The Beautiful Spirit Molecule in Your Body's Chemistry
by Iona Miller
In extraordinary circumstances, chemical brainstorms of scintillating multidimensional visionary light are generated in our own cranium, producing demons, divinities, aliens, oceanic ecstasies, death/rebirth and time distortion. The resonant buzzing of our bioelectronic "Third Eye" can awaken latent metaprogram circuits, leaving us virtually blinded by compelling mind-altering hallucinations. This hyperdelic retinal circus is your brain on the natural high, DMT.
This spiritual supercharge revealed in all wisdom literature has been sought by cultures from Egypt and Asia to the Americas, from Druids to Tibetan lamas, and now modern science. Psychedelic alchemist Sasha Shulgin claims that DMT is everywhere in nature. Seekers have ceremonially emptied or exhausted their mindbodies, using plant or animal products, spiritual technologies, sensory deprivation, social isolation, fasting and ordeals, rhythmic chanting, drumming and even sex to hasten and drive neurological illumination (Miller 2006).
The Pineal Gland of Youth
We are hardwired to seek pleasure, to seek ecstasy. As children, we freely expressed our authentic selves—that which can be neither taught nor learned, and the self-help and new age movements are based on trying to get back that golden state of innocence, wonder and awe with a mature spiritual connection.
Until roughly age 8, the distinction between fantasy and reality is fuzzy, due to our own natural hallucinogen, Dimethyltryptamine. Pineal activity diminishes with puberty around age 12, after the more imaginative period of childhood, and declines further with advancing age. Integrative spirituality suggests we "become as little children" again, but who could have imagined this includes the natural psychedelic state of an uncalcified pineal gland? Youth means perpetual immersion in cascades of trance-inducing theta rhythms in the brain, resonating with its feel-good chemical brew. DMT molecules are similar to serotonin and target the same receptors.
Meditation has been suggested as a means of preserving youthful appearance and mental flexibility. Dr. Rick Strassman (2001) and others suggest it encourages natural DMT production throughout the lifespan. Research implicates pineal DMT in the wild imaginings of our nightly dreams, near-death phenomena (NDEs), and alien abduction experiences. It is also a source of visions in shamanism and transpersonal therapies, where dreams spill into waking life with a shifting succession of things seen or imagined. The main difference between dreams and hallucinations is in the way the stages of wakefulness are organized.
Dreams occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, while ponto-geniculo-occipital (PGO) waves in the waking stage (NREM) initiate hallucinations. PGO waves are spiky waves that herald the onset of REM sleep. PGO waves help regulate hypnogogic and hypnopompic imagery, vivid dreamlike audio, visual and tactile sensations. Waking dreams (hallucinations / visions) can discharge PGO "residues" even in the absence of REM sleep. Such visions can resemble classic leitmotifs of death/rebirth, ego-death, and near death experiences (NDEs). Stages include: 1) subjective feeling of being dead; 2) peace and well-being; 3) disembodiment; 4) visions of material objects and events, 5) tunnel or dark zone; 6) evaluation of past life; 7) light; 8) access to a transcendental world, entering in light; 9) encounter with other beings; 10) return to life (Sabom 1982).
The pineal gland nests in the cavernous ventricles of the brain, bathed by the cerebrospinal fluid that feeds it and removes waste. Its secretions permeate the surrounding emotional, visual and auditory brain centers regulating body temperature and skin coloration. It also secretes the sleep hormone melatonin. Curiously, this solitary, vestigial "eye" remains light sensitive and actually has a lens, cornea, and retina. Is there a phantasmagoria orchestrated by biophotons deep in the brain, which only the Third Eye sees or even creates?
The Third Eye in the center of the brain creates the Spirit Molecule. The pineal raises serotonin levels and synthesizes natural hallucinogens in response to certain psychophysical states paradoxically associated with extreme relaxation and arousal. Unstressing is associated with anomalous psychic and prophetic phenomena. This master gland potentiates internal perception of Light; the raising of the laser-like Kundalini "serpent power" which awakens "in-sight." The key to a successful meditation is the withdrawal of the sensory currents to the eye center, "dying while living." Once there, the gaze focuses on the middle of whatever appears without any physical or mental distraction.
The groundbreaking work of Dr. Rick Strassman in DMT: The Spirit Molecule articulates the role natural body chemistry plays in creating spiritual life; revealing DMT as a primary active agent in a host of altered states including mystical experience. Exploring his theory, Strassman injected volunteers with the powerful psychedelic, synthetic DMT. Crossing the blood-brain barrier, it bonds to the same synaptic sites as serotonin. It is physically immobilizing, and produces a relentless flood of unexpected and overwhelming visual and emotional imagery. Not for the faint of heart, taking synthetic DMT is like an instantaneous LSD peak.
Natural DMT production is stimulated by meditation and the extraordinary conditions of birth, sexual ecstasy, childbirth, extreme physical stress, near-death, and death. As well as regulating dream consciousness, pineal activation awakens normally latent neural pathways, linking body and spirit. As Strassman writes:
All spiritual disciplines describe quite psychedelic accounts of the transformative experiences, whose attainment motivate their practice. Blinding white light, encounters with demonic and angelic entities, ecstatic emotions, timelessness, heavenly sounds, feelings of having died and being reborn, contacting a powerful and loving presence underlying all of reality—these experiences cut across all denominations. They also are characteristic of a fully psychedelic DMT experience. How might meditation evoke the pineal DMT experience?
Meditative techniques using sound, sight, or the mind may generate particular wave patterns whose fields induce resonance in the brain. Millennia of human trial and error have determined that certain "sacred" words, visual images, and mental exercises exert uniquely desired effects. Such effects may occur because of the specific fields they generate within the brain. These fields cause multiple systems to vibrate and pulse at certain frequencies. We can feel our minds and bodies resonate with these spiritual exercises. . .The pineal begins to "vibrate" at frequencies that weaken its multiple barriers to DMT formation: the pineal cellular shield, enzyme levels, and quantities of anti-DMT. The end result is a psychedelic surge of the pineal spirit molecule, resulting in the subjective states of mystical consciousness (Strassman 2001).
Natural hallucinogens likely belong to the tryptamine or beta-carboline family of compounds. One compound (6-methoxy-1,2,3,4-tetra-hydro-beta-carboline) is probably responsible for visual effects of REM sleep. There are several ways that either psychoactive compound may be produced in the human central nervous system from precursors and enzymes. Nerve fibers leaving the pineal gland make synaptic connections with other brain sites through traditional nerve-to-nerve connections, as well as via endocrine secretions.
Third Eye Blind
Serotonin or tryptamine levels are higher in the pineal than in any other organ in the brain. In 1976, Gucchait demonstrated that the pineal gland contains an enzyme capable of synthesizing both DMT and bufotenine-like chemistry, especially under stress. Adrenaline potentiates DMT production.
Strassman notes that both the pineal gland and the differentiated gonads of both genders appear 49 days after conception. Melatonin regulates gonad development, implicating the pineal again. He suggests this as the root of the tension between sexual and spiritual energies, yang and yin. The pineal modulates both gonads and psychedelic compounds, sources of generative and spiritual immortality.
Stress cues pineal activation and normally latent synthetic pathways, creating tryptamine and/or beta-carboline hallucinogens. During stress or potential death, or in meditative reveries, we "tune back" into the most well-developed motif of such experiences—the birth experience. Pre-and peri-natal themes and memories re-emerge. Those born through Caesarean birth report greater difficulty in attaining transcendent or oceanic breakthrough and release during drug-induced states. If less fetal (or maternal) hallucinogens were released at birth, weaker "templates of experience" would perhaps be created.
Meditation induces a dynamic, oceanic experience. Harmonization resynchronizes both hemispheres of the brain, recalibrating the whole organism. The pineal resonates with electric, magnetic or sound energy that can lead to a synergetic chain of activity releasing hallucinogens. The pineal becomes a "lightning rod" of consciousness as the energy body generates laser-like illumination.
Walk on the Wild Side
Physicist Cliff Pickover argues that, "DMT in the pineal glands of Biblical prophets gave God to humanity and let ordinary humans perceive parallel universes. . . . Our brain is a filter, and the use of DMT is like slipping on infrared goggles, allowing us to perceive a valid reality that is inches away and all around us."
He suggests that perhaps our ancestors produced more DMT than we do today, which led to extraordinary spiritual visions. "Maybe this is why the ancients seemed so in touch with God and with miracles and visions. Maybe Moses and Jesus had a greater rate of pineal DMT production than most." He blames artificial light for the reduction in natural DMT. Pickover also suggests spontaneous DMT experiences as a possible source of Whitley Streiber’s Communion aliens: "we know that DMT can often produce visions of cartoon-like aliens." Those using DMT often report communications with stick-like, insect-like or elf-like discarnate entities (Meyer 1993).
Psychonaut Terence McKenna used synthetic DMT (N,Ndimetyltryptamine) to intentionally contact "machine elves" and explore parallel worlds: "What is driving religious feeling today is a wish for contact with this other universe." Arguing for their radical "otherness," McKenna emphasized that the hyperspace aliens seen while using DMT present one "with information that is not drawn from the personal history of the individual." At a talk given at the Esalen Institute in December 1983, McKenna described the machine elves:
The fractal elves seem to be reassuring, saying, "Don't worry, don't worry; do this, look at this." Meanwhile, one is completely "over there." One's ego is intact. One's fear reflexes are intact. One is not "fuzzed out" at all. Consequently, the natural reaction is amazement; profound astonishment ... The elves are saying, "Don't get a loop of wonder going that quenches your ability to understand. Try not to be so amazed. Try to focus and look at what we're doing." What they're doing is emitting sounds like music, like language. These sounds pass without any quanticized moment of distinction - as Philo Judaeus said that the Logos would when it became perfect - from things heard to things beheld. One hears and beholds a language of alien meaning that is conveying alien information that cannot be Englished. (http://deoxy.org/t_thc.htm)
The Harma alkaloid (Harmine), also known as Telepathine and Banisterine, is a naturally occurring beta-carboline related to harmaline. It stimulates the central nervous system by inhibiting the metabolism of serotonin and other monoamines. Harmine and harmaline are reversible MAO Inhibitors found in Syrian Rue (3-7% harma alkaloid) and in Ayahuasca brews made with DMT sources. Harmine is also found in the bark and leaves of Pychotriaviridis or Banisteriopsis caapi vine, the South American sacrament of the Church of Santo Daime.
Transpersonal Psychologist "Johnny Appleseed" uses phalaris grass as shamanic sacrament. He contends that 5-MeO DMT amplifies telepathic ability to affect or be receptive to others’ brainwaves through modulating chemistry, electromagnetic entrainment, and standing feedback loops. He explains:
For the past ten years I have been doing healing and exploratory sessions with individuals and small groups. We have occasionally experienced the phenomena of telepathy, ESP, and interactions on an energetic level that produce healing in a number of modalities. I work only with a preparation of Phalaris grass, an entheogen specifically bred to contain trace alkaloids, 5-MeO DMT, potentiated by MAOI from Syrian Rue. Most people smoke it for a blast, which is not conducive to this work.
Other [psychedelic] materials distort consciousness to some degree. Oral-based 5-MeO DMT from plant sources is something completely different, however. A clear yet enhanced state is accessible easily and reliably with no delusional ideation, or visual distortions. It is simply like being fully awake. This is probably because we were born with, and until puberty had, a pineal gland that made 5-MeO DMT in quite substantial amounts, unlike the reports of only very trace amounts of endogenous DMT. Thus, we have the receptors and metabolic pathways to deal with this material in a non-distorting way (Appleseed 2006).
Hollywood trainer Barry Hostetler advocates "Youthenizing," claiming his 35 years of body building and meditating allow him to "kick out the DMT." We can control our psychobiology by controlling our mental state and vice versa, especially the reactive "reptilian brain." Under stress we release toxic catabolites into our system which undermine the immune system and age us faster. Without exercise, poisons accumulate, making the mindbody toxic, frustrated and agitated.
We can intentionally cultivate youthful states by doing emotional exercises and visualizations which stimulate the body chemistry of our glory days. The body remembers and mimics more flexible mental and physical states, improving overall balance and disposition. When youthenizing, it is helpful to use a photo from under age 7, a time you felt at your peak, or your happiest, healthiest times.
The body is an island of energy/matter and emotions with waves of feelings crashing onto its shores. Body-consciousness can either hide or reveal spirit, depending on how we direct our attention toward our ego, stress (including spiritual distress) and relief.
Kinesiology demonstrates that the mind "thinks" with the body itself. Mindbody is the subtle mechanism behind the disease process. The chemistry you generate with moods and states in your body is crucial to your health and well being. Toxic states of mind first affect the energy body, then the physical body. Subjective and objective experience are hidden determinants of behavior. Embodied as corporeal memory, the body is your memory and subconscious.
Absolute darkness has an initiatory quality—the metaphor of moving from the darkness of ignorance into the illuminative Light. All wisdom traditions have used sensory deprivation and darkness (caves, tunnels, catacombs or special chambers) as a shamanic mind-altering force. Disorientation outside facilitates internal focus and connection. Drugs, chanting and drumming amplify the effects which culminate in a rebirth of the spirit when one enters the point of light.
Taoist master, Mantak Chia of Thailand, recommends sound and light isolation for reawakening the pineal in a process he calls Darkroom Enlightenment. He sequesters participants in the dark for over a week to shock the gland into critical arousal, stimulate production of natural DMT and break down the barriers to transcendence. The neurotransmitter 5-MeO-DMT is normally only active when we are in the womb and in the first months of our lives. The darkroom reactivates it.
The stages include the Melatonin state (Day 1-3; ego death), Pinoline State (Day 3-5; energy body and astral projection; lucid dreaming), 5-MeO-DMT (Day 6-8; telepathy, White Light), culminating in illuminative DMT (Day 9-12; Immortal Body). Participants leave through a tunnel, presumably a symbolic rebirth. Explains Chia, "When DMT levels reach more than 25mg, one's experience can become very visual. It enables the energy body and spirit to journey into hyperspace, beyond third dimensional realms of time and space" (Chia 2006).
Rebirth is the self-organizing emergence of the new self. The seed of initiation is realized as the mature fruit of experience which feeds and sustains us. Each healing journey is the death of something within us which has kept us stuck. Healing facilitates our continuing evolution; the reborn self continues to emerge for months or years. Consequences of the journey manifest in this renewed form as new behaviors, feelings, attitudes, ideas, and wisdom. The death/rebirth archetype is embodied.
Illumination has been described as being blinded by the manifestation of God’s presence. This brightness has no relation to any visible light. Visionary experience, which has symbolic or religious content, may give way to this dazzling light, which is reported in both east and west. It gives the person a palpable glow, perceptible after the return to ordinary awareness.
Sacred images are generated in the lower temporal lobes, which also respond to ritual imagery and are facilitated by prayer and meditation. Religious emotions originate from the middle temporal lobe and are linked to emotional aspects of religious experience such as joy and awe. Yet, neural correlates don't mean that these experiences exist "only" in the brain or are merely illusory; they are associated with distinct neural activity. There is no way to distinguish whether the brain causes these experiences or is actually perceiving spiritual reality. However, psychedelic visions of bright lights, portals and spiritual icons, or a sense of divine or malevolent presence, directly correlate with DMT.
We are very sensitive to tiny energy fields and resonance phenomena, both locally and at a distance. They allow the cells of the body to work together instantaneously and symphonically. All biological processes are a function of electromagnetic field interactions. Electromagnetic fields are the connecting link between the world of form and resonant patterns, since they embody or store patterns of information.
We can return to Nature and our nature; collectively preparing a paradigm shift for a new shared reality and trajectory of physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual coherence. The silent frictionless flow of living intelligence is beyond words and conceptual constructs. We are a process of recursive self-generation. This continuum, our groundstate or creative source, is directly discoverable in the living Light that generates our Being.
Blinded by the Light
Kabbalalists speak of this primal light during ecstatic entry into Pardes, or the "orchard" of the Garden of Pomegranates—the self-luminous spheres of the Tree of Life. This metaphysical experience of the Light of the Shekinah, the feminine aspect of the Divine, is associated with qabalistic ascent up the Middle Pillar. In this state the soul remains covered or adorned, and one cleaves to the Light, gazing at the awesome radiance of God (Tzvi ha Shekinah) in rapt mystic union.
According to Kabbalist Moshe Idel, this grace of "sweet radiance" has erotic overtones. It also implies mystical death, separated from all concerns with the mundane world. The Divine Light attracts the light of the soul, "which is weak in relation to the Divine Light." The metaphor is one of magnetic attraction. The Kabbalist tries to recapture the pre-fall state of Primordial Man, to re-enter the radiance of the Shekinah, a mystically erotic relationship with the Divine Presence which creates a reflective glow.
Entrance of the philosopher or mystic into the Pardes affects only the human soul. But in the Theosophical paradigm it also affects non-human realms (the system of divine powers) influencing the relationships between them. In the Theurgic paradigm there is a relation and struggle with the demonic realm which seeks to hold the soul back from union. Because it is overwhelming for most mortals, Pardes represents a danger zone potentially leading to insanity or death. Premature entry into this realm has been likened to tearing a silk scarf from a rosebush rather than gently removing it slowly with regular meditation.
DIY Brain Sync
Do-It-Yourself alternatives can automatically put you in the zone. Yogatronics uses light pulses and/or simple CDs and headphones to input resonant subsonic frequencies. This audio technology creates a harmonization of the left and right hemispheres of the brain, driving the brain harmlessly into Alpha or Theta brainwave cascades.
In binaural beat technology, two different embedded tones of slightly different frequencies (such as 100 and 108 cycles per second) are delivered independently to each ear with stereo headphones. The tones combine in a pulsating "wah-wah" that resonates at the difference between the two tones, in the 4-13 Hz. meditative range, while you sit quietly (see, Monroe Institute (HemiSync), Centerpointe Research Institute (Holosync), BioPulse, and Alpha-Stim).
Hemispheric synchronization helps recalibrate you. It correlates with healing flashes of insight, wisdom and creativity. It is used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and more. Creating and exercising new neural pathways retrains neural circuitry. Rhythmic pulses can modulate collective neuronal and hemispheric synchrony and the entire spectrum of arousal by pulling more and more parts of the brain into the process. New circuits improve equilibrium and long-term change, "tuning" the nervous system.
We are innately geared to crave ecstasy, "escape reality" and seek novel experiences on our journey toward wisdom. Religions and mysticism are legacies of spontaneous spiritual experiences. In shamanism, our ancestors sought them in primal ways for healing and magic. In art, myth, ritual and meditation we rekindle them in consciously self-expressive ways.
Some of us instinctively crave that cosmic cinema. In this void, the kaleidoscopic Light of mystery, our deepest nature arises spontaneously, radiating like waves from a calm sea. We no longer feel separate, but instantly recognize the unified essence of All, infused with "meta-syn" Light. We’ve completed the self-actualizing journey to the center of the self, where we find the whole Cosmos.
©2006 Iona Miller. Iona Miller is a writer for the academic and popular press, hypnotherapist (ACHE) and multimedia artist. Her work is an omni-sensory fusion of science-art, chaos theory, plenum physics, and emergent paradigm shift that melds experiential psychotherapy, new physics, biophysics, paramedia, philosophy, cosmology, healing, creativity, qabalah, magick, metaphysics and society. She is interested in the effects of doctrines from religion, science, psychology and the arts. Her websites are http://ionamiller.org and http://ionatopia.50megs.com
Appleseed, Johnny (2006), Private correspondence with I. Miller, Jan 7, 2006, "Real-Time Field Interaction Theory of Psychedelic Action."
Chia, Mantak, http://www.universal-tao.com/dark_room/index.html
McKenna, Terence; Food of the Gods; New York: Bantam Books, 1993.
Meyer, Peter (1993), "Apparent communication with discarnate entities induced by DMT," Psychedelic Monographs & Essays, Vol. 6, Thom Lyttle, Ed., PM & E Publishing Group, Boynton Beach, Florida.
Miller, Iona (1999); "Chaos as the Universal Solvent: Re-creational ego death in psychedelic consciousness," Psychedelics ReImagined, Thom Lyttle, Ed. New York: Autonomedia, 1999.
Miller, Iona (1994) "Becoming the Vine: An Anecdotal Account of an Ayahuasca Initiation" http://www.v72.org/ayahusca_becoming_vine.htm
Miller, Iona (2001), "Neurotheology 101:Technoshamanism and Our Innate Capacity for Spiritual or Mystical Experience," Institute for Consciousness Science & Technology
Miller, Iona (2003), "How the Brain Creates God: The Emerging Science of Neurotheology," Chaosophy, Asklepia Pub. http://neurotheology.50megs.com
Miller, Iona (2006), "Soma Pinoline," http://ionaparamedia.50megs.com/whats_new_1.html
Miller, Iona (2006b), "Deep Field, High Mountain, Dark Cave," http://ionaparamedia.50megs.com/whats_new_9.html
Pickover, Cliff (2006), "DMT, Moses, and the Quest for Transcendence," http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/Pickover/pc/dmt.html
Sabom, M. B. (1982). Recollections of Death: A medical investigation. Harper and Row, New York.
Strassman, Rick (1990), "The Pineal Gland," Psychedelic Monographs & Essays, Vol. 5, Thom Lyttle, Ed., PM & E Publishing Group, Boynton Beach, Florida
Strassman, Rick (2001). DMT: The Spirit Molecule. Rochester, Vermont: Park St. Press. http://www.rickstrassman.com