Effortless Mind Meditation

The Ultimate Plant Medicine

The Soma plant of ancient India was described in the Veda as a creeper.

Do you have an interest in psychoactive plant medicine? What if I told you that the ultimate plant medicine is one you can easily make yourself? Read on…

Plant Medicine: An Instrument of Awakening and Healing?

For centuries, plant medicine has been crucial to indigenous cultures as a source of insight, wisdom, and exploring and deepening their connection to the universe. Yet until recently almost all Western nations have banned these plant medicines. Today, however, more and more scientists and physicians are waking up to the profound spiritual, therapeutic, and even medical value psychoactive plant medicines may offer.

My Personal Background with Plant Medicine

My own spiritual path began with a life-changing experience on plant medicine, back in 1970. It catapulted me directly to the doorstep of meditation. I have described in detail that pivotal experience in the Introduction to Whispers of the Himalaya. (You can read it for free on Amazon by clicking “Read Sample” under the picture of the book.)

Some years later, in the high Andes of Peru, I was trained by a shaman in the 10,000-year-old ceremonial tradition of preparing and administering Wachuma (the sacred cactus otherwise known as San Pedro).  So I personally recognize and have great respect for the value of plant medicine, when it is administered as a sacrament.

I am cautiously pleased we are on a path that may lead to its acceptance in our society, provided we treat it with the reverence it deserves. We are sorely in need of something to awaken the current state of the collective consciousness of humanity. Perhaps these ancient plant medicines may help, if taken not recreationally but in a proper spiritual or therapeutic context.

So Plant Medicine for All?

That said, it’s been many years since I have taken plant medicine, and for those already awake enough to meditate regularly, especially with the powerful practices I teach on this site, I do not recommend it.

The magnification of experience has a depleting effect on subtle levels of the nervous system and energetic body. It can also result in distortions of experience that can be unbalancing. Besides, for those instructed in profound meditation practices, unless you are suffering from serious trauma that plant medicine therapy may help, it’s unnecessary. There is something much better, something I consider to be the Holy Grail of what plant medicine is ultimately for–producing it yourself, in your own body.

The Vedic Perspective on Plant Medicine

To understand what I’m talking about, let us go back to the ancient Vedic society in India. In that ancient society, in which enlightened sages were not uncommon, there was a treasured plant medicine known as Soma. So important was Soma in Vedic society, that the entire 9th Mandala of the Rig Veda is dedicated to describing it in all its nuances as well as its profound benefits. Soma, the Rig Veda says, not only elevates your consciousness to experience Truth and the Divine, but bestows bliss, strength, intelligence, health, and even material wealth. Soma was the ultimate plant medicine, not only on earth, but in the heavenly regions as well. In fact, the Vedas refer to Soma as Atma yajnasya purvyahah, the ancient soul of sacrifice (yajña)

Soma, the Devas, and Us

Why did Soma occupy such a high place for the ancient seers of India? Because Soma was said to be the most precious beverage of the Devas. The Devas are the omnipresent but hidden impulses of Divine intelligence that structure and govern all the evolution and activity in the universe. Soma invigorates the Devas and so strengthens the underlying order and harmony of life. 

Through the Soma ceremony, humankind nourishes the Devas, and the Devas in turn support us by strengthening the natural intelligence and orderliness in the environment, in the body, in the energetic or pranic body, mind, intellect, and bliss body. The result is greater strength, vitality, strengthened senses, blissfulness, clarified, refined intellect, vastly improved health and longevity, and enhanced harmony with the environment such that synchronicity and fulfillment of desires happens easily and regularly.

By nourishing the Devas with Soma, humanity lived in profound harmony with nature. Soma, it may be fairly said, was the basis of the ancient Golden Age, otherwise known as Sat Yuga.

Where to Find Soma Today?

There is, however, one apparent downside to all this: As far as we know, the Soma plant is extinct. Many have searched for it, and no one has found it. Yet could something so integral to the eternal wisdom of the Vedic tradition actually have disappeared from our planet?  If that were so, how can we fully benefit from the insights of that Vedic tradition? After all, Soma was considered so essential.

Fortunately, the very structure of the universe prevents such a loss. As Yajurveda puts it, “Yatha pinde tatha brahmande; yatha brahmande tatha pinde.” As is the individual, so is the universe; as is the universe, so is the individual. In other words, we have everything within us. Soma was indeed at one time a plant you could find in the world, but it is not just a plant outside of us; it also exists within us.

Scientists have found that the human body can produce any medicine. If you break a bone, for example, your body produces painkillers. Your body can also produce Soma. In fact, in your deepest experiences of meditation, your body already begins to produce small amounts of Soma.

That Soma enlivens subtle aspects of your nervous system to enhance thinking, feeling, and perception. That’s one of the hidden mechanisms of why you feel better after meditating. Meditation actually alters your biochemistry for the better. And what’s more, you can greatly accelerate this production of Soma through specific meditative practices. In fact, it is actually easy to do so in just moments—if you properly prepare yourself and know how.

The Holy Grail of All Plant Medicine: Endogenous Soma

So now we are ready to understand what I mean by the Holy Grail of plant medicine. Plant medicine can open the doors of perception, as Aldous Huxley put it when describing his mescaline journey in 1953. But it cannot keep those doors wide open. In other words, plant medicine gives us glimpses into aspects of higher consciousness, but it does not give an integrated experience of higher consciousness that can be lived day to day. 

However, we can gradually cultivate the ability of our bodies to produce Soma, the subtle biochemistry of bliss consciousness, of Divine intelligence. We can gradually integrate that higher style of functioning of mind, body, senses, and intellect through daily life experience. This is how enlightenment develops. Not by taking external plant medicine once or a hundred times or a thousand times, but by endogenously producing a much more refined biochemistry of bliss consciousness–Soma.

Just as we know there is a biochemistry of depression or anxiety, so there is a biochemistry of bliss, of enlightenment. Soma is the name the ancient rishis gave to that biochemistry of enlightenment. The Soma plant was an external manifestation of the chemistry that is an innate potentiality within us, the highest potentiality when it comes to human biochemistry. Again, as is the individual, so is the universe; as is the universe, so is the individual.

If you have an interest in learning how to cultivate the ability of your body to produce Soma at will, check out the Blessings of the Devas course. I also go more deeply into Soma and the Devas in the videos in the Devas playlist.

So Let's Party?

One last thing: If Soma was once actually a plant on earth and its use so important to Vedic society, why do I not recommend that meditators use other psychoactive plant medicines available today? 

This is not meant as a negative statement on the quality of available plant medicines. I believe all have their place. I do, for instance, acknowledge that some people, including meditators, who suffer from addiction or trauma or other psychological problems, may benefit from therapy that uses plant medicine. I do not know this from my own experience, but I have read accounts of this happening in a therapeutic setting, and this is also supported by a growing body of research.

However, if you’re psychologically healthy and have access to deep meditation, why take it? Curiosity? For recreation? How much better is it to use your precious time cultivating your body to produce the highest biochemistry of bliss consciousness, Soma, with profound meditation practices.

Sattva: The Ancient Prerequisite for Drinking Soma

In this regard, the perspective of India’s ancient sages on Soma is illuminating. India’s scriptures speak of the eternal struggle between the forces of negativity and positivity, the asuras and Devas respectively, for the Soma. Just as Soma invigorates the Devas–all positive qualities–so it can invigorate the asuras in their negative qualities. Again, as is the universe, so is the individual; all this, Devas and asuras, positive and negative qualities, are within you.

For this reason, the scriptures of ancient India are clear: Only the Brahmana is qualified to drink the Soma. Who is the Brahmana? As the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata puts it, “He, it is asserted by the wise, in whom are seen truth, charity, forgiveness, good conduct, benevolence, observance of the rites of his order, and mercy is a Brahmana.” Many similar passages make it clear that being born into the Brahman caste does not make one a Brahmana. Far from it. Rather, the Brahmana is one of pure and virtuous conduct, devoid of negativity.

Such a person is qualified to drink the Soma. Why? Because within them the Devas are already victorious over the asuras. Their mind and heart are dominated by sattva, purity. Within such a person, the Soma will never get into the hands of the asuras, it can never amplify negativity; rather, it goes only to the Devas to drink and so strengthens all positive qualities in the person, and by extension, strengthens positivity in the universe, for the universe is within each of us. Indeed, the value of the ancient Soma sacrifice was recognized to be not just for the individual, but for the community and even for the whole of existence.

Plant medicine can be extremely powerful. It can open you to the universe within, and it can even influence the balance of forces in the apparently external world. That is the respect we should treat it with.

With that in mind, the proper endeavor is to become a Brahmana, a person of impeccable sattvic character. This happens not by taking plant medicine, but by the purification through spiritual practice that gradually increases sattva.

This is one reason that completing the Deep Chakra Work course is a prerequisite for taking the Blessings of the Devas course. Deep Chakra Work not only purifies your entire mind-body complex, but also cultures the subtle perception needed to invoke and fully experience Soma.

The Goal

There is another, more complete definition of the Brahmana given in the Smritis (a class of Indian scriptures that elucidates all the practical facets of right action): “The Brahmana is one who knows Brahman.” Brahman is the Absolute, the infinite Godhead, universal Self. 

Such an enlightened person who has realized their identity with Brahman is not only qualified to drink the pure Soma, they do ever “drink” the Soma that is naturally produced in their body. They constantly nourish the Devas, and are in fact one with the Devas. They are the very Source of the Devas, and so create an extremely positive influence in the universe simply by Being.