If you can go to the Amazon, as I have been lucky enough to do, and ask traditional tribal shamans what they make of the state of rampant chaos in their sacred rainforest and in the wider world, they will tell you the answer is very simple. Western technological societies, and those that aspire to the Western "dream," have moved so far down the road of gross material culture, and placed so much trust in technology, that they have severed their connection to the spiritual roots of all being. If that connection cannot be restored -- quickly -- then we're in serious trouble.
Fortunately, say the shamans, they are in a position to offer a remedy. They know of certain plants, growing deep in the rainforest, whose leaves contain dimethyltryptamine -- DMT, for short -- the powerful hallucinogen whose extraordinary effects I described in yesterday's essay. Mixed with the pulped inner fibers of a sinuous jungle vine, and boiled in water for a day and a night, these leaves contribute their properties to Ayahuasca (meaning the "Vine of Souls" or "Vine of the Dead") a potent hallucinogenic brew that's been in continuous use amongst the cultures of the Amazon for at least three thousand years. The shamans I've talked to do seriously suggest that adoption of the brew in the West could yet save us, and all humanity, from the spiraling collapse of ecosystems and the growing murmur of insane conflict that our own behavior has unleashed.
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