Citation: infinity. "Path to Enlightenment: An Experience with Cannabis (exp86671)". Erowid.org. Dec 15, 2013. erowid.org/exp/86671
The following is an account of the single most profound, spiritually moving, and enlightening moment of my life. This enlightenment was achieved solely through the smoking of Cannabis.
Background about me: At this point in my life, I had been a regular cannabis user for about a year. I was very familiar with the drug and did not, until this day, think it had the ability to alter and release the mind in the profound way that it did. Up to this point I had never done a drug of any kind other than cannabis, although I was a frequent drinker. I was also not versed in any accounts of other psychedelic, spiritual, or enlightening experiences such as those provided online and had no predisposition to be especially susceptible to such an experience. I was certainly not 'looking for' such a thing. The only background I had in this realm was that I had studied Buddhism in a college course. I did not, however, attach any special importance to my knowledge of Buddhism. I found the concept of enlightenment interesting, but I didn't really take it seriously as a real possibility. The concept of enlightenment was certainly not on my mind at all as this day began. I would later come to hold my (limited) knowledge of Buddhist enlightenment dear as it proved to be a valuable guide and framework with which to understand and articulate my experience.
My mental state at the time was very normal. I was not particularly stressed, depressed, or seeking any kind of catharsis or deeper understanding. I was simply having a good time and living my life.
The setting: I was sitting upright on a futon couch in my college dorm room. Me and a few other friends (who were also regular smokers) were watching a movie and passing around the vaporizer tube. The weed was high quality and was the same weed that I had smoked many times before. It was definitely not laced with anything. We smoked for about an hour, and I would roughly estimate that I had about 30 hits. While this was a large quantity, and I was quite high, it was by no means the highest I had ever been. I had smoked this quantity and more a decent amount of times before.
My friends had a tendency to fall asleep when they were high, and after the movie they turned off the TV and lights and went to bed. One of my friends turned on his trance playlist. I was very unfamiliar with this type of music, but as I let my mind drift I began to let it flow through me. The one song I can specifically remember being played was Aegispolis by Aphex Twin, and I believe this was the song playing in the background when I reached my peak.
As I got more and more into the music, it began to become the only thing that my physical senses were aware of. There was not a sense of the music dominating, however, but rather of everything else fading away. I'm honestly not sure if my eyes were open or closed, but I would say I'm about 70% sure they were open. Gradually, the music ceased to be merely sound waves in the air being taken in by my ears, but became a part of me, filling my entire soul. I made no effort at all to remain 'conscious' in the normal sense, but let my mind float and the music take me away. I believe that at this point, the analytical, sensory-processing part of my brain gradually stopped operating.
As my mind continued to drift, I got a sense similar to an out-of-body experience. It was distinct from this, however, in that I did not feel that my soul was looking down on my body from above, but rather that my soul was expanding to fill the whole room and indeed the whole universe. At this point, I began to lose the awareness that the music was playing at all. The music had helped take me to this point, but I was no longer able to perceive it and if it played any subsequent role it was only on a subconscious level. I was completely removed from physical perception, and in fact did not even seem to realize that I did not perceive anything. It simply wasn't important. I believe my eyes were actually open at this point, though I am not sure.
One thing that I did know (whether I realized this in retrospection or at the time I am not sure) is that the enlightenment I was experiencing did not happen suddenly, but rather in gradual stages as my consciousness drifted ever upward. The best way to describe it has already been done by Buddhist thinkers, and what I experienced matched almost exactly what I had read about Buddhist enlightenment and nirvana. I will attempt to describe the stages I experienced below, but reading up on Buddhist enlightenment would likely be a very valuable guide to complement this reading. Note that these stages are not really distinct levels, but rather a flowing continuum that I have broken up for the sake of convenience.
The first stage was extreme relaxation, as I let the music flow over me. Throughout this relaxation, I always remained in my upright posture sitting in the couch. The futon I was sitting on was normally quite uncomfortable, although at the time I was not aware of this at all.
Next, I entered the stage where outside sensations began to fade away, as I slipped into my own consciousness. At the time, I was aware of nothing but the music. Upon further analysis of the experience, I believe that this music was not important in and of itself at all. It was simply a way to focus on one thing as a means of losing (not necessarily forgetting or blocking out) everything else existing in or derived from the external world. I would say this serves a similar function as the cliché 'focus on the sound of my voice' technique used in hypnosis.
The next step was the elimination of my normal six senses. The last to go was hearing, but the music did eventually fade from my perception. Since I could no longer sense the physical world, it began to dissolve in my mind as well. I entered a stage where I was the only thing that existed. This eventually changed from me being the only thing that existed to my mind being the only thing that existed, as I experienced the sensation described above where my mind filled the whole universe. I had no sense at all of who I was, as this piece of information was an illusion. My mind (which seemed different from 'me') still seemed to exist as a distinct entity, however. At that point, I would not say that the external world did not exist, but rather that it had faded away or my mind was somehow above it, as if it was in a different dimension. An appropriate analogy would be that my normal self was a stick figure on a piece of paper, and my mind was just now able to grasp the concept of a third dimension. I would estimate that the elapsed time from the light being turned off to this stage was anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour.
The final stage I entered was concurrent with the Buddhist enlightenment, at least according to my admittedly limited understanding of it. My mind ceased to be a distinct entity, but became One with the entire universe. At the same time, however, Nothing existed at all. It was infinity and zero at the same time. All was one and all one was all. But all was also nothing. Continuing with the stick figure analogy above, my old stick figure self had moved from merely conceiving of a third dimension to existing fully in it and eventually entering a black hole into an indescribable dimensionless realm above this. I was not familiar with the concept of ego death at the time of this experience, but I now believe what I experienced is very similar to this. I have read accounts where ego death is a terrifying experience, as the ego has trouble letting go and the subject confuses ego death with physical death. In my experience, however, there was absolutely no struggle where the ego attempted to hold on. It simply let go as if being slowly washed and dissolved away. It was completely natural. There was no concept of whether or not I 'wanted' this to happen, it simply happened. If a feeling must be attached to it, that feeling I would say is sublime peace and oneness. Perhaps my lack of experience with psychedelics has fooled me into thinking I experienced ego death when it really wasn't.
I am open to this possibility, but I do know that I ceased to exist and was both One with the universe and Nothing at the same time. Again, it is extremely difficult to describe this stage, but again I would look to Buddhist readings for a better understanding. I am not a Buddhist after this experience, but I simply think Buddhist thinkers were able to understand and articulate the Ultimate, the enlightenment that I experienced. I would say that this final stage lasted anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes. The very peak of it (which occurred at the end) probably only lasted a few seconds, but it is impossible to know because the concept of time was completely unknowable and irrelevant, even non-existent.
I do not remember much in the way of 'coming down' from this experience, but it seemed to happen rather quickly. It was very similar to waking up from a long and peaceful sleep. I remember 'opening up' my eyes (perhaps not physically, they may have actually never even been closed) and perceiving the room around me for the first time in what could have been an eternity but was probably closer to an hour. I did not move right away, but sat and reflected on what I had experienced. Part of me wanted to close my eyes and attempt to recreate this enlightenment, but I somehow knew it would not be possible. I was convinced, and am still convinced that this enlightenment can be achieved without the aid of drugs or music at all. These were simply an aid. I have not yet attempted to verify this conviction, but there are Buddhist monks and mediators that I believe are living evidence that this is possible, and perhaps even preferable, when completely sober. Attempting to do this sober is a very difficult task, however, as it takes the proper mindset and understand and years of meditation and discipline.
Even weeks and months after this incident I would still rank this experience as the single most profound in my entire life. It has given me a sort of lasting peace, and has sparked more of an interest in meditation and similar philosophies. I believe I was only able to achieve this enlightenment due to a perfect combination of the proper mindset, the mind expanding effects of the cannabis, and the soothing nature of the music. It may be impossible for me to achieve again (at least without the aids of other psychedelics) even under identical conditions in terms of the cannabis, music, setting, etc. To again achieve enlightenment, I believe the truly important variable is the mindset, with the cannabis and music simply being aids.
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