as Spiritual Allies
The mission of Psilocybin Mushrooms as Spiritual Allies is to support educated and informed discourse on the topic of psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelics.
The author of Psilocybin Mushrooms as Spiritual Allies does not encourage illegal activities.
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Psilocybin Mushrooms as Spiritual Allies is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Buddha
Table of Contents
About the Author 24
For millennia, humans have consumed psychedelic mushrooms to receive visions, heal diseases, and commune with the gods. Psilocybin, the primary psychoactive ingredient in these mushrooms, connects us with our innate intelligence and rewires our hearts and minds to be positive, open, and joyful. Having evolved and survived for more than a billion years, these magic mushrooms can help humanity transform into a more intelligent, loving, and harmonious species.
Remembering our connection with Mother Earth is key to our survival. In cities, car noises and fumes pollute our senses. Bird songs and the scent of flowers are foreign to many. We shuffle in and out of lifeless concrete buildings instead of living amongst trees and rivers. We interact with screens more than with people around us. Many of us eat alone, mindlessly, without thanking all the hands involved in bringing food to our mouths. We feel like cogs in a machine -- disconnected from ourselves, each other, and the environment.
But we are conscious beings -- cells in a breathing organism. We are social creatures who need community and a sense of belonging. We want to surround ourselves with people who love us unconditionally. We despair in the absence of human affection. The World Health Organization estimates globally more than 264 million people suffer from depression.1 Suicide rates worldwide have skyrocketed 60% over the past 45 years.2 The opioid crisis and other drug epidemics have ravaged families and communities. But even though mental health problems seem to be increasing, a powerful solution is available almost everywhere: psilocybin mushrooms.
Magic mushrooms flourish on every continent except Antarctica,3 and they are easy to grow indoors. Research from Johns Hopkins, Imperial College London, NYU, and other universities4 supports long-established anecdotal evidence that psilocybin can improve our emotional states and reconnect us with nature. These findings come as surprising news for many. For myself and others who have experienced the life-changing benefits of mushrooms, the excitement about a “new treatment for depression” feels like a return to ancient wisdom. Certainly, the mushroom has been one of my greatest teachers.
Before mushrooms found me, I struggled with chronic depression, low self-esteem, and destructive habits. I never felt good enough. Although loneliness tormented me, I pushed people away to protect my heart. I found myself in bottomless pits of shame, guilt, anger, and frustration. To escape from these emotions, I pursued adrenaline rushes and intense pleasures. A series of overlapping addiction cycles propelled my life. I binged on sweets and cannabis. I played cards, sometimes sitting in smoke-filled poker rooms for 20 hours or more. I spent hours on the internet watching pornography and playing games until my eyes could barely stay open. Of course, these habits deepened my angst. I caused grief for many, especially those who loved me most. Consumed by psychological pain, I considered taking my own life.
By my late twenties, I felt hopeless. My strategies to avoid and escape difficult feelings were failing but I didn’t know what else to do. I felt unfulfilled even after immersing myself for many months in intensive meditation at Buddhist monasteries and retreat centers. Although several people over the years shared stories about their psychedelic awakenings with me and urged me to experiment, I had dismissed these substances as “dangerous drugs,” reserved for addicts and crazy hippies. As my desperation grew, though, I was willing to try anything.
My first few psychedelic adventures transformed my opinions about these stigmatized substances. Spiritual dogma and rigid thinking began to fade away. Masks dissolved. As I faced painful parts of myself from which I had previously run and hid, my heart released rivers of pent-up emotions. I laughed. I cried. I felt playful, bright, and authentic. My energetic center started to shift from head to heart, from intellect to intuition.
How could such effective medicines be illegal? Needing to understand, I dug into the history of psychedelics. I discovered that authorities banned magic mushrooms and other eye-opening substances not for health reasons, but for political ones. Psilocybin mushrooms, referred to as “flesh of the gods,” were a cornerstone in Mesoamerican culture for thousands of years5 until Spanish conquistadors violently suppressed their use in the early 16th century.6 Catholic missionaries wanted their subjects to commune with Christ instead of mushrooms, and branded those using the latter as “devil worshippers.”7 Psilocybin ceremonies went underground.
In the late 1950s and ‘60s, mushrooms experienced a brief resurgence in the wake of a Life magazine article titled “Seeking the Magic Mushroom.” Gordon Wasson, a former JPMorgan executive, wrote about his adventures participating in ceremonies conducted by Maria Sabina, a Mazatec shaman who lived in Oaxaca, Mexico.8 Inspired by Wasson who wrote, “we chewed and swallowed these acrid mushrooms, saw visions, and emerged from the experience awestruck,” many Westerners followed his footsteps in search of their own epiphanies.9 From these humble origins, psilocybin and other psychedelics energized the global counterculture and anti-war movements during the ‘60s.
By 1970, fearing collapse of the social order, the US government under Richard Nixon placed psychedelics on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.10 In the eyes of the law, mushrooms and heroin were the same -- both drugs that “have a high potential for abuse and the potential to create severe psychological and/or physical dependence.”11 Although researchers had published more than a thousand studies touting the therapeutic potential of hallucinogens during the prior two decades,12 Nixon declared a “war on drugs,” threatening to imprison those caught with illegal substances. Federal authorities sought to stigmatize psychedelics and halt related research, but some dedicated academics, psychiatrists and therapists continued to work clandestinely with the medicines.
Decades later, we are living in the midst of a psychedelic renaissance. The US Food and Drug Administration has granted psilocybin ‘breakthrough therapy’ status twice: first in 2018 for treatment-resistant depression and again in 2019 for major depressive disorder.13 Researchers are once more studying the effects of this substance on a host of illnesses including depression, end-of-life anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anorexia, addictions, and cluster headaches. Calls to decriminalize, if not outright legalize, psychedelics grow louder each day as more people experience the benefits firsthand. For many, the inhumanity of criminalizing citizens who experiment with mind-expanding substances has overshadowed any perceived utility. When fresh evidence challenges our worldviews, we must be willing to change our minds. Our magic mushroom journeys help us see through a different lens.
Our psilocybin experiences urge us to think for ourselves and to question everything we think we know. They reveal how society distracts us from deeper truths. Perhaps for the first time, we admit we lack answers to fundamental questions. Who am I? What are my values? What do I really want? What brings me joy? What is my contribution to the world? Why are cigarettes and alcohol widely available, while magic mushrooms are illegal? When we examine our beliefs, we face the unsettling possibility that our life has been built on falsehoods. Disillusionment leads many to embark on a spiritual search.
With mushrooms as our guides, we dive into our own hearts and rediscover childlike attitudes of openness, curiosity, and wonder. A newborn enters this world a clean slate without preconceived notions. He welcomes new information and perspectives. Our journeys train us to be a child who sees through new eyes. With a flexible, soft, and supple mind, we lower expectations and start to appreciate our blessings. We empty ourselves and return to being receptive vessels.
As the mind opens, we become sensitive to vibrations emanating from our surroundings. We notice how environments color our mood. When I enter a crowded city, I feel disconnected and anxious. Many are lost in thought while they stare at phones and rush to their destinations. Hugs and eye contact are rare occurrences. The suffering of homeless people disturbs me. In contrast, I remain at ease when I walk through a forest, or bathe in a clean river. In natural open spaces, life seems complete, nurturing, and rejuvenating. I feel less compelled to numb myself. Earth reminds us to slow down and return to a simple existence in harmony with the rhythms of life and death. Because no matter how fast we run, we cannot escape the law of impermanence.
Communing with psilocybin allows us to practice dying before we die. We drop attachments to old ways of thinking, acting, and relating. In some of our journeys, we experience transformative states of ego dissolution. The edges of our bodies melt into our surroundings. Thoughts disappear. In the absence of a concrete sense of self, joy radiates. We are one with the Universe, Heart of God, Infinite Light, Eternal Love, and Christ Consciousness. Bodies return to dust, but Life continues beyond our death. The medicine gives us the ability to feel and release fear.
During our journeys, we are like snakes shedding worn out skin, or caterpillars in metamorphosis preparing to emerge as butterflies. Every time we commune with the mushroom, our faith in the process of transformation grows. We forgive rather than punish our demons. By relinquishing control, we feel light and free. Tensions dissolve. Our faces glow. We feel reborn. And even when happiness appears, we continue the practice of non-grasping.
As we mature, we become aware of our self-centeredness. We humble ourselves before life does to avoid the dangerous trap of perceived invincibility. We abandon the need to prove ourselves or be better than others. We take ourselves less seriously and laugh at our folly. We are quicker to say “I was wrong,” and “I’m sorry,” and “please forgive me.” When others harm us, we pardon them and thank them for allowing us to practice patience. We listen fully instead of thinking about how we are going to respond. When we let go of smallmindedness, our hearts become more magnanimous, nurturing, and joyous. We cultivate respect for all beings.
Mushrooms remind us life is a vast interconnected web. All around us, countless beings move and breathe, grow and evolve, and compete and cooperate with each other. Trees, insects, birds, rivers, and oceans are as much part of life as we are. Our journeys allow us to feel connected to all beings. When we see ourselves in others, we treat everyone the way we want to be treated. We may even sacrifice our own pleasure for the sake of others. By forgetting about ourselves, we gain freedom. Our guiding principle becomes to abide as a source of happiness for others.
As our experiences reveal universal laws of cause and effect, we sense ripples of even the most subtle thoughts and actions. Past intentions have led to current conditions and the present mind creates the future. Positive outcomes result from practicing kindness, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, and joy. Dire consequences follow when we scatter seeds of greed, anger, hatred, fear, and arrogance. When we recognize the repercussions of past deeds, we become careful about the energies we transmit. Our life is the result of every seed planted since the creation of the Universe.
As we explore our hearts and minds, we feel more connected to our ancestors. We are not separate from all those who came before us. Our life is a tapestry of their blood and bones, hopes and dreams, shame and grief. We are a leaf growing at the tip of the infinite tree of life, the culmination of generations of evolutionary struggle.
Our mushroom journeys allow us to relive and release ancestral traumas. The Native Americans say every action affects seven generations in each direction.14 When we heal and mature, we transform our entire ancestral lineage whose spirit flows through us. Our descendants are able to live without our energy blockages. And our epigenetic healing impacts not only our own bloodline but the whole of humanity. One person’s transformation benefits everyone. As ancient wounds continue to surface, we accept the infinite and privileged nature of inner work.
One may ask, “Why would I want to endure painful intergenerational wounds?” In my experience, the healing process can be unpleasant but its benefits outweigh any discomforts. Psilocybin has helped me mend relationships with my parents, particularly Dad, who is Chinese. Since my childhood, we have struggled to maintain a healthy relationship. Our education and upbringings were completely different (I was born and raised in the US, and Dad in Taiwan) and I felt we had a shallow connection at best. Dad’s angry and violent outbursts, though infrequent, carved deep wounds into my heart, which I buried with an insatiable drive to be “good” and liked. To compensate for my pain, I focused on becoming a capitalistic machine -- a star student and relentless entrepreneur. I strove to be successful, confident, controlled, and purebred American -- everything Dad was not. For many years, I was ashamed to be his son.
Then, in summer of 2018, I tripsat for Dad’s first two psilocybin journeys when he visited me in Amsterdam. Both of us were ready to give space to and release painful emotions. During his second experience, Dad’s hurt inner child emerged. A dam broke -- decades of unsaid words and repressed confusion, fear, and heartbreak poured out without a filter. He missed Mom who had been his rock for more than thirty years before their divorce in 2015. As I watched Dad sob for hours, I allowed myself to feel sadness, compassion, and love for a human being beyond the label “Dad.” Instead of a villain, I saw a Divine Child of God. He knelt, bowed his head to the ground, thanked me, and begged for forgiveness. I felt like his father and his son, and we were one. Every judgment dissolved and transmuted into a bright, soft, loving energy. It was a miracle.
Our relationship now is still mostly painful, but these events gave birth to an entire lineage of feelings I had previously suppressed. I stopped hating the Chinese half of myself. I became even prouder of my paternal grandfather, an Air Force colonel who escaped to Taiwan when Communists won the Chinese Civil War. He was passed up for generalship because he protected the two thousand men under his command when his superiors wanted to maneuver them into dangerous situations. His heart was full of love. In the months after I tripsat for Dad, waves of primal warrior energy surged through me. During one journey, I was a military commander as I walked briskly up and down an open field. I saw fires, and armies marching and entering battle. Mushrooms revealed these ancient visions stored in my psyche.
My ancestors move through me, especially when I take mushrooms. When I study and contemplate the sometimes brutal Sino-Japanese history, I choose to explore complex emotions rather than run or hide. Curiosity and compassion, not fear and bitterness, guide me as I examine the relationship between the two nations, along with the role America has played in shaping modern Asian history and my perspectives. The cultural rivalry that directs my parents’ relationship provides me with a microcosm. Although I used to think Mom was always right, I now accept she is a fallible human -- a wounded child. As I recognize and grieve the destructive consequences of anger, pride, and violence, I am able to practice compassion for all beings. When we heal relationships with family, we restore relationships with everyone else.
Since tripsitting for Dad, I have had the honor to support journeyers from all walks of life. The mushrooms have taught me lessons that books alone cannot. When we open to our own pain, we allow ourselves to feel the suffering of others. Healing is a cyclical process without an end. When we get too excited, we are bound to fall. Sometimes, the pain overpowers us. We contract and return to old habits. And it’s ok. Deep-seated wounds take time to heal. Let’s be patient and kind with ourselves. We all need community -- family, friends, teachers, therapists, and others with whom we can share our deepest thoughts. Indeed, the Buddha explains that spiritual friendship is “the entire spiritual life.”15 This wisdom also applies to the mushroom journey.
While some people like to journey alone, others find it more comforting to have someone watching over them. When we experience overwhelming emotions during our journeys, the presence of a mature tripsitter can be a soothing balm. A tripsitter reassures us that we are safe and loved. This person may assume various roles: friend, babysitter, therapist, nurse, cook, and angel. A skillful tripsitter does not do or say much. Lacking ambition, she makes no effort to lead. She sits, listens, and sends love. She helps us go to the bathroom, get tissues, and drink water. In challenging moments, she may hold our hand or give us a hug. Blessed are those who have a trustworthy tripsitter and those who tripsit for others.
I am convinced that psychedelic medicines are humanity’s most reliable partners in our urgent struggle to replace toxic systems with regenerative ones. They are teachers -- mirrors that allow us to take an honest look at ourselves. They give us opportunities to relinquish old habits, restore relationships, and meet death with joy. As our minds expand, we think less about what we can get, and more about how we can serve others. As Shantideva writes in A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, “All the suffering in the world comes from wishing our self to be happy. All the happiness in the world comes from wishing others to be happy.”
Mushroom journeys fill our hearts with gratitude. They show us that though we are insignificant specks of dust, we are also perfect manifestations of the infinite and eternal. Every moment since the beginning of time has led to our present existence. Nisargadatta Maharaj, the late Indian nondual master said, "Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I'm everything. Between the two my life flows." Every mushroom journey reaffirms this paradox.
May the mushroom find all those who seek peace and wisdom!
1 “Depression.” World Health Organization, 30 Jan. 2020, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression. Accessed 25 May 2020.
2 “Suicide Statistics.” Befrienders Worldwide, www.befrienders.org/suicide-statistics. Accessed 30 May 2020.
3 Francuski, Xavier. “How to Find Psychedelic Mushrooms.” The Third Wave, www.thethirdwave.co/finding-psychedelic-mushrooms. Accessed 30 May 2020.
4 “Psilocybin.” Beckley Foundation. www.beckleyfoundation.org/science/substances-methods/psilocybin. Accessed 30 May 2020.
5 Wasson, Valentina Pavlovna and Gordon Wasson. Mushrooms, Russia and History. Pantheon Books, 1957, 275-286.
6 “Psilocybin Mushrooms Timeline.” Erowid, 2008. www.erowid.org/plants/mushrooms/mushrooms_timeline.php. Accessed 30 May 2020.
7 Stamets, Paul. Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World. Ten Speed Press, 1996, 7-11.
8 Wasson, R. Gordon. “Seeking the Magic Mushroom.” Life 49, no. 19, 13 May 1957, 100–102, 109–120. Rpt. in www.imaginaria.org/wasson/life.htm. Accessed 30 May 2020.
9 Reuters. “Hippies Flocking to Mexico for Mushroom ‘Trips’.” New York Times, 23 July 1970, www.nytimes.com/1970/07/23/archives/hippies-flocking-to-mexico-for-mushroom-trips.html. Accessed 30 May 2020.
10 “War on Drugs.” History, 17 Dec. 2019, www.history.com/topics/crime/the-war-on-drugs. Accessed 30 May 2020.
11 “Drug Scheduling.” United States Drug Enforcement Administration, www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling. Accessed 30 May 2020.
12 Costandi, Mo. “A brief history of psychedelic psychiatry.” The Guardian, 2 Sep. 2014, www.theguardian.com/science/neurophilosophy/2014/sep/02/psychedelic-psychiatry. Accessed 30 May 2020.
13 Haridy, Rich. “Psilocybin for major depression granted Breakthrough Therapy by FDA.” New Atlas, 24 Nov. 2019, www.newatlas.com/science/psilocybin-major-depression-mdd-usona-breakthrough-therapy-fda. Accessed 30 May 2020.
14 Rich, Judith. “Healing the Wounds of Your Ancestors.” Huffpost, 17 Nov. 2011, www.huffpost.com/entry/healing-the-wounds-of-you_b_853632. Accessed 25 May 2020.
15 Bodhi, Venerable Bhikkhu. “Spiritual Friendship.” Bodhi Monastery, 4 Aug. 2008, www.bodhimonastery.org/spiritual-friendship.html. Accessed 30 May 2020.
About the Author
Chi is a psilocybin guide, advocate, and retreat facilitator whose life is dedicated to sharing the mushroom message of love and light. He is the founder of truffles therapy, a psilocybin retreat organization that has guided hundreds of people on their psychedelic journeys. He is also the founder of Global Alliance of Psilocybin Practitioners, which provides community, training, and mentorship for guides and connects those seeking the medicine with those providing safe access. He advises individuals and companies involved in the emerging psychedelic industry.
He has had the privilege to spend more than 16 months in silent retreat, including a month in dark retreat. He credits his success to his parents, his spiritual teachers, and psychedelic medicines. He bows down to all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout space and time.
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