Many people search for the being or consciousness that could be called “God”. We all seek to know God, the Divine, Universal Consciousness, that which created us. We are told that joining with this being with give us access to information and knowledge that expands our consciousness and gives us insights into the nature of our being and our future. We will know things that we wouldn’t otherwise know and understand the nature of life in ways not previously available.
In the past, mystics and devotees spend lifetimes or long periods of time in undistracted isolation stilling their minds and searching for whatever leads them to believe they have connected with the divine. Most of the accounts and stories about this “enlightenment” involve an expansion of consciousness beyond what our minds can control. I always wanted to experience this expansion of consciousness, a knowing of something more than what I could experience with my five senses.
I have spent countless hours in meditation, contemplation, breathing exercises, all designed to help my ego step aside so I could experience whatever is left. Many of my more mystical experiences were more deep periods of calm and stillness of mind. There were no voices, no visuals, no visions, no deeper understandings. So when I was offered the chance to experience a hallucinary drug taken for thousands of years by the ancient cultures of South America, I agreed.
San Pedro is a cactus that grows freely in South America. It is named San Pedro because it refers to St. Peter, and drinking a tea brewed from the blossoms of the cactus plant is supposed to give you the keys to heaven. The base of the tea is mescaline, a drug that was no stranger to me in my educational years. I did not remember any spiritual or mystical experiences long ago, but perhaps all of my spiritual training over the last 15 years would help me get to a place of mystical discovery.
So I went to the casa of a shaman in Cusco Peru to experience San Pedro. We started early in the morning, about 9am. I noticed that the shaman gave me a double portion of the tea, I hoped he know what he was doing. I drank the potion, and immediately noticed that it was strongly bitter, reminiscent of Chinese medicine. The effects were immediate, I started feeling detached and fuzzy headed. We went outside to sit on a bank in the back yard with a beautiful view of the Andes. In one hour, I had lost the ability to think and walking was impossible. So I sat there for at least two hours with a pleasant feeling of total body tingling and loss of cognitive thinking.
I don’t think I ever had any visuals other than the fact that everywhere I looked would expand and contract like a heart beating. I could feel the life flowing through everything I could see, whether it was the cute dogs that would lie beside me to keep me company or a rock. I think they could perceive that I was in an altered state of consciousness; they stayed pretty close for the whole day. There was an heightened sense of perception, colors were much more intense, I could hear voices from miles away, the sunlight was blinding. I got unmercifully sunburned, even though I stayed in the shade as much as possible. I wasn’t even aware of breathing; it was more like oxygen was being absorbed through my skin.
After 6 hours of this experience, I was starting to look for some relief. Even though my mind was not thinking, it felt like it was on overdrive with the sensations I was experiencing. After 8 hours I was finally able to walk and we went for a walk outside of the compound to a field overlooking the Cusco valley. We could look down see jets landing and taking off from Cusco airport. The light was still extremely bright and it seemed like I could hear voices speaking from miles away.
After about 9 hours it was time to go back to my hotel, but the experience was far from over. My mind was still percolating until 3am when I finally passed out. I can’t say that I received the keys to heaven, but I definitely felt like I had passed into another dimension. The after effect of the experience still can be felt, San Pedro is a gift that keeps on giving. I definitely can appreciate being in a “normal” state of consciousness. I can see how someone would interpret the loss of cognitive thinking and visuals coupled with the constant tingling in my body as being possessed by the divine. I can’t say that I had any mystical insights; I simply experienced another state of being. Quite frankly that was enough.