I gaze down at the brown liquid that half fills the glass I have just been handed. It looks like a cafe latte, minus the foam and latte art. Instinctively I raise the glass to my nose; it smells of the earth, but there’s also a sweet note, hidden, deeper in.
As olfactory stimulation is prone to do, a memory is stirred. My mind searches for it; something long ago, ancient perhaps, certainly not from this lifetime. Suddenly, I'm in a lush green alpine meadow. Flowers sway lazily in the breeze, and clouds hover overhead in a pristine sky. Perhaps it’s the Alps, or maybe the foothills of the Himalayas. No, something tells me it's the Andes. A hazy vision of Shangri-La starts to materialise across the expanse of flowers and grass, then disappears as I'm called back into the room by Géke (pronounced hey-ka), the facilitator of the group ayahuasca retreat I'm a participant in.
I've come to Zaandam, in the Netherlands, for a sacred voyage: Ayahuasca. Myth and mystery abound about this potent entheogen (a substance that has the power to reveal God to its taster). Used for thousands of years by the shamans of the Amazon, ayahuasca is now mainstream, has been reviewed by The New York Times, and can be purchased on the Internet. Why am I not surprised?
I'd first learned about ayahuasca—and its active ingredient dimethyltryptamine, DMT—when reading a two-book set that I'd received for my 42nd birthday from my dear friend Gina. The books, Sacred Mirrors and Transfigurations, contained art produced by the transcendental artist Alex Grey; I had been enthralled and inspired by it.
DMT, sometimes called the God molecule, had fuelled Alex Grey's capacity to paint images of reality seen through eyes unhindered by the veil of conditioning that is a by-product of identification with the dualistic mind. His paintings depict the Realm of the Sacred and the interconnectedness of all of life. They show human beings and the everyday world overlaid with crystalline lattice patterns of energy, as well as deeper realms where material forms have dissolved all together, and all that remains are streaming energy vortices and ethereal beings of light and darkness. Gazing at the images can stir something in the observer—the movement to remember something that was formerly known, but long ago forgotten.
That had been ten years ago, and my interest in trying ayahuasca has been simmering ever since. Clearly my soul knew, on some very deep level, that it wasn’t ready to receive the gifts that this powerful plant medicine had to give me . . . until today.
My life story includes a twelve year period of occasional recreational drug usage. I see now that this was driven by the unconscious urge to escape the emotional pain and turmoil that I was experiencing in my life at that time. Through this period, LSD became my preferred drug of choice. It's capacity to alter everyday reality in a way that was fantastical and fun had attracted me initially, but the more I journeyed into the inner world of my mind with it, the more I became fascinated by the mysteries that I glimpsed there. I attribute these inner LSD journeys to my opening onto the spiritual path, and ultimately to the discovery of the life of true happiness and fulfillment that I enjoy today. Tripping with LSD, however, had always been very much an out-of-body experience, and my inner visions had always been somewhat vague, hazy at best. These inner visions had also always been overlaid with colourful swirling, spiralling patterns—mesmerising in the beginning, but annoying as time went on—that were the manifestation of the hyper-stimulation of neurones in the visual cortex of my brain. This infamous fungus-derived chemical is certainly a potent hallucinogen, but I sensed there was more. I became intrigued to know what my inner world might look like with the aid of ayahuasca.
The Sacred Temple is located on a quiet backstreet of sleepy little Zaandam, but is only twenty minutes by train from the bustling busy-ness of Amsterdam Centraal. The warehouse building has a large meeting room where the ceremony is to take place, sleeping quarters to accommodate the 24 participants and 7 guides who are to participate in the two day retreat, a communal kitchen and dining area, a chill-out zone full of colourful cushions, rugs, and art work, and an outdoor terrace that faces onto the Zaan river. The decor is spiritual/tribal, psychedelic, and very eclectic. My fellow travellers are mostly young and enthusiastic—early twenties to mid thirties—with Hans, a Dutch veteran of many sacred voyages with ayahuasca, and Daniel, a German virgin to the experience, my only 40+ age group companions.
The weekend commences on Saturday morning with a welcome circle where everyone reveals a little about themselves, how they came to be here, and what they're hoping to get out of their voyage. The preparation for the weekend, however, began more than a week ago with a cleansing detox diet, and temporary avoidance of all of the less healthy aspects of a normal life: alcohol, caffeine, other drugs, sugar, meat, processed and preserved foods, certain fruits and medicines, and orgasms. Detoxing is a familiar process for me at this stage, and I consume most of these items in only moderate amounts (if any at all), so it wasn’t difficult. After the first few days—where conditioned reflexes tend to be triggered—I enjoy the discipline of it, and the clarity that results from this healthy, sattvic diet and lifestyle. The preparation email outlining these instructions had also contained a long list of foods and substances that should be avoided in the lead up because of their ability to interfere with the action of ayahuasca, result in a bad trip, or cause more nausea or headaches during the journey. I say more nausea because of the universal, and well documented, experience after drinking ayahuasca of nausea and the subsequent vomiting—often severe and prolonged—that seems to be an integral part of the overall experience. I'm prepared for it and have no fear of this aspect. My only lingering anxiety is whether I may also develop diarrhea—a known but less commonly experienced side effect—that could be problematic for me due to having a colostomy. This would particularly be a problem if my perception of the world was altered enough to make it challenging to change the colostomy bag in that state. I inform Géke and the other guides of my concerns, and they lovingly reassure me that they will take care of it if needed. "We’ve seen it all!!" OK, I guess I can surrender to that too.
The remainder of the first day includes a three hour session of Heart Dance where we are guided deeper and deeper into being vulnerable and open with each other in the group setting. It’s challenging for some, and emotions start bubbling to the surface. Being fully witnessed my the beautiful Marieka as I danced for her is truly a blessed experience I will always remember. Thank you, my angel.
The dance workshop is followed by a holotropic breath work session—a technique I'm familiar with from participating in a number of group sessions a few years back—where I journey from being a sperm, through conception, and then pass through my birth. I then access a deep, previously unseen, instinctual animal rage that is purged with the aid of one of the guides; a perfect preparation for what is to come. A small bowl of tasty organic vegetable soup, and I'm in bed early.
It's the morning of the ceremony. The younger crowd are excited and chatty. I'm feeling quiet and reflective so I do some yoga, and then sit quietly by myself in the chill-out zone. Come 9 a.m. it’s time for the ceremony to commence. The main hall has 24 mattresses arranged in a circle, liberally strewn with cushions and blankets. The blinds are drawn to screen out any view of the outside world. The smell of sage and incense is thick in the air; everyone falls into silent anticipation. Géke gives an outline of the day. She tells us that the journey usually lasts somewhere between 4 and 8 hours, and that Mother Ayahuasca will provide each of us with exactly what we need at this moment in our live. Prophetic words indeed. The most tangible flavour of the environment of the ceremony hall is one of a loving holding. I feel completely safe here, able to let go of control for the next 8 hours, to surrender, and allow myself to truly receive what is to be revealed by Mother Ayahuasca; I drink my glass.
The first thing I notice is that the taste of the brown liquid is not as bad as I was prepared for. Yes, it's like drinking a glass of muddy water, and yes, there is a bitter taste, but it's quite manageable. I'd been expecting to find it difficult to ingest or keep down. Step one, tick.
The first hour after drinking the ayahuasca brew involves a guided chakra meditation, set to appropriate tribal and ethereal music, and includes chanting mantras to help tune in to the energy vibration of each chakra. Ayahuasca, we are informed, has a very high vibrational frequency, and opening the chakras from root to crown in turn helps gain access to that frequency. During this first hour there's a lot of vomiting, but it's mostly mild and short-lived—a mere sentinel of what is to come. My gastrointestinal tract remains blissfully unaffected, and I start to enjoy a familiar feeling of well-being and relaxation.
About half an hour after the chakra meditation finishes we're each asked if we'd like a second glass of medicine. As my experience, while pleasant, is still based in what I would describe as normal reality, and I have no nausea, I say, "Yes." The instant I lie back and my head hits the pillow after drinking, however—before the liquid could have even reached my stomach—I'm taken.
Describing what occurred over the course of the next six hours is challenging. My travel companion, Hans, had said to me that it's not a conversation you can have with someone who hasn't been through it, and I now agree with him. My primary hesitation in giving a detailed description, however, is not because of revealing what occurred, but because of the risk of creating expectations in the mind of someone who might want to try an ayahuasca voyage for themselves, and therefore creating a desire in them to experience some of what I experienced. Let me strongly warn against this. A sacred voyage with ayahuasca is first and foremost a completely individual and unreproducible experience. As Géke had so clearly stated, the medicine will provide exactly what is needed for each individual at this moment in his or her life. I can report this to be absolutely true for me, and based on reports from my fellow travellers in our closing circle, while many did not enjoy what they received, they undoubtedly received what they needed. That being said, here is a description the main aspects of my sacred voyage with ayahuasca:
The first phase, relatively brief—though judging time at this point in the journey is entirely impossible—consists of what I would compare to the inner visual swirlings and spiralling patterns that I've experienced with both magic mushrooms and LSD. While mildly entertaining, this phase is more annoying than enjoyable today, particularly as it provokes the vertiginous feeling of being on a roller coaster in the dark (think Magic Mountain, for anyone who has ever been to a Disney theme park). At this point I'm prepared to vomit, but the feeling doesn’t fully develop, and then subsides as the visual rollercoaster finally slows and comes to a stop. The vomiting that is occurring all around me, however, has kicked up to a whole other level of intensity, and it is deep, sometimes violent, and quite protracted in many cases.
One of the beautiful aspects of my voyage—one that recurred a number of times throughout it—was hearing words that had been spoken to me by friends or teachers in the recent past. These words would trigger or facilitate the opening to the next phase of my journey, almost like they were the magic keys that opened my experience into deeper realms. In first magic key in my case was a combination of words with a gesture that was required to end the spiralling rollercoaster. These words and gesture had been spoken and shown to me by my beautiful friend Suze on two occasions in the past six months during channeling sessions with The Many. The instruction was: "Lift your chin, and look up." As these words float back into my consciousness now, I lift my chin and look up within my darkened inner environment (we're wearing Mindfolds, very effective and comfortable blindfolds, to ensure minimum external visual stimulation). As I do so, the centre of the inner screen of my vision fills with a gorgeous, psychedelically coloured, three-dimensional mandala that is pulsating and vibrating ecstatically. I’m familiar with this inner image. In peak experiences of meditation in the past—particularly following strenuous kundalini yoga kriyas—I've seen this mandala, but I've never gone beyond it. My intuition knows it to be an inner representation of my third eye — the portal into the realm of spiritual emptiness and wisdom that is beyond the confines of the thinking mind. In past experiences of seeing this third eye mandala there's been some movement on the part of my mind to do something, to make it open somehow. On this occasion, however, it is clear that the only thing to do is to do nothing. I surrender to what may, or may not, be revealed.
While I gaze with fascination and wonder at this dazzling throbbing image, fully content and at ease in the moment, it moves towards me, and I pass through the centre of it and into another dimension that lies beyond. As I pass through the portal I travel quickly past the beaming faces of my spiritual lineage: Eli Jaxon-Bear and Gangaji, Papaji and Ramama Maharshi. Their smiles welcoming and encouraging as I pass into the void.
Here all is completely silent, utterly still, and deeply peaceful. All the swirling, vibrating, throbbing, and pulsating is gone, and it is replaced by the clarity and crispness of pure emptiness. The darkness is dazzling in its clarity. The space feels vast and deep, like intergalactic outer space, but the concept of space does not apply to it.
As I look around in this vast emptiness, I see something of interest in the distance off to the right. It seems to be a long way away, but by becoming interested in it I find myself moving towards it at lightning speed. As I get closer, I realise that what I'm seeing is the whole of the known universe—galaxies, solar systems, stars, planets, and countless beings of every kind. It includes the whole of the universe’s history, from the moment of the Big Bang until the present, as well as all possible futures. The concept of time, while relevant for the universe of form I'm observing, does not apply to the vast emptiness I'm floating in. The manifest universe is absolutely magnificent to behold, beautiful beyond words, but it also feels somewhat ethereal—like a vapour, a breath, a thought, a dream. As I continue to observe it with fascination . . . it disappears.
The arising realization that occurs now is that the world of manifestation—including my own body/mind with its personal story—is ultimately non-existent. A product of emptiness—or the mind of God, to use theistic language—and of the nature of a dream. There is no movement in my mind to think about this realisation, as is its tendency under normal circumstances, it merely is.
Turning my attention back to the void that surrounds me, two words float into my awareness. Infinity seems to be the best word to describe the apparent vast size of this dimensionless realm, and Eternity seems to be the most useful word to describe the timeless nature of the experience of it. Other words such as Source, Creator, Nirvana, Heaven, the Realm of the Sacred, and the Transcendental also apply, but Infinity and Eternity feels the truest.
As I gaze in awe into the dazzling dark, shapes and images appear and disappear in rapid succession: deities, demons, beings of light, planets, stars, galaxies, dimensions, and so much more. I become aware of a network of lights, glittering faintly in the darkness like tiny jewels, joined by streaming lines of light, that make up the background on which the dazzling display of images is being projected. There is infinite potential here. The words pure potentiality now also ring true. I stay in this transcendental dimension for what feels like a very long time. The sense of peace and rest is deep and nourishing.
The transition into the next phase of my journey is triggered by hearing words spoken to me by my partner, Andy, as I left Paris to travel to Amsterdam on the day prior to the retreat, "I hope you find the source fo your self-doubt." It felt like a useful objective to have in mind at the time, referring to my tendency to doubt my ability and talent when it comes to performing and singing for others. Now, the words resonate throughout the vast emptiness, and suddenly I'm fully back in my body, lying on the mattress in the ceremony hall, hearing people around me laughing, crying, and vomiting. Soaring, inspiring music weaves the tapestry of humanity in the room together into a single gestalt.
My mind immediately wonders if this is the end of the journey. I do a quick check of my mental state, and find myself thinking very clearly and lucidly. I can’t see the world around me as I’m still wearing my Mindfold, but I can hear it well enough, and it sounds like I would expect it to sound. I next check if I can still see the images arising in the Eternal dimension internally, and yes, the incredible display is fully visible if I look up towards my third eye point. I relax, and start to explore my body with my attention.
Being fully in my body whilst on an intense journey is a new experience for me. With LSD, my experience was to go on an inner journey in my mind, but to be completely dissociated from my body throughout. Here I find myself hallucinating and tripping wildly, but at the same time fully—and somehow soberly—back in my physical body.
My attention is initially drawn to the areas of my body where I feel tension, tightness, or pain. The main one is in the left side of my neck. Back in 2008—during my Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training—I'd injured this area during a period of over-exertion, and it has never been normal since. I'm drawn to explore the area with my fingers, and I quickly focus on a very small spot adjacent to the C4/5 facet joint, the focus of the injury. I start to massage the area, as is my usual technique to try and ease the pain, but I hear an inner voice that says, Love heals all. It immediately makes sense to me to stop trying to do anything physically to the injured tissue, and just focus my loving attention on it. In doing so a process starts in the core of the scar that I can feel is the beginning of the healing of the injury. My mind is excited by this discovery, and starts to think about all the possible applications of this knowledge.
The love you have to give is your focused attention, comes the next insight in the same soft inner voice. Yes, that’s true enough. What the world needs now is love --the name of a popular 1965 song by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, but also never truer than at this time in the history of the earth. A barrage of insights flow into my mind, and I sense that they are being provided freely and lovingly by the innate intelligence of unconditional Love itself.
The next image to appear is one of my body dangling from the crown of my head. My crown is connected to, and opens into, the realm of Eternity which is above me. I see light and love pouring from Eternity into my body through my open crown chakra. I look around me and see all other human beings similarly attached by their crowns to this realm, the portal of the crown chakra open in some, their bodies lighted up like christmas lights, but the crown closed and bodies dark in most. They look like glow worms, or tiny stalactites, hanging from the roof of an enormous glowing cave. I feel my body filling up with light/love/energy that flows through my crown chakra, filling and enlivening every cell of my body, and every part of my being, from my toes up. It is an overwhelmingly positive experience. In no time at all after noticing this process starting I am filled with the light. I now become aware of a new pristine, sacred presence in the centre of my heart. The words that come now are, The Goddess of Love. She takes up residence in the cave of my heart.
My attention is drawn back again to Andy’s words, "I hope you find the source fo your self-doubt." As soon as my mind turns in this direction, I find myself in an early childhood memory. I'm lying in my crib; I see vertical wooden bars all around me, like I’m interred in a tiny jail cell. My intuition tells me that I am somewhere between two and three years of age. I'm alone, and I'm crying. I drop my attention deeply into this painful moment from my early childhood, and my body instinctively curls into a foetal position and I start sobbing. Lying on my right side, I take my thumb into my mouth and begin to suck on it. This doesn’t help, so I let it go and start to cry once more. Uninhibited waves of tears flow through me, and my body shudders. At this moment, one of the guides—I know she’s female from her voice, but I don’t know which of the five it actually is—kneels gently behind my back, places one hand on the top of my head and the other on my sacrum, and whispers gently in my ear. "It's OK."
Something inside me snaps, some constriction, some holding, and the tears and sobbing crescendo to a wail. Painful, frozen emotion is set free. After only a few seconds the energy has passed through me completely, and I settle into a peaceful state of rest. I reach up and take hold of one of my loving hands, kiss it gently, and bring it to my chest, inviting her to stay a little longer; she stays. The deep painful trauma is released. The moment of feeling alone and abandoned as a young child is healed. A sense of well-being steadily grows, like a dimmer switch is being slowly turned up inside me, and I fill with a soft light, this time from inside my own being, not from outside. A smile appears inside my chest, and I start to laugh. The arising sense of joy, excitement, innocence, wonder, and mischievousness is intense and wonderful as my inner child wakes up, and is given full permission to be here. My older self greets him, welcomes him home, and we take hands and start dancing and singing together.
Over the course of the next few hours I explore what it means to have my inner child fully awakened, and fully participating in my experience. The most obvious feature is the increased level of energy and enthusiasm that I feel generally. An innocent inquisitiveness about everything is also evident now, and everything I encounter feels like I'm discovering it for the first time: I run my hands over my face and am thrilled by what I feel; I marvel at what a finger feels like, and discover the complexity of a hand and what it can do; I listen in wonder to the sound of music, and follow it’s ups and downs with delight; I squirm on my back and play with my feet, bringing my toes to my mouth and suck on them playfully. The freshness of all experience is incredible. I continue to engage and be enlivened by my inner child throughout the rest of my journey, dancing, singing, laughing, crying . . . and he is still fully with me now as I write this account.
My attention is now drawn again towards the cause of my personal self-doubt. With my inner child awakened, I imagine myself in past situations where I've been singing or performing. It is exquisitely clear that the young, buoyant, three-year-old Stevie has no self-consciousness, self-doubt, no judge, no super-ego limiting and doubting his performance. I'm free to play, sing, dance, and perform without fear of humiliation, judgment, or failure. It's thrilling. I feel excited to perform from this place, and humbly thank the Goddess of Love, Mother Ayahuasca, and my loving guides, for this enormous gift.
For the next few hours I pass seamlessly between the dazzling picture show of the Eternal realm, and my enthusiastic exploration of the physical world as a freshly born child. The deep knowing that who I am is both the emptiness of the void as well as the solidity of the physical world of incarnation simultaneously, sinks deeper and deeper into my being. I realise that the emptiness of the Eternal is both the source and the substance of the material. "It is the substratum," as Papaji would say. The screen on which the physical world is projected, which remains eternally untouched by the evanescent light show of form. The two are one: the unmanifest and the manifest, emptiness and form, silence and noise, stillness and movement. They co-exist, in total union, always.
After some time it feels important to come back into my body again. Not being satisfied with just being in my body, it becomes important to be fully in my body. Minimal concentration is needed here, and the experience is of sinking down and in. As I sink and breath, I start to experience waves of bliss. As I sink deeper, the waves become stronger. The arising insight, The more fully you are in your body, the greater the potential to experience bliss. And, Part of the experience of being a human being is the capacity to experience bliss. I explore this new source of pleasure with enthusiasm and excitement for some time. It occurs to me that God experiences bliss and ecstasy only through the human form. Being human now feels to be a most blessed and sacred gift.
I'm aware that the description of my sacred voyage to this point might sound overwhelmingly positive, and almost entirely enjoyable. To give a little balance, it feels important for me to describe the descent into hell that occurred as the next phase of my journey.
It’s around 4 pm in the afternoon, and the intensity of the inner visions and spontaneously arising insights has slowed down considerably. The music Géke is playing has slowed in tempo and intensity correspondingly, and the ceremony hall feels quiet and chilled out.
There are no magic key words for me now. The next phase of the journey begins slowly as I start to notice pain in and behind my left eye socket. My initial thought is that pressure from wearing the Mindfold for seven hours is the cause, so I remove it and lay quietly with my eyes closed — a brief glimpse of the room reveals the light to be way to bright to be tolerated. The pain increases.
I've experienced probably five migraines in my life—starting in my early twenties, and occurring very infrequently—so I’m familiar with them. The pain behind my left eye develops quickly into a full-blown migraine. It's accompanied by moderate nausea, impossible to determine whether this is due to the migraine per se, or a delayed effect of the ayahuasca brew; most likely a combination. I'd received an insight at some point in the journey that the vomiting that occurs with ayahuasca is not bad. The earthy, muddy residue that accompanies the delivery of DMT into the body is not well tolerated by the gut, and is best expelled. Mine is still sitting in my stomach or small intestine, and it feels heavy and uncomfortable.
I ask a guide to assist me to the bathroom to pee, and hopefully to vomit. Peeing is successful, but vomiting continues to elude me. Standing in the bathroom and gazing into the mirror takes me on another journey now, this time one incorporating the outside world. As I take in the reflection of my physical form, I notice my minds tendency to define it as who I am, to see it as separate from its surroundings, and to give it attributes and a history that is applicable only to that particular form. After my recent experiences this feels mildly absurd, and I wonder what would happen if I don’t follow that movement. As I let go of any thought that defines me by my past, I merge into my environment and feel completely connected to everything around me with no separation. It is a pleasant and exciting feeling. The realization arises that every mirror, every reflective surface, is both a trap and an opportunity.
The ego, inherently narcissistic but also inherently insecure, uses every mirror it comes across to confirm itself. To make sure it's OK, to make sure it's safe, to make sure it's looking right and is therefore lovable, etc., etc. It is reflexive, and I see it happening all around me all the time, as well as in myself when I'm identified with my ego. The rise of the ubiquitous selfie-stick is a cultural meme that derives from this movement of mind. As I stare at myself in the mirror, I see that whenever this movement of mind occurs, it is a point of choice between re-identifying as an individual ego, or not touching the thought and remaining as emptiness, as nothing, as the Self. Every mirror is a powerful moment of choice.
I look away from the mirror and at the non-reflective surfaces that surround me. I realise that every thing is, in a similar fashion, also a mirror because everything is a reflection or aspect of myself. The movement of mind to reify and give external objects their own separate identity in every moment is also a point of choice. For the mind to not move and allow the external world to be as it is, not knowing it through past knowledge, allows consciousness to rest in its source, unidentified as a me and other. Resting in the Self, as the Self. Whole. Undivided.
The throbbing pain behind my left eye brings me back into my human form and I stumble back to my mattress. Over the next hour I put past experience and my extensive medical knowledge into action, and try to ease the pain of the migraine by: drinking some water, sucking mints to get a little sugar into my system, massaging my neck and scalp, applying gentle acupressure over the trigger points around my eye socket, doing some yoga stretches, breathing long and deep to increase the oxygenation of my blood. The pain increases.
I get up now—I’m feeling stable enough on my feet, and my eyes have adjusted to the light—and go to the kitchen to make myself some tea. I sit outside in the cold air by the river to see it this might help. No. I dance around the ceremonial hall with the guides for a while; most other participants are sleeping, some peacefully, some fitfully. The pain forces me to lie down again, and I start an inquiry into the pain. This time I start to see the resistance that my mind is mounting to the pain of the migraine, and the presence of an intense desire for the pain to be gone. At this point, words from a Rumi poem come into my mind, "The cure for the pain is in the pain." This is followed by words said to have been spoken by Jesus. "If you know how to suffer, you do not suffer." I now become aware that, while none of my efforts over the last hour to ease the migraine pain have been wrong, the accompanying desire for the pain to not be there has been problematic.
I surrender to the pain, and allow it to be fully present. I open to the possibility that this pain will be with me forever, and see if I can bear that too. After a brief hesitation the answer is, Yes. My body relaxes deeply. I sink into the mattress, and dive into discovering what life feels like with severe eye pain as a part of my experience, but with no movement or desire to be rid of the pain. I merge seamlessly into my environment, fall back into the Eternal realm of peace and silence. I see that the arising pain is just the next experience in Stevie’s life, and that it is equally an opportunity to wake up to the Truth of myself as one with everything as the experience of bliss had been before it. The mind’s judgment of bliss as being better than pain, of one being preferable to the other, is the only obstacle.
At this point I see that the opportunity to experience bliss when fully incarnated in the human form that I had recently discovered, is fully balanced by the possibility to experience the corresponding amount of pain. Bliss and pain, just another duality that is part of the human experience. One doesn’t exist without the other. Suffering, however, is entirely optional. It is a choice in each moment. I hear Gangaji’s words now: "Pain is the Buddha."
The migraine eases over the next hour and I dance some more with the guides, hugging them and thanking them for their loving care. At 6 pm the ceremony is officially closed with a sharing circle. Géke wisely guides us to limit conversation as the ayahuasca experience can be given away by too much idle chatter; full integration of what is experienced on a sacred voyage with ayahuasca takes many weeks. That is very true in my experience.
Closing instructions are given and the clean up commences. My stomach starts to churn and I hurry upstairs to the more private of the two toilets in the building. Vomiting never felt so good . . .
April 25th, 2016.
A very big thank you to Géke, Adam, Marieke, Sijtje, Nely, Kata, and Coen for your tender loving care, and to Lars Faber for creating and enabling the Sacred Voyage to come into existence. Thank you so much. I am so very grateful. www.thesacredvoyage.com