Waking Thoughts
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Waking Thoughts

Dying to Wake Up

My experience with the sacred medicine, ayahuasca.

Last night, I died and met God.

These were the first words in my journal the morning after the first of three ayahuasca ceremonies last month.

My readers know that I’ve been grappling with existentialism and purpose.

Could the point of life really be something like a donut of endless suffering with happiness sprinkled on top?

Are we just cogs in a system that doesn’t care about us—something like a concept of the human batteries in the Matrix… Useful as we feed the machine energy and given a simulation with ephemeral pleasures that always keep us wanting more, thus staying alive.

Honestly, God, is there more to life than just…this?

Disease, chaos, and difficulty. It’s there if you look or forced upon us unrequested.

and I’m speaking from my place of utter privilege. What could the rest of the world be thinking?

and yes, yes…I know I can focus on love, happiness, beauty, etc., but there’s this dichotomy that seems to favor experiencing the challenging stuff.

In previous ceremonies, I’ve been content with getting to a place where my ego was mostly absent.

I would receive creative insight, identify areas of improvement + solutions, dissect relationships, and gaining clarity into my thinking and actions. How cool. And, remarkably, feeling a deep sense of love, compassion, and fervor for living.

I’ve told my friends that in ayahuasca, the inner You awakens / the subconscious being / the observer. It finally has a chance to breathe and get a word in.

The work after a ceremony is to integrate your subconscious insights into your conscious mind and act accordingly. Forgive the person you thought to forgive. Call the person you thought to call. Write the letter. Start the project. Stop lying to yourself.

Those things are all deeply profound. For some people, that alone can be life-changing.

But there was more in store for me this time…

Ceremony was over. Hot soup was waiting. Besides one other fellow, I was alone in the temple with a racing mind.

While I lay in my spot on the Earth, processing information and talking quietly to myself, I noticed I wasn’t sobering.

My breathing reduced to almost nothing and I experienced a deep stillness as I’ve never known. But a normal breath would emerge and I’d be back in my pondering state, high energy as I thought about life…

& a lot about God.

It’s funny: if you’re curious about God, ayahuasca brings that out in you. Somehow, you just know that you can talk to him/her/it/the universe/etc.

You’re getting information all throughout ceremony and intuitively, there’s a feeling of knowing that it’s Him.

I just knew to ask…

It’s hard to explain, but in ceremony you just know things.

I remember asking questions along the lines of what am I, what are you, what is this {life} about?

Whilst laying on my side, I saw a light appear on the horizon of my field of view. It reached me instantly out of what seemed like a tiny opening in space—seeming distant yet feeling close. It was an opening in my consciousness. & man, was it BRIGHT.

My deepest and nonsensical insight from that ceremony was this realization that somehow, in some weird, almost too simple way, I was that light.

I understood that THAT light was divinity. That we were like God. That He is light. That our true nature is divine light.

It hit me like a spear and I tensed in fear.

“I’m that light?… I’m like you, God?”

I wanted the answer, yet I was scared to hear it.

God spoke to me through realization. All of a sudden, you know something new. In this case, I knew the answer was “yes” the moment after I asked.

I saw something like the concept of The Egg. Perhaps, I was primed by having watched it a few months ago. But I had a vision of evolving into something much bigger than a human.

I felt fear and disbelief. I felt bewilderment. How could I be like God?! This imperfect being fumbling about in life worried about money, who I should marry, how authentic I’m being on social media, and other trivialities. My self-doubt and shame were showing up.

But, in that moment I also learned — there was more.

and I mean, more to being alive than just being alive. More than just reincarnation or some stupid cycle of duality. More than this.

That understanding alone made me cry harder than I have in my entire adult life.

I’m close to tears now because literally only God knows how much I’ve been wondering if there was more to this shit. More to just being happy, helping others, getting skillful, making money, falling in love, having kids, and watching it all decay as we do.

To know there is more means that I/we’re not just here for nothing. We’re not just part of some twisted cosmic experient. Life is not just an accident. We’re not just here to battle ego, desire, corruption, darkness. I {and you} are meant for more.

The tears I shed were symptomatic of my awakening to the nature of my inner self.

I let out sobs and roars. The pain of releasing my unconsciousness.

I understood something profound here too.

That God does all of “this” for us—all of Life. and I felt like he wanted me to know; to understand there’s purpose. I REALLY felt that.

God is love. and God is helping us grow. He is a teacher. Love is our teacher. Love made the universe.

I cried more. I couldn’t believe it.

BC IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE OUT HERE IN THE “REAL” WORLD. It just won’t make much sense if you don’t believe that we have souls and that the soul is growing. All that we go through has purpose. That everything is God. Even your computer. All our atoms and subatomic particles are God.

But something in me (obviously) knew it. We just have to keep going. Keep knocking at the door. Keep questioning. Keep asking.

If you’re on your search for truth…

Keep Going. It gets deeper.

…All of a sudden I felt a rumbling in my stomach like the ayahuasca was finally digesting. But it grew into an inner vibration.

I felt it as it moved into my legs, feet, and then back up into my torso until I was entirely consumed by it—this sensation.

I felt it in my face. It was an uncomfortable perturbation under my skin.

It came with a loss of movement. I looked at my hands and saw I could barely move my fingers. My vision was blurring. It felt like the matrix was dissolving.

I exclaimed with fear to myself—

“I’m dying, I’m dying”.

I just knew.

I closed my eyes and I could see white light as if someone was shining a flashlight against my eyelids.

I seriously thought I might not come back. But I did. It was a near-death experience. I would later learn it’s not something to be scared of. To surrender instead of resist.

I felt like He was showing me death — getting me to remember. We’ve died before…

This isn’t my first human.

Dying — Alex Grey

At 4 am my ceremony was finally over.

After sobering, my ego had returned to his waking state.

I’ve revisited the image of that light 100 times. That next day, thinking of the profundity of my experience repeatedly brought me to tears.

“I know it was real,” I would say to myself.

But we are bound by our humanity and, immediately, our regular consciousness creates distance between itself and that experience, inviting in doubt and creating ‘memory loss’.

The real work revealed itself: Remembering.


I learned a lot in that retreat.

about God, about Stefan, about reality.

Stefan is my human to save from cycles of trauma and non-learning. I believe you too have your human to save.

It’s not about killing our ego — it’s about teaching him or her how to live better. Because we’re in it together.

Our actions in life are not inconsequential. Moral apathy is arsenic in our water supply.

Ruthless capitalism is for a machine world, not a human one.

We do feel the effects of people being unconscious. And it’s not enough to just point the finger and tell people they’re wrong or get angry at tyrants that don’t seem to care (they don’t).

It starts with us being the example we wish others to be like. We practice the golden rule because on a deep level, it’s true.

We meet a crazy ego-filled human with love. We turn the cheek.

We become leaders that don’t abuse our bodies with drugs, alcohol, sugar, and tortured meat. and we encourage our friends not to either.

We don’t wait to be in a ‘position of power’ to affect change. We start now; daily and small.

Stand up for the just causes. Let people know it’s not okay to be an asshole, racist, angry, and self-serving. and this doesn’t mean simply re-tweeting something resonant.

Believe in God’s love. Say yes to the Universe. Yes to the bad. It’s all getting us to a better place, even when it doesn’t seem like it.

and most of all — let that shit go. Forgive and be compassionate. Be understanding. Empathize.

& Love. ❤

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

while this quote is improperly attributed to various figures and sampled in movies, this is the full quote. It is an excerpt from author Marianne Williamson in her 1992 novel, A Return to Love.




Thoughts from my journey of moving closer to truth.

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Stefan Leon

Stefan Leon

Focused creative.

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