Jacob – Fall Initiation 2011
“Hi my name is Jacob and I am 31 years old and I’m from Los Angeles, California. I came down to Peru to drink ayahuasca because of a lot of changes that were going on in my life. I should probably tell a little bit about me. Back in the default world I’m a very successful professional in the entertainment industry. I had gotten, sort of, to the pinnacle of my career; released critically acclaimed, popular media; have a house by the beach; awesome car… really, living the American dream. But as I reached this point where I had all of this success, I was getting more and more depressed because I realized that materialism is hollow. I would just be going for more success and more stuff, getting getting acquiring more. Getting a hot wife and a cool family and all of these different things and it would all just be getting things because that’s what I’m supposed to do and impress people and have things. So… I didn’t know what to do and I was like if this is all life is, why keep going? And thankfully, and that moment in my life when I didn’t know what else to do a friend of mine introduced me to psychedelics, and that started a whole new direction in my life where I started looking into all of the legitimate research about psychedelics as psychiatric medicine, as a healing agent, as medicine.
Peru has a 2,500 year tradition of using ayahuasca, which is a very powerful psychedelic, as medicine. So, over the next two years, my research led me to Peru. I certainly looked into western psychiatric care. I spoke with psychologists and psychiatrists and did a lot of research about different pharmaceuticals available. I tried out anti-depressants but none of them really worked for me, and then I came to Peru and found the Ayahuasca Foundation, which is just incredible. It is everything I could possibly have hoped. The people running the Ayahuasca Foundation, Carlos Tanner and don Enrique Lopez are just the most consummate business professionals. These guys know what they’re doing. They are healers of the highest order and believe deeply in the science of plant medicine and psychedelics as a psychiatric care aid. And I am happy to say that my depression is completely healed now and not only that but I have so much more understanding of why its healed and the research that has been done by western professionals about how it works and also the research done by traditional indigenous peoples about how it works.
It’s just been really amazing to come down here. I was familiar with the research by Dr. Rick Strassman and also Dr. Charles Grob but Carlos has a fantastic library here of other research like I learned all about the work done by Dr. Bruce Lipton here, who wrote Biology of Belief. That book completely changed my perspective on life and how we have the power within us to heal ourselves and how psychedelics as a form of psychiatric medicine make you aware of your own power. I learned all about epigenetics here. I had never heard of it before. This has just been a crash course in both the western science of cutting edge psychiatric medicine and also traditional indigenous psychiatric medicine and it’s exactly what I came to Peru for and it’s what I wanted and I got it in spades. I could not possibly have imagined how incredible this course would be.
The accommodations at the camp are just fantastic. I’ve done a lot of roughing it, as it were. I’ve hiked sections of the Appalachian Trail and I know my way around a forest and I was really expecting to have a bathroom that was a hole in the ground with spiders all over it and stuff like that and it is not like that. We have these beautiful, completely enclosed, screened in rooms. There are solar panels for light. We each have our individual bathrooms and showers, which is amazing. The quality of the construction of the camp is great, it’s just a beautiful place. The Mishana community is just so warm and welcoming and friendly and they all just really want to talk to you and invite you to learn about them and their culture. They’re just so happy to be here. The love it here and they want you to love it here. Just so hospitable and wonderful. It’s been not only a very rigorous training course but also just a beautiful, relaxing vacation.
I learned a fantastic amount about curanderismo. I suppose what I expected was a traditional and cultural system of healing steeped in tradition but what I got from don Enrique and Carlos was a real understanding of the science of plant medicine. I think when I came to this course I still had my very western prejudices about medicine in the developing world and thought that, well, there’s no way they can possibly know as much as our doctors. But it’s really fascinating to me how much more they know about certain things than western medicine. Western medicine is absolutely fantastic at certain things, like trauma. If you get a gunshot wound you want to be in a Western hospital. It’s awesome for that. But if you want to talk about health over the long term, if you want to talk about chronic illness, chronic pain, these guys know more about that than I could have ever imagined. I had a lot of doubts coming in here and I was very honest with them. On the bus ride out to the camp, as we were going to our boat to go upriver I told Carlos that I had a lot of doubts and I would be very skeptical and I would be asking a lot of questions and he welcomed my skepticism and he was happy to talk with me and also help me talk to don Enrique because I don’t speak Spanish, (he was a fantastic translator) so that both of them could directly address all of my skepticism and all of my questions and all of my doubts. I continued to have challenges to my beliefs because I have 31 years of beliefs built up but they continued to support me and I am just ecstatic about the world they have opened up to me with curanderismo and all the ways it can work in tandem with western medicine and create a better whole than I had ever imagined was possible. I, as I think many westerners, had really come to accept that I was going to die of the same genetic diseases as my father and my mother’s brother and all of these different people who I knew in my family who had died of lymphoma or suddenly in their sleep or things like that. My family has a lot of history of lymphoma. Nearly everyone I know has died of it and western medicine can keep you alive for seven more years, something like that, but curanderismo suggests ways that you can avoid ever getting it. That sort of thing, again sounded like hocus pocus to me before I came here, but after a six week course, really spending every day studying and learning, and reading western research that suggests why its true, and really focusing on…
Here’s the thing that really got me. What I think helped me the most was the understanding that what we call the placebo effect is what curanderismo focuses on. They say that’s not the placebo effect, that’s the effect. When you believe that something can heal you, that belief gives your body the power to heal itself, and that is the fundamental tenet of curanderismo. Again, I had all sorts of skepticism, and I know that somebody watching this and seeing me talk about this this way may have a lot of skepticism like, oh, that sounds like hippie talk, but I urge you to come here and speak with Carlos and speak with don Enrique and learn from them why they believe that that is the case and how logical it is that it is the case once you really learn about how the science of curanderismo works.
I’d also like to note that I’m really a very straight laced guy. I’ve spent my life really focused on my career and being a law abiding citizen and a good patriot and just an all around good person and it was a hard thing for me to overcome, the idea of taking a psychedelic because, unfortunately, they’re not legal in America, but they helped me so much. They showed me that it was possible to feel ok, it was possible to feel centered and not scared and not neurotic and actually find reasons to live that made sense. So, coming to Peru was really great for me because it’s not that it’s just legal here, it’s not a loophole. It’s that it’s respected here. It’s a legitimate thing that people do as a matter of course. Carlos’ wife is a lawyer and she was with us at a ceremony and that’s very very common. It’s very common for people with professional jobs who are contributing to society to drink ayahuasca and to use it to help them become better people and to overcome their fears and difficulties and worries and illnesses. So, I think that Peru is just a wonderful wonderful place to come if you need help to overcome the prejudices that you might have towards psychedelics as a medicine.
If you are the sort of person who is interested in any way in psychedelics as a medicine, as a psychiatric aid, if you are interested in cutting edge science, if you have found the limits of western medicine or the limits of western beliefs, if you’ve hit the ends of them and realized that your faith in western medicine promises you only death, ultimately, then for any of those reasons, I urge you to come down here to the Ayahuasca Foundation and study with Carlos Tanner and don Enrique Lopez and learn about the science beyond that. Accept everything that you know about western medicine, accept it, accept that it is powerful and healing and wonderful and we are so lucky to have it, but that there is more and there’s 2500 years of incredibly detailed science on how you can heal things that we never thought were healable, and how you can make the life that you have available to you so much more healthy and vibrant and beautiful. I would certainly urge you to bring your doubts and bring your skepticism and tell Carlos and don Enrique and let them prove to you as they proved to me that curanderismo is not only a beautiful and detailed traditional science, but it is also the new science. It’s where western medicine is going now. It is epigenetics. It’s all of these new things that we’re just finding. It is quantum theory. They will be utterly ecstatic to tell you about how all of that is the case, and if you think that you’re open, even in the slightest, to hearing what they have to say, please come down and learn from them. It will be one of the best experiences of your life. It has completely changed mine.”