Every psychedelic journey is a surprise. You never know which door will open when you take the pill. You might wind up in the Garden of Eden basking in rays of divine bliss or at the bottom of your own grave decomposing in the primal muck. A million destinations, a million trials and rewards, are all in there waiting for you with no guarantees.

That’s not the kind of result we normally hope for with drugs. With other chemicals—antibiotics, painkillers, recreational substances like alcohol or marijuana—the whole point is predictability. You want the hundredth dose to act just like the first.

With psychedelics, however, a single person can take the same dose of the same drug on two occasions and have two completely different experiences. Even veterans get butterflies when they swallow the pill. Fear of the unknown is human nature.

The uncertainty scares off some people who might otherwise benefit from a ride on the psychedelic train. When I discuss the subject with friends and acquaintances, many of them say “I’d be afraid of losing control” or “I’m too chicken.”

I think these people get it. They instantly understand the point of psychedelics. It’s not about flashing colors or surreal ideas. The point is to let go.

When you take a psychedelic substance, the drug grabs you up and pulls you out of your little room and your little ego and plops you down on the brink of the cosmic precipice and gives you a shove. Yeah, you can dig in your heels, but it’s much easier to take the plunge. For some of us, it may be our first opportunity to surrender.

There’s no way to know what lies beyond the wall of surrender, but many people report that it’s exactly what they needed. Perspectives and priorities turn upside down. Big fears and looming difficulties shrink to nothing while small details reveal their true beauty and importance. For a small investment of courage, the world is born anew.

I don’t think that anyone gets out of this life without letting go, even those who put it off until the moment of death. You certainly don’t need to take a pill. Many people shouldn’t. One way or another, though, all journeys lead to surrender. For those of us who have a hard time learning to let go—and that may be the majority of the human race—psychedelics offer a unique blessing.

Posted in: Reason and Magic

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