I'm glad I could clarify what was intended. My apologies if anything I wrote seemed to be critical of the value or worth of anyone. All people, even those who have performed the most vile acts, have an innate worth as a Being. Not all activities or experiences are of worth, however. Some lead of the opposite way from where we would like to go. It is odd you should mention Ayahuasca. Have you read Graham Hancock's book, "Supernatural"? In it he documents his own use of native pharmaceuticals to induce altered states and, as he believes, peer into other realms. When I read this book I was, quite honestly, somewhat disturbed by his use of psychotropics. You will note that he was advised by many knowledgeable researchers and medical professionals that exposing himself to these substances was medically unwise and dangerous and that they would not do so themselves, not even to further their own research. He comments something to the effect that these other researchers simply didn't have the nerve to do the "real" research by experiencing the psychotropics first hand. Then he proceeded to go about his testing. In the beginning of his book he relates that he had recently lost his father which sent him into deep despair and depression from which he had been unable to pull himself. He describes how he was beyond caring about anything at that point. It was within the context of this despair that he began his experimentation. This was, I think, foolish and reckless on his part. This was the depth of despair acting in him, not a rational research ethic. Being Native American myself, I can verify that some indigenous cultures do in fact employ various substances to induce altered states of consciousness. I would add to that, however, that while many native cultures are aware of the properties of hallucinogenic and psychotropic plants and substances, the vast majority do not believe in using them in this way. Our current culture seems fascinated by these things and because of this there is media attention given to exploring their use. This attention perhaps gives the impression that such use is far more prevalent than it actually is. In fact, most native cultures would advise you to avoid the use of such things. So you are right, Coenrad, Ayahuasca is no way to go. Neither is a .38 or any other caliber. Your question about knowing God is well taken. My hesitation to speak too much about it stems from the personal nature of such knowledge. It is so easy when discussing God in the context of a forum such as this to tread on someone else's feelings about sacred things. At the same time I hold my own experiences sacred and would be remiss in according them their proper respect were I to detail them too openly for any and all. Before opening up such possibilities perhaps we should get Michael's permission. He might prefer we not open up such a potentially charged subject where offense is so easily taken. I will tell you that my own knowledge has its origins in deep personal tragedy from many years ago when I was a young man. My wife and 5 year old daughter were taken senselessly. It is not something I discuss with others in a setting such as this. In fact I rarely discuss it at all. In time I wrote a short piece of poetry related to my daughter. Perhaps it will give you some little sense of what transpired: A memory, a vision of an early summer afternoon She comes into my room, showing off her Cinderella ball gown. Sky blue, lace and frills, much too grown up for my baby, all of five years old. “Silly Daddy,” she says, “don’t you know blue is my favorite color?” Her dark, almond eyes smiling, she dances, twirls and poses, this little girl of mine. A memory, a nightmare, a later summer evening. Out of the dark, a stranger comes calling at our door, to say my child will never more dance or pose, or wrap her arms around my neck, nor play again in the warmth of the sun. I see her one final time, tears blur the familiar details. Ears straining, I listen for her small voice, “Silly Daddy,” I long to hear, “don’t you know blue is my favorite color?” I search her face, this angel mine, but her dark, almond eyes smile no more. It required years before I returned to the land of the living after this experience. During that period I barely slept. I lay down at night and part of me feared I would never wake again. Another part feared I would. When sheer exhaustion finally drove me into unconsciousness I often woke to find I was sitting up in bed screaming into the darkness all around, my bed linens saturated with perspiration from the nightmares that haunted me. This was my existence for several years. It was, so to speak, my personal Gethsemane. There came a point at which I could go no further. I was physically, emotionally and spiritually empty and exhausted. I had the good fortune to have been introduced at that time to a Native American holy man from the Lakota Nation. Under his guidance I learned to process what I had experienced and to integrate it into myself in such a way that there was no longer an internal war going on. Among the many things he taught me was a technique for meditation (though he did not call it meditation) that I use to this day. It involves the use of silence. My experience of God evolved out of learning to enter the silence. It would be very difficult to accurately describe how to enter into silence as I was lead to do in any way that would make sense. In my experience, eventually, all meditation techniques point towards entering into the silence. They may not begin that way. Mantra, for instance, is clearly not silent at the beginning. But what it leads to is, if one pursues the technique to its true conclusion. When one reaches the silence and remains there one finds that it is not empty and devoid of everything, but rather that it is literally filled with pure, infinite potential. There truly is nothing more rich and full than Silence. Yes, this is something of a paradox. At the moment this is perceived one touches the Being of God on a personal, experiential level. Perhaps, with Michael's permission, we could devote a thread to a more detailed discussion, but hopefully that gives you an idea of how I arrived at my experiences. I do not think everyone has to descend down into the same depths of despair that I did before they experience God, but in my case I believe those years of intense pain accelerated the process for me beyond what I would have known otherwise.