As you may or may not know, Ayahuasca is a strongly psychoactive plants mixture which got very popular in the last year or two, as a way to get in touch with a powerful benevolent creature, some saying maybe even the Mother Earth itself. It was promoted in a way by a person I highly respect - Graham Hancock, both in his highly controversial TEDx talk and on his FB profile. I guess it became popular trough other sources as well, because in the end, there was the phenomena Ayahuasca-tourism in which people travelled to the jungle to try the substance. There were many content people with incredible stories of personal insights, recovery, breaking down drug-addiction and so on, but there were also accidents like a child's sacrifice, and a death of a young man. So people started discussing the dark side of Ayahuasca and I felt compelled to also comment in this post, because I think there is a serious misunderstanding which can also be quite dangerous.
First, I need a clarification - I really respect Graham Hancock and happen to share his position that people should be free to explore their consciousness with or without additional substances. I don't agree with his radical liberality on drugs, because certain drugs, like heroin, should be banned because they do KILL people and they are an absolute danger to the society and the civilization. Others, however, do not fall in this category and have been used trough out history relatively safely. So I think an adult should have the choice to use them, if so s/he desires. Ayahuasca is one of those drugs. I am not a fan of such substances and in fact, I've never used any of them. But still, I believe people should be free to do so, if they believe it right. As long as they do not harm others, it's their body and their mind!
So please have in mind this. I am not pro-, I am not anti- sacred plants. I believe in freedom. And common sense.
What do I mean?
People, especially New Age people, have a tendency to naively believe the world is a beautiful place full of love and light, where nothing can harm them, just because they wish so. But this is not the case. The world is immensely beautiful place, the problem is that "harm" is not a word the Universe knows of or care of. In this world, light and darkness coexist, they are just the too sides of the same coin called free will! There is good inside us, but there are also shadows, traumatic memories and over all karmic energies which we keep one way or another in our subconsciousness in order to live our life normally. Any psychoactive substance amplifies such aspects of your psychic, because it breaks down the barriers which have kept them safely away. Which basically means, if you want to go really deep, you should be prepared to face the shadows inside you! And don't fool yourself, we all have them. Some can be merely unpleasant, some can be painful, some can be dangerous. Throughout our lives, they usually cyclically emerge and little by little we acknowledge them and let them go. But if you want to do something like this in few hours, you should be mentally prepared, it may get little or very ugly. In the end you will be liberated, but it won't come easily.
Then there is the external factor. I don't quite understand how anyone reaches to the vine, knowing s/he will connect to a higher entity and in the same time, denies the existence of all the other higher and lower entities?! And when there are other entities, you never know which one you will meet. This is so extremely important, and yet, people conveniently ignore it. It is a BIG Universe! There are many things, creatures, entities, energies, influences and so on lurking there. It's not like they wait just for YOU, which is why most people use such substances safely. But every now and then, you may encounter one of them. It might be a pleasant encounter, it might be educative, it might be rough, it might be dangerous. You never know. What you should know is that you should be prepared for anything and you should be ready to fight for it.
This is why, such substances should be handled with extreme care and not all the spiritual-seekers dare to use them.
I don't mean to discourage anyone, but I also don't mean to encourage anyone to try it. It is a personal choice. But by considering this (or any) substance sacred,
you get this feeling of false safety. Well, in this reality, you're never ever safe, unless you're ready to accept anything the world throws at you. And when it happens, you shouldn't complain - you laid your faith into something and you should accept what follows and do the best you can to get out of the situation a better person. Those are the rules of the game.
Once you decide you seek higher truth, you should be ready for it!
And I really don't think those things were well explained to people wanting to try such plants. They talk about the medical risks, but the risks are not merely medical. There is a whole world out there and without a good guide, we simply don't know what the rules are, we don't know how to stay relatively safe, we don't know anything and we need to find out the hard way. It's absurd, for me, to go try that kind of drug, with the idea, it's supposed to be fun and safe. Playing on the computer in your home is fun and safe, playing with your mind is not. Never forget it!
That said, it's not also that dangerous, not in the majority of the cases. But people should be aware of what they are, where their comfort zone is and how much they are willing to take in their quest for truth and knowledge. Because, there are also other, safer ways to do the same. Like meditation.
But even in Eastern tradition, people emphasize on the purity of the mind, heart and soul, and on not seeking intentionally the siddhas (the super-powers and the "fireworks"). Because they are merely a side effect, not the goal of the journey. In Western traditions (like Hermeticism), people also are quite careful and use protection rituals and cleansing procedures. It's just necessary to take precautions, because you never know what lurks in the dark (or in the light).
Finally, there is the human factor. People, please use common sense when doing something requiring supervision by an unknown person. Not all of them are good, not all of them are people. It's like going to a doctor - if you see s/he is a jerk and have serious reasons to believe s/he's doing something wrong, are you going to simply wait for the worst to happen?! People are people. That someone know more, that someone can do more, physically or not, is not an evidence of his/her benevolence! Be careful and be smart! It's not like we don't have enough examples of bad priests in the Christian churches.
So in conclusion, I'd like to emphasize something. Never, absolutely NEVER underestimate the world out there. It's vast, it's diverse, it's endless. It has existed for eons longer than we have. Always be careful with what you do.
And also never underestimate yourself. We are much older, bigger and smarter than we know. But our real selves are something for us to discover in the process of uncovering the same outer world. So never, even for one second believe you're safe. And never ever for one second believe you're in danger. Because even death is only a new beginning. But it's best to avoid it for as long as possible, right?
If I may finish with a simple example - imagine the "spiritual" world, like a walk in the jungle. There are all those animals, known or unknown, plants - poisonous or not, insects, snakes, even people - good or evil. If you are well equipped and armed and careful and polite (with strangers), there is a very good chance your walk will be great. Even if you don't have the proper arms or boots, you may pass safely if you're careful and/or know the way. But counting only on your luck...it's simply not the best way to do it. So simply be intelligent, the Universe will take care of the rest.