If you’ve ever found yourself in the labyrinth of psychedelic experience, you’ve probably asked yourself what the hell is this all about? That is precisely the question that Michael “Zappy” Zapolin tries to tackle in his film The Reality of the Truth. Instead of looking outside for answers to life’s questions, Zappy had concluded that he must go “inside [his] mind to look for answers.”
From there he takes an abrupt leap to Biblical references to “manna” and hypothesizes that maybe manna was a psychedelic mushroom. This starting point is interesting, but a bit of a stretch. A scene in the movie Noah as well as a random and vague quote from Joel Osteen are among the anecdotes he uses to support his theory. From this precarious beginning, though, the film gains considerable strength.
First off, Zappy visits many various “journeyers” and gets their take on things before venturing off into what he really wants to do, which is partake in a psychedelic experience. Early on, Deepak Chopra advises that one of the things the world needs is for people to have a party and partake in some mind-altering substances. He doesn’t mean people should go smoke a bowl. No, he’s talking about delving into the arena of heavy duty psychedelics. On Zappy’s final stop, Ram Dass encourages him to go ahead, and he jumps on a plane to Peru with an entourage of fellow seekers, including the gutsy and philosophical Michelle Rodriguez.
Zappy is convinced that this is what he is supposed to do. He says that the experience “[F]eels guided. Feels like it was meant to be.”
The seekers meet a Shaman in the Peruvian mountains who guides them through their Ayahuasca ceremony. They all drink steaming mugs of Ayahuasca tea and prepare for a spiritual experience. The group spends the next hours talking and gazing at the beautiful snow-capped mountains.
Some experiences are philosophical. Others emotional. Everyone has a different experience, and afterward they all debrief in a safe space in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The Michael “Zappy” Zapolin Experience
One of the first things Zappy realized during his trip was that he “never needed to fear death again.” Yeah, this was not dudes hanging out in the backyard with a bong. Ayahuasca is a whole different animal. At one point Zappy asked the universe “Why do bad things happen?” He said that he was immediately sucked out to the very edge of the universe and saw everything. A voice told him “You see that. It’s balanced. It’s perfect.” Zappy says that explanation of the “cosmic joke” sticks with him every day.
How Does Meditation Fit in?
Upon returning to the states, Zappy and crew meet with Deepak Chopra who further explains mystical experience with such postulations as “Maybe brain doesn’t produce consciousness. Maybe brain filters consciousness.”
“You saying we’re transmitters?” asks Rodriguez.
Indeed this whole film is about re-conceptualizing everything we think we know about reality. Zappy eventually meets up with the Indian guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who teaches him sudarshan kriya. Zappy finds that he is able to re-enter the ayahuasca-like transcendental state through this breathing/meditation technique.
According to Zappy and many of the psychenauts and journeyers in this film, the answer to many of humankind’s problems lies in plant medicine, meditation and breathing. These are some of the tools that were once part of the religious tradition and all seem to agree that they need to be brought back.
But what proof is there that these tools work?
The Gerard Armand Powell Case Study
One of the most impressive narratives of the film by far, is the transformation of Gerry Powell, a friend of Zappy who was an alcoholic, drug addict and chain smoker. Around the same time Zappy was diving into his first experience of plant medicine, Gerry partook in the iboga plant, a hallucinatory African rain forest shrub.
During the Shaman-guided experience, Gerry had a conversation with the moon who took him back to his youth. He re-visited the house where he was sexually abused at 3 years old and made amends with the event and with the victimizer. In this trance/state the moon then gave him a brand new heart.
Psychedelics definitely have a long history when it comes to healing and psychotherapy, and Gerry is a worthy case study and testament to the usefulness of these plants.
According to his friends and family, the experience immediately transformed Gerry. He went from two packs a day to zero. He can now drink socially and not need to get drunk. He is no longer addicted to drugs. In fact, he has established a spiritual retreat center in Costa Rica for people of modest means to come and benefit from plant medicine, yoga, meditation, and organic food.
Plant Medicine and Meditation
The film offers the perspectives of a whole onslaught of “psychenauts” and spiritual teachers like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Deepak Chopra, John Hagelin, Michael Bernard Beckwith, Gurumukh, Ram Dass, and Dr. Drew. The message is clear. Plant medicine, breathing and meditation are the tools for personal transformation.
The Reality of the Truth is just over an hour and is available now to stream for free in exchange for a social media share. If one prefers to keep their movie history private, $4.99 would be the alternative viewing fee.
If you’ve ever wondered about these topics, this is definitely worth checking out. You can get a little taste of the subject from a safe distance in your living room, even if you’re not planning on becoming a psychenaut yourself.