Citation: Yuppie Seeking God. "My Spiritual Progress: An Experience with Salvia divinorum (20x extract) (exp50214)". Erowid.org. Jun 13, 2006. erowid.org/exp/50214
I'd like to set a more personal tone for this experience report by providing a little background about myself and my previous experiences with Salvia. I'm in my mid-twenties, was educated at a top ten University, have a decent job at a prestigious consulting firm, and am pursuing a masters degree in business. I have a successful professional career. I wear an overcoat to work. I am ambitious. I enjoy playing sports. I enjoy watching sports even more, especially college football and NBA basketball. I hold very moderate political views. I will read anything I can learn from. I like watching television; Family Guy, The Simpsons, 24, all the HBO original series. I watch the news every morning. I love my close friends and family members a lot. I find people fascinating and like interacting with all types of them. I don't and won't use any other non-prescription, mind-altering drugs besides salvia, caffeine and nicotine. My demeanor and emotional state is sometimes anxious, but generally calm and happy.
But most of all, my number one priority in this life is to Realize God. I see this drive as my most defining characteristic. I love God. I seek His Truth. I desperately long to Realize my Always-Already Existing Unity with Him. I feel constantly drawn to Him. He is calling me home, opening my eyes, and I devote my life to dismantling all the obstacles that have thus far prevented me from Knowing Him. At a fundamental level, this is the only thing that is truly important to me.
The reasons I provided all this substantial detail about my material life are twofold. First, given the extremely intimate nature of salvia experiences, I think some personal information about myself might help others intuit the emotional content of the salvia experience I am about to describe. But second, I also want to deconstruct the notion that a serious and open commitment to spiritual growth is somehow not mainstream. It's not that I harbor any feelings of disrespect for those who have made less conventional life choices than I have. It's just that I often encounter people who assume that the pursuit of conventional material success is incompatible with spiritual development and the use of entheogens. And I wanted to use myself as one example to show how wrong this perception is.
Before describing my latest salvia experience, I think it would be helpful to talk about my history of salvia use. I've taken salvia about 15 times over the past year, usually allowing 3 week intervals between doses. A random comment made by one of my bosses initially sparked my interest in the substance, so I researched it for about 8 months. After learning as much as I could, I bought a substantial supply of both leaf and extract. I use salvia only for spiritual inquiry.
I always smoke using a water pipe, and always the same amount-about .05 grams of the 20x. I use crushed leaf as a filter. My setting is always the same: between 8 and 11 PM, lying in bed on my back under the covers, head resting on 2 pillows, wearing only boxers, lights off, eyes closed. My set is also fairly consistent. I'm usually slightly apprehensive (more eagerly expectant than nervous), but focused with a mostly quiet mind. I won't use salvia on nights where I can't clear my head of daily material concerns.
My salvia experiences also, are nearly identical each time, with only minor variations between each vision. They all last about 10 minutes. Sometimes I will go into salvia space with a specific question or concern that I want to address, and other times, I will try to just 'let go,' but every time, the following level 4-5 experience is what invariably happens:
Immediately after smoking, I experience what is best described as a nostalgic feeling. I intuitively know that I am going to a realm that I have been to countless times before. The smell, the taste, the slight dizziness all contribute to a feeling of going back to a place that I am somehow intimately familiar with. Then after about 10 seconds, I begin to hear a sound that is difficult to describe. It's some sort of rhythmic pulsating, and I soon realize that this sound is always present but that it is usually hidden from my conscious perception. At this point my awareness of time disintigrates. I then feel an extremely strong pulling sensation localized in my head that forces me backwards and feels like it's pulling my entire body down into the ground. I usually say something to the effect of 'I'm coming' or 'I'll be right there,' although it is not yet revealed to who I am speaking. Then the pulling sensation transforms into what is best described as a full body spinning sensation.
In past journal entries I have described this spinning sensation as my entire existence being enfolded into a rotating wheel on some kind of cosmic train. The experience is hard to communicate, but it's like being repeatedly enfolded over myself again and again. At this point in my journey I am now fully in salvia space. I usually retain a cursory memory of the existence of material reality and of my body, but where ever I am, it is certainly not a physical dimension. I can only describe it as being somewhere else than here. The space has no physical characteristics, there is no way to describe it in words, but it is alive and it is infused with countless conscious forms. I use the term 'conscious forms' because they aren’t exactly entities. I don't see creatures or beings, but rather, I can feel and hear an infinite number of voices. And I always address these voices in the plural, as do they of themselves. I have never felt that these forms were especially benevolent, but they have never been evil or mischievous either. They have always just wanted to show me things-to teach me. And it is at this time in my journeys, during the 'teaching' portions, that there is variety between experiences.
In my previous two salvia experiences, I was taught about the illusory nature of Maya and the relative insignificance of physical-mental reality when compared to fundamental reality or Non-Dual Reality. In the first, I was told that all the ritualistic preparations I undertook before smoking salvia, were meaningless in salvia space. That while they may have meaning in consensus reality, they are of a nature that simply is not important or is just not even a factor in salvia space.
In the second, I had an out of body experience. I was engaged in conversation with the salvia forms, when I abruptly realized that I in fact had a body that was lying on a bed in my room. I could see this body and I realized that I was not in it. I became mildly panicked and told the forms that I had to go back. That I had to go back to continue breathing or else I would die. And then, as I started to notice my breathing (I'm pretty sure it never actually stopped), I felt that with each breath, I was being ripped away and pulled back into my body. With each breath, I could see light streaks getting sucked back into my body. As this was happening, the forms asked me to stay there with them. When I responded that I had to go back or my body would die they said, 'Oh him, we don't care about him.' They were referring to my material body-mind, my physical-mental existence.
This apparent callousness towards my ‘egoic’ self considerably frightened me, and it exacerbated my preexisting fear of death. I was too unnerved to smoke salvia again for about 3 months. But after a few transpersonal counseling sessions, I gathered the courage to confront these fears. I decided to go into salvia space armed with numerous weighty questions, prepared to tell the salvia forms that they should care about the physical and mental manifestations of my self, because even Maya, illusory and fundamentally untrue, is a manifestation of God.
And it is within this context that we finally get into my most recent salvia experience.
Same set, setting and dose as usual. Same initial effects as usual. Same scenario as usual leading up to my discussions with the salvia forms. So I reach salvia space and I start telling the forms that they should care about the physical me and that physical reality is still important even if it is not fundamental reality. They responded quickly saying that they do care about me and love me. They said that they were just trying to show me the illusory nature and falseness of Maya, so I could experience this concept for my self, instead of just intellectually understanding the idea from the experiences of others. And they reminded me that I should take better care of my body and mind if these things are so important to me.
Then I asked if they were God and they answered, 'Kind of but not exactly.' It was clear that they were telling me that my understanding of God was very incomplete. I found this puzzling because I had always believed that I held a very evolved notion of God, having long ago discarded the deity God for Spirit, Godhead and Ein Sof, for a God that IS everything manifest and unmanifest alike. But the forms were very adamant that my understanding of God was still elementary at best.
They then showed me what I believe was a vision of God, or perhaps more accurately, the Godhead. They made it clear that what I was seeing was barely a fraction of God, and that it was only the lowest, most base portion at that. But nevertheless, it was absolutely awesome beyond words. What I saw was a large amorphous mass in the center of a space, in the center of nothingness. Its size seemed contained but it had no visible boundaries. It had no distinct shape. It was just sort of an indistinct clump. It had no discernable color, but at the same time, seemed to contain all color. It also seemed to contain more green, red and yellow than other colors. It had tentacles of white light that seemed to be shooting in and out of the primary mass from and into the surrounding nothingness. And it was pulsating. Pulsating to the exact same beat that I always hear when I smoke salvia.
The salvia forms then clarified what I was seeing and they disclosed their intent to me. Whereas before they had shown how separate and utterly different the spiritual planes are from the physical and egoic one, they were now showing me the unbreakable connectedness between the two. The pulsating mass was like a generator for all physical reality. It contained the infinite possibilities for all manifestation and by some mechanism that I couldn't understand, it methodically actualized every one of these possibilities.
But I wanted to understand more and I began to get frustrated that I couldn't grasp the entirety of God that I couldn't figure out how this spectacular manifestation machine worked. I pushed the forms for more information and my mind was flooded with knowledge that I simply could not make any sense of. And then I remembered something that my transpersonal psychologist had told me recently: “that the path of knowledge can only take you so far in you spiritual pursuit. That this path will ultimately show you that unification with God will not be known through knowledge alone.”
As I was thinking about this, the entities expressed their agreement and told me that I had reached the end of the path of knowledge. I then remembered that my transpersonal psychologist had also suggested a new path, a path of love and devotion, to further my spiritual development. So I tried to direct as much love as I could muster at this big amorphous pulsating clump that was still in the center of my mind's eye. As I did this, I could feel my body getting warmer and relaxing. My physical body felt very soothed and soon this comfort transformed into a feeling of vibration. It was a little bit like the pins and needles feeling, except that it was generalized throughout my entire body. Eventually, my body sensation seemed to disappear entirely, and all that was left was some sort of infinite sea of warm vibration.
Yet I got frustrated again, because while this feeling was very pleasant, it was no where near the ecstatic bliss states that I have read so much about. I began to get angry with the salvia forms, asking them if this is all there is to God. I asked them if bliss states and overpowering feelings of unity and love were even possible at all. I began to worry that this mildly pleasant feeling was the epitome of God-Realization, and that all my egoic dreams for more were merely delusions. However, the salvia forms were patient with me and explained that while the path of love and devotion would lead me closer to God than my previous path could, it is still not the be-all-end-all of God-Realization techniques. This path too was transitory and imperfect, they said. They told me to be more patient.
That was the end of this salvia experience. It lasted 4 minutes. I reflected for about 10 minutes afterwards and then decided that I wanted to learn more. I smoked again. Same setting, same method, same dose. But perhaps I should have heeded the salvia forms' instruction to be more patient.
I packed another pinch of 20x and smoked it. This was the first time I had taken a new dose within less than 2 weeks of the preceding one. Immediately after smoking I could tell something was different than usual. I had the thought that this might be a 'bad trip.' My fear of death started to dominate my typically quiet mind. I tried to close my eyes and stay calm but my mind was taken over by the thought that I was being ripped from my body and that I was going to die if I didn't get back to it. I kept saying, 'I need to breathe, I need to go back, I'm not ready to die yet.' I began feeling my heart pulsate strongly to that familiar beat, and I began to realize that I was being disintegrated, and that I would never be able to return to my individual self. (Upon later reflection, it seems as if my ego was violently rejecting the prospect of dissolution)
I frantically tried to retain egoic control over my physical reality by opening my eyes. I had never done so before while undergoing a salvia journey. What I saw was my first experience of open-eyed visual hallucinations. My room was still there, but superimposed over my normal visual field was a giant face. It somewhat resembled the face from that optical illusion where I either see two faces staring at each other or a candlestick. The face had many similarities to the pulsating amorphous mass from my prior journey. It had the same potential for all color and seemed to emphasize red, green and yellow without actually having a distinct color. And it seemed to be made out of the fundamental stuff that everything is made of. It was almost as if this face was more real than the objects over which it was visually superimposed.
This face seemed to be screaming and contorting itself, although I heard nothing from it audibly. I knew that the face was very angry at me but I wasn't sure why. It was screaming at me in anger and I thought I was going to die. This one giant face then split into infinite smaller faces, still the same face but now connected to each other like paper cut-out dolls. The faces' anger did not subside and I still did not understand why it was directed at me.
Then I heard a line from a Simpsons episode that my roommate happened to be watching in our living room. This is unusual, because I rarely hear anything from the living room when my bedroom door is closed. Homer had said something to the effect of, 'We had a deal, and you broke your end of the bargain.' There was no doubt in my mind that this line was directed at me, but I wasn't entirely sure what part of what deal I had failed to live up to. I have some ideas, but I still haven't figured out exactly what deal I had broken. Perhaps it was a deal to tread slowly and learn incrementally, or maybe it was a deal to make the most of my life in Maya) But regardless, I became fascinated by the fact that a physical occurrence, like a line from a TV show, could be infused with so much hidden meaning. I started apologizing profusely and begging the infinite faces for forgiveness. The face eventually forgave me, I calmed down, closed my eyes and returned to the more familiar salvia space for another conversation with the conscious forms.
They first told me that all physical and mental events are infused with many deeper layers of meaning and that if you discover a hidden meaning, you can use it to make decisions or to help further personal and spiritual growth. I then asked the conscious forms why the infinite faces were so angry about a promise or deal. After all, the forms had repeatedly shown me on previous journeys that all things from the material world, even deals and promises, are relatively meaningless in the spiritual realms. This prompted me to worry that perhaps I had broken a deal that was not made of the physical realm. The salvia forms assured me that this was not the case, and that in actuality, the reason I was shown such fearful imagery was because they wanted to drive home an issue that I was not yet fully understanding.
The forms told me that this entire 'bad trip' scene had been orchestrated to help me finally get over my fear of dying. During my panic, I fought violently to stay in my body and to retain total control over my thoughts. And whenever I succeeded and returned to my body, I would again become overwhelmed by the fear that my death was imminent. And then I would start to enter salvia space and begin to calm down, but memory of my body and its needs would eventually suck me back to physical reality, where the fear of dying would promptly take over once again.
When reflecting on these occurrences with the salvia forms, I realized that in order to fear bodily-egoic death, I needed to be fully associated with my body-mind. But when I was outside my body-mind, the fears could not and did not exist. They just vanished. Death, like my purification rituals, was just a non-issue that had no meaning in this 'other' space. The salvia forms told me that death exists only in the physical realm. But in the fundamentally 'other' place that salvia takes you to, death is just utterly meaningless. Then they suggested that I take a hiatus from visiting them. I think we agreed on 6 weeks.
And that was the end of my second experience. It had lasted about 3 minutes.
I am a little unhinged by this experience, but I feel a little closer to God because of it too. After a few more chats with my transpersonal therapist and some additional self-inquiry, I think I'll be able to integrate this experience nicely into my larger spiritual quest.
Experiences and visions like the ones I just described are incredibly complex and they encompass multiple layers of human experience. It is perhaps impossible to unravel all the biochemical, emotional, logical-mental and spiritual dimensions that they contain. But maybe that should not be goal. All I know for certain is that these experiences feel extremely valuable and important, and I can feel myself growing intellectually, emotionally and spiritually from them.
I'll conclude by leaving you with the philosophy that I try to live my life by:
Indulge in Maya. Love the physical world and all that it contains. Strive for happiness, success and all the objects of your desire. Do not deny your ego because it too is a part of you. But never forget your true nature. Never forget that you come from beyond this physical world and that you are here for a reason. Seek that Reason, Seek the Truth, Seek Your Return God. And maybe in His Eternal Love, He will lift the veil from all our eyes, so we might see that All is Always Already God.
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