My last post was all about knowing my ‘intention’ and the virtue of being more trusting and accepting. I now see these traits, however, not as ‘intentions’ but rather doors I need to open to have a richer, more meaningful experience with the psychoactive Amazonian sacrament, Ayahuasca. My ‘intention’ is to feel connected to all life forms, to cut through my ego and the illusion of self-hood. I want to believe in something greater than myself. I want to experience oneness or at least a lack of separation with the cosmos.
Although this intention is consistent with my beliefs, I do not have faith in this belief. I need to experience oneness to truly believe in oneness. I believe that there must be a greater meaning to life. Yet I do not know that there is any meaning to life. These beliefs are fragile yet I am trying to build upon them in order to adopt a healthy outlook for this stage of my life, something that will serve me as my body and mind slowly fail. I’m hoping that my Ayahuasca experience will guide during my dying as well as my death.
I need to reframe my view towards the cultural taboos of death and dying in order to find my own path to a full life, no matter its form or function. Otherwise my options will inevitable become a simple choice between a vegetative state and an assisted suicide. In either case these choices are a retreat from life and, at this early point, I would rather find a way to embrace my death and the modification of my life form. I believe that I can accept, perhaps even embrace, the requisite pain and suffering if I felt, truly felt, part of something greater.
Psychological preparation, to me, means to reframe my reality by emphasizing the positive and thereby minimizing the negative.
It is easy for me to get absorbed by a negative perspective since I tend to worry about even subtleties in a conversation or a smile. In a post mortem of an exchange, I can become consumed by something I should have said or done. It becomes a destructive habit when I cannot alter its course. A positive perspective is not as reflexive, for me, and requires an effort to continually reinstate but once I do then it feels relatively natural to wholeheartedly embrace.
So as I prepare for my upcoming Ayahuasca experience I will attempt to reframe my medical concerns with a more positive outlook. For my first stop on my psychedelic journey I don’t want my medical condition to be a source of anxiety. I believe that any undo stress would undermine the efficacy of the Ayahuasca ceremony. I believe that the staff of Soul Quest will provide me with all the care I need to feel at ease. They are prepared to handle medical emergencies and their location is not far from emergency care. I believe that the confidence that I now have will allow me to let go of my fears and trust in the process.
This doesn’t mean that I will diminish the importance of my medical concerns but, rather, place their value on a lower shelf in my mind’s eye. This is one way for me to let go. Another way is to appreciate the positive advantages that I already have that will allow me to trust by embracing such assets. The first blessing is the comfort and safety I feel from the Soul Quest Ayahuasca Church of Mother Earth, which offers a morality beyond Catholicism, perhaps beyond Religion.
It also might be also be easier for me to let go because I am now retired and live a solitary life in a remote area.
As a child I was never aware of a world outside of cities. Now, life in a remote area surrounded my nature is my home. I am treated by the wonder of each day, each season as life struggles to survive and proliferate. I morn the lost of a tree and the death of a bird. I celebrate the arrival of bees and hornets and remain hopeful that bats will also return one day. I immerse myself in the forest to gain not only an appreciation of nature but also more compassion to all life and all forms of life.
I have already been detached from the centripetal forces that harness the collective prowess of modern society. I have moved away from family and friends and the community that once nurtured me. Although this is a double edged sword, I relish the benefit of no longer needing to bear the weigh of the expectations of others. I have been liberated by qualifying as unimportant to those that once superficially cultivated my interest and involvement. It was almost emancipating to discover how few true friends I had.
In preparation for the Ayahuasca ceremony I have disengaged from the internet and the news cycle. This simple choice has allowed me to focus more on myself and my life. I know that news organizations increase viewership and therefore profits from bad news, especially breaking news that is live. I still believe that mankind can no longer reverse climate change or the forces of the fossil fuel industries but, now, I am reframing my perspective by choosing to look at the problem from another perspective. I now realize that besides changing myself there is nothing I can do to alter the destructive course of mankind.
My personal transcendence is important to me but societal transcendence should also be I’m portent to everyone.
The use of Ayahuasca by westerners and by western drug companies raises concerns of cultural appropriation and corporate gold digging. Western medicine and practitioners rarely acknowledge native rights after centuries of native sacramental use. This traditional medicine is now being exploited in a similar way that early explorers exploited advanced native civilizations that they plundered for the pursuit of wealth. A western sense of entitlement has dogged native people ever since wooden ships allowed Europeans unfettered access.
Ayahuasca is known for the treatment of chronic low grade inflammation and oxidative stress, which is believed to be involved in the development of ADHD, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, heart failure, autism and many more debilitative diseases and conditions. Is it any wonder why Soul Quest and the the indigenous people of the Amazon Basin have embraced this traditional spiritual medicine?
I have worked with native communities in Canada and know the power of native plant knowledge from the seemingly miraculous healing treatment of a Rastafarian who lived off the land, deep in the tropical rainforest. I know that my upcoming ceremony will not be given in a traditional manner by an authentic Shaman but I also know that many Shamans are just trying to capitalize on the Western surge in demand. I will support the work of Soul Quest as I believe that they, at least, have embraced the native spirit and adopted the right path for true enlightenment. I am grateful for the Ayahuasca plant and believe each user should give it the respect it deserves.
Even the notable Dennis McKenna, an ethnopharmacologist, doesn’t believe native peoples “own” the exploitation rights to Ayahuasca. While this could be technically true it doesn’t feel right to me since the Western concept of owning nature is more about the legality of exploration than morality. When McKenna adds that “ayahuasca knowledge is a piece of human patrimony that has been stewarded for a very long time by native peoples’ it suggests that native people will likely continue to be pushed aside from their heritage and share of commercial profits.
The discovery of Ayahuasca required the combining and preparing of two separate plants: Banisteriopsis caapi vine, a MAO inhibitor, and the leaves of either Psychotria viridis (chacruna) or Diplopterys cabrerana (chagropanga or chaliponga). I’m not sure how long it would take an ethnopharmacologist to make tea from combining these plants and to create the understanding of their potency that we have today. It has taken native people centuries. The Amazon basin and all its life forms is well know to the native tribes but likely will appear much like a jungle to most Westerners. Having Ayahuasca commercially exploited seems wrong unless natives also benefit from an acceptable share of the profits.
The Church where I will soon take Ayahuasca offers a master class in Ethics for our shared World by acknowledging our failure as a people to demonstrate openness and connection to all life.
I joined this American Church not simply because they offer an Ayahuasca ceremony but also because their Doctrine speaks to me. I believe that it is transformative. It talks about Mother Earth in a loving and compassionate manner, the rights of all life forms and the responsibility we all have to live in harmony. This, for me, is more than a breath of fresh air in an already polluted world. It is a beacon of light at a time of darkness when the rampant environmental destruction is poisoning all of us.
It is also a different way to think about all life on Earth. The Ayahuasca plant is part of nature. Despite differences between human and non-human life, if all life is connected then we both are part of the cosmos and are nurtured by the same sun, rain, and soil. My empathy for plants and other life forms increases the more I step down from the self-proclaimed human perch of superiority.
Our species has been socialized to consider ourselves a higher life form despite the fact that we are in awe of the power and properties of this plant. Yet many will still judge harshly any suggestion that the Ayahuasca plant could possible consider itself a higher life form given our species increasing demands and dependence after centuries of ceremonial use.
Soul Quest’s manifesto is central to fostering of a healthy, respectful world where all life has its own rights, like we do. Where other life forms have importance onto themselves and are valued, not tortured and destroyed in the service of mankind. We might be able to stop the environmental disaster our species has created but then, if we hope to maintain the balance, we need to transcend our animal instincts and embrace our higher consciousness.
It feels like I am making progress
Reframing my reality helps me to stay positive. This is something I have always done but with mixed success. When I also add tuning out of the news, which allows me to see a bigger picture, and letting go of my medical concerns I believe that I will be more than ready to accept the energy and guidance of Ayahuasca.
Whenever I fail to let go or trust I am reminded that I am far from perfect and still have a long way to go. Nonetheless, it feels like I am making progress. Soon I will know for sure. Soon I will need to trust in others and the guidance of the plant medicine. My well-being is out of my control and I will need to go with the flow or else the experience will be especially difficult for me. I have no choice but to surrender.
I believe that I am in a good place. Now I am more consciously aware of my actions and my inactions. I immediately sense when I do something happens or I fail to do something which changes the balance that I seek for nature. Respecting all life forms give me a different way to think about native rights and life on Earth. Respecting myself gives me a way to transcend into whatever I need to become when Ayahuasca takes me higher.