Why Ayahuasca in the Amazon is better than Anywhere Else
Posted by: Carlos Tanner
Ayahuasca forms the heart of a very extensive science of plant medicine commonly referred to as Curanderismo. Until recently, this science had been continuously developed and passed on from generation to generation exclusively within indigenous communities of the Amazon rainforest. The healing traditions practiced by these indigenous people are the product of a particular way of perceiving the world and interpreting experiences. The reality in which indigenous people lived could be defined generally as a spiritual paradigm, the implications of which were paramount to the truths, understanding, and effectiveness of their science of plant medicine. Obviously, this science is intimately connected to the rainforest, the source of its wisdom, teachings, and gifts. The Amazon rainforest is home to tens of thousands of plant species, and the ayahuasca vine is endemic to its secondary forests. Over centuries or even millennia a symbiotic relationship has formed between humans, plants, and the rainforest itself, which is why drinking ayahuasca in its home environment is different than anywhere else in the world.
The energetic connection between the forest, the animals, the plants, the people, and their medicine is unique and beyond special. An ancient harmonic resonance underlies and permeates all life in the rainforest, which exists as both a single living being as well as a multitude of interdependent individual beings. Within the indigenous paradigm that regards all beings as spirits first and foremost, the plants and animals are held in extremely high regard by the native people. The relationship between the forest and its human component is akin to wise teachers raising children. In Amazonian culture, the plants are both teachers and doctors.
The rainforest is ancient and immense. Visitors to the Amazon region are humbled by the power and majesty of such a truly fascinating place. A visitor to the jungle enters not only a physical place, but also the paradigm of its people, where humans are not regarded as superior. A shift in thought and perspective becomes automatic. The reality of being human changes. It is this paradigm shift that makes drinking ayahuasca in the Amazon rainforest so different than anywhere else.
SET AND SETTING
The importance of set and setting has been well established and documented thanks to early and current psychedelic research. Perhaps with no other substance is set and setting as influential as with ayahuasca. Mindset is often considered within the framework of a particular paradigm, but altering the paradigm itself can have drastic effects on mindset, because changing the reality that determines the common boundaries of thought literally changes what is real and what is possible. While just being in the Amazon rainforest doesn’t necessarily change one’s personal paradigm, being in the presence of a different paradigm does facilitate an increase in the potential for change. In other words, for someone coming from a materialist cultural paradigm to drink Ayahuasca in a cultural paradigm that could be defined as spiritual, the likelihood for openness to new interpretations and self-reflections is amplified. This kind of change in thinking can often translate into new realizations, new understandings, and a new reality. If the goal for drinking Ayahuasca is to make positive changes in one’s life, drinking Ayahuasca in the Amazon rainforest can be an aid to achieving that goal by expanding the limitations of one’s cultural paradigm through the influence of another more liberating reality. Put in much simpler terms, it is better to treat an affliction in an environment where positive results are expected rather than one where they are considered unlikely.
What makes positive results expected in the Amazon lies in the interconnected nature of the rainforest, where for every imbalance there is a counter balance. For every illness, there is a cure. In the Amazon, this is not just an idea, but a reality, and Ayahuasca acts as the communication device to transfer this information and understanding from plant consciousness to our own. When we receive this transmission and thus know there is a path to healing, all of our activity moves toward that path, mentally, emotionally, biologically, and spiritually. Being in an optimal environment of interconnectedness facilitates this knowing and the activity it promotes. There is no environment that better demonstrates this incredible power than the largest most awesome forest on the planet, the Amazon rainforest.
Each year, thousands of people from all over the world leave their home countries and travel to the Amazon rainforest to drink Ayahuasca. In doing so, they leave behind numerous aspects of their lives that are used to define personal identities. They leave their families and friends, their jobs and careers, their status, possessions, and comforts. While that is certainly a sacrifice, it is also a form of liberation. People can become locked into an identity by external influence and routine. They seek a change, whether it be healing a specific affliction, finding a connection they’d lost, regaining love for themselves, rekindling a passion for life, understanding their true nature, or remembering their true selves.
The act of traveling to the Amazon rainforest is a powerful demonstration of one’s determination and willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve those goals. Just the act of travel is a change in itself, a movement away from the environment that shaped their identities. It takes courage and making such a commitment and investing the time and energy to manifest a new reality can have a profound effect on a person’s thoughts, feelings, and even their physiology. Just like the countless people who make pilgrimages each year to sacred sites around the world, traveling to the Amazon to drink ayahuasca is a new form of spiritual pilgrimage, and the Amazon rainforest is truly a sacred site.
Energetically, the Amazon has a resonance that is unparalleled on Earth. With the greatest biodiversity, this amazing rainforest ensures the natural sustainability for all life forms. The collective consciousness of the hundreds of thousands of species of flora and fauna adds up to a wisdom that simply cannot be found anywhere else. The Amazon rainforest plays an important role in sustaining life on the planet by producing a fifth of the world’s oxygen and fresh water. It literally keeps the planet healthy. By making a pilgrimage to such a globally important place, people open the doors to a connection that can bring about balance and healing in their own lives. This isn’t about a particular religion. It’s about being human. More accurately, it’s about being spirit. We, like the plants, animals, and all living beings, are the cells of a much greater being. We are all important pieces of a whole that is beyond our capacity to understand. Coming to the Amazon rainforest and drinking ayahuasca allows us to experience the mystery and awe of our existence, and it is that mystery that can plant a seed of healing in each of us. We are beginning to realize that our problems cannot be explained away. We cannot achieve health and happiness by controlling our environment. On the contrary, we must live like the forest, interconnected to all and guided by an intelligence and force made of our collective existence. This is the message of the forest, of the plants, and ayahuasca. And that is why ayahuasca in the Amazon is better than anywhere else.