Filip Zaruba is director of the movie ‘Bufo Alvarius – The Underground Secret’. He is also the 3D animations creator, scriptwriter, as well as a cameraman, editor, and music composer. Filip is a an experienced psychonaut who has had profound experiences with 5-MeO-DMT and was inspired to create a movie to educate on the relatively new phenomenon.
Synchronistically, Filip was fortunate enough to be able to interview Dr. Stanislav Grof for the movie. In this interview, Filip also discusses the reasons for (and journey toward) making the movie, the controversy around involvement of shaman Octavio Rettig, the morality and responsibilities around Bufo Alvarius medicine use and synthetic 5-MeO-DMT. He also discusses the role of Bufo/5-MeO in our awakening, whether it is right for everyone, the risks and after effects associated with it, and what we can learn from using these powerful substances.
Interviewer: Let's start from the beginning. Where did the idea of making the film dedicated to Bufo Alvarius come from?
Filip: “It came from my first encounter with Bufo medicine back in 2016. After more than 20 years of my active spiritual journey, studying, meditating, reading, discovering myself, and life, also with the help of different psychedelics, I experienced something that truly shocked me by its power and uniqueness. It was like everything I knew from the mystical books and stories of spiritual masters, everything I believed in and tried to reach, suddenly happened.
I was pulled out directly into the Source of Everything where there is only peace and love. I was everything and everywhere. Everything was answered because there were no questions. With other psychedelic substances, one is still dealing with this world, his own past, his subconscious mind or different levels of being… but from the perspective of a yogi, it is still a world of illusion, not the absolute reality.
But Bufo makes it possible to experience the state that all great mystics reach: samadhi; enlightenment; nirvana; non-duality. Unfortunately, unlike yogis, one comes back and is unable to remain in the state of enlightenment. Still, it brings so many benefits to everyday life. I was very grateful for the opportunity to experience it, but at the same time surprised that almost no one knew about such a phenomenon. How come there is no movie? So I came to a conclusion that it could be great to make one and finally to use my skills in 3D and special film effects for something really meaningful.”
Interviewer: Even the best ideas can't come to life without the right constellation. What was the journey of yours?
Filip: “I always say the real director of the movie was the toad, not me. I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time and to meet the right people to help me to shoot it - and to finish it in a way that I have been dreaming about. My original idea was to fly with a group of Czech psychonauts to Colombia, to make a reportage and to publish it on Youtube. But I came back home full of amazing inspiration and with filmed material, also with many new questions.
Why was everyone I interviewed talking about exactly the same experience of love and light and God? What are the benefits of it for individuals, for society, for the Earth? Many synchronicities started to happen, so I followed them. For example, I wished I could talk on the camera about Bufo and 5-MeO-DMT with one of my biggest heroes, a founder of transpersonal psychology, Stanislav Grof. Suddenly he arrived to Czechia to run his holotropic breathwork workshops. He was kind enough to find some time for us in his busy schedule, and we spent an unforgettable shooting together. I am so grateful for his attendance in the movie.“
Interviewer: For many, the visual effects are still the most fascinating part in whole movie…
Filip: “Thank you so much. It is really impossible to describe the extraordinary Bufo moment in words, so we used other communication tools and created an audio-visual adventure that could take the audience at least a little closer to this exceptional experience.
Creating these 3D animations was very special to me. I felt totally "connected". Many times after I completed programming part of the work, I hit the render button and went to sleep, and I was surprised by what I found on my monitor screen in the morning.
I feel delighted how the visuals interfere together with music composed by my friends Satori and Maok, also with the personal insights of all our more or less known respondents. Actually, it would not flow that nicely without a tremendous dramaturgy touch of Vaclav Dejcmar, who is an extremely wise and inspiring person who supports many cultural and scientific projects in Czech.”
Interviewer: You didn't mention neo-shaman Octavio Rettig yet, the Bufo Alvarius facilitator whose style of work has been sharply criticised recently. Why did you choose him particularly to take part in the movie?
Filip: “We feel very sorry about the current situation with Octavio. However, we are neither in a position to support such allegations nor to defend him. All we can say is that Octavio Rettig facilitated Bufo sessions for the crew as well as all the psychonauts from our movie, and his practices worked great for all of us.
From our point of view back in 2016, he was widely appreciated as an experienced and sensible 5-MeO-DMT guide. Also, he was the only practitioner that we knew at that time willing to go public. I know many others but they prefer to be invisible.
On the other hand, we all know – say – stories of Nobel Price winners who started to advocate unacceptable ideas later in life. In the same sense, the whole topic of spiritual endeavour is a history of human failures of all kinds. Nevertheless, our film is neither about any particular practice nor facilitator. Our movie is about Bufo Alvarius and 5-MeO-DMT. Still, we are obviously strictly standing against any psychedelic and entheogenic malpractice. The nature of the bond between a facilitator and a client who is administered with a psychedelic substance is the most sensitive and serious one.”
Interviewer: It looks like Bufo Alvarius is becoming very popular among psychonauts these days. Everybody wants to do it now, even people that might not be ready for such experience. Don't you think sometimes, it would be better if the toad stays underground? That it doesn't need more popularity increased by movies or mass media coverage?
Filip: “But this is a destiny of everything new and promising; of everything that gives people hope for positive change. I think the current growing popularity of Bufo and 5-Meo-DMT has some more profound sense that we are not able to assess yet. Of course, the responsibility of every user and the facilitator is crucial here, and can't be underestimated.
Also, the protection of the toad and its territory is a very important issue. So maybe the future is in using pure synthetic 5-MeO-DMT, which is much safer, does not do any harm to the toads and the results are basically the same. When Stan Grof speaks in our movie about the strongest experience of his life he is actually talking about a high dose of pure 5-MeO-DMT.
But back to our film – its goal is to give our audience a unique glimpse into this spectacular phenomenon, without actually taking the substance themselves. Some viewers may find reasons to never embark further on this journey, others may be intrigued to find out more about Bufo Alvarius. We respect whichever conclusion they come to.
We got fabulous feedback even from the people that never tried psychedelics, nor were they interested in them, but somehow they came to see the movie and were really touched by its content. It made them feel that our life has some more profound meaning and that some higher intelligence or creator exists, so they have decided to work on themselves spiritually. For me, this is fantastic.”
Interviewer: So when the one is ready to meet Bufo in your opinion?
Filip: “That is really hard to say. Almost all of our public screenings are followed by discussion with creators and experts, where we can provide more thoughts that didn't find a place in the movie. We always remind the audience that the toad and 5-MeO-DMT is the highest work with the psychedelics, which can really mess with one's inner world and everyday life, and that it is good to start step by step – with meditation and holotropic breathwork. Then try MDMA, then mushrooms and so on.
Because everything you believed in - also your ego - Bufo shatters into pieces in a few minutes. On the other hand, there are people who never even meditated, and they are fine. I think it's all about what values a person holds and how authentic his or her life is. However, all the people with the physical or psychological contraindications as well as the pregnant women and the kids should be uncompromisingly out of the game.”
Interviewer: You are most probably confronted with many life stories where Bufo played its role. Is it really such a life-changing experience?
Filip: “Absolutely. But let's make it clear: it's not the 5-MeO-DMT that makes the changes. It's you. And it's not the magical 15 minutes that transforms you. This is just the beginning. The real ceremony starts when the effects wear off. That's why it is essential to get grounded afterward - to integrate this new knowledge into everyday life.
A hardcore materialistic, atheistic person could be forced to make big changes in a short time, or could suffer in our “reality”. This experience is often hard to swallow, even for the skilled and experienced psychonauts. But the truth is the Universe helps you with everything if you choose the "right "path. The amount of "coincidences " and synchronicities that start to happen is mind-blowing.
Meditating becomes much easier. It is also widespread that people go through re-activations of the full effect of the medicine months after the ceremony. It usually happens during night before you to sleep, not when for example you are driving your car. Also the effect of any psychedelic you take after a Bufo experience is much stronger. So it is appropriate to be careful.”
Interviewer: What can Bufo Alvarius teach us?
Filip: “As Stanislav Grof says in our movie: Transpersonal experiences awake in us a true spirituality that is universal, not connected to any particular religion. We are deprived of aggression and hatred, of various prejudices including the sexual, racial, or national.
We discover how all is connected in unity, we get a sense of global citizenship and a firm belonging to nature. This is associated with increased sensitivity to environmental issues. I think that all people should express in their lives what they fundamentally believe in. And this - what they essentially believe in - changes very much after the Bufo experience.
The toad allows us to recognize good and bad qualities clearly and guides us on an authentic journey. It teaches us love, compassion, tolerance, understanding how to live a meaningful life also the fact that everlasting happiness can be found only inside of us. We are what we are looking for, indeed.“
Interviewer: Do you think the renaissance of psychedelics could have something to do with changes in the current structures of society?
Filip: “Yes, I guess we can expect a slow transformation and upgrade. Our society has made tremendous progress in science and technology, but we have forgotten spirituality in the name of materialism. Which, as we can see today, is a dangerous situation. Yet I perceive our Western civilization quite positively; we can be proud of many changes that have shown during the last centuries - for example in the areas of human rights, living standards, individual freedom, minority rights or women's emancipation. These are amazing.
We still have a lot of work to do though, and in some areas, we are at a very worrying, critical point. So yeah, maybe that's why these substances have appeared here. I am a big fan of Rupert Sheldrake and his theory of morphogenetic fields, which says that to change the system does not require an absolute majority of the parts of the system to change. It is enough to change a certain critical mass, which may not be large at all. Once those five-ten percent of people acquire some knowledge and skills, it is much easier for the rest to change too. So let us be the part of the change!”
Interviewer: How would you like to see the future of Bufo Alvarius?
Filip: “I wish to see more and more scientists focusing on Bufo Alvarius and 5-MeO-DMT research. We really don't know much about this substance yet, though the few pieces of research that have been done recently came with promising results.
Hopefully, 5-MeO-DMT could follow MDMA and psilocybin in psychotherapy and conventional treatment of addictions, PTSD or depression one day, as it helped many struggling people already. I hope a lot of wise facilitators will grow, and that the Bufo community evolves into a world full of love, respect, and mutual support, so it can safely open many more seeking eyes. The business with Bufo is massively worrying, so I pray we will not screw it up. We have to treat this exceptional toad as a true sacred gift.”
Interviewer: Beautiful. We hope all your wishes come true. And how would you like to see the future of your film?
Filip: “Well, it had big success among the Czech audience, it received various awards at international film festivals, I have visited many exciting events around the world with the movie, including the first World Bufo Alvarius Conference last year. Recently our documentary started the new chapter – it's possible to watch it online on our website, iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. So we do our best to let all people know about it and we hope the movie touches them in the same way like everybody in our country.”
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