Personal Spiritual Quest: Psychedelic Spirituality, Shamanism and Yoga

Personal Spiritual Quest: Psychedelic Spirituality, Shamanism and Yoga.

Alpha Centauri By Luke Brown. Multi-media.

Alpha Centauri By Luke Brown. Multi-media.

The spiritual quest has been at the core of everything I have done in my life. Spirituality is the examination of who we are personally and expansively and why we are on Earth and what we can do about it. Although I have only reached 31 years of life on Earth I have continuously followed my own spiritual path. I have spent time with many spiritually wise persons from many cultures around the world and studied hundreds of books and resources on world religions. There is a universal message between the teacher’s and that is respect for all life, humility and the conversation between you and the divine is a personal conversation.

In my experience there is no need to cling hard and fast to one branch of a specific tradition and stick with it for life. This kind of specificity is common in many spiritual and religious individuals but this kind of commitment may not be required to develop profound respect for life, humility and to remember our connection with infinity.   Each person has an individual path which only they can traverse. That path can include in-depth commitment to some particular teaching, study or community. The path can also be creative and highly individualized mixing and blending the wise words from cultures and intellectuals around the world into our own personal context.

The important thing is that whatever practice is important and meaningful to you is the thing to do. The power in any practice is our focus and intention. The personal connection to what you are doing and the reason for doing it is what gives it the power to transform our body, mind and open our spiritual reality. Our destiny is a field of possibility which is affected by our past, present and future and the choices we make. There are many practices which can help to develop personal control over our mind and this can increase the potency of our practice. The shamans of Peru remind us that we dream reality into being in every moment. The master Yogis say we must learn to control the mind and body to find stillness and transcend into infinity. Rolling Thunder a North American indigenous medicine man says that the preliminary step to study become a medicine person is the ability to recognize any bad thought and put it out like the flame of a candle.

There is certainly a connection between the body, mind and spirit. In advanced yoga they are instructed to withdraw all the senses into the body, then to withdraw the mind into the heart to still all thought then in that heart cave we can hear the voice of the divine. This kind of bodily control extends into the extraordinary feats like being able to change heart rate, brain wave pattern, body temperature and to stop the breath all together for extended times (do not try at home). However, these accomplishments are but dangers along the path as they distract us anyway from the deepest reality and stir our thoughts. The way these yogic masters accomplish such feats is through a systematic practice which revolves around understanding and affecting the flow of life force or prana which is behind everything in existence.

The life-force concept is seen in cultures around the world and it is said to be the transcendent force which is also the fabric of existence. This force flows through the body as blood, oxygen, lymph, energy, the nervous system electrical current, the DNA, the whole vibrational spectrum of human existence. The shaman, yogis and mystics each use the life force as a way to deepen their awareness linking the body and mind into the realms of spirit. This life force can bring us into another dimension far beyond what is familiar in normal waking consciousness. The universe imagined and unimagined is united in life force and we are intrinsically linked to all existence through this ever present stream of life.

Alex_Grey-Psychic_Energy_Sy

The mystical visions of the transcendent realms are not common in literature produced by European culture in the last 1000 years or so, perhaps due to religious fundamentalism which lead to the death of millions. Even with-in that context saints with-in the Catholic Church still experienced divine ecstasy. In recent history American and European cultures have begun integrating these kinds of transcendent experiences back into their lives. Through the practice of meditation, yoga, shamanism, creativity and sometimes spontaneously people will slip into the realms beyond material reality and gain an overwhelming ecstasy they describe as sacred. Psychedelics are a major player in this shift in perspective as these ancient medicines link us back to the prophetic visions of paradise.

Parallel to those stories is the unbroken lineage of indigenous communities around the world who have long held traditions which evoke spiritual ecstasy through nature, community and ingestion of plants. Nature is the gospel to these communities and many hold a long tradition of using sacred plants. All life is sacred but there are some plants which are particularly helpful to human spiritual well-being. These plants have been called entheogens (‘invokes the divine’) and psychedelics (Mind manifesting) in the West. These entheogen plants are sacraments in a spiritual tradition which is cross cultural and goes back to the beginning of human kind and even involves the Neanderthals. This cross cultural shamanic tradition holds the spirits of the plants to be their primary teachers. The plants show them what to do and the spirits do the doctoring when healing. One could say there is an intelligent life force associated with the plant and through honoring it we gain access to the worlds of consciousness inhabited by the plant spirit or intelligence. This other realm is known as the otherworld, spirit world and the realm beyond death.

This shamanic tradition is at the root of all religions as it predates organized religion by thousands of years. Nature is been the living presence of the divine and through nature humanity can gain great knowledge and wisdom which is applicable to holistic well-being. In ancient India the spiritual culture which one can call shamanic yoga or pre-hindu religion is at the root of current spiritualism. This ancient shamanic tradition also spoke of the devis or spirits with-in each plants, rock, and drop of water (from the Rig Veda oldest known spiritual text in human history). It also used ritual, trance and plants to transcend.

There is a foundation in human consciousness which is drawn to this world of spirit and this ancient imprint is left from millions of years of evolution and is still present and active in humans. The shaman, the yogis, the Buddhists all utilize practices which focus intention, bring greater awareness to the unseen forces in life and utilize states of extraordinary consciousness.

Today in the scientific community psychedelic plants like marijuana, MDMA, LSD, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), DMT and Ayahuasca are showing tremendous promise as healing medicine in the right setting. These studies started in the 1940’s stopped in 1970’s and started again in the 1990’s. These studies show that these psychedelic substances which have been taboo and illegal are the most effective treatment known for certain “untreatable” kinds of PTSD. The interesting thing about these studies is that many subjects who gain extraordinary healing do so by going through a mystical experience of the sacred. They describe transcending into the hands of god, being united with all life, all is light, or communicating with divine intelligences like angels, aliens or other spirit beings.

The direct spiritual experience or the mystical experience is the basis of most spiritual traditions. In many cultures around the world the demonization of psychedelics never occurred and they have a long history of using these plants as healing tools and as spiritual teachers in the context of their medicine ways and community. The beautiful thing that is occurring now in Peru for example is the communication between Westerners and Indigenous medicine people because of the sacred plant medicines especially Ayahuasca. Many of these shaman are not able to continue their lineage of knowledge as in the old days with modern transportation and children looking for lives beyond the fast disappearing jungles. This pressure is allowing much of this body of knowledge to be brought to scientifically minded contemporary peoples with jobs and lives outside the ancient forests.

Jehua Supai  - Featured in the book 'The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo' by Howard G Charing &; Peter Cloudsley

Jehua Supai – Featured in the book ‘The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo’ by Howard G Charing &; Peter Cloudsley

Ayahuasca is important for another reason because DMT is one of the primary psychoactive neurotransmitter in the brew. DMT is produced in the human body naturally as well. This important link is highlighted by the fact that pure DMT causes people to go into a kind of lucid dream state where they go to parallel dimensions of existence. These explorations into these parallel dimensions often involve connection with infinity, spirt beings, crystal cities and more. For more on this Pablo Amaringo’s artwork and Rick Strassman’s book DMT Spirit Molecule are great resources.

Spirituality is now developing a new language through which to understand these most dynamic and ethereal questions. Rick Strassman PH.D has put forth the term Theoneurology meaning, “The brain is the agent through which God communicates with humans (Strassman 2014).” Research into psychedelics is revealing what happens in the brain during mystical states of consciousness. The term psychointegrator has been proposed by Luis Edwuardo Luna and others to describe psychedelic plants because studes and brain scans show psilocybin causes nearly 100 times more interconnection between various regions of the brain. Furthermore, under the influence many regions of the brain become less active leading to the theory that the brain is a filter for the overwhelming stimulus around us and when it is calmed the brain integrates and can experience the divine.

We are headed toward a new understanding of spiritualism and to a great degree we can see how racism and religious persecution continues to hinder spiritual development to this day. Does using a non-harming plant medicine in a ritual setting for spiritual or religious reasons constitute and illegal act or should it be protected citing the constitution. The answer is for some its legal for others it is illegal. This paradigm is going to have to change in order to uphold the constitution and to live in a democratic society which accepts diversity and cross cultural communication. Freedom of religion cannot exist without protecting sacred land and without free access to plant medicines.

hasam hisim - 1

hasam hisim – 1

 

In all this we are to find our own way to the spiritual heights we seek. This can only be done by following that which supports our lives and is meaningful to us. When a prayer or a practice feels meaningless it is not worth doing because the passion of your soul is not in it. Do not however fall into the trap that says the spiritual path should be easy because it is not. Many times when we are closest to god we are in fact suffering. Many people deprive themselves of enjoyable things simply to suffer to come closer to god like fasting, sundance or a psychedelic ceremony.

Alex Grey is an example of a spiritualist who has followed his vision to become one of the world’s most well-known painters. He has gone as far as to say that he honors the direct spiritual experience and mystical visions by making art; thus his art is sacredly inspired and is his deepest prayer to humanity and the divine. Others have found they can share their teaching through mediation, offering the healing arts, music, raising a family, pursuing a spiritual life and bettering the world.

There is no model upon which to build our personal inner temple but rather we have to build it and explore the territory with our own determination. With practice, concentration and non-judgment we can learn anything in life and develop a personal spiritual tradition informed by what inspires and moves us. The mystical union with the divine is not always the focus of our practice, however, the ever flowing divine life force is inseparable from who we truly are.

 

Tantric Marriage By: George Atherton

Tantric Marriage By: George Atherton

By: Transpersonal Spirit

 

Bibliography:

Strassman, Rick,   DMT Spirit Molecule: A Doctors Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences. Park Street Press. Rochester, Vermont. 2001.

Strassman, Rick, Slawek Wojtowicz, Luis Eduardo Luna and Ede Frecska. Inner Paths to Outer Space: Journeys to Alien Worlds Though Psychedelics and Other Spiritual Technologies. Park Street Press Rochester, Vermont. 2008.

Strassman, Rick. DMT and the Soul of Prophecy: Anew Science of Spiritual Revelation in the Hebrew Bible. Park Street Press. 2014.

Grey, Alex. Net of Being. Cosm press. 2012.

Rolling Thunder. Rolling Thunder Speaks A Message for Turtle Island. Clear light Publishers Santa Fe NM, 1999.

Swami satyananda Saraswati. Kundalini tantra. Yoga publication trust, Meunger, Bihar, India. 1984, 2007.

Transpersonalspirit.wordpress.com all writing by Nathan P Rose. 2011 – 2015.

Visionary Art

Visionary Art

Net of Being By Alex Grey

Net of Being By Alex Grey
http://www.alexgrey.com

Visionary art is an artistic style which pays homage to the mystical experience and the transcendent spiritual wisdom of humanity.  The art emerges out of the artist’s inner journey into the realms of collective vision and their personal insights and experiences. The vision is then used as inspiration for the work of art and for self-realization. Once completed the art is an expression of the inner journey, a catalyst to trigger transformative experiences in the viewer and a form of prayer and surrendering to a mystical state of consciousness.  Robert Venosa put it simply referring to his art as, “the transcendental mirror”; the transcendent images reflect the transcendent aspects of the viewer and leave the residue of this visionary reality in the mind of the beholder.

The visionary artists are making a powerful statement about the value of the inner reality and the power of mystical experiences to transform and uplift the world. The visionary community sees the primary mystical experience as being the core of all spiritual traditions and makes new archetypes for the transcendent experience through art.  The new archetypes reflect the contemporary expedition into this other inner dimension of being through contemporary means. Visionary artists, like the ones featured in this blog, are making a statement about the positive and challenging aspects of visionary experiences and validating the reality of this internal experience.

Essential Love by Anderson Debernardi

Essential Love by Anderson Debernardi

This visionary artwork is truly a product of an emerging spiritual movement based on direct experience; many of the symbols used to describe the indescribable mystical reality are often inspired by spiritual traditions of the whole Earth. The ability to experience global spiritual culture is a radical shift from 40 years ago, this phenomenon is shaping the way spiritualism is approached and is changing the dialogue about the fundamental nature of reality.

The core of spiritualism in visionary art is in the direct experience of the infinite reality, where all is one, space-time and self are transcended. This is in agreement with the teachings of Tantra, Buddhism, indigenous leaders, and parallels theories emerging from quantum physicists. Today many have created their own religions or spiritual path by drawing inspiration from ancient traditions. This spiritualism based on the inner journey is expressed in visionary art. The experience of creating the artwork is similar to prayer as it connects the artist to the inner consciousness and can evoke powerful non-ordinary states of consciousness in the viewer and or creator of the art.

Burning man

The creative vision of this community goes far beyond the flat surface of the canvas. Interactive festivals like Burning Man, Boom Festival, Envision and other intentional gatherings are an outcropping of this new dynamic and creative arts community. These artists are looking to create installation art, video art, architecture, music, light shows, dance, festivals and other forms of expression. Short intentional gatherings create a visionary space and become a place in which personal transformation, spiritual journey, enthogenic inspired dance and performance can combine with a supportive community. Once the gathering is over they leave no physical trace all that remains are the images, memories and the art.

To achieve these inspirational experiences of personal transformation and mystical revelry  a combination of means are utilized by visionary artists including art, dance, music, prayer, meditation, yoga, psychedelics and other ‘technologies of the scared’. These experiences are often evoked through an entheogenic state of mind; many people refer to entheogens as being psychedelic substances but truly, entheogen is a term meaning god with-in or evoking the mystical reality. The Council on Spiritual Practices defines entheogen as, “a psychoactive sacramental; a plant or chemical substance taken to occasion primary religious experience. Example: Peyote Cactus as used in the Native American Church.” The difference between ingesting a psychedelic substance and taking an entheogen is in the intention; if one is using an entheogen they are seeking unity and spiritual communion with the divine but if one is using a psychedelic they are simply consuming a substance without the intention of inner exploration.  Ironically, the casual psychedelic user will still often enter entheogenic states of consciousness especially when exposed to visionary or healing arts.

By: Alex Grey

St. Albert and the LSD Revolution
By: Alex Grey (www.alexgrey.com)

Many people when viewing visionary art recognize the landscapes the artists are rendering for their own experiences, this suggesting that realms of this other dimension can be similar for people around the world and this similarity of world creative vision is called archetype and has been the subject of intense academic study. Visionary art validates a parallel dimension of being known in western psychology as the transpersonal, this is literally another world different from our material reality which is found by traveling inward. Visionary art suggest that this otherworld really exists because the artist can go there and render its archetypal image and others recognize and relate to the art. The art validates this reality and the artist produces data for the scientists and others exploring this other dimension of human consciousness.

Visionary arts is inseparable from the healing arts, prayer, meditation, yoga and shamanism; they all encourage the movement toward wholeness. All the world’s religions have utilized sacred arts to uplift and inspire the best parts of ourselves.  The Earth is rapidly transforming into a place which may not be habitable by humans because of our ignorance about the interconnection of all life. The religious and mystical experience reveals in heart shattering glory, the oneness of existence.  The great yogis and shaman of the world all affirm that we are all united on this earth and in the web of life. The recognition of this primal truth has powerful healing and transformative potential. Visionary art plays a powerful role exposing the public to a contemporary expression of this mystic interrelatedness through arts which mirror the transcendent.

Pagoda Dorada By Pablo Amaringo  www.ayahuascavisions.com

Pagoda Dorada By Pablo Amaringo
http://www.ayahuascavisions.com

By: Transpersonal Spirit

Biblography:

Transpersonalspirit.wordpress.com

http://www.realitysandwich.com/slideshow/robert_venosa).

Grof, Stanislav. The Cosmic Game Explorations of the Frontiers of Human Consciousness. State University of New York Press. 1998.

http://beinart.org/info/essays/maura-holden-tsunami.php

http://lila.info/on-visionary-art-and-on-drawing/ Rob Percival 2010

http://www.lcaruana.com/webtext/shop.text/first.man.eng.text/first.man.eng.sample.pages.html

www.alexgrey.com

http://www.debernardivision.com (anderson debernardu’s website)

http://csp.org/practices/entheogens/entheogens.html (council on spiritual practices website)

http://www.ayahuascavisions.com (Pablo Amaringo’s website)

Visionary Artist: Laurence Caruana

Visionary Artist

Laurence Caruana

laurence caruana  the pearl

The Pearl By Laurence Caruana
http://www.lcaruana.com/

Laurence Caruana has had a strong impact on the contemporary visionary art movement as a writer, teacher and artist. He has written several books and online articles about visionary art including the Visionary Art Manifesto and The Visionary Revue. He teaches worldwide sharing the classical painting technique called mischtechnik as well as lecturing about visionary art and writing about emerging visionary artists and culture. Now after many years of work he is opening The Academy of Visionary Art in Vienna with the aid of several visionary artists including Ernst Fuchs, Kuba Ambrose, A. Andrew Gonzalez, David Heskin, Maura Holden, Amanda Sage and more. His impact as a teacher, writer and lecturer of visionary art has advanced the dialogue about visionary art in a dramatic way.

Laurence Caruana’s work focuses on dreams, myth, symbolism and what he terms the image language. He says the image language is the language from before the fall of Adam and Eve. We lived in a paradise heaven filled with amazing dream like images, he relates this image based time to childhood and believes the child lives more closely to this world of imagination language. Through art one can explore this image language which through art emerges and meets the material world.

Scarab Christ by Laurence Caruana  www.lcaruana.com

Scarab Christ by Laurence Caruana
http://www.lcaruana.com

When young he wanted to become an artist and attended the University of Toronto where he fell in love and explored a range of mediums including sculpture, theater, and painting. His desire to marry his college love was thwarted by her deteriorating mental illness which led to the creation of interesting work from Caruana focusing on psychological elements of human experience. Once completing his degree he left her and Toronto and traveled Europe developing his craft as a writer and recording the image language of his dreams.

Laurence Caruana has made many pieces of art inspired by women whom he has loved over the years and the profound effect each of these past lovers had had upon him. His paintings mix reality with his dreams which he translated into art.  This early period of his work is very much filled with heartbreak and understanding the nature of the women in his life and how they impacted his personal growth.  Each of these paintings based on these women is a mixture of art, myth and dreams both fantastic and real. Laurence Caruana emphasizes the power of dreams in his work more so than many visionary artists. His approach to dream is similar to the late psychologist Carl Jung in that he feels dreams reveal information about our inner reality from a material, spiritual and mythical perspective.

laurence caruana rape of e

The Rape of Europa By Laurence Caruana
http://www.lcaruana.com/

He came in contact with his wife, Ernst Fuchs and psychedelic experiences in his 30s all of which would become the most important inspirations in his life. He became an assistant to Ernst Fuchs and began learning painting from him through apprenticeship. His skill flourished and he developed the techniques of the master painters particularly mischtechnik. His meeting with Fuchs, his teacher and mentor, was preceded by years of dreams involving Fuchs which began after he had seen “Moses and the Burning Bush” painted by Ernst Fuchs.  Ultimately, Caruana learned to commune with the mythical world of imagination and the gods through visions and depict those visions through painting.  He used the paintings as doorways to a direct experience of the sacred. He learned to see the sacred in his life which was reflected in his dreams, madness, enthogenic visions and art. Ernst Fuchs was a guide leading Caruana to understand his own ability to see into the divine and to share those visions through painting using the classical mischtechnik as adapted by Ernst Fuchs.

Caruana wrote The Manifesto of Visionary Art and published it in The Visionary Revue and was invited to speak at conferences workshops and events. He has exhibited in Paris and abroad and discovered the eco village of Tori Superiore where he teaches the mischtechnik.  Finally his passion became his vocation and profession fulfilling his dream of becoming an artist.  Life itself is a gradual unfolding of the sacred.

laurence caruana the vine of the dead

The Vine of the Dead By Laurence Caruana
http://www.lcaruana.com

In Cauruna’s writing he details how visionary artists approach the viewing and creating of the visionary artwork. This includes dialogue about enthogenic experience, mystical art, painting technique and even a new way of viewing art he calls entering through the image as well as history of visionary art. Mystical art is the foundation of the visionary art movement monumental works of the ancients dedicated to the divine reality. In modern times many people are gaining access to the mystical experience through the use of mind altering plants known as psychedelics or entheogens. The entheogen is the use of psychedelics for the purpose of mystical and spiritual development. The mystical experiences are then integrated into an artistic representation to share those visions with the world.

This idea of entering through the image is significant because most visionary artists have a unique way of seeing the image. They will stare at one point and distort their vision so the colors merge, blend and animate. For Laurence Caruana he covers one eye to get this effect.  For me personally, I bring my eyes into a soft focus and stare at one point after a few moments the surface comes alive and the image beings to transform as the patterns and colors shimmer and move. From there the imagination is given free rein to reform and create new images out the available material.  In this way one can enter through the image using the image as a key or door way to one’s own imagination and experience. Others say the ideal viewing of visionary art is in spiritual practice such as staring at the image while in meditation. Others say the ideal setting and viewing of visionary art is after consuming psychedelics. For others this image distortion is achieved through the use of multi-colored lighting or moving and shifting projections in the space and on the surface of the painting. This differentiation of lighting can bring out certain colors and patterns in the image to give the viewer another way of seeing and interpreting the image. This kind of viewing was seen a lot in the 60’s and 70 psychedelic poster movement as the posters were view in the setting of live music with multicolored lights and projections. By seeing the artwork in this way one can allow their own consciousness to fill the image and can transport into another realm of experience through viewing art.

laurence caruana Vishnu-Christ.Avatar-72dpi.1500w

Vishnu Christ Avatar by Laurence Caruana
http://www.lcaruana.com

Laurence Caruana’s latest and largest achievement is the Academy of Visionary Art in Vienna. This is establishing him as one of the foremost teachers of visionary art and he is bringing together many visionary artists to collaborate in the functioning of this educational institution.  He is one of the foremost teachers of the Mischtechnik of painting along with Ernst Fuches and has impacted the visionary arts community worldwide.

By: Transpersonal Spirit

Bibliography:

http://academyofvisionaryart.com.

http://www.lcaruana.com/webtext/news.html

http://alexgrey.com/laurence-maura/

http://visionaryrevue.com/

http://vimeo.com/8595972

http://solpurpose.com/2013/07/08/the-vienna-academy-of-visionary-art-interview-with-laurence-caruana/

Psychedelic Research Past and Present

Psychedelic Research

Albert Hofmann by Alex Grey

Visionary plants have been use since prehistory by human beings. Consciousness expanding compounds were used all over the world in ritual, and spiritual contexts to induce a non-ordinary states of consciousness. These plants were very important to shamanic practices, healing ceremonies, rites of passage and the mystery of death and rebirth. These ancient cultures considered these plants to be sacred sacraments. In these contexts the sacred plants would bring the participant into the realms of the gods and spirits where they encountered non-physical beings and obtained information for healing. These visionary plants also have been reported to enhance intuition, extrasensory perception, and to receive other forms of non-local information. These groups of peoples also produced works of art which were depictions of the landscapes of the unseen world filled with spirits and colorful patterns. (Grof 2012).

Huichol art

Throughout history there has been written knowledge of these plants. In China there were reports of psychedelic substances as much as 3,000 years ago. There are ancient stories which involve substance many believe to be psychoactive such as the SOMA of the Vedas. There is a well know and long historical use of marijuana in diverse religious groups such as in Hinduism, Rastafarianism, Scythians. There were many different substances used worldwide. In Mexico there was the use of peyote (Anhalonium lewinii) sacred mushrooms (Psilocybe mexicana) and morning glory seeds (Rivea corymbosa). In South America the use of Ayahuasca. In Africa many substances were used such as Iboga And many more.

The spiritual lives of these peoples were dramatically influenced by the introduction of Christianity, the cruelty and religious suppression of these rituals and plants forced the traditional spiritual practices of these peoples to move underground.  Despite the influence and cruelty of colonialism many peoples have maintained their spiritual practices through the centuries. Examples include the use of peyote in the Native American Church, the use of ayahuasca in the UDV (Unita De vegetal) and the Santo Domingo Church. These practices became legal in the USA through long legal battles despite the evidence showing thousands of years of use and despite the “freedom of religion” in the USA.

Mescaline was the first substance to be isolated in the west and was the first psychoactive substance people in the United States encountered. This occurred in the late 1800’s when there was incredible cruelty and lack of respect toward indigenous populations.  This lack of respect led to total dismissal of the wisdom held by the indigenous Americans which could have opened the door to realization of the incredible healing potential of these substances. Kurt Beringer, author of the influential book Der Meskalin rausch (Mescaline Inebriation) published in 1927, concluded that mescaline induced a toxic psychosis (Grof 2012). This idea of toxic psychosis was the predominant view of these psychoactive substances in the western world and left their healing potential undiscovered.

Psychedelic research began in the West with Albert Hofmann’s discovery of LSD at Sandoz Laboratory in Switzerland in the year 1942. Hofmann discovered LSD when he was making derivative of ergot. Hofmann himself states that he was drawn to the substance for mysterious reasons and he believes it called out to him. When working with this new compound he accidentally ingested the substance through unknown means and he became the first person to experience LSD.

Albert Hofmann Blotter paper

Never before in science had a single substance provided such a wide variety of uses across scientific fields. It influenced psychology, neuroscience, neuropharamacologists. This substance created unprecedented wave of enthusiasm in the world of science.  This discovery was a golden era of research that could lead to major advances in understanding consciousness, neuroreceptors, and intricate biochemical processes in the brain.  It also created the field of consciousness research.

At first LSD was thought to produce experimental psychosis and could be used as a valuable learning tool for psychologist. The idea was they could get a taste of the state of mind of the patients. They believed it would provide unparalleled information about psychosis and would lead to revolutionary new treatments. Researchers hoped LSD could provide the information to determine what chemicals or transmitters in the brain produce psychosis. It turned out however, that psychosis was not completely chemical in nature and we have yet to find a chemical treatment for schizophrenia.

Stanislav Grof the world’s most experienced and influential psychedelic therapist and researcher was introduced to LSD through this kind training program in the 1950’s. He experienced the mystical union with the source of creation and knew that there was more to this amazing substance then just psychosis. Grof developed a way in which to conduct psychotherapy with the use of LSD. Over many years of research he developed protocol for LSD assisted psychotherapy. He made incredible observations and positive results in treating clients. This treatment was a powerful tool for psychotherapists because of its ability to bring material from the subconscious level to awareness. It was also good for reaching patients who had been unresponsive to other forms of treatments such as sexual deviance, addiction and in easing the anxiety of terminal cancer patients.

LSD provided incredible new insights into art such as abstract arts, expressionism, fantastic art, visionary arts and provided insight in the artwork of other cultures. Many professional painters who were in the early LSD and creativity research made leaps in creative expression and their style became freer. They created new forms and could more easily tap into the collective archetypes.  LSD was found to produce profound mystical and spiritual experiences which gave us insight into the spiritual cultures of the world. It gave us a new understanding of the shamanism, religion, the eastern spiritual philosophies and the mystical sects of world religions. LSD was also used by the military circles who explored the destructive potential of LSD. The worlds military researchers wanted to know if it could be used as a chemical weapon, a truth serum, to poison diplomats, brainwashing and much more. This led to incidents where the governments would even put LSD in the water supply of citizens without their knowledge to see how they would respond.

Grof was so influenced by the power and potential uses of LSD that he compares it to a microscope for psychology because it allowed psychologists to see deep into the subconscious and explore previously unavailable domains of the psyche. LSD is one of the ultimate tools for studying consciousness. LSD research was all going very well until the wide spread self-experimentation in combination with the use of LSD at Harvard triggered mass hysteria. The political system responded with total prohibition of psychedelic research and effectively stopped all research while illegal street use continued unimpeded.  This stopped research for four decades.  Rumors were going around that one dose of LSD could make a person go crazy for life in profound ways.

Before the mass hysteria Grof was able to do over a decade of research along with other researchers. New forms of therapy were developed most notably psychedelic therapy and LSD assisted psychotherapy. This research had led to profound expansion of the cartography of the human psyche beyond the biographical life. The extraordinary states of consciousness experienced by clients in LSD studies were beyond the explanation of conventional psychological theories at the time. This research also was the principal catalyst for the development of consciousness studies. Observation of these states of consciousness forced Grof to create new categories of consciousness which were directly contrary to his training and personal beliefs. These expanded realms of consciousness were reached out of necessity based on the observation of his clients.  These new realms were the transpersonal and the perinatal.

Perinatal was found because many of Grof clients were experiencing images of birth and reliving trauma related to birth.  The transpersonal realms are the indescribable realms which are beyond the self. This includes but is not limited to mystical union, past life memories, ESP, telepathy, receiving verifiable information about different time periods or about their bodies, ancestral karma. These are the realms spoken about by mystics, shaman and in various sects of Eastern religions.

Following this criminalizing of psychedelics and psychedelic research in the early 1970’s there was a new wave of experiential therapies which moved to the forefront in order to continue exploring consciousness without drugs. This took the form of holotropic breathwork, meditation, yoga, ritual, ceremony, sensory deprivation and other techniques. These approaches were each unique and held their own risks and strengths. This created a cultural and societal need to understand and contextualize these types of profound human experiences. Researchers hoped that these non-drug therapies would make psychedelic unnecessary and there would emerge therapies as effective as psychedelics which were legal and help people to grow in different ways. It became apparent at the end of the 70s that these non-drug techniques were very valuable; however, they did not make psychedelics unnecessary. These approaches were complimentary to psychedelic therapy in the eyes of many researchers. Many clients responded well to meditation and breath work but there were still significant portions of the population which were unresponsive to these therapies.

The Shulgins by Alex Grey

During this time and after, there was a strong underground movement for use of known and sanctioned drugs of psychotherapy and also there were new chemicals coming into existence. There were a number of chemists prominent among them was Alexander Shulgin. Alexander Shulgin was developing hundreds of new psychedelic compounds and was distributing them to psychotherapists. He was connected to this network of therapists by Leo Zeff. Leo Zeff and his activities were released in the publication The Secret Chief. This led to the discovery of the therapeutic potential of MDMA. Leo was impressed with MDMA and its power as a therapeutic tool. Zeff came out of retirement and began to train therapists to use this substance to help clients.

From mid 1970’s to 1984 about a half million doses of MDMA were given by psychotherapist in assisted MDMA psychotherapy context under the code name ADAM. This had never attracted the attention of the police. Then in the mid 1980’s a patient who had a session with ADAM realized that this would be a great money making drug. They changed the name to ecstasy and introduced it to recreational settings.  This coincided with Nancy Regean and the drug war and MDMA was predictably suppressed and made illegal. This recreational use, just as in the 1960’s, led to the termination of therapeutic use of MDMA with trained psychotherapist but did not stop the illegal black market.

At Esalen there was an effort among therapists to protect the therapeutic use of MDMA. They conducted a safety study with MDMA so they could use it as evidence for its safety and therapeutic benefit. The study effectively proved the safety of the substance. This group of therapists and researchers were organized by Dick Price in an organization called ORUPA, The Organization for the Responsible Use of Psychoactive Agents. They were also working with Robert Muller who was with the UN. Muller believed that peace could not happen until we developed a global spirituality and could view others as beings like ourselves. He dreamed of a humanity that could view the whole Earth as being one organism. To sense the connection with all of life and we could find a shared humanity and shared spirituality and create peace. Mueller believed that the use of psychoactive therapies could cultivate a new spiritual awareness on Earth.

Through Robert Muller they sent out MDMA to monasteries and to other spiritual and religious based communities and spiritual leaders.  These people found these substances to be very valuable and stood up to express the value of MDMA in court once it became illegal. In 1984 the Earth Metabolic Design Lab was the legal vehicle to protect the use of MDMA. The day MDMA was made illegal Rick Doblin walked into the DEA with a huge packet of information about the therapeutic use of MDMA. They had assembled psychologist, psychiatrists, religious leaders, lobbyists, legal professionals to protect the therapeutic use.  The DEA was shocked that anyone would defend the use of this drug. They had no idea that it was being used therapeutically. EMDL won a hearing with a DEA administrative law judge who ruled that MDMA should be available as a therapeutic tool but it was only a recommendation which was rejected. EMDL sued several times and won several cases until they lost the final ruling and MDMA was made totally illegal and unavailable for therapeutic use.

In 1986 Maps was founded because there was no support for research from pharmaceutical companies or the federal government, only individuals or families would support this research. MAPS then became a psychedelic non-profit pharmaceutical company involved in research of psychedelic substances.  The goal was to legalize the therapeutic use of MDMA and marijuana. They developed five protocols which were rejected by the FDA. In 1990 the group at the FDA shifted to a new group of people who put science over politics resulting in the first approval of research for psychedelics.

Today there is a renaissance of psychedelic research and is taking place all over the world. MAPS and the Heffter Research Institute in Santa Fe are the primary research organizations propelling this new wave of research.  The head of MAPS is Rick Doblin a long time therapist who worked with clients using MDMA through the eighties. He has been creating a legal context for the legalization of MDMA and marijuana as sanctioned medicines. MAPS was founded to promote psychedelic therapy and is developing a strategy to pace psychedelic research and it’s reintroduction into the public awareness. The key according to Doblin is to get research going all over the world and have an image presented to the media through the lens of medical research. This approach was designed to avoid public backlash and has thus far been very successful.  Charles Grob is leading researcher for the Heffter Research Institute and he did the first study on MDMA as well as studying ayahusca, and psilocybin.

This first study was pioneered by Rick Strassman and was measuring the physiological effects of DMT on the human body.  This study was the first in four decades and ended the total repression of all medical research.  Strassman wrote a book at the end of the study describing the experiences of the clients and the conclusions he drew from the research called, DMT Spirit Molecule. This study opened the door for a renaissance of psychedelic research which is currently underway.

available at MAPS.org

Grob and Doblin organized a presentation for the FDA to do research with MDMA for cancer patients with anxiety. In 1992 the FDA convened and they opened the door for psychedelic research. The researches needed to do a phase 1 safety study and effectively proved it was sufficiently safe for therapeutic use which initiated a Phase 2 study.

The Heffter Research Institute was founded in 1993 and they began to study psilocybin for terminal cancer patients with anxiety. The HRI has begun to focus on the study of psilocybin. MAPS began to focus on MDMA therapy for PTSD based on a suggestion by the Mithoefers. Since that time there is now more research on psychedelics taking place around the world than ever before. They are focused on three areas. One is MDMA for PTSD. Second is psilocybin, LSD, MDMA for terminal patients with anxiety at the end of life. Three is ayahuasca, ibogane, psilocybin, MDMA, LSD for the treatment of addiction.

These illnesses were chosen because they are problems which have not been effectively treated by therapies currently available. The research is showing initial results suggesting that the psychedelic assisted therapy is effective for treating these disorders. The way these drugs are used in assisted therapy is different from the model of prescription medication because the client does not take the drug home, it can only be used with a therapist.

There are two area of science looking into these drugs. One is neuroscience the other is spirituality and meditation.  There have been studies at John Hopkins studying whether the psychedelics assisted therapy can produce mystical experience. This replicated the experiments from the 1960s such as the Good Friday experiment with Walter Pahnke sponsored by Timothy Leary.

They were able to get psychedelic research to happen again at Harvard with terminal cancer patients symbolically showing that they had departed from the hysteria of the past. The other symbolic victory was to have a study with LSD because it was the most highly stigmatized psychedelic and this occurred in Switzerland for near death psychotherapy and Albert Hofmann was able to see his wonder child back in research.

Albert Hofmann by Brummbaer

Psychedelic studies are happening all over the world with MDMA there are studies in USA, Switzerland, Israel and study near approval in Canada,  teams are seeking approval Jordan, Australia and England.  There are end of life studies using LSD in Switzerland, Studies in the USA. For addiction there are studies in Canada with ayahuasca. There are ibogaine studies for opiate addition in Mexico and New Zeland. Neuroscience research on psychedelics is taking place in Switzerland, Barcelona with ayahusaca in capsule form and 2CB. There is a spirituality and mediation study in 2013 in Switzerland with Zen meditators who in the middle of a 10 day retreat with receive psilocybin and they will measure neurochemistry, levels of compassion and to see the effect of the ingestion is spiritual setting. There are safety studies in Germany and in the 1980s Russians were using ketamine but is now out of access for research because of street use.

MAPS estimates that we are about 10 years away from making MDMA or psilocybin and medicine for PTSD and anxiety related to end of life.  There are still a series of scientific questions to be researched first issue is the double blind. The double blind study with psychedelics is very complicated because it’s easy to know if you have the placebo so instead they are doing dose response. In this there are 3 groups and they each get a different dose and the results will determine the effectiveness of a variety of doses.

Second, researchers need to do a series of small phase 2 pilot studies where they gather evidence for the design of larger phase 3 studies. The phase 2 studies will take 2 years and cost 2 million dollars and look at the treatment method and determine cultural differences. They are also investigating if MDMA more effective for a certain type of PTSD to find the ideal therapies for different clients. For example if MDMA is more effective for those with sexual abuse or for those with experience in war.  Once this is complete MAPS will present the evidence to the FDA in order to gain approval for a phase 3 studies.

This presentation involves describing what you plan to do for the phase 3 study which will involve 600 patients in two studies and will take 5 years and 10 to 15 million dollar to complete. Then MAPS submits the information to the FDA and argue that it should be made legally available this takes an addition 2 years. Thus MAPS is 15 million dollars and ten years away from getting MDMA approved as a medicine.

In terms of marijuana, the research is obstructed by the federal government which has a monopoly on the supply of Marijuana for research. With MDMA there is no monopoly and thus MAPS is able to receive high quality substances for their studies. This is different with Marijuana because the supply has to come from one facility and the quality is very low and thus does not help in the study of Marijuana which is usually of much higher quality when distributed at legal dispensaries. Thus MAPS is not able to do the work through the FDA with marijuana and is involved in legal proceedings to sue the FDA. Psychedelic research is flourishing and the media has been supportive. It seems with the increase of medical information about these substances the public opinion is slowly changing.

By Transpersonal spirit

Bibliography

Cortright, Brant. Psychotherapy and spirit: Theory and practice in transpersonal psychology. SUNY Press. 1997.

Grof Stanislav, Albert Hoffman, Andrew Weil. LSD Psychotherapy, Maps Publishing CA. 1980, 1994, 2001, 2008.

Grof, Stanislav. Healing Our Deepest Wounds The Holotropic Paradigm Shift. Stream of experience Productions, New Castle Washington 2012.

Grof, Stanislav, 2012 and Global Consiouness, www.HealingourDeepest wounds.com Teleseminar aired, May 8 2012, Wisdom University Virtual Seminar.

Grof, Stanislav with Richard Tarnas, How Deep is Deep: Depth Psychology, Consciouness Research and Archetypal Astrology. Wisdom University tele seminar May 15 2012

Grof, Stanislav with Rick Doblin, Charles Grob, Micheal and Annie Mithoefer. The Psychedelic Renaissance: What the New Wave Of Psychedelic Research Can Contribute to Us Individually and Collectively. Wisdom University May 22 2012 tele seminar.

Grof, Stanislav and Grof, Christina. Spiritual Emergency: Breakdown or Breakthough. Wisomd University teleseminar may 29 2012.

Grof, Stanislav, With Erin Laszlo and Duane Elgin. New Frontiers for Science and Healing: Is Science Ready to Welcome Spirit? Wisdome University teleseminar june 5 2012

Grof, Stanislav with Bache, Chris and Jim Garrison. Healing Our Deepest Wounds teleseminar week 5  Dark Night, Early Dawn: Psychospiritual Perspective on the Global Crisis. Wisdom University June 12 2012.

Pahnke, Walter N. and Richard, William A., “implications of LSD and experimental mysticism.” Journal of religion and health No. 5, 1966, 175-208.

Strassman, Rick,   DMT Spirit molecule