I woke up at 9am, but did not have any breakfast, only some vegetable soup at around noon. At 1pm. I’d begun taking small doses of 2gr. of Iboga root bark powder every fifteen minutes; I mixed the root bark powder with just enough water so it could be made into a mud ball and swallowed quickly with water. There’s no getting around the taste. It’s as repulsive as can be, and just a memory of it can make you feel sick for a long time afterwards. (But look at it from the bright side; it makes Iboga impossible to get addicted to!) I guess it could be interpreted as the first test of the Plant Teacher, to check how strong your desire to learn ‘the truth’ is, and how determined you are to go through with it. Eventually, the repugnance of the taste will beat you. The question then is, will it be after the first two or twenty-two grams? How far will you manage to go?
(By the way, anything over 70gr. of Iboga root bark powder could be a lethal dose. In the Bwiti spiritual ceremonies, however, ‘Banzies’, or initiates, take as much as 120gr; they usually spend several days in the state of high vibrancy before they are “brought back” by music, dance and chanting of the village people.)
After the 10th gram, I started feeling unusually serene, kind of withdrawn and anchored to my inner being. Somehow Iboga had altered my vibration, I could feel my body slowing down; my heartbeat was steady but dawdling. My pulse, too. On the other hand, the unusual tranquility I was experiencing had given me a sense of balance and harmony, which I could feel in the core of my being. It was a magical kind of tranquility that engrossed me completely. Being a hyperactive Gemini, I could not resist this rare opportunity to experience stillness without oppression. And when I immersed myself into it, I found that my awareness had immeasurably increased.
I took eight more grams when I knew I couldn’t bear to taste more of the sordid stuff. 18gr was enough for the first trip, and I decided to lie down and let the plant teacher take over. But the moment I got up I was caught in vertigo; the room seemed to move around me making me feel nauseous at once. With motor coordination completely screwed up, my knees felt like jelly, so I quickly sat back down. Wow! I wasn’t expecting that. I was barely finished with the taking of the root bark powder, and already I was feeling sick…! I again attempted to move from the chair to the bed, this time in slow motion. It worked. At least, it managed to keep my motion sickness down to a controllable level. My legs, however, were so weak that whenever I’d make a step forward, my knees would falter. The increasing weakness of my physical body was being in exact proportion with the mounting potency of my astral body. I slowly walked over to the bed, where a bucket was awaiting me in case I felt sick. The moment I saw it, I reached for it and began vomiting. The sordid taste kept me feeling queasy. And worse, the root bark powder I had eaten earlier had engorged inside my stomach with the gastric juices, and the bare sight of it repulsed me further. The more I threw up, the more I wanted to throw up. It seemed to have no end. At first I thought I was purging myself from Iboga, but now it seemed that it was purging something from me. After the ‘purification process’ was over, I felt much better. I lied down, closed my eyes and relaxed.
First came the sounds. There were so many of them, all mixed together and buzzing loudly in my mind. Still, when I tried I could separate them, easily distinguishing the traffic noises from the sounds of children’s play, or the dull sound of the elevator from the background noises of my deaf neighbor’s radio. If I focused on one sound, the other noises would disappear, leaving me space to analyze it vigilantly.
After a while I opened my eyes, and was surprised to see colorful vibrating fields of energy encircling every single entity in the room. I had experienced different party drugs, but nothing compared to this… With other drugs, whatever vision you have feels like a ‘trip’, or rather, like a hallucination. The visions induced by Iboga were different. They were real; there was nothing “trippy” about them. With my eyes open, I could see my dog glowing in a yellow light. My writing desk was gleaming in orange energy. The laundry machine was radiating red. The sight in front of me seemed to be so true that I instantly knew that whatever I was seeing now for the first time had always been there, and always will be, regardless of my own awareness of it. It felt like a rare chance to see the other side of reality, something invisible to the physical eye, and I would have indulged in it longer had it not been for the dizzying sensations the sight was causing me. My eyes were not accustomed to this new prism, and I felt the urge to close them.
The moment I’d closed them, my mind turned on a three dimensional projector and begun a projection on my eyelids. The visions were more like abrupt flashes in 3D, and although they felt real, I was at all times aware that I was an observer. It was a reassuring feeling that persisted in the back of my mind throughout the whole experience.
In the beginning of the journey, my brain had started sending me sudden flashes of ‘dirt’. An impious voice inside my head kept echoing the words such as “fuck”, “cock”, “pussy”, “ass”, “tits”, etc. I then saw a serial of flashes with perverted sex scenes, then some blow-ups of cocks, big and small, arched and straight, weird and good looking… Then the pussies came… Shaved and hairy, large clitoris and barely visible ones, pierced or tattooed… (I mean… I didn’t even know there were such things out there!) And then I was seeing shit in different forms, like a big, solid shit and a diarrhea shit; then more shit, then vomit, and on and on. It was a strange sensation to bare witness to all the filth and perversions that – I knew – were coming from my own mind, but it did not upset or scare me in any way. Actually, I was even more fascinated by the complexity of the brain, and kept dwelling on how little we know about it. Up until now, I – an average human being – had used barely some 3% of my brain, and now it felt like I was truly being given an opportunity to explore the other 97%. I enthusiastically launched myself into the experience, and welcomed all the flashy visions that came my way.
On the back of my eyelids a picture of cosmos realistically appeared in 3D, giving me the impression of floating through space. Moving through the galaxies, flying around the universe, I noticed that most cosmic bodies are either cold and dark or blindingly light and hot.
Then I spotted a beautiful globe of radiating blue and green, and I immediately recognized it as the Earth. I couldn’t help but notice the absurdity in that I’ve been flying through the boundless, unexplored cosmos and have still ended up being fascinated most with our very own mother Earth…
I was subtly being pulled upwards, and it gradually diminished from my view. I realized that my ascending had been in deliberate round motions, and that it had followed the pattern of the 8. According to what I’ve learned about the higher planes of existence, I had left my physical body behind, sped through the ether, and was now cruising through the astral plane. Upon this comprehension, I felt a sudden push upwards and I found myself on the top of the 8. In front of me, an endless plain appeared and I sensed that this was the causal plane of being. The thought stunned me, as I remembered that according to all the teachings I had studied, arriving at the causal plane by oneself was impossible. From ancient Tantric texts to ‘Energo’ lectures, everyone seemed to think that only a couple who have perfectly harmonized their yin and yang energy could reach the causal plane. So, what the fuck was I doing here?! I am by nature a skeptical being, so I concentrated real hard on finding out where I was. The confirmation that this truly was the causal plane was coming from within me, and I had to accept it. On Iboga, you are not “finding out”, but rather RECOGNIZING what already is. The truth of the experience never even comes into question because it is felt with every inch of your body.
Throughout this whole time, I was sensing a powerful guidance and I suppose that is why I have not felt any fear or panic. If you are wondering, let me reassure you: I did not see my Guardian Angel, or my Higher Self, or whomever you might expect I would see. I simply felt the guidance within me. It was so compelling that I intuitively knew that I’d been granted access to the endless reservoir of knowledge. Although this knowledge was of celestial origin, it was coming from within me, from the profound depths of my own soul. Countless memories from different lifetimes inundated my consciousness, and I drifted off into a state of dreamlike reminiscence. I recognized myself in the face of a primitive member of an Australian tribe, a lone Arab Bedouin, a New York broker, a Russian priest… I recognized my soul in the eyes of an African lion, American buffalo… I felt my heartbeat in birds and plants… The sensation, however, wasn’t the one of seeing myself through past lifetimes; rather, it felt as if I really was being them. An unfathomable sense of insight seized my entire being when I understood that I am not a separate entity although I am ONE; for ONE is ALL, and therefore, I am ALL too.
On a peaceful, sunny day, a diver prepares to dive into a pool from the highest platform. The water is as clear, blue and tranquil reflecting the sky above. The man’s panther-like figure and the grace of his movements coerce him into the focus of the picture. He takes off from the diving board as if to dive into the water, but just before reaching it, he gracefully makes a circle above its surface and goes up again, this time only to disappear into thin air. I am left with a profound sense of understanding that the whole universe operates in eternal spiral movements.
The starry night sky is hanging over the plain grass field. I am sitting in the middle of it. Then unexpectedly, I (meaning my awareness) leave my body and re-enter it through my mouth. The moment I go through my jaws and come inside my body, I find myself entering the starry night sky above. This vision was an especially powerful one for me, as it provoked my lasting fascination with the microcosm-macrocosm relationship.
The rushed 3D flashes kept fighting for my attention. I’d had to put an effort into deciding which image to ‘go into’. Sometimes their meaning was obvious, and sometimes it made no sense at all, but before I could even manage to contemplate on one vision, another would appear, and this went on and on. At one point, I even found myself in front of a huge TV monitor, made up of hundreds of other small TV monitors, and in every one of them, a different picture was showing. It reminded me of a huge building with clear view of all the apartments and people’s lives that go on within the walls. I could scan through them, pick the one that interested me most and then focus on it.
In one of the rooms, I saw a man and a woman facing each other. They were furiously waving their hands, with violence that to me was tangible. I could feel the fierce odium in their angry voices deep down inside me. Then, there was another setting in a dining room with a family of four. The mother was saying a prayer before dinner. From the manner in which the father and the kids obediently sat, insipidly waiting for her to finish, it was obvious that the whole play was being acted out for her sake. Again, I could feel their detached boredom, as much as I could feel her desperate need to hang on to her illusions at all cost. I bore witness to many similar situations, empathizing deeply with people’s feelings of hurt, anger, expectations and disappointments, while at the same time I was painfully aware of their futility. I kept asking myself: Why…? Why do we do all these things…? What is the point of it…??? Instead of confronting our own demons and liberating ourselves from them, we’d rather force others to participate in our own hell.
From where I was standing, there seemed to be no justification for such behavior. Reality is what we make it to be, and the only thing that matters – our happiness – depends on whether we chose to hang on to our expectations or let go of them. For the first time in my life I saw conflict clearly for what it was, an absolute waste of energy, which only idiots such as myself indulge in. Yes, it was at that moment that I understood that this was all about me, and my own inability to keep my temper.
But comprehending this did not stop the flashes; they kept sliding on the back of my eyelids, hunting me with severe harshness of resentment, rage, hurt, and all the other useless emotions people such as myself tend to hang on to. Bizarrely, as much as I could feel the intensity of their conflict, I could – at the same time – see the irrelevance, and therefore, the absurdity of it. My newly found point of view was also the only possible point of view, the only true point of view. I was seeing things from a perspective that was so much bigger than the one I used to have. I had merged with the Anima Mundi, the undifferentiated oneness of the space-time continuum, the Monad, the cosmic consciousness, or – God. Here, even death meant nothing but a drop in the ocean. Tide and rise. Microcosm-macrocosm. Full circle. No end. From this standpoint, I could see EVERYTHING, and consequently I was realizing that the things I get upset about are, ironically, the most irrelevant things in this “everything”.
Time is a factor of crucial significance in my life. My entire approach to living life is based on “saving time” and “making time”. It’s so important that I don’t even think about it, I just do it. Like driving on automatic pilot. Let me give you the most banal example: if I come home with inspiration to write, I will first turn on my computer, bearing in mind that with the anti-virus program, it takes almost ten minutes to start. Those ten minutes I will use to put water in the kettle, as – obviously – the water will take a few minutes to boil, and these few minutes I will use to roll a joint. When the joint is ready, I am pouring the hot water over coffee grains, and my computer is ready to be exploited. Now, I know this may sound ridiculous, but ridiculous is pretty much what my life has been about.
I am a creature of habit. I like to know where I’m going and when I can expect to get there. Why? So I could plan my time and organize my activities in the best possible way. Unfortunately, if something disrupts my plan, I go berserk. Instead of focusing on real priorities, I let the irrelevant outside influences decide on the course my day is going to take. I allow myself to become possessed by feelings of anger, disappointment, rage… And why? – Because I am a creature of habit. (A very bad habit, indeed…)
Iboga showed me that Past, Present and Future are all just words we employ to depict limits of time. But time has no limits; it is ever-present. Now and here are then and there and always will be, whether we are aware of it or not. There’s actually nowhere to get but here; nothing to do but be… This comprehension for me was cathartic. To recognize that even our past lifetimes and our future lives are all happening simultaneously, right now; for the simple reason that “right now” is the only point in time possible. The only factual border of these realities is our un-awareness of them. I saw a moment in time. I understood that everything that happens has previously happened and is now happening again.
I write this knowing that I have written it before, and that you who are reading, have read it before too. We are only re-affirming what already is. Try to remember one moment of sheer happiness in your life, and imagine it replaying eternally in the cosmic void. In fact, I know that it is, for all the moments are reoccurring ad infinitum… Now forget that happy place, and retain in your mind a picture of an incident that paralyzed you with fear, or severed you with pain. …Got that? Now just keep it rolling in the perpetual spiral of the eternity until it scares the shit out of you – that’s what Iboga does, anyway. (Thankfully, this knowledge does compel one to put a conscious effort into making all his moments as affirmative as possible.)
At a certain point I noticed that the peak Iboga effect was gradually wearing off, and I looked at the clock. It was 2am. I was completely immersed in my journey for the whole twelve hours! I decided to go on as Don suggested, and take as much as I could manage, which was twelve more grams of Iboga. A new ride began.
This time, it was torrential because Iboga made me work hard. Flashy visions kept attacking my consciousness, shifting swiftly from one to another, but all the scenes I saw were revolving around the same theme: one’s conflict with the outside world. This was my biggest problem and my weakest spot. That’s when I found that Iboga is a merciless teacher; it hits you precisely where you need to be hit. It kept hitting me until I remorsefully acknowledged that my problem comes from giving myself too much importance. If a friend shows up one hour late, I’d be pissed off at him for screwing up my arrangements. And if – God forbid! – he doesn’t show up at all, I’d be fuming that he had fucked up my day! Now I was struck by the realization that I am nothing but a tiny grain of sand… My mind was being over-fed with the aggressive images of painful, harsh and utterly useless conflicts, and in every one of them, I recognized myself.
An agonizing sense of shame overflowed my whole being, and I cried silently, without tears.
After some time , the continual visions turned into a anguish, and my eagerness to learn was replaced by exhaustion. This exhaustion was peculiar in nature; both my mind and my spirit were tired, but my body refused to give in. I was sinking in the ocean of information, which my brain found impossible to assimilate. I opened my eyes in a poor attempt to rest for a while, and was instantly hit by the vibrating auras in the room. I was using my sight for the first time, and the colors were irritating.
It felt like a roller-coaster ride, and I was growing weary of it. Overstuffed with images and sensations over which I seemed to have no command, I started to feel tortured and imprisoned, quite like a zombie. I remembered all the questions I had written down weeks before especially for this occasion, and I wanted to laugh at the absurdity of that. Here I was, being bombed with so many answers I had not even asked for…! And to think that every day I put in a conscious attempt to increase my awareness, while now when its level has skyrocketed, I can’t stand it. But that’s only because I never knew that awareness could be so agonizing until now.
On one of my mind’s screens, I saw a scan of a human head, as if presented in one of those technical programs, such as 3D Studio Max. It could have easily been mistaken for an android head; except for the fact that I ‘knew’ it was human. The head on the screen moved, and I could glimpse a small plug tucked in it on the lower back, just where the hypothalamus is. I instinctively apprehended that I was seeing a human brain in the process of receiving its genetic code, or “program” . That was one of the most bizarre testimonials of my entire Iboga experience, for it forced me to recognize that we, humans, are nothing but robots, programmed machines. We may think we feel this or that, but in reality – we don’t. We’re just imagining it. Imagination is what we, the humankind, are best at.
It wasn’t until around 7 o’clock in the evening that peak Iboga effects began to ware off. I was still feeling physically weak and kept seeing the auras around me, but the insistent flow of voracious images had slowed down. Yet it was impossible to sleep, and I kept wandering around the house, still not ready to go outside for a walk. I did not feel a desire for a joint, but I rolled one anyway, thinking it might help me sleep. I smoked two in a row before I gave up, accepting that my senses were over-packed with no space left for additional sensations. I went to bed a few hours later, and at around three in the morning, after a lot of tossing and turning, I finally managed to fall asleep.
I slept soundly for twelve hours straight, but when I woke up I noticed that the Iboga effects had not worn off as I had hoped they would. The flashy energy fields were still dancing around me, making sure I knew that the journey was tangible, and not just a dream. I wondered if I’d keep seeing those auras forever, as a consequence. But just as I got used to them, a few days later, they disappeared. However, some things have stayed with me. The zombie like sensation I was feeling while “on the other side” was still there, not letting me snap out of it just yet. All that I had experienced kept echoing inside my ears, making me feel weary, old, and totally overstuffed with everything. When I was feeling thirsty, I’d have a few sips; when I was feeling hungry, I’d have a few bites. I was never a big smoker, and Iboga somehow managed to purge all the yearning I might have had for cigarettes. I kept smoking marijuana though, but one joint lasted for several days. I’d light it, have a smoke or two, and then I couldn’t bear more. Even the old, familiar craving for chocolate was eradicated. It was like for the first time in my life MY BODY was dictating what, and how much, comes inside. And it took only as much as to suffice. All that was in excess stayed outside; a sole thought of overindulgence made me feel sick. This feeling persisted throughout the following months, and did not just ‘disappear’; rather, it stayed with me until I learned to integrate it into my consciousness and express it through my daily living.
(Evidently, this must be why Iboga is so highly regarded in the field of addiction treatment. Like Dr. Janov’s Primal Therapy, it forces the individual to dig deep down into his own psyche and confront whatever demons he might find there. It obliges one to recognize the decadence within oneself, to become AWARE of it. And, once that happens, in my humble opinion, there is no going back to old ways.)
Another momentous long-term effect was an unbearable sense of shame. It had filled every inch of my being during Iboga’s ruthless indoctrination, and would not leave my soul. I had seen much more than I had cared to see, and was made penitently aware of how much self-importance and disdain I had been granting myself “before Iboga”. I was feeling so ashamed that I had in fact stopped talking. (Literally.) For the first time in my life, I couldn’t find a reason to speak. All my thoughts appeared ordinary and plagiarized; besides, Iboga made me conscious of the truth that words never amend much, so I did not see any point in voicing them. It had taken a few months for me to recover the spirit and begin using words without feeling awkward or self-conscious. Like with the sensations of being overstuffed, this unease stayed with me until I managed to assimilate it into my value system. The Iboga experience is just too immense to let you go off easily, with just a bad hangover. It requires time for all that you have grasped to sink in.
All my friends were surprised at my obvious transformation. Most of them did not know I had taken Iboga, but nevertheless, they all had told me pretty much the same thing: “How do you do that? You look the same, but you are a different person. It’s like your energetic frequency has changed…!” I was surprised to find they had so accurately described how I actually felt.