The Journey Begins:
During my time as a college professor, I have met some of the most interesting and eccentric people. But I have met no one quite like Cameron. Though he was only 20 years old, Cameron was wise beyond his years. I first met him over seven years ago when he was a campus reporter for the student-run magazine. One day, he came to my office to interview me for an article he was writing entitled “Outlawed Imagination: A Psychedelic Look into the Assault on Religious Freedom.” He had (in his own words) heard about the new “hippie professor” on campus and wanted to gather my insights on a fascinating topic.
During our interview, he asked me if I thought that the use of entheogenic plants for spiritual purposes should be protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution? I answered that I absolutely thought it should. I said that the US Government targeted psychedelic users in order to maintain control over the hearts and minds of the American people. My reasoning was that entheogenic plants and fungi have the effect of detaching our minds from societal conditioning. So, why during such a journey would one not begin to question a structure built solely upon deceit and violence? Cameron liked my response and the two of us ended up talking for about an hour. We discussed a great deal about spirituality, meditation, and our own college’s suppression of free speech. Finally, our own past encounters with psychedelics came up in conversation. I mentioned to him that I had used them recreationally a handful of times in the past. Cameron looked at me perplexed, and the following dialogue (pieced together with his permission) ensued:
Cameron: What do you mean you used them recreationally?
Me: I do not know. I guess I used them because I thought they would be fun. I mean psilocybin mushrooms just seemed interesting to try.
Cameron: Well you know, psychedelics have a much more important purpose than to be used for recreation. They were put here by our creator to help us along our spiritual journey. They are meant to help us grasp the meaning of existence.
Me: (laughing) is that why you are openly advocating for their use in this article?
Cameron: Yes (laughs). With so much hate in the world coming from our unchecked egos we have severed ourselves from spirit. Psychedelics help us reconnect to it.
The next fall, Cameron enrolled in my American Government course to continue his formal education. In turn, I pursued my informal education with him on the topic of Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). During the semester, Cameron introduced me to the likes of Graham Hancock, a visionary writer (who I ended up weaving into my class), and Rick Strassman, a medical doctor who became known for his research on DMT. As the semester ended, Cameron invited me to join him on a DMT trip. I eagerly accepted and the two of us set up a time to meet at my apartment.
One late afternoon, Cameron came over with his pipe in hand. We exchanged greetings and then he gave me some basic background and instructions about DMT:
- DMT is smoked not ingested (unless it is specially ingested as a tea in ayahuasca)
- DMT would produce both visual images and a strong connection with the inner self. He added that the visions would come in a series of waves.
- I could expect to lose my sense of time. While the journey would only last somewhere in the period of 35-40 minutes, it would feel much longer. Maybe even several hours. Cameron termed this effect “spirit time”.
Following his brief instructions, we sat back in my apartment and began to prepare for our departure into the spirit world. In preparation, I chose a highly meditative setting for this event. I turned off the lights, flipped on my two orange salt lamps, lit incense in the room, and put on some meditation music by the new age composer Karunesh. Finally, I placed two pillows down on the floor for each of us.
Cameron packed his ceremonial pipe full of a white powdery substance and took the first hit. He then passed it to me. I pulled a hit off the sacred piece and I was immediately overcome by a euphoric feeling. As I began to feel weightless, I started to pick up on those subtle aspects of our being that go unnoticed during our dominant state of consciousness. I immediately became aware of the vibrations of my roommate’s dog Bliss. As soon as we began our journey, she walked across the room and sat right down between the two of us. This was odd behavior for her. Usually, Bliss was overly cautious around strangers. Then it dawned on me, she was attracted to the energy in the room. Cameron picked up on her vibrations, too. He whispered to me that she was a very old soul.
Following our encounter with my roommate’s dog, I tuned into the rhythm of my own breathing. This sense of awareness eclipsed anything I had experienced in my daily meditations. I focused my attention back on Cameron, and he nodded, so we pulled a second hit off the pipe. I laid back on the floor and fell into a deep trance. During this “time”, two spectacular visions occurred.
A Ring of Love
In my first vision, I arrived at a place where I saw one large ring of people joyously standing in puffy white clouds. The people were all smiling, laughing, and embracing one another. At first, I could not make out their faces. However, I felt as though I knew each person. As I walked over toward the ring, I began to make out their faces. I saw immediate family, current friends, and my beloved dog Abbie. I also saw three of my former partners and my two dearest friends from college. Going back further in time, I was astonished to find that my best friends from high school and childhood were present as well.
Remarkably, people with whom I had falling outs with were also there too. My ex-best friend stood in the middle of the ring smiling and extended his hand out to mine when I approached him. We then pulled each other in close for a hug. I took my place in the ring and we all held hands and began to spin together in a circle. This was a dance of peace and harmony. The scene rushed over me with so much love that I felt waves of tears streaming down my face.
When I came out of this first vision, I began to piece together its deeper meaning. I came to a simple understanding: God is love. We are here to perfect its expression in human form. I also gathered through this vision that love is unconditional. It does not acknowledge tensions between loved ones. Love is also eternal. It transcends both time and space. It also became clear that love knows nothing of separateness, only of oneness. I thought of how the former emanates from the ego and the latter from the depths of the soul. I also pondered the likelihood that separateness arises from the ego’s tendency to judge and label the infinite flow of being. This, I also thought, was the opposite case with our souls. True spirit sees all creation as one whole.
Cameron came out of his own vision only moments after me. To my utter amazement, the first words out of his mouth were: “love is at the root of everything”. To which I responded, “It really is”. We both just smiled and nodded. It was as if we were having the same vision. Cameron repacked the pipe and we partook in the last of 3 hits. After “blasting off”, I experienced a second vision that expanded my insights of love.
The Spirit Molecule and the Out of Body Experience
In this second vision, I experienced something that I had only read and heard about before…an out of body experience. This phenomenon occurs when the soul (the spirit consciousness) detaches itself from the physical body and wonders about freely. This experience is also sometimes known as “astral travel”. In the moments leading up to my out of body experience, I felt intense waves of love (forgiveness, acceptance, gratitude, and joy) rush throughout my body. Three images seemed to foster these feelings. The first was of the poetic mesh of joy and suffering I felt in the wake of a recent break-up. The second image was of my dog and I on a long walk through the woods. Finally, I thought of my parents who had always offered me their unconditional love and support. An overwhelming love pulsed through my body and I felt my hands and feet go numb. Then my body began to tingle. The vibrations felt like great currents of energy flowing through me. My chest then grew tight as a gentle calm fell over me. I was weightless.
What happened next might sound unbelievable to would be skeptics: my soul took flight into the sky. I recall thinking that this is what it must feel like to be a bird. My essence flew over a lake, soared over the trees, and high above mountains. I was at one. I felt a total sense of liberation that is still difficult to put into words. In the days after this journey, I tried to convey my experience through poetry:
Above the trees
And past the mountains
Soft clouds direct me toward
A beautiful world of higher knowing
Shifting and turning a celebration of life
Reading my bearings in the blue majestic sky
An awe-inspiring love the source of this experience
My descent from the source of oneness begins
Through the wise and fluffy white clouds
Past the tall and glorious mountains
Below the elegant green trees
Humbled by this encounter
Preparation for arrival
The phenomenon of the out of body experience is actually not as shocking as it sounds. It is facilitated by the same substance (DMT) that is present in our bodies when we sleep. A tiny pinecone like structure called the pineal gland (coined the “third eye” by spiritual mystics) is said to produce the compound. More astounding to me was the power of love as a driving force for this mystical experience. If DMT served as a catalyst for this experience, then love served as the conveyor between the soul and its ultimate liberation. This explains why in “Outer Realm,” I placed the words, “an awe-inspiring love the source of this experience”, at the center of the two wings in flight.
My out of body experience shed light on how we should see reality. In the world of western reductionist science, everything is boiled down in terms of physical matter. As Hancock noted in his remarkably insightful but banned Ted Talk the “War on Consciousness”, western culture maintains that we “are all just meat”. Thus, when the body dies, “reality” as we know it comes to an end. However, it is very revealing that neuroscientists have been unable to rule out the possibility that human consciousness exists separate from the mind. If (as many indigenous cultures hold) consciousness is the soul’s awareness, then we are all much more than “just meat”. Following my astral journey, I am convinced that there are separate spiritual realms of existence. At this moment in the evolution of our consciousness, such a reality is simply beyond our limited rational understanding.
If there are higher dimensions that comprise the totality of our reality this raises some obvious questions:
- How many spirit worlds or dimensions are there?
- Are these spirit worlds or dimensions the places our souls go when we die?
- What are the implications of astral travel for reincarnation?
- Does time as we know it even exist on the spiritual planes? If not, what does that mean for our notions of past, present, and future?
I do not have the answers to any of these questions. It is unlikely I ever will. But through my journey on DMT, this much became clear: there are planes of existence far beyond what we experience in our waking consciousness. From the out of body experience, I came to see that our reality reflects the narrow worldview of mainstream western science. What makes their depictions of reality any more credible than various mystic sects who believe our souls enter through a gateless gate into eternity? Such were my first revelations in the moments after this spirit voyage.
As the effects of the DMT started wearing off, Cameron and I both sat up and began to share our visions. Incredibly, we both came away with almost the exact same revelations. We continued to discuss our experiences for a few moments before Cameron stood up and announced that he had to leave. I sprang to my feet and hugged him. He invited me on a future “dance” with DMT. I readily accepted. After Cameron’s departure, I reflected on his comments from a year earlier:
“With so much hate in the world coming from our unchecked egos we have severed ourselves from spirit. Psychedelics help us reconnect to it.”
Remarkable I thought, the Universe sends divine messengers at just the right moment in one’s own journey. Unquestionably, Cameron was one of those messengers!