Wednesday, December 13

Ayahuasca Tourists

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During my recent trip to Peru with Patch Adams and 134 clowns from around the world, I conducted a clinic with my friends at Amazon Promise. Amazon Promise, headquartered in Iquitos, is a healthcare organization that provides for the needs of the indigenous people of the Amazonian basin.

My friend Javier, is an obstetrician who directs the Peruvian team. In addition to his clinical work, he trains local midwives and healthcare workers. He is a talented artist, and a shaman’s apprentice who has studied with a traditional indigenous shaman for the last10 years

Javier is a skilled traditional healer, but not a participant in the booming ayahuasca business, which has become a booming industry. Tour operators say ayahuasca and its attendant ceremonies, have become the cornerstone of local tourism. Tourists come to Iquitos in droves, they stay in nice hotels, eat at good restaurants (some selling special ayahauasca diets), and contributing to the economy. They are looking for this mystical “sacred elixir of the soul”, seeking calmness, clarity, spiritual enlightenment, and cures for depression, childhood traumas, or cancer.

The bigger the business the more it lends itself to slick commercialism and salesmanship. Javier, says he doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry about its’ popularity. Having studied ayahuasca for a decade, he still considers himself an apprentice, Javier says, you can’t come to ayahuasca and get its benefits, by making a quick visit and dabbling in it; you have to apprentice yourself to it for a lifetime if you want to appreciate its power and unfold its secrets.

I’ve tried it and I know I don’t want to apprentice myself for a lifetime. Ayahuasca demanded more of me than I was willing to pay; it immobilized me (Schlagbyte, Sept.1, 2008). Ayahuasca is hard on the body, it contains the potent mind-altering chemical dimethyltryptamine (DMT) that will move you into cosmic space, and other elements that can cause severe gastrointestinal and neurological side effects.

This awesomely powerful entheogen can certainly provide profound physical and spiritual relief, but it will also shake you down…and there are some people who stay down. Do not come to this journey as a casual seeker, there are no shortcuts to enlightenment; all paths to such discovery require dedication and hard work. Find out what you’re buying there are lots of vendors but not many guides.

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