“I appreciate that many people have had healing, life-changing experiences with the plant. They have seen reality through a more expensive lens, shifted their addictions and unhealthy patterns, opened to more expansive ways of being.
They have not achieved ‘enlightenment’: a fallacious construct and marketing tool that preys on our desperate longing to evolve quickly, but they have certainly experienced spirals of awakening that have served their journey. No one can deny that.
And no one can deny that we sometimes need an extreme experience in order to shift us out of our habitual range of emotions and show us that a more expansive consciousness is available to us. I get that.
But it is also entirely clear that ayahuasca is absolutely not for everybody. Nothing is. And that it is profoundly dangerous for some people. Not merely re-traumatizing, which is often reported by those who have the experience, but actually quite deadly.
This is not the first time I have received an email from someone who lost a loved one to suicide after an ayahuasca retreat, and it won’t be the last. Quick fix, long suffering.
It is hard to strictly categorize who will, or will not, benefit from the plant. Generally, it is my view that ayahuasca is not for those trauma survivors who are so fragmented that they do not have a solid sense of self to return to . without a strong energetic and egoic foundation, this plant can take you beyond the point of no return.
It is also not for those who already have a tendency to spiritually bypass, addicted to an experience of the oneness in an effort to rise above their unresolved issues. They will just float farther away from the grounded healing they desperately need. And it may not be for anyone who has not done a reasonable amount of psychotherapeutic prep work.
If you aren’t relatively worked through and well-acquainted with your inner world, this experience may well take you into perilously confusing terrain. There is groundwork that needs to be done first. In addition, it is not for those who do not have the time or the support in their lives to integrate the experience. The plant ceremony continues long after it is over, and the material must be granted the space and the care that it needs to assimilate.
And even if accept that the plant is a truth serum, as some suggest, it is surely not the case that everyone can embrace and integrate those truths, so intensely downloaded, in their human form, at this stage of their individual development.
This is particularly true for westerners, whose consciousness is organized differently, and who do not live anywhere close to a fluid, trance-ful Amazonian state of being. That’s a whole other world.
And remember that it’s not always suicide that kills ayahuasca journeyers. People also die during these retreats because of the physically rigorous nature of the journey. Not everybody can handle the properties of the plant or the rigorous nature of the ceremony. That’s a whole lot of intensity.”