Site icon Sam Bartko, PhD

October 2015


The compound was a pale tan color, with little sparkles that empirically indicate a quality crystalline structure. The substance was N,N dimethyltryptamine, the product of reductive amination of formaldehyde with tryptamine. The raw fear of the unknown ripples through my body, warning me, a characteristic quality preceding the DMT trip. Fear was tempered by excitement and abandon – this was destiny – here and now this simple compound was sure to release me from the bondage of self – blockages that restricted and suffocated me. I was desperately seeking perspective on my condition, and freedom beyond what I could believe.

There was lots of suffering. In the body, in the mind, in my very being. Angst and anhedonia were familiar qualities of what I thought it was to be a conscious being. Crippling social isolation and a feeling of disconnect between myself and the world prompted a sense of abandon and intrigue with what this revered chemical could offer me.

One flick of the lighter and a pause to let the crystals melt and vaporize – with one full lung-full I inhaled as much of the vapor as possible in one go – it hit so fast that motor coordination and conventional consciousness was ripped away violently. I was pulled into a wormhole – with the visceral sense of being accelerated to the speed of light into a vortex. Suddenly the vast, intricate geometrical patterns appeared – seemingly with colors that the eye was unable to perceive normally – spatial dimensionality that somehow defied physics – all dancing in breathtaking harmonious clarity. The vibrations of what was once the body and mind melded with the vibrations of air molecules and sounds – utterly destroying the illusion of a separate me.

Out of the vibrating geometrical pattern the entities appeared – shifting and moving in a primordial rhythm, presenting themselves in a triumphant, celebratory dance, welcoming the residue of my being into this new dimension. They had child-like features, their form was abstract, vibrant and multidimensional. They communicated somehow, something nonverbal, transcending sense doors, seemingly touching something in my soul. The child-like entities suddenly vanished, melding into a fluxing, beautiful Mother. Her warm embrace massaged my soul viscerally, communicating with me telepathically. She emanated the most blissful sense of utter peacefulness and understanding – she was there all the time; how could I not recognize her presence? She seemed to soothe something untouchable, assuring me everything was perfect and fine, ushering me along. I rested in her gentle embrace for hours, fetal, with complete trust and vulnerability. When I was ready, her embrace gently faded, fine vibrations of body and mind once again revealed themselves, fading into normal consciousness. She left with a wink and a gentle reminder – things are not as they appear my dear, you will find the way. Goodbye, for now.

The next day there was energy. Clear, clean, unadulterated energy. I was no longer fatigued – there was a gusto and drive, and a sense of intimacy with the normal human routine. I worked in the lab with a cool, calm composure – executing experiments with a cheerful, transcendent sense of satisfaction. I continued in this state of consciousness for weeks, sleeping only 2 or 3 hours a night. I was with it completely- determined to simply be the best version of myself that I could muster – and whatever perspective the Mother granted me with somehow seemed to enliven and refresh my being, planting me firmly in the present and suppressing whatever mechanism was responsible for my angst and sorrow. It didn’t last, but the reside of the unknown did. There was much, much more to existence than I had previously thought – there was a way to be at peace continuously and I was determined to find it.

“Suffering follows from craving, therefore end the craving to end the suffering”. That simple idea resonated for me intuitively. There was supposedly a path available to end the pain of existence without ending everything. There was a melancholic, dark vibe to all of it, yet somehow a deep sense of hope and intrigue was baked into that idea. One line of reading on the basics of Buddhist philosophy kept resurfacing again and again, in the weeks that followed reminding me of what the mother showed me.

I somehow found a small community of people interested in Buddhist practice and talking about enlightenment and the end of suffering. Something in me had to explore for myself – I wanted to experience this state of enlightenment firsthand. Meditation was the method of choice – fortuitously the first book I googled on meditation was “The Mind Illuminated” by Culadasa.

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