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2012 and the Psychedelic Shamans (cont.)
By Thomas Razzeto

The Psychedelic Effects of the 5-MeO-DMT from the Bufo Toad

In his book Tryptamine Palace, James Oroc describes the effects of the psychedelic chemicals from this toad. By the way, the main chemical is called 5-MeO-DMT and it has different effects from other types of DMT from different sources such as the vines used to make the ayahuasca brew that is well known in South America. Now, it is important that I clearly point out that this chemical is illegal and because of this, I strongly recommend meditation rather than psychedelics as a tool for self-discovery but let's continue. Oroc states that he had the experience of becoming “consciousness without identity.” Since this is commonly reported by others who have used this drug, it is extremely likely that the Maya shamans also had this experience.


A Maya Bufo toad ceremonial drinking vessel. Photo by Keith Cleversley. Used by permission.

But what does it really mean to become consciousness without identity? First of all, you do not become it; you simply recognize that it has always been that way. Mainstream science holds that your consciousness arises from the biochemistry of your body and brain. But what if your consciousness exists independently from your body? What if you true identity is your pure awareness? Honest scientific research into subjects such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and past lives support this idea. This means that our common idea of who we are is false and we should embrace a fundamental re-identification. And what better way for the Maya to point to re-identification than with the rebirth metaphor. When you are born, you get an identity. When you realize that what you thought of as you is not really you and that your true self is your pure awareness, you become reborn in the deepest way.

Your awareness seems to be personal since it brings you your personal experience. With your awareness, you experience your own unique bodily sensations, your own emotions, your own thoughts and even your dreams and more. Since my bodily sensations, emotions and so forth are all different from yours and completely inaccessible to direct perception by you or anyone else, we think of our personal awarenesses as separate and distinct. But what if there is only one awareness and this experience of separateness is just an illusion?

I will continue with this very important question in just a few minutes but first I want to get back to the Maya. While the subject of psychedelic shamanic rituals is often completely overlooked by the academic community, it is hard to dismiss the dual role these toads played for the Maya. Yes, of course they were symbols of transformation and rebirth because of their own physiological shifts but the use of their mind-altering, paradigm-shifting chemicals cannot be ignore. The Bufo toad does more than just physically demonstrates the principles of transformation and rebirth; it provides the Maya with a means to explore the spiritual world and most importantly, to discover the true fundamental self. I think that the presence of the Bufo toad in the sacred ceremonial site of Izapa speaks volumes. In fact, the statues were not just used as symbols; they were used as altars. This raises them to the highest level possible. This is strong evidence that in the eyes of the Maya, these psychedelic experiences were supremely important!

(Due to copyright restrictions, I cannot show the pictures of the toad altar on my website but you can use the following link to see them. Note that the photographer comments that in his opinion, the altar looks more like the head of a snake or turtle. But I think that I can see the all-important poison glands behind the eyes so to me, it looks like it is a toad. You can make up your own mind. Here is the link: pictures of the toad altar.)

I think that this profound spiritual awakening to the true self was so important to the Maya that they pointed to it with their numerous astronomical and non-astronomical rebirth metaphors. When you take into account that the Maya folklore also contains many references to transformation and rebirth, it starts to seem as if this concept is the Maya's favorite subject! Some of the scenes from this folklore are depicted in the stone carvings in Izapa. In my opinion, the evidence is very strong that this sacred site is primarily dedicated to the idea of transformation and rebirth. All things considered, it seems to me that the emphasis of Izapa is spiritual rebirth in general, not the specific time of 2012, since there are no carvings of any Long Count calendar dates in the actual sacred site of Izapa. (Think about that for a while!) So the Maya are focused on the core meaning of the rebirth metaphor, not the time of 2012. That is just the time when the astronomical metaphor will unfold. The calendar merely points to the astronomy which points to the timeless rebirth metaphor.

I like to think of it like this:

If I write a poem about enlightenment and spiritual awakening and use the sunrise as a metaphor since that is the event that fills our dark world with light and we are all awakened from our physical slumber, the poem should be taken as a reminder that spiritual awakening is possible in a general sense. It certainly should not be understood to say that we are all going to become enlightened during the next sunrise, although that might happen. If people focus on the event of the sunrise because they think that enlightenment will happen at the time of that event, they will have missed the point of the poem. The same thing is true for the sacred triple rebirth of the sun in 2012. It is a reminder that we can all awaken to a new spiritual understanding at any moment. Focus on the concept of spiritual rebirth, not the time of the astronomical event that was used as the foundation of the rebirth metaphor.

Almost all calendars are based on astronomy and it is beyond a reasonable doubt that this is also true for the Maya calendar, although in a rather spectacular way! And very often the messages handed down from ancient people are metaphorical, not literal, since this can more easily point to spiritual wisdom. In this way, I believe that the message of 2012 is metaphorical. If the focus of the calendar is a metaphor and everyone is looking for a literal event (other than the astronomy), they will miss the whole point of the calendar.

In my opinion, the conditions of the world are not at all the point of the message of 2012. That is just the outer form of creation and everything that has been created will change. The message of 2012 is much deeper than that. It is about something that never changes. It is about the fundamental principle of reality, as revealed by the psychedelic experiences of the shamans. The ancient Maya discovered the greater reality that lies behind our ordinary reality and most importantly, they discovered their true fundamental self, which was never born and will never die.

People all around the world throughout all of time have discovered that both God and creation are the same reality in different forms, just like water and ice are different forms of the same essence. Fundamentally, there is only the one awareness; it is primordial and all of creation arises out of it. This understanding is often called “non-dual” or the “perennial philosophy.” I like to call it “mysticism” and I believe that this mystical awakening is the heart of 2012.

The questions of 2012 are very deep. They are: “Who am I?” and “What is the true nature of reality?” Asking what is going to happen to us in 2012 is much too superficial. Many people think that 2012 is about a spiritual shift that will exhibit itself in physical form such as a more peaceful world. In my opinion, the message of 2012 is about a radical shift in identity, a shift that is so extreme that you no longer claim your old self to be you. (Note: I am using the word “radical” in its truest sense: going to the root.)

The profound understanding of your true self is difficult to put into words and this is why metaphors are often used. You cannot literally show anyone their true self since it has no attributes that can be perceived in anyway. You cannot grab it and put it on the table and proclaim, “That's what I'm talkin' about!”

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