I've been a fan of Krystle Cole for a while now. She's well known for her numerous informational videos about psychedelics. Her website, Neurosoup.com, provides information for a broad spectrum of entheogens, entactogens, and other little helpers to the human pursuit for greater understanding in the bigger picture of life. We spoke about her perspective on psychedelics and life in general.
Roberts: You're a person who has experienced a broad spectrum of psychedelics. You're probably one of the most encyclopedic reference points for the breadth of the psychedelic experience. How has your perspective on psychedelics changed since the first time you did it?
Cole: When I started using entheogens, the first I used was MDMA — which is more of an entactogen than an entheogen — but that's the first time I delved into the psychedelic experience. My level of understanding has really grown since then. It's not just from the amount of other substances I've done that are stronger than MDMA, but also from life in general, and everything I do that doesn't relate to psychedelics. I think that's the case with everyone. We all grow as life goes on, and so I interpret some of what I've experienced differently now.
In the non-psychedelic sense, do you have any regular spiritual practice?
I like to meditate and do yoga. I like to do meditations that don't involve just sitting there in a traditional meditative posture because of my back issues. I can do chair meditation, but I also like to do walking meditations or meditation during yoga, so I'm moving and concentrating on how I connect with everything. That's probably the daily practice I enjoy the most.
If you had to line everyone up in the world and say to them, "You have to try this one particular psychedelic," set and setting taken into consideration, and this would be for the purpose of changing the world, what, in that hypothetical sense, would be the most powerful mind changer?
I think that saying that everyone should have to take something would be unhealthy for a lot of people. Some people may have psychological disorders, and probably shouldn't be taking entheogens. I wouldn't say that there would be something that everyone should have to take. However, if I were to start life all over again, having not taken anything before, I would absolutely have to take LSD.
That's interesting. What is the main difference that you see between LSD and other psychedelics?
I think that a lot of the entheogens are somewhat similar, although the head spaces, let's say psilocybin versus LSD, are different. You said one substance, and it's difficult to choose one. The best thing about LSD to me was that it didn't make me nauseous, whereas psilocybin would. It had the least number of negative side effects for me. Everyone is different. Of course, I had really high quality LSD. A lot of things that are out there on the market now aren't even LSD. They're being substituted as LSD, like the NBOME family of chemicals. A lot of people are seeing these really negative side effects and attributing them to LSD. I really liked the length and strength of the experience from the LSD I took.
You and I both have spent some time with Hamilton Morris. I had a discussion with him about spirituality versus materialism. What is your take on the subject?
I don't label myself as any one thing.
I believe the experiences I've had are the realest things I've ever experienced. But it's as if reality has multiple dimensions. I don't believe I've reached out and touched an alien entity, or that anything like that has taught me anything. I center my beliefs within what Ken Wilbur has to say on our reality. In his "Integral Theory," you have stages of consciousness you develop through. You have different states as well that you can experience with things like LSD or meditation from whatever stage of consciousness you're at. As you go through life and have different experiences, you may move up to different levels and higher or more aware stages of consciousness. Some people are interpreting what is right for them at their stage, but there are many different stages. It may not be that anyone is necessarily right or wrong when it comes to the reductionist scientific perspective and the spiritual perspective. We're interpreting the entheogenic experience or other altered states from different stages of consciousness. That's why I think we're all right at some level.
I think it was Terence McKenna who said that if you were to have a cone floating in space, there would be no two people who could see that cone the same way. If you had everyone in a circle, even from a million different ways, no two perspectives would be exactly the same, even though they are all looking at the same thing. He described the psychedelic experience as us all being like blind men with an elephant. One is tugging the tail saying, "This is a snake," and the one is saying, "No, this is a pillar of some great building."
Ken Wilbur has written lots of different books. Integral Spirituality is a really good one. So is Integral Psychology. His integral theory is really great if you're looking for a way to look at reality and understand how everything fits together. It's not different arguments, but a synthesis and integration of all arguments thus far. He does not say that he's a psychedelic user but from everything I've seen, he gets it. However he got there — he says he did it with meditation — it's awesome. If he was able to put all of this together and experience the one being we all share that exists always and everywhere infinitely through the practice of meditation, then that, to me, shows that meditation is equally as good at getting you there as entheogens are. Entheogens are my preferred means, though. I think they're the elevator to the top, whereas meditation is the stairs.
It seems like there is a paradigm shift underway in which more and more people are discovering the story of life. For instance, the American Dream was a farce; it was something sold to us as a part of an advertising campaign. We're finding ourselves realizing the madness of our lives, but we feel trapped in mortgages and car payments, sending our kids to college, and then we watch all of our tax dollars going to bombing people on the other side of the planet. What's the thing that helps you to keep a positive perspective on that? What is the thing you would say to people who are just "waking up," to help them along the path?
Sometimes it's difficult to keep perspective. That's the first thing. Some people have asked me that question, and no one can find the answer but you. You just have to try to have a positive attitude. That helps me a lot. The cup is half full instead of half empty. Look to all the positive things. But even so, it's difficult sometimes. Life can definitely get you down and I think that having a daily spiritual practice has really helped me. Of course, the lessons that I've learned through entheogens have really helped me as well.
What is your purpose behind Neurosoup.com? What is the common theme?
There's a couple of them, but the main one is responsible use. I'm not advocating for people to use any substance, but I am advocating for people to educate themselves prior to using, if that's what they choose to do. Every substance, whether it's LSD or heroin, has positives and negatives. No matter what, there is going to be something that some think is good and some think is bad. That's one of the biggest messages of Neurosoup, and that's why I put all that information on YouTube. I don't just have the trip reports, I have other information about both sides of the story. That way, people can make responsible choices about the substances they choose to put into their bodies. The government tries to make these laws that are saying, "Drugs are bad, you're going to jail for life if you're caught with these substances," but they're out there, and everybody is able to obtain different drugs. In the end, the individual user is the one making that choice. The individual user needs to be empowered with the correct knowledge so that they can make that choice. That's what I'm trying to do.
This raises the question about your feelings on personal sovereignty. There are two camps in America that are at the farthest ends of the spectrum and yet I see where they are in so many ways identical. Where do you stand on the issue of asserting one's own personal sovereignty?
I think that every person should have the right to do whatever they want as long as it does not harm someone else. I guess that's the best way to really describe it. That applies to different cultures as well. We look at different cultures and different beliefs and say, "Well, we don't understand that." No matter what a person does, they should be able to do it. Have fun, have great life, experience everything that you want to. Just don't harm someone else in the process.
There has been much debate over the last several decades about what "soma," the true sacred mushroom was. There's been many books written about amanita muscaria, and other people have said no, psilocybin is much more appropriate because of its rampant availability, and so on. If you had to pick which one was this inspiring mushroom, what do you think?
Back when I lived in Mendocino, I learned all about that because I was collecting specimens of amanita muscaria. I wanted to learn everything there was about them. I read a lot of different things but my understand of soma is that they would ingest the substance and then they would urinate and be able to trip from what would come out again, the urine. To my understanding, psilocybin wouldn't fit in with that. Have you heard that if you take psilocybin and urinate, there would be anything left in the urination to actually drink? It's gross, but that was one of the things I read about soma, and that's why amanita muscario is probably the best fit.
Well you would have to be with someone you care about to drink their pee. Where's R. Kelly? I need to try this amanita.
I've heard of people doing amanita muscaria and saving their urine in the refrigerator for the next day. Hypothetically, you could drink your own pee if you really wanted to see if soma was amanita muscario. I've never tried amanita muscario, but I was with some people who did. I was almost going to try it but they started drooling and feeling really bad, and I didn't want to feel like that, so I didn't take it.
It sounds difficult to go through. I've never personally experienced it, but according to the trip reports it's not a sunny day entheogen. It's not just something you jump right into. You have to plan on feeling like garbage for a really long time.
I have heard that people do have a psychedelic experience when they drink their pee. I think that's the context that soma and the Rigveda was ingested. But how many trip reports are out there of people who have actually tried it? I know I'm not willing to try it. From the standpoint of the experience itself, psilocybin seems like it would be a much better fit. But there's some science there that needs to be backed up, since the soma and Rigveda were drank, and have effects that are as strong as drinking urine.
If they put together a panel of ten psychedelic masters, people who have really fun the gamut of experiences, and they said, "We want you to be one of the ten, and we're all going to drink this pee to see if it's the real one," you wouldn't join?
I don't know. I don't think so. I already did some other questionable methods of taking substances. I don't think I'll try the urine route.
Fair enough. We'll step away from the pee discussion then. Oh my goodness. What do you think happens when we die?
I think I've experienced dying. A lot of people look at that with skepticism and say, "Well you didn't really die, you experienced ego dissolution." But at the time, and looking back on it, I still feel that's what happens when we die. It felt like a transition. Look at reality as though we're a coin. On one side of the coin is the little me perspective. That's the Krystle Cole, the you, the everyone else that's out there listening. On the other side of the coin is the one mind, the Godhead, the all that is. When we die, we are one the other side of that coin, and the part that's us is no longer as relevant in the stream of consciousness as it was. It's not that it ever stops because from what I experienced with the one, with everything, is that there is no time and it just goes on infinitely. From that standpoint, we always are. It always is. It's hard to describe some of this, so it sounds vague, but I think death is a transition into ultimate bliss. It's the ultimate being of the now and the one. We experience the ultimate Godhead with entheogens. I'm not afraid of dying. But I am afraid of dying painfully.
Well I think everyone is, yes.
I don't want to die painfully but once I'm dead, I'm not afraid of going. I think it's going to be beautiful. I've been there before, so it's just going home. It's what always is. We don't normally perceive that. We have to figure out a way to open this doorway within ourselves, go to that other side of the coin, and experience all that is. I think that's the difference between individuals who interpret the entheogenic experience as something that's a hallucination and all in their head, versus something that is a spiritual experience. It's the full integration of that. It depends on how everyone interprets it. That's how I saw it.
I've been intrigued by the morning glory varieties of entheogens. And from everything that I've read — for instance in Psychedelic Shamanism, Jim DeKorne — it's described as something really hardcore. Like some arcane spirit of the ancient world when we were back in a matriarchal society, and it's a man-hating entheogen. Have you ever heard these things? And have you experienced anything in the datura and/or morning glory family?
I have tried morning glory seeds. I did not experience anything like that. My experiences with most entheogens have had a common thread. It hasn't been anything other than experiencing the one mind that I was describing before. Of course, you have your hallucinations and everything else, but there's a difference between what I would experience when it came to visual field hallucinations. I could tell it was a hallucination rather than experiencing the one mind. Whenever I take anything, I travel down the path in my mind, or in my consciousness, in our soul, our shared one being. I always go back to where I was before. I always gravitate toward that. It's a process of getting back there. Sometimes it's harder to let go than others. Sometimes I have more anxiety than others. I didn't do a really strong dose of them. I felt kind of nauseating. I prefer LSD any day.
If you were to fantasize about building an ideal society, what would that look like? What might you imagine?
There are things we could do to our current society that would make it more ideal. We could decriminalize most of the substances that are not addictive and that are spiritual tools for self exploration, like LSD, DMT, and psilocybin. If other highly addictive substances like heroin or methamphetamine continue to be illegal, make the punishment so that it's not the mandatory minimum sentence of five years. Do away with the DEA. That would make things a lot better.
Also, restructuring how society finds benefit in things. People were raised with television and commercials, now the internet. There are commercials all over the internet. Everywhere you go you're bombarded with advertising campaigns that tell you what is supposed to make you happy, and that buying stuff is going to make it all better. That's just not the case. Money's not evil, money is good — we all need it to live. But you can't buy things and expect them to all of a sudden fix your life or make you happy.
Restructuring the way society think about happiness, love, spirituality, and not being so selfish. That's another thing to restructure. If we could look at each other as a global community rather than isolated individuals, and say, "Hey, if I do something good out there to help these other people, I'm actually helping myself, because we're all one." That's what entheogens have taught me. I might sound like a hippie, but that's what they taught me. I would like to see some of those things happen in the world. I don't know if that's the perfect utopia, but I think it would go a long way to improving things.
Transcribed by David Wilder.
Image by Wallygreeninker, courtesy of Creative Commons license.