McKenna, Terence - First experiments with DMT - fear
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Tryptamine Hallucinogens and Consciousness - A talk given at the Lilly/Goswami Conference on Consciousness and Quantum Physics at Esalen, December 1983.
One of the interesting characteristics of DMT is that it sometimes inspires fear - this marks the experience as existentially authentic. One of the interesting approaches to evaluating such a compound is to see how eager people are to do it a second time. A touch of terror gives the stamp of validity to the experience because it means, "This is real." We are in the balance. We read the literature, we know the maximum doses, the LD-50, and so on. But nevertheless, so great is one's faith in the mind that when one is out in it one comes to feel that the rules of pharmacology do not really apply and that control of existence on that plane is really a matter of focus of will and good luck.
I'm not saying that there's something intrinsically good about terror. I'm saying that, granted the situation, if one is not terrified then one must be somewhat out of contact with the full dynamics of what is happening. To not be terrified means either that one is a fool or that one has taken a compound that paralyzes the ability to be terrified. I have nothing against hedonism, and I certainly bring something out of it. But the experience must move one's heart, and it will not move the heart unless it deals with the issues of life and death. If it deals with life and death it will move one to fear, it will move one to tears, it will move one to laughter. These places are profoundly strange and alien.
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 that persists and persists. One breathes and it persists.
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 quantized 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.
Being monkeys, when we encounter a translinguistic object, a kind of cognitive dissonance is set up in our hindbrain. We try to pour language over it and it sheds it like water off a duck's back. We try again and fail again, and this cognitive dissonance, this "wow" or "flutter" that is building off this object causes wonder, astonishment and awe at the brink of terror. One must control that. And the way to control it is to do what the entities are telling one to do, to do what they are doing.