Citation: Intronaut. "Mind's Eye: An Experience with LSD (exp107228)". Erowid.org. Dec 7, 2017. erowid.org/exp/107228
On Friday, the 9th, I turned 27 years old and I had already made up my mind to drop acid for the 15th time in my life. I should mention that this single tab was much stronger than I expected. Maybe more potent than any batch I had had in the past.
Acid was the biggest turning point in my life, converting me from a hardcore atheist to a hardcore theist and then eventually to a tolerant agnostic. I’m still agnostic. When I lean toward believing in God I try to practice Sufism: in a nutshell, I seek harmony with everything in my life and see God physically embodied in music. When I lean toward atheism (more often than not,) I practice Buddhism: meditation, yoga, contemplation, seeking mental peace and clarity, alleviating the suffering of others. I frequently incorporate cannabis and stronger entheogens into my spiritual practices.
I frequently incorporate cannabis and stronger entheogens into my spiritual practices.
Frankly, at this point in my life, I don’t really care if God exists. I no longer believe that God’s presence directly affects me via déjà vu and synchronicity, etc. I believe in the inner divinity of the higher self and the teachings of the Buddha. My faith in the spirituality of Buddhism has been totally untouched from the moment I took acid 7 years ago to this day. That includes everything that happened during my trip when practically everything went away from me besides stark, unblinking awareness.
Setting: It was a Friday and I took the day off so that I could have the rest of the weekend to recuperate and integrate my experience. I made plans with my friend to go out to the desert of Northern New Mexico with a few possible destinations in mind, but no explicit schedule. He agreed to drive me around for the day, and at 9am he arrived at my house to start the journey.
Mindset: I was optimistic, but a little nervous. Since it had been so long since the last time I took acid I had no feelings of abusing it like I had in the past. I have been working on myself constantly in the intervening years. Spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially I have tried my best to achieve some stability. I was not really afraid of losing control or going insane. I have had bad acid trips in the past where this was my main preoccupation. On the drive I expressed to my friend that I had a few minor insecurities that may come up, such as the healthiness of my relationship, or my constant feelings of self consciousness. One of my only intentions was to let go of my overly controlling, anal retentive attitude. I managed to eat half a Clif bar before dosing. I wasn’t able to eat anything else until after midnight. I drank over a quart of SmartWater throughout the day.
Time: 10:30am. We arrived at our first destination, a natural stone amphitheater. The dome is a hundred feet high or more, very wide, and very round. It’s like a bowl buried in the ground on its side. After a short and easy walk on the comfortable sidewalk, we arrived at an overlook. After a couple of quick experiments with various musical instruments to hear the echoes they threw, I decided to take one tab of the acid I had acquired last month. I looked straight up at the rim of the amphitheater and the deep blue sky. I was feeling excited. I placed the tab in my mouth.
Coming up: While waiting for the blotter paper to come apart, I hopped over the guard rail and slid down a short hill to a little pit in the middle of the circle at the bottom. He and I carried our various instruments to this pit and laid them out to begin our experiments. I picked up a wooden bongo and played it in time with the echoes bouncing off the walls. We took turns playing my big frame drum that has a long, resonating tone. My didgeridoo didn’t reflect much sound because the space was too big and open and the tone too low. I began playing my octave mandolin and was very pleased by the sound. My friend took a short walk back down the sidewalk away from the pit to hear the echoes of my music.
When he came back, we jammed for a little bit and amused the other tourists who came to the overlook to listen. There was a woman playing a flute with us for a while, too. I began to feel slight alterations in my state of mind while playing the mandolin. When I decided to put the instrument down and go for a walk, I noticed that I was definitely already in an altered state. I walked down the sidewalk while my friend continued to drum. The echo became more separated from his playing and more focused the farther I walked. I could still hear him clearly several hundred feet away. I marveled at the gorgeous weather and beautiful colors of rock all around me. The juniper trees were supernaturally green.
I felt even more excited than before and sat down to do a brief meditation on a bench. A couple passed me and we said hi to each other. I was slightly worried they would think we were high if we interacted too much, so I waited a while before walking back. I had a slight trepidation about going back to the pit because of that. Eventually I started walking back, feeling not a whole lot higher than when I’d left. We played for a little while more and then packed everything up to go. We were at this first spot for about an hour and a half. It must have been nearly noon.
Peak: We started our drive then to a remote monastery in the middle of a long canyon. We turned back onto the highway and took the 13 mile dirt road there all along the Rio Chama. The road was bumpy and the scenery was breathtaking. All the rocks were bright, colorful gradients: greyish yellow, pale to deep red, and dark grey to black. The landscape was littered with bright green juniper trees with indigo shadows. The road was tan dust. The sky was azure with small cloud spotting. There were also some wildflowers in a few bright colors. I remarked to my friend, “Rainbows everywhere!” Shadows were starting to shift hue and everything was jiggling with the motion of the car. I felt a steady surge of energy moving through my body and I pushed against the floor of the car to use my legs as shock absorbers. The wind was comfortable as it blew through the window and across my face. We were both feeling bold and adventurous.
I had no appetite whatsoever. I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish my Clif bar any time soon. I was pretty good about drinking lots of water throughout the day, though. That was a good decision, because I could have easily gotten dehydrated in the desert on this sunny day. Especially when we were exerting ourselves constantly for several hours. The vibrating energy of the car was extremely pleasing for the few hours we were in it. It complemented my state of mind and the energy surging through my body. I felt grounded for the most part whenever we got out to walk around.
We saw various other roads to our left leading down to the river, so we decided to drive down each one to see what was there. First we found a small boat landing. I took off my shoes and dipped my feet in the cool, sage-colored water. At this point I was ecstatic and we were both grinning and laughing constantly. I laid down on the slightly slanted concrete of the boat landing and soaked up the sun for a while, totally at peace. The thin wisps of clouds overhead began to dance and split into fractals. All the visuals I had throughout the day gave me a sense of expansion, patterns gliding cleanly in all directions. I started walking goofily under the inebriation.
As we continued driving, my open and closed eye visuals became much stronger. They formed geometrically perfect fractals, tessellations, spirals, and other patterns. I saw what I thought to be indigenous Mexican motifs, like curving, rectangular eyes or leaves cascading from the bottom left to the top right of my vision. That pattern, hard as it is to accurately describe, pervaded my vision and thoughts for most of the day. It stayed with me throughout the peak and seemed to be opening out at either end to unlimited space within my head.
I invoked the name of Ram Dass and remembered as he described a powerful LSD trip in which he lost all aspects of himself he had come to know so well. As each part of him left, he said to himself, “Well at least I still have my body.” And at that, even his body disappeared and he was nothing more than a point of awareness. When I thought about that, I too became a point of awareness watching all this happen. I wasn’t dissociated (sometimes I start to think that I don’t exist at all and begin to completely detach and panic, but not this time) because I knew that nothing had really changed. I still knew that I had a body, but it seemed like I no longer had an ego. I remarked that it seems like acid has the power to erode at everything about you but your core self.
There was a sign that said Whirlpool. He said, “Whirlpool?? Do I even need to ask?” We took that road without hesitation. The dirt road became a labyrinth of winding paths with dead ends near the river. We never found a definitive whirlpool, but we spent a good amount of time driving around all the criss-crossing roads and ditches. His truck did not struggle at all. During this time, my vision shook loose. Now everything was moving at once. It was like looking through a slinky as the far end undulated in all directions. Every color was pushed to its extreme. More patterns, growing larger every minute, formed on the back of my eyelids. My mood was still happy and euphoric. Starting around this point and continuing for almost the whole day, I had a huge amount of restless energy in my jaw.
I had a huge amount of restless energy in my jaw.
I couldn’t stop opening it wider and wider. The energy kept my jaw chattering in the open position. It reminded me of a previous acid trip where I got severe nervous shivers/tremors and my teeth were chattering uncontrollably. This time it wasn’t so scary and I just dealt with it. It even added to my sense of wonder and amazement.
Next we came to a campground. We passed a couple of families and their cars at their sites. We stopped at an empty campsite with a picnic table and walked down to the river again. My friend exclaimed that he’d found a rope swing hanging from the tree over the river. I cautiously climbed down, took my shoes off and placed everything that was in my pockets on the ground. I grabbed the rope. It took me a minute or so to find a good place to jump off. I put my foot in one of the loops, held onto the rope, and jumped from the ground out over the river, letting out a whoop. The rope was pretty uncomfortable, and the tree seemed a little flimsy, but it was a huge rush. It was just what I needed to get out of my head for a second. He pulled me in and I carefully got down to give him a chance to go.
After he got down we sat on the river bank for a good while. I stared at a mountain on the opposite side of the river and watched it transform into a painting á la Van Gogh or Georgia O’Keeffe. It was constantly moving, the texture of detailed lines or brushstrokes shifting smoothly like the surface of the water. I recalled that I had very recently lost two of my best friends and that this experience was intended to honor them. I was doing my best to enjoy my life to the fullest while I had the time. All this struck me as overwhelmingly poignant and I cried a bit.
We moved on and found a bridge. While walking out over the river, he was talking about the elements: water, fire, earth, wind. The river was rushing below us in grand spirals. Finally we decided to continue on the road and get to the monastery. Although we only saw a couple of cars on our way there, there were a few cars parked and people getting out as we got closer. The architecture was mind-blowing. The walls of the buildings were made from the same rock as the surrounding cliffs. The monastery both blended in and stood out from the landscape. Since I was still peaking, we both decided to just turn around and head back, having seen the monastery’s beauty. We had more fun on the drive there anyway.
As we made our way back, we continued to marvel at the beauty of the canyon walls on either side, the mountains in the distance shimmering in the sun, the aspen trees that were bright yellow, the river and its power, and the huge array of colors everywhere. I wondered if it was all real. It seemed too perfect. I took slight consolation in knowing that, sober or tripping, I couldn’t be 100% sure that what I was perceiving was real. I do know that the point of awareness that I found out there was as real to me as anything could be, beyond all the subjectivity of perception. After the dirt road ended, we tried to visit a popular retreat center on the other side of the highway, but I decided I wasn’t comfortable around so many people. I had hoped to go for a hike there, but since that would involve putting on socks and hiking shoes I figured that would too difficult a task to perform around other people and that could make me panic. We turned around and went to our final destination: Abiquiu Lake.
Denouement: We took the truck down to the cliff-jumping spot at one end of the lake. I got out and walked aimlessly around, indecisive. The red sand walls on all sides of the lake appeared to be shimmering and rippling in place. The water was deeper blue than the sky and covered in small waves. To our left was a small, dark cloud. Apart from that, the sun shone brightly through sparse white wisps and puffs of clouds floating just as aimlessly as me. Some of the clouds seemed to be the same shape as the trees and shrubs growing all around. My closed eye visuals were more abstract now. But when I laid out a blanket on the rock and stared up at the clouds again, they formed even more intricate patterns and moved around much more than they had before. I still had impressions of the eye-shaped pattern emerging from and covering everything I could see and then swimming across my field of vision.
My friend decided to jump in the lake from the cliff right in front of us. I was in no real state to do the same. I was afraid that I would become confused as I hit the water, start to panic, and inadvertently drown myself. It was just a thought but I didn’t want to find out if there was any truth behind it. He said the water was very cold but he dried off quickly from the sun and the wind. At one point I needed to do some yoga on the rock. I had become too comfortable and needed to engage my body more consciously. Oftentimes things would get serious, or clumsiness or inability to speak my thoughts would present itself and threaten embarrassment. We laughed it off with folksy humor: “Aww shit!” or “Gosh darnit!” The good vibes were rolling in full force. They allowed me to flow on and not get stuck in anything negative.
I remembered the sensation that I was all too familiar with: that an acid trip can make me think it will last forever. Not just because it has such a long duration and the power to distort time perception, but because it’s so subtle and sneaky. Just when I think it’s over, I see something that makes me think twice. It seemed for several hours that it was coming and going simultaneously. I was hit with constantly contradicting feelings of relief and overwhelming uncertainty. It was extremely disorienting and often a little frightening. Frequently at this point in the trip I lost all sense of time.
We sat on the rock listening to some EDM that melded well with my state of mind. I noticed how lucky we were not to be disturbed by a single person the whole time we were there. It probably would have been difficult for me to handle. Sigur Rós came on a few times, adding even more beauty and awe to the experience. As far as tripping music goes, not much else comes close in my opinion. I was reminded of the poignancy and beauty of life again. I reminisced about one of the first times I came here. I was drunk, high, and tripping on mushrooms. I jumped off the cliff and went for a long swim. We went off-roading in his same truck. It rained beautifully on us. I had a glorious time. He remembered that day too.
The visuals I got while at the lake were incredible. It was like a scene straight out of Natural Born Killers. At one point when I went to pee, I felt like everything was sliding sideways and stretching like taffy. When I was lying down on the blanket and my friend got up to talk about something, it looked like his contrast was turned up, the sky behind him ultra-saturated, his shades reflecting the image of me on the blanket. This whole time I saw tracers made of rainbows following behind everything that moved. His hands gesticulating wildly as he talked, it was like he was putting on a glow stick show for me in the middle of the day. When I looked at my own hands, they seemed fake. Beautiful rainbow trails followed every movement that I made with them. I looked down and saw with amazement that my body kept going, from my arms down to my torso, and then my legs and feet. This is my body, I told myself, only half believing it. I still had a steady connection to my single-pointed awareness, while everything around me was in constant flux. I was heartbroken that our species has allowed the Earth to become so sick. I had an intimation that while I’m alive I can envision my core self as being a river of light flowing through all aspects of myself out to everything that I do, and through all the implications those things have for others. When I die, perhaps, I will be nothing but a point in space, fully aware and immaterial.
I guess it was probably around 3pm when we arrived at that spot, and 5pm when we started heading home. The dark cloud to our left slowly grew bigger and more threatening. It didn’t concern me much, but my friend wanted to make sure we didn’t have to go back up the hill in the rain. For that reason, we decided to leave once the sun went behind it.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about leaving. Part of me was ready to go home, but part of me definitely wasn’t. I didn’t want to re-enter civilization. I wanted to spend the rest of the trip and the rest of my life in the wilderness.
I didn’t want to re-enter civilization. I wanted to spend the rest of the trip and the rest of my life in the wilderness.
I realized the struggle that implied and the hypocrisy of driving in a truck made from materials in a factory while decrying society’s faults. The drive back took a little over an hour. I got a definite sense that I was finally starting to come down. I had my first glimpse of my own sane mind in hours. I got a call from a couple of friends on the East Coast wishing me a happy birthday. My friend decided to pull over and pick up a hitchhiker on the highway, who hopped in the bed of the truck for the rest of the drive.
I was seeing everything there was to see. Everything was crystal clear with bright colors, intense contrasts, and all the subtlety of a full-blown acid trip beginning to taper off. It was like I was seeing for the first time. I thought about something Terence McKenna once said, that taking psychedelics reveals the forms and patterns of the mind. It’s like dropping ink into some water and seeing how the convection currents are formed. As I let my mind wander and examine multitudes of little things, I saw paradoxes and dualities I was unaware of before. I tried explaining this to my friend. All the little things my mind came to were eventually elucidated by my newfound awareness. Where usually these thoughts are like clouds of confusion, psychedelics will often show me underlying patterns, and make certain things very clear to me. I say, “This makes sense now! All this other stuff doesn’t.” And I start to move in the right direction. Psychedelics have the power to demonstrate how sane thinking is fundamentally different from insane thinking. It’s bizarre how close our ordinary waking consciousness is to insane thinking. Society is like a mass psychosis. I realized that I want and need to do three things in life: take care of my body, take care of the planet, and allow my mind to go wherever it desires to go. When we got back to town, we finally stopped at a pharmacy so my friend could buy some beer. The hitchhiker took off. I put my instruments in the back of the cab with a little difficulty and messed around on my phone for a while until he came back out.
My friend has recently moved to a new house. It’s bigger and better than his previous apartment, so we both figured it would be a great place to come down from a trip. I spent a long time trying to make up my mind about whether or not to go to a show at 7:30 that my girlfriend and I had tickets to. At around 6:30, I called her and on the phone I decided I shouldn’t go. It would be too overwhelming. I was still tripping harder than I’ve been in a long time. She didn’t sound too disappointed. It was unfortunate that I wouldn’t end up seeing her for the rest of the day, but within half an hour I realized that was definitely the right decision.
After I thought I was mostly done with the acute effects of the trip, they came back strong. I sat down and we talked for a while about all the things I had thought about and felt. We listened to some of Modest Mouse’s new album. I was blown away by how psychedelic and fleshed out it was compared to their earlier albums. I was so grateful to have someone who was not only there for me for emotional and mental support throughout the experience, but who was willing to drive me around all day. I started drawing on some paper, eventually filling it in completely with abstract, fractal patterns. We climbed a ladder and got on his roof to watch the sunset.
Next transition: We were about to start a game of chess, so I set up the board and sat down at the table. Suddenly one of his new neighbors knocked on the door. She was drinking a vodka and juice, and soon she skeptically asked about the chess board. I didn’t think she would understand. He and I tried our best to hint that maybe she should head home soon while not divulging anything too specific about our day to her just yet. She didn’t take our hints and instead stayed for a long time. I became a little uncomfortable because I was feeling very antisocial. I guessed that neither of us was comfortable telling her too much about our day.
The two of them became very friendly and went outside for a cigarette. I sat down on the couch and opened to the first page of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, which he and I had talked about earlier. At the end of the first paragraph, my mind was changed. The last sentence of the first paragraph is, “ Already he knew how to recognize Atman within the depth of his being, indestructible, at one with the universe.” I knew that this was a direct reference to what I experienced all day, and still had access to: the point of unlimited awareness watching and guiding my body as it interacted with all around me. I put down the book and knew that I could be at peace with literally everything. She was, after all, no different from me, no different from anything in my environment, and finding peace with her was effortless. I put away my ego and decided to just be ready for anything that happened. That was a huge step toward letting go of my anal retentiveness.
I started conversations with the two of them, and eventually she invited us over to her house across the street to meet her dogs. They were both very sweet. She made herself another drink and we headed back to my friend’s house. I expressed to him that I wanted to go somewhere. Like back out to the desert to look at the night sky, or even just for a walk around the block. He had been drinking already and told me he wasn’t good to drive. At one point I started trying to draw some of the tessellations I had seen earlier. She asked me what I was drawing and I gave her the cryptic answer that I had seen these patterns on the back of my eyelids. It’s not that I was afraid of what she would think if I told her everything, I was just having fun trying to push it as far as it would go before I did. After a while, the three of us started down the road to a walking path. No sooner had we started walking down the street than my friend’s brother showed up. He also lives at the house and had just come home from work. We told him we were going for a walk and he said he would try to follow us.
My friend brought his longboard and began riding down the street. We got to the foot path and I welcomed the lower stimulation of darkness. His neighbor was playing the Doors on her phone. Then she switched to Jimi Hendrix. At one point we laid down to look at the stars. The Milky Way was clearly visible. My friend was drunk now and tried to get each of us to ride his longboard. In the dark, it was almost impossible. She ended up tripping and scraping her knee. She brushed it off and kept walking. I was trying to be helpful in any way that I could. I was now on a mission to be of service to everyone I met. I realized my own prejudices and assumptions were preventing me from making connections. She had been nothing but kind to me and I wanted to do the same. I eventually told her I had taken acid that morning. She had no problem with it and we had a short conversation about psychedelics.
When we started walking back, we ran into my friend’s brother and their other friend. They both asked me if they could have some of my acid. I told them I could give them the number of the guy I got it from but that what I had was for me. I didn’t want to deal with other people coming up on what I’d just had. I just wanted a nice, clean comedown. They didn’t seem to have the respect that I had for it. Not to be self-righteous, I just didn’t want anything negative to happen to them on my account. I was ok with taking on their karma and them taking on mine, but their karma while tripping acid was something else entirely for the state I was in.
We got back to the house, more people showed up, and it turned into kind of a small party. I was not feeling it. Everybody was drinking and talking loudly. Even though I still had a strong connection to my single-pointed awareness and the urge to be in harmony with everyone, my senses were overwhelmed. I tried to communicate to my friend how I was feeling, and we had some moments of connection, but by now he was really drunk and having a good time. He climbed up onto the adobe awning over his porch. Since he does a lot of bouldering, he has his own crash pads, so he decided to jump onto them rather than climb down. When he was finally down I said goodbye to everyone and got a ride home from his housemate. On the drive back to my house I described as much of my trip as I could. Later I found out my friend had cut his ankle while climbing onto the awning.
Final descent: When I got home, my dogs went crazy. It was around 12:30 in the morning and they’d been alone for a few hours. My girlfriend had decided to spend the night at her friend’s house. I needed some time alone. I realized I hadn’t had any time alone all day. I did a little bit of cleaning and gave the dogs some attention, but they were too excited to cuddle. I was worried about them playing too rough and hurting each other, but I decided to have faith in them and just let them get their energy out so we could sleep later. They were fine. I boiled some water for tea, but I couldn’t definitely conclude that I had any decaf in the house, so I just relaxed with some hot water. I made a special “Comedown” playlist on my computer. It was like hearing music for the first time. While this sensation is very common on acid, I was still taken aback by the clarity of the music, wishing to experience it all the time. At 1am I sat down and recorded a video of myself talking about my day and my experiences for a minute or two. I barely scratched the surface. I made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and finally realized just how hungry I was. Still, my stomach would only accept so much food at one time.
I found myself thinking about things I’d never thought about before and making connections that I’d never seen before. This stage lasted a long time, during which I was awed by the power of my experience and enchanted by the subtlety of life. At 3:15am I sat down and recorded another video monologue, this time about half an hour long and covering chakras and my thoughts about them. I also talked about my thoughts on becoming a better person through awareness and effort, and various stray ideas that occurred to me during the day. I consider myself extremely lucky to have had this experience despite my trepidations about taking acid. But I believe it was a combination of luck and divine grace that allowed me to see beyond myself and ultimately have the transformative, life-changing experience I had hoped for. I do see that it can be possible to consciously integrate the divine presence of a higher power into one’s life without buying wholesale into a theistic ideology. I felt a huge relief as I finished recording this video, ending it with the line, “Everyone is worthy of love, so love them.”
I realized despite my insecurities about myself, my relationship, my friendships, and my beliefs about the universe, nothing ended up cropping up to cause me anguish throughout the day. I know that I love my girlfriend, I love our dogs, my friends, and this opportunity to live that I’ve been blessed with. I want what’s best for everyone, regardless of how many separate realities that might imply. How healthy all of my interactions with others are depends heavily on me, but at a certain point it’s beyond my control. I found peace with this, my power to help others and my powerlessness to save others.
At 4:00am I got some messages from another friend who is struggling to accept himself. I called him up and offered some insights I had gained that day. I was still feeling at peace with the universe and wanted to relieve suffering in any way I could. I said if he wanted me to, I would mediate things between him and another of my friends. I think he was in a better place when we hung up the phone. I went to bed shortly thereafter. I was still not at 100% sober, baseline consciousness, but I was too exhausted to go on. My dreams were normal, but below the level of awareness where I could remember and describe them afterward.
Next day: I woke up the next morning completely sober, back to ordinary reality, with a slight headache I attributed to not eating for almost the whole day. I stuck with my plan to remain absolutely sober for over 24 hours after the event. It gave me a great opportunity to reflect on and integrate the entire experience. I talked with a friend on the East Coast for a long time about a range of things. Again I shared insights with her, sought to relieve her suffering, and in the end, I think she was in a better place after we talked. I achieved a level of effortless grace. I knew exactly what to say to do the most good and the least harm. I was truly humble. I wish I could have stayed there longer. Eventually I was firmly back in my comfortable, familiar ego space, despite the experience I thought would last forever.
Eventually I was firmly back in my comfortable, familiar ego space, despite the experience I thought would last forever.
I had only brief glimpses afterwards of the egoless space of utter awareness that I was in for such a long time. Things gradually resumed their ordinary patterns, but with a greater lightness and reverence than before.
I’ve tried my best to illustrate every aspect of the experience that I can remember. It’s now been just over a week and I’m grateful for every moment.
Background: My first 14 trips occurred within a timespan of 3 years between 2008 and 2011. I hadn’t taken any acid in the 4 years since then, but I have been taking low doses of psilocybin pretty frequently in that time. In 2015 I averaged one psilocybin trip per month and I smoked weed more or less daily.
I’ve had a total of about 200 psychedelic trips in my life, mostly with psilocybin. I’ve smoked Salvia about 50 times, smoked DMT 8 times, and drunk San Pedro juice once.
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