Why Using Psychedelics Requires Vulnerability

There aren’t many people who will walk into an ayahuasca ceremony or load a pipe of DMT without some form of apprehension in their solar plexus. As with anything experienced regularly, you can become used to immersion into the experience, anticipating the limits to some extent.  

Yet anyone who has dipped into the DMT realm often enough can tell you that nothing is certain. Even the best sets and settings don’t bring any guarantees. We are walking into the unknown and for all intents and purposes we are blindfolded. Just as it does in everyday life, walking into the unknown without certainty takes courage.

Psychedelics and entheogens come with indefinable parameters


We all know somebody who is happy to experiment with substances. These could be anything from weed to cocaine, but arguably the parameters of experiences with those types of substances are more clearly defined.  

Psychedelics and entheogens just don’t conform to the same rulebook. The main reason for this is that with the aforementioned substances, you’re remaining within this everyday realm – the known reality – albeit with enhanced or altered perception.

When you enter the DMT realm, you are in unchartered territory. You may be able to draw parallels with others’ psychedelic experiences, but the experience you have will be unique to you.

Psychedelics have a way of unearthing deeply set feelings and, in particular, fears. We are so conditioned to avoid ‘negativity’ and uncomfortable feelings in daily life that it makes sense that we don’t always feel ready to plunge ourselves into the dark and murky waters of our psyches.

The ability to transform is ours alone

The idea of reliving long-buried traumas doesn’t exactly whet the appetite, unless we are committed to healing and transformation. In that case, psychedelics could be just what we need. Having said that, this work is our own responsibility. Psychedelics and entheogens can highlight what needs to be transformed; they function as a guide, but they will not do the work for us.

That’s why it pays to be ready when you commit to any kind of trip or healing ceremony. We can’t say for sure what we will see or feel, so we can’t promise ourselves that we are ready for it. Yet at the same time, when we know our own power and have the intention to remain courageous, we can at least be certain that we have the best chance of processing the lessons that these substances proffer.

The people who say to us, “Oh, I could never do psychedelics” don’t often clarify why they feel that way. When probed, they might admit that they don’t like the idea of loss of control. That’s a fair point, because the ability to control a powerful psychedelic experience is minimal at best. Even the strongest minds can be shaken up in a big way through a phenomenal substance like DMT.

The ego will give us all kinds of excuses 

DMT and ayahuasca tend to humble us, and humility is not a trait embraced by the ego. Sometimes the ego is so strong that even entheogens can’t overcome it. Essentially it is the ego that suffers during a psychedelic trip, as it is forced to take a back seat.

When somebody tells us that they won’t take psychedelics in order to remain in control, what they are really saying is that they are not ready to relinquish their ego, even for a short time.  

They are not ready to embrace the unknown, and they are not prepared to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is often seen as weakness, but the truth is that to be vulnerable takes courage. We struggle to be vulnerable in relationships, and the same goes for our general security. Even a lack of resources is enough to make us feel vulnerable, so it is no surprise that embarking on a journey into the entheogenic wilderness sends shivers down our spines at times.

Awakening takes serious guts

If you are feeling a little shaky and nervous ahead of a psychedelic experience, rest assured you are not alone. The chances are that you have a warrior spirit lurking under the constraints of the ego. You are a truth seeker, and to embrace truth about ourselves and this world (let alone universal truths) means to risk the shattering of everything you thought to be real. This equates to awakening, and if awakening doesn’t take vulnerability, we don’t know what does.

You may currently be in a minority, but with your courage and voice, you encourage the possibility that others will follow suit. In this way we enhance human consciousness incrementally, until the reality we share each day becomes more wholesome. The truths we bring back from other realms can help us to see what is important. We put things into perspective for ourselves and others, and this can only be positive. Vulnerability is your friend, and you are among the bravest out there. We salute you.

In the end, we return to the question, just how much do you love truth? Do you really love truth or are you just curious? Do you love it enough to rebuild your understanding to conform to a reality that doesn’t fit your current beliefs, and doesn’t feel 120% happy?

Do you love truth enough to continue seeking even when it hurts, when it reveals aspects of yourself (or human society, or the universe) that are shocking, complex and disturbing, or humbling, glorious and amazing - even when truth is far beyond human mind itself? Just how much do we love truth? It’s a good question to ask ourselves, I think.
— Scott Mandelker