Leo's Blog: Infinite Insights — Page 100
The more I trip, the more I understand why most people doing psychedelics are misusing them so badly. One of the reasons is, they make it a social activity.
No! No! No!
I am a firm believer that psychedelics must be done solo. It's a totally different experience when you have someone else around. Even just a trip sitter. That social contact will disturb your journey. These folks aren't merely "just a trip sitter", or merely a source of distraction, they are your umbilical cord. Even though you might feel like you're being responsible by having a sitter, the fact is, you're afraid to really face yourself, to enter the belly of the whale. In the belly of the whale, where you must face all your inner demons, and ultimately your own death, no one can help you. You are truly alone. Just having someone there to talk to will significantly change the dynamics of your trip.
This is not to say that I'm advocating doing large doses of psychedelics by yourself in a frenzy of macho chest-beating and bravado. No, that sort of arrogant approach will definitely get your ass handed to you.
If you're doing psychedelics for the purposes of the deep existential contemplation — like I do — then you must go it all alone. No distractions, no social nonsense, just you alone in a room facing the Truth. And you must even make sure that you do not allow yourself to distract yourself during the trip. Running around, doing silly things outside, watching cartoons, etc. makes for good fun, but it doesn't get to the rock bottom of things. It's not contemplation. Contemplation isn't flashy or fun. You just sit on your couch, or lie on your floor, ponder, and muster the courage to surrender to Truth.
Now, some will say that this is irresponsible and reckless; trip sitters are necessary for safety. Look... What I'm talking about here is real spirituality, not recreational tripping. Real spirituality is hardcore stuff. Way more hardcore than people realize. It MUST involve facing your deepest shadow, insanity, and even physical death. If it didn't, what would it be worth? It would not address the deepest existential issues we care about. All those issues are directly tied to your deepest fears, and your deepest fear of all is physical death. Saying, "I want to do spirituality but I don't want to face my fear, I don't want anything 'bad' to happen to me", is ridiculous.
Of course what I am talking about here is hardcore and involves a degree of danger. It also requires a high degree of maturity, humility, and wisdom to execute correctly. It also requires methodical research and patient testing. The psychedelic spiritual path is definitely not for everyone, not for teenagers, and not for fun. I'm talking about an ancient methodology which goes back tens of thousands of years. The oldest of all spiritual traditions: shamanism. The shaman ventures — alone — into uncharted territory. When the shaman eats an unknown berry or mushroom, it could kill him. He's not playing around. He knows his life is on the line. Which is why he treats nature and plants with humility and respect.
So ditch your friends and trip sitters, and start to actually contemplate on your trips.
Warning: Misusing this advice could be psychologically destabilizing and even fatal. If you are not serious, mature, wise, and mentally stable, then do not do it. You could really hurt yourself.
Note: I would still use a trip sitter if I was doing a psychedelic like Salvia, which results in loss of motor function, or a deliriant like Datura. Substances like these can be extremely dangerous without assistance.
Note: When solo tripping, you need to start with very small doses and weigh them very accurately. Treat each new substance like a total unknown. Do not mix substances. Do not take weed or alcohol. Always use test kits on each new batch. Don't get complacent. Expect that even a "party drug" can kick your ass.
According to research cited by Stan Grof, about 30-50% of substance addicts (alcohol, hard drugs) are really just seeking a nondual experience.
That's why you're doing the alcohol or drug. It gives you a simulated pseudo-spiritual experience of unity. It blots out egoic consciousness. But you don't know this because you haven't actually experienced real unity, and you don't yet understand what consciousness is. So you keep hitting that bottle or pipe but it never scratches that mystical itch.
You got the right idea, but you're going about it the wrong way.
To get drunk on God, your mind has to be ultra-sober. That's what meditation, pranayama, clean eating, etc. is for. Your mind has to be attuned to the subtle. But you keep feeding it the gross.
Which is also why 5-MeO-DMT, LSD, and Ibogaine prove so effective for hard addiction recovery. They show you the real deal. They show you the subtle.
Which is why Bill Wilson, the founder of AA, included LSD as one of the most important components of recovery. Until of course the government banned it. Ever since, AA has been de-fanged.
If you're saying to yourself, "Yeah, Leo, but I'm not a drug addict! How does this help me?" Oh, yes you are! You're just addicted to something a little more subtle or culturally acceptable. Nevertheless, the underlying dynamic with you is just the same. What you seek is nonduality. Because it's the greatest thing ever. Nothing else is even remotely close. But you don't know it yet. You have to take my word for it.
Please! For fuck's sake, if you are pursuing enlightenment, take the time to thoroughly educate yourself about it. Do the necessary reading! I see too many people cluelessly stumbling into this path, clearly not having done any serious reading or research. This is extremely foolish and dangerous. This path is WAY too tricky. It has way too many traps.
There's no excuse for incorrect theory nowadays with Amazon and the internet.
Read at least 20 books about enlightenment. Make sure you include a broad cross-section of teachings, including: Buddhism, Yoga, Tantra, Sufism, Advaita Vedanta, Zen, Dzogchen, and modern secular teachings. With most emphasis and priority given to modern secular teachings.
This is a very practical matter. You buy 20 books, take them in your hands, and read the shit out of them, with pen in hand for plenty of underlining. And No... watching videos on YouTube does NOT count as reading a book! You sneaky weasel.
Don't let people — like the annoying Neo-Advaitan's — mislead you into thinking that enlightenment is simple, and therefore you have nothing to study. Enlightenment is both simple and extremely complex and nuanced. There is TONS of practical stuff to study about it. If there weren't, we wouldn't have so many spiritual books, texts, and traditions. There is more to study than you will have years in your life.
If you are too lazy or too stubborn to read at least 20 diverse books on this subject, you have no business pursuing enlightenment. You will likely be more harmed than helped by it. You need to understand enough to be able to diagnose your own sticking points.
I exclude Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam because these teachings tend to be overly ideological, indirect, and misleading. Don't be hurt by this. My concern here is practicality, not equality. The fact is, these 4 traditions have become very diluted and distorted, to dangerous levels. Although I encourage you to study them at some point just so you have a full appreciation of the world's mystical traditions.
If you need book ideas, my book list has close to 40 great selections. And I'll be adding more in the future.
"Below is a video made in a user-testing lab in rural Pakistan, featuring a man in his 20s. He has used a feature phone but never a smartphone. He’s given a simple-sounding task: Go to Google and search for the the name of your favorite actress. Watch the video. Watch it all."
This is much more than just a case study for web and UI designers. This bespeaks a profound epistemic issue: nothing about reality is ever obvious! Nothing!
- Nothing in design
- Nothing in science
- Nothing in mathematics
- Nothing in technology
- Nothing in art
- Nothing in logic
- Nothing in the humanities
- Nothing in metaphysics
- Nothing in epistemology
- Nothing in philosophy
- Nothing in religion
- Nothing in social systems
- Nothing in language
- Nothing in culture or social custom
- Nothing in life
Anything you assume to be self-evident or obvious about reality was acquired. You had to learn it. Often through great struggle and confusion. Even something as simple as 1+1=2 had to be indoctrinated into you. At some point in your life it wasn't obvious at all. It made no sense why reality ought to be characterized in that particular yet arbitrary way.
Hell, the fact of existence itself was non-obvious to you at one point. Can you recall?
All manner of delusion is possible when this point isn't fully appreciated. And it's really hard to appreciate the full depth of this point. Which is why we have so much delusion.
Credit: Smashing Magazine
For a while now I've been wanting to see the effects of 5-MeO-DMT on an enlightened person. You know... for the sake of science.
Anyways, I got an enlightened friend to try it.
10mg up the nose and 15 minutes later, he's vomiting his guts out on the living room floor. Like full-on. Half a gallon of violent nasty vomit. His entire dinner of giant cheeseburger and fries from the Cheesecake Factory. I had warned him not to eat too much for dinner, but I wasn't strict enough and I'm the one who took him to the Cheesecake Factory. Bad idea.
Luckily the vomit bucket was at the ready.
Moral of the story: always do psychedelics on an empty stomach. Never eat a large greasy meal before hand. If you need to kill off some hunger, half a banana 1-2 hours prior works well.
Unfortunately, after all that painful vomiting, he didn't want to dose any higher. And he wasn't a newbie. He'd already been experienced with all sorts of psychedelics and hard drugs.
Can't blame him. Lesson learned the hard way. Don't underestimate these substances. As usual, slow and steady wins the race.
Any philosophy or ideology or school of thought that takes life seriously is wrong.
Think about that. Think of how many ideologies this rules out.
There's a deep reason for this. Seriousness is a tell-tale sign of lack of self-reflection.
Comedy, mockery, and satire have always been a threat to people in power, because they shine too much light, and people seeking power must do so in an unconscious way, otherwise they would stop themselves.
The ego's game is to act serious. It must be that way. Because the ego's life is always at stake.
Notice that highly conscious people are able to make fun of themselves and be playful.
Do the following quick exercise:
Go look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, "Who told me that that's me?"
Seriously! Go do it right now.
If you're a very rational, scientifically-minded person, or an atheist, this is the perfect exercise for you.
What evidence do you have that you are that thing in the mirror?
Seriously! I'm not kidding. This is not an armchair philosophy exercise. This is a hardcore science experiment.
How do you know what you're supposed to look like?
Could it be that you've simply assumed that that thing in the mirror was you without actually investigating the matter?
Is there any scientific evidence whatsoever of how you are supposed to look like? How would you even make such a determination?
Can you recall how in your early childhood it wasn't at all obvious that you had a body, knew it's parts, or knew how it looked? Can you recalling having to acquire all those notions?
Now, notice that your mind will come up with all sorts of objections and rationalizations for why you really are that thing in the mirror.
But I hope you're wise enough not to blindly trust that mind of yours. After all, isn't that your biggest gripe with religious fanatics? That they blindly believe in unwarranted things... that they beg the question?
Well, watch out! Maybe you've been committing that very same sin your whole life. Which, by the way way, would explain that grudge you hold towards religion.
Who's begging the question now? Oh, how the tables have turned! Oh, the delicious the irony! Oh, the hypocrisy of rationalism!
If what I say is true, can you begin to fathom the significance of it? Not philosophically, but ACTUALLY!
If you're planning your own solo retreat, you'll need to bring way more supplies than you think if you want things to go smoothly.
Here are my essentials:
(An * asterisk denotes a CRITICAL item)
- Strong LED flashlight*
- Multi-tool/utility knife*
- Small but WORKING umbrella*
- Small first-aid kit*
- 1 gallon of drinking water per day*
- At least 2 fleecy blankets*
- Paper towels*
- Toilet paper*
- Make sure it's soft, so you can use it as Kleenex for if you catch a cold
- Trash bags*
- Small and large ziplock bags*
- Small bags = 1 quart, large bags = 1 gallon
- Plastic food containers
- Hiking water bottle/canteen*
- Lite backpack*
- Cooler for food
- Small & lite folding lawn chair
- Ground blanket or mat for meditating outdoors
- Dishwashing soap & foam scrub pad
- Dish drying rags / small hand towels*
- Pens, paper & clipboard, or spiral-bound notebook
- Tennis shoes & flip-flops*
- Warm indoor slippers*
- Plenty of socks*
- At least 2 hats (one warm, one cool)*
- Warm gloves
- Clothing for warm & cold*
- Light rain jacket*
- Shorts & long pants*
- Comfortable, loose meditation clothing*
- Hiking stick
- Bath towels*
- Cooking gear: spatula, stir spoon, pots & pans, rice sieve, etc.
- Plates, bowls, cups
- At least 1 fork and 1 spoon
- Measuring cup
- Cooking knives
- Aluminum foil / plastic wrap
- 1 baking tray for using oven
- Can opener (if you're using any canned food)
- Cooking oil
- Salt & spices
- Raw honey
- Light herbal tea, or green tea
- At least 2 alarm clocks & at least 2 meditation timers*
- Do NOT use your smartphone as a clock, timer, or alarm!!!
- Spare batteries
- Post-it notes
- Electric heating pad
- Any medication you need*
- Allergy meds
- Especially ones for if you catch a cold
- Nail clippers*
- Chap stick*
- Dry-eye drops*
- Toiletry supplies: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, shampoo, spare contact lenses, lens cleaner solution, deodorant, shaving gear, etc.
- USB charger
- Car phone charger or battery charger
- Meditation cushion
- Rope / twine
- Jumper cables in your car*
- Large plastic tubs/containers to hold and carry all the above
Of course, depending on your cabin/living quarters, you may have some of these things already provided, like a blender, cookware, plates, etc. But you can't be too sure. Anything you assume they've got, might be broken or totally missing. So double-check all your assumptions or assume it won't be there when you arrive.
And I didn't even mention the food.
Yes, it's a lot of stuff, but remember, the goal here is to set up an environment where your mind can focus 100% on meditation. Handle all the mundane matters ahead of time. It's very distracting when you're missing something essential like toilet paper.
What not to bring:
- Makeup, perfume
- Books, magazines
- Self help products, unless you're specifically doing a self-help product retreat
- iPads/laptops, unless necessary for business emergencies
- Video games, Netflix
- Psychedelics, unless you're specifically doing a psychedelic retreat
- Coffee, tobacco, alcohol
- Junk food: candy, potato chips, beef jerky, Ramen noodles, protein bars, frozen pizzas, TV dinners, wheat products like bread or pasta, dairy products, soda, ranch dressing, mayo, fruit juices, baked goods: cookies, bagels, croissants, etc.
- Red meat, smoked meat, bacon, sausage, salami
- Pets, children, friends, spouses, girlfriends/boyfriends
- Unfinished business, lingering work tasks
These are 10 end-of-the-day summations of each day of my solo retreat in the Arizona pine forest.
There was too much footage to upload to Youtube, and it was too detailed for a general audience, hence I'm posting it here.
Note: Keep in mind this is unvarnished, unstructured footage, shot amidst a hardcore retreat which pushed me to my limit. All my attention went into meditation, not presentation.
Have you seen the 2007 film, Into The Wild? If you haven't, it's a great self-actualization-themed movie based on the true story of a young guy who goes off to live and die in the woods after graduating college. You should definitely check it out. An inspiring story.
But if you've seen it, here's a little insight I got about this film while doing my 9 day solo meditation retreat in a cabin in the woods:
If the movie resonated with you, or made you emotional, it's because you seek enlightenment but don't even know it.
It seems likely to me that neither the main character (Chris McCandless), nor his family, nor the writers, nor the director of the film REALLY understood what his journey was about. How can I be sure of this? Well... it's just a guess, I can't be sure. But because what he was searching for is just too damn difficult to stumble into by accident. It's too subtle and too radical. And it cannot be known through any books or teachers.
What was Chris really seeking? Was he just a young guy disillusioned with the rat race and mainstream culture?
No. It goes waaaaay deeper than that.
He was seeking enlightenment.
But he probably didn't know it. And neither did all the people in his life. And neither do you.
How could he? How could they? How could you? Enlightenment is just too far outside of anything one can imagine unless one's experienced it. Even if you've read a lot about it, you still can't fathom how radical it is in actuality.
Chris invested so much energy vagabonding, traveling around, escaping mainstream society that eventually it go him killed.
But the real journey is not external, it's internal.
Harder than vagabonding and living in the woods is simply turning the search inside. Traveling and going rogue is in many ways just another distraction. Sure, it has a feel of adventure and romance, but it's still materialistic. Merely abandoning your city and 9-5 job does NOT solve your problem of materialism. Living out in nature by itself is not enough. Reading romantic philosophy books by Thoreau and Emerson is not enough. Because the mind will still be turned outwards. The only way to solve this is by turning inside yourself, knowing exactly what you're looking for: no-self. Which of course requires no change in your external circumstances.
Another option for Chris would have been to use his savings to rent a cheap motel room on the edge of town for $25/night and spend a solid 90 days self-inquiring from morning to night. In practice, that would have worked much better.
Although being alone in the woods does cut out many distractions, unless you use this window for rigorous self-inquiry, its not going to produce the kind of transformation you're seeking.
So, should you abandon your romantic plans to go live out in the wild and settle for your current humdrum, toxic environment? That's up to you, but whatever fork in the road you end up taking, make sure it includes many many hours of actual self-inquiry.
P.S. None of this is a criticism of Chris. It took a lot of courage for him to do what he did. Seems like he was following his life purpose as best as he knew how.