About eight months ago, I took the drug MDMA and entered the state of enlightenment for one hour. It has taken me this long but I finally feel ready to write about it.
Predictable fears come up. Some might think that I’m terribly arrogant or crazy to say that I’ve been enlightened, others might even more scarily not think that and look to me for spiritual guidance. There is danger for both student and teacher when someone becomes a “guru”, and I absolutely want to avoid that. But I believe there’s a huge value to this information and for that reason I’d like to share it.
A reason I’m writing now rather than at any other time is that I’m seeing that no new information is coming up. In my giddy state in the aftermath of the trip, I thought that I could maybe attain permanent enlightenment soon and half jokingly talked about a “Church of MDMA” where I would share this incredible knowledge with others. For that, I thought, I would wait until I’d developed a complete philosophy. However, I have taken MDMA twice since then and I did not experience enlightenment in either of those trips. With this in mind I decided the time is right to share what I know, lest my memory fade or something else happen to prevent this important information getting out.
Some will ask, “What is enlightenment?”. I will try my best to describe it later (though as clichéd as it sounds, it is ultimately indescribable). However, in short, enlightenment is a state of completion, a feeling of everything being exquisitely “right”. When you are enlightened, there is absolutely no wrongness in the entire Universe as far as you’re concerned.
Before I experienced enlightenment, I found that it was best to hold the topic a bit at an arm’s length, most of all because my ego loved to both crave it and fear it. I decided that I would define my spiritual journey as raising my vibration, which means becoming more and more peaceful, forgiving, loving, and so on. Enlightenment, in this picture, was a theoretical point in this process when all obstacles to this were gone. We could imagine it as a sort of placeholder, like the letter “x” in mathematics. We don’t know what “x” is, but we still talk about “x”. That’s how we kind of have to face the issue of enlightenment.
I would suggest anyone interested in the topic to read “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, as that book taught me everything that led me to my limited success today. The power of the book, beyond just the ideas in it, is its ability to lead you to feel something as if radiating out through the pages. Feeling is a better pointer than words alone, I believe.
I experienced enlightenment the third time in my life that I took MDMA.
In my first MDMA trip, I thought the drug was pretty tame until I tried meditating on it. When I did, I discovered that the drug’s effect could be seen as a sort of “glow” inside me. With the use of my intention, I could cause that glow to expand, creating incredible full-body orgasms. I had full control over these orgasms, and after a while found a level of pleasure which felt good as it didn’t cause my body to writhe around excessively, and for most of the trip I enjoyed that. I noticed that when I looked inside I seemed to be boundaryless, and assumed this was enlightenment. It wasn’t, and I looked back on that as an embarassing “false enlightenment”, but in further retrospect I do see I was onto something.
For a long time, I couldn’t find a source of MDMA again and perhaps also sensed it wasn’t time. Five years, however, after my first trip, not knowing what was to come, I cast an intention into the Universe: I would find a teacher, a catalyst, someone who would help me make a significant step forward in my path towards raising my vibration and/or the term “x” of enlightenment. What came to me, of course, was MDMA. I had a source, and the time felt right.
I took the drug in the presence of my romantic partner. My plan was to avoid the hedonism of the previous trip and focus on spiritual practice; in particular I planned to use the trip to channel spirits, which I believed it would help me to do.
The beginning was interesting because the MDMA didn’t seem to come up for a considerably long time, perhaps two hours. I even took a second pill, which didn’t change the situation. I only started experiencing the MDMA effect when I basically gave up on the trip and occupied my mind with ordering food. It seems that my excessive trying was blocking the drug effect. I was waiting with my attention inside my body for it to come; perhaps the waiting, the attention, and the unconscious desire to control, were antithetical to the subtle feeling. (And yes, MDMA is subtle… until it is not).
When I started ordering food, I suddenly noticed the glow of MDMA enter my body. I lay down and started doing inner body meditation, going into this glow. The glow expanded and expanded until it was a sea of light all around me. It dissolved the inner edges of my body so that everything I had once thought I was, was light. I realised that this sea of light was dissolving my ego. I could see my ego as a little ball of energy, trying to hold itself together against the onslaught. This was a powerful experience in itself, for the first time being aware with such clarity that I am here, and my ego is there.
Knowing from my spiritual practice what was going on, I told the sea of light: “Kill me.”
I cycled through a few different affirmations, including “Kill me”, “Let me die”, and “Resist nothing.” After a time, my body was wracked with explosive orgasms. I took this opportunity to launch myself into the spirit world and communicate with my dead friends Tina, Aris and Lexi.
The day after my second MDMA trip I wasn’t quite enlightened but experienced my ego as still severely weakened. I would habitually engage in negative inner dialogue but I would interrupt it mid-thought with laughter; I found that I couldn’t hold onto negativity. Negativity in general, that of me and that of others, seemed funny, not because I rejoiced in pain but because I saw the absolute ridiculousness of it. People were running around in circles their entire lives, chasing an illusion. Nothing they chased after was real, nothing they thought was hurting them was real (not in the way they thought anyway). Completion was here and now and all efforts to reach it rather than simply be it were futile.
My ego came back slowly. I’d say it took me a month to return to normal, though I had some incredible insights while in those high states and I think some of the positive effects have lasted until now. For instance, I lost the largest part of my phobia of bureaucratic institutions, making some tasks that seemed psychologically impossible to me now quite doable. I also stopped having panic attacks, and to this day (about a year after) I’ve only had one serious panic attack since then, and maybe two panic attacks in total, an incredible improvement over the frequency with which I experienced them before.
It was very frustrating to see myself return to normal. I struggled a bit too hard to stay high, and now realise I should have just let go gracefully (which ironically might have helped extend the state). Some of my excessive effort to keep my vibration high had the opposite effect and precipitated small crises. But after that month I had mostly let go and was experiencing life at mostly the normal level.
The next time I took MDMA was when I experienced enlightenment. This time, I meditated as the MDMA came up. I seem to have managed to keep my focus gentler and didn’t block the MDMA effect. It hit me, as MDMA does, very quickly. I began meditating into it, and soon experienced myself to be floating in the Sea of Light. This time I didn’t have to say anything, I simply allowed the light to dissolve me.
Now here is the interesting thing. My previous experience on MDMA had been ecstatic but not entirely peaceful, and I didn’t completely enjoy that lack of peace. This time, then, I consciously chose to avoid ecstasy and invite peace. If we visualise the energy, ecstasy would be the energy going out of me (ecstasy comes from roots that mean “to stand outside”); peace would be allowing the energy that comes out of me to return inwards.
In a very short time of doing this I experienced a state which I quickly knew was enlightenment. I remember having that understanding myself, but in the notes I recorded, it also says that a spirit guide came through and told me in clear and definitive words, “This is enlightenment.” (Writing this down it seems a bit corny, like I’m trying to make my story more convincing, but it happened so I’m not leaving it out).
When the state began, I noticed how everything felt very silent; the background noise had not changed but I noticed the silence that was already present so much more. I was very centered in the moment, and while I was able to remember things, the past and future seemed in some sense to disappear; I existed intensely in the present moment — that was where my Self was. Later, when I was no longer enlightened and thinking about this, it seemed scary, as if to give up past and future was some kind of death (when I was enlightened, of course, I felt only safety and peace). I had a strong sensation in the days after as if I had died and reincarnated; my hour of enlightenment was a discontinuity in the flow of time in my life. (I also had a feeling of having reincarnated after my previous MDMA trip. As I write this a number months after both of those trips, the feeling is gone and my past seems seamless again).
Enlightenment is perhaps easiest described by what it is not. In our lives we are generally driven by dissatisfaction. There is a constant sense of lack, either clearly or somewhere in the background. I’ve observed that even in moments of happiness or high emotions in my life it’s been possible to locate a feeling of something not being quite right still. Because of that, I’ve often found that being deeply at peace is more enjoyable than some forms of high pleasure. This was, indeed, what I observed while being in ecstasy in my second MDMA trip.
When the sense of lack or dissatisfaction is strong but doesn’t have a clear justification it’s known as existential angst; a sort of pain relating to the mere fact of existing. This pain is a lot more honest than most of the pain we experience, because it admits that there IS no reason for it. It just is. Enlightenment on the other hand could be very roughly speaking the opposite of existential angst: a positive existential feeling.
Normally, existential pain is not seen so clearly. It’s either given an “excuse” – I’m unhappy because of not having this, because of losing that – or it’s unconscious, somewhere in the background. An itchyness even when feeling neutral, a lack of letting completely go even when happy.
When my ego dissolved and I entered the Peace, this last little bit of dissatisfaction went away. What was left was something beyond words – it could be hinted at by the terms peace, happiness, joy, aliveness, and pleasure, but also none of those concepts really come close.
Peace, happiness, joy, aliveness, and pleasure all are normally used to describe non-enlightened states. Peace is usually referring to something relative, not absolute, and doesn’t help you to imagine the vibrance and intensity of enlightenment. Happiness is usually understood as happiness about something, and is superficial compared to enlightenment. Pleasure does not contain the freedom and expanse which enlightenment does. Eating some nice food in a restaurant, for example, is so small compared to the endlessness of enlightenment.
Besides this, when you search for pleasure, happiness and joy, often that search is driven by your existential pain, your dissatisfaction. So when you imagine enlightenment as the ultimate happiness, if you define happiness as an egoic victory, you will miss the mark.
In fact, even the day after my enlightenment experience when the memories were fresh I realised that I couldn’t quite grasp the experience anymore. I could sort of tap into it a bit, channel it a bit, but the mind itself couldn’t fully understand. (That said, I will say the best way to understand enlightenment without being enlightened is to have been enlightened).
Enlightenment is both unthinkably radical and also familiar. It is familiar, at least to me, because I have some vague between-life memories, feelings more than memories of actual events. The feeling there, in the Ether, is the same as enlightenment*. It is “Home”. It is quite literally heaven, and heaven is better than most people on Earth are capable of imagining.
*Though perhaps not for everyone? I don’t know. I’d like to imagine that even the darker souls finally surrender and dissolve into the light. I think that must be how it is, even if it takes a long time for some.
I think anyone would feel some kind of familiarity when they enter enlightenment. Enlightenment has always been here with us. It’s the most natural state there is, a return to nature. We’ve always yearned for it, even when we didn’t know that we did. We came from it and will return to it. It is Home.
Enlightenment has to do with a sense of self. The ego is essentially a false sense of self (Indeed, I’ve often preferred to call it the False Self as a way of avoiding the endless confusion that comes from the ambiguity of the term “ego”). When the ego dies, what is left is the true sense of self.
When trying to describe this before, I had the psychic intuition to refer to the children’s book “Are You My Mother?”. (I was not consciously aware of the existence of the book at the time, and recieved a sort of summary of it). In this book, a baby bird is born while his mother is away, and goes looking for his mother, asking the different creatures he finds, “Are you my mother?”. Finally, in a glorious moment, he finds her.
In life, we are like the baby bird. We ask food, “Are you my Self?”. We ask sex, “Are you my Self?”. We ask money, “Are you my Self?”. All of these say no, and we keep looking, and eventually we find our true Self, and the search is over.
The true Self is something like emptiness, or nothingness. You can also say that enlightenment is having no self. When I was enlightened, I did not have a specific sense of self, but I did exist – and vibrantly. My existence was very evident. Wherever I looked, there was me. There was nothing that was not me. And yet I was nowhere in particular.
The term “ego” has multiple meanings and one meaning is “personality”, leading us to the endless confusion of thinking that enlightenment is having no personality. Some people even mistakenly attempt to kill their personality in order to approach enlightenment. I was somewhat surprised to observe that my personality and my human aspect was absolutely still there when I was enlightened. I told my partner, “I love you,” and they said, “Well, you love everyone,” but I said, “Yes, but I still love you in a personal way.”
My enlightenment experience ended after I was drawn into some “drama” with my partner. Listening to the recording, I can see how I responded to what they said with the ways of responding I knew from before enlightenment. Enlightenment doesn’t give you infinite wisdom – I still needed to use my old patterns to have an idea of what to do in a given situation, though I suspect that being enlightened for a long time inspires you to find better replacements for old patterns. I didn’t realise this while I was in the state; I mistook the feeling of perfect safety and perfect connection to mean that I always knew the perfect thing to do. I also hadn’t quite realised the difference between following impulses and going by intution. I did have incredible intuition then, but I needed to access it, I wasn’t going to be spoon-fed instructions about what to do. So, thinking I was following my intuition, I acted pretty much on impulse, and I let myself be caught up in my partner’s current.
I wasn’t aware that I was slowly losing the state at the time, but I remember the first time I had a meaningless thought. I hadn’t stopped thinking while enlightened, but every thought had a very clear purpose and was surrounded by space. As I was slowly losing the enlightenment state, however, I noticed a thought in which I replayed some conversation I had had earlier. In comparison to all the other thoughts I had had during the trip it was very conspicuously useless. It appeared as if of its own accord rather than coming from my will, like a puff of smoke in my consciousness. As I was still mostly enlightened I was able to be very aware and observing of the unenlightened thought, but of course at some point the thoughts became so common that I wasn’t able to register each of them individually.
It took some time after the first unenlightened thought, but I eventually crashed.
The crash was horribly, horribly painful. For a couple of minutes I felt some kind of existential pain that almost equalled the intensity of the enlightenment state. Thankfully, I soon came back up to a state of just feeling sad and terribly frustrated.
The day after I was in a horribly negative state and felt the strong impulse to break up with my partner due to reasons that seem frankly illusory in retrospect (thankfully I know to never make a big decision on an emotional impulse). It took me about a day to feel better; then the intense negativity lifted and I felt as if I had woken from a dream. I was then depressed in a more normal way for another week or so.
I’ve since done MDMA twice more and both of these experiences were rather less amazing. I’m not certain why. In the first one I didn’t manage to achieve a very high state and got bothered by a parasitic spiritual entity. In the second one I was bothered too, and got even less high.
I’m not absolutely certain why this is. It could be that I have depleted my serotonin resources and need to wait a longer time before I could usefully take MDMA. However, using MDMA in spiritual ways does seem to be tricky, as evidenced by the fact that it didn’t even come up when I “tried too hard” in my second trip. So it could be that my craving and fear of enlightenment created an energetic state that blocked the full effect of the drug. I certainly was very nervous these last two times when I took MDMA, so that would make sense. My plan now is to wait until a year has passed from the time of my last MDMA trip, both to replenish my serotonin stores and to develop a new relationship with the idea of enlightenment; to learn to fear and crave it less, and to find a healthy form of desire for it.
I suspect, in any case, that my destiny is to develop towards enlightenment gradually and not complete the process in a single explosive burst. After all, each step of gradual improvement needs to be integrated, and mental structures need to be broken down and reconstructed. Eckhart Tolle spent years homeless after discovering enlightenment and Ramana Maharshi spent years sitting passive in a temple. I suspect that it takes that long to work out how to combine living in the real world and experiencing this incredible otherworldly truth. My life purpose involves creating new, more spiritual structures in the world, so I see that as being probably how I would approach enlightenment.
I believe that other people could do the same as I did, and so I’d like, for purely educational purposes only, to outline how that might be possible. I naturally take no responsibility for anyone who does something so terribly immoral as to buy an illegalised drug after hearing it might help them develop spiritually. I could not possibly condone that.
First, get to a reasonable point of spiritual development. Read The Power of Now, and meditate, say, every day for a year. Possibly you will need less than this, but you should at least be able to deeply rest your awareness inside your body as with Eckhart Tolle’s inner body meditation.
Learn about grounding and get comfortable with grounding exercises. This will be necessary in the days following the trip.
Learn MDMA safety. You must take MDMA infrequently, preferably not more than once every three months. Overdoing it can be very harmful. You should also take care not to let your body overheat when you’re on the drug. Have water on hand, and if it’s a hot day, get naked and splash yourself periodically. I also plan next time to try using megadoses of vitamin C to counter oxidative stress before, during and after the trip. Google all of this. Check Erowid. Geek out.
Learn about spiritual parasites and spiritual shielding. Cleanse and shield the space you are in, and cleanse and shield yourself. This is important because MDMA, when used in a spiritual way, makes you vulnerable to parasitic entities. If you don’t feel confident about this yet, please take plenty of time to learn. I learnt the hard way and honestly, it could have been much worse. Please take your time and be careful.
Now procure your MDMA. It should be pure MDMA, not street ecstasy which might be cut with other drugs. The most reliable is when it is in the form of clear crystals, but there may be also pills you can depend on.
Take a week off work. You might not need it, but you want to have that time there just in case. If you have to, just be ready to call in sick instead, but really, I suggest arranging it beforehand.
Take a normal dose of MDMA. I don’t think you need to overdo it. I used 150mg at a body weight of about 110KG, and that seemed to work.
It’s probably a good idea to meditate as the drug comes up, or even prepare yourself for hours or even days before. Perhaps a “dieta” as with Ayahuasca would be helpful; I’ve considered that for next time.
When the MDMA comes up, go inside your body as with Eckhart Tolle’s inner body meditation. View the boundaries of your body from the inside. View the glow of the MDMA. Passively observe the MDMA glow; the glow should respond to your awareness by growing.
When you find yourself floating in the Sea of Light, allow yourself to dissolve. If necessary use affirmations such as “let me die” and “resist nothing” — and whatever else you feel drawn to — to encourage this.
When ecstasy comes up, don’t get carried away by it. Instead, look for the peace, which will be in your center. Keep pouring your energy into your center and don’t allow yourself to be drawn out of your body by the ecstasy.
A safety person would be useful to have, but don’t get carried away talking to them. If you can, ask your spirit guides for advice about what to do. If not, just keep pouring energy inwards and avoid letting the ecstasy draw you outwards.
If and when the state ends, try and let go as gracefully as possible. It will be very hard, but the pain of grasping after enlightenment will be harder.
In the week or so following the MDMA trip, go easy on yourself and do grounding exercises. I personally get so ungrounded after MDMA that a strong grounding exercise feels like a wonderfully appropriate slap in the face. Missing this point will mess you up badly if you’re anything like me.
I don’t know if and when there will be a follow up to this post, but at least for now I have done my best to pass on what I genuinely think could be a key to modern spirituality. When the Buddha prohibited drugs and alcohol, he didn’t know that 2500 years later MDMA would be invented. (Note that the terms of the 5th precept talk about substances that “cause heedlessness”, so MDMA probably doesn’t strictly count). In the modern world we can take advantage of modern tools, and while I don’t think I will found the Church of MDMA, I think this could be a powerful ally for so many of us and maybe, maybe help change the world.
If you try this, please get in touch with me. I want to hear everything.