All the great traditions on Earth urge us to think beyond our own needs. They inspire us to consider the needs of others, human and non-human, present and future, as if they were our own needs – which, from the perspective of Oneness, they are – and to act accordingly. Protecting what remains of Earth’s great rainforests and striving to record and understand the collective wisdom of the indigenous peoples of the region is one of the most valuable legacies we can leave to the future. But above all, what is the future of ayahuasca?
The transcendental importance of the tropical forest for the well-being of the planet
The production of oxygen, the stability of the climate, the sequestration of carbon and the myriad of natural processes beyond the comprehension that occur there on a daily basis, demand that we not allow the forgetting of its cultural and biological diversity. We must, as humanity, see the rainforest as the natural laboratory that it is, replete with the fruits of millions of years of evolution.
From our human point of view, with awe and reverence, there are plants that cure certain ailments and others that reveal great secrets; but above all, the rainforest itself is a great medicine.
A great planetary medicine
The tropical forest of the planet and, therefore, all the great extensions of wild nature, the oceans and natural ecosystems, are the pillar of the planetary immune system. Perennial stem cell capable of being renewed and fertile. All species on Earth need wilderness to be healthy, to maintain climate stability and for life as we know it to continue. What, then, does the “ancient future of ayahuasca” consist of?
Plant, people, planet
It can be said that the link between the natural environment and people is the basis of culture. Our cultural heritage unifies people with plants, with our sustenance and medicine, with elemental powers and natural cycles. The cultural context is relevant to herbalism, agriculture, seasonal phenomena, spirituality and all the use of plants in all societies, and it is especially crucial to understanding the uses of entheogens; the so-called “master plants.”
If we want to better understand the role that these sacred plants play in the lives of peoples, we must understand the traditions documented over time that have evolved with human use of them. It is precisely these guidelines traditional ones that have allowed sacred plants to act as positive agents between people and societies.
Sense of place
For example, when properly prepared and administered, ayahuasca – also known as yagé, as well as other indigenous names – can realign the worldview and perception of nature, showing how to find a sense of place within the human community. as well as the great community of all life.
In the hands of a master of this tradition of plant medicine, the energies it allows access can be channeled to help others regain inner balance, healing, and renewal. People can then be more aware of their participation in the creative unfolding of the universe, as co-creators expanding the original celestial order.
Some of these indescribably beneficial effects can be obtained even through the truncated and limited experiences of so-called “ayahuasca tourism,” as well as more serious experimentation and travel. Small doses on a regular basis constitute a religious rite for some people, a healing purge for others.
These modern uses of traditional medicine are evolving and spreading throughout the world, and can help us find a way out of the ecological and spiritual mess in which we find ourselves; they are certainly a route worth exploring as we try to prevent the collapse of life support mechanisms on Earth.
Simultaneously, in the future, ayahuasca is also in danger of being integrated into western consumption patterns and economic laws. Ayahuasca tourism is a big new business in the Amazon. Will medicine become another mass market item, divorced from its traditional origins and unable to provide the benefits we seek?
Visions of ayahuasca
It is a sad reality that despite the great potential of ayahuasca to lead humanity and the benefits it has brought to many people in the past (not to mention its pure and almost incredible magic), this art and science is being quickly fading into its traditional context. The great Amazonian sage and visionary painter Pablo Amaringo once explained to me how he used ayahuasca as a tool to apply rigorous scientific scrutiny in order to understand the truth of this existence. In his book, Visions of Ayahuasca, he writes:
“Only when the person begins to hear and see as if he were inside the scene, not as something that is presented to him, is he able to discover many things. There is nothing that he can not discover. I saw how the world was created, how everything is full of life, how the great spirits intervene in all aspects of nature and make the universe expand. The world is multifaceted, so mysterious and unfathomable that it surpasses the imagination. I also understood that the human being will never be happy until he realizes his connection with the Creator and the spiritual dimensions”.
Powerful natural medicines
Ayahuasca can cure many physical ailments and illnesses, even the so-called “terminal” ones, but it cannot do it on its own. These cures can be accomplished when plant medicine is combined with the advanced knowledge of healers or adepts who, as a result of a lifetime of serious spiritual practice and training, using methods passed down by generations of devoted teachers, are able to associate with powerful healing spirits and direct energy appropriately. This is where our Western medicine is often divorced from its energetic origins and the mastery of human healers.
In both palliative and preventive care, the traditions of sacred plant medicine and the ancient approach to healing are perfectly tailored to the specific needs of each person. The exact way in which ayahuasca works to awaken in each person a new opportunity for renewal in the future is beyond rational understanding. That is why the elders of the Secoya people say: “The yagé knows; we do not know”.
The future of ayahuasca: from the jungle to the world
Still, the ability of indigenous science, traditional Amazonian medicine, and ayahuasca to help people achieve understanding, balance, and well-being has been demonstrated countless times. Due to the effectiveness of this medicine, it is inevitable to see its popularity increase, and this – in unimaginable ways, since ayahuasca helps people on their personal journeys – will help save both medicinal traditions and the jungle environment itself.
Because while traditional modes of transmission are crumbling, hope for the future of the ayahuasca tradition comes, ironically, from outside the jungle, from elements within the very cultures that seem bent on destroying everything. Around the world, as more and more people seek to reconnect with original nature and their true identity, they participate in ayahuasca healing ceremonies or seek health through the use of various botanicals from the Amazon rainforest.
We see that as it passes to the West, a new form of syncretic use of ayahuasca develops among people related to the plant around the world. It seems that when one door begins to close, another opens, and medicine could be seen as moving where it needs to go, striving to offer people the ultimately satisfying challenge of waking up and becoming a conscious human being. Even if this is the case, any conscious human being cannot help but be saddened by the tremendous loss of biological and cultural diversity that is taking place today.
In a world governed by corporations and driven by profit margins, even the knowledge of the best scientists is not respected, much less that of indigenous scholars. However, there will come a time when indigenous science and modern scientific methods will join forces to help redirect the course of humanity. The spirits, deities, and immortals who are revealed through the drink of yagé want this more than anything.
The evolution of the «globalhuasca»
Understanding this, what then is the future of ayahuasca? It includes the enactment of sustainable alternative economies and adequate progress at the local level (as opposed to mass development), timely education and loving child rearing, protection of clean air and water sources, care of the methods used to raise our food, and the urgent protection of the powerful tropical forest and virgin areas of the Earth, home to these great traditions and the most diverse terrestrial ecosystems.
This knowledge will continue to help individuals and communities as it expands beyond the jungle, and I want to believe that nothing can stop it. It is evolution in action, the constructive cycle of the universal energy flow manifesting itself, gaining momentum and strengthening itself daily.
And despite the loss of much of the original body of knowledge, peripheral forms are being transmitted. From these seeds, there may be a future in which the lianas will sprout again, and these arts and forms are respected and can flourish again in the jungle and around the world. Within this ancient mode of science, in its simplest and most practical form, there are profound methods for contemplating the whole and reestablishing a personal connection with the whole. These methods rectify critical misperceptions and cleanse the individual of many false assumptions that are now taken to be true.
This ayahuasca experience is currently in vogue, but sometimes it is not based on tradition. Because in the Western urge for instant gratification it is vital to understand that this science is vast, and its full understanding requires a dedicated lifetime of study, which few Westerners (and indeed few modern Amazonians) are capable of, or have. The courage necessary to undertake. However, it appears that elements of traditional Amazonian medicine can be integrated in modern times to help realign people with a more holistic and natural way of being.
Grandma’s medicine is wise and powerful
Perhaps the plants themselves are catalyzing new opportunities for the survival of their wisdom, as well as their home in the rainforest, and perhaps us too! Awakening an understanding that we are the latest evolution of the rainforest, coming to protect itself, is refreshing.
How does ayahuasca do this?
Through ceremonies everywhere those inspire and impress the experience of unity and connection on a personal level – not just in a jungle setting, but all over the world. And through the motivated hearts of those who know how to love this sacred Earth and respect all life. We can act as medicine for the jungle if we grasp the message of unity of ayahuasca and help preserve the great treasures of the Amazon and the Earth. This task is urgent: industrial globalization threatens the very existence of the forest and the botanical knowledge that could provide so many solutions.
And yet, as powerful as medicine is, all great shamans and accomplished sages of any culture will agree that ayahuasca itself is not essential for progress on the spiritual path. Ayahuasca and other sacred plants can reveal many things, but ultimately they are not necessary.
After healing, what?
The culture of service is the centerpiece and foundation of this path of spiritual development and subtle scientific understanding of the power of being virtuous, the universal power of being absolute. Ultimately it is about going beyond yourself and being able to help others.
As the elders of the ceremonies of yore marveled to recognize, in silent whispers around the soft glow of a fire, indeed, the only way to unite all the virtues of one with all the virtues of the multiverse is to always offer the best of oneself same.
One of the contemporary demands of our energies and an excellent setting for service is to awaken oneself and others to the need to evolve towards sustainability, to take into account not only the needs of people but also those of nature. Now is the time to leverage our latent yet inherent capabilities to unleash the unifying powers of the culture of service to enact positive change. We must prepare to serve all of life’s creation, at any time, doing the best we can at each moment. This is contemplative mediation.
At the core of ancient ways we learn that taking from nature is a privilege, not a right. Any seeker of truth can agree that the only right we have as humanity is the ability to awaken as truly conscious beings, to enact a life in reciprocity, balance and harmony among all living beings. This is our right, this is our planetary mission, and this must be our direction.