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Brain Chems (DMT/psychedelics) vs Spiritual Vessels

Discussion in 'Religion, Beliefs and Spirituality' started by DigitalDuality, Jul 12, 2004.

  1. After reading up some on the Book of the Dead, various looks into Buddhism, meditation, Alex Grey's theories of art, Rich Strassman's "DMT the Spirit Molecule".. I've actually gotten interested in the theory, that alot of the enlightened (or people that have had extreme mystical experiences known throughout the world (Lao Tzu, Jesus, Buddha, various shamans, maybe those that experience NDE --near death experiences, practinioners of various forms of meditation regardless of religion, Confucious (sp?), some artists, etc..) were able to touch a piece of a being/force. Christians refer to this as the Christian god/Holy Spirit/Finding Jesus, others see it as enlightenment, some see it as communicating with the dead or natural spirits.or a connection to the karmatic ebb and flow of the world.

    It might also be equally plausible that these people merely did something, or had something happen bio-chemically that produces the realizations that they do but not in reality.. that it may merely exist in our minds. Normally resulting in ego-loss. Also very common in psychonauts. Whether they do this with psychedelics, meditation reaching the 7th chakra, prayer, shamanic drumming,..they may all produce the same or similar effect (but unique to the individual and their environmental conditioning).

    It has been recorded many times over that the state people get in while praying to Jesus, or the feeling of intricate and symbolic stained glass windows of beautiful churches, meditating, or being "hypnotized" by a genius artwork.. such as Van Gogh and Monet.. are all strickingly similar. Though an average person viewing from exterior perspective might see grave differences.

    Rick Straussman, MD theorizes that the pineal gland in our brains produces the psychedelic found in many animals and plants: DMT. And that this entheogenic tryptamine compound may be responsible for our spiritual states. Including those that NDE, religion, experiencing or creating “high” art, psychedelic drugs, and meditation can produce. This very chemical compound may also be the factor that results in the euphoria we experience exterior to our nerve endings from orgasm. He has dubbed this drug the "Spirit Molecule".

    Studies have shown that those who fully experience NDE, religion, "high" art, psychedelic, and meditation normally produce a form of ego-loss as shown that Jesus Christ displayed himself. The even funnier thing is, that the pineal gland has been known to Hindus and Buddhists as the highest level chakra to reach during meditation. This is years before any medical discovery was made concerning the organ. It was originally thought to be the brain's "appendix".. useless.

    DMT's effects.. are much more realistic than a dream and typical dream analysis doesn't work in the least when attempting to analyze meditative visions, discussions with god, or just psychedelic trips. Does this chemical merely produce hallucinations? Does it allow our minds (even if naturally produced) to connect to other plains of existence? Does it allow us to connect with god.. therefore either being enlightened in the eastern sense, or "finding Jesus" in the Christian sense? I dunno. It's just theory. But when you take in environmental conditioning, you can easily see the results this naturally occurring psychedelic in our brain might produce.

    But please don't write this off as some wacked out theory. I don't think you can deny a bio-chemical possibility for the states we reach. The fact that psychedelics are used to further aid their meditative/prayer or shamanic visions and connection, and still are in tribal cultures throughout the world.. in Australia, with Native Americans, Amazonian tribes, may possibly be a clue that these cultures figured out long before the western world, a way to connect to a spirit world. A way that was already possible naturally without drugs, but these chemicals might actually stimulate the serotonin receptors the pineal gland sends DMT to. And each culture, gave it's own interpreatation, accompanied with stories to go along.

    I'm not going to say there's a heaven. A spirit world. A nirvana to find within ourself. I'm not going to say it's merely a chemical reaction, or a certain neuro-chemical process giving oppurtunity to a "radio signal. But there is something going on there, and there is theories and counter theories, and i think both are just as possible.

    But whatever this something is, i do think there's a high possibility that it relates to naturally produced DMT from the pineal gland (Third Eye). And i think this is something that .. Jesus, Buddha, shamans (i'm not going to keep listing everytime) have experienced. Each with their own interpretation.

    Is it a collective consciousness they are experiencing? A christian heave? A Nirvana from within? I am in a position to say, and i don't think anyone else is qualified to make that distinction either.

    I'll step up and say that even reading Strassman's Spirit Molecule i listed that focuses on the DMT study, in mainly theory.. and not very well supported.

    But his explination of the pineal gland was half decent, but it remains a mystery to me in a lot of way, guess i have more reading to do.

    The reason he thought this gland might have something to do with psychedelics (DMT in particular) was due to the fact that serotonin is there in the highest abundance than anywhere in the body. The pineal, he claims, has the ability to convert serotonin to tryptamine.. the basic buiding block for serotonin, melatonin, DMT, LSD, psilocybin, psilocin, and 5-MeO-DMT. I think the only widely used psychedelic that doesn't have a tryptamine core is mescaline.

    Strassman's study (not that i'm defending it) began with a melatonin study, way before it ever touched on psychdelics. It doesn't go into extreme depth of that study though.

    The reason i don't bother defending it, is b/c even I.. someone who i wouldn't consider on par with most doctor's in the least, saw extreme flaws in his study. He only used previous users of psychedelics for his study. He set himself up in alot of ways to get feedback he wanted. He claimed he didn't want a person unfamiliar with psychedelics, b/c it the disorientation might cause adverse effects vs though who have used them or do regularly. Even with the group he got some interesting feedback..and there's some striking similarities between volunteer's experiences.. but in a way.. it's like going to punk rock concert and asking the majority of the poeple there, their feelings about anarchism.. you're gonna find what you want. But that aside, it was an interesting read..

    Here's some exerts from a small, but in depth review that explains it a little bit better than my scatter brained thoughts..

    I guess the question would have to be posed..why does the "security system" of our brains readily welcome DMT so easily? And why do we not develop a tolerance to it? And what are the signifigant differences between DMT breaking that blood-brain barrier ..and other substances?

    and thanks for the reading suggestions on your earlier post :)

    And from wikipedia

    Many mystical experiences.. and psychedelic ones for that matter, get described in terms of “bright light” or an “inner light”.. etc.. Could this play a game on pineal gland and the chemical processes containing melatonin?

    Here's some info of some studies done about DMT tolerance..

    and here...

    I originally started this thread here:

    It is also posted at the Shroomery here:

    and DMT World:

    and at Overgrow

    If you care to see what people from other boards are saying.

    I just wanted to see what thoughts were on various drug boards… Any comments, critiques, or arguemetns against are very welcome J
  2. You are on hard drugs if you expect blades to read all that. Start off slow, and build it from there.

  3. lol i understand people's short attention spans. And if they don't want to read through it.. that's fine. But when talking spirituality, philosophy, religion, and science all in the same thread... i think it deserves a fair in depth starting point. Comments and debates can pick it apart throughout the thread...

  4. Good deal. I haven't had the time to read through your first post, but I intend to do so later. Don't let thccrystals discourage you from posting long threads. There are people here who will take the time to read them, and who are genuinely interested in what you have to say.

    I see you're a fairly new member. I'd like to take this time to say welcome to the City. For the most part the people here are really cool. I hope to see you stick around, and look forward to reading your future posts.
  5. Thanks for the welcome. I keep an eye on this site, I've been a member for a while, just haven't posted much. Though i'm no stranger to the online drug community... I mod three forums at Bluelight.nu.. and post regularly on Overgrow and the Shroomery. (as you can tell from the links at the bottom of my initial post).

    If anyone who reads this is truly interested in the topic at hand.. I'd suggest checking out the link to the exact same thread on Bluelight before replying.. though that's not a necessity in the least. But alot of great stuff has been posted there thusfar in response to it. The other forum links.. not so much.

    But yeah.. i'd love to hear what people here have to say.
  6. This is an intriguing topic.

    I thought I would comment on one particular hypothesis you discuss in the first part of your post, the idea that other cultures discovered different substances that incite similar "spiritual" responses. It seems entirely possible that this is the case, although I doubt that DMT is the only substance capable of producing "religious" effects. As you said, peyote does not contain the same chemical components as the other hallucinogens, which leads me to believe that another study investigating the chemical similarities between the group of drugs you have identified and the drug of choice for Native Americans should be pursued.

    The history of spirituality in different cultures is incredibly similar, however, which supports the general principle of your hypothesis. For instance, Roman Catholicism continues to canonize saints that appear to be "worshipped" by members of the religious community in the same way that the Buddha is praised in many Eastern cultures. Both, however, emphasize the same "ego-rejection" that you mention in your post, and both also teach that these individuals are to be revered for having recognized the true "egoless" reality of our existence rather than worshipped as deities.

    In fact, Eastern and Western religions are so similar that an entire movement currently gaining popularity in the US combines Zen Buddhist philosophy and Catholic doctrine. With that in mind, I would propose that the search for spiritual experiences akin to those produced by the substances discussed in your post is cross-cultural.

    I do wonder if there is some chemical explanation for the dissapation of ego-consciousness that results from the entry of the substances discussed earlier. I suppose I should check out the threads at the other sites. Good post!

  7. While i definately think that injesting these substances may very well play a role in many religious or cultural development early on, I don't think it's merely limited to that.

    Both DMT and 5-MeO-DMT are naturally occuring in our bodies.. these substances are what's accessed through meditation, dreams, near death experiences, epileptics (sp?) (such as Dostovesky), etc.

    That's truly interesting about the Zen buddhist and christian doctorine uniting though.... you have any links to that or an organzation's name that is doing this?? I'd love to read more on that.

  8. I wasn't as clear as I would have liked in my original post. I intended to convey that I find this topic so interesting precisely because these substances are naturally-occuring in the body. It's curious to me that we possess the capacity to produce them at particular times, yet we have no way of controlling it. If there is a connection between these chemicals and the spiritual experiences we've been discussing, I find it even more intriguing that we have circumvented the natural method of reaching those states by discovering other sources of DMT and 5-MeO-DMT. Some might say that it's wrong to violate the natural order of things, while others might claim that the spiritual realm is so important that it is essential for us to indulge in the drugs that allow us to enter it.

    There have been a number of books written on the subject. I would suggest the first, entitled Zen Catholicism by Dom Aelred Graham. It's considered the seminal work in that branch of theology. I'm not familiar with any online sites, but I will mention that I've read the book I mentioned earlier.

    All right. Awesome.

  9. Hi. Welcome aboard. This is a bit of a pet subject of mine, so I thought I might just throw in a few ideas. I'm not saying this to disagree with any of the above, just to show that there are still misconceptions about these experiences, both drug and meditation created. Sorry, this is a bit long and hurried...

    1) Realisation/enlightenment is very different from 'religious experience' (St Theresa of Availa, Fatima, BVM's, etc) Religious experiences are always experiences of other, whether that's a sense of god or visions of Jesus. In enightenment experiences there is no seen or sensed presence. This is the guideline when trying to separate the two.

    2) Ego loss is a small part of the experience and it can't be used as proof of a 'real' event or transendence. Some versions of it can be caused by a car crash for example, when you're suddenly faced with your own mortality. Buddhist ego loss is a little different, so we can't use it as a blanket term until it's more precisely defined within the context of what caused it.

    3) Enlightenment is called 'realisation' because it entails realising and understanding the full nature of reality, as reality itself and from its point of view. It's easy to think when first looking at enlightenment that it’s just a set of impressions, a few pretty lights or a vague feeling that anyone could misinterpret in whatever ways they wanted; but the knowledge gained within the higher experiences is extremely precise and centres on particular themes about the nature of life and death, etc. So precise is this knowledge in most cases, that they leave no room for personal interpretation – and more than that, anyone having a 'Truth Bearing' Samadhi (one containing direct experience and understanding about reality) , no matter what their previous religion or upbringing is, will always gain the same knowledge. Whether it’s being experienced today by a catholic businessman, or 3,000 years ago by an Aryan traveller, the same information is acquired.

    Realisation-based knowledge in many, many instances clashes badly with the experiencer’s previously held beliefs, usually to the extent that they will drop their current religion to follow what they've learned instead. The first question may be, how can people separated, by language, culture and thousands of years, all have an experience where they learn precise knowledge of the true nature of reality without access to any common source of that knowledge?

    I'm not saying this to annoy the christians, but it's beyond doubt that whilst Jesus may well have had religious experiences of some kind, he certainly wasn't enlightened in the Buddhist sense. If he were he wouldn't have talked about the existence of god or the soul or heaven. Realisation/means understanding the full nature of reality, and that reality - in these experiences at least - has no god or 'other' entities in any way. No images of Buddha are acceptable for instance if the experience is to be thought of as real within Buddhism.

    And this is the problem for the who try to incorporate Buddhist thinking into Christianity, there is no soul, god, heaven or even true self to have a soul in Buddhism (that understanding is to some extent the core of realisation), so aligning the two traditions is impossible. Attempts at the inter-meshing of Christianity and Buddhism is usually based on the idea that Buddha preached goodness and morality and so did jesus, ergo they were coming from the same angle and talking about the same things. But ideas of good and bad are only a temporary focus for basic forms of Buddhism, they're only tools to help the meditator. Buddhism is not about morality for its own sake and the higher you go within it the less prominence it's given, to the point where morality is shown as meaningless.

    Also an interesting point is that most people think that these events always happen to seekers, or the devoutly religious, but they're just as likely to happen spontaneously to people who are atheists and agnostics. The spontaneous event shows that what happens comes about very naturally, with no trance, non-conceptuality or meditation in the usual sense required. Meditational practises certainly increase the possibility of them occurring and having a broader content, but again, the higher you go the less you'll use traditional meditation methods at all. Rather than sitting for hours and developing samadhi or mental quiesence, in higher forms 'altered' states and experiences of realisation are brought about by simply understanding and knowing, not meditation.

    You might for example use an understanding or Sunyata to do this, just looking at reality and, knowing its state of co-dependant origination, have one experience or another whenever you want to. There are no massive mental gymnastics required, no ascetism or self-denial, or even years of practise if you can grasp and apply the basic ideas.

    When they do happen so simply, and on cue with just a simple thought, it's hard to say that they're being caused by TLE or our endorphins. I'm not suggesting that a chemical response is absent, we are after all an organism based on such, but what I am saying is that I believe the experience of realisation precedes the chemical reaction and not the other way around.

    Hope this is vaguely interesting.

  10. Sorry, just another point;

    Quote -"...the pineal gland has been known to Hindus and Buddhists as the highest level chakra to reach during meditation." Quote.

    Actually it isn't and chakra work by itself wont get anyone to Realisation, it's just another tool. The pineal ('Ajna chakra') was only later included in the chakra structure. Also, different traditions have different numbers and supposed colours associated with them. The highest chakra in most forms of Hindu meditation is the crown chakra, in others (and some forms of Buddhism too) the 'Secret Chakra' is the highest, though for various reasons I'm not at liberty to say where that is.

  11. I think psychedelics play a major part in what we do, but having said that, I feel that if somebody's going to experiment with those things they really need to educate themselves about them. People just taking the chemicals and diving in without having any kind of preparation about what they're about to experience tend to have no frame of reference, so they're missing everything flying by and all these new perspectives. It's just a waste. They reach a little bit of spiritual enlightenment, but they end up going, 'Well, now I need that drug to get back there again.' The trick is to use the drugs once to get there, and maybe spend the next ten years trying to get back there without the drug.” - Maynard James Keenan

    Applying this principle you are trying to re-arrange your brain chems when you're not under the influence of drugs to be like they are when you are on them, you have to know what you're aiming for before you can say you've hit it.

    Read up on John Lennon and his primal therapy. To quote him in reference to primal therapy - "THIS IS IT!". I've never done it by the way (without drugs that is!).

    Religon/Spirtuality all aims to free us from fear and suffering. I have had experiences when I have existed like this (mainly on E)but when I come to/ come back to reality the fear and suffering returns. After realizing I have learnt the habits that cause my fear and suffering systematically I'm working through the things that cause the fear and suffering and learning to look at them differently thus negating them. Learn what your scared of, befriend it and you should end your suffering.

    Less bad chemicals equals more good chemicals in my system - down with the stress chemical up with the endorphins!

    Just my 2 cents.
  12. I couldn't agree more.

  13. How are you going with it MelT.

    It's not an easy process is it; it's fucken scary sometimes but once you pull through and learn to control your mind and not let your mind control you the benefits are worth it.

    It's amazing that cultures have known about this sort of stuff forever but for some reason it's all been corrupted and ignored by most of us in the modern world. What went wrong?
  14. It never ceases to amaze me that the View (an understanding of reality) has been known about for over 3,000 years, written about endlessly, experienced constantly, but is still very way out thinking to some. Mind you, I was a big cynic when I first started too. It does need exploration of it all for it to suddenly make sense and become viable.

    What do you find scary? A lot of people on the path experience fear of success - what worries you?

    Practice goes well, thanks:)

  15. crusades, catholicism & churchianity?

    or lets just blame the calendar... seems to fit.
  16. Maybe "scary" wasn't the right word to use.

    My predicament is this; after exploring consensual reality from numerous altered states of consciousness and reading as much as I can about it I'm gradually trying to distill everything I've learnt into a concrete understanding, this "limbo" I seem to be living in is at times a bit discomforting. Tearing away your old beliefs and seeing them in a different light, trying to break old habits, etc, it's a pretty tough task at times - especially when in daily tasks to fit into society you have to play by a stupid set of rules that once you've seen them for what they truley are hard to play by.

    I guess a good analogy would be similar to Neo in the Matrix. I have chosen the pill that will allow me to see the ultimate truth and I am still trying to comprehend it all. By taking this path it makes fitting in to society and playing by their fucked up rules difficult. I'm still trying to master what I'm learning.

    I need an oracle :D

    In no way do I regret the decision to take this path though - life now is ten times better than it was when I was caught in the illusion. I actually feel alive and at one with myself.

    DIGIT: Fuck the crusaders and that hey! I think if you reduce it down it's greed. Greed for power which caused oppression and made people easy to control. What do you think?
  17. [quote name='Shiva']

    My predicament is this; after exploring consensual reality from numerous altered states of consciousness and reading as much as I can about it I'm gradually trying to distill everything I've learnt into a concrete understanding, this "limbo" I seem to be living in is at times a bit discomforting. Tearing away your old beliefs and seeing them in a different light, trying to break old habits, etc, it's a pretty tough task at times - especially when in daily tasks to fit into society you have to play by a stupid set of rules that once you've seen them for what they truley are hard to play by.
    [quote name='Shiva']

    This is exactly what I was talking about. Fear comes on very subtley as you begin to move with more certainty and confidence into your new version of reality. It is after all, as you say above, a big step to let go of self - and then live by the reality you newly believe in. There are a handful of people on GC who are exploring in the same way as you, and I think we all have it from time to time.

    [quote name='Shiva']I guess a good analogy would be similar to Neo in the Matrix. I have chosen the pill that will allow me to see the ultimate truth and I am still trying to comprehend it all. By taking this path it makes fitting in to society and playing by their fucked up rules difficult. I'm still trying to master what I'm learning.[quote name='Shiva']

    There are very, very meditational traditions that tell you how to incorporate understanding and experience into daily life in a real way so that you can both function normally and yet still continue to progress. I'd recommend Mahamudra and Dzogchen as the only two traditions that I'm aware of that offer this. Dzogchen is almost a Path in itself, but its purpose (as the 'Completion Stage') is to do exactly what you say above.

    I know we're bound to some extent by the meaning of words here and that you may not have meant this statement as it came over, but in your first paragraph you mentioned making what you've learned 'concrete understanding' - don't. Ambiguity, unknowing in knowing, knowing in unknowing is the only way to move beyond normal meditation structures and reality itself.

    Just as a matter of interest, are you practising metta or mindfulness at present and are you at the 'Bliss' stage yet?

  18. I'm trying to master the mindfulness aspect at the moment, learning to control my thoughts. I find this allows me to enjoy moments of fleeting "bliss" - not sure if it's the bliss of the enlightened ones but it's an unreal feeling when it hits you. I would say that compared to how I used to exist my general happiness is a lot closer to "blissful" now than it was before. If my thoughts are going down a road I know will make me feel shit I pull the reigns in - basically positive thinking.

    What I meant about trying to derive a concrete understanding is I'm not used to the unknowing in knowing, knowing in unknowing, I've left a world of certainty (where the rules/beliefs etc. engrained into me by parents/teachers etc. were the ultimate truth) to a world where change is your only friend - old habits die hard, I've just got to get used to it.

    I'm not really aimed at any particular point, spirituality found me more than I found it. I've lived with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder which culminated into a depression which I hid from everyone and whilst using escapism to treat my problems I discovered different realms to exist in. Being overwhelmed by these new realms that opened up I set about understanding what was going on and in my investigations stumbled accross shamanism and spiritualtiy. As I've said before; I'm trying to teach myself to manipulate the chems in my head to be as they are when I'm on drugs (generalized statement but you get the gist), this means doing a lot of reading and taking the best parts of what I read and leaving the rest rather than following a strict discipline.

    I just re-read and wanted to ask you some advice. This process is making me a lot happier and stress free so I would say it's working at the moment. Do you think this has the possibilty to stop working? Maybe I should follow a "method" rather than find my own path?
  19. Quote- As I've said before; I'm trying to teach myself to manipulate the chems in my head to be as they are when I'm on drugs (generalized statement but you get the gist), this means doing a lot of reading and taking the best parts of what I read and leaving the rest rather than following a strict discipline.- Quote

    This is pretty much what most of us do, we're 'wingers' rather than people going down a fixed path. I deviated slightly in that I winged it for years and did fine without hardly picking up anything at all to do with meditation or understanding what the whole realisation process was about. Then when I'd had some success, I studied Buddhism and Hinduism to see if what I'd found tallied with the experiences expected in those traditions. At the time I was lucky enough to be put in a position where I was able to devote my entire time to it for nearly 6 years, living apart from society as much as possible, not working, etc. I thought I was doing well and got adept at reaching a variety of states - but then when I explored Buddhism, I saw that what I was doing and what Buddhists were doing was vastly different.

    Disappointed, I explored as many other traditions as I could whilst still practising Mahayana Buddhism. Then after a few years I came across Dzogchen and slowly realised that most of the techniques I'd been doing as a Winger came from it. It was like a breath of fresh air and, once I'd managed to understand the structure of it, things began to move forward a lot more rapidly.

    Quote - I just re-read and wanted to ask you some advice. This process is making me a lot happier and stress free so I would say it's working at the moment. Do you think this has the possibilty to stop working? Maybe I should follow a "method" rather than find my own path? - quote

    It really depends on what you want to do with it? Do you want to head for enlightenment or 'just' nice states to sit in? If the latter then it sounds like you're doing fine by yourself, if a state of well-being is what you're looking for. What makes you happy is what makes you happy, so there would be no point in trying to improve on that.

    If you have problems with focus though, or making the experiences more regular, or making the nice states permanent, etc, then you'd need to look at a formal method. That doesn't necessarily mean becoming a Buddhist/Hindu/etc, just a lot more of the research you're doing now into say, one single method to see if there are any parts of the mental structure you're missing.

    The point of my ramble above is to show that you going into a formal tradition too deeply at this stage may or may not be a good idea. You might find (if say you started with Mahayana) that many of the techniques in it are very different from what you do now, and some will actually hold you back. If your experiences are really valid, you have to find a tradition that fits in with your style and needs so that you can continue to have them.

    What are you looking for? Can you define where you hope to get with it all? Even if the answer is 'just to screw around with it...' that's fine. This stuff is life-changing AND fun, so why not?:)


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