Be Prepared to Be Utterly Unprepared...
Citation: DJ-DDP. "Be Prepared to Be Utterly Unprepared...: An Experience with DMT (exp108821)". Erowid.org. Oct 10, 2017. erowid.org/exp/108821
||(powder / crystals)
I am a long-time (30+ year) psychedelics/entheogenics user (including a number of major high/“heroic”-dose experiences under supervision of both of my shamanic teachers). In the past, I have used LSD, mescaline, MDMA, 2C-B, Nitrous Oxide, Heroin, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Adderall (by prescription), mushrooms, Ketamine, and many others, as well as being a daily user of cannabis/hash. I am also a formal practicing Zen Buddhist of 15 years, with a long-standing practice rooted in zazen/shikantaza. Having said all that, I don’t want to come off as claiming to have my psychic shit in a pile more than anybody else: I merely state that I have a pretty good grasp of my personal psychology, my mind, my body, and my spirit. Even so, I have had brief periods of over-use, but for the most part, I treat these compounds as medicines for the mind, heart, and spirit, and approach them with respect.
I was gifted a small quantity of DMT powder by a close friend. Unlike the last supply I’d gotten, which looked to be a very crude home extraction, this powder was very clean looking, homogenous, and of a light fawn color. Unfortunately, neither my friend nor I could discern what flavor of DMT it was (N,N- or 5-MeO-) so I figured that it was going to take me tasting it to suss that out.
Oddly enough, it was me who introduced N,N-DMT to that same friend a few years earlier. Back then, I didn’t have much by way of a proper DMT set-up; the powder was either placed between dried mint leaves and smoked raw, or later, to help keep it from burning, loaded into a crude hand-and-lighter vaporizer rig. The experiences were valuable, but of very low threshold. Some mild, interesting visuals, but nothing astounding. It did, however, teach us both that there was something great and majestic awaiting us in this compound.
So, about a month ago, I decided that I should at least try and suss out what type of DMT I’d been gifted. I was hoping for N,N-DMT, and I figured that with an extremely low dose, I should be able to sense which it was if the body sensation (for me, it always felt like I’d climbed into an elevator, hit the “up” button, but inexplicably started going “down” rather abruptly) was present, without launching myself into hyperspace. Having found an unused glass vapor bulb (aka “meth pipe”) in my hash oil kit a few days earlier that fit my favorite water pipe, I believed I’d gathered the perfect set-up. So one Friday night as my girlfriend and I readied for bed, I told her that I wanted to do it, and would she mind spotting for me. I told her a bit about the substance, what she could possibly expect of me if I wound up going further than I’d planned, some safety reassurances, etc, etc. I told her the chances of me being “gone” were low, but not zero, and if I got more from it than I’d planned, I’d just have to roll with it.
So, with a tiny (think “head of a stick-pin”) amount loaded into the bulb, I climbed into bed with her, gave her a kiss, and said “Well, let’s see what I can see, huh?”
I used a butane torch to heat the bulb, and got a minuscule whiff of gray-white smoke, barely noticeable, filling the bulb. I drew it into my lungs, held it for as long as I was comfortable, then exhaled. The distinct “burning plastic” odor was present, but besides that, I had no noticeable effects, and said so. I waited ten-or-so minutes, to let whatever DMT I had in my system metabolize out, and loaded the bulb again. This time the amount I placed in the pipe was about the amount (by volume) that looked the size of a sesame seed. I torched it, and could see it readily melt into an amber-ish liquid quite readily, then into an off-white mist. I inhaled deeply, help my breath for about 20 seconds, then exhaled. Seeing no vapor, and barely tasting anything upon exhalation, I thought I may have low-balled it again, and was about to say “That’s it for tonight” when suddenly, to my amazement, I was struck by a feeling of profound majesty the likes of which I still find hard to describe. I knew I was off, and tried to communicate that to her, but all I could say was “Oh… oh, wow! Wow. Lights! Get the lights!”
I was utterly dumbfounded. I thought for sure I’d barely have gotten any in me.
I was very, very wrong.
In the darkness, before me flayed open all of reality. It was as if I was the center of the Universe, and everywhere I looked, I could see the gently throbbing, pulsing machinery that underlies the fabric of spacetime. On one hand, they were slightly crystalline, and on the other, very soft and organic. As I let the fractals coalesce and tick away like the most intricate of watch mechanisms, I saw before my eyes a flow of pipes (or what at least looked like pipes), tubes, and wires, They moved, weaving themselves together into a larger, more singular column, not unlike a fluted Doric column in an ancient Greek ruin, with these tubes forming the fluting of the length of the column, but at places crossing over themselves. A sparkling, colorful energy seemed to pulse and flow through them as if the tubes that made up this column themselves were transparent. A moment later, and I suddenly could see that they were not tubes at all. They *were* that flowing energy. And as my view of it/them clarified and sharpened, I could see that each glowing, twinkling light of that energy was a numerical digit, a 1, 3, 0, 2, 7, 4, and on and on, flowing endlessly, continuously, eternally. Each digit, a different, glowing translucent, almost fluorescent, color. I was simply amazed.
It was breathtaking.
More than amazed, I was truly speechless. This gave a whole new meaning to the word “breathtaking”. I remember hearing myself exhale very slowly and intentionally over and over again as the experience kept building up, and was comforted by that sound.
I remember hearing myself exhale very slowly and intentionally over and over again as the experience kept building up, and was comforted by that sound.
“Well, at least I’m still breathing!” I remember saying to myself.
Speaking of internal dialogue, I also remembered being quite surprised at how lucid I remained. I could distinctly hear myself narrate this experience to myself. My ego was along for the ride, was still functioning rather well, and was actually having quite a pleasant time of it.
I remember saying to myself “How utterly alien this feels! How utterly alien, yet somehow, comforting and oddly familiar. This place, these things stand outside of space and time, yet they feel familiar. In my core, I know this place. I know this place...and it knows me.”
Opening my eyes, the room was pitch dark, save for the dim light of the stairwell (which for some reason gave off a slightly sinister energy). Every shape I could see seemed completely and abjectly alien to my mind. It was starting to make me feel a bit uncomfortable, and I had a moment of that all-too-familiar-to-psychonauts anxiety, where you say “When will this get back to normal? Am I stuck here?” I closed my eyes again, and—while letting the ambient music wash over me—I simply reminded myself that I only had one hit, and that at maximum, the experience couldn’t last more than 20 minutes. It felt like 40 had already passed, but I simply relaxed into it as best I could, and watched the crystalline colors spin and tick-tock in their Mandelbrot majesty.
I suddenly but gently heard my ego/narrator chime in, reassuring me “It will all come back together again” a number of times. I then realized that this was being told to “me” on more than one level. In the most gross, obvious way, it was being said to reassure me that baseline would once again be reached. On another, more spiritual level, I was feeling that I was being told that all life energy returns to the vast ocean of consciousness from whence it had come, and this gave me both comfort of spirit, and a shiver of gnosis that so often goes with revelation. On the greatest cosmic scale, though, I somehow knew that I was being told internally—from a knowing, yet somehow external point-of-view—that one of the grand prize questions of physics (id est; “How will the Universe end?”) is answered by these six words, and yet not. I suddenly realized that the question was wrong by one word. The use of “end” presupposes a result, an outcome, that is wholly and totally subjective, and not only subjective, but relative. How does something that has the infinite and eternal built into its very fabric ever truly “end”? We may be headed for a “Big Crunch”, a “Big Rip”, or a “Big Bounce” as theorists postulate, but in some way—some yet-to-be-discovered manner—all energy and all matter will reunite, and continue on. This realization overwhelmed me at first, then gave me great comfort. I let it float freely in my mind for a moment, and relaxed.
After what seemed like forever, I decided I’d better say something to my girlfriend to let her know I was okay after having been silent for so very, very long.
“I’m… I’m… okay. I’m just… letting this… happen.”
“Okay, honey. I’m right here.”
She took my hand and placed it on her breast. It felt like it was covered in cold honey. It was comforting.
“Can you describe what you’re seeing?” she asked.
I sort of stammered.
“I… I… No. Not yet.”
“Are you seeing colors?”
I stayed silent. Another eternity later, and I could feel myself reintegrating with this gross reality.
“I’m sorry I was silent for so long. I’m sorry that took so long. I hope you weren’t worried too badly,” I said apologetically, still buzzing and ringing with this alien energy.
“Long? It wasn’t *that* long.”
“How long was I silent?” I asked.
“About three minutes,” she replied.
This hit me like a truck.
“Shut the front door! THREE MINUTES?” I exclaimed.
“Yup,” she replied. “The entire thing was probably only eight minutes long…”
I buzzed inside at hearing this. Powder the size of a small seed. Barely noticeable smoke. Negligible on the palate. Suddenly able to see through the fabric of spacetime, and taste infinity with every breath. And I know very well that I hadn’t even “broken through”. This was but a glimpse.
I tried to explain what happened, where I went, what I saw, but the best I could really do was go “Uhhh… well, uhh, wow, gosh, uhhh…”
The discussion closed for the night with her again asking “Did you see… colors?”
“Colors?” I replied. “Colors? *Colors?* The word ‘colors’ is an insult to what I saw…”
The above could easily be looked at as a completely glowing experience, and in most ways, it most certainly was for me. But there are a number of important things to point out in, or take away from, this experience that I would like the reader to take very seriously as potential modifiers and down-regulators:
As I said in the preface, I am an experienced explorer, and by that, I mean that I have had the great benefit of having studied under two excellent teachers of both psychedelics and neo-shamanism. One was a credentialed psychological clinician, and the other a very well regarded alternative therapist/LCSW. Add to that that I have had significant practice in identification and reduction of ego attachment through formal practice of Zen Buddhism with a world-renowned Roshi (including multiple long-form silent monastic retreats, or “seshin” at a number of monasteries, sitting silent meditation for an average of 8 hours a day for at times a week or more). Again, this is not to inflate myself. This is to contextualize my take on this experience. I know full well that were this experience to have happened, say, 30 years ago, it would have blown my doors right off. This was one of the top five psycho-spiritual experiences of my entire life, and I know that were I not to have had the training I am blessed to have accumulated in my life, the potential for this experience to have gone existentially negative (sharply and quickly, I might add) is rather high, but it could also have easily resulted in a potentially psyche-damaging experience, as well, and with potentially long-term personality and cognitive repercussions.
It is also important to note that while very spiritual, this experience was more deeply rooted in—for lack of a better descriptor—“science-mind” for me. It is so very easy to get all über-hippie/new-agey about experiences of consciousness that certain compounds may help manifest, with the vivid imagery, hyper-awareness, feelings of euphoria, supposed glimpses of the cosmic, the eternal, etc, etc. It can all get very “woo-woo”, and easily sweep the psychonaut away to patchouli-scented realms out beyond the river Alph that are less attached to day-to-day reality, and more mere fantasy.
I find no use whatsoever to that tack, nor to the use of substances that induce such “paltry amusements”, as I call them. I employ these compounds in my life to explore consciousness, however it truly is. I try and explore the moment as it is; whole, total, and complete, lacking nothing. If—after use of a given compound—in the next day or two that follows, I do not feel more integrated with and connected to *this* life than I did before the experience (or, say, more than or equal to a long meditation session), I normally do not care to go back to the compound in question. To do so is a distraction from this moment, and I have taken vows in a number of spiritual traditions to not needlessly “cloud my mind”, but to look for a way to practice with each and every moment I have access to in this life, for the benefit of all sentient beings. That which provides me with an experience that jibes with my mind’s appreciation of science (and this experience most certainly did) tends to have “more legs” for me.
I could paint you very pretty psychedelic pictures of what I saw, but to what end? They are not likely to be the things you would see, or feel what you feel, so to do so, I believe, would be unhelpful at best, and potentially damaging; setting up externally gestated preconceptions of a wholly subjective experience that, while it may share some select aesthetically common elements, is still completely individualistic in both its expression, and its greater “meaning” in a person’s life. That which is beautiful and awe-inspiring to me may in fact be horrifying to you, much in the same way that the works of certain artists, writers, and musicians (H. R. Giger, Lovecraft, Philip Glass, et al) are found ugly, morbid, grotesque, and depressing to some, but truly beautiful, inspiring, and life-affirming to others. I say all this to restate and reinforce that the magnitude of this experience can be off-the-charts (even at the small dose I took) and to take from one or two internet “trip reports” the notion that one has performed due diligence and can “know what to expect” is not only foolish, but potentially dangerous.
DMT is an amazing molecule that insists upon the highest levels of respect. To use it in a cavalier manner for “a trippy time, dude” is either intellectual naïveté at its most unbridled, or its most hubristic. This is a phenomenally powerful teacher, and no matter where one is in life’s journey, it *will* teach you a lesson. Just don’t be surprised if that lesson was “You’re not ready for me yet…”
I know that I am not yet ready for that second hit. It will take me a good long while to process *this* experience. To rush back would be like trying to master calculus after just learning how to add and subtract.
Tread very carefully, friends.
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