Rick Doblin’s Psychedelic Dreams

As transcribed & lightly edited by Lex Pelger. Design by Joe Walsh. 

In the late 70’s, about seven years after Rick Doblin decided to become a psychedelic therapist and researcher at age 18, he had this potent dream that confirmed his choice of work.

He had tried LSD and mescaline at age 17, and then dropped out of college to get grounded and emotionally healthier, and to figure out how to pursue his interests in working with psychedelics. In his mid-20’s, he was building houses as a contractor, taking acid once in a while, and smoking pot. He possessed a stash of LSD big enough to worry him. Deciding to play it safe, he asked a carpenter friend to store it, and the friend agreed to keep it at his own house.

It was during this period that Rick Doblin had the dream he never forgot. It opened in a familiar white room that he first saw while tripping on acid in the theater in 1972 watching Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey.


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We’re in the white room from the end of the movie. I see an old man laying on the bed who looks like he is dying. I slowly walk up to him, and he starts talking to me. The old man says, “At an earlier point in my life, I was miraculously saved from dying. I knew that I was saved for some sort of purpose, that I had some sort of mission – but I didn’t know what it was. Now, I’ve finally figured out what that purpose is. But before I tell you, I want to show you how I almost died and was saved.”

We are instantaneously transported back to World War II. He’s a younger man again, part of a large group of Jewish people lined up by the Nazis in a clearing in the woods somewhere. They’re about to be shot and killed on the edge of this big mass grave, then to fall or be thrown in. I am somehow there experiencing this event in his life as if I were him. I then see how the people are all shot–I am shot–and I fall into this grave unconscious, wounded but not killed, then buried alive.

Then there’s a little bit of the Jesus story here, because he remains buried for three days. He finally wakes up, realizes he’s alive, and claws and crawls his way up to the surface through the bodies of the other people, all of whom are dead. He emerges up out of the dirt at the edge of these woods on the outskirts of town, with nobody around. He describes how he ran into the woods and eventually found partisans that he worked with against the Nazis until the war ended.

And that is how the old man almost got killed. After going through this horrific experience as if it were me, we are both back in the room, just me and him. It’s quiet and peaceful as he lies on his death bed.

He starts to talk, “I now understand the mission for which I was saved. That mission, is to tell you to become a psychedelic researcher and therapist and work to legalize psychedelics.” Wordlessly, telepathically, I hear the rationale behind his figuring out his mission.

Dehumanizing others and scapegoating others is a psychological process. Psychedelics can help people experience and accept their own shadows so they don’t project their shadows onto others. Psychedelics can catalyze a mystical, unitive sense of connection to all people and all life, to help people realize that love rather than hate is the best way to live. The deeply felt sense that we’re all the same family is an antidote to war and murder and scapegoating. Psychedelics can make these experiences more widely available so people can be psychologically and spiritually healthier and more compassionate.

Inside of my head, I’m thinking that the old man is laying a big burden on me, and has carried this sense of mission for many decades. Then I realize that the work he is laying on me to do is what I had previously decided I wanted to do on my own. I tell him that this work is something I can accept in good faith.

I watch as the old man dies in peace with his mission fulfilled.

Some moments after his death, I turn around and walk out of the white room. All of the sudden, I am in the middle of nature and the woods – but the opposite of the previous killing fields. The sun is shining and everything is warm. There is a stream not far ahead, so I walk toward it. I notice a young boy around 10 years old sitting there just watching the water go by. So I sit next to him and watch the water too, thinking about the book Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. We don’t exchange any words, just meditatively sit next to each other.

Then I think, “I recognize this boy. His father is my friend who stores my LSD stash at his house.”

Then I woke up.

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