Trying to describe anything about an ayahuasca ceremony to someone that hasn’t experienced one for themselves is difficult indeed. It is like trying to feel the texture of water …. it requires a completely new sense.
I have had a wide range of experiences in ceremony: some of them were very difficult while others were magical. Yet all were transformative. This is the story of one of the magical evenings.
Ceremony takes place in a darkened room. But that darkness is no competition for the blackness that can be experienced while in vision. This particular evening I was drawn in to a mysterious blackness. It felt as if there was a never-ending depth and an utter emptiness, featureless, no life.
Out of this inky blackness, I began to see very small, irregular and seemingly unrelated points of light. They were separate but generally collected close to the centre of the imaginary frame of view. I recall that my eyes were darting back and forth between these spots, trying to make some sense of what was happening. I remember leaning forward to try and get a better view. I sensed movement but then realized that they were growing in size ever so slowly, even changing shape in minute ways. It was like a puzzle.
New locations of this light arrived in a similar fashion. The original spots mutated slightly in size, shape and texture, but the contrast was extreme, either black or white …. no gradations, no colours. The rate of change was frustratingly slow, yet I was transfixed. I began to understand that I was seeing reflected light and that there was something in front of me and it was moving …. towards me. I pulled back, startled, aware now that there was something in here with me.
As new light emerged from the void, my eyes flitting around, my breathe more ragged, I drew back even further. My eyes grew wide with amazement as the fragments begin to reveal the emergence of the face of a monstrous gorilla. Only its face, huge and filling my entire field of view, maybe 18″ away, with the most amazingly moist and knowing eyes that can be imagined. It was as if the blackness of the gorilla emerged into the light only enough for the puzzle to be known but not completed. There was not one excess piece of detail, just the absolute barest of minimum interaction between this creature and the light.
These eyes were unblinking, looking directly into mine, so much so that even I couldn’t blink. There was a “knowing” there and as we held each other’s gaze, I understood that I was being shown that to know is to look. That’s it. Be present and open myself to what is in front of me. Seeing really isn’t that difficult if I would just fully engage. Don’t blink. Don’t look away. Don’t make excuses. There is no right and wrong. Judgement is just another alibi to not show up on my own behalf.
Things don’t need to be explained, dissected, excused. They need to be accepted.
We held each other’s eyes for what felt like a very long time. The gorilla made no movements, no gestures, yet it was so purposeful. At some point, the gorilla ever so slowly began to recede to the blackness, never once looking away. As the many points of light disappeared, I gazed directly into it’s eyes. Small irregular shapes of light that shone from the wet pools of knowledge were the last features I saw.
I felt so grounded and solid that evening. Telling the story again, here, reinforces the lesson. Be fully present. Drop all the judgment. No excuses. It is up to me to accept all that is.