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Hacked the Path with drugs -- now not sure where I am

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I'm not sure where to begin so I'll just get into it.

I've been obsessed with using drugs as a means to enlightenment for about 6 years now, ever since my first MDMA trip (which could be said to be my first A&P event, but I really don't know).

I got MCTB a few months ago. I had never been exposed to this idea of actually observing individual sensations before. I had certainly never intentionally practised looking for them.

I've had a few intense experiences with a drug combination I came up with over the last couple of weeks. I was going to write it up in full on the new Substances board but wanted to wait to see what happened for a while after the experience, first.

The drug combination is as follows:

MXP -- Dissociative, like ketamine but more stimulating and "visual". Low dose required for "holing" (completely "losing" your body, as you would in deep jhana).
LSA -- Psychedelic/entheogen. Precursor to LSD. Naturally occurring in various plants. Consider it "LSD lite" perhaps. LSA, for me, gives the most intense concentration powers imaginable. Effortless access to high jhanas.

I feel the combination has given me access to high jhanas I did not otherwise "earn".

I'm not interested in drugs lectures at this stage, just a diagnosis of what's going on in terms of the Path.

I will talk simply about the two experiences where these drugs were taken together.

The first time was the Friday before last. On this trip I found myself in the "Formless Realm". Everything was vibrations. I was moving forward on a sea of vibrations. I have never had anything like this before.

How I got here was to ONLY look for a "sense of self". So I felt my sense of self. Then noticing those sensations, I would move to the sense of self which appeared to be watching those initial sensations. Then move to THAT sense of self. Sooner or later I was moving between sensations of "sense of self" at a rate of literally DOZENS per second. At this point, everything exploded into a sea of just vibrations. I saw formations, just as described in the book. I kept with it. Suddenly, I saw a figure looking back at me. Then that doughnut thing described in the book. Then a moment of nothingness (a gap) and reality came back in.

I remembered reading about all of this in the book. I was still in the formless realm. I tested my sense of agency by invoking the sense of self, saying "I". It went "I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I" and spread out into infinity as waves, as did any body sensation attempting to coalesce into a "self". I continued testing it several times to see if it had "stuck" and got the same result.

After all of this, I was still evidently tripping balls but felt fine, got up, went to the toilet, then just went to sleep as I was pretty exhausted. I had a great sleep.

I was in two minds about whether this was a Fruition or not. I felt what I saw -- the face looking back at me, and the doughnut, and the "gap" -- may have been "scripted" from having read about it in the book.

I had some "cycling" in the week, with a pretty clear Disgust phase (during which I made some rather disparaging remarks in the DhO logo thread to Megan and John -- sorry about that!).

Because of my doubt about whether this was a real Fruition, I endeavoured to repeat it the following Friday (i.e. the Friday just gone). I took the combo again and just tried to repeat what I did exactly -- ONLY going after the sense of self.

I did not get Formless Realms this time. However, I did not let that deter me, and just kept going after the sense of self. Suddenly, without warning, at the end of one of the out breaths, there was another "gap". It was like the out breath went on forever with a gap at the end. When I came back, the entire inside of my body felt "empty". Completely empty, like something had just been hosed out of it. The feeling was one of being "clean". Yet not entirely clean -- not perfectly clean. But like 90% of dirt had been washed off me. I felt very, very transparent.

I got up, and my posture tightness in my arms and back (which I've been working on for about 3 years) suddenly popped open and felt fine. It was like the Knot of Perception and the Knot of Posture were directly linked: untying one untied the other. This posture freedom has remained since then.

I went out the following night and was able to detect a sense of self forming in response to any input, and saw thoughts coming together from sensations, and could watch them and have them break up by consciously making them "flicker". It was also like whatever I thought would come true "out there" in "reality". Synchronicities started picking up pace massively -- people I had thought about earlier in the night would just appear, I would think a word and see it written on a sign the next second, I "felt" what people were about to say and do just as they did it, and a whole load of other stuff that just went on and on and on like this. It's like there was no "time" at any point, just NOW, and I was completely connected to and within NOW with seemingly little border around me.

I did something very nice for an owner of a charity I spontaneously met while at her bar, which I did not even know existed until then, and which was entirely staffed by volunteers. Her bar was amusingly called Ego -- I shit you not! I showed her how to get it onto Google Maps, which I'd done for another business the day before, and offered any web help to her for free. She gave me a warm hug at the end. This was all on autopilot. I remember thinking at the time, "I will use this new way of being for good."

I also gave a taxi driver some life-changing advice regarding career path which he excitedly wrote down. I remembered thinking at the time that these acts were entirely causal and I could not take credit for them in any way, and feelings of even wanting to take credit just arose and passed and I did not latch onto them -- they just appeared as part of the flow of this whole thing. Previously when I have had such nights as a result of practice or whatever I have become very egoic and thinking I was Jesus or something; this time it was just innately "normal".

Everything was flickering. I barely had any verbal thoughts all night. The sensations that would ordinarily become verbal thoughts would just come and go without forming a "self". This continued the next day to an extent but it was becoming exhausting to be frank -- I still had to consciously make things flicker in order not to infer a sense of self from sensations.

So I then slept for like 2 days (half of Sunday, almost all of Monday). And felt like crap thenceforth. Things are still flickering, and I've just had enough of it now. When I close my eyes, they are in REM with lights flickering the whole time.

When things "flicker", are the eyes supposed to move?? My eyes have been moving by themselves in this flickering pattern practically the whole of the last 4 days. It's given me headaches and I'm sick of it now.

I was sure on the Saturday night (when I was out) I had had a Fruition and got First Path, and texted two of my buddies who are aware of the Path. It was not bragging, either, but felt very much matter of fact. Nothing felt egoic.

Now all the drugs are filtering out of my system, I feel pretty blah, consciously making things flicker to dissolve the sense of self is just feeling like massive hard work, and I have doubts cast on whether I got First Path or whatever at all.

I am completely sick of practising, and I've fallen behind with my work a LOT over the last week, and missed my first deadline in history. I just want things to be back to "normal" now and stop flickering, and stop thinking about this whole fucking thing for a while.

So, what the hell happened, and what do I do now?

RE: Hacked the Path with drugs -- now not sure where I am
Answer
10/14/14 8:40 AM as a reply to Illuminatus.
I wanted to add one more thing, though I'm not sure how much difference it makes.

While on the night out I described, where everything was so simple and I thought I got Stream Entry, I had the feeling that, "If I just keep doing exactly what I'm doing right now [letting things come and go and not letting them coalesce into a sense of self], I will definitely get enlightened at some point in the future."

So what I was doing, on that night out, was still conscious -- I still had to MAKE thoughts/feeling flicker to see them as sensations and not part of a "self".

It was around half the time effortless, half the time effortful.

The main reason I felt it was Stream Entry is that I had the feeling of knowing exactly what to do from now on in order to get enlightened.

By the way I find it much easier to let reality break apart while walking around on a night out with lots of incoming sensations to work with. Sat at home, I tend to find it harder and in fact boring and rather unrewarding. Itchiness and light pain are the easiest for me to see individual sensations with when sat at home.

I also have very few verbal thoughts while out the house; this has been the case for a few years now as I used to do "presence walks" as my preferred method of meditation (and even wrote a short e-book about it).

The result of all this drug use, AND the fact I muddled through meditation creating my own methods without any guidance for 6 years, has left me very much wondering where on the Path I actually "am" now.

RE: Hacked the Path with drugs -- now not sure where I am
Answer
10/14/14 9:57 AM as a reply to Illuminatus.
Now, I'm not an expert by any means, but don't psychedelics make you very open to suggestion? I know set and setting are very important to have a good experience, and it seems like you set yourself up to experience something specific. I could see using that as a way to practice, but I think the best test to see if you're making progress is to judge your normal waking state and what is available to you then. Consider this, if you had dreamed these events, and then when you woke up you couldn't repeat them, would you feel like you had made progress? It might be more useful to treat the psychedelic states as similar to dream states rather than meditative states like jhana. They are generated from dream chemicals, after all.

I always seem to have the best progress when I can let go of changing phenomena, specifically. The things that are happening to you now, the itchiness, feeling blah, feeling like meditation is hard work - this is generally what trains the best. Instead of trying to do anything with it, or make it feel a certain way, or see it as not self, or making it vibrate, or make it stop vibrating, what happens when you just leave it all alone? That practice was what led me to jhanas and fireworks - which is always a bit surprising. It's when you can let go of doing or effort that things seem to happen in the normal mind states. Maybe the psychedelics are forcing you to let go, and you're seeing the destinations.

If you're interested in working with drugs, maybe it would be better to try using them to have a chat with your subconscious and figure out those things that are keeping you from being content. It isn't the special effects so much as the insights you get from them that are important. Maybe do a few shamanic rituals and see if they can't give you something more useful.

Or, while on your special cocktail, just note whatever happens without any expectations. Even if something really amazing happens, just keep noting it. Then analyze it the next day and see how everyday life is. If the drugs give you increased concentration, this could be a useful exercise.

Another possibility - maybe you'll only be enlightened while on your special combination of drugs, haha. Kind of like how on Family Guy Peter can play the piano when he's drunk. emoticon

RE: Hacked the Path with drugs -- now not sure where I am
Answer
10/14/14 12:06 PM as a reply to Illuminatus.
If you got stream entry and a fruition, you should be able to replicate it when you're sober.  I think this is discussed in MCTB, but basically you just walk yourself through the insight cycle up to equanimity and then let a fruition happen.

Honestly I would recomend not trying to acheive meditation progress through drugs.  While drugs can perhaps give you a glimpse of a higher state, I don't trust that attainments people supposedly get on drugs have any true spiritual bearing.  If you want stream entry, then buckling down and practicing sober is probably your best bet.  It may be less exciting but it is a much more reliable way to practice and get results.

Also, take care of yourself!  If you are frequently burning yourself out on drug trips you will have much less power of mind to bring to spiritual practice.  In my experience drugs dull and fragment the mind, so while they can be ok once in a while, frequent use will lead to a backlog of 'catch-up' in order to get back to a place of normal healthy functioning.  When I smoked weed regularly, I thought I was just fine and normal, but once I stopped for a while and allowed my head to balance out, I felt better and more healthy; more radient and true.  The goal afterall is a truely healthy and balanced state of mind, free from delusion (which frankly drugs perpetrate).  On a spectrum, frequent drug use takes you farther from spirituality than normal living.

Drug use ------------------Normal state --------------------------------------------------------Enlightenment

Anyways don't mean to preach but just saying..

RE: Hacked the Path with drugs -- now not sure where I am
Answer
10/18/14 8:56 AM as a reply to Not Tao.
Thanks both for your replies.

Not Tao:
Another possibility - maybe you'll only be enlightened while on your special combination of drugs, haha.

I believe I was enlightened for those couple of hours (the night out). During that time I saw through the three illusions of permanence, satisfactoriness and self on an ongoing, uninterrupted basis. I was on a low dose of MXP during that night out, and was also still "glowing" from the events during the trip the night before. So, the drugs cocktail was still in effect.

The cocktail has now stopped working! This has, without exception, been the result after "enlightenment moments" from ANY drug. I have been "cycling" through drugs in this way for years, now.

I think you are right about drugs temporarily letting me lose my "self" so I can see the destinations.

I now KNOW I have to do it without drugs. So I'm literally starting again. I'm letting everything go, any knowledge I believed I had attained through drugs and any meditation practice that went before, and just starting from zero with a simple breath meditation.

I am no longer "actively searching for individual sensations" either. I'm just watching the breath and not trying to get involved too much at all. This is having the effect of "resetting" me and I'm getting insight more organically of its own accord now, I feel. I am also way, way less stressed about it and am feeling clearer about things in life generally. Do you think I'm on the right track?

The truth is, since reading the book (MCTB ), I started "actively searching for individual sensations" in everything, and I'm not actually sure I know how to do it. I think I was getting in my own way by searching for and seeing something that maybe wasn't there (and thus "creating" a "flickering"?)

Having re-read the book, I'm STILL not sure how to actually "see" individual sensations. What do you recommend? Or is my just staying with the breath and letting it figure itself out the right way to go, for me, do you think? I'm feeling inclined towards that.

RE: Hacked the Path with drugs -- now not sure where I am
Answer
10/18/14 4:03 PM as a reply to Illuminatus.
Maybe this will be helpful:

The way things seem to be unfolding for me is that effort is being dropped slowly over time.  I think this is anatta insight, but as my SN might suggest, I'm a lot more influenced by taoism than buddhism, so I prefer the term wu wei - actionless action or, more understandably, effortless action.  When I first started meditating, I would move attention around different parts of the body - experiemented with different methods and ideas - but fairly quickly I settled on just "letting go."  Maybe this is a bit vague, but it's actually fairly simple.  Whatever you think you have control over in your experience, just stop trying to control it.  Just let go of it and see what happens.

In terms of noting practice as described by Daniel, I was also unclear about it before, but I think it's just a way to assist in letting go of control.  Because the goal is simply to put a label on things, it releases the need to try to make anything happen or change anything.  You just notice whatever is happening and let it happen.  The act of labeling turns you into an honest reporter - like announcing at a golf match.  The announcer is just watching the game and saying what happens.

Think of it this way - what is the ultimate goal of the practice?  Forget about imperminance or anatta or methods or factors of enlightenment for a moment and just contemplate the goal itself.  We just want to be free from suffering, right?  There have probably been points in your life where you were at least relatively free from suffering.  What allowed you to be that way?  I'm betting you weren't specifically trying to do anything to make yourself happy, and you weren't focused on things like, "how do I feel," or, "what is happening?"  It was because you forgot yourself for a little while and you were free from the burden of maintaining a sense of who you are in relation to what's happening.  This flowing state of freedom comes from a lack of inhibition, a lack of self-referencing.  It's about forgetting yourself and how you feel - just being in the world as it is.  You can train yourself to find that place, and I think that's what insight is really all about.  Insight to me is discovering how I am fighting against the world, and letting myself drop the effort.  As more and more effort is dropped, you begin to see it arising in suprising places, like the effort to make the attention work a certain way, or the effort to hold on to an experience.  It's suprising because things like anger or fear, as real as they are, will often change shape completely and dissolve when you just let them happen.  This leads, of course, to a lot of contradictory thoughts like, "if letting go is what causes the state, and I want the state itself, how do I let go of wanting it so I can have it?"  And I think this is why a lot of mystical things tend to be full of non-sensical wisdom.  But the truth is pretty simple - we feel best when we don't pay attention to ourselves.  We are kindest and calmest when we have nothing to defend and feel no comparison between ourselves and others.  We are most at ease and most content when we feel there is nothing we need.  If we want to be like that, we have to forget about directing ourselves.  You can't steer yourself towards forgetting yourself, you just have to do it - let go of control.

You can use common sense to direct your practice if you agree with these ideas.  Forgetting yourself is easy - how do you forget anything?  You just ignore it, you let whatever you're feeling happen as it is and put your attention on other things.  You can just let go of any need to change yourself or your experience in any way and stop giving those old troublesome beliefs and comparisons and needs and desires the credibility/seriousness/importance you used to feel they deserved.  Sever ties with anything you feel you are and live nakedly in the world.  If you're angry, just forget that you're angry and you won't have to deal with the nasty feeling anymore.  If you're worried, just give yourself permission to fail or lose or let people down.  You can do this happily because fear and anger don't really help you in any way.  They don't feel good and they prevent you from doing what you need or want to do because your attention is all tied up in self-referencing rather than free to deal with what is making you worried or angry or sad or whatever.

So, really, all you need to do is stop feeding that thing inside you that wants your attention.  Watch it, it's tricky.  It'll lie to you and manipulate you and make you feel bad.  It'll try to convince you that painful things like anger and desire feel good.  It'll try to drive you away from experiences with fear, and it'll try to convince you that change is terrible with sadness.  But, just like anyone who is trying to manipulate you, if you don't react, they eventually lose interest and go away.  You can just let go, there's nothing you need to do!  It's such a relief. emoticon

Anyway, I'm waxing poetic here so I'll stop before I put you to sleep.  Hopefully this is helpful.