David Casey • • 10 min read
How Ayahuasca Made This CEO Unplug from the Matrix
To become warriors, the cohiuanos must abandon all and go alone to the jungle, guided only by their dreams.
In this journey, he has to find out, in solitude and silence, who he really is. He must become a wanderer dream. Many are lost, and some never return.
But those who return, they are ready to face what is to come.
—Karamakate, Embrace of the Serpent
I lived many lifetimes that night, and parts of my identity peeled away, never to return. I was shocked out of the “dream trance” that had defined my existence until that moment. This seems to be a common occurrence under the influence of Yahé.
I was 19 years old, visiting tribes in the Putumayo, deep inside the Ecuadorian Amazon basin. It was balmy, teeming full of unfamiliar organisms, many of them venomous. Gigantic trees towered over a multi-layered tapestry of life. I knew the Amazon was shrinking by 7% a year and I wanted to experience its magic before it might disappear completely if humanity continues to accelerate towards the proverbial cliff.
My group visited an old medicine man who lived a humble existence in a hut on the side of the river. It was important to me to learn more about traditional healing practices in the region. Ancient practices that spanned through the millennia, carrying ancient knowledge that I now believe carries information crucial to the survival of our species. As our group was leaving, the man mentioned to our tour leader that he would be drinking ayahuasca that night.
This was just the opportunity I had been waiting for.
One wonders how people in primitive societies, with no knowledge of chemistry or physiology, ever hit upon a solution to the activation of an alkaloid by a monoamine oxidase inhibitor. Pure experimentation? Perhaps not.
—Richard Evans Schultes
Being an avid reader of John Perkins, Terence McKenna, and Richard Evans Schultes, I had always felt inspired to drink this sacred medicine in its place of origin. These writers explored both the individual and collective unconsciousness, the spirit world that we come into contact with through the portal of plant medicine, and our everyday reality. I wasn’t necessarily looking for healing. It was more of an intuition, and a desire to experience authentic indigenous culture as well as follow in the footsteps of some of my then heroes.
These warrior writers brought up the collective imperative questions that we as a society must ask ourselves: What is the meaning of industrial development? Where are we going? What can we learn from indigenous tribes?
I started to wonder about these questions, too.
The tour guide left me for the evening with the old man, who must have been at least 80. He was joined by his brother. Neither of them spoke much Spanish—only their native Kichwa language. One candle burned in an otherwise dark room.
I had one cup, and then another, waiting for what seemed like an eternity. Still, I sensed no change in perception. So I insisted on a third cup, immediately after which I began to feel very ill. This was accompanied by a rising tide of anxiety. Within 15 minutes, I began to vomit. I didn’t stop until six rounds of purging had completely emptied me. It was then that I witnessed a myriad of physical and nonphysical things leave my body—things that had been buried deep inside of me for years.
Afterward, I lay down and closed my eyes in wonder as many of my past transgressions passed through my mindscape. I went into a retrospective on my relationships with each of my family members, and my girlfriend at the time. In different ways, I was not fully showing up for each of these relationships. A sense of compassion welled up inside me due to this realization, and I became overwhelmed by a feeling of sadness, almost a crying, and I soon felt that this was no different from the pain of the jungle itself, no longer separated from my own feelings, as the permeable walls of self dissolved.
The world is as you dream it,” he said at last. “Your people dreamed of huge factories, tall buildings, as many cars as there are raindrops in this river. Now you begin to see that your dream is a nightmare.” He bent to pick up a stone. “The problem is your country is like this pebble.” He threw it far out into the river. “Everything you do ripples across the Mother.
—Numi, Shuar Shaman
After that sleepless but intensely rejuvenating night, I became a missionary of Mother Ayahuasca, an embodiment of Gaia herself. I surrendered to her will and stopped worrying or trying to understand why I am here. One of the powerful messages that was delivered to me that night was that humans had always been integrated with the natural cycles of the biosphere, but in these times we have forgotten our relationship with nature, which is the source of all life. Almost all of our social and environmental problems today can be traced back to this disconnection.
Ayahuasca reawakened this connection in me.
Through the years, I have drunk ayahuasca more than 30 times. It never gets any easier. With each time, I continue to sink into the experience of surrender, and trust that the universe will give me all lessons at the moment I need them.
The seed of the new world sprouts within each one of us. The ayahuasca experience is a huge catalyst for this, as is meditation. We can also water the seed by spending time immersed in nature, in small communities, similar to how our ancestors lived.
Through my own transformation with ayahuasca, I have come to understand that social and economic transformation will only come after a critical mass of individuals have undergone a personal transformation.
NuMundo, the project I founded in 2013, was born out of this conviction.
NuMundo is not mine; it is a vision expressed through me with the intention of scaling the transformational experience, in its many diverse forms, to reach millions of people around the world.
Once personal transformation occurs, we need to be supported, as previous notions of our role and purpose are no longer relevant. NuMundo is a support network that serves to integrate people into this emerging culture—to connect them with follow-on experiences at “impact centers” around the world. Impact centers are physical locations where a new way of being is embodied – ecovillages, indigenous communities, retreat centers, organic farms, even rainforest conservation sanctuaries.
Today, a critical mass of people is waking up. It is of fundamental importance that we support each other and build bridges that make the transition easier.
NuMundo is an educational network, equipping people with the practical skill-sets necessary to build a regenerative economy. We focus heavily on permaculture, a design science based on ancestral ways of living in balance with nature. More than the future basis of economics, permaculture can be viewed as the programming language of nature. We can utilize it to restore degraded ecosystems, increase biodiversity, and generate abundance for human beings and all life.
According to NuMundo’s theory of change, the creation of physical spaces that embody a new culture can accelerate that critical mass of awakened humans. The contemporary urban landscape is programmed with a value system embodied by a vast underground network of cables; a legal and economic system governing human interaction and even consciousness itself; a culture of consumerism fueled by fear and desire; and widespread stress generated by the financial pressures of rent and other basic needs.
It is difficult to transform one’s consciousness in such a system.
A new culture needs a new program.
NuMundo’s impact centers are physical centers of impact, holding a vibration of a different reality. There are 380 impact centers in the network, and more join every week. Rancho Mastatal, the center I’ve been based at in Costa Rica for the past year, is an education center for sustainable living. High school and college groups from North America pass through the Ranch monthly, where they are immersed in an experiential learning program involving bioconstruction, permaculture, and nature awareness. The ranch is managed by a core group of six team members, and supported by a group of six apprentices. The ranch borders a national park with stunning waterfalls, and bird watchers from around the world come every year for the chance to spot rare species.
When we step into a different vibration, we can begin to unlearn. Ayahuasca and other ancient consciousness technologies like yoga, meditation, and diet, allow us to deprogram, to unlearn, and to decondition social patterns imposed by the dominant society. Our impact centers act as schools for unlearning, for transformation, and for discovery of passion and purpose in this lifetime.
I believe that the human species’ behavior on this earth is not sustainable in its present state. By creating a decentralized learning network, my aspiration is to empower a necessary cultural shift by accelerating the distribution of information on regenerative living. I envision a rapidly growing international network of impact centers that can innovate and spread these techniques to all corners of the earth. Furthermore, the NuMundo platform supports social entrepreneurs around the world to create their own impact centers by connecting them into our network, which encompasses existing functional models, educational courses and trainings, and the technology itself which is designed to operate as the online presence of an impact center.
By demonstrating and reifying a regenerative lifestyle first-hand, we are building a bridge from concept to experience to integration in everyday life through experiential education and real tools such as natural building, permaculture, and community building that can be put into practice.
Biomimicry, and specifically mycelial networks, influenced how we created our network structure. Mycelial networks have no central point, and are in essence a biological internet, able to pass nutrients and information across long distances. The nodes of our network are the impact centers, physical spaces holding a vibration of love for all sentient life. From each node, a vibration holding new patterns can emanate and ripple into the surrounding area. We are particularly inspired by blockchain technology and its potential to support NuMundo’s transition into a distributed, resilient, self-healing network of interconnected life that mimics those found in nature.
But building this dream is not without its growing pains.
Currently, our organization is navigating the tension between the need for a leader who can make effective decisions, which is traditionally how organizations grow, and the vision of a decentralized organization, a many-headed hydra. We have dabbled in various configurations and are still in the process of discovering the organizational structure that optimizes flow, efficiency, and the empowerment of each member. We have experimented with holacracy, a method of decentralized management and organizational governance, in an attempt to structure our organization in line with our desire to move away from the old structures of hierarchy. However, implementing holacracy requires a high level of understanding of how to implement it as an organizational structure, as well as a high level of participation across the organization. And there’s one more layer of complexity to add, due to the fact that NuMundo is a remote team, and communication is not easy across continents.
Like so many modern attempts to return to our roots, NuMundo also experiences tension between building technology (spending time behind a screen) and being out in the world, growing our network of relationships. One of the most effective ways we’ve found to grow our network and transform lives is through events that create temporary immersive experiences of a different reality.
NuMundo has been engaged in a number of events over the years, and it was at an event in Costa Rica where I connected with Martijn, the man behind this very cyberspace you’re visiting now, HighExistence. We discovered that we had many things in common, from a deep love of Costa Rica’s natural beauty to the shared belief that events can transform lives. Through this connection, a collaborative event was hatched, which will be taking place in Costa Rica early in 2018. It will be an exciting opportunity for NuMundo and HighExistence to collaborate on bringing a tangible experience into the world focused on consciousness and immersion in nature. Click here to apply.
As an economist and entrepreneur, I’ve discovered the Regenerative Enterprise and the field of Ecological Economics, which give academic endorsement to an economy tied to the well-being of nature. Capitalism is most profitable when a business is in the extractive economy, liquidating nature into financial capital. Building a “regenerative enterprise” is a more difficult means of making profit, but ultimately more aligned with the universe, which, I believe on a mystical level, will sense the purity of intention.
The role of a regenerative enterprise in an ecosystem is to nourish and even birth other players in the ecosystem, and add value to the entire ecosystem, or the “commons,” which all can benefit from. A “regenerative enterprise ecosystem” can be understood like a “plant guild” in permaculture, where each plant plays a critical role in the functioning of the guild as a holistic system. A regenerative enterprise can achieve “success” by its model being copied by other players and taken to other ecosystems where its positive impact can continue to ripple.
You devote your life to plants. That’s the most reasonable thing I’ve ever heard a white say.
—Karamakate, Embrace of the Serpent
We can learn so much from the plants – from our natural world.
Ayahuasca has shown me how to trust. It has taught me to align my enterprise and its impact positively with the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants. Its most powerful lesson to me has been the power of manifestation that occurs with surrender, alignment, and intention. I have found the three ingredients necessary to manifestation are a crystal-clear vision, a purity of intention unsullied by personal motives, and a determined willpower.
Ayahuasca gives us perspective, and the connection to source from which we can channel visions in high-definition.
Ayahuasca confronts us with our own ego and shadow, sheds light on unconscious patterns that may be driving or influencing our creations, and dissolves the patterns that no longer serve us. What’s more, it fuels us with a passion to live, to serve, and to create. It is truly a complete medicine.
Ayahuasca weaves the past, the present, and the future.
Our network holds a shared vision of future tribal living, weaving the threads of time back to our ancestors’ connected ways of living, and forward into a decentralized fabric of interconnected ecovillages and communities inhabited by healed, purpose-driven humans.
I hope you’ll cocreate that vision with us. Take a step outside your boundaries and join the movement of regeneration.
List of further resources for entrepreneurs:
- Daniel Pinchbeck (How Soon is Now)
- Yanik Silver (Evolved Enterprise)
- Gregory Landua & Ethan Roland (Regenerative Enterprise)
Article written by David Casey, founder of NuMundo, and co-founder of Cosmic Convergence gathering.
A Final Note on the Safety of Psychedelics
As we repeatedly stress on HighExistence, psychedelics are not playthings. They must be approached with reverence and caution. We do not recommend taking psychedelics illegally or impulsively. We believe that in the proper context, certain psychedelics are powerful medicines with tremendous potential, but there are a number of physical and psychological safety concerns that one should consider before journeying with psychedelics. Please, please do plenty of research, and do not take psychedelics if you have reason to believe that they will not jibe with your personality or particular mental baggage (or if your family has a history of mental illness). The Essential Psychedelic Guide on Erowid is an exceptional free resource, and we recommend reading it, especially the section on ‘Psychedelic Safety,’ before ever dabbling in these substances. We also recommend reading our guide to psychedelic myths before deciding to try psychedelics. It’s also imperative that you buy a test kit if you aren’t absolutely certain that the substances you’ve procured are what you believe them to be. Take care, be smart, and be well.