DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor’s Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences
This threshold to which Philip referred is what we now call the “psychedelic threshold” for DMT. You cross it when there is a separation of consciousness from the body and psychedelic effects completely replace the mind’s normal contents. There is a sense of wonder or awe, and a feeling of undeniable certainty in the reality of the experience. This clearly had not occurred with 1 mg/kg intramuscular DMT.
That is, climbing a ladder to view a scene of unimaginable shock value might throw one into a delirious or confused state, but it is not the ladder but rather the view the ladder provides that is responsible.
Was what Nils and Philip saw so bizarre, so incomprehensible, so utterly aberrant that their minds simply turned off to spare them from seeing clearly what was there? Maybe it was better to forget.
In 1938 the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann was working with ergot, a rye fungus, in the natural products division of Sandoz Laboratories, even then a major pharmaceutical company. He hoped to find a drug that might help stop uterine bleeding after childbirth.
One of these ergot-based compounds was LSD-25, or lysergic acid diethylamide. It had little effect on the uterus of laboratory animals, and Hofmann shelved it. Five years later, “a curious presentiment” called Hofmann back to examine LSD, and he accidentally discovered its powerful psychedelic properties.
At the same time, scientists showed that LSD and serotonin molecules looked very much like each other. They then demonstrated that LSD and serotonin competed for many of the same brain sites. In some experimental situations, LSD blocked the effects of serotonin; in others, the psychedelic drug mimicked serotonin’s effects.
it soon became apparent that the experiences described by volunteers under deep psychedelic influences were strikingly similar to those of practitioners of traditional Eastern meditation. The overlap between consciousness alteration induced by psychedelic drugs and that induced by meditation attracted the attention of writers outside of academics, including the English novelist and religious philosopher Aldous Huxley.
A spirit molecule also leads us to spiritual realms. These worlds usually are invisible to us and our instruments and are not accessible using our normal state of consciousness. However, just as likely as the theory that these worlds exist “only in our minds” is that they are, in reality, “outside” of us and freestanding. If we simply change our brain’s receiving abilities, we can apprehend and interact with them.
Western and Eastern mystical traditions are replete with descriptions of a blinding bright white light accompanying deep spiritual realization. This “enlightenment” usually is the result of a progression of consciousness through various levels of spiritual, psychological, and ethical development. All mystical traditions describe the process and its stages.
Descartes also had a deeply spiritual side. He believed that thinking, or the human imagination, was basically a spiritual phenomenon made possible by our divine nature, what we share with God. That is, our thoughts are expressions of, and proof for the existence of, our soul. Descartes believed that the pineal gland played an essential role in the expression of the soul:
The human pineal gland becomes visible in the developing fetus at seven weeks, or forty-nine days, after conception. Of great interest to me was finding out that this is nearly exactly the moment in which one can clearly see the first indication of male or female gender. Before this time, the sex of the fetus is indeterminate, or unknown. Thus, the pineal gland and the most important differentiation of humanity, male and female gender, appear at the same time.
The human pineal gland is not actually part of the brain. Rather, it develops from specialized tissues in the roof of the fetal mouth. From there it migrates to the center of the brain, where it seems to have the best seat in the house.
It’s fascinating to note that many religious disciplines believe celibacy is necessary to attain the highest spiritual states. The explanation for this idea is that sexual activity diverts the energy required for full spiritual development. One chooses either the life of the flesh or the life of the spirit. Nevertheless, celibacy isn’t consistent with reproduction, and there is a conflict between the continuity of the species and the antisexual attainment of reaching the greatest flowering of the individual spirit.
Psychedelic features do emerge at orgasm. In fact, the highly pleasurable effects of sexually activated DMT production may be one of the major factors motivating reproductive behavior.
the Tibetan Buddhist Book of the Dead teaches that it takes forty-nine days for the soul of the recently dead to “reincarnate.”
It takes forty-nine days from conception for the first signs of the human pineal to appear. Forty-nine days is also when the fetus differentiates into male or female gender. Thus the soul’s rebirth, the pineal, and the sexual organs all require forty-nine days before they manifest.
Any time we find ourselves stuck in life, it usually is because we can’t connect with the feelings that come with that situation.
unprocessed trauma seeps out into our lives. We may find ourselves in situations that produce ghosts or shadows of those trauma-based feelings over and over again. It is as if we feel forced to repeat certain types of relationships that bring out feelings we couldn’t master or control the first time,
I should feel blessed to have form, to live. It went on forever. There were blue hands, fluttering things, then thousands of things flew out of these blue hands. I thought “What a show!” It was really healing.
It was part of me, not separate. It was a reassurance that this wouldn’t go away, that it was mine, that a connection had been made. The whole thing was really crucial to my spiritual development.
That is, those who have had an NDE do not rush off to suicide. Rather, they reside in the knowledge that there is “life after death,” and that transition loses its sting. Thus, they are able to live life more fully, because the fear of death that drives so many to distraction is now so much less.
MDMA is what I like to call a “love and light” drug, one that accentuates the positive and minimizes the negative. If only life were so simple.
What the volunteers brought to their sessions, and the fuller context of their lives, was as important, if not more so, than the drug itself in determining how they dealt with their experiences. Without a suitable framework—spiritual, psychotherapeutic, or otherwise—in which to process their journeys with DMT, their sessions became just another series of intense psychedelic encounters.
There generally is little support for the incorporation of spirituality, with its nonmaterial and therefore non-measurable factors, into clinical research’s fold. We will see in this chapter that neither is organized religion, no matter how mystically inclined, open-minded and secure enough to seriously consider the spiritual potential of clinical research with psychedelics.
my understanding of Buddhism pervaded nearly every aspect of working with the spirit molecule.
“On the other hand, dedicated Buddhist practitioners with little success in their meditation, but well along in moral and intellectual development, might benefit from a carefully timed, prepared, supervised, and followed-up psychedelic session to accelerate their practice. Psychedelics, if anything, provide a view.
There was little I could do. Holiness had won out over truth. This particular brand of Buddhism was no different from any other organization whose survival depended upon a uniformly accepted platform of ideas. Only they could determine what were permissible questions, and what were not.
DMT is a spirit molecule, just as silicon is a chip molecule. Rather than just causing the mind to feel as if it were leaving the body, DMT release is the means by which the mind senses the departure of the life-force from it, the content of consciousness as it leaves the body.
Over a cup of tea one summer day at his house in Switzerland, Albert Hofmann, who discovered LSD, shared with me his fondness for low doses of this drug. He and others have described a quickening of thought, brightening of perception, and elevation in mood that contribute to subtle but profound effects on mental function. Side effects are nearly nonexistent.
The implications of our research with DMT may make work with the dying perhaps even more compelling. If DMT is released at the time of death, then administering it to the living would provide a “dry run” for the real thing. The letting go, the experience of consciousness existing independently of the body, encountering a loving and powerful presence in that state—all seemed to provide a powerful intimation of what happens as the body drops away.
(I did my best to recruit research subjects with a background in meditation. They seemed more able to deal with the initial anxiety of the DMT rush and also helped me compare meditation and drug-induced states of mind.)
The empty space in the room began sparkling. Large crystalline prisms appeared, a wild display of lights shooting off into all directions. More complicated and beautiful geometric patterns overlaid my visual field. My body felt cool and light. Was I about to faint? I closed my eyes, sighing, and thought, “My God!”
I heard absolutely nothing, but my mind was completely full of some sort of sound, like the aftereffects of a large ringing bell. I didn’t know if I was breathing. I trusted things would be fine and let go of that thought before panic could set in.
The ecstasy was so great that my body could not contain it. Almost out of necessity, I felt my awareness rush out, leaving its physical container behind.
Out of the raging colossal waterfall of flaming color expanding into my visual field, the roaring silence, and an unspeakable joy, they stepped, or rather, emerged. Welcoming, curious, they almost sang, “Now do you see?” I felt their question pour into and fill every possible corner of my awareness: “Now do you see? Now do you see?” Trilling, sing-song voices, exerting enormous pressure on my mind. There was no need to answer. It was as if someone had asked me, on a blazing cloudless midsummer afternoon in the New Mexico desert, “Is it bright? Is it bright?” The question and the answer are identical. Added to my “Yes!” was a deeper “Of course!” And finally, an intensely poignant “At last!” I “stared” with my inner eyes, and we appraised each other. As they disappeared back into the torrent of color, now beginning to fade, I could hear some sounds in the room. I knew I was coming down. I felt my breathing, my face, my fingers, and I was dimly aware of an encroaching darkness. Were there flames, smoke, dust, battling troops, enormous suffering? I opened my eyes.