Ayahuasca as my teacher, in lessons

Maybe I was just lucky. My personal experience was the opposite of the following statement :

In the psychedelic space, real learning is so rare it is nothing short of miraculous. Most of the time, psychedelic experiences are no more transformative than a day trip to Disneyland.

Perhaps my age at the time (61-64) helped. And my beginner´s mind.

An Ayahuasca vine (Paul Hessel, @Flickr)

About Ayahuasca experiences

The following is a list of my various experiences with the entheogen Ayahuasca, and what I (hopefully!) learned from them.

Each experience is annotated with references to science, psychology and/or to meditation.

Experiences, not traits

When I say "experience", this states what they were: subjective experiences that came and passed. I do not confuse them with "insights into the truth", or other wild claims to have seen the world as it really is. One is not necessarily god when one imagines to be. They were states, not traits.

Set and Setting

I was aged 61 at the time of my first experience; I was one year before retirement. The experiences took place over a time of four years,m from 2016 to 2019, and they distributed over four 3-day events, one event per year. This corresponds to 12 Ayahuasca ceremonies of ca. 8 hours each. This, all in all, I have 96 hours of an altered state with this entheogen. That is comparatively litte: there are people who have hundreds of ceremonies, for example Dennis McKenna, or Benny Shannon.

They all happened, legal at the time, in a large repurposed barn in the Netherlands, in groups of 30-70 people. I never visited the South American jungle. This way, I may have missed out on the jungle-typical snake- and jaguar-visualisations. But on nothing else.

The ceremonies were guided by an experienced Brazilian, with a helper team of 6-10 people. He died from Covid in 2021 (showing that Ayahuasca is not a safe protection).

What is an Ayahuasca experience

An experience with the psychedelic / entheogen Ayahuasca isn´t like an everyday experience. All experiences with Ayahuasca play in an expanded inner space that has a completely different feeling-tone to ordinary experience.

It is a miraculous world of unknown emotions, thoughts, perceptions, visions, sensations, love, insights, encounters, reversals, surprises, bliss, sadness, terror, extreme sensory sensitivity, schizophrenia, and deep sexuality, and timelessness.

An Ayahuasca experience is always suffused with numinosity, mysteriousness, eternity, sacredness and unfathomable significance/ salience of every experienced second. At the same time, it appears more real than everyday reality, it seems to be a revelation of the true reality that had been hidden so far. 

The possible breadth of experiences, their phenomenology and types is described in a thick 490-page book by the Israeli cognitive scientist Benny Shannon ("The Antipodes of the Mind"). It was published in 2002, long before the current wave, by Oxford University Press. A very reputable academic publishing house.

While that book is relatively dry and analytical reading at times, it is also utterly fascinating, and it is highly accurate if I compare it to my experiences. The author has participated in hundreds of ceremonies, thus his experiential base is much broader than mine. My experiences are a small but representative subset of his.

The following quote is Shannon's view:

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive brew consumed throughout the entire Amazon region. The term is a compound word meaning "vine of the dead spirits"... Typically, Ayahuasca introduces powerful visions well as hallucinations in all other perceptual modalities. Pronounce non perceptual cognitive effects are also manifest. These include personal insights, intellectual ideation, affective reactions, and profound spiritual and mystical experiences. Moreover, Ayahuasca introduces as those who partake of it to what are as other realities. Those who consume the group may feel that they are gaining access to new sources of knowledge and that the mysteries and ultimate truths of the universe are being revealed to them. All this is often coupled with what drinkers describe as an encounter with the Divine. (Shanon, 2003, p. 13)

As a attested to by all who have had any significant exposure to a Ayahuasca the effects of this brew can be stupefying to the utmost. Both in the literature and reports of people have interviewed and I have found Ayahuasca visions to be characterised as exhibiting a beauty that is beyond imagination. Invariably the visions impress the viewers as marvellous and when powerful, they introduce drinkers to what seem to be enchanted realities that fill them with wonder and awe. The affective and spiritual impact that the Ayahuasca experience may have on people can be very profound. Often people say that their exposure to Ayahuasca has radically changed their lives; many say that after this exposure they were no longer the same person, but even when it does not have radical ramifications on people's lives at large the Ayahuasca integration is a wondrous experience that those who have been subject to it almost invariably describe as nothing they had experienced before. "(Shanon, 2003, p. 17)

Another great collection of experiences that manage very well to transmit the feeling-tone of Ayahuasca is the book "The Ayahuasca Experience" by Ralph Metzner.

An Ayahuasca experience is something that cannot be properly described but, as they say in letting agencies, "must be experienced to be appreciated" . The great researcher and practitioner Stanislav Grof experienced Ayahuasca to be one of the most potent therapeutic of all psychedelic compounds/substances. In particular, as opposed to LSD, for him and for me, encountering Ayahuasca is like meeting a living being. With LSD, there is no "encounter" with what seems like another organic living entity that is wise and infinitely compassionate and a "teacher". It must be noted though, that psilocybin has the same effect for many. An example is Sam Harris, reporting in his "Sam´s Mushroom Trip" that it felt "like something other than an encounter with my own mind". I have no primary experience with anything else than Ayahuasca in high dose.

Against this type of experience, with all respect to a great researcher, the idea of Robert Griffiths, stated in a recent interview with Jordan Peterson, that one-day electrode stimulation might achieve this, as an improved solution, sounds preposterous. I cannot imagine that Griffiths had any Ayahuasca exposure.

What follows is a short version of my experiences. For each experience, I try to point to an essential general idea, scientific insight or research area behind it.

After the experiences

Of course, after such experiences, one should actively integrate them into one's mindstream and life, be they emotional, mystic, psychological, or intellectual experiences. The experience by itself can vanish in memory and emotional impact. This probably explains the sceptical statement at the beginning of this post. The experience needs to be anchored in real life through reflection and behavior. I began to meditate.

Integration of these experiences can be a lifelong process.

Is Ayahuasca addictive? No. I have currently, after nearly 3 years of pause, no need to make further such experiences. I am still saturated with its richness, and the changes resulting from the inner unfolding.

A catalogue of experiences

The experiences show the enormous bandwidth and richness of the Ayahuasca phenomena for which I am eternally grateful. Some examples:

The experiences

Experiencing flowers dance

During the onset of my very first ceremony, I suddenly realised that the flowers in the vase of the little altar were subtly and alluringly performing a wavy erotic dance. Dancing flowers or moving walls etc are the first thing that everybody encounters with psychedelics, so there is nothing special here.

This immediately burned into me the insight that my life experience until now had been a construct, an illusion of stability, a fabrication upheld by the mind.

Such surprising sensory experience can be much more convincing of the fact of change and impermanence (a core Buddhist tenet) than the quite trivial thought that we are all going to die one day.

Also, it shows how our experience is anchored to priors or assumptions: these are unquestioned rules by which we construct our perception of reality. Examples of priors are: "flowers do not move dance-like", "walls don't breathe". Even these fundamental perceptual priors can be unhooked in psychedelic experiences.

My conclusion was therefore the same as that of the philosopher Bernardo Kastrup: everything we see is an illusion. This prepared my later intuitive understanding of Tibetan Buddhis and its concept of mind-only and emptyness.

Experiencing extraordinary hearing

Outside, while walking on the wet grass of a field nearby the ceremony hall, I heard something fall to the ground in a quiet silvery sound in a circle of ca 2-3 meters around me every time I made a step on the grass. At first, I could not believe it, but then I tested it consciously. It was true. I could hear individual small dew droplets fall.

This showed me, how little we normally use of our sensory abilities. We can physiologically be highly sensitive antennas, but we are shielded from sensory overwhelm.

It gave me an insight into what Aldous Huxley called the power of "The Doors of Perception" after his experiments with mescaline and later, LSD.

This insight was repeated in the following experience.

Experiencing extraordinary smell

I smelled the perfume and skin aroma of a lady a few meters away from me, like a dense cloud into which I could enter.

I got an idea, although a weak one, what it means to live as dog. Of course, it was probably still the experience of a severely handicapped dog, by what I know about dogs' incredible olfactory abilities.

Experiencing effortless free dancing

It is well known that Ayahuasca improves and liberates artistic impression.

At the end of one ceremony, I suddenly was transformed into a completely uninhibited free dancer, moving with the sounds of the drums that were played live. Several people spoke appreciatingly to me afterwards about what they had seen me do. I never lost this freedom of movement.

I learned from this, that we use only a fraction of our creative potential.

Experiencing the sudden ability to sound somewhat like McCoy Tyner

A further example of enhanced creativity through Ayahuasca was my sudden unexpected jump in the ability to improvise on the piano.

Below, you can listen to one of the first pieces that I played after 5 years pause. I had never experienced myself playing like this. The piece just created itself out of nowhere, without that I had a melody in my head, and without that I had practiced for it. I just sat down, "it played" itself and I would be totally incapable to replay it. The melodic developments, the phrasing, technique and rhythms were way above my pay-grade, even if a professional musician will find many musical, rhythmical etc issues with it. I was lucky to have recorded it.

This piano experience reflects exactly what Benny Shannon, the Israeli cognitive scientist reports about his sudden ability to improvise as amateur musician. I quote his text because it accurately describes and validates my own experience. The only difference to me: I had started to improvise some years before, but at low level.

I have played only classical music, always from the score, never improvising, and very seldomly with an audience. Once during a private Ayahuasca session, I saw the piano in front of me and decided to play. A score of a Bach prelude was there. I played the piece repeatedly and felt I was entering a trance. I left the score aside and began to improvise. I played for more than an hour, and the manner of my playing was different from anything I had ever experienced. It was executed in one unaltering flow, constituting an ongoing narration that was composed as it was being executed. It appeared that my fingers just knew where to go. Throughout this act, my technical performance astounded me. I felt that a force was upon me and that I was performing at its command. No, it was not that I was an automation, nor was I enslaved by any external agency, rather the playing was an expression of a woundrous cooperation between me, my very self, and forces that were superior to me (page 22.f).

The "force" that was above me and brought me into this flow state was the sudden felt presence in me of the late jazz pianist McCoy Tyner.

Many years before I had had the accidental privilege to talk this this revered pianist. I had listened to him since I was a teenager. Our encounter occured during one of his last stays at the piano festival at La Roque d' Anteron . He stayed in the same hotel as me, and I had approached him with goosebumps on the hotel veranda on a sunny Sunday morning.

We got into a deep conversation about death, gratitude and relations. He shared his soul deeply with a complete stranger. He had just recovered temporarily from cancer from which he eventually died It must have been around the years of this recording - this is how I saw him.

As I write this, tears well up. I am very grateful to him.

Maybe I should go back to study how to sound like McCoy Tyner in a systematic way, rather than relying on a mystical flow state! Unfortunately, it is never possible to step into the same river twice in improvisation.

PS. I do not claim to have sounded exactly like McCoy Tyner through Ayahuasca. But I think Ayahuasca allowed that the spirit of his playing was there, the dynamic, the energy and abandonment and the full grasp and orchestral treatment of the keyboard, with the support of the Yamaha P515 and its "rhythm section" that I experienced like a live entity at those moments.

Ayahuasca removes inhibitions to access one´s available resources. That is the magic of it for the artist. I also do not claim that in a literal sense McCoy Tyner took possession of me.

Experiencing "having been here before"

During the onset of the first ceremony in year 2, I got the overwhelming feeling that I had been in this "space" before, for eternities, and that I recognised that sacred space.

This way, I got the first feeling for a truly sacred space in my life.

In a later experience, this feeling of coming home to a space where I had been for eternities reappeared in a Mahamudra meditation retreat. Then, it reappeared as feeling-tone of a mystical "mind only" experience.

Experiencing timeless boredom with billions of birds

I lost the feeling for time , and spent an eternity in endless space, with billions of bored birds like black crows. One or the other occasionally creaked, as they were sitting on endless strings spanning the entire universe. I still don't know what this meant!

Maybe showing me "this has been your life so far"?

Maybe suggesting, that I should not spend another eternity like this? Sitting isolated and creaking... ?

Anyway, I had a very intense impression of "what eternity feels like", when the mind's normal processing (or, construction) of time is interrupted. It gave me a running start when in a Mahamudra retreat the guide gave pointing-out instructions for a Nagarjuna style emptiness of time special insight meditation. Conceptually imagining no time is actually quite difficult or even impossible.

The experience can become more explainable when one accepts the theory of cognitive science, that time is actually a way in which our mind "packages" a set of sensory impressions to make sense of them retroactively as a mind moment. Culadasa explains the cognitive science aspect of this in "The Mind Illuminated".

Experiencing myself as a playing a role and letting go of it forever

10-15 minutes after having taken the tea, during my very first ceremony, I was standing and watching everyone else who was on the floor. Everyone else was puking or crying or contorting or being very quiet.

Suddenly I noticed with surprise that I was projecting the image of "someone who is still able to stand up, is full of care and total control over his senses" . I saw myself performing an act. Actually, a lie. I was not real'

I saw myself clearly doing this impressive act, and I saw myself without shame, without the usual self-criticism. Instead I saw myself with deep amusement and a forgiving "aaahh, that´s what you are doing! I got it!"

My main insight from this: people can change permanently from one moment to the next. It may require extraordinary circumstances, but it is possible.

I never lost this ability to see myself doing an act in real-time. In the manner of the so-called "automatic self-liberation" mechanism described in Mahamudra meditation, these kind of urges or false images usually dissolve quite quickly, so that I am and feel more genuine. Role playing ("lying") has become very difficult or impossible. I now have my own bullshit-detector.

The bullshit detector increasingly detects all kinds of bullshit, such as the 17 kinds of lies quoted by Stephen Wolinsky. Not that I don't occasionally succumb. But I notice.

In the same moment, I learned to be fully non-judgemental towards myself and others. This is a commonly known effect of Ayahuasca in a therapeutical function.

A reading note. I am just reading "Moonbeams of Mahamudra" by Tashi Namgyel, a 16th century Tibetan author of a major work of mahamudra meditation practice . Here is a quote from a section on "path integration", i.e. the embedding of meditative practice in everyday life:

"Pride: identify the mindset when you feel impressed with yourself and feel superior to others, such as when you think "Me!" on the basis of yourself and you feel proud that you are better than others" (Namgyal & Callahan, 2019, p411)

Ayahuasca certainly makes said path integration easier, since it removes large parts of aversion and clinging to self and objects, and since it is a great guilt and shame remover. The first effect (no self) may have to o with a deactivation of the Default Mode Network, and the second effect (no shame) with the ability of Ayahuasca to bring up memories without their attached emotional content (see the quote above).

The other most important effect of abandoning playing a role was a deep opening up for genuine heartfelt communication and empathy. I have really no idea how it worked, but from day 1 after coming home, I noticed a sudden skill in understanding other people's blocks and challenges at a totally intuitive level. It includes a deep compassion - the same compassion I extended to myself in that moment.

This effect is similar to the Buddhist tenet, that egolessness / no self is necessarily paired with compassion.

"The ultimate dedication is dedicating through the 3-fold purity, which takes place when you have actualized the true condition of the basic nature. Why is this so? Since the recipients of the dedication, what is dedicated, and the one who is dedicating are not conceptualised in one's mind, and since is not a contrived dualistic dedication, it is a unified dedication. To proceed in this way is also the pinnacle of benefiting beings" (Royal Seal of Mahamudra, vol 2,Khamtrul & Abboud, 2015, p411)

Thus, I now know, the few seconds of this lightning-like and staying insight was my first introduction to mindfulness and meditation. I later became aware of Culadasa (concentration meditation) and Daniel P Brown (Mahamudra / Dzog Chen / Insight Meditation)

Experiencing my separation from a partner as endless sadness and grief-love

In day two of the first year, I was overwhelmed by a massive flood of endless sadness about a separation from a long partnership. I experienced the raw brutality of the separation as the tearing apart of the intermingled roots of two very old large trees, who had been blocking growth for each other.

I also felt infinite compassion and love for her. I felt her pain as mine. I also clearly saw the flood of existential panic of losing me who had always been a part of her, literally a part of her mind, that had fostered her extraordinary behaviour which had so frightened me and reinforced my decision to leave. It was all forgiven at this moment.

At one moment I saw her curled up like a small child, and begged for her forgiveness. I cried endlessly, desperately for her pain.

I told her that a part of me would always love her, and that is still true.

In this sense, Ayahuasca has been described as "just what you need to consciously uncouple" in an older Vice article.

Maybe, Ayahuasca in this case acted as an amplifier what Selvam Raja calls "emotional embodied attunement" (Raja, 2022), the ability to feel another person´s emotions directly within one´s body. Moreover, since there was no simultaneous contact with my wife, this attunement must have been enabled by my own unconscious body memory at the time when we were separating.

Experiencing my partner - myself - as goddess

In a ceremony where my partner was also present, and looking at me, I suddenly experienced her looking at me as being looked at by a goddess. This looking had visual and emotional characteristics.

Her face was covered with golden-green-blue fine symmetric patterns running horizontally over her face from left to right. The visual patterns were overlaid exactly over her face, they did not spill out into her surrounding space. It was like a computer simulation. Here eyes were large and completely rounded.

Her glance expressed exactly how she was looking at me: perhaps the right words are knowing, forgiving, teasing, and promising.

Overall, her face and facial expression looked very much like Alex Jones Dharmadragon.

This meant, that my mind acted as psychedelic artist without any preparation or training or exposure to this kind of art.

I spent the next hour or two longing for this view to last eternities.

The next day I suddenly had the insight that the true lesson of this visual/emotional projection was this my own mind was capable of constructing all the inner characteristics that I perceived in that moment as being her's. Thus, my own mind already knew how to be "goddess-like".

That was the real lesson: whatever happens as experience, is a fabrication. In a way, this was another preparation for my current meditation practice.

There was actually a similarity to one of the "extraordinary preliminaries" practices in the Tibetan Tradition. The adept visualises the lama before him - and eventually

"knows in absolute truth ..that the lama is merely an emanation of his own mind, which, like the rest of the world, is empty" (Mahamudra Meditation Stages, Brown 1981, p.158)

Experiencing myself as sexually dominant in a fantasy

I had a very visual fantasy a trois where I directed the scene in a dominant manner that in real life was / is completely uncharacteristic of me. No details given here!

I learned that at a deep level, one's mind has hidden abilities that can be completely invisible for the entire life, also in the pleasure domain. Wouldn´t it be good to have direct access to them without having to go through expensive courses like one of Jaiya Ma.! What this demonstrates in the area of sex confirms the Kinsey institute´s theory of brakes and accelerators: there are two control areas for sexual desire, one that increases and one that diminishes it. Our natural state is one of pleasure, but the "brakes" are pressed all the time in order to let us life a notmal life not ruled by overwhelming desire! This theory is well explained in Emily Nagoski´s "Come as You are", and in more brevity , in a Guru Viking podcast with Shinzen Young series dedicated to the exploration of Jhanas, Kundalini and orgasm.

The effect of psychedelics on sexuality has been widely explored now (Jesso & Elyse, 2021)

Experiencing physical bliss as stream of electricity as in kundalini

I stood in the middle of the ceremony hall, when I experienced a blissful stream of pure energy like high voltage running through my body from head to toe, for many minutes. It was so strong that my leg musculature was absolutely tense and vibrating.

A female guide noticed what was happening, came to me, and embraced me silently from behind. So we both experienced it in a non-sexual union of bliss.

So, now I know, in a way, about "energy channels" and "energy phenomena" about which I had known nothing - enriching my life with possibilities that I actively use since.

From a neurological perspective, this experience corresponded to an "unrestrained oscillatory activity of the nervous system", as it may also be experienced as krya, kundalini etc in meditation. These are all high-pleasure states.

This can also be experienced through whole-body breathing in meditation, slowly building up the awareness of energy currents going out and into my body. If you want to try, check out the detailed instructions in "The Mind Illuminated". But in my experience , the intensity of energy sensations through breathing is nothing like my Ayahuasca experience.

It can also happen completely out of the blue, as to the renowned Prof Garry Nolan of Stanford Medicine School who one night woke up with his his body filled with "electric fire, and a voice that said 'This is how you connect'". He is still puzzled what this was and what it meant.

Experiencing myself giving birth to myself and caring for myself (inner child work)

I had the visual and kinesthetic experience of giving birth through my body to myself as a baby. There was no pain, luckily, I only felt the gliding. When I was born, I held myself and looked at myself, realising the enormous vulnerability. I always kept this feeling of the vulnerability of all of us. This "birth" had been prepared throughout all day by alarming feelings of incontinence, and the very primitive urge to "just shit and eat and be held".

So, now I have a very real, non-conceptual experience of "The inner child". It's not a dry abstract concept for me. I experienced it as rooted in what must be very early neuronal networks that can still be accessed. In fact, I now know that there is inside whole set of different ages and associated personalities. There is actually a possibility that we have stored 100% of our dreams: we just cannot access them.

I am therefore not astonished, that James Fadiman, one of the early pioneers of psychedelics, in his new book "The Symphony of Your Selves" lines up with the psychological/therapeutical parts theories, for example with Richard Schwarz "Internal Family System". It is interesting, furthermore, that Schwarz now sees an important role for psychedelics in therapy.

Experiencing receiving a long lesson on non-reactivity

My set and publicly stated intention for this ceremony was to get rid of my reactivity that I was experiencing (as I now know) as a traumatic reaction in many interactions with my partner.

In the experience I was shown a scene where I had to pick up and carry my partner, who had turned into an ugly witch, over an endless desert. Various events occured, where my task was to practice and hold equanimity.

For example, she looked with lust at young men. Or, she was utterly greedy. I was shown all kinds of negative traits of her, but had to continue carrying her and learning through that. I think that's actually not a bad description of reality!

Becoming non-reactive, I learned later, is also one of the psychological benefits of meditation. In fact, Daniel P Brown often states, that the term dhukka (Buddha´s "suffering") is mistranslated from Sanskrit as "suffering". Instead, it should be translated as"reactivity".

I never learned so much about myself and others through all out challenges as couple.

Experiencing tears of sadness without feeling sad

While processing some deep "stuff" without really knowing what it was, I experienced all physical signs of sadness (in particular streaming tears) without having the emotions of sadness, and no story attached to it. I was watching myself having sadness without feeling it. Very unusual!

From that I leaned a practice of letting myself experience myself through somato-sensory inner expression, without attaching a story to it.

This confirms, I think, what I read later: Lisa Feldman Barret's hypothesis regarding the way emotions are constructed: as sensory reactions to which we attach cultural and individual patterned meanings.

As she sais: an emotion is an instance of a conceptual category that we learned as children. For example, that tears may mean "feeling sad" in specific circumstances, "angry" in others.

Note: this purely autonomic reaction is also a result of long meditation, according to Dr Daniel P Brown.

This experience of grief as purely physical feeling has also been reported by other people, as in the following example :

I dealt directly with the death of my brother during ceremony. The strange thing was, the uncontrollable tears I cried in which I was an observer to my body's response to the grief. I sat there with tears flowing but felt very numb to any pain
In one of the ceremonies, I asked Aya [ayahuasca] to help me feel my grief. Rather than looking and reviewing the stories associated with the many losses I've had in my life, Aya had me sit with my grief. I actually physically experienced in my body the emotion of grief as a heaviness, pressing my shoulders and back toward the earth, as an absence of any color except shades of grey. Even the visions were grey. Aya specifically told me not to go into the stories, as they were a distraction from the feelings. She [ayahuasca] also told me that by being with the feelings I was honoring the experiences, the losses, and myself. (Source for both : Ayahuasca Healing and Science)

Experiencing my brain working on and improving itself

Lying on the mattress, processing, I suddenly saw my mind, in a weird way, how it "worked on the brain" by flattening the usual spikes of emotion. I was touched to be able to see the endless power of our minds to improve themselves at biological level. Later, I saw this "flattening of spikes" in a diagram by Daniel Siegel, in "The Mindful Therapist".

This gave me an enormously positive outlook on the possibility of change, and a direct view into how mind works on brain , while brain is creating mind (is it?).

Experiencing evolution from beginning to now

This is not a very clear memory. I participated as observer and being part of the history of human evolution. I experienced animalistic and cannibalistic states, raw and naked aggression for survival, and then later more and more refined cultural states.

I do not know whether I learned something from this; except maybe that I - possibly everyone - has some kind of inbuilt knowledge of how it may feel to be in each level. Obviously, the perception will be colored and shaped by the culture in which one grew up, in particular the later stages. It is well possible thought that the raw states have somehow survived deep inside and may turn up in exceptional circumstances such as expanded states of consciousness.

Experiencing viewing the entire universe at once as its creator

I experienced myself as a kind of creator-god, observing the entire universe from the vantage point of its outer rim along which I was stretched out, thus being part of it.

Later, my partner joined me (in my mind) in this god-like existence, and we came together and separated a few times, marvelling at our creation of which we too were a part.

I know of course, that this experience was just an experience and not some deeper reality. The deceased Culadasa pointed this out very clearly, mocking the idea that one "is" God.

But "being the creator" and overlooking one´s creation is a fun experience!

The experience may also have primed my mind for my later emptiness meditation exercises which require the meditator to take the vantage point of a timeless changeless borderless expanse without edges or corners, depth, height etc. On the other hand, it was still a "localised" view point.

Experiencing "I AM" in star like strength

I experienced the processing of rage against my parents who had neglected me so much as parents when I was between 1 and 17. I said to them, triumphantly "I exist despite you!".

This was during the single period of intense physical purging (puking) I had during all my Ayahuasca experiences. Physical purging may or may not accompany these experiences.

Then, when the rage slowly disappeared, that changed into an overpowering feeling / perception of "I AM!".

This feeling-perception of "I AM" can only be compared to the strength of sunlight against the normal feeling of "I am" as a dim light-bulb. I had never felt "myself" so strongly. I was aware of this change and marvelled at it as it was happening.

It was preceded by a particular typical illumination.

"A common effect is that part of the visual field being focally Illuminated. Typically, it is as if a, flashlight were illuminating it" (Benny Shannon, p275)

I remember that the perception started as ego-feeling , but then generalised itself as if there was only one of these "I AM" spanning everything

This experience of myself as "I AM" was continued into yet another mystical view described below.

This experience is actually interesting. It is apparently just the opposite of the effect Ayahuasca has on the Default Mode Network (DMN). Ayahuasca is known to reduce the activity of the DMN to an extraordinarily strong degree.

Experiencing the world as awareness recognizing itself as awareness

I left the small room in which I had experienced "I AM" and went outside. There, I was suddenly confronted with a giant, all-encompassing mirror of which what remained as "I" knew it was reflecting "my" own mind. In it were all objects of my perception - trees, clouds , sky, houses, people etc. I was in awe about "myself" . However this was not the usual "myself". It was the single awareness itself.

This experience brought me to meditation. I never forgot how "I" had been looking at myself as awareness. I later learned, and got confirmation by the famous meditation teacher Culadasa , that this was an awakening experience, and that I had experienced what is "the new normal of an awakened person".

For my modest and unassuming definition of awakening, see my post on a special meditation retreat with Daniel P Brown.

Being very lucky, some years later I stumbled upon a retreat (the first I ever did) with Daniel P Brown. This was in the mahamudra / Dzog Chen tradition. And there, I re-experienced fully the view that I had had through Ayahuasca. But this time, I was systematically guided there through the pointing-out instructions of the meditation teachers.

Through this single experience I was fully introduced experientially into the world of cave yogis, Mahamudra, dzog chen. I admit - I am a beginner. But also - what an advantage!