Wednesday, January 9, 2019

DMT Dialogues: The Invisible Beings

Jeremy Narby, Reality Sandwich, 12/18; Pat Macpherson, Dhr. Seven (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
"Universal Mother" by Martina Hoffmann (LA Yoga, Cosmic Sister via Reality Sandwich)
The following is excerpted from DMT Dialogues: Encounters with the Spirit Molecule, a series of transcribed discussions of DMT experiences and plant sentience from leading luminaries in the field of psychedelic research, published by Inner Traditions.

Amazonian Perspectives on Invisible Entities
Yesterday Dennis [McKenna] talked about many interesting things. I [Jeremy Narby] like to quibble. I think that dialogue and exchanging points of view is the way to go.
  • Dennis McKenna: “True psychedelics” is a made-up category in a sense, but it is based on pharmacology. So it’s not that tobacco or a lot of these other things can’t be hallucinogenic; they’re just not “true psychedelics.” That’s a pharmacological statement, all due respect to tobacco, salvia, and all these things that are not true psychedelics.
One of the things you said yesterday that I would quibble with is that DMT is often independent of cultural context. I know what you mean when you say that:

It means that people from different cultures, who are naive and uninformed about the experience report very similar experiences, so therefore we think it’s independent of cultural context. Well, yes and no. What I’m going to say today is why culture matters.
There are cultures in the Amazon, where people have been taking plants, extracts, or snuffs that contain DMT for generations. So they’ve accumulated knowledge about how to do it and about the entities that they encounter, and this knowledge is then accumulated in their culture.

Surely this is one of the things that distinguishes humans from other species -- even though one should be suspicious of lists of things that distinguish us from other species. Nevertheless, we are the cultural animals; we are the ones who accumulate knowledge outside of our biology, through our culture.

It’s given us a tremendous advantage over other species, but that would be another subject.
Anthropologists always argue that culture is important. It’s like the way scientists always conclude that more research is needed, because more research is always needed. It’s almost a tautology, but it remains, let’s say, a useful tautology. “Culture matters” is a useful tautology.
Before describing what I think has been established about what Amazonian people think about invisible entities, I’d just like to position myself as an observer and as an agnostic.
And I’d like to say what that means: It means that I know that I don’t know about final causes. This is not indifference. We talked about this with David [Luke] yesterday. Sometimes when people talk they say, “I’m agnostic on that,” and it kind of means, “I don’t want to know about it.”
No, agnosticism -- the way that I view agnostic research -- doesn’t mean that you’re indifferent to something or even that you give up wanting to know and throw in the sponge.
It is that you get comfortable with the unknown, and you feel okay about it. So yes, there’s a lot of mystery; we’re not throwing in the sponge, but we’re sitting there comfortably with it.
What’s wrong with the unknown? It’s not our enemy. We can want to know it, and we can gain knowledge. But as we know, the more we know the more questions that arise, too.
I think that the agnostic position, at least when it comes to knowledge, is the comfortable and open-minded way of going about things. Amazonian people have the perspectives they have, and I view my job -- getting up here -- as reporting on... More

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