and reduce our experience to something artificial because we used a drug.
Becoming acquainted with the great psychedelic thinkers helps when exploring solo. I include here remarkable beings like Timothy Leary, Terence McKenna, John Lilly, Robert A. Wilson, Stanislav Grof and Albert Hoffman. I took the time to read the most of their complete works (not just their early books). This allowed me to better understand what I was getting myself into, imagine the consequences of my actions and integrate my experiences by drawing parallels with theirs.
It is best to give the same consideration to psychedelic exploration that one might give an expedition in the mountains or in space. Psychedelics give access quickly and without preparation to extraordinary states of consciousness which yogis attain only after many years of working with a master. But true adventure always includes an element of the unknown and danger. This type of exploration is therefore reserved only for brave and determined heroes who set out to conquer the absolute and return with treasures of knowledge and experiences to share with the community. Frivolity has no place when undertaking travel in the psyche because of the very real risk of leaving our sanity behind.
Like dreams, psychedelic experience is a communication from subtle levels. It’s like punching a mass of Jello. Long after the experience, the psyche readjusts the best it can to the lingering vibrations, but if the individual did not study the field or work with a teacher, he can find the reality odd indeed for an indefinite period. Extra-sensory perceptions like telepathy, and sensitivity to electricity, energy, etc., become heightened. Each revelation comes with a responsibility.
Wisdom lies in our ability to integrate into our daily life the visions received during our psychedelic experiences. Imagine intuitively knowing that someone close is going to die or wants to hurt you. These are situations that arise when reaching a high level of harmony and clarity. As soon as my visions surpassed conventional understanding, I began to meditate, to lead group discussions and to seriously study psychedelics and all related topics that were at last intelligible: religion, consciousness, metaphysics, philosophy, spirituality, etc. I quickly realized that I had to stay balanced and surround myself with others who had the same types of experience. When my consciousness awoke, everything became intelligible, as crazy as it may have seemed to me at times. By staying open, I allowed books, people and situations to teach me what I needed to learn – by fostering synchronicities, by being accessible, I allowed questions and their answers to reach me simultaneously.
As long as I am open and attentive, information is easy to find. I see it in myself. When I was no longer able to find answers through the channels I had been given, I met André Moreau and I opened myself to him. I felt deep within me that I would finally learn to live permanently in an awakened state. I trembled when I shook his hand and stammered when I spoke to him – I knew I had arrived. I was mature enough to meet a real teacher. His teachings far exceed that of the psychedelics, but it is through them that I met him. My psychedelic experiences make him intelligible to me. He claims to have had more than 200 experiences himself with the Flesh of God over the past decade.
The experience itself must be carefully considered, naturally, but it is what follows that requires our full attention, because the real challenge lies there. When synchronicities jostle one another and we lose our footing in a chaotic state of harnessed madness, when powers begin to manifest which allow us to read people’s thoughts, to see the future and perceive other forms of existence, we must know how to react with wisdom and discernment. I became very sensitive to telepathic communications, my visions became clearer and more vibrant. Clairvoyance and lucid dreams have become very present in my life. Without a solid philosophical foundation and the accounts of other psychonauts, I might have thought I was going crazy. I can now say, however, like Dalí, that the only difference between me and a madman is that I’m not crazy.
Those who feel the call should dive in without restraint, should let themselves be, and find the truth through entheogens. All valid research has a good dose of obsession that should not be confused with addiction. I went very far, I tested extensively, but I have always remained attentive, my ears open, present to myself. Excess breaks the routine of our mental programs and returns us to life by putting it in danger. But there is in us an alarm system to warn us when real jeopardy lurks. This system is very effective but you have to be attentive, because it is through it that you intuitively know when you have gone too far and when you have to stop to be able to return. A successful experience implies both letting go and having hyperbolic confidence. I am never alone when I feel harmonious; I just have to follow the rhythm of my being, and if I am about to sink, a friendly hand reaches out to me, advice is given, an idea springs forth.
Psychonauts are explorers, and this entails knowing how far you can go and still have enough strength to return safe and sound; to feel when it is not the right time and when to say no; and to be aware that the experience you are about to have is going to change you. You have to be your own best friend and with that, know that you have friends waiting throughout the visible and the invisible.
Extract from The Psychedelic Master