Ayahuasca, or yagé, is an entheogenic brew made from a mixture of plants used by the indigenous people of the Amazon for its medicinal properties and to induce altered mental states. In recent years, ayahuasca’s popularity has skyrocketed, drawing tourists from around the world hoping for a mind-bending experience. But can this concoction actually bring about a spiritual awakening? Sadhguru discusses the possibilities and dangers of employing such substances.

Q: Namaskaram Sadhguru. In South America, shamans used to practice something called Ayahuasca. Can you tell us anything about that?  
Sadhguru: Now, you need to understand, what these tribal societies did had a multipurpose intention. It is not just in South America. There are such things in India also - not the same species of plants - but of a different nature such that a full cleanup happens. This was very essential for people who lived in forests, because if you go out and live in a jungle, the variety and number of parasites which live in your body will multiply manifold. Recent research says that people who live around cat excrement are bound to have some kind of parasite in their brain. I want you to imagine what will happen to you if you are around tiger shit. There may be much more than a housecat, who knows? 

A Parasitic Purging

Once you live in nature, exposed to natural elements, the number of parasites which will reside in the body will be greatly enhanced. Some parasites could be dangerous to life or cause damage to the system, but most others do not. They subsist on you and they also contribute something, so the body does not fight them too much. The affair goes on without you knowing about it. But over a period of time, as their numbers increase, they have to be cleaned up. So these systems were mainly designed for a complete, thorough cleanup. In India, we have various methods - not always with hallucinogenic substances, but there are also concoctions with hallucinogenic things - where it is a complete purging. In India, we do not believe in bringing it back up. We want to pump it down.

There are systems with which if you drink water, after two hours just pure water will come out - to that extent, your entire alimentary canal is thoroughly cleaned up. This is something that was regularly done to all of us when we were growing up. Once a month, everyone had to go through total purging. Without that, they never believed there was going to be health. This was one way of handling any kind of parasite that may grow. Not all parasites are in the form of worms, tapeworms, roundworms or whatever. There are micro parasites that you cannot see, but they exist. The maximum number of parasites normally resides in your digestive tract.


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Blood parasites and cellular parasites are there, but there is a way to impact them. These are all relatives. The parasites need an ecosystem of their own. If you completely remove the parasite presence in your digestive tract, the other parasites generally cannot subsist. Except a few, the others cannot subsist because they need an ecosystem of their own kind. To destroy that ecosystem periodically was a part of the tribal life; otherwise people would slowly get sick or dull and die early. All these things used to happen. Along with that, there is also a cleansing of the emotional and psychological backlog that is building up within the human being. But once you use outside chemicals or substances to do these things, in some way you will get addicted to it. In some way you will become limited to that process.

Rising Without Earning It

If anybody believes they will attain to consciousness by purging their digestive tract, they need a different kind of treatment. Yes, it definitely cleanses the system, and it makes certain things possible. People used hallucinogenic ways of accessing certain dimensions which are largely occult in nature. This is the reason why in both North and South America, the occult evolved in a big way. They used other kinds of aids to make themselves available to certain possibilities.

I want you to understand, just finding a little space in the chaos of your intellect  either with the South American stuff or with an LSD or a drug or whatever else  is only a temporary access. Most of the time, this may leave you completely debilitated because, with one access of a heightened experience and after that falling back on the ground, you will be broken. This is just like if you were earning ten million dollars a year and got used to spending ten million dollars a year, but suddenly next year you got only one million dollars. You will be broken because you have one million dollars. For a whole lot of people, having one million dollars is a big dream. If you rise without earning it – if by breaking the mind with chemicals somehow you rose to some experience and then you came down – then you will see that you will be far more miserable than ever before.


A Real Shortcut?

Q: Some people have intense spiritual experiences with Ayahuasca which they say they cannot get to any other way and it helps expand their horizons and go into spirituality. So how would you counter them when they say that it's a sure-shot way, a shortcut, to achieving another dimension?

Sadhguru: I am not here to counter anybody. First of all, that is not a shortcut; it is a very long drawn-out process of endlessly puking your intestines out. I am talking about a very simple shortcut – if you simply sit here with your eyes closed and don't mess with your mind, you will become million-fold of Ayahuasca. So somebody wants to put a chemical into you and beat your mind down totally to give you some experience. See if you are walking on the street and we hit you on the head with a stick, that also will give you some experiences – not just of pain.

People go through various levels of hallucinations when they are unconscious. Some people have pleasant experiences; some have very unpleasant experiences. The same happens with this South American treatment also. Some people have such a bad experience that they never want to go there again; some people like it. So even if you bang your head on the wall, an experience can happen because all it needs is for you to be out of your memory sphere, that’s all.

How to separate you from your memory? We can do it with devotion or intensity of emotion, or energy, or awareness, or with chemicals. Now, people who have used LSD and felt fantastic vouch by it. I come from a time in the sixties when everybody around me was on it. But I was on something else which all of them wanted. Because they knew that they go up and they go down, but I am always like this.

In India, people were complaining, “Sadhguru, you’re doing Bhava Spandana Programs only in America. You are not doing it in India. You must do at least one in India.” Then I said, “For all of you who have already done the Bhava Spandana a minimum of three times, I will give you one super Bhava Spandana.” Only thing is that for every participant, we need three volunteers because you need to carry a bucket for each one of them. They will puke. I hope they will not do the other thing. They will flip. You have to carry them to lunch. They will not know how to eat - you have to feed them. This is what is happening in your South American treatment. You will not know how to do anything; you are all over the place. Someone has to put water in your mouth. Someone has to take you to the toilet; otherwise you will do it everywhere. We can do a super Bhava Spandana like that without any herb or chemical. We can tweak that dimension of you which is a huge purging on all levels, but do not mistake this for consciousness. Yes, it gives you a certain relief, but it does not take you to any place.

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