22
Jul

[Audio Fixed] Rick Strassman MD, author of DMT: The Spirit Molecule, interviewed by Graham Hancock



Oh everyone good afternoon I'm Robert Dakota I had a lot more to say it's gonna get shortened down we had a really great time with Graham today out on the land and it was really nice to have some time to hang with him I really appreciate his energy he has been pushing so hard and I've been observing this from a distance I want to tell you this man works really really hard to come here and present this information to you and dr. Rick Strassman Rick Strassman MD has been invited by a gram and they're gonna have a conversation tonight and I think you're really going to enjoy it so without further ado I'll leave it to Graham and Rick thank you guys good good evening ladies and gentlemen thank you all so much for being here I have the incredible privilege of sitting with one of my psychedelic heroes dr. Rick Strassman whose remarkable research on DMT and his book DMT the spirit molecule and subsequent books and his film DMT the spirit molecule have I think changed the world and are continuing to do so okay so please meet Rick Strassman Rick I'm going to I'm going to start at the beginning you you undertook I would what I regard as one of the most extraordinary research projects in science that's perhaps ever been undertaken and it was an exploration of an unknown land in a way but I'm I think I and the audience would be interested in hearing a little bit of your your personal story your your childhood what motivated you how you how you became a psychiatrist how you came to the University of New Mexico tell us a little bit about about your biography okay well thanks everybody for coming this is the first public presentation or appearance I've made in a few years you know so I have to hand it to Graham – you know bulldoze me out of my little cave in Gallup New Mexico – you know come here for this event but I'm really you know glad to be here well as far as my upbringing my grandparents came to the US and the early 1900's from the Pale of Settlement which was you know the only place in Europe and in western Russia where the Jews could live and there were pogroms in the early 1900's and millions of Jews fled from the Pale of Settlement and ended up mostly in the US and Canada so my parents were first-generation Americans and they started off on the East Coast migrated to the west coast first school and I was born in Los Angeles raised in the San Fernando Valley in the 50s and 60s it was quite a pleasant place to live back then orange groves and beach culture and Hollywood and a mostly fresh air and we used to burn our garbage in these incinerators in our back yards which kind of kindled so to speak you know my interest in fire explosions heat those kinds of things and at an early age I actually became quite interested in chemistry you know for the colors but mostly for the fireworks you could buy chemicals at the local drugstore like saltpeter and sulfur and things to make you know gunpowder with so I you know began as you know fireworks you know teenager and actually began college as a chemistry major because I wanted to become a fireworks magnate and everybody discouraged me you know telling me I was a smart guy not to become a doctor you know but I got the last laugh because I ended up studying psychedelics well let's see I went to you know college in the late you know in the late 1960s early 1970s and it was a well in in California and it was interesting you know time culturally for a number of reasons one of which it was the influx of you know to technologies that could reliably alter consciousness which had just kind of entered the scene both you know psychedelics and Eastern meditation and they both you seem to be reliable you know techniques you have to alter consciousness the descriptions of what occurred during certain meditations and during certain drug states resemble each other you know to some extent and you know being a chemistry buff I was you know thinking there you know must be there's some common biological denominators in both states you know to the extent that they resembled each other and was interested in investigating those similarities were there were there centers in the brain which were activated when you took LSD and when you took or when you practice specific new kinds of meditation and I you know went to medical school well I you know applied to medical school I actually applied to 21 medical schools and I was you know keen on studying psychedelics Buddhism and you know psychoanalytic psychology but you know but I was only twenty years old and you know when I was when I was doing all of these interviews you know for medical schools you know usually the first question is why do you want to be a doctor and I told them and I was rejected by nineteen of them so the two schools I got into well you know one was about a three minute interview and I didn't you know have a chance you know what to tell them and the other the other was I think they felt sorry for me and they put me on their waiting list you know so I started you know medical school kind of in a weird state like I you know you know that isn't why people go to medical school and I got depressed and dropped out for about a year and I ended up at a Zen temple Buddhist monastery and I learned to meditate and during those you know months to the temple I was quite you know keen on asking the monks you know why did you become a monk you know as LSD important in your becoming a Buddhist monk and every one of those junior monks all in their twenties like me you know they all said we got our first flash of enlightenment on LSD and we wanted to take it deeper you know so I also you know learned um to meditate and went you know back to medical school found a good psychotherapist and just kept my mouth shut and you know then you became a psychiatrist specifically you know to study psychedelics but at the same time I kept it under my hat so once I completed you know my once I completed my psychiatric training I spent a year learning how to do you know clinical research and started off you know looking at melatonin and the pineal gland because of the long illustrious spiritual history of the pineal you know so we performed you know very careful study of the human psychopharmacology of melatonin you know but it was mostly sedating you know this was the early 1980s people were just becoming interested in winter depression and life therapy I and it was you know cool to start you know looking at the pineal gland from a scientific point of view you know so we establish specific endocrine responses you know to melatonin um and also it was you know frankly sedating you know there were some preliminary studies indicating it had some profound psychoactive properties but you know melatonin isn't especially isn't especially psychoactive so in the meantime I had learned about DMT well it's also you know made in the body and um I was you know thinking if we gave the emptied to people and it you mimicked the your characteristics of a spontaneous mystical or religious or meditative state yeah that would strengthen the hypothesis you know that naturally occurring you know DMT you know which was made in the human body was responsible for those your so-called you know non drug states we have you know published a number of melatonin papers I was established as a established as a clinical researcher and started working on the paperwork you know for doing the DMT study and I'm in around 1988 and it took you know two years and we gave our first you know doses of DMT in November 90 we gave a lot of DMT you know to a lot of people and I also took very careful you know bedside notes which is possible you know with DMT you can write everything down because it's quite short and once the volunteers came down we would you know chat for about an hour so and I would you know document everything can I pause you there for a moment just just to ask there must have been a powerful motive behind your decision to do research specifically with with DMT and I'm guessing that that was a DMT experience that you had please tell us if that is the case and tell us a little bit about that experience and how it happened yeah well there's a saying research is research so you know oftentimes you know people have a particular experience or an illness or you know something or another and they you know want to understand it you know so I you know was interested in studying psychedelics and I was interested in the pineal as interested in DMT and I was at a conference in California in 1986 I think and Terence Mckenna was there and you know we spoke afterwards and he said well you're talking about DMT but you know do you know anything about DMT so I said no but I'd like to learn and you know so I you know went into a small you know room with a number of friends and you know Terence you know kind of gave me you know the introductory DMT wrap you know you know like this is how you'd imagine that your first DMT trip at the hands of Terence Mckenna come on I'll get better than that well so that experienced you know shook me to my ontological roots as it were and you know there was you know these beings which were surprising as hell and they spoke in a singsong voice and said you know now do you see now do you see now do you see over and over again and I came down you know Terence you know was pleased there were a number of other you know friends in the room yeah you know so we said goodbye for the night but look you know but the course well the course had been set as a result of you know that experience you know so I actually stopped the melatonin work you know gave up a grant started working on the DMT grant and then the rest did you have to go through a lot of administrative hoops I mean not this was what 1990 that you started administering DMT yeah height of the war on drugs so so you must have faced opposition I would have thought studying that project well it was a two-year process of working with FDA and the DEA and it was at you know the height of the war on drugs the for the first you know George Bush you know but it was interesting I mean people wanted to see psychedelics studied in humans again and because our you know background was quite strong scientifically as you know working with a research unit I had a good biostatistician and our study was incredibly modest you know could we give DMT to a group of normal volunteers and generate reasonable data and we used a number of rationales to you know to justify the study you know one is that you know people abuse you know psychedelics oh oh actually I should you know tell you you know the backdrop for that story you know so I was you know um I completed you know the melatonin study and I and you know my mentor I'm at the University of New Mexico had passed away and the future melatonin studies weren't looking all that promising and I was in California at the time and stopped off at you know Terrance's house and we spent a day in his library I don't know if any of you had ever spent you know time with your Terence in his library you know but we just you know hung out all day and we concluded get the war on drugs to give DMT to psychedelic users and you know monitor their responses so that seemed like a pretty good strategy and I went back to Albuquerque worked on the protocol it was our you know funds came from the war on drugs and it was and you know people you know take psychedelics you know sometimes you know they encounter problems you know the pharmacology of those you know drugs wasn't that well understood at the time so you know for that reason it was you know decided to be in scientifically meritorious so you got the study going and how many volunteers did you have roughly we studied around you know five dozen people like you know 55 or so and you know most of those you know people got a number of different doses of DMT little small doses medium ones and large doses and and the typical situation was what that they're on a hospital bed in the University of New Mexico yeah this the studies taking place on the clinical research unit you know which was in um which was in the University Hospital on the fifth floor experimental chemotherapy for cancer patients took place there you know so is a pretty life-and-death grim scene you know but you would think that injecting you know DMT into people in a hospital on a hospital you know bed in a little room with tubes sticking out of the walls and whatnot would you know be the worst possible you know place to do DMT you know but uniformly the volunteers said it was the best possible place to do DMT you know because you know they were completely at our mercy and completely taken care of at the same time you know we had a couple IVs in place if there were any cardiac problems there was a response team that could you know get into the room right away and the you know volunteers you really wanted to you know feel like we had things covered because you know what was DMT I mean you know nobody really knew you know so with regard you know to the you know setting I was interested in the spiritual you know pharmacology of the drug like you know was the drug inherently spiritual in other words was the you know pharmacology spiritual with knows psychology preparation there was no education there was no incense there was no cozy room there was no mystical experiences there were just you know no goals at all other than to just hold on remember everything you can and get back to me and describe what happened so I well I you prepared you know the volunteers you know by telling them you know three different things it's very fast it's over quickly you may think you've died but don't worry and an elaboration of the of the third point I would say there's a couple of ways to respond you know to that feeling that you've died you can panic or you can say very interesting what's next you know so that's you know the approach you know that I you don't coach you know the volunteers with this book ladies and gentlemen DMT the spirit molecule just as a matter of interest how many of you in this room have read this book quite a lot well those of you who hadn't read it yet I urge you to do so because this is a phenomenal study which really changes our views on on everything Rick I want to read you what one of the things that I find I find most exciting about it is the questions it raises over the nature of reality the and perhaps that was wasn't even your intention when you went into the project but it but it raises it raises fundamental questions but I'm just gonna read you a couple of lines from one of your volunteers and the the experience that she had that she meets these because in a void of darkness suddenly beings appeared they were cloaked like silhouettes they were glad to see me they indicated they'd had contact with with me as an individual before they seemed pleased that we had discovered this technology so this this intrigues me it's like like here is a technology to communicate with another another level of reality is that is that possibly what's going on have you content that possibility or is there someone some I mean meeting intelligent beings who communicate with us in what it's an experience and and they're saying they're almost saying great you've discovered the technology that makes this communication easier and I suspect that wasn't perhaps the only volunteer who's who said that no no it was a astonishingly infrequent account or report is that you know there are beings they communicated they had things to say there was a exchange back and forth you know one other volunteer made the analogy of new technology it was interesting he spoke well um so he came in for a number of different exposures to DMT like a week apart a month apart and instead of it being a continuation of one you know of one experience to the next um he described it as you know dipping in you know to that reality which a couple of you know weeks had elapsed from you know one you know contact you know to the next you know so it was as if things had occurred in that parallel level of reality which you know were you know going on you know without without his knowledge with it was like that reality was continuing separate from the volunteers observations of it right it was like you know going to Los Angeles in June and then going to Los Angeles in July right yeah as opposed you know to it you know being a consecutive experience because in another I'm gonna quote you now and your analogy between channel normal Channel DMT so no longer is the show we are watching everyday reality Channel normal DMT provides regular repeated reliable acts to other channels and you go on to talk about how there almost appear to be freestanding planes of existence and then you say and this is radical these words these worlds are usually invisible to us and our instruments and are not accessible using our normal state of consciousness however just as likely as the theory that these worlds exist quote only in our minds unquote is that they are in reality quote outside us unquote and freestanding if we simply change our brains receiving abilities we can comprehend and interact with them now you wrote that some years ago how do you feel about that view of things now yeah it's a very complicated question yeah it's a very complicated issue especially you know when it comes to the beings like are these beings somewhere out there or you know somewhere in here or some combination thereof you know so the most you know the easiest explanation is it's your brain on drugs you know there are certain parts of your brain which are stimulated by the drug itself you know visual centers emotional centers auditory centers and those are responsible you know for the visions and particularly it's the beings you know but in the beginning of my study I was of the mind of it's your brain on drugs – and even though I was open-minded with the volunteers about their reports I think my skepticism bled through some and they began closing down some so I decided to do a thought experiment and say okay they went to another level of reality and let's just you know see where that goes and then after I'm finished with a study I can you know figure out you know some way to explain that you know one of the most striking elements of the DMT experience is the feeling of reality it feels more real than real you know so that makes you wonder well up what do we you know base our sense of reality if if you you know posit well you know there's a part of the brain which is responsible for reality orientation and it's stimulated at a certain kind of you know baseline kind of level you know like right now for example you know but if you you know take DMT is that part of the brain even more stimulated if that's the case then oh and which gets kind of weird because you know DMT is actively transported into the brain across the blood-brain barrier using oxygen which is a using energy which is an extremely unusual occurrence the brain only will transport things into as confines which are required for normal function like you know sugar and certain amino acids yes a DMT is actively transported into the brain which indicates or suggests that a certain amount of DMT is necessary for normal brain function which is you know normal consciousness and if you're part of what you know DM if you know part of what you know DMT is doing is you know maintaining or you know feeling of reality you know then when you give you know more DMT it feels you know more you know if you know feels even more real except it doesn't look like this reality no no not generally so it it you know starts to you know beg the question about you know what is real is is you know this is all a you know low level DMT experience and when you are on a lot higher dose of DMT do things break down and you enter into the next level another very interesting area that you that you touched on which continues to be a broad public interest today is the UFO abduction experience and that you found striking similarities between the volunteers reports of their experiment we know they were not being physically abducted because they were on a hospital bed in the University of New Mexico but their experience in many cases was very comparable to the experiences of a few folk duck tease what do you make of all that when I began the the study I interviewed some you know friends colleagues you know contacts that had used DMT before I think I'm around you know 20 people you know called them and met with them and you know this was an order you know to establish you know some kind of you know baseline expectations about you know what might occur and I would say almost everybody described the you know being encounter and so I thought okay there's a being encounter a lot of people describe that but but still I was completely unprepared for the frequency with which our volunteers reported that and I was a forced to start you know thinking about you know the the abduction literature I I wasn't interested in it all it seemed kind of flaky you know UFOs and whatnot you know like about 1/3 1/2 you know through this study all I met with you know John Mack um who you know published a book thing was called was it called contact yeah yeah you know so I started you know describing the experiences of our volunteers and you know John said you've discovered something but even then I was you know reluctant and I still am kind of reluctant to you know think of these you know things as you're creatures from outer space they you know more you know reside you know within us or we're only able you know to perceive them you know through our own minds well what about it's not so much a question of creatures from from outer space and I'll go into this a bit in my talk later but the different cultures at different times may construe these experi in different ways and and in our culture we're construing it as abductions by abduction by aliens I think one proposition that was put forward is that is that perhaps you've abducted are people who spontaneously over produce DMT and just if I might add to that from my reading of you you're they're not going on to say that does not mean their experience is not real it's it's a it's it's a real experience but but in some way mediated by by DMT you know I think that I I think you know that is the case I mean if if you read the literature of you know the abduction experience you know like oftentimes individuals are really stressed at I'm at the time of you know their encounter and in studies of lower animals levels of DMT increased with stress you know the beginning of an encounter you know sounds like the beginning of a DMT trip you know there's inner pressure you know there's a high-pitched sound which builds you know in a crescendo it you know peaks with the you know with the contact experience so yeah there were quite a few overlapping features of the two syndromes as a world I've certainly experienced that myself with with DMT both in vapes form and and in in ayahuasca that that sense that sense of an imminent abduction that you're going to be taken away into into another realm and it's a fact raised it raises fascinating questions about about what this whole life experience that we're that we're living is yeah well to the extent that you know the DMT experience you know resembles non you know drug you know syndromes it it you know makes a lot of sense you know to that there is a your common ain't no common biological underpinning and that's met then also is the same with with death and that's why that's why you speak of it as the as the spirit molecule in a way I think and the and you mentioned to me off stage that there's a there's a new study not yet published which which is in indicating well go ahead and tell us about this new study you know um well one of the one of the gratifying experience is you know with the DMT work is I speculate about a couple of you know things in the DMT book the spirit molecule you know one is you know that the pineal gland produces or at least contains DMT and you know that book came out in 2000 and in 2013 there was a group in the university of I'm at Michigan you know that is you which established you know that there is you know DMT in the living wrote and pineal gland you know so you know thirteen years later you know they confirm you that theory and one other speculative you know hypothesis that I present in the book is that you know DMT increases at the time of death and the same you know research a group in Ann Arbor is you know looking at the dying rodent brain and you know these are on published data right now but it does you seem as if you know levels of DMT increase in the dying rodent brain and if that's the case you would then you know be able to propose a you know fairly tidy you know picture of what occurs in the NDE you know there are some studies in Eastern Europe from Hungary you know which indicates that in a test-tube anyway if you starve neurons you know for oxygen they began to die but if you add some DMT to that mix it really slows down the destruction of those um of those um of those brain cells you know so you know DMT is neuroprotective in the dying brain you know so if you're dying on your brain is being starved of oxygen you know DMT is released you experience these visions you know but that you know kind of you know begs the question you know why DMT and you know why with the brain you know secrete a psychedelic compound as a you know neuro protective agent as opposed to a you know sedating one where everything gets black and warm and you know fuzzy and you die but instead it's this you know completely you know psychedelic experience you know so you could start to think about well that's what your subjective awareness is you know conscious of as you die you know so that is what occurs as you die in your mind you know and if you know but you know what occurs afterwards obviously is anybody's guess because you know like I have a brain there's you know you know there isn't any longer DMT you know one of the you know reasons that I stopped doing my study was the Buddhists you know monastery that I had been working with for 22 23 years started to you know chafed under the stress of my discussing the similarities you know between the flash of enlightenment that occurs on you know drugs and the flash of enlightenment which occurs through meditation and you know one of the issues that I was interested in and I was you know spoke with them over the years was if DMT is released at the time of death you know maybe you could give the empty to people as a dry run you could prepare them and the monk said you know what if it is in anything at all like the DMT experience which would be you know doing a you know which you know could be potentially you know causing some confusion at the time you know but these studies you're coming out of Michigan indicate that your perhaps you know the levels of brain you know DMT are increasing as you die and that may I'm indeed you know be what happens you know the obvious study which I'm you know surprised is still not been done is you is you you know find your people that have had an NDE give them DMT and you say how similar are they and a few you know people have emailed me and they said I had a nd II I've done DMT and they're spitting images of each other you know but it got to be a you know more rigorous kind of design I think so you and Andrew Gallimore and I have the privilege of knowing Andrew as well have have developed technology or are in the process of developing a technology which would allow volunteers to be maintained in the DMT State potentially forever any any way anybody who's taken when I when I mentioned this to Joe Rogan he said sign me up but anybody who's experienced DMT would it would have to regard that is a formidable proposition what's what's your what's your thoughts on this and will this go somewhere and I think there's some interest from Imperial College in London in in deploying this yeah one of our experiments in Albuquerque you know was to determine if you know people develop you know tolerance you know to repeated doses of DMT you know for example if you take LSD every day you really stopped responding after about three days you know mescaline psilocybin you know that's the case you know so that's called tolerance you becoming intolerant and if you want you know the same experience you you need to increase the dose you know to get the same effect and if there were you know there was one study in humans where was given to you know twice a day and you know there was no tolerance there is one study in rodents where it was given every two hours for three weeks and there was no tolerance yes I said well you got to give it more closely spaced together you know so we gave you know four doses of you know DMT in the space of a morning and so the intervals were a half hour you know so we gave you know one dose at 8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00 in the morning and you know there was no tolerance you know number one which was a you know remarkable finding and you know number two is that the volunteers were able to do a lot more psychological you know work under that kind of a regimen you know usually if you smoked DMT you just you know hold on to your hats and you can't really you know work with it all that much you know once you get your bearings you start coming down you know but you know with this repeated you know dosing your protocol you know people you know could you know work on stuff or I'm at least encounter stuff you're then coming down and it was a slightly smaller you know dose than our maximal dose you know so you know we have some time to talk you know ten minutes or so as you know they're getting ready for their next dose and you know people were able to you know to work on stuff like career love life spiritual questions and it was you know quite interesting it went you know through you know kind of a stereotyped you know sequence the you know first experience was big and great you know the you know the second experience was a you know continuation of that you know the third experience you know people were just burned out they said you know this is you know too much I'm struggling all this unresolved stuff and I think I want to quit as anybody ever quit after the third dose and I would say not yet and yes so they would do you know the fourth dose and even you know yeah you know they didn't want to be the you know first one who you know just you know couldn't do it but you know but that you know fourths and your final dose was just a breakthrough for a lot of the you know the you know for you know lots of the volunteers you know so I started thinking well wouldn't it be you know great if you could keep somebody in that state you know go up with the rate of infusion you know go down with it you know or you bring people completely out of it it would be an extremely useful and extremely novel psychotherapeutic tool or even a spiritual tool you know so I you know make that well in the spirit molecule I you make that suggestion that in the future it would be of interest you know to develop a continuous infusion kind of a model you know where you just you're keeping people in the DMT state you could crank it up you could crank it down and you know one of them one of my colleagues Andrew Gallimore is a neuroscientist in Japan and you know worked out a model like a you know mathematical model you begin with a big dose you drop it you you know calculate this and you calculate that it was you know it is a you know rather sophisticated pharmacokinetic you know design that paper came out maybe you know two years ago or so and there is a group at Imperial College in London that's been giving DMT and doing brain scans and you know they're you know working on actually implementing the continuous infusion study which will be unbelievably interesting yeah I think the consequences the results of that could be could could be extraordinary you know you know one of the strong points of a study like that is you could spend time in the DMT State and you can explore it and you could you know learn what's the you know what the beings well you could start to you know characterize you the nature and you're the role of the beings you know because you would you know be able to spend an extended amount of time within you and you know one of you know one of the possible experiments that a few people have proposed which would you help establish you know the reality of the beings is you know to ask them a question that is impossible you know for a human to answer like the square root of some massive number and if you know the beings are able you know to give you the answer I mean would that be something you know but you know even if the beings were real there's no guarantee that they'd be interested in answering your question or they might be tricky or they you know might be tricky which you know they usually are yeah you know they're mischievous and they're you know kind of malevolent at times they're not careful yeah Rick I want to move on to your to further aspects of your of your work and and your next your next book in this field was was DMT and the soul the empty and the soul of prophecy and and in this book you have also had a long-term interest in the Hebrew Bible and in prophecy in the Hebrew Bible and somehow you bring these you bring these notions together tell us a bit about this there's this book yeah DMT and the soul of prophecy well I completed I completed my studies in 1995 mmm you know wrapped up those you know projects for a couple of reasons well actually you know more than you know more than a couple you know we had a you know begun you know doing some studies giving psilocybin at the time you know some dose you know finding work you know with our volunteers from the DMT study you know what when I was a resident and I was being you know trained in the giving anti-psychotic drugs antidepressants things like that my supervisors always said you know give slightly too much and then back down at which point you know the maximal response to the drug and you know that's you know what we did you know with the DMT work you know we gave a couple of the volunteers an overdose and we you know lowered it a bit which and then we came our high dose you know so we gave you people massive doses of psilocybin 1.1 milligrams per kilogram if you look at the other current the your current your solace I've been studies you know taking place at Hopkins and NYU you know they call a larger dose or you know their maximal dose is you know 0.45 you know so ours was at least was at least twice as high as what is you know now you know being considered a high dose of your psilocybin you know so those are kinds of of you know doses you know cause the delirium the you know the two volunteers were red and sweaty and confused disoriented you know so we you know figured and you know they both said this is too much you just can't give this dose to anybody yeah and you know so we back down and our you know high dose you know would have been you know 0.9 milligrams per kilogram which is still you know twice what is you know considered a large dose now and you know what's even more interesting is in our you know volunteers you know the threshold you know for psilocybin being at a threshold dose of you know breakthrough psychedelic dose it wasn't until you know 0.4 or you like around um well like around that dose you know so you know what is being you know called a you know high dose of psilocybin nowadays was our you know threshold you know dose you know for establishing you know full psychedelic effect you know we also got you know permission to start an LSD study and we got the drug but you know by then I had answered you my question like is you know DMT inherently spiritual and with our preparations you know people were just you know more of themselves you know they you know didn't you know the one enlightenment experience in our you know subjects was a doctor who was a religious studies major in college and he really wanted an enlightenment experience and he had one you know there was a nurse in our study that was really interested in NDEs and she really wanted one and you know she had one you know there was a you know programmer in our group who was obviously always you know living and you know zeros and ones and on his you know DMT trip he saw the you know source of information in zeros and ones you know so the the you know notion they could just you know give a drug and you know cause a spiritual experience was you know disproven I'm at least in our study it you know depends on the person depends on their expectations depends on the material that the DMT is you know working on your Stan Grof used to call LSD a nonspecific mental amplifier and and I think if you don't spend a lot of time preparing people have a particular kind of experience then they will just become you know more of themselves or the goals or aspirations are their you know thoughts which are you know more or less conscious become displayed in you know full relief and they become convinced of its truth your the reality you know the meaning of you know those ideas which may have been I'm a little less clear beforehand you know so I was a little discouraged like I was you know it was kind of naive but I just had to improve it to myself like is DMT inherently spiritual and I was kind of hoping it would be and you know turned out you know not to be but but still you know the reality experience you know the strong experience of reality of you know the DMT world and it's just bizarre nature it's just you know it's it's you know reliably bizarre you know nature was it was extremely perplexing and I wasn't pleased with any of the models that I had brought to bear on that you know researcher originally you know those were three perspectives you know one was the this is your brain on drugs you know psychopharmacology a model the other was a you know psychoanalytic model like you know these are unconscious your conflicts and impulses almond drives which are then you know made you know conscious you know the other you know was the Buddhist model you know like you know this is you know the progression of your mind towards the enlightened state which is completely which is a completely empty empty of form feeling consciousness perception understanding you know but you know nobody really went into that enlightened state other than that one you know that one volunteer I um had mentioned you know so those you know models really weren't that useful the vial of logic holds you know model you know just seemed a little too like and you know when I would be speaking with the volunteers about you know what they had just undergone and they would say you know how did this happen and I would say oh it's your brain on drugs and they say there is no way this could be my brain on drugs it feels real it's more you know real in anything that I've ever experienced you know the Buddhists you know model you know the Zen model anyway would you know disparage the content which is you know full in the DMT experience there's beings there's light there's information there's colors there's emotions there's thoughts and you know Buddhism as a rule anyway you know the Tibetans put more you know credence into those phenomena but you know the Zen you model that I was you know working with wood you know consider all the meat of the experience as ephemeral you know kind of um you know it isn't you know really the main thing and the you know psychoanalytic model also describes the experiences as as you know something other than what they seem to be this you know conflict or you you you know love your mother hates your father you know those those you know those kinds of things you know so I went you know back to the drawing board and thought well I you know need to develop a stronger model one that you know fits the data better you know so I started to explore you know some of the ideas of you know modern physics parallel universes dark matter those kinds of things you know and you know number one I'm you know no expert in that field and you know number two even if you describe you know the mechanisms you know you know by which you might encounter or apprehend normally invisible you know layers of reality you know what does it mean what's the importance you know what's their relevance you know is it going to make us any you know kinder as a species or smarter as a species or more compassionate um you know so I switched your perspectives and I thought you know what else you know what other disciplines you know look at altered states of consciousness and extract useful information you know from them and you know clearly you know you know those are you know the religious models you know the religious disciplines and I you know kind of went you know through the Buddhist you know model which you know wasn't especially satisfactory they asked communicated you didn't they they yeah I was no longer you know welcome after you know you know formal committee was convened to investigate you know what I was talking about yeah you know so that happens even in Zen I mean you know religious organizations are very interested in maintaining the the status quo and you know their own you know territoriality yeah you know so that was a you know sorry you know chapter in the book um I actually you know call it stepping on holy toes you know because if you know it was you know clearly the case that almost all of those monks got their first you know taste of enlightenment on psychedelics and you know to not to be able to you know talk about it openly seemed quite you know it was you know it was you know quite hypocritical and it also flies in the face of you know scientific discourse like you know one of the strengths of you know the scientific model is you can disagree with each other without being excommunicated I suppose you can be unless they're archaeologists right I'm or astronomers yeah yeah yeah you know so it was like okay I can't be a Buddhist anymore but you know there are to be other you know religions out there which could you know provide a good model you know so I'm Jewish and I figured well you know what's the Hebrew Bible so I stopped meditating because I just couldn't stand looking about cushion for actually for a couple of years yeah and I you know went into a new age bookstore in Port Townsend I don't know if any of you have you been up to port towns in Washington but but it's this huge you know New Age a metaphysical bookstore yeah so there's you know stacks and stacks of you know books on Hinduism and Buddhism and Confucianism there's like okay you know like okay that's what you know I don't really you know need to you know look you know there anymore and upstairs was a small smaller section on Judaism and you know there was a even smaller book called the Kabbalah of envy you know by a you know rabbi from Brazil and it was a really great little book it was a introduction to you know thinking about interactions as spiritual tools as opposed you know to the enlightened unitive mystical experience you know we're all as one the you know model you know that you know this guy was presenting you know was you know that you work out things spiritually in your every in your everyday interactions and he talks about a story in the Talmud about a couple of you know farmers who were arguing over tools you know one guy you don't want to borrow a expensive tool one guy was interested in you know borrowing an inexpensive tool and he then describes how the you know there's revenge there's a grudge there's you know jealousy there's greed there's envy and the fine you know detail of the interactions was just amazing it was it it it you know was as if spiritual truths could be revealed in everyday interactions between two farmers arguing about tools you know so I thought well and it it was interesting you know because when I first began you know reading Buddhism it took me along you know time to understand like a sentence I might have to you know look at it for a few hours and you know when I stumbled on this other approach you know to reality it was you know the same thing like I could not understand the difference between revenge and a grudge and I couldn't understand the difference between Envy you know as compared to jealousy but you know once I started to understand that it you know seemed like a rich rich place to look and you know what I like to do is you know look at other people's sources so I thought well you know where is this guy getting his information from you know managing of the Bible you know the Hebrew Bible you know the so-called Old Testament yeah you know so I began you have to read the Bible or the Hebrew Bible you know when I when I was younger I went to Hebrew school for a number of hours every couple of days after public school and I learned conversational Hebrew we didn't really learned that much about God other than you know God you know you know wasn't involved in history obviously you know you know at the end of the Holocaust the establishment of the State of Israel you know but you know what was God's nature you know how do you communicate with God what are God's characteristics we really never just that you know but at the same time um I had something into missions of spiritual feelings you know you know within the tradition you know folk dancing we spun around on stage too extremely you know high-energy you know folk songs we sang folk songs we prayed at the top of our lungs you know like you know make the chandeliers sway our instructor you know told us yeah you're seeing that loud and you know I swear we were able to make the you know the chandelier swing you know but after I was the apartment as most you know people I just you know dropped it went into the you know Buddhist thing for a couple of you know decades you know you know you know but I knew Hebrew or I used to know Hebrew yes so if you're gonna be you're reading a spiritual you know text you want you know to read it in its original language you know for a number of reasons you can do your own translation and any translation is an interpretation you know so if you're able you know to read the Hebrew yourself you can do your own interpretations you know with the aid of you know the commentaries you know but also you know the original you know language has got spiritual power you know so if you're reading the old text or if you're reading you know the text in Hebrew out loud especially you can you know resonate with the mind that wrote those words in their first place you know so it would be an intimation of you know the prophetic state you know so I you know began with you know Genesis in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth which took a few months actually for me to get my head around you know because oh the you know the whole you know notion of God as a creator you know so I you know started to work you know through the text it took 11 years to you know read the entire Hebrew Bible with number of the you know classic you know commentaries and you once I was able to establish some understanding of the text the notion of the prophetic experience began to appear as a spirit as a spiritual of leeteuk's prophets lets us give some familiar names we're talking and Moses is a prophet Daniel is a prophet right right well you know there's you know the canonical prophets yeah which I've got you know books that you know that are named after them like Isaiah Jeremiah and Ezekiel Daniel you know but I expand you know that you know the definition when you you know hear the word in prophecy most people think about if we're telling you're predicting you know but that is an artifact of the translation from the Hebrew into Greek which was the first you know non you know Jewish you know translation you know so the Hebrew word for the Prophet is not V and I I'm an avi and and the and the Greek you know translation was Pro feeties which means you know to see ahead or you know to see in the future which reflects the interest in the Greeks and the whole you know you know concept of you know the concept you know divining you know divination would be you know to foretell you know so the interest of the Greeks in you know foretelling established the word your prophecy yeah are you are you then suggesting that the Hebrew prophets were in a DMT State in some way I call to mind the work of Benny Shannon and his his study of of ayahuasca the the the Antipodes of the mind and and his I think he specifically suggests that Moses at the burning bush may have been under the influence of an ayahuasca analog which would be I think if I recall correctly Syrian ruined mimosa hostilius is that your line or you or or is it some in some significant way different from that yeah well there's a couple of points you know one is the you know presence of you know DMT in the human body precludes the need to locate its you know source in the environment yeah you know so it could be in plants might be in you know the man you know could be and you know whatever you know but you know the human body contains DMT and you know levels increase in certain you know certain you know conditions you know to return you know to my definition of the prophetic experience as opposed to it including or reader requiring a prediction you know my you know my definition is is it's any spiritual experience you know by anyone in the Hebrew Bible you know so it could be it it you know could be Hegar you know the you know mother of Ishmael who encounters an angel by the well you know so you know most people don't you know you know most people don't you don't think of her when you think about a prophet you know but if an individual in the you know text has a you know dream which comes true you know that is a you know prophetic experience if you know somebody is inspired to be a great you know warrior like you know the spirit of you know God you know what this would you know drop upon you know somebody and you know they would become strong and courageous you know that is a you know kind of spiritual experience you know it's a your subtype of you know the prophetic state and you know the whole you know text is a prophetic you texts it was written under some divine inspiration or some kind of inspiration which would be included in my definition of the prophetic experiences so to cut to the chase are you saying that that the prophets are are those individuals who are over producing more DMT than the average person in the street does or is that oversimplifying a message well you know once I began working you know once once I you know began to you know look at you know the Hebrew Bible carefully I began to think well I wonder what's the degree of overlap is between the DMT experience and the you know classic and prophetic experience you know so I started to compare their reports in the Bible with the reports of my DMT volunteers and there is extraordinarily close overlap I mean if you reach after one of Ezekiel there's you know there's you know beings with wings with eyes on their wings and eyes on their backs he flies through space he falls down there's a you know whooshing you know sound in the beginning he's standing you know next to water he's a week he asks questions he's completely you know blown away there's like a you know firmament of blue and ice there's flames they're spinning wheels they're spinning globe is it's completely DMT like you know so you know the phenomenology is quite you know similar you know so you know then you would be you know forced to start to think well is it the case that these spontaneous prophetic states are mediated through the increase of endogenous DMT you know the you know the obvious you know difference between the prophetic and the DMT state is its impact the prophets live 3,000 years ago people still read them they're inspired by them you know perennial knowledge or you know perennial wisdom is there perhaps people will be reading Rick Strassman in three you know so it's you know the content of this date which I think is key it isn't chassis of the phenomenology it's you know the content you know what is the message that is being conveyed you know by the you know by the phenomenology you know so that you know leads you know you know to the metaphysical you know theories you know regarding you know the prophetic state the imagination and you know the intellect which gets so it I mean you really start you know getting deep in the weeds but I think it's an important thing to know about and you know to learn about yeah I want to give the audience the opportunity to ask some questions but but and time time is running out but we must not we must not stop without also mentioning a new development in Rick's writing career as curious parallel here because I'm known for writing nonfiction but I've also written some some novels and Rick has written a novel which is I suspect largely biographical in some ways it's called Joseph Levy escapes death and I'm here to massively and highly recommend this book this is a fantastic piece of writing and is deeply deeply thought-provoking and I would like you to talk about it and what led you to it and and what what your objectives are with it yeah it's a strange book well I I mean all my books are strange yeah you know considered the source right well you know so this cover well III I spent a year in in in 2014 you know being both you know sick and recovering you know from being sick and I spent a lot of time lying on my couch looking at the window at these birds at the feeder you know so if it weren't for these birds at the feeder I mean this book never would have happened yeah well it's what's called autobiographical fiction I found out later it's experiences you know which I had you know feelings which I had you know thoughts which I had encounters in relationships in which I had which are you filtered through this your personality of you know Joseph Flavie and it's pretty dark but it's pretty funny it's a dark and funny book yeah both both both both things and and and also and also deeply deeply thought-provoking and and relate you were you went through a tough time I mean I I didn't realize fully until we talked last night how much this was built on your your own experiences you you really were close to death it was a very yeah yeah yeah with Grandma yeah you know but it worked out I lived and I got my health back how do you feel about writing fiction how do you compare to writing factual nonfiction books well you know this was close to home yeah you know so I worked out my PTSD big time writing this book right because it was pretty traumatic and it was hard to think about her to write about you know so in you know that way it was both you know good it was helpful but it was also rather difficult but one thing I like about you in fiction is you don't have to worry about references yeah and like if you're going to be writing about the Bible you really want to make certain you've got your chapter and your verse right because you could be a while accuse chase yeah you know so I like that and it's fun doing dialog I learned you know doing dialog from the DMT book I took all these notes you know during this study and a lot of it you know was the dialogue between me and the volunteer you know the nurse and the volunteer you know the nurse and me you know so I started to you know get the hang of dialogue especially around extreme states and extreme conditions yeah you know so I would embellish you know one of the things that you held me in good stead is I've always kept a journal and when I was you know sick in this small Hospital it was just incredibly it was just you know hard to believe there so I was very Hospital from hell yeah that's what's described here and I thought well you know this is a story so I should take notes and if I may and if I you know make it you know through this I'm gonna tell this story because it's a it's an amazing story yeah you know so after I came home um I came down with you know something else like a superbug and I'd you know just you know took notes and I figured well I would like to put pen to paper at some point and you know tell this story from the perspective of you know looking at it from some distance well highly recommended please pick up a copy of Rick's book it's a different aspect of Rick's work and it's it's incredibly interesting and hugely hugely worth reading I'm gonna take the next at least 10 minutes to see if anybody in the audience would like to ask Rick a question I have a microphone here and I'll bring it to you so that others in the audience can hear the question yo Rick dr. Norman Don at the University of Chicago we worked with a lot of topographic brain mapping of psychics who were very well known like Olaf Johnson to identify the portions of brain that's active when you have a sigh hit or is there any research done with the MT that did the same type of analysis yeah yeah well um so we did a small study with I think three or four you know people you know giving DMT and you know we measured the EEG but you know motion artifact is a problem with a high dose of DMT you do vibrate you have got to be a very fine tremor which was reflected in the EEG recording and we weren't able to even filter that out very well we also gave you no DMT to a couple of volunteers and in a scanner you know like an MRI scanner and I don't know if anybody has you know well a horrible place to have a DMT experience incredibly clattering loud noise right I don't know if any of you you know have you know had an MRI but it's like a jackhammer it's really noisy but still when you're on a big dose of DMT you know the outside world just disappears and you know by the time they came down you know they were fine they're glad to be alive and the scan continued you know we got the data but it was also you know difficult to interpret because of the movement artifact as well and you know that was you know back in the early 90s and the magnets weren't as strong as the magnets are in those machines now so we weren't able to analyze those data you know with any you know reasonable quality dr. Strassen thank you for your work it's been amazing to follow you um one of the things when I've smoked DMT in a group of people when I've smoked DMT with a group of people a couple of times two times it's happened that I've had group hallucinations of entities and beings and afterwards when we're done smoking we all describe it and oh my gosh I saw the same thing without describing the beings cuz I'm I'm sure they can be different for each person what what's your experience with that and maybe explanation for that have you come across that thank you yeah it's a very strange thing and it is reported and it's also you know common you know with ayahuasca ceremonies that you know people and their group will experience those same visions or you see the same thing I don't really know how to explain it you know one of the you know theories regarding you know the prophetic experience is you know that there's this you know thing up there which is called the active intellect it's a sphere it's you know the lowest sphere you know there's you know nine spheres you know the lowest one is the you know sublunar one which is called the active intellect you know the you know the philosophers you know believe you know that the active intellect you know contains every occurrence in the past every occurrence that's happening now and every possible occurrence in the future you know so it's a you know vast repository of information and you know their belief about your prophecies that one is able to approximate become close to you know it's you know called it's it's called conjoining with the active intellect and you know that you can occur through an intensification of the imagination when you speak about the imagination in a philosophical you know technical sense you know so I think what your psychedelics are doing is stimulating the imaginative you know Faculty of the mind which is the source of the visions you're so you know the active intellect you can be conjoined by means of the imagination so it you know could be you know this is you know quite you know metaphysical but it could be that if you know DMT is is allowing a con joining with the active intellect of the people in their room you know that they're able to you know tap in you know to the same ongoing experiences or events okay I'll take another from this side usually it be um I'm going to an ayahuasca retreat in the Amazon in July and I was curious if there were any known health risks and if there's any lasting neurological effects or damage and if so how to prepare for such effects yeah that is a good question um well you need to be in good health mental health and physical health you also need to do your homework you um you need to be prepared you ought to look in in in to the site to you know to the retreat center you know find out if it's you know reputable organization any you know bad horror stories which you know have emerged from there second that is really important that you have some word-of-mouth on the center you're going to others who've been there have had a positive experience because there are some really crappy ayahuasca retreats which are not sincere and not honest and not good you have to do due diligence but if you do that you'll find yourself in a good space yeah you know prepare you know find out you know what other people you know do to make the most of their experiences you know if you're on any medication you would want to make certain that you know it won't interact with the ayahuasca you know some people but you know prepare with a diet you know they avoid certain foods you know you know concentrate on other ones you know get your mental state in order you know get your meditation you know practice you know solid if you've got a lot of interpersonal conflicts going on you know work it out and counseling first or you know get an understanding of what those are you know so if they do come up you've got some preparation and you're not surprised yeah you know in terms of physical risks from ayahuasca I I would I would say that the overall volume of research has been done suggest that they're extremely minimal it's physically uncomfortable but the likelihood of physical damage being caused is very you want to make sure your heart is is good your liver is good your kidneys are good these are all important aspects but this this medicine has been used in the Amazon for thousands of years and and there's a vast cultural experience behind it over on this side well so they've been doing some long-term studies of long-term ayahuasca users and you know generally they're smarter and they're healthier and they're you know better off you're then controls you know both with respect you know to their relationships their health substance abuse those kinds of things you know those are data that becoming out the last maybe 10 or 15 years but but you could still freak out and and if you do freak out you want to get help right away yeah is there anyone in Canada doing DMT research and how can we volunteer for the extended doses well so there aren't any DMT studies in Canada there's only one that's occurring in the world right now as far as I know and you know that's in London at Imperial College the Imperial College um is opening up a you know psychedelic research institute specifically you know dedicated you know for studying psychedelics and it's I think gonna be opening any day now you're the person that's spearheading the continuous infusion study is is named you know dr. Timmerman and you can just you know track him down you know through Imperial College he's a very open and accessible guy you you can you can find him and email him one more question from this side I'll take it from you over there sir thank you it's been suggested obviously that the DMT being produced within the brain and a spontaneous burst could produce a spiritual experience I have kind of a two-part question one being has anybody measured the amount of DMT produced within the brain and does it compare to the psychoactive dose and then the other part is kind of the chicken or the egg question is your opinion that the spiritual experience is authentically a spiritual experience and that the chemical signature is just kind of red or is it that the the DMT is the explanation for a spiritual experience well in a response you know in response to your first question it's extremely difficult to measure levels of endogenous DMT there you know picograms you know per mil like you know billionth of a gram per mil and I just don't think it's going to be possible with current you know technology to measure DMT levels going up or down in unusual states of mind you know dreams you know near-death encounters let's say you know but you know they've characterized the gene that's responsible for the enzyme which synthesizes DMT so I think what will be the case in their futures will be looking at the activation of the enzyme and that gene it's being you know turned on or it's being turned off with respect you know to the chicken and the egg question I think you know DMT is you know is there kind of like a you know silicon in chips it's the the best candidate for a specific function so I think that's what is probably you know going on is you know that it's an accompaniment and it's you know if it's an accompanying mantenerse also you know necessary I don't think you can have a DMT experience without DMT but you know whether it's a real spiritual experience I mean you can you know debate that for a long time you know the X Y a yeah it you could be considered the experience which resembles a spiritual experience you know like you know one of the tendencies in this current wave of research is to call you know psilocybin and in a research environment a mystical experience but I think that's kind of front because you give somebody drag after you know 10 or you know 12 hours of education and your preparation and you you know and you you know characterize it as your comparable to what might occur after you're meditating for you know 20 years in a cave or you're praying in a cell all by yourself for a long long time you know so I think the more you know modest way of describing those states would be you know mystical my medic perhaps you know that they you know that they mimic the experience and you know mimicked experiences can be quite close to the real thing you know reproductions of you master works of art can be you know almost master works of art so I think it depends on you know the quality of the overlap and what you do with it you know after it takes place so ladies and gentlemen we're now gonna take a half-hour intermission Rick and I will be in a room that I don't know where it is I hope Robert Dakota is in here or somebody is in here – yes – that room it's in the universal room okay the signing all right thank you very much and we'll see you over there [Applause] [Applause] you