American medical doctor and psychiatrist, Rick Strassman, has been working diligently to improve our understanding of entheogens, specifically dimethyltryptamine or DMT. In 1990 Dr. Strassman broke a 20 year prohibition on psychedelic experiments in America when he began his work giving intravenous doses of the world’s strongest psychedelic to patients and volunteers. Like Dr. Grof’s LSD subjects, Dr. Strassman’s DMT subjects found the experience to be overwhelmingly positive with a myriad of long-term benefits.
“Volunteers reported a stronger sense of self, less fear of death, and greater appreciation of life. Some found they were better able to relax, and they pushed themselves a little less. Several volunteers drank less alcohol or noted they were more sensitive to psychedelic drugs. Others believed with greater certainty that there are different levels of reality.” -Dr. Rick Strassman, “DMT – The Spirit Molecule” (274)
DMT is such a powerful psychedelic that it completely melts away the veil of this reality and transports consciousness into an entirely other dimension occupied by everything from advice-giving telepathic rainbows to body-snatching demonic gremlins. Whether your eyes stay open or closed, these so-called “hallucinations” completely immerse and ensconce themselves into your consciousness taking you out of your body and often out of this world. The effects then wear off after about 10 minutes when smoked, 30 minutes when injected, and after 3-4 hours when made into Ayahuasca tea.
Dr. Strassman’s patients said in the long-term their DMT experiences made them more open-minded and laid-back, caused their thoughts and feelings to be better integrated and overlap more, lessened their fear of death, and gave them “a more real sense of connectedness to everything and everyone.” One of his patients named Elena said, “most of my experiences fade with time. Not so with DMT. Outside me, not much is different. Inside, I rest in the comfort of knowing my soul is eternal and my consciousness endless.” Another patient, Cleo, related how during her DMT trip, a cascading rainbow of colors telepathically communicated with her, telling her that she had been looking for God outside, but instead to go in, that God was in every cell of her body: “The colors kept telling me things, but they were telling me things so I not only heard what I was seeing, but also felt it in my cells. I say ‘felt,’ but it was like no other ‘felt,’ more like a knowing that was happening in my cells. That God is in everything and that we are all connected, and that God dances in every cell of life, and that every cell of life dances in God. I am changed. I will never be the same. To simply say this almost seems to lessen the experience. I don’t think that anyone hearing or reading this can truly grasp what I felt, can really understand it deeply and completely. The euphoria goes on into eternity. And I am part of that eternity.”
Due to all the miraculous, revelatory, and other-worldly experiences shared by his DMT subjects, Dr. Strassman dubbed dimethyltryptamine “the spirit molecule.” The parallels between classic mystical or “spiritual” experiences and what people experienced with the “spirit molecule” were too similar to ignore: During both DMT trips and mystical experiences time, space, and matter all become secondary to consciousness. The separation between self/non-self disappears and personal identity fades into identification with all of existence. Past, present and future all meld together into one timeless moment of eternity. Space is no longer here or there but everywhere as one. There is only here now and travel happens at the speed of thought.
“In altered states of consciousness this new perception of the world becomes dominant and compelling. It completely overrides the everyday illusion of Newtonian reality, where we seem to be ‘skin-encapsulated egos’ existing in a world of separate beings and objects. In extreme forms of transpersonal perception we can experience ourselves as the whole biosphere of our planet or the entire material universe.” -Stanislav Grof, “The Holotropic Mind” (88)
Further to their revelatory and spiritual experiences, many of Dr. Strassman’s patients also reported experiencing a typical NDE while under DMT. They felt themselves lift out of their bodies, saw and entered tunnels of light, heard celestial music and encountered angels or light beings, felt absolute peace and painlessness and were reluctant to come back into their bodies. For example, one of his patients, Willow, described her experience saying, “First I saw a tunnel or channel of light off to the right … There was a sound like music, like a score, but unfamiliar to me, supporting the emotional tone of the events and drawing me in … There were large beings in the tunnel, on the right side, next to me … It was so much more real than life … I felt strongly, ‘This is dying and this is okay’ … I had a sense of dying, letting go and separating, after the beings in the tunnel helped me along. … It’s like a cosmic joke. If we all knew what was waiting for us, we’d all kill ourselves. That’s why we stay in this form for so long, to figure that out. Everyone should try a high dose of DMT once … That place is so full and so complete … when I came back into my body it was so heavy and so confining.”
“Her consciousness separated from her body, she moved rapidly through a tunnel, or tunnels, toward a warm, loving, all-knowing white light. Beings helped her on the way, and some even threatened to drag her down. Beautiful music accompanied her on the early stages of the journey. Time and space lost all meaning. She was tempted not to return, but realized she needed to share the incredible information she received with this world … Her comment about everyone committing suicide if they knew how great the ‘afterlife’ is points out another similarity between Willow’s experiences and those of ‘naturally occurring’ NDEs: That is, those who have had an NDE do not rush off to suicide. Rather, they reside in the knowledge that there is ‘life after death,’ and that transition loses its sting. Thus, they are able to live life more fully, because the fear of death that drives so many to distraction is now so much less.” -Dr. Rick Strassman, “DMT – The Spirit Molecule” (226)
As mentioned earlier many entheogens have long been known to induce the death-rebirth experience and none are stronger than DMT. Several of Dr. Strassman’s patients reported experiencing phenomena similar to what is outlined in the The Egyptian and Tibetan Books of the Dead, ancient texts regarding the process of death and the various states of consciousness the soul passes through on its afterlife journey. Elena shared that, “more than once the DMT sessions gave me the gift of truly subjectively knowing the phenomenon described in ‘Introductions to the Dead’ in The Tibetan Book of the Dead.” Another of Dr. Strassman’s patients, Eli, said, “I relaxed and the environment began to change noticeably. I knew I was going through the first bardo of death, that I had been here many times before and it was okay … I had broken out of time and space … I no longer fear death. It’s like you’re there one minute and then you’re somewhere else, and that’s just how it is … These experiments are helping me in my reading of the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. I know what it’s like to be totally free.” Another patient, Joseph, noted, “I think the high dose is like death trauma. It knocks you out of your body … This would be a good drug for people in a hospice program or the terminally ill to have some acquaintance with.”
One of the most incredible facts about DMT is that it is endogenous to humans and produced by our pineal glands. The pineal gland, the only unpaired organ in the brain is located at the geometric center of the head between the eyebrows. This mystical point, focused on during meditation, symbolized by the Hindu “bindi,” is what Descartes famously called “the seat of the soul.” It is also known as the “third-eye” because it can sense light and in certain birds, amphibians, and reptiles it even has a lens, cornea and retina. So why is this death-rebirth-inducing strongest psychedelic in the world produced inside our pineal glands? What exactly is its function?
“DMT is closely related to serotonin, the neurotransmitter that psychedelics affect so widely. The pharmacology of DMT is similar to that of other well-known psychedelics. It affects receptor sites for serotonin in much the same way that LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline do. These serotonin receptors are widespread throughout the body and can be found in blood vessels, muscle, glands, and skin. However, the brain is where DMT exerts its most interesting effects. There, sites rich in these DMT-sensitive serotonin receptors are involved in mood, perception, and thought. Although the brain denies access to most drugs and chemicals, it takes a particular and remarkable fancy to DMT. It is not stretching the truth to suggest that the brain ‘hungers’ for it.” -Dr. Rick Strassman, “DMT – The Spirit Molecule” (52)
In human embryos the pineal gland becomes visible and releases its first burst of DMT 49 days after conception. This is also the exact moment when an embryo becomes a fetus and the gender of the baby is determined. At birth there is another burst of DMT, then regularly every night for the rest of our lives during REM sleep our pineal glands excrete DMT and “trip” us out into various dream states. Finally the last and largest DMT burst of our lives happens at the moment of physical death.
“The human pineal gland becomes visible in the developing fetus at seven weeks, or forty-nine days, after conception. Of great interest to me was finding out that this is nearly exactly the moment in which one can clearly see the first indication of male or female gender. Before this time, the sex of the fetus is indeterminate, or unknown. Thus, the pineal gland and the most important differentiation of humanity, male and female gender, appear at the same time … When our individual life force enters our fetal body, the moment in which we become truly human, it passes through the pineal and triggers the first primordial flood of DMT. Later, at birth, the pineal releases more DMT. In some of us, pineal DMT mediates the pivotal experiences of deep meditation, psychosis, and near-death experiences. As we die, the life-force leaves the body through the pineal gland, releasing another flood of this psychedelic spirit molecule.” -Dr. Rick Strassman, “DMT – The Spirit Molecule” (61-9)
Traditional Chinese funerals are 49 days long. The Tibetan Book of the Dead states that it takes 49 days for a recently deceased soul to travel from one physical body into the next. It also contains 49 days worth of specific passages for friends and family to read aloud to assist the deceased in their transition. 49 days after Easter is Pentecost, the day when “tongues of fire” came into the temple and rested upon the heads of the elders. Symbolically this could mean their crown chakras were illuminated, pineal glands functioning, and the spirit came down unto them, just as literally 49 days after conception, the fetal pineal gland begins functioning and the gender is determined. Are these 49s all just a coincidence or is this mystical number the time it takes for deceased souls to reincarnate? The Catholic Church celebrates the “Immaculate Conception” on December 8th, exactly 9 months before Mary’s birthday, and celebrates the Incarnation of Christ on March 25th, exactly 9 months before Christmas. Is this why the death and conception of Jesus can happen simultaneously? Because we are all re-conceived (reincarnated) at the moment of our deaths and 49 days later our soul enters the embryo through a burst of pineal DMT?
“I already knew that the Tibetan Buddhist Book of the Dead teaches that it takes forty-nine days for the soul of the recently dead to ‘reincarnate.’ That is, seven weeks from the time of death of one person elapses until the life-force’s ‘rebirth’ into its next body. I remember very clearly, several years later, feeling the chill along my spine when, reading my textbook of human fetal development, I discovered this same forty-nine day interval marking two landmark events in human embryo formation. It takes forty-nine days from conception for the first signs of the human pineal to appear. Forty-nine days is also when the fetus differentiates into male or female gender. Thus the soul’s rebirth, the pineal, and the sexual organs all require forty-nine days before they manifest … [Then] as we die, if near-death experiences are any indication, there is a profound shift in consciousness away from identification with the body. Pineal DMT makes available those particular non-embodied contents of consciousness. All the factors previously described combine for one final burst of DMT production: catecholamine release; decreased breakdown and increased formation of DMT; reduced anti-DMT; and decomposing pineal tissue. Therefore, it may be that the pineal is the most active organ in the body at the time of death. Might we say that the life-force therefore exits the body through the pineal?” -Dr. Rick Strassman, “DMT – The Spirit Molecule” (81-2)
It seems very likely that our souls enter and exit physical bodies via the pineal gland (third-eye). Robert Monroe, Robert Bruce and other out-of-body experts have reported the third-eye as the main contact point where consciousness enters or exits the physical body during OBEs. Several near-death experiencers talk about the “silver cord,” a long, bright, elastic cable of light which extends from the third-eye of their physical body attached to their disembodied consciousness wherever it goes. Rene Descartes noticed he could only think one thought at a time and guessed it must be the pineal gland, the only singular, unpaired organ in the brain responsible for these singular, unpaired thoughts. He even went so far as to call it “the seat of the soul” which certainly concurs with Dr. Strassman’s findings. Both intravenous DMT injections and endogenous pineal DMT conclusively cause out-of-body near-death experiences and play a key role in the birth-death process.
“While the release of neuroprotective compounds near death certainly is a useful response, the psychedelic side effects are not as obviously beneficial. We must therefore wonder, are these spiritual properties a coincidence, or do they have a purpose? I suggest that near-death chemicals released by the brain are psychedelic for this reason: They must be. It is similar to asking why there is silicon in computer chips. Silicon works. It does the job. Near-death brain products are psychedelic because those are the properties consciousness requires at that time. Psychedelic compounds released near death mediate consciousness exiting the body. This is their function and this is what they do. DMT is a spirit molecule, just as silicon is a chip molecule. Rather than just causing the mind to feel as if it were leaving the body, DMT release is the means by which the mind senses the departure of the life-force from it, the content of consciousness as it leaves the body.” -Dr. Rick Strassman, “DMT – The Spirit Molecule” (326)
“Activation and opening of the transpersonal area in the unconscious of dying individuals can have far-reaching consequences for their concepts of death, their attitudes toward the situation they are facing, and their abilities to accept physical mortality … Those who see themselves as an insignificant and impermanent speck of dust in an immense universe become open to the possibility that the dimensions of their own beings are commensurate with the macrocosm and microcosm. Consciousness here appears as a primary characteristic of existence, preceding matter and supraordinated to it, rather than being a product of physiological processes in the brain. It seems to be quite plausible that consciousness and awareness are essentially independent of the gross matter of the body and brain, and will continue beyond the point of physical demise. This alternative is experienced in a way that is at least as complex, vivid, and self-evident as the perception of reality in usual states of consciousness. The transcendental impact of these experiences is usually stronger in those individuals who, prior to entering the transpersonal realms, went through the experience of ego death and rebirth. The memory that consciousness emerged intact from this seemingly final annihilation constitutes a powerful emotional and cognitive model for understanding the process of actual death.” -Stanislav Grof and Joan Halifax, “Human Encounter with Death” (56-7)