In this episode we welcome special guest Dr Rick Strassman to the show. Rick Strassman MD performed the first new human studies with psychedelic drugs in the US in over 20 years. His research involved the powerful naturally-occurring compound, DMT – N,N-dimethyltryptamine. Led to this substance through his earlier study of the pineal gland as a potential biological locus for spiritual experiences, he administered several hundred doses of DMT to approximately 60 volunteers between 1990 and 1995. He wrote about this research in the popular book, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, which has sold over 100,000 copies, has been translated into 12 languages, and is now available as an audio-book. It also inspired an independent documentary by the same name, picked up by Warner Bros distributing in Fall, 2011. With three distinguished collaborators, he co-authored Inner Paths to Outer Space, which looks more carefully at the common "other worlds" experience that volunteers frequently reported during his research.
Since 1996, Dr. Strassman has been exploring models for the DMT effect focusing primarily on the Old Testament concept of prophecy. Prophecy is a spiritual experience which takes into account the apparently external, free-standing nature of the DMT "worlds," in which one's sense of self is highly preserved and interactive. The Old Testament concept of prophecy provides an alternative to other models that borrow more heavily from Eastern religious systems, and those of Latin American shamanism.
Dr Strassman has just completed his recent work DMT and the Soul of Prophecy where he tackles the major unresolved issue with which he was left after finishing his DMT project nearly 20 years ago. This was to find a model that fit the data from the volunteers’ reports of the drug state. This ultimately led him to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) where the notion of a “prophetic state of consciousness” began taking shape. At the same time, in order to make sense of the Hebrew Bible, he turned to the classic medieval Jewish philosophers like Maimonides, who proposed rather sophisticated metaphysical/spiritual mechanisms for the prophetic experience. Thus, to the extent that the prophetic and DMT states resembled each other, Dr Strassman could propose metaphysical and spiritual mechanisms in common in addition to shared biological mechanisms.