Citation: diogenes. "Parting the Curtain: An Experience with Nitrous Oxide (exp37243)". Erowid.org. Oct 7, 2004. erowid.org/exp/37243
I'd done nitrous oxide many times recreationally, even had a tank of my own for a couple of weeks, which I shared with lots of friends as I'm not a person to ingest any mind-altering substances habitually, whether it's alcohol or pot or whatever. In fact by the time this experience came around I'd pretty much given up on both recreational and mind-altering drugs and was meditating a lot.
So one day I went to the dentist for a crown, and he suggested I breathe a little nitrous while he was working. I'd had nitrous at the dentist before, so I said sure why not.
He put the little nose mask on, turned on the machine and left me sitting there for a few minutes while he prepared his tools and what not. I got that familar feeling of lift-off, where the dose is just low enough to feel a little giddy, light and warm -- just the right dose for dentistry in fact.
When the dentist turned his attention to me again he asked if I could feel the nitrous yet. I guess I wanted to get a little higher, because I said 'Yeah a little but not much'. It was the truth but intuitively I also knew that I probably had just the right anesthetic dose.
So he cranked the nitrous input on the machine up a notch or two and I'm really starting to feel peaceful. It felt like a good meditation, and that feeling prompted me to begin meditating. People talk about how ganja or other dope enhances the effect of a psychedelics but I've always found that nothing enhances that kind of experience more than sitting down and meditating, either by following the breath or silently repeating a mantra. I did both, rather automatically and the next thing I know I feel my spirit lifting out of my body and through the ceiling. As my self/mind/spirit reached air cruising altitude the layers of normal physical reality -- the dentist's office, the city, the entire earth and space -- began peeling away layer by layer, and time itself reversed gears while at the same time speeding forward until I found myself floating at the farthest reaches of the cosmos, in a dimension beyond space and time.
I wasn't frightened but felt a tremendously strong energy that I knew was like nothing I'd ever experienced before and this realisation itself bordered on fear. I realised what was happening to me might in fact be irreversible, but knowing I couldn't control it I just let go.
Gradually I realised I wasn't alone out there in never-never land, there was another presence close by, watching me. This presence telepathically asked me a question: 'Are you ready now?' That question brought on fear for the first time as I realised the presence had been patiently waiting for me to reach this point for a very long time, eons in fact. I was intensely confused, wondering whether it/he/she meant was I ready for death? Or was I ready for some kind of total enlightenment reserved for only the most intrepid of our species?
While I was pondering how to respond, another presence I hadn't been aware of answered the question for me. It said 'No but he's closer ... (pause)... *this* time.'
My heart and mind reeled at hearing this but before it got any more intense I felt my spirit being slowly reeled back to earth, through the various layers of reality, the eons, etc, until I was back in the dentist chair, and my dentist was looking intently into my eyes and asking 'Are you OK?' He looked very, very worried. Apparently he'd noticed nothing strange about me until he'd finished the work and turned the nitrous off, only to see that my eyes were open very wide, unblinking and bored into the ceiling. He only told me that detail months later when I got up the courage to tell him what had happened to me.
When he asked if I was OK I couldn't answer. I sat in the office for about an hour while they brought me cups of water and kept asking me if I was OK. I was fine, but the question 'are you OK?' just seemed so completely absurd and so relative following what seemed to be the most deeply penetrating experience of reality I'd ever had, that I couldn't answer. The normal world of sitting there in the dentist office, of finally getting into my car and driving home, just seemed so unreal compared to the state I'd experienced in the dentist's chair.
After I got home I didn't go to work for three days. I told my wife briefly what happened and told her I didn't want to talk, just wanted to ponder the experience. I didn't do anything but relive the trip, sitting at home for three days. I kept thinking, now that I've been to the very edge of the cosmos, and seen what's behind the curtain, what's the point in going on with my life? It all seemed rather ridiculous.
After three days, however, that feeling finally begin fading, I went back to work and everything returned more or less to normal. Yet here it is nearly 10 years later and I still think about those two presences I encountered. I know, more certainly than I know anything else, that they're still waiting for me out there somewhere.
Do I regret the experience or the impact it had on life? No. I've gotten deeper into meditation since then, and realise that I'll be pacing the journey back there much better if I take the slow, stable way through the universe. I suppose like many people, drugs like nitrous oxide have made me aware that what we see and experience in everyday life isn't everything, and I'm grateful for that insight. I also feel that nitrous oxide, DMT, LSD, mescaline and the like (all of which I've tried at one point or another) exist only as signposts. The real journey has to be taken without jet fuel, it has to be taken a step at a time, using one's own feet.
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