Strassman has been exploring models for the DMT effect focusing primarily on the Old Testament concept of prophecy. The Old Testament concept of prophecy provides an alternative to other models that borrow more heavily from Eastern religious systems, and those of Latin American shamanism. The notion of prophecy also deals directly with ethical and moral concerns, adding a crucial element to our ability to understand and integrate the content of the psychedelic experience. He is developing these ideas in his next book, The Soul of Prophecy, due to appear in He is also President and co-founder of the Cottonwood Research Foundation, which is dedicated to consciousness research.
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DMT is the psychedelic molecule found in the powerful Amazonian plant brew ayahuasca. This interview was conducted in I grew up in a Conservative Jewish home, and went through my bar mitzvah ritual. I obtained my MD in New York City, and returned to California for psychiatry training as well as for a fellowship in clinical research.
After finishing my DMT project in , I worked in clinical psychiatry until 3 years ago. Gradually, my interests in Eastern religions, brain physiology, and psychedelic drugs gelled into an interest in the biology of spiritual experience. It seemed to me that there were significant similarities between descriptions of psychedelic drug states and the effects of Eastern meditation practices. I thought these correspondences must reflect underlying biological processes common to both states.
DMT is an endogenous psychedelic substance, found in hundreds of plants and every mammal which has been studied, including in humans. It was a logical candidate for an endogenous compound mediating spiritual experience—to the extent that DMT effects and spiritual experiences overlapped.
There are other endogenous compounds with psychoactive effects, but since DMT had a track record of prior safe use in humans, I decided to begin with it, rather than other compounds that would require a lot more preliminary toxicology work to satisfy the regulators.
We thought that mystical unitive enlightenment-like states would predominate. Also, near-death states, since I had speculated that DMT might be released near death because of the stress involved in dying and DMT in animals appears to rise in response to stress. Also, I had a decades-long Zen Buddhist practice which informed my method of supervising sessions as well as my theories regarding the types of effects I might see — which were the unitive, concept-less, image-less, formless types that Zen emphasizes.
But, I studied DMT and this is what we found. I decided to emphasize the spiritual nature of these states while at the same time positing a biological route to them, and an inextricably interwoven relationship between the spiritual and physical. Nevertheless, the spiritual literature and worldview seems, now, more applicable than a scientific one. One relates to the content of the experience, rather than being dissolved into it. The Hebrew Bible as a spiritual text also has the advantage of being our bread and butter within Western civilization.
That content is the nature of God and providence, moral-ethical issues, and the linear nature of history. One we have the vocabulary of prophecy more in mind, we can start to explore the psychedelic experience using that lens — by doing so I believe we will be able to integrate the spiritual properties of the psychedelic drug experience in a way that neither Buddhism nor shamanism has done.
That is, they perform a certain function for God. Within the context of my DMT research, I believe that the beings that the volunteers saw could be conceived of as angelic — that is, previously invisible, incorporeal spiritual forces that are engarbed or enclothed in a particular form — determined by the psychological and spiritual development of the volunteers — bringing a particular message or experience to that volunteer. Only one volunteer had a classic mystical experience — and even in that case, he was led, helped, pulled, and pushed toward that state by what appeared to be angelic aides.
Ayahuasca, which contains DMT in an orally active form, is much more manageable — effects begin in minutes, peak at hours, and are resolved in hours. There are countless field reports of healing of physical, emotional, and addictive problems within the context of ayahuasca use — either in syncretic churches, medical clinics, or shamanic use.
More and more literature is appearing in this regard, and more sophisticated scientific studies are now beginning to take place. Net of Being By Alex Grey. We respect your privacy.
This article was republished under Creative Commons license. Source: Boing Boing.
Dr. Rick Strassman Explains Why DMT is “The Spirit Molecule”
He graduated from Ulysses S. Grant High School in Van Nuys in He began his undergraduate studies in zoology at Pomona College in Claremont for two years, before transferring to Stanford University , where he graduated with departmental honors in biological sciences in D with departmental honors, specializing in psychiatry. He began his general psychiatry residency at the University of California, Davis , where he received the Sandoz Award for outstanding graduating resident in From to , he obtained fellowship training in clinical psychopharmacology research at the University of California, San Diego. At UNM, Dr.
These studies investigated the effects of N,N-dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, an extremely short-acting and powerful psychedelic. I was drawn to DMT because of its presence in all of our bodies. These states might include birth, death and near-death, psychosis, and mystical experiences. The DMT project was founded on cutting-edge brain science, especially the psychopharmacology of serotonin. However, my own background powerfully affected how we prepared people for, and supervised, their drug sessions. One of these was a decade-long relationship with a Zen Buddhist training monastery.