At the age of 25, he went to live with the Amazonian shamans.
I went to the Ashaninca, a people from the Peruvian Amazon, to do my doctorate, and I was surprised by their encyclopedic knowledge of plants. They have more plant names than science and more knowledge about their environment than scientists.
It is your medium.
They treat animals and each species of plant as intelligent entities, and say that they obtain all their knowledge from the ayahuasquero shamans who converse with these entities in their visions.
Do they get complex insights?
Yes, they prepare medicines that are made up of various plants in calculated proportions, that is, they have extensive knowledge of their biochemical and molecular interactions, the pharmaceutical multinationals are crazy behind these formulas.
Give me an example.
We owe the creation of the first anesthesia for surgical use to the shamans who had biological information unknown to Western chemists. I wanted to find out how they got that knowledge.
What I observed, and it remains a mystery, is that first shamans and then scientists tell the same story about the origin of life and biochemical knowledge.
What do shamans know about molecular biology?
I know it sounds incredible, but thanks to the altered state of consciousness that ayahuasca facilitates, shamans have been accessing biochemical knowledge stored in DNA for millennia. In a way it is true: plants teach them how to use them, how to prepare them and what to do with them.
And another essential question was asked.
I wanted to find out if it is true, as the shamans say, that there is a general intelligence in nature, and to find the answer I have continued living with them for 30 years.
You are almost one of them.
I am an anthropologist. I have also visited state-of-the-art laboratories around the world.
Are shamans and scientists compatible?
They were not, but now, luckily, science is opening up and scientists and indigenous people are already coming together in international congresses to listen to each other.
How is the intelligence of nature expressed?
Through the behavior of living beings, from microscopic organisms to the largest animal specimens (elephants, whales, dolphins), including plants, trees and the planet Earth itself. All of them have cognitive abilities.
Is intelligence inherent in life?
There is evidence that animals have personality, they dream, they learn, they solve problems, they teach their offspring, they are capable of remembering the past and foreseeing future events.
And the emotional world?
Humans and animals share similar brain structures; in this sense the emotions are also similar. Certain species with a brain smaller than the human have a level of neural connection very similar or greater than the human.
Is there plant intelligence?
Yes, plants have intentions, they make decisions, and they evaluate complex aspects of their environment. They even produce neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and other chemicals also used by the human brain to send signals.
Today no one disputes the intelligence of birds anymore.
They are able to make tools, count and understand basic physics principles, move to the rhythm of music, learn, some species solve puzzles at the same speed as a 5-year-old child; They have memory and plan for the future.
The brain of cetaceans and ours are quite similar.
The processing of emotions, such as compassion and empathy, is the most complex in the world for them. Also know that octopuses and lobsters can experience anguish, joy, pain and pleasure.
And the insects?
Ants have been using antibiotics for millions of years, and bees can handle abstract concepts. There are even intelligent slime molds, a single-celled creature capable of solving a maze. Doesn't this confirm that the entire framework of life contains intelligence?
Is the planet a self-regulating superorganism?
It seems that way, and one of the most common mechanisms for regulation are viruses, and no matter what species we are talking about, they function as mechanisms that prevent a species from becoming too dominant.