QUESTION: Please share your view on the subject of hallucinogens with me. I feel all of my previous experiences were immature and self-indulgent when experimenting with them. Is its use a path to a positive altered awareness or just another modern-day attempt at a shortcut to false enlightenment?

ANSWER: All experiences can be of value or a hindrance, the important thing is the intent behind them. The concept of having a sacred hallucinogenic experience is powerful. Many times in our culture, we approach such substances recreationally or as a distraction. Such manners of experiencing them may or may not give us an introduction to the Self beyond/within/without the self. The sacred element, which really is about intention, can make that aspect of direct knowingness more of a sure thing. The terms experiment and hallucinogen should not be uttered in the same breath. It has to be more scientific than that, which is what shamanic circles are about. Empirical science, but science nonetheless: a repeatable phenomenon. Hence the notion of using sacred plants in sacred ceremony. Not only in terms of dosage, etc., but also as importantly, in the sense of setting intentions and being watched over.

The question then becomes, what do we do after such a ceremony? There is much material revealed in such situations that needs to be processed by psychological means. In my observation, many times people tend to repeat such journeys over and over instead of doing the work. Or they keep thinking and talking about it as a substitution for doing the work. Doing the work is not pleasant: it involves sitting, grappling, pushing through, and finally integrating all the unpleasant aspects of our psyche that we have been suppressing - and that were hopefully revealed by the sacred journey.

So my question to you, as someone who has had other hallucinogenic experiences is: what is your intention for doing this journey?