Ayahuasca: Nature’s Psychotherapy & Detox


Raul Gallyot

Date of original publication

Apr 5, 2014


Good morning, I'm Raul Gallyot and the show is Airwaves. Just a couple of months ago, someone mentioned Ayahuasca. I'd never heard of it. Well, it's a Brazilian and Peruvian psychedelic plant. I was one of the few who hadn't heard of it because there is a large and ever-growing following. So today, an Amazonian experience, if you will, with Rak Razam and his shamanic odyssey. Good morning, Rak. And thanks so much for joining us today on Airwaves.

Good morning, Raul. It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you.

And here, where are you? I know you were at the Burning Man just days ago.

I've been moving around America, activating energy as I go. I was in Marin County straight after Burning Man with a friend, a beautiful, beautiful part of the Bay area. I'm in Los Angeles and heading off to Peru again tonight to retreat down in Peru with the Amazonian curandero.

What do you mean by a retreat? What's involved with a retreat in this case?

Well, a retreat. There are many different modalities, and it's just like other types of retreats, like detox or something like that, where you remove yourself from the world and go outside your normal boundaries and things that define you. In this instance, it's going down to the jungle in the Amazon. I'm working with a curandero named Percy Garcia Lozano.

He's a trusted shaman practitioner and a healer. He has a lodge, like a central malocca, a temple sort of space, a large jungle dome they create to do the ceremony work, and then there are tambos. Little like bedrooms and rooms for the guests to sleep in, you're in a different setting and doing work with these plant medicines.

It's also engendering your relationship back with nature, being in the jungle, and detoxing from civilization and EMF and stress and computer screens and allowing your natural energetic of your body and your mind and your soul to just come back to baseline and in that reception zone to be then working with these plant medicines, which are very, very powerful activators.

Okay. I want to stop you for many reasons here because several people probably don't know what we're talking about and certainly don't know about Ayahuasca. But oversimplified, it's a psychedelic hallucinogen. And yet you're telling me you need to detox from the world? I mean, that almost sounds like a conflict to me, to say, if I understand correctly, I'm going to take this drug to detox.

Learn more about Amazonian hallucinogenic shamanism

Well, what I was giving more context to is there's a certain setting to do these things in, and when people think of things like psychedelics, they'll think of the 60s. They'll think of the ways that these man-made materials like LSD were used in originally elevating consciousness before they became a political hot potato. All the fallout happened from the psychedelic '60s.

We were young as a culture then, and I think that we've actually grown and matured in our modern technological society. Every day, we face things in the computer world, things like distributed consciousness and contacts on social media, hundreds of people we know all at once, and our ability to process information and data is now psychedelic.

We basically have a non-linear appreciation of the way that the world works and the way that we work in that world. And so we've been groomed to be prepared for this return to the plants.

Rak, I'm going to stop you here because everything I ask you is not to make you uncomfortable, but they might be difficult. I'm having these discussions. It's good. And my end result is actually to help people understand what this is all about. So, please, let's go further. Yeah. It really is all about my curiosity and our listeners and trying to understand a little more.

So, let's step back because you're using words that I don't think many of us would understand when you're saying linear consciousness and I don't understand how that differs from what we were doing in the 60s, those of us who might have been around experimenting with drugs, whether it was natural like peyote and mushrooms or the synthetic, which I don't know was any better or any worse.

All right, let me step back and give you this context.  I'll stop and clarify if you need more, but let's just start with what Ayahuasca is and how that differs from man-made chemicals like LSD. Ayahuasca is a medicine that has been utilized by the indigenous peoples of South America for millennia. It's at least a few thousand years old that usage. It's being used across South America by many different tribes.

It's a concoction made from the Banesteriopsis caapi, a liana vine that likes to wrap around other trees and plants, climb above the jungle canopy and drink in the light. And mixed with MAO-inhibiting plants like chacruna, which contain dimethyltryptamine. Dimethyltryptamine is the chemical the West is fascinated with and fixates on.

There have been studies done in the 1990s by Dr. Rick Strassman, the only legal studies with a psychedelic compound like dimethyltryptamine, and they discovered that dimethyltryptamine is very close to a neurotransmitter. It occurs in our brains endogenously. It's in the whole natural kingdom in the plant kingdom, in animals, mammals, and insects, and they suspect it engages with the sleeping process when we go to sleep at night. It's sort of like the scientific catchphrase “the spirit molecule”. It's deeply involved in these processes that humans undergo, like going into dreaming. The body spontaneously secretes DMT.

It has bursts of DMT at things like near-death experiences or death, sometimes in childbirth. There are times when there's the natural dodging of the supplies of DMT peak, and you basically go into that altered state of a visionary realm; you may see the white light tunnel and have an altered experience.

Don't most psychedelics do that, hallucinogens?

Most psychedelics, and this is what the scientists are saying, the up-to-date scientists are saying, many psychedelics and entheogens (psychedelics is the term Aldous Huxley coined in the 1950s to be ‘manifesting the mind’. Entheogens were coined in the 1980s from the Greek to mean “invoking the divine within”). It's a subtle difference, and it's a bit of a semantic difference, but it's usually attributed to saying the plants that nature herself has made, like psilocybin, mushrooms, salvia, divinorum, the Ayahuasca, the San Pedro cactus.

What is interesting is that the planet makes them specifically for the higher organisms to take. Some animals get higher, but hardly any of them. It's specifically mainly humans, and when we take them, they have very direct neurological keys that fit the locks in our brains.

What the curanderos told me was that many Westerns were coming down with specific health ailments to work with Ayahuasca, and they were sick, and they got treatment that they needed with the medicine and with the shaman who was working with them.

Are we talking mentally or physically ill?

Physically ill. They were having cancers, or other conditions, things that Western medicine couldn't help them with, and they were going down to the Amazon to work on themselves with the container of the shaman in the ceremony. But here's the interesting thing, the vast majority of Westerners going down there didn't have any physical ailments, and they realized over time that these people were going down because they had basically a mental disease, which was they were out of tune, they were out of relationship with the planet and with the environment and with the world soul itself.

You know, they were seeing that they had this discomfort, or they were questing for this reconnection to something deeper, to spirit, because Western culture had severed this connection to spirit, and it had atrophied, so Western culture didn't even believe in spirit.

All these people were going down to re-establish, re-weave, and re-enchant themselves, via the jungle, and with spirit. They went through the portal of medicine with what it revealed, which was this very tactile and beautiful connection to the web of life. It was helping people reset themselves and reconnect themselves. And that's the whole idea of disease, of not being at ease and not being centered.

And once that reconnection is paid, we don't necessarily need to take the medicines anymore. I believe that things like Ayahuasca are a transitory point between where we are as a Western industrialized, almost disintegrating culture and paradigm that's not really working anymore, and this transition point to coming, which is almost this archaic revival, this idea of sustainability, this idea of localization, this idea of right relationship with the planet, and having organic food and a bit of permaculture. right?

The right way to live, and for the plants are almost helping us get back to the position of how to live in a right relationship with the Earth, and so you don't need to take them all the time, but often people do find they need to reset themselves if they're in the West, they're going through a specific issue, or they want to go deeper in their relationships with themselves and with the planet.

I want to slow you down. I want to slow you down because you're giving us a lot to digest here. First off, I'm wondering if I would consider humans higher organisms, but I think that could be a different show and a personal opinion. How long have you been taking this particular drug, the Ayahuasca, the DMT?

Well, number one, I first encountered and trained in the indigenous Peruvian lineage in Peru. This is not considered a drug. A drug is a Western word for something we consume, basically a product. Now, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon have relationships with the land, plants, and medicines the planet secretes and makes.

So then, how long have you been taking this natural medicine?

I've been working with Ayahuasca for eight years now (2014). I was sent down to the Amazon in 2006 as a freelance journalist to report on this surge in interest in shamanism by Westerners going down to go to the ayahuasca lodges to work with the indigenous shamans. That became a book called "Aya Awakenings, a Shamanic Odyssey," and that has now become a documentary film, also called "Aya Awakenings".

How long is that actual trip, what are the hallucinations, and what is everything that you show in your film? I'm not really clear how long that lasts.

Compared to many people, this is the thing with the neurochemical structure again, many people respond differently depending on how much they've prepared and done the dieta and prepared themselves to receive. If people haven't done that preparation, they might spend their first ceremonies just as the Ayahuasca is working through them and clearing them out and they might not have any psychic effects.

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of the visionary state

Other people are more naturally attuned and cleansed and then it basically works up the chakra levels. up and up until it gets to basically the third eye and that's when the visioning starts and that's when the engagement with the astral and the that sort of energetic works.

Are we talking about an eight-hour period that I need to set aside or overnight?

In ceremony you know you can have one, two, three cups and the shaman puts out and he will read the energetic of the patient and see what they actually need. At the time, it can last for up to eight, 10, 12 hours. It might not, the full vision the whole time, it might be the energetic activation, you might feel the medicine coursing through you, sort of finding all the nooks and crannies where things need fixing, and you might just have that somatic sort of level activation, or you may have full deep visionary, you know, plunging into a visionary geometric field ... level where you're with entities or getting down loads of spirit… A lot of its unpredictable.

What about flashbacks?

No, there's no real “flashbacks” I don't know if flashbacks is a really validated concept in modern uh... neuroscience, even with LSD or other things it's not really… perhaps what could happen is that you would develop a deeper relationship with nature and you may find yourself acting differently at times in recognizing a tree or appreciating the beauty of the landscape or feeling that energy in the land…

The body metabolizes it, the DMT is actually metabolized very quickly because it's native to the brain and body structures, and that's why in ayahuasca it's stopping the metabolizing of DMT to potentiate it in a ceremonial sense, but it's all absorbed very quickly. The bannisteriopsis vine has harmine and harmaline, which have very heart-opening sort of properties, but there's nothing which is dangerous to the human body per se [barring serotonin toxicity].

So, then, as far as taking this medicine, how does it differ from some of the other natural medicines, which I'm assuming you've also experimented with? Am I correct on that?

Yes, that's just true. Well, number one, they've done these EEG and MRI studies with neuroscience very recently, both in England and here in the States. And they've realized that most of these compounds, whether they're man-made psychedelics or natural entheogens, switch off different regions of the brain called the default mode network. And there are these clustered bits of the brain which actually help bond this sense of identity and the ego, and they bring us this sense of who we are.

Something like LSD, for instance, science has proven is metabolized fully by the body in 19 minutes, and the usual LSD trip doesn't come on before like the first half an hour or so. What they've realized is that it goes back to Aldous Huxley, the philosopher from the mid-20th century, and that this idea that consciousness, the brain is a receiver of consciousness, and it's the mind at large, which is actually the active principle working in these states.

Scientists most recently proved that it's not the thing we're taking, whether it's ayahuasca or LSD. What it's doing is it's unlocking the brain's own ability to connect to these higher modes of being, these higher dimensions and these higher states of reality.

So then, from that standpoint, if I understand correctly, it doesn't really matter what you're taking and therefore you subscribe to the idea that it moves us away from the linear thought process and therefore all of them have value to offer us, correct?

All of them. All of them can have value, but here's the really important thing that the indigenous cultures are teaching us, and I have learned from them. It's not just about the thing you're taking; it's about, as Timothy Leary would have said, the setting you're taking it in, and it's also what they say it's about the relationship you develop with.

Most people's relationship with what we call drugs is a damaging one, but in the indigenous understanding, they have this idea of reciprocation, and we're giving back to them. The Earth, and of gratitude and thanking the Earth, and so they tend to the plants and they are caretakers for the plants and these medicines. And so, when we entered this arena of working with the plant medicines for our own healing, we developed this idea of right relationship.

I'm wondering how long or if there's such a lingering effect with Ayahuasca and DMT?

Well, I guess people that are coming into the ayahuasca experience, it can be eye-opening and it can be like the reset of changing your paradigm and getting a perspective on what life really is and deepening our appreciation of what we're embedded in. It gives us a step up out of the box of just that western cultural perspective and that can last a lifetime, you know, and you may not need to go back to the experience.

Thank you.

People choose to deepen their path, learn from the plants, and engage in this reciprocal relationship with the spirit of nature. And, you know, in the Indigenous understanding in the ayahuasca experience, it basically says the nature is alive, they communicate through a species, they're all talking to each other, and they're all sort of regulating each other.

Some people go deeper and it's not just for healing with the medicine but it's in a more global sense of re-establishing our relationship with the planet and what it is in and our perspectives on life itself. And so some of those people I see going down the shamans path themselves, in the old understanding of a village medicine person.

There might have been a one shaman to a hundred people in the village and native you know, and so on the modern level, if we have 7 billion people on the planet, then on that same 100 ratio, we need 70 million or more healers.

And so I'm really seeing that with the ayahuasca experience; when it heals people and it polishes sort of the lens of their soul and brings out more of who they really are when they shine, some of those people are becoming the medicine people and are stepping into those roles in their community, in the global community.

Do you think this is the way to change the world?

Yes, I think ayahuasca is changing people and people are the only ones who can change the world.

So, do you think that... It’s also changing around us. I understand that. Do you think then that this has great potential, especially as the interest in exploration from celebrities to those of us who are on the outside? Do you think that this could be the stimulus for the change in the direction you think we need to go?

Well, I believe it's definitely all involved. I mean, it's no coincidence that Ayahuasca is peaking in Western popularity at the moment at the same time that we need a deep cultural healing. We can reorientate ourselves into how we are going to navigate as a culture through life. We can no longer be unsustainable. We can no longer sort of pillage the planet and treat it as a resort.

The indigenous people all around the world see the planet as the mother. In South America, they call it Pachamama.

And yet, if we're talking about the demise of the world, then I have to say, yeah, but all the people that are flying down to Peru and Brazil and are adding to the climate change because of the flights, I've got a question.

Well, that's your question. definitely right. I would probably say that's a small price to pay in a larger movement of awakening and that those people can offset their carbon emissions if they choose to do that wisely. It's changing people's lives and a mass critical mass of people are changing through the experiences. What they do with their changed perspectives can help the environment and help change, you know, the culture on a larger scale.

Ayahuasca is also coming out of the jungles, and it is spreading around the world. There's legal ayahuasca churches all through the world in Europe, in America, in Oregon, there's the Santo Daime Church, there's these structures that ayahuasca is sort of pollinating itself through. And so you don't have to necessarily get down to Peru to do these things.

But the planet itself is secreting all these entheogens… in the 1960s "Bear" Owsley, the famous acid chemists had this idea that the planet secretes these substances as exo-pheromones, as like chemical activators for the humans when they reach the right stage to take. .

And they're all around in the ecosystems. And in your native ecosystem, there will be an entheogen that is native to that area, but it's for the people of that area. And Ayahuasca is reaching out to embrace the world and it's repopulating itself.

But there's also many other beautiful modalities. They're almost like browsers on the Internet. You couldn't have Chrome or Firefox or Internet Explorer, whatever works for you, as long as you're going into that area territory and you're searching that territory, the planet gives us these different modalities to engage with herself.

What are you referring to when you're saying these modalities, just so I understand here?

Well, plant medicines, basically, and the altered spaces that they entail. There was an issue in the 1960s of trying to define the language in the scientific and Western sort of psychology framework. Are they psychomimetic? Are they mimicking madness? Are they psychoactive? Are they enhancing the mind? And this is why the entheogens, this term of invoking the divine within, sort of sidesteps all that mental scientific discourse, and it's saying that what it's revealing is a spiritual relationship with being. It's something about spirit.

It's not just the mind, and it's not necessarily mind-altering. It's definitely not a hallucination. It's actually something that is a deepening of your own perceptions of your relationship with yourself with your subconscious and with the planet and what we're embedded in. And how you feel that and when you've had this experience – it's incredibly tactile in a not just a physical sense, but a spiritual sense that you often have direct encounters with these parts of yourself that you've forgotten or these parts of nature that we have also forgotten.

Learn more about Amazonian hallucinogenic shamanism

So it's the inner demon as well as the inner God, if you will.

It's like these things turn off the default mode network in the brain; it receives more consciousness, and we're getting more signal. And then also, this is the value of having a trained practitioner like that, the shaman, who can then work on you and see your energetic body and help heal on that level and guide you through the experience for a deeper meaning and deeper connection.

Okay, then you said you're returning to the Amazon tonight. I understand that there was an article in the New York Times in which a Shaman shows up with his assistant. All these people take medicine or drop it, however, in whatever language one wants to use for this terminology. Are you going to suggest that there's a significant difference on what I, the receiver, will get, whether I'm in the Amazon with a Shaman or in Brooklyn with a Shaman? Or is it all whatever I can?

There is. There is a significant difference. It's sort of the analogy, I guess, is, you know, if you don't know how to drive a car, you can jump in and fiddle with things and figure out, you know, how to make a start, but it's going to be very awkward and you don't know where you're going and you might have an accident, but you can theoretically, you know, have that experience.

The shamans in their language call themselves curanderos; that's from the Spanish it means to heal. They're the healers. They train for decades You know usually from an initiatory experience of sickness or they're calling to the medicine path. They go through a lot of deprivations and sacrifice to sensitize their body and receivers to work with the plants. So they are able to in ceremony it's not just that the medicine they sing songs called icaros, which are basically vibrational medicines.

So Ayahuasca has been likened to a year's worth of psychotherapy in one night.

The experience is a purgative for the body. Quite often, people do purge and vomit, and it's not just a physical cleansing. They're actually, in indigenous cosmology, what they believe is that we have an energy body. We have an emotional body. We have a physical body. There are always layers to our being.

So Rak, I don't understand then why one needs to prepare by abstaining from various foods, sex, and fast, and limit themselves so much if you're going to purge anyway?

Well, because it's not just about the physical purge, not everyone purges. If you've got a very clean diet, you probably won't purge on that level.

Have you met many people who didn't purge?

Yeah, quite often. People don't purge. It's not necessary. There's a lot of, it's not necessarily dogma, there's a lot of discourse around Ayahuasca and what to do and how to prepare it, the dieta, and it's important. It shows that you're energetically shifting your patterns and you're preparing for the medicine, but it's basically to give up the sugars and salts and alcohol and sex and things like that for at least a few days, another week beforehand.

And why is that if I'm going to be cleansed anyway?

Well, because what you're doing is you're reverting your body back to the baseline normal before we've started to layer it with all the artificial products and foods and processed foods and stimulants of Western culture and society. So a very plain vegetarian diet is usually something which is still nurturing the body, but you're resetting your body back to something close to the original factory setting, if you will.

And in that state, here's the thing: Ayahuasca and the other entheogenic plants work on a very subtle level in some senses, or they believe that there's a diva or a spirit in the plant. It's not just a neurochemical reaction you're preparing for. You're preparing for, you know, for listening to the very subtle call of the plants and the plant spirits because they're vibrational.

There's a whole scientific course around neurochemistry around it as well and there's some food dust to avoid or any cross-indications with with Ayahuasca and the MAOs. The Banisteriopsis is the vine. It works as a monoamine oxidized inhibitor. It's called a MAO inhibitor. Because we drink it and it goes into the stomach, the body has its own MAO inhibitors working to break down in the body, and our natural DMT is kept regulated by these MAO inhibitors. And so when we have the Banisteriopsis caapi part of the brew, it sort of overrides the temporary settings, and it allows the DMT to potentiate into the visionary realm.

And, you know, Westerners are often chasing the visions in the DMT component, but the indigenous modality of Ayahuasca, it wasn't necessarily that big a focus point.

It's almost like this legacy of the '60s that people are really chasing something tactile. They're wanting these visions because the visions seem real to them. And in indigenous perspectives, they almost say, "Well, the visions can sometimes be distraction. The visions are sort of what happens when you go to a dentist or something, and they're in the waiting room, and they put the TV on to keep you occupied while the work's happening."

So, in the indigenous understanding, you're taking the Ayahuasca, the Ayahuasca is a purge of its working on certain levels, there's a spirit in Ayahuasca which is having a relationship with it.

It's looking into your energy body, it's finding where you have stored these wounds or hurts which have meant the sickness or disease, so you're no longer at ease, you're no longer in an optimum balance, and it's helping you unlock the medicine within yourself.

So it's not like a drug, you take this pill and it does the work. It unlocks your own subconscious, it brings it into the conscious conscious mind. You often,  you know, cast out over your entire life and the wounds and hurts and things that you've done. You can relive those things to then re-incline them and let go of their attachments. That's the idea that one needs psychotherapy in one night.

And so when it comes to climate change and all, it is better to simply bring the shamans here? It also makes it much more affordable and available to more people versus simply those who can afford a trip to Brazil and Peru.

So at the moment, Ayahuasca as a medicine is working through the -ism of capitalism because that's the culture we live in.

But then the problem with that, if I also understand correctly and again correct me if I'm wrong, the problem with that is that it's a very different experience if I remember you said earlier in the show versus going to the Amazon.

Yeah. There are many angles to this. The traditional role of the healer or the shaman is such that they're not allowed to refuse anyone coming to them in need of healing. There should be an energetic reciprocation by the person, whether they don't have money, if they're a villager in the jungle, they might give them a chicken or something, or they owe them. There's got to be a return of the energy, but it's not about the money.

And so, as Westerners have gone down and the supply and demand for Ayahuasca has increased, it's completely upset the social consequences in Peru and throughout South America. And the shamans who were often sort of ostracized, and the profession was actually in danger of dying out in many areas. It was a role falling by the wayside as the culture, the villages, and the cities, people were coming Westernized and modernized and getting other medicines and things like that until the westerners came in search of Ayahuasca and it became a hot commodity.

So now the shamans are the new rich basically, they really are, and it's a catering to Westerners so there's a lot of embedded issues which this generation is sorting out. There's a mash up between the West and the indigenous cultures and that they're changing each other.

So Ayahuasca is working through this, but what I'm seeing over the last eight years I've been involved in the culture is that this is all a step in a larger process as neo-shamans in the West go back their home communities to work with the medicine to grow the medicine in the localized environment and eventually not be charging money but to have community led by donation by reciprocation sort of context to it.

Are you at all concerned with it being abused and getting out of hand?

Yeah, yeah. I am. But I'm not overly concerned because I believe it's not just about the shaman practitioners or the clientele. There is a spirit in Ayahuasca, which is also one of the things, and I have seen so many people who, if they are chasing just the money, things will all go wrong, things will completely go wrong, and eventually the medicine seems to regulate the environment itself.

And this is, again, stepping out of the Western understanding of how things work and work.

But there's a spirit at work here which is larger than us and we're embedded in – and it is, in some sense, maybe not controlling, but it is helping shape things.

And so, you know, it can’t be abused like a recreational drug because it's a purgative and you vomit and it's not necessarily a pleasant experience. It's a challenging experience. 

It demands that you give of yourself and that you put the hard work in and so it can't be used recreationally. It needs to be used in the right setting, as it's mutating in the West and there's different sort of containers for it. The ceremony structure is changing, it's evolving, but ultimately it's also self-regulating both as a medicine itself and in the community as well.

My understanding from the New York Times article is that the tourists are flocking to the jungles there to take Ayahuasca and sometimes there are fake shamans that, according to the article, cases of sexual molestation that it is becoming rather corrupt.

I would agree with all of them. That's also, of course, not the 100 % picture either. There's obviously deep, beautiful work being done by integral practitioners, and when there are a few bad apples, it does upset the apple cart, and it does get the mainstream attention, and it deserves to.

What is happening at the moment is that the community down there in South America is starting to mature; there's NGOs that are starting to go in and help regulate the industry and make sure that the lodges that work with Ayahuasca and the practitioners have the same baseline duty of care standards that they have plans in place for things that might go wrong. They might have a fair trade practice. They're coming to this understanding that Ayahuasca is an endangered commodity.

It takes seven to 10 years for the vine to grow to fruition. And we know when this boom in tourists come down wanting Ayahuasca, it forces people, practitioners to seek further into the jungle to find Ayahuasca and then cut it down. And if they're not replanting the vine, then it's difficult. to disappear within a generation.

It's so ironic here, Rak, because I'm hearing that this is a sacred religious experience plant and the shamans are involved and the locals have been taking it for centuries and yet they're becoming corrupt, some of them. And again, this is just the warning that the newspaper was saying that one needs to be careful.

Well, the irony of the two opposites there. Well, this is the irony of our times, isn't it? And it's not just with Ayahuasca, it's with everything. The West takes, in the history of altered states, the West has taken every indigenous sacred medicine and the sacredness, and it's made it profane all the way back from tobacco or magic mushrooms.

Learn more about Amazonian hallucinogenic shamanism

And now with Ayahuasca, that could be the danger unless we actually have a right relationship with it. But when we look at the tourist dynamic and the money and energetic dynamic, this has happened many times before. In Peru at the turn of the 20th century, they had a rubber boom, so they had a commodity that the West wanted. The West went in, it enslaved the indigenous peoples, it devastated the jungle to get the rubber and bring it out again.

In the mid -20th century, they did exactly the same with oil, and now this next boom is Ayahuasca. It's not the indigenous peoples’ fault, they've got a commodity. It's us. It's the West. And how we look at these things is something to be extracted, something to be used, something to made into a commodity. And at the same time, Ayahuasca is also penetrating the ism of consumerism and capitalism. And it's changing people on the individual level to get to this critical mass of transformation in the culture.

How have you changed then? How have deepened?

Basically, I don't know if I was completely agnostic when I went down to the jungles… I'd had my own experiences in the counterculture and with altered states and with energetics and seeing the world is a bigger place than we were led to believe, but I had not had an experience with the spirit world. I had not had an experience with the vegetal world.

I was basically a city kid, you know, growing up in popular culture and computers and believing there was more, but the mental belief is like a faith, right?

And it's good to have a faith. But when you've experienced the real thing, it's like when you've had first contact on a personal individual level, that's changed me and deepened my trust and my surrender and my hope for things, because I know that there's a larger process of work.

I know I'm involved with this larger planetary organism which is moving in its own rhythms and the world age is changing and that we're all part of its movements. We are the nerve endings of the planet in matter and the species of the skin.

I have encountered these larger forces and I have been laid bare by these larger forces and at the heart of it all I have had some amazing transcendental experiences of love and of this pure unadulterated love which sustains me and so it's not quite a fight, because I've had this direct experience, a gnosis, so I've deepened my being and deepened my relationship with what I want to do in the world and how I contribute to making the world better.

My guest this morning was Rak Razam. He's come out with a documentary called Aya: Awakenings, and it's based on his book Aya, a Shamanic Odyssey.