I've spoken with artist, author, and psychonaut Martin W. Ball a few times now and i'm always intrigued by his position on the nature of the psychedelic experience, human ego, and philosophy on what these substances can offer to mankind.
Martin's work primarily discusses nondualism and the dissolution of the ego through psychedelic exploration. He believes that by removing social constructs that bolster the ego (like religion), one can get to the heart of the human experience and recognize that they themselves are God. He has even created the "Entheological Paradigm" which is a kind of grand unifying theory for psychedelic phenomenology based on his experiences.
In this interview, Martin discusses his stance in great detail and expounds on his art, literature, and music.
Prox: Could you give us a breakdown of your “Entheological Paradigm" theory? What did you set out to conceptualize and explain about the nature of the psychedelic experience?
Martin: To begin, we can start with the name, itself. “Paradigm” means “exemplary model” and “Entheological” means “the logic of God within,” so the Entheological Paradigm is a model for the nature of being based on the experience that God is “inside” reality, rather than “outside” or transcendent. In other words, God is not separate from reality or the self, but rather is reality and the self. This is an experientially-based model that I first articulated in 2009 after my own personal awakening and transformation into what I describe as “radical nondual” perspective on the nature of being. I felt the need to articulate this model as I found that while there were some similarities between my own experience and perspective and other, more traditional nondual models, there were also profound differences. It’s significant that I came to this via my personal experience and not through a traditional religious or spiritual practice, in that this allowed me to be freer in my evaluation of the process and its outcomes than someone who is steeped in religious doctrine and dogma. I didn’t have a worldview or belief system to protect and accommodate, so I was able to offer critiques and reassessments that someone within a religious tradition most likely wouldn’t have questioned.
My own awakening and liberation was facilitated through entheogenic experience and psychedelic consumption, rather than primarily through a religious or spiritual practice. In going through my process, I found that both contemporary psychedelics models and traditional religious and spiritual teachings only marginally reflected the process I was going through and what I was discovering about myself and the nature of reality. Most nondual forms of religion and spirituality developed out of Indian religious traditions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, both of which assume reincarnation, dharma, and karma, to be legitimate concepts, which I found to be ego projections and attachments, so while I could agree with some of their nondual claims, many of their religious beliefs I found to be inauthentic. Similarly, many contemporary spiritual approaches to psychedelics in the West have adopted what I call the shamanic model of reality, which supports beliefs in spirits, other realms, entities, etc., which I also concluded were largely projections of the ego and therefore fundamentally illusory. It was my dissatisfaction with these models that led me to conclude that a new and different model needed to be articulated and shared to provide something of a reorientation to nondual experience in general and psychedelic experiences in particular. I see this as a very necessary correction and reframing of the issue given that dualistic projections tend to dominate discussions of psychedelic experience in general, and that religious and spiritual traditions are rife with dualistic projections and attachments, as well. As I see it, this is my attempt to inject some clarity into these discussions.
As a model, the Entheological Paradigm is not just about articulating ontological and epistemological statements, but also provides methodologies and techniques that anyone can use to confirm the validity of my claims. As it is experientially-based, in theory, anyone can try the methods I’ve outlined, assess their observations according to the criteria I’ve set out, and make up their own minds. Though based on subjective, personal experience, there are similarities to scientific methodology in that the propositions I make can be tested experimentally by individuals. As such, I’m not interested in promoting a belief system or new religious or spiritual doctrine. The tenants of Entheological Paradigm can be directly experienced by anyone willing to do the necessary work of self-observation.
The central proposition of the Entheological Paradigm is that the true nature of reality and being is nondual, meaning that any sense of separation or individual identity is a form of illusion created by the human ego. When the ego is transcended, reality can be experienced in its fundamental form, which is thoroughly nondual. When the ego falls away, what we are left with is a sense of universal, infinite, and eternal being. There is no sense of separation or individuation in this experience. All of reality, all of existence, is directly experienced as one fundamental process and energetic expression. To put it in other words, when the ego dissolves, individuals experience their true nature as God. What this indicates is that absolute identity is universal. There is only one true identity, and all individuated identities are a masking of this more fundamental identity.
The conclusion is therefore that all of reality is one universal being. Everything that exists is God. That includes you, the reader of these words, me, the thoughts in your head, your every experience, and everyone and everything that you or I perceive as existing outside of ourselves. There is nothing that exists that is not God, for God is everything, eternally. Anyone can experience this truth directly. There is no need for anyone to “believe” that this is true.
Access to this realization and direct experience is best facilitated by entheogenic and psychedelic experience. It is not inherently “spiritual” or “religious” in nature, but rather is an energetic one. Psychedelics alter and amplify our energetic experience – our perceptions, thoughts, sense of physicality, emotions, etc. Because they work primarily at an energetic level, they have a direct impact on the human ego, which is itself a collection of patterns of energy (in terms of belief structures, thought patterns, emotional reactions, expressive habits, body postures and gestures, tone and style of speech and communication, perceptual patterns, etc.). Collectively, these patterns define and create our sense of a separate, individual self who appears to be this person with these habits of thought an action, which allow us to create ourselves as a character with a specific personality and identity. These patterns of the ego always function dualistically, however, in that in adopting some patterns rather than others, we create distinctions between what we take as our “self” and what we assume to be “other.” Compounding the issue is religious, spiritual, cultural, ethnic, and political beliefs and patterns of identity which serve to create even more rigid identities that are perceived as distinct from other social groupings.
Given sufficient energetic input, these more limited patterns of energetic expression and identity of the ego can be disrupted, and in some circumstances, completely overridden. Religious and spiritual traditions have employed various methodologies for this purpose: meditation, drugs, fasting, dancing, sensory depravation, sexual activity, etc. However, the most efficient and easily accessible methodology is psychedelic consumption. It is far more direct and immediate than immersing oneself in a religious or spiritual practice, and has less potential for attachments to pre-existing worldviews and belief systems, given that all religions and spiritualities come with beliefs and doctrines (in other words, they aren’t neutral, in any sense, and largely also serve to create ego-bases identities).
Because the ego is so resilient and tenacious, completely transcending the ego is relatively rare, even when psychedelics are concerned. Most psychedelic experiences still fall within the realm of dualistic experience, and most psychedelic shamanic practice and belief fits within this category. This is also the case for most therapeutic approaches to psychedelic experience. For example, someone might take a psychedelic to help “heal” his relationship with his mother, his beliefs about himself, or a traumatic experience or illness. Such an approach still relies on a perceived separation between self and other, and is therefore dualistic. Through a weakening of the structures of the ego, changes can be made in beliefs and behaviors which allow a “healing” to take place, but this is actually just a reformatting of the ego and while establishing different relationships and behaviors, hasn’t really dealt with the issue of the ego itself and the problems it causes. It’s a much deeper realization, for example, to arrive at the truth that you are your mother and everything in your relationship is a reflection of your ability to love and trust yourself. In the nondual realization, there are no victims, there’s nothing to heal, there’s nothing to be attached to, and there’s nothing to reject or overcome.
Part of the difficulty, where psychedelics are concerned, is that a great deal of emphasis has been placed on the visual aspects of psychedelic experience, which has also lead to widespread adoption of shamanic and neo-shamanic cosmologies, psychologies, and metaphysics in contemporary discourse about psychedelic experience. Many people have adopted the belief that what they see in psychedelic experiences are fundamentally true, or coming from some kind of outside source, rather than being produced by the individual as a byproduct of the ego interacting with a deeper level of self and being. All visionary experience, however, is thoroughly dualistic in nature in that there is a presumed self that is observing objects of experience in the form of realms, beings, entities, spirits, aliens, etc. There is still a separation between self and other in visions and visionary experience, a clear indication that the ego is still at play and still defining an individual’s sense of self and being.
Nondual experience is quite different. Nondual experience is primarily defined by feeling, rather than mental or visual content. There’s nothing to see, for there is no one there doing any seeing. It is characterized by those who experience it as eternal, infinite, pure energy, pure being, God, love, truth, suchness, absolute, and other such similar terms. To enter into such a state, the ego needs to be fully relaxed and disengaged. Since this cannot be accomplished by the ego itself (just as a sword cannot turn fast enough to cut itself), it is not something that people can achieve through efforts of their egos (which is why having a spiritual practice more often gets in the way of nondual experience than helps reveal it). The ideal situation for nondual experience to arise is when the ego feels it simply needs to surrender and give up, producing the experience of “ego death,” which, when it arises, is perceived by the ego as being an event of actual physical death, though it is not. The most efficient tool available to humanity to facilitate such results is the entheogenic compound of 5-MeO-DMT. More than any other psychedelic, 5-MeO-DMT holds the greatest potential to completely overwhelm the human ego simply because there is nothing that is as energetically powerful.
5-MeO-DMT does not produce nondual experiences. It simply provides an opportunity to energetically overwhelm the structures of the ego, allowing individuals to let go and “die” to their egoic identity and expand energetically into their fundamental nature. This result is by no means guaranteed by consumption of 5-MeO, as it is the ego that must choose to submit and release, and therefore is always a choice on the part of the individual consuming 5-MeO. Results can always vary. Some people give up their ego within mere seconds after consuming 5-MeO, and others hold on and fight with the experience all the way through. Some egos submit easily and then have a smooth and liberating re-entry, whereas other egos rebound with a ferocity and might perceive the experience as traumatic and debilitating. Results from psychedelic experiences are not mechanical. The best results require trust, relaxation, and deep self-awareness, which are all dependent on the person using the psychedelics.
There is a lot more to the Entheological Paradigm, especially in terms of techniques, methodology, practices and results. Interested readers can consult www.entheological-paradigm.net for more info, or pick up any of the books I’ve written since 2009, starting with Being Human.
Prox: How has your involvement with Religious Studies impacted your opinions on entheogenic phenomenology (or vice versa)?
Martin: I grew up in a secular, atheist household, so religions and religious experience were strange and foreign concepts for me until my late teens when I discovered Zen Buddhism. My initial reaction was absolute surprise that here was a “religion” that seemed to make sense to me, especially when compared with what I’d been exposed to of Christianity, mostly of the fundamentalist/evangelical type. It occurred to me that certain religious traditions might be a legitimate path to understanding the nature of reality – those that focused more on mysticism than belief and faith. I went on to become a religious studies minor as an undergraduate and then got my M.A. and Ph.D. in religious studies. When I started on this education route, I, like most others, had no real idea that psychedelics and mind-altering substances had played significant roles in religions and spiritual practices (aside from Rastafarianism or the Native American Church) around the world for centuries and in some cases, were formative of religious traditions. Between my first and second years of college I was introduced to psilocybin mushrooms, and on my second trip the whole concept of a “spirit world” suddenly made a great deal of sense to me. It was a real perspective-shifting event, and from there I started investigating shamanism and psychedelics more generally as it seemed to me that this was a unique way to investigate the nature of consciousness and reality.
I was a voracious consumer of materials on mysticism, shamanism, and esoteric philosophy and practices. The more I learned about the roles of psychedelics in religious traditions, the more it all made sense to me. I was always cautious of being a “believer,” and didn’t want to commit to anything that I didn’t know with certainty to be true, but once I understood that psychedelics were part of the mix, peoples’ claims about other worlds, spirits, divine entities, and esoteric knowledge seemed a great deal more plausible and reasonable.
As a side note, I’d comment that I don’t read these kinds of materials any more and I’ve largely lost interest. When I was busy creating myself as a “seeker” of truth and enlightenment, I wanted to read everything that appeared to be relevant, but now that I’ve found myself, there really isn’t much motivation for me to continue on with such studies. I say this as I’m often asked by people if I’ve read this author, or listened to this speaker, or considered this perspective, etc. Once you find what you’re looking for, what’s the point of continuing to search?
Once I encountered my own enlightenment and liberation, my perspective on religious phenomena shifted yet again. I went from a position of “maybe all of this is true” to having skills of critical discernment that allowed me to see that the vast majority of what is purported to be true within religious systems is really the product of the ego. Since I had learned how the ego functions via self-observation, and how it could be transcended, and how that perspective generates insights into the illusions and projections of the ego, it became clear that most religious claims were generated by the ego, and not the transcendent, universal perspective. Which, to circle back around, lead me to articulate the Entheological Paradigm as a course corrective for others who might be seeking the truth and the genuine nature of being.
It’s important to note that in generating my own paradigm, I’m not dismissing the phenomenology of religious and spiritual experiences – I’m merely providing a different interpretive framework for how these experiences are understood and conceptualized. For example, I’ve asserted that individual reincarnation is not a genuine phenomenon in that there is only ONE being that is everyone and everything and that all true identity is identical. This isn’t to say that in certain contexts, psychedelic or otherwise, people might have experiences that they genuinely believe to inform them about personal past lives. I’m just saying that such experiences are ego-dependent and generated from a perspective that still retains a distinction between self and other.
For many people, involvement with psychedelics tends to lead to a view that all religion and spirituality must, in some way, be true. From my perspective, however, the vast majority of psychedelic users haven’t fully achieved nondual awareness, so they’re still interpreting their experiences from the perspective of the ego and the illusory self, so they’re not really qualified to make ontological judgments about their experiences – they’re still immersed in duality. One of the difficulties is that the ego wants to believe, because beliefs help to bolster the sense of self and individuality. Psychedelic experiences can bolster the confusions of the ego, perhaps more easily than dissolving them. It takes great diligence and careful focus to not be trapped by the machinations of the ego, and psychedelics do not automatically produce clarity. One must be committed to truth in order to see through the very sophisticated illusions of self and other to come to a full nondual understanding and perspective.
Prox: What is it about Eastern religion and philosophy that allows it to neatly mesh with these kinds of sacraments?
Martin: At a general, thematic level, whereas Western religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have focused on a transcended God who functions as a law-giver and judge that exists in a realm outside of what we perceive and experience as reality, Eastern religions have tended to focus more on phenomenological explorations of the self through altered states of consciousness. Though there is a great deal of diversity in the religious traditions of the world, Western religions have mostly been dualistic in focus, whereas Eastern religions have more of a nondual outlook. The result is that Western religions often emphasize belief, worship, and obedience, where Eastern religions emphasize direct experience and cultivation of self-knowledge and awareness. While we can easily find counter-examples of dualistic Eastern traditions and nondual Western traditions, the primary orientations of these cultural streams often flow in opposite directions.
Because of the phenomenological orientation of Eastern religions, and their emphasis on nonduality and inner experience, they often mesh more easily with psychedelic experience. Historically, this is also probably due to psychedelics and mind-altering sacraments being utilized as meditation and self-realization tools in Eastern religions at a much broader level than in Western traditions. Mysticism and altered states of consciousness have been viewed as potentially heretical in Western traditions and have been associated with paganism, witchcraft, and sorcery. In the East, altered states of consciousness have traditionally been seen as genuine paths to self-knowledge and access to the sacred, with psychedelic sacraments being extolled in the ancient Hindu scriptures of the Rig Veda, for example. Even today in modern society, the Hindu God, Shiva, is associated with cannabis and psychedelic mushroom, and his followers regularly practice entering into altered states for the purpose of achieving enlightenment and liberation. In Toaism, as well, mushrooms and other substances have been venerated for their ability to help sages realize their oneness with the Tao. Many of these religions emphasize the nondual view that “you are that,” Tat Tvam Asi, and that God or the Buddhamind or the Tao is not separate from the self, but is the true nature of being and reality. Here, the spiritual quest is not to obey God and receive your reward in the afterlife, but to dedicate oneself to the process of uncovering one’s true nature. And one’s true nature cannot simply be believed as an article of faith, or cannot be accessed through mental agreement with philosophical propositions – it can only be realized through direct and immediate experience. Doctrine is there to help individuals develop accurate views, but acceptance of doctrine in-and-of itself is secondary to experience.
Psychedelics are all about experience and they are tools par excellence for phenomenological investigations into the nature of self and being. Therefore, it is easier to see similarities with experientially-based religious traditions than it is with doctrine and belief-based religions.
Prox: Why do you think so many artists and intellectuals tend to be profoundly impacted by these substances?
Martin: For the very simple reason that they provide access to profoundly novel, and endlessly creative, ways of thinking, experiencing, perceiving, and being. Taking psychedelics allows individuals to perceive and experience things in new ways and can help break down cultural and societal conditioning. These experiences provide radical shifts in perspective, helping people to see and experience things in a new light – and often in ways that are over-the-top aesthetically engrossing. Light and color take on new and radical meanings. Music and art become deeply profound. Ideas that were incomprehensible suddenly make perfect sense. Insurmountable problems become insignificant, and small insights blossom into radically new ways of knowing.
Given a sufficient dose, where a psychedelic compound has the opportunity to really show you what it’s all about, it’s virtually impossible for someone to walk away from the experience with a blasé attitude.
Seeing as how psychedelic usage has been a part of human cultures for thousands of years, I think it’s reasonable to say that psychedelic experiences have been a major drive in the development of culture, art, architecture, philosophy, religion, healing, and so much else. Psychedelic experiences are a bottomless well of creativity and inspiration. There’s no end to the wonder and novelty going on in there, and these experiences have driven human culture forward into greater and greater feats of self-expression. Just consider what we find in the psychedelic experience: art, architecture, technology, energetic structures and fractal formations, resolution of paradoxes, senses of transcendence, oneness, unity, freedom, the infinite, the eternal, and life itself. How could someone not be inspired and offered fresh perspectives and ways of knowing and creating? It’s total immersion into the wonderland of the divine mind. Of course intellectuals and creative types are drawn to these experiences. To put it bluntly, it’s totally natural! Psychedelics offer the promise of the most profound and amazing experiences available to humans. These are tools of cognitive and aesthetic enhancement, and for the majority of the history of humanity, nothing else could really compare. Now, with technology and virtual environments and such, we’re getting close to being able to replicate at least the visual side of psychedelic experience, but such technologies don’t really capture the emotional, sensational, and cognitive aspects of psychedelic experiences at the personal and immediate level – you can see it, but you don’t feel it. So even with our best technology, psychedelics are still more profound and amazing. There just isn’t anything else comparable.
Something that’s remarkable about psychedelic experiences is that they are intimately responsive to the individual experiencing them. The experience is always a reflection of you in that very moment. So even if it is transpersonal or transcendent, it’s still about you. It’s an interactive mirror of self and being and it always reveals you to yourself. It’s the ultimate self-reflective experience possible.
Prox: How has your own art evolved throughout the years in conjunction with your understanding of psychedelics?
Martin: My psychedelic experiences inform and influence pretty much everything that I do and all my creative modes of expression. I love engaging in creative activity, and tend to use it as a medium for communicating what I’ve learned from my experiences and liberation and to help inspire and guide others. Since I have a few different creative outlets, I’ll go through them one by one to illustrate.
Storytelling: I first started out as a writer by writing fiction. On a whim, I decided that I wanted to create my own fantasy/sci-fi epic along the lines of Tolkein or Frank Herbert, and the result was what became my Tales of Aurduin series, which I started in 2002. At that time, my psychedelic experiences were limited to psilocybin mushrooms and Salvia divinorum, and I used what I had learned and experienced as material in the novels. I also made up a number of psychedelics that I introduced in the stories. There are many different chapters where characters are consuming psychedelics for different purposes, and the experiences are all pivotal events in the stories. However, these novels were written before I had gone through my nondual awakening and transformation process, which culminated in 2009, so they have more of a shamanic focus, overall.
Since my 2009 completion, I’ve written two more novels, Beyond Azara, and more recently, The Solandarian Game. Both novels use the Entheological Paradigm as the foundation for the viewpoint communicated in the stories, and all psychedelic experiences depicted are used to reflect nondual awakening and transformation. Aside from simply enjoying writing fiction, I feel that it is a good vehicle for communicating big ideas and can allow people access in a way that is entertaining and story-driven. Some people respond well to intellectual dissertations, and others don’t, so they might find a novel easier to process. Nonduality can be difficult to understand, and showing how different characters come to the truth through their direct experience with psychedelics can be informative, even if it is made up. I like to say that even though the stories are fictitious, they’re also absolutely true. Many of the characters are actually based on me and my own experience, sometimes from before and after perspectives, such as in Beyond Azara with Jendru (before) and Seyloq (after). The Solandarian Game takes place 150,000 years in the future, and expands on the idea of what would human society look like if a nondual perspective was widely accepted and understood and where psychedelic use for nondual realization was commonplace and socially normal and everyday.
Musically, psychedelics have had an enormous impact on the kinds of music I like to make, and via teaming up with my wife, Jessalynn, who is a singer, has directly influenced my own forays into lyric writing for our joint music project of Fractal Love Jam. From the instrumental side of things, I’ve always sought to create music that transports the listener into a unique space and energetic environment. Many of my songs have an epic/anthemic feel to them, and this is directly related to the waves, swells, and bursts of energy one experiences on psychedelics. I’ve also been a big fan of using effects to alter sounds to replicate the kinds of auditory effects of psychedelics. It’s a way to evoke the experience, to some degree, without the medicines. The result is that I like to make “trippy” music that is diverse and exploratory – always looking for new sounds, new territory, and new experiences to communicate musically. Interested readers can find my music at www.martinball.bandcamp.com and www.soundcloud.com/entheogenic-evolution. For a fun, thoroughly psychedelic track, I’d recommend “Swamp Dreams,” which was made with field recordings of frogs, birds, weather, and alligators from a trip we took to Florida last summer.
With Jessalynn, even our band name pretty much says it all: Fractal Love Jam. One of the ways that I’ve defined God is a being of fractal/geometric energy that is love – and here, love, truth, reality, God, energy, are all fundamentally synonyms. Jessalynn is our singer, and I’m the song writer/composer/musician, and often, lyricist. I’ve been making music since I was 15, but only in the past few years have I endeavored to write lyrics (as I’ve never considered myself a singer, aside from throat and overtone singing, which, by the way, I came to via my experiences with Saliva divinorum). Since I’ve taken up the role of lyricist, I’ve focused on writing lyrics that express the Entheological Paradigm in song form, which can clearly been seen in some of our newest tracks, such as “Only One,” which is a statement about the true nature of reality as nondual, or “Mask of Forever,” which addresses how God masks itself in individual identities and how attachment to these identities causes our own suffering and lack of trust and allowing. And then we have a very signature track of “Down the Wormhole,” which is a playful song about taking a trip on the “tryptamine molecular express” and is directly about DMT and 5-MeO-DMT. Though there may be others out there, we’re the only overtly nondual psychedelic band out there that I’m personally aware of. Readers can find our music at www.fractallovejam.bandcamp.com and www.fractallovejam.com.
My involvement with visual arts has been greatly impacted by my psychedelic experiences. In recent years I’ve gotten into creating fractal art compositions, sometimes combined with my photography. Fractals are the ideal medium for reproducing psychedelic visuals. Fractal geometric structures are not only the mathematical basis for psychedelic visuals, but also for the fundamental structures of reality as we perceive and experience it, so they really cross the border between “ordinary” and “extraordinary” perception and experience. Everyday objects like trees, clouds, mountains, rivers, are all fractal in nature, and we can see the same kinds of structures in stunning and intricate detail in psychedelic experiences. In creating fractal art compositions, I’m able to visually express and represent what one might see and experience in psychedelic states. For me, a common theme in visionary experiences is a sense of space and the cosmos, so this is a regular theme in my visual art. There are many interpenetrating layers of fractal structures giving the work a sense of multi-dimensionality. The works are beautiful and evocative, and regularly elicit responses from psychedelic users along the lines of “I’ve seen this before.” Like the other day, a friend was visiting and I had a “remix” image on my computer screen that featured a photo I took in Maui of a stunning sunset with fractal structures added to the sky. She took one look at the image and said, “that looks just like the time I took mushrooms on the beach in Maui and watched the sunset.” That’s what I’m trying to capture in the work, that sense of mystery and wonder that opens up right before us and allows us to see and experience the world in a profoundly rich aesthetic context. The phenomenal aesthetic beauty of psychedelic experiences can’t be overstated – they’re profoundly beautiful and breathtaking. Of course, they can also be horrifying if one is caught in a negative thought loop, but that’s not what I personally experience, so that’s not something I’m looking to depict via visual art.
Something that I’m also looking to demonstrate with fractal art is the idea that while these are ultimately abstract pieces, they can also easily be translated by the mind of the viewer into more concrete structures and objects. It’s just colorized math, but it can appear to the viewer as things and environments and beings. That’s the power of the mind, and it’s precisely how psychedelic visionary experiences work. The underlying fractal geometry is turned into scenes and beings by the mind of the viewer, and as such, is ultimately a mirror of the perceiver. We are that which we see. It isn’t in any way separate from ourselves. It is not “other.” It’s a mirror, and we see what we project onto the inner screen of the mind.
Recently here in Ashland there was an event held at the Ashland Armory called the “Cosmic Mass.” I was invited to do visual projections for the event. I ran my fractal art through a kaleidoscope program and projected it out onto a big screen. A local musician who was at the event came up to me and said, “That’s the prayer right there!” totally awed by the visuals. For many, the art evokes a sense of sacredness and transcendence. For me, all of reality, absolutely everything, is a direct expression of God, so I’m not really into the mental category of “sacred,” but there’s something about the fundamental geometry of being that excites people and helps them feel a sense of wonder and connection. And if I can help people experience that via art, then I’ve done what I’ve set out to do. Interested readers can find my online galleries at www.fractalimagination.com.
In the end, all of my artistic and creative endeavors are for the purpose of expressing myself. That’s what it’s really about, and if I can put information in there that might be found inspiring and useful by others, then that’s great. I just like making cool stuff. Music is cool. Fractals are cool. Writing fun fantasy and sci-fi books is cool. It helps me feel satisfied that I’m putting my talents and abilities to use and I love sharing it all. So it’s very personal in that I really do it for myself, though I of course hope that others will enjoy it as well.
Prox: In your opinion, where is the consciousness of the user expanding to throughout the duration of these experiences?
Martin: It’s all the self. It’s all the self perceiving and experiencing itself in a heightened and augmented energetic environment. The vast majority of these experiences are still on the dualistic side of things were there is a presumed observer/experiencer and that which is seen and experienced, so there’s still a sense of divide between “self” and “other,” but this is due to the fact that the human ego creates an illusory sense of self and identity. The energetic structures of the ego are tenacious and are largely able to continually reconfigure in most situations, so complete transcendence of the ego and the experience of total unity and Godhood as our true identity is relatively rare, even with psychedelic usage. I know people who have used psychedelics for their entire lives and never had a unitary, nondual experience, or maybe only caught a brief glimpse of unitary being and the absolutely infinite and total nature of God. So most psychedelic experiences are still dualistic in nature. It often takes a large energetic input to completely override the structures of the ego, and here, 5-MeO-DMT is incomparable in that it is the one psychedelic that is most likely to help someone relax and expand into the nondual state, which is our fundamental nature.
A phrase that I like to use is that psychedelic experiences are entry into the divine imagination. A common statement that is clearly made by the egos of psychedelic users is that “I couldn’t have possibly imagined that!” when reflecting on what they saw and experienced, so for many, there’s a sense of “otherness” that suffuses psychedelic experiences. For this reason, many people mistakenly assume that they are receiving information and impressions from “somewhere else.” It’s a form of game playing, however, and is an interactive environment where the self is communicating with itself through the guise of self and other, perceiver and that which is perceived. Our true nature as the unitary being of God is interacting with itself, playing both sides of the game board of being simultaneously. It’s difficult for the ego to recognize this, however.
Our true nature is energy. That’s what we really are, and all energy is unitary in nature. When we consume psychedelics, we’re profoundly altering our energetic experience, so we function quite differently from our ordinary energetic states. They alter the way we feel, think, and perceive. This is also what makes “healing” possible via psychedelics. The human ego, as a collection of energetic constructs, tends to create blocks and knots in our overall energetic systems as embodied beings. In many ways, the ego functions as an editing and censoring mechanism, and this leads to problems in the body and mind where we get attached to our illusions and confusions, and edit our expressive abilities. As a result, we get energy that isn’t fully processed and released – energetic baggage, so to speak. By shifting our energetic relationship to our sense of being, we’re able to process the garbage out, and this takes the forms of laughing, crying, purging/vomiting, excreting, babbling, and spontaneous body movements. These processes allow stuck energy to move through and ground out, and the result is that we feel better and more “ourselves” – clearer, lighter, more present, more embodied, more present. At the dualistic level, it can be experienced as beings or energies working on us, doctoring us. At the more nondual level, it is experienced as the genuine expression of energy. When the ego is present, however, it always has to create the other side of the experience as “other” and often needs to put a face or identity on that which is experienced. The ego doesn’t just create a sense of self – it always comes in conjunction with a sense of otherness, as well.
When you really pay attention, you can notice that the psychedelic immediately responds to changes in our thoughts and feelings. It happens so quickly and simultaneously that it can be difficult to see what is influencing what. It’s a seamless environment and there’s no lag time or delay, so as soon as our emotions change, the visual and experiential content shifts to match it. If we have a lot of unconscious emotional and thought patterns running through us, it can feel like we’re a victim to the psychedelic onslaught. We’re actively creating our experience, however, even if we can’t recognize it in the moment. The only thing that we’re experiencing is ourselves.
Because God is an infinitely creative being, yet has to operate through structures and forms of energetic transformation, the psychedelic experience is filled to the brim with creative energies, geometry, and fractals. It’s also very much alive and responsive. And it seems to go well beyond our ordinary imaginations and sense perceptions. It’s fantastical. It is the very fullness of our own being that we’re experiencing, however, and is not other. It’s just a very heightened access to the infinite nature of the self.
The deepest level of experience possible is the nondual – the sense of absolute unity with no separation. Everything is immediately experienced as one unified totality that is infinite and eternal. While there may be visual aspects to such an experience, they are secondary to the feeling of the experience. Only this experience is able to truly put everything else that is experienced on the dualistic side of things into the proper perspective. From the nondual perspective, everything is experienced as the self and there are no divisions. This allows us to have insights into how we divide the world and experience into the dualism of self and other, “me” and “not me,” and we’re able to directly and immediately know that such divisions are a form of illusion. Duality is what allows us to play the reality game as a player within the game. Our true nature, however, is the game itself. In a fundamental sense, we’re only pretending to be players in the game. In that sense, the ego and its duality is gift that makes the game possible – it renders it believable and seemingly consequential. All of reality is just God playing with itself and giving itself the opportunity to experience itself as individuals. It’s still a game, however. In the nondual experience, we see past the game and experience reality as it truly is: unified.
Prox: What would you say is the purpose of those experiences overall? Is there a “point”?
Martin: My goodness. There are so many points to psychedelic experience – everything from fun and entertainment to enlightenment and liberation through genuine knowledge of the self, and everything in between. There’s no one reason and end goal as psychedelic experiences and their applications are so wildly diverse.
In my opinion, the highest possible use of psychedelics is for liberation from the illusory prison of the ego, as I’ve emphasized in the Entheological Paradigm. Psychedelics are the greatest possible tool available to humans for full self-realization and are far more effective than any form of religion or spirituality – they’re so effective, in fact, that they largely render religion and spirituality obsolete, by comparison. The greatest thing that anyone could ever possibly learn is that each and every one of us is God and that our true identity is unitary and singular. It’s not something to be believed in or accepted as a proposition of knowledge. It is something that can only be understood through direct and immediate experience – everything else is just speculation and assertion of beliefs. That fact that anyone, even hardcore atheists, can experience this directly via psychedelics is absolutely amazing. I consider this to be our fundamental birthright as humans, and any laws that impede our ability to have these experiences are a violation of human rights and a crime against humanity. Every person on this planet has a right to know who and what they truly are, if they desire it, and psychedelics make this possible in a way that nothing else really does. It’s an energetic issue – if you introduce enough energy into the system, the energetic structures of the ego are overwhelmed and they temporary dissolve, revealing our fundamentally unitary nature. It has nothing whatsoever to do with being religious or spiritual. How profound is that? Psychedelics make self-realization possible for all humans. They are the great self-knowledge equalizers. That, in my view, is amazingly profound. They help us see that we don’t need to be or do anything, because we already are. Such experiences reveal that all forms of religion and spirituality are just forms of game playing, providing the ego with a sense of something to do and someone to be. You do not need to dedicate yourself to any spiritual practice to know who and what you are. All you need to do is relax into your infinite nature. It’s so easy! So easy, in fact, that it’s almost a joke. It shows that all attempts to “get there” are just machinations of the ego. Self-discovery is available right here, right now, and the only thing you need to do is relax, experience, and observe. How could it possibly be any easier?
Despite how easy it is, most people don’t reach this point of self-realization, however, as the ego is terribly tenacious, and it takes a lot of trust and surrender to dissolve it. So the vast majority of psychedelic experiences are on the dualistic side of things. These experiences have great value, too, so this isn’t to degrade them in any way – just to recognize they are far from the greatest potential of psychedelics. Psychedelic experiences allow for all kinds of healing and personal transformation to take place. People can overcome trauma and anxieties and resolve psychological and emotional issues. They can gain new perspectives on their perceived problems, and can learn to take responsibility for how they create the situations they suffer from. They can be used for so many therapeutic purposes.
Psychedelics can be used simply to “check in” on yourself and for regular self-maintenance. They can refresh and reset the system, and help clear out any residual baggage. They can inspire, entertain, and beautify one’s experience.
And one must never overlook the fact that psychedelics can be amazingly fun and entertaining. They open up the possibility of interacting with and appreciating the world in new and novel ways. Music and art and cinema come alive in deep and profound ways. Spending the night with eyes closed, lying down, and journeying through the inner mindscape is wild, aesthetically amazing, and thoroughly enjoyable. Eating some mushrooms and going for a walk in the woods can be an astounding experience. Wandering around Burning Man while tripping and soaking up all the crazy art and merging with it is beyond fun. There’s nothing wrong with taking psychedelics and having a good time. It’s just one of many possible applications.
Psychedelics and sex are great too. It can take a great deal of patience and sensitivity, but psychedelic sex can be the most intimate experience available to humans interacting with each other. Orgasms can be off the charts and the exchange and intermingling of energies is delicious.
Psychedelics can also be used for problem solving or investigation of a question. You just set your mind on what you want to focus on, and then go and explore it in the visionary and energetic realms. Novel solutions pop up. New ways of seeing and thinking are provided. Inspiration comes in unexpected and surprising forms. Perspectives are shifted and realizations dawn without effort.
Really, the possibilities and applications are endless.
Prox: Favorite Hobbies?
Martin: Aside from enjoying psychedelics, there are many ways that I enjoy spending my time and keeping myself engaged in this fantastic and profoundly beautiful reality. I love creating music and performing out. Playing music for a live audience is one of my absolutely favorite things to do. There’s just a magic there that I don’t get from anything else. It’s very different from the satisfaction of sitting in front of the computer and composing and recording music, which I also thoroughly enjoy. But it’s the sharing of it with others and participating in that expression of energy and movement and sound that really gets me off. Getting a room of people up and dancing via something I’ve created is a truly special pleasure.
Creating art is also a lot of fun for me and is an enjoyable way to spend the day. Not quite as much fun as making music, but it’s a close second and helps satisfy my creative urges.
I love spending time in nature and visiting as many natural wonders and places of beauty as possible. This planet is just so fucking beautiful and life is so exquisite in all its many and diverse forms. When I’m out and about, I like to capture the experience via photography and also via sound recordings that I then later use in music. And I love getting my kids into uniquely beautiful environments and share that awe and wonder with them.
I also love being entertained, be it through music, film, TV, or reading. I love a good story with complex characters and imaginative environments. I’m quite fond of fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction as genres. I’m definitely not one of those “TV is bad!” types, and am thoroughly enjoying this era of “prestige” TV.
Prox: Who are some of your favorite artists and intellectuals?
Martin: At this point in time, I can’t say that I have any favorite intellectuals. Back when I was a “seeker,” I spent a great deal of time reading and digesting the thoughts and intellectual constructs of others. Ever since I found myself, I’ve found that my interest in such pursuits has completely fallen away. Most of it is speculation and metaphysics disguised as knowledge and insight, so it’s not worth my time. Now that I know who and what I am, what would be the point of looking to others for such insights?
In the entertainment department, I definitely have some favorites. Aside from keeping abreast of the news and current events, I exclusively read and digest fiction. Some of my favorite current authors are Tom Robbins – anything he’s written is absolutely brilliant. I’m a big fan of Dan Simmons and love his Hyperion novels in particular, which I’m currently re-reading. Iain M. Banks and his “Culture” novels are some of my all-time favorite books and are so richly imaginative.
As for art, I generally like “visionary” art and also surrealism. An artist I recently became aware of on a trip to Laguna Beach is Vladimir Kush, who creates whimsical surreal art like boats with butterfly wings or orchids for sails and things like that with exquisite use of light and color. In general, I like anything that is well done and shows skill and talent. I find a lot of “modern” art to be totally uninteresting and aesthetically boring. I like things that are aesthetically complex and that communicate a sense of wonder and awe.
When it comes to visionary art, I do think that there are a number of over-used themes, making a lot of visionary art overly-similar and uninteresting. Too many uses of “exotic” religious and spiritual themes such as Buddhas and figures in meditation poses. Too many images of sincere offerings with light coming out of hands. “Sacred geometry” is way too over-done, and silly, in my opinion. Nothing is “sacred” because everything is sacred since God is everything – nothing is more “sacred” than anything else. A local friend of mine and visionary artist also complains about the “chick with shit coming out of her head” visionary art motif that is found in the creations of so many artists. Too many people trying to be Alex Grey or Amanda Sage and Martina Hoffmann.
Prox: Tips for aspiring artists and psychonauts?
Martin: Tips for artists: Just do it! Create! Give it a try! Also, don’t box yourself in. Don’t try and be this or that kind of artist. Fuck genres and styles. Just do whatever you want. Have fun and express yourself. And be patient. It can take time to discover what you’re good at, or what is an authentic medium of expression for yourself. Don’t be concerned with what’s popular or what sells. Do what feels right for you and use it as a method of discovery and exploration.
Tips for psychonauts: Learn how to relax, surrender, and do nothing. You’ll be surprised by what arises if you do this successfully. Be wary of spiritual and religious approaches to using psychedelics. There’s a great deal of emphasis out there on making your psychedelic experience “spiritual” and “sacred” in contemporary discourse, and it tends to lead to attachment and egoic identity formation. Most religious and spiritual contexts are too restrictive for people to really go all the way into the totality of the nondual experience. People create an image of themselves as spiritual seekers, or shamans, or priests and priestesses, and it’s all ego. Look to yourself for answers. Stop seeking, and pay attention. Everything you need to know is happening right here, right now. Be your own liberator. You can do it, if you focus on truth and reality.
Always keep in mind that psychedelics can just as easily bolster the ego as dissolve it. Be wary of internal narratives, identifications, and the egoic need to make meaning out of events and experiences. Don’t attach yourself to beliefs. Don’t buy into metaphysical speculation. Don’t believe the hype!
Prox: What is some art, movies, or literature you’d recommend?
Martin: For a good time, read Tom Robbins’ Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates.
Prox: Information on upcoming projects and releases?
Martin: Something that I’m looking to get to after I finish writing up this interview is to write an essay on the psychedelic effects of MDMA. I’ve only recently really gotten into exploring MDMA, and somewhat to my surprise, given how MDMA is often described as an “entactogen” and “not really psychedelic,” is how profoundly visual MDMA can be. I’ve been keeping a catalog of interesting and novel things I’ve seen in my MDMA experiences, and want to share them as I think others will find them interesting as well.
Beyond that, I’m probably going to start working on a new book specifically on the topic of what I call “nondual energetic therapy with entheogens,” which is a therapeutic method I’ve developed to help people overcome the structures of the ego and reach nondual realizations. It’s a profoundly novel approach and there are elements in my methodology that no one else has ever talked about or brought to light, so I think it’s an extremely valuable contribution to information on psychedelics. I’m also been approached by a documentary film maker who’d like to make a documentary on the subject, but we’re just in the initial discussion phase and it’s as-yet not clear whether it will come to fruition, or not.
I’d also like to write a sequel to my recent novel, The Solandarian Game. I finished the book with a cliff-hanger, and have some ideas of where I’d like to take the story, so I hope to get to that before too long.
Musically, Jessalynn and I are looking to finish up our third Fractal Love Jam album, Particles & Waves,” by sometime this spring. I still need to write some songs and lyrics to round out the project, so I’ve got a bit of work to do there.
And as for big events, this spring I’m putting on the fourth annual “Exploring Psychedelics Conference” here in Ashland. It will be May 25th and 26th, 2017, and if it’s anything like last year’s conference, we’ll have something like 30 or so speakers over two days with all kinds of great information about psychedelics. One thing we’ve already got lined up for this year is a debate on the question of whether psychedelic mushrooms have been a part of Christianity or not, and there are definitely different scholarly takes on this issue. Anyone who’s interested in learning more about the conference can visit our webpage at www.exploring-psychedelics.org, and talks from last year’s conference are available at my podcast, The Entheogenic Evolution, at www.entheogenic.podomatic.com.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Martin: This has been the most personally satisfying written interview I’ve yet done, so thanks for asking such great questions. I especially appreciate the opportunity to address questions related to art, music, and creativity, which I don’t get asked about too often.
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