Deep in the Amazon region of central America, shamans have for centuries combined two seemingly unrelated plants into a highly hallucinogenic substance they call ayahuasca. The term “ayahuasca” is derived from the Quechua words “aya ” meaning soul or spirit and “huasca” meaning rope or vine. This is loosely translated into “the vine of the soul”. The indigenous people believe that consuming this brew draws back the veil of our conscious sense of reality and gives us a peek into the true nature of existence itself. People who have consumed ayahuasca report having spiritual revelations regarding their purpose on earth, the true nature of the universe, as well as deep insight into how to be the best person they possibly can be. Modern science has determined that the psychoactive ingredient in ayahuasca is something called DMT (N,N-dimethyltryptamine) which is found in the human body and at least sixty species of plants worldwide. The strange part is that when ingested, DMT cannot be absorbed directly into the bloodstream on its own. It requires the addition of another plant in order to metabolize. How indigenous people discovered the plant combination used in the ayahuasca brew remains unclear. Many indigenous Amazonian people say they received the instructions directly from plants and plant spirits.
In my lifetime, I have experimented with many different psychoactive substances and although I was mostly interested in the recreational attribute, what I discovered was something quite different. What these experiences had in common was a feeling that my ability to filter out sensory information was stripped away. I was lucky that my first couple of trips took place in a natural environment surrounded by well-intentioned people sharing the same experience. However, I remember one time when I found myself under the influence of mushrooms in a crowded bar in Ybor City and my mind seemed to be processing every single conversation going on in the bar all at once. This became so disconcerting that I found myself searching for a quiet place to hide.
Every day, westerners are setting off on the journey to remote regions of the world in order to experience these plant medicines and slowly but surely, western medicine is opening its eyes to their potential lifesaving benefits in the treatment of such ailments as mental illness, substance addiction and the ever growing epidemic of PTSD. Some religious scholars have speculated that the DMT experience might just be the hand of God that is interacting with our natural evolution to stimulate and accelerate the process of the redemption of individual and collective global enlightenment. Others believe that this is a desperate wakeup call from the natural world. It may be sounding the alarm to the human race that if we continue the destructive path on which we are headed, we will cease to exist.
Listen dude, the truth is that the plants don’t need us to survive. They were here long before we showed up and will remain long after we are gone, but without plants, human beings would have never existed in the first place.