In November of 2009 I spent ten days in a Peruvian jungle where I took part in a series of four ceremonies in which over 40 people drank Ayahuasca, a tea made from a plant used by the shamans of South America. This plant has been used for centuries to induce visions that allow the shaman to provide spiritual guidance and do healing for his community.
This adventure was an extraordinary and wondrous experience that took me beyond the farthest reaches of my imagination. I was left with insights that seemed to come from a place so beyond my ordinary experience of reality that to even begin to adequately describe them is an exercise in futility. I must therefore allow the Ayahuasca experience to remain forever in the realm of the ineffable and trust that the transformative effects will speak powerfully through my being rather than my words.
People come to this experience from all over the world and out of their own specific motivation. I was there for a spiritual experience, but many of the others came for healing, both physical and mental. Regardless of the initial motivation I have no doubt that everyone there experienced something personally unique and extraordinary.
I have spoken to several friends about my experience and did a presentation and slide show. Invariably and most frequently, the question that I’m asked is “Was anyone healed?” It’s clear to me that what they want to know is if blind people miraculously begin to see or did crippled people throw down their crutches and begin to walk. And I tell them no, nothing like that happened. But I also tell them that great vistas and vast landscapes were opened before me which I saw without the use of my eyes. And that I travelled to great heights and distant lands without legs or wings.
Because we believe so completely that we are our bodies and minds we feel broken when our bodies and minds fail to function the way we, and others around us, have come to expect and demand. What is the real affliction? Is there really anything “wrong” in the universe or is it that we have chosen to reject and suffer with “what is so” rather than be grateful for our lives as they has been given to us?
Yes, I can say absolutely that there were miracles and healing that came out of the Ayahuasca experience. Is it not a miracle to come to know that we are more than our bodies, greater than our thoughts and emotions, and infinitely beyond our fears and doubts? Is it not a miracle to remember that everything we have been given is a task we chose, maybe even before we had a body, to work with in order to become more conscious and experience the fullness of what it is to be a human being? Can any true change or healing take place in our bodies or minds without first seeing and feeling the perfection of our lives just the way they are and the way they are not?