DMT (Di-Methyl-Tryptamine) is a naturally occurring hallucinogenic produced by the pineal gland in the brain and elevated states of it are associated with birth (both for mother and newborn if it is vaginal), near-death experiences, death and mystical states. Dr Strassman (author of “The Spirit Molecule”) hypothesises that religious experiences, mystical states and advanced meditation practices share a great deal of similarity with exogenous use of DMT: “All spiritual disciplines describe quite psychedelic accounts of the transformative experiences. Blinding white light, encounters with demonic and angelic entities, ecstatic moments, timelessness, heavenly sounds, feelings of having died and being reborn, contacting a powerful and loving presence underlying all of reality…” He goes further to point out that in many Eastern and Western mystical traditions, the location of the pineal gland (the crown of the head) is considered the highest level – in Judaism the “Keter”, in Hinduism the crown chakra, in Christianity the centre of the halo. The seventeenth-century French philosopher, Rene Descartes (he of “I think therefore I am” fame) considered the pineal gland to be the ‘seat of the soul’ – the link between spiritual and physical, life and death.
How do we define this spirit/soul?: “There is something that ‘enlivens’ us when joined with our body. When present in matter, it shows itself by way of movement and heat. When it is gone, the light is extinguished and the engine stops.”
In the book Strassman explains that some of his Buddhist monk friends had their first experiences of this altered consciousness whilst taking psychedelics like DMT, mescaline, ibogaine or psilocybin but later found that through meditation they could delve even deeper – without ‘help’. My own experience of DMT was in the form of a Native South American Indian tea called ayuahusca (made from the ‘vine of death’) and used by shamans to heal, transform and initiate. The experience defies description (it certainly was not recreational) but it is something I will do again.