Can DMT help us understand death?

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. (…) As we die, the life-force leaves the body through the pineal gland, releasing another flood of this psychedelic spirit molecule.

The words belong to Rick Strassmann, professor of psychiatry, who in 1990 became the first in the US in 20 years to be allowed to do research on psychedelic drugs. He first joined the wave of recent research projects that have been dubbed the “psychedelic renaissance”. He chose DMT, a drug that was not burdened with the frenzied reputation of its cousin LSD — the drug that showed promising results in research but was banned because of affiliation with the 1960s counterculture and hippie movement.

His experience convinced him of the discovery of a “spirit molecule”. The substance is found everywhere in nature, including in your own brain. Exactly what role DMT plays in the human brain is not completely known, but among the theories, we find that the drug creates dreams at night and is involved in near-death and religious experiences.

“The code behind the universe”
Ben Shanon, a professor of psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has stated that the burning bush Moses communicated with, in his encounter with God, contained DMT. Moses’ religious experience can thus be explained by inhaling the smoke from the burning bush. However, you should not rush to take this spirit molecule. DMT is illegal in most countries, although considered a «national treasure» in Peru and Brazil in the form of ayahuasca.

Strassmann, for his part, was surprised at the experiences the subjects described. They were of a character so out of the ordinary that he first interpreted them as an illusion or delusion, but the subjects described them as more real than anything else they had experienced. A computer engineer described the experience of being shown “the code behind the universe”. Others reported on communication with extraterrestrial beings. Most described beautiful colors and patterns they had never seen before. Perhaps most interesting: many find that death is not the endpoint of consciousness.

The ego, not you, dies.

At Imperial College London, through new trials of DMT injections in humans, it has been discovered that the subjects’ experiences are similar to those of studies of people who have died and been brought back to life. DMT or other psychedelic substances can cause the ego to dissolve, which is called an “ego death”. Your body does not die, your consciousness does not die, but the “you” — the identity and experience of being an individual separate from the rest of the universe — dies.

It’s no wonder that interest in psychedelics research is growing in a world where more and more people are gaining awareness of ideas from Buddhism and the ancient philosophy of Stoicism: it’s about breaking down the ego, so you no longer experience yourself as separate from the rest of the world.

As Robin Carhart-Harris, head of Imperial College London’s newly launched Center for Psychedelic Research, states in a BBC article:
“We cling to the idea that some of the ego consciousness survives after death and the idea that it does not scare us because we are so attached to our egos.”

That death can come at any time is a great motivation to live life to the fullest. That does not mean that there is no reason to fear death. At least not if you should rely on the experiences of the DMT subjects. All our egos and bodies will one day die, but consciousness, it lives on.

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