Mushrooms - P. cubensis & Meditation
Citation: Mel. "Color Choice Game: An Experience with Mushrooms - P. cubensis & Meditation (exp12142)". Erowid.org. Dec 3, 2004. erowid.org/exp/12142
I'm a college student, twenty years old. Rather than a report of a specific incident, this is more of a comparison of several ecstatic experiences in my life, some of which were initiated through mushrooms, and others of which grew out of other circumstances. So, the emphasis is more theoretical than pharmacological -- but I think it has a place here. It is the story of how I came to understand that the entheatogenic/psychedelic/ecstatic experience as generated by mushrooms and as generated by non-chemical means were fundamentally the same.
I first took mushrooms in the spring of 2000 at an outdoor music festival. The dose was about 1/16th of an ounce dried, eaten in the afternoon after fasting for 12 hours. The visual effects of the trip were pretty nifty, though not overwhelming-haloing, a nifty fractal overlay on the sky, in which airliners left wakes as they flew by. More significant for this reflection were the mental effects. The main thread was a dropping away of stereotypes. When I looked out over the crowds of people, many of whom I knew, I saw my stereotypes of them displayed like captions. When these prejudices were laid out explicitly for me, it was easy to let them drop away. I felt an immense connection to all people, as if I had been allowed to step outside of the structures of simplification that I normally practiced and see that all people are far more alike than they are different. This brought me a profound and swelling sense of love. There was also a bit of painful self-reflection. I felt lost, and unsure about my path, deprived of the certainty of my assumptions about my inherent worth. Yet, as I was coming down I was reassured of my self-worth, a worth not based on any talent or ability of mine, but rather my more essential value as a creation of God.
This experience really jogged me. I was compelled to think hard, and to write in reflection. But, fundamentally, the experience seemed familiar. In particular the aspect of prejudices dropping away was identical to that of two prior experiences. The first was a very intense retreat I went on in high school. By the end of that week, I felt as free of my assumptions about others and as reassured about my own inherent worth as after tripping. The other was a community service trip in which the aspect of being able to step outside of presumptions was equally present. The common element among these two experiences were a sense of close community and a high degree of physical stress from sleep deprivation and physical work. Although I saw many parallels shrooming and these experiences, I wasn't convinced of their basically identical nature.
The year that followed was a difficult one for me. I often felt isolated from my peers and in general had a pretty rough time of it. I read Aldous Huxely's 'Doors of Perception' and 'Heaven and Hell' and started to get into C.S. Lewis pretty heavily, 'Screwtape Letters,' 'Mere Christianity.' I also started to work with Baba Ram Dass' 'Be Here Now,' to which I was drawn by the almost startling similarity between his reflections on the psychedelic experience and my own. When spring came around, I planned on shrooming again.
Problem was, the actual trip came together in a really bad way. I was going to shroom at the same outdoor festival. Except this time around, I was extremely short on sleep from writing late into the evening for a week, it was raining, and I took 1/8 oz instead of 1/16th. But, heroically/stupidly enough I pressed on and gobbled them down (as was becoming customary) straight, after fasting for several hours. The physical details of how I ended up wandering around to points unknown and more or less being put to bed by concerned bystanders aren't terribly relevant to this comparison, because mentally I was on a whole other plane. I don't really remember much about the outside world for those few hours, but plenty was going on inside. This time, the effect was mainly reflective. Although itís really impossible to explain irrational thought, basically it came down to a choice of three colors green, blue, white, and something else.
These colors represented various masks. Green represented myself as I was presently. Blue represented a more authoritarian nature, more stern, more responsible. White represented a false deification-an impulse to be as God. I was impelled to choose among these, yet every time I chose one I was wrong -- I could envision myself lying on a bed (which I was in physical reality doing -- in someone elseís room) and trying to force my way back into my body (I never thought of this as an out-of-body experience but I guess it was). I couldnít, the choice was holding me back. I tried all three, again and again -- and each time was rejected. This was immeasurably distressing -- I was caught without an identity -- I didnít know who I was! Eventually I grew exhausted and gave up the choosing in despair. Only after surrendering was I led back to my self -- this was when I started to come down, though I fell asleep at some point -- no doubt due to all that staying up doing work during the week. I felt very relieved, very safe and very happy. Unfortunately, at that very point I had the experience of coming down in my room surrounded by people I wasn't with before, and missing a lot of stuff I had been carrying with me.
I never really reflected on this experience as I did the first one, I was too caught up in getting myself back together, finding my shit etc. However, in retrospect the gist of the color choice game was me trying to hold onto shallow conceptions of myself. I just couldn't let go this time, and I really freaked myself out. I think this could be considered a 'bad' trip, but only bad in the sense of immediately unpleasant. It gave me a swift kick in the ass -- it made me realize that the power of mushrooms exists on a plane essentially incompatible with standard human ego games and that dispensing of these now and again was a necessary prerequisite for growth.
The summer passed, and I was back in school again this fall of 2001. Unbeknownst to me, I was soon to have another ecstatic experience. That fall, I really started to ramp up my meditative practice and to take a good look at my life. I was reading some Thomas Merton, 'Seven-Storey Mountain' and a collection of essays, and St. Augustine's 'Confessions.' One weekend I was out backpacking with a small group for a weekend. We were camped on a small ledge of exposed rock on a shallow hillside over a valley. It was night, and I had retired to my sleeping bag and was looking up at the stars. I started to pray, and ended up having quite a sort of reflective meditation type thing that lasted through most of the night. I couldn't fall asleep, despite being physically exhausted, but I didn't mind. I was content just to reflect on myself in God's presence. The next day, I rode a bike on some rural blacktop and gravel roads (we had one vehicle and were using a bike to shuttle the van back to our end point). It was a beautiful warm fall day, and I had one of the best times of my life zooming down hills and bursting over hillocks in the golden light.
These two episodes were really just the lead in to the main event, which occurred that evening, as I was reading alone in the library back at campus. I felt very much at peace, and in love with the world, when suddenly I looked up from my book and saw patterns moving on the wall in front of me. I looked to the side down a row of bookshelves, and distance seemed to stretch out. Walking home in the dark, everything had a glow to it. At the same time, I felt an overwhelming feeling of love for everyone I saw, just a heart swelling joy at their existence and their manifestation for me.
This experience shared many of the same characteristics as the retreat and the service project including, physical strain, sleep deprivation. The visual effects I saw then were the linchpin for me. I now realized that the manifestation of a more enlightened state of being has many pathways, but one fundamental nature. Like the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in Catholic theology, many gifts but one spirit, or the many incarnations of Buddha, or any number of Hindu deities. This realization left me profoundly satisfied, but it also left me a bit disturbed.
First, it left me profoundly amazed that some people I know can take mushrooms frequently, on the order of every several weeks. For me the experience, as with the other ecstatic moments was such a profound kick in the ass that, although I remembered the moment fondly, I had no desire to revisit it often. Related to this, I became dismayed at my own inability to retain this sense of universal love and openness beyond the duration of a specific experience. I mean, my interpretation of the Bible and other theological traditions would tend to indicate that this ecstatic state is the end of life. Yet I realized that my everyday life interferes with this state. By the time of this writing I haven't had an ecstatic experience for quite some time. This doesnít depress me, if anything living in the world of studies and activities and all the trivialities of everyday life is more immediately enjoyable. It's led me to question what sorts of ends I'm really pointing my life toward. In the right mindset, I'm seriously challenged by the question, who am I living for? If not for God, for whom? If I were, as I used to, write A.M.D.G (Ad Majorum Dei Glorium-For the Greater Glory of God) on my papers, would it be true?
On the other hand, I'm always cautious of solipsistic questioning -- It's all too easy to get caught in that kind of mode, in fact that's largely what made the winter between my first and second shroom trips difficult. So I move forth in life, trying to balance the means and the end, realizing that I can't really figure it all out. I've just got to do the best I can right now.
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