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Where Science Meets Spirituality: DMT And The Nature of Reality

Isaac Lindenberger Jul 8, 2019, 3:05:05 AM

“If they are there, and can be contacted reliably, let us see what they have to say.” 

Deep in the mountains of Brazil is the church of “Santo Daime,” which translates to “Holy Wine” in Portuguese. This church uses natural plant sacraments for mystical purposes; connecting to one’s “higher self” and communing with the divine. You may find the following lore interesting; as Jesus turned water into wine at the request of his mother for his first miracle, it is believed he actually turned it into Daime, their indigenous psychedelic brew.

Interestingly, Daime is an ayahuasca wine, so it would make sense for him to create a concoction that expanded your consciousness towards the source, rather than one that inhibited your connection such as alcohol. It is certainly interesting local lore.

The villiage teaches through the “School of Abstract Thought” which gives one a level of comfortability in navigating the “astral,” or higher conscious landscape, as opposed to the subconscious landscape. While no expert, I hope some of my ideas are interesting to you and can be of some use.

Background on DMT

Let us get straight to the heart of this research; DMT and its relation to reality. DMT is the only naturally occurring psychedelic that exists.[1] It can be said to be an endogenous entheogen. Endogenous means naturally occurring; thus, this compound is thought to exist within all life as it derives itself from the amino acid Tryptophan. It has been confirmed to exist in humans, along with many other animals and plants. “Entheogen” translates to “generating the divine within,” as can be seen with the root Latin “En” meaning within, and “Theo” relating to theology.

The center of my theory is that DMT connects you to another dimension, what many would consider the “spiritual realm”, or for those without metaphysical inclination, the “astral plane.” This is a working theory, so contributions and criticisms are especially helpful as it is in the developmental stage. Know this is not a theory that is restricted to a single discipline; it is a combination of scientific, quantum, physical, empirical, historical, metaphysical, spiritual, psychological and anthropological evidence.

Every living being could have DMT in them, it is thus the strongest candidate for a possible biochemical foundation of the soul. It could be considered the physical connection to the spiritual realm and is the reason we contain it endogenously. I believe this supports that we really have a soul. Interestingly, it is often postulated that DMT is released during birth, before death and during dreams by the pineal gland, which many believe is the home of the “third eye” although there is little to no scientific evidence to support this. However, there is some historical evidence. The Tibetan book of the dead, the Nyingma “Bardo Thödol,” states that the soul enters the body after about 4 weeks.[2] Around 20 years ago it was discovered that the Pineal gland forms after about a month.[3] If the pineal gland is truly the seat of the soul, then once again archaic wisdom has been validated by modern science.

The Nature of Reality

To start, we have to talk about the nature of reality itself. Please note that this information is contestable and is largely based in quantum theory. We live in the base of a string of many dimensions, the dimension of the material. Matter is what separates us from dimensions that exist above our physical reality. You cannot open a wormhole, or an Einstein-Rosen bridge, into one of these “superior” or transcendent dimensions that exist beyond our reality, you would only be traveling across the space-time continuum.[4] Superior can have its connotation taken out of context. In this sense, I don’t mean they are better, but they are merely beyond our physical perception. However, many believe we can travel to them using our Pineal gland, or our third eye, which is said to produce DMT. This Pineal gland has been known to be the seat of the soul since the 17th century (Descartes).[5]

As one of the shamans in Brazil told me, “There exist other dimensions we cannot physically travel to. We can still travel to these dimensions, it is just not physical travel and it cannot be. One of the aspects of conscious evolution is the ability to access other dimensions. In the spirit it is completely possible to travel the entire universe. Where are the dimensions? They are within our consciousness. Where is consciousness? It is inside ourselves.” Using DMT in shamanic brews or without the use of an MAOI (or potentially if it is released naturally such as in states of meditation or at death), one can travel across the dimensional barrier into a spiritual plane of existence.

Albert Einstein, in his theory of special relativity, showed that the universe is more easily conceptualized when viewed as three spatial (3-dimensional) and one temporal dimension (the fourth dimension; time). Similarly, humans also possess a three-dimensional body, however, they also possess a fourth-dimensional body. DMT appears to expand one’s perspective from this limited scope. If the brain is like a radio, tuned in to the physical reality we currently occupy, then DMT turns your normal radio brain into a high-powered telecommunications device developed by CERN. Many animals can see energetic wavelengths we are unable to perceive. As such, psychedelics are likely an enhancement to our original engineering, allowing us to expand our awareness into other realities.

Perhaps nobody puts it better than Gordon Greene; in describing the higher self’s interaction with the lower three-dimensional self, he writes,

“When a person’s higher self begins to awaken or to be born into hyperspace, his or her view of reality begins to change dramatically. That person’s three-dimensionally conditioned consciousness begins to amplify, as the reality slice he or she occupies begins to expand up into (and perhaps passes entirely through) the fractional continuum. Markedly greater powers of internal and external awareness are activated during this process of spatiotemporalization. The inhabited organism and the surrounding environment come under increasingly greater scrutiny from the awakening higher self. The four-dimensional self begins to feel, and otherwise sense, the operation of energies within this dream body. Awareness stretches down to encompass energetic activities occurring at the cellular, the molecular, the atomic, and then the subatomic level.”

Misconceptions on DMT

While there is some degree of truth in the notion that the Pineal gland is the “seat of the soul”, there is also a degree of fantasy. When DMT is taken in a high dose that can produce states similar to near-death experiences, it activates on the CNS 5-HT2a receptors. In all humans, DMT is not produced in concentrations that can actually activate these receptors and is rapidly broken down by Monoamine oxidase (MAO) if it ends up being produced.[6] There is no evidence that suggest DMT can be built up in the brain or neurons at these levels to produce such an experience, and such postulations are either based on speculation or flawed experiments. If this is the case, what can account for the profound nature of near-death experiences?

Endorphins, increased brain activation, and glutamate may posses the answer. Endorphins, specifically dynorphin, are released during stress which would certainly be a trigger for a near death experience. Dynorphin has a high affinity for the opioid receptor kappa, which can cause out-of-body experiences as well as perceptual hallucinations. Cardiac arrest and asphyxiation, common affects concurrent with near death, lead to increased brain activation serving as a “fight or flight” response to a life-threatening situation. This increased brain activation increases dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine which can help the brain facilitate the near-death experience. This also can lead to the release of the excitatory amino-acid glutamate, which when increased (such as with ketamine) can produce out-of-body experiences as well.[7]

Critics of the theory that DMT may facilitate the transition of consciousness into a higher dimension may say, “The relation between DMT and near-death experiences can be explained scientifically because they have the same influence on perception. The brain of Homo Sapiens has a unique and specific architecture, and as such it can produce very similar emotions, sensation, and even hallucinations, by a variety of different stimuli, because the underlying structure upon which the stimuli act is the same.”

While this is a good argument, DMT and near-death experiences are actually not correlated (as detailed in the last two paragraphs), and it is conventionally believed outside of the realm of mainstream science that they are. If DMT caused NDE’s, then the comparison between the experiences would be easy to explain neurochemically. Since DMT and near-death experiences represent fundamentally different mechanisms of biological action and can produce such a similar transcendent state of awareness, this increases the evidence that they are connecting to an objective reality exponentially.[8]

Where is DMT Produced?

Although the majority consensus is that DMT is not produced in the pineal gland of humans, there is some evidence that it is. N-N-DMT (the endogenous form) has been found in the pineal glands of rats through LC/MS/MS analysis.[9] Also, there is evidence to suggest that the affinity of DMT towards the sigma-1 receptor may be provenance of the DMT hallucinatory phenomenon. The sigma-1 receptor plays a key role in protecting cells from dying when oxygen is low, making room for the theory that DMT may be released in large quantities during death serving the physiological function of helping to keep cells alive.[10] Although DMT is not considered to currently have a role in near-death experiences, it is possible that it may. More research must be conducted before we have any conclusive answers.

If DMT is not produced in the Pineal gland, where is it produced? While I stated in the previous paragraph many believe DMT is likely produced in the Pineal gland, evidence exists that a large amount of it is produced in the stomach. You may know that your stomach contains what biochemist have coined a “second brain.” This is because a large number of neurotransmitters are produced in the stomach, primarily serotonin, which is essential for perception.[11] Serotonin and DMT are analogues of one another. We went into before how NDE’s (near death experiences) are very similar to DMT experiences, as it is likely NDE’s are the product of endogenous DMT release. Keep this in mind.

The adrenal glands (located above the kidney) are responsible for the release of adrenaline, which causes a flight or fight reaction in those who are near death. If you are experiencing a very stressful event, the adrenal glands will stimulate the release of adrenaline from the adrenal to help you increase your biological and perspective abilities, so you have increased chances of surviving.[12] If adrenal stimulation near death stimulates DMT in the stomach, it would make sense how DMT can be activated before death and why a portion of it is created within the stomach.

DMT, Serotonin, and The Stoned Ape Theory

Interesting, the DMT molecule is structurally similar to that of Serotonin, which is one of the primary neurotransmitters used in the human brain to facilitate perception. The link between natural psychedelics and Serotonin may be a historical one. For DMT specifically, historical use likely goes back thousands of years, with native shamanic practices mainly originating in South America. Traces of psilocybin, 4-phosphoryloxy-DMT, has been found in many ancient cultures religious artifacts. It is possible that ancient humans used natural psychedelics (for spiritual reasons or by accident, mistaking them for food) and it helped to evolve their consciousness.

The theory that psychedelics helped man to “level up” mentally is often attributed to Terrance McKenna as the “stoned ape theory,” it is actually originally from Aldous Huxley. He coined the concept of “neurotheology” which is the belief that natural entheogens helped us to evolve. Considering the similarities between the structure of serotonin and natural psychedelic tryptamines, this is not as far fetched a claim as one may belief.

The Subjective DMT Experience and NDE’s

Now we will discuss some of the subjective effects of a typical DMT experience. The psychedelic frequently causes you to leave your body and go to an extra-dimensional realm where you are “an essence of a soul.” The experience is almost the same as accounts of near-death experiences. This substance takes you to the dimension I believe objectively exist, supported by the notion that all organic life may contain DMT. While the experience last for 15 minutes, it can feel like you are gone years or longer. The “hyperspace,” or the realm which DMT bring one to, has remarkable consistencies which add to its credibility.

For example, on LSD a user will have vastly different experiences each time, one instance you could perceive visual fractals, and another may be entirely internal. DMT takes users to this same dimension each time. On top of that, Psilocybin mushrooms (and NDE’s) also can take you to the same hyperspace, authenticating its reality through consistency. However, DMT and Psilocybin are structural analogues of one another, a factor that could be attributed to biological action. That being said, the distinction between DMT, Psilocybin and NDE’s as described earlier is a stronger form of evidence for this. The users feel they receive knowledge beyond human comprehension and thereby cannot explain it in words, but this substance is known for its profound effects, and supports the notion that there is something more.[13]

Here is a metaphor for the consistency of the hyperspace. Even though each experience with DMT is different, we know it is the same place. If you were to take 3 aliens and put one in London, one in India, and one is Canada, they would know when they got back together on the space ship it was the same planet due to the similarities of the environment. They may have seen different people or landscapes, but the same sun, the same atmospheric conditions, and many of the same qualities in the organic life.

With DMT it is the same way, although there are slight variances in the experiences of the DMT state, the overwhelming similarities can be explained by the capacity of the molecule to bring you to the same dimension, and the differences can be explained by the substance bringing you to different locations within this objective reality. On top of the consistency within DMT experiences itself for the same and different individuals (as opposed to the remarkable differences between the experiences of other entheogens), DMT, Psilocybin Mushrooms, and NDE’s all have the capabilities of bringing you to the same location, serving as additional supporting evidence to authenticate its reality.[14]

There is a strong argument against the case for the consistency of NDE’s themselves, arguing that evidence for their subjectivity is based on how most NDE’s seem to represent cultural experiences. For example, Hindu’s see Krishna, Buddhist see Gautama, and so forth. While this is certainly an interesting observation, it is not enough to discredit the consistencies of the encounter those who come back have. In reality, the cultural differentiation between those who describe NDE’s differently is not that extreme.

Let’s say you are a Muslim individual, and you see an entity that you cannot possibly describe, on top of having a foggy memory of the actual experience. You likely would call whatever that being was Allah, because that is what you have been raised to describe such entities as. Similarly, a Hindu would likely describe that very same being as Krishna, even though they saw the same thing. It is through the way individuals make sense of the world around them, their spiritual schemas, that cause the variance in NDE interpretation.

Research Methods: Experimental

So far have read many of the central ideas of my theory on DMT, and from this point I will detail ideas of verifying this dimension exist with scientific experimentation. There are a few ways this can be proven I know of, and this many more are possible as well provided you are creative enough. The first involves discarnate entities (or machine elves) which live in the DMT realm. Discarnate entities are inhabitants of a perceived independent reality.[15]

To start, say you have a person in one room go to hyperspace and tell the beings a number. Another person asks what the number was. If they could access this information in the DMT realm with the help of the machine elves, it would virtually prove the existence of this realm, however it may not be enough for everyone. That is the first test, which can be modified considerably to test for different aspects of the dimension being investigated. For example, if the test is successful but the individuals are in the same location, it may be wise to separate them by several hundred miles to discount any affect that affinity may have played in the results.

Perhaps DMT studies incorporating neural imaging could be performed to determine if entity contact experiences under DMT are related to temporal lobe activity. Previous research has shown that stimulating the temporal lobe can cause mystical experiences. It begs the question, is DMT the connection to a higher dimension, or is it through the activation of this structure of the brain that consciousness can transcend physical reality? It has been hypothesized in various areas of neuroscience that this could be a reliable way of measuring the effects of psychedelics, especially at isolated time-frames.

The difficulty would be linking the subjective experience of the contact to the time the activity is detected. For example, let’s say at three minutes in the temporal lobe is indeed stimulated. You wouldn’t be able to say, “did you see an entity at 3 minutes?” because of the profound effects of time dilation. They might respond, “no, but I did 3 years in!” despite the experience only lasting around 30 minutes in total. More than likely, it would be activated throughout the entire experience. Regardless of this, finding this activity would be useful in further investigations.

If the DMT hyperspace is not real, and is a projected manifestation of the unconscious mind, it would be reasonable to assume that DMT experiences are so consistent because they were “coached” to be. For example, when referencing a skeptic of the hyperspace, an online blogger wrote,

“He thinks that people romanticize the DMT state and “editorialize” their experiences. That is, they reconstruct their memories to produce a more consistent narrative. Hence, people might have the subjective impression of visiting the same landscape on different occasions when in fact the scenes are much fleeting than they think.”

If this is the case, one would assume that those who have no idea what a DMT experience will consist of will report remarkably different perceptions and effects. However, how will you get the green light to give massive doses of the most powerful psychedelic known to man to those who are inexperienced? In truth, such research may not even be worth the findings, as it would be unethical to shock people to such a degree. Are there ways around this? Maybe you can think of some.

Some believe the DMT hyperspace to be a co-existing internal world, but not a co-existing external world. In other words, if one performed an information storage study, where someone went to the DMT hyperspace and told the beings a long number, then forgot what it was, they could go back and retrieve the number later. However, another person could not do this, since it would not be a shared reality. A reliable way of testing this would be to perform the same number study listed above, but with the same person, after adding a way to forget the number of course.

From Marko A. Rodriguez: A Methodology for Studying Various Interpretations of the N,N-dimethyltryptamine-Induced Alternate Reality

Research Methods: Correlational

These tests are correlational in nature and are not subject to the traditional restrictions of academic research. I have to begin with some studies already conducted. I will cite the aforementioned studies. Morality is similar amongst psychonauts because they link to a similar objective source. In the US psychonauts were surveyed and found to have a much higher correlated moral perspective than the general population.[16] Is this cultural? Maybe, so same study was done in different countries on different continents. Same results; highly correlated moral perspectives.[17] However, this doesn’t prove that they link you up to a higher dimension, a predisposition inclining you to take psychoactives in the first place may be the cause. To prove this is not the case, you could do a correlational study with a sample of college students that had both done and hadn’t used psychedelics; those who had would serve as the control. Those who hadn’t are tested 5 years later; the ones who did within the time-frame are again tested for moral thought. If they have a similar moral thought before taking psychedelics it is due to the predisposition. If they do not, and their perspective changes after, it is verifiably not due to a predisposition to be attracted to entheogens

Even this is inconclusive. Do they change their mind because of a true linking to objective morality in a transient dimension? Or is it the nature of the psychedelic experience that causes a biological change in morality? This is where the third route of test come into play. Monks were given LSD many years ago to test the relation to the trip and their meditative experiences. Although the trips were strong (500+mics) they were reportedly nothing compared to their meditative experiences.

If you were to inject these monks with DMT, and the internal state was still more powerful (which is likely caused by DMT itself), it proves it is not the DMT as a drug, but the connection to the spiritual plane is at an entheogenic level. Rather than biochemistry being the determining factor, the level of connection and the process of internalization to achieve conscious ascension is also incorporated. This would provide strong correlational evidence the hyperspace exist, however is still not proof. The first test I mentioned could be proof, yet I am skeptical that it would work.

In a recent episode on my personal podcast, Rick Strassman suggested to me that the next most important level of research on DMT is the link between DMT and NDE’s. Although some studies have found this, they mainly use questionnaires, and more serious connections need to be made in academia. By strengthening this connection, one would have greater claim to an argument that the DMT state is evidence for a divine realm based on its correlation with NDE’s. As the icing on the cake, if you could show (as detailed earlier) that DMT and NDE’s are not caused by the same neurotransmitters/areas of the brain, this would be a powerful contention on the reality of a separate and objective dimension that can be traveled to through consciousness.

Research Barriers

Finally, we will discuss some problems with these tests. Although they serve some fundamental groundwork on how these notions can be scientifically tested, they also have some serious problems. The first test involving the transference of information via autonomous entities could work, but what if the beings don’t want anything to do with us? Maybe they are mischievous, and will alter our information, or they may not even be able to understand what we are trying to tell them.

We could attempt to have a research participate independently transfer the information, but it is unlikely they will be able to navigate such a dynamic and complex dimension with any reasonable degree of accuracy. Even if two individuals are in the same location when they “ascend” to this conscious dimension, they may pop out in very different spots. All the variations of this test, however, are worth attempting considering the potential implications if they are successful.

The final test examined here attempt to work with the following notion: the moral change following psychedelic ingestion is proposed to be caused either a predisposition to taking psychedelics (socially), the psychedelic experience itself (chemically), or the objective exposure to a higher reality (metaphysical). The final two test are set up to prove that the social and chemical explanations are not the cause for the moral perspective shift, leaving only the metaphysical explanation (although others could arise later). The test to disprove the social predisposition theory would be difficult, because even if somebody doesn’t have the predisposition at first and is influenced to take psychedelics later, they still technically have the predisposition. I think if you’re clever enough you could find a way around this, although then we run into the problem of “is the clever solution ethical?”

The test to determine that the perspective change is not caused by the chemical nature of the experience could be supported by showing that the experience of natural DMT states are different than the experience of an external DMT state, showing it is not just the biochemical action (which it would be since the chemicals are acting the same way regardless of the point of origin) but the actual method one has of transcending physical reality. However, if DMT is not even released to a significant degree internally as discussed earlier, this test would have to be altered to examine the relation between what internally causes such states and what can externally replicate them. All of these tests can be further expanded and modified and are a potential base to investigate metaphysical applications within the scientific community.

There is a popular theory in the Nexus community that one could verify a DMT beings’ existence if they asked them to factor a massive prime number. This is reasonable coming from a person with no experience with psychedelic states, however, most experienced psychonauts will tell you with no hesitation that such a study would be very difficult to conduct successfully. In the psychedelic state, especially the DMT state, one has hardly any control of their cognitive capacities.

To recite one number to a DMT being would be difficult enough, much less a string of them. (However, some claim that it is easy with enough experience, a curious statement indeed). The unfamiliarity of researchers with the subjective psychedelic state is a problem, as seen by this flawed experimental hypothesis. Psychonauts who are creative enough should attempt at home studies on this subject in an attempt to come up with some effective methods of research. In this sense, the shaman could be even more useful than the scientist.


“Contact with alien entities in other worlds has long been reported from non-Western and pre-modern societies. Such reports are usually presented in the context of a particular mythology or cosmology that makes it difficult to relate them to a modern scientific view of the world. This may mean not that these reports are false, but that our scientific view of the world needs to be extended. A scientific attitude — that is, an open and questioning attitude to the advancement of knowledge, one which does not shun any repeatable observation regardless of how bizarre it may seem — is not inconsistent with the discovery of intelligent, non-human entities in a higher-dimensional realm. If they are there, and can be contacted reliably, let us see what they have to say.” -Erowid

Although there are still conflicts within this area of research, this is an impressive start. That is part of the excitement in researching an underdeveloped field; seeing its progression and evolution in real time. It is not too late to, as Anastasio says, to “Hope on the train” and help with this revolutionary work. In truth, it’s just getting started. Together, we can work to help the collective of humanity rise into a state of increased awareness, consciousness, and internal fulfillment.


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[4] Kaku, M. (2005). Parallel worlds: A journey through creation, higher dimensions, and the future of the cosmos. New York: Doubleday m

[5] Lokhorst, Gert-Jan, “Descartes and the Pineal Gland”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2017/entries/pineal-gland/.

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[7] Nichols, D. E. (September 07, 2017). N,N-dimethyltryptamine and the pineal gland: Separating fact from myth. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 32, 1, 30-36.

[8] Barker S. A. (January 01, 2018). N, N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), an Endogenous Hallucinogen: Past, Present, and Future Research to Determine Its Role and Function. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 12. Bottom of Form

[9] Barker, S. A., Borjigin, J., Lomnicka, I., & Strassman, R. (December 01, 2013). LC/MS/MS analysis of the endogenous dimethyltryptamine hallucinogens, their precursors, and major metabolites in rat pineal gland microdialysate. Biomedical Chromatography, 27, 12, 1690-1700. Bottom of Form

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[11] Kim, Y. S., Lee, S., & Back, K. (January 01, 2009). Biosynthesis and biotechnological production of serotonin derivatives. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 83, 1, 27-34. Bottom of Form

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[13] Strassman, R. J. (January 01, 1995). Human psychopharmacology of N,N-dimethyltryptamine. Behavioural Brain Research, 73, 1, 121-124. Bottom of Form

[14] Timmermann, C., Roseman, L., Williams, L., Erritzoe, D., Martial, C., Cassol, H., Laureys, S., … Carhart-Harris, R. (January 01, 2018). DMT Models the Near-Death Experience. Frontiers in Psychology, 9.Bottom of Form

[15] Edwards, D. (November 01, 2003). Mythic and theoretic aspects of the concept of ‘the unconscious’ in popular and psychological discourse. Indo-pacific Journal of Phenomenology, 3, 1, 1-14. Bottom of Form

[16] Móró, L., Simon, K., Bárd, I., & Rácz, J. (January 01, 2011). Voice of the psychonauts: coping, life purpose, and spirituality in psychedelic drug users. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 43, 3.)

[17] Lerner, M., & Lyvers, M. (June 01, 2006). Values and Beliefs of Psychedelic Drug Users: A Cross-Cultural Study. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 38, 2, 143-147.