DMT, Creativity and a Philosophy of Psychedelics
A version of this interview appeared in Catalyst.
Following his first experience with DMT, Director Mitch Schultz was inspired to create a series of four documentary films beginning with DMT: The Spirit Molecule. The films go first to understanding our connection with heaven, dimensions beyond our 3D world, and realms wholly different from our everyday reality. Second is Ground of Being, focused on understanding how to harmonize our relationship with our natural environment. Next is Global Beat Fusion, examining music as the soul of culture. The whole project concludes with a film focused on communication -- how to relate about all these experiences with each other.
Terra: Mitch, thank you so much for taking time for this conversation. You Directed The Spirit Molecule, which follows Dr. Straussman's sanctioned study of a psychoactive substance found naturally in plants, animals and humans, dimethyltryptamine. Why did you decide to make a film about DMT? Had you heard of Dr. Strassman's work previously?
Mitch: The simple answer, a personal DMT experience in 2002. Prior to that experience, I had never heard about Dr. Strassman's research, but it was that experience that brought me to his work. A close friend was moving home to Brazil from NYC, and several of us gathered in a midtown apartment to see him off. One of the individuals brought a small amount of DMT, and as it turned out, he was the only one there that had ever heard of DMT. I considered myself an experienced psychonaut and explained to him that I knew what to expect from my past psychedelic explorations. He quickly laughed me off. I was the third one to take the DMT, and by the second inhalation things began to shift very quickly. He encouraged me to take two more inhalations (I'm still not sure how I pulled that off), and immediately went into what I can only explain as dying experience. I had never been so afraid, and did my best to hold on. After approximately one minute the fear passed, and it turned out to be one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. Almost immediately upon my return to consensus reality, I knew I would make this film. The 10-minute experience changed the core of my being, provided a drastically new outlook on life, and ultimately became the impetus for my psychedelic research and life direction.
What is the focus of your current psychedelic research?
Healing, personal growth and spirituality. Now of course all of these can intersect with the next, but without two of the three present it's not worth going there. Ultimately, I believe the core of what we search for as humans lays at the intersection of all three, so I put my focus on uncovering ways to make them overlap. I've always had a sense that psychedelic mindspace is fully integrated with a multi-dimensional matrix of "life" that can be mapped, navigated and shaped in unimaginable ways. Reality hacking.
In your experience, do psychedelics only act on the mind?
Right, is like, your brain on drugs or close encounters of the third kind? I've come to think it's a combination of both. The cathartic emotions, shifts in time and space, entity communication, physical healing, and the variety of other experiences that we just can't wrap a vocabulary around seem to be more than just an internal occurrence. Science (as spiritual philosophies) continues to discover ways that our entire being is networked on multiple levels of reality, which becomes very apparent with altered states of consciousness connected to an interactive biological matrix. My sense is that the brain opens up its range of sensory awareness bringing insight into our mind, but at the same time we experience a variety of other energetic forces that remain hidden in consensus reality and play a role in our everyday life.
Psychedelic immediacy gives an experience of life unbounded. Through the freeing of thoughts and mind, psychedelic experiences can reveal the mystery of human potential, which is infinite. Can you describe life in a psychedelic world? Is this a good idea?
The dream, the reality, the imagined, all are contributing to the conditions of daily life -- each of these arenas has influence in our thoughts, habits and decision making. Examined close up, even the most still parts of life are full of movement and dynamic change. Rocks erode. Everything is in a constant state of decay or rejuvenation. In considering a state of psychedelic cohesion, is a psychedelic state a more immediate and direct awareness of this actual and constant reality?
Through personal trials and tribulations, I've come to understand my journey as a way to offer help to humanity with the concepts that have been revealed to me. And although the last decade has allowed me to solidify my musings, it has been a lifelong process. The culmination of my 38 years on this planet has resulted in a tetralogy of projects that make up the four-part Manifesto, a manifesto that aims to redefine our connection to Spirit, however understood or represented by any individual or larger culture.
Many have seen your documentary The Spirit Molecule, the first part of this Manifesto. Please share with us how you see the whole manifesto taking shape.
It begins with DMT: The Spirit Molecule exploring a new paradigm for consciousness, quantum consciousness. At the center of awareness lies a simple, natural molecule that potentially exists in all living organisms. A molecule that consistently produces a mystical experience, and may be the seed to the ultimate connection to It. Viewed through the lens of Entheogens, consciousness encounters the quantum world, generating and fostering Gnosis, but this state of consciousness can also be explored via a variety of ancient and esoteric knowledge around the world.
The next film, now in editing, Ground of Being documents a thriving eco-village built as an effort of restoration, rehabilitating an exhausted bluestone quarry in Melbourne, Australia. The community of C.E.R.E.S. has created and now maintains an award winning, not-for-profit, environment and education centre and urban farm.
Ground of Being builds from the knowledge attained from quantum awareness, and addresses humanity's role and symbiotic relationship to the life force of Earth. Through food and general sustainability practices, our physicality, thought, emotions and behaviors directly relate to how we recognize and care for natural world. By acknowledging our connection to everything around us, we can create a successful realignment with Nature that begins with the individual, grows into local community, and blossoms into a well integrated whole, mimicking the life force that we exist in.
The third film, Global Beat Fusion (based on Derek Beres' book of the same title), examines the interpretation, and celebration, of Spirit through music (art). Music has always been a ritual and social activity, a personal connection and a communal art shared by many. Music is the soul of a culture. Global Beat Fusion uncovers the computer as the first global folk instrument that international musicians share their respective cultural soul via the electronic space, cross-germinating their mythologies to create a meta-mythology.
Your work on this Manifesto begins with a vision resulting from your first DMT experience. You became aware of a possible peaceful world -- a sustainable reality. This was brought to light by your experience of a well balanced realm -- so you were inspired to share this Vision through the creation of this Manifesto comprised of four documentary films, ultimately concluding with a re-view -- re-telling the story.
This work concludes with the communication component. Open Source Reality [a working title] asks for the evolution of consciousness, physicality and interpretation of Spirit. For this to take place we need to develop a new language of maps, models and metaphors to re-interpret the misguided mythologies that have directed humanity for millennia, and now plague the social fabric.
The DMTRMX project creates an opportunity for anyone interested to become engaged in the psychedelics conversation through experiencing a dynamic and audience participatory approach to film and editing. You've given access to The Spirit Molecule anthology to the global community via the Creative Commons license, allowing creative individuals global access to edit and create their own DMT on film experience. What are your thoughts on intellectual property vs idea sharing?
Rather than 'property' think abundance, an intellectual smorgasbord. Open source ideas, believing the source of inspiration is infinite. Through this open sourcing and idea sharing, we redefine our mythologies, incorporating the quantum physical realm. We are constantly connected and related to a heavenly presence and source. Additionally, data is prolific throughout the world and by the internet, all this information is now broadly accessible, allowing the (re)discovery of lost traditions and and illuminating a clearer understanding of new and emerging tribal beats, new stories, new technologies and innovations, new mythologies created and shared.