How LSD slowly changed my life and no, it’s not a miracle drug

By Kai Teo
Written as part of Rainbow Warrior Handbook's pre-order campaign. Order yours today!

A sincere “Thank you”.

Over the course of the past few weeks promoting Rainbow Warrior Handbook, I found myself baring my personal transformation and deepest beliefs to the scrutiny of the unforgiving social media. I would like to begin this by thanking everyone who have showered me with so much love and encouragement, and those who have so openly shared with me your personal experiences and philosophies. 

What has scared me the most, and still continues to strike fear deep within me, is that even though I know people like reading my stuff for free on Buddha Mag, they wouldn’t like it enough to want to pay for a book I’m writing. In other words, I’m good, but not good enough to be an author. But with my first 100 pre-orders, these fears were dispelled, as I saw beautiful Rainbow Warriors showing me their support and love, and sincerely wanting to be a part of making my dream come true. I thank you. And I promise you that the book would be my best piece of writing, so far.

I guess during this period, I’ve also come to understand that the idea of the book has been an easily misunderstood one. Some of my friends had the idea that I’m preaching LSD as the miracle drug that could change the world, which, when I was younger, was indeed a naive idea that I had often dreamt of. 

But unfortunately, there’s no miracle drug on this planet. Not DMT, not Ayahuasca, not LSD, not psychedelic mushrooms. What psychedelics did for me in my life was to show me the different doors that existed, and it was I that had to open these doors and explore the paths that followed. I wasn’t brought to the destination, I was shown the ways. Overused metaphor I know, but it describes my own experience very accurately. 

It is also important to add that not everyone would experience the same positivity that I did on psychedelics. Some might even go through adverse psychosis, some might choose to take a different path. It's not a one-size-fits-all mind-altering substance. I'm purely sharing this so that we could all start a healthier discussion on psychedelics, instead of pushing intensively for its benefits, or rejecting it totally due to one bad trip.

The changes in appearance were less drastic than the changes to my mind.

The changes in appearance were less drastic than the changes to my mind.

“I don’t need to be high to be happy.”

Before I discovered alternative psychoactive substances, I was, like many of us here, a staunch believer that alcohol is fine in moderate amounts, and it’s even ok to get completely drunk sometimes. But drugs? No way. I didn’t need drugs to be happy. I didn’t need to change my way of life. I was perfectly fine. I didn’t mind being around my friends getting high, but I was convinced that I was complete enough, and to see them in their intoxicated stupor convinced me that I didn’t want to take the same path as them. I told myself I wasn’t scared, I just didn’t feel the need to explore other states of consciousness.

This mindset stuck with me for a long time, and I was perfectly contented with the direction my life was heading. I was in a prestigious university in Singapore, and my path to greatness in the world of advertising has already been paved. My career plan was an ambitious one, but something I felt that was achievable – to be the best copywriter in the country. All the most prolific headlines on TV, on giant billboards, were to become words that I have so cleverly crafted. I really didn’t care if my ads made people buy anything. I just wanted to show the world that I was fucking smart. 

The first door was opened.

The whole idea of me being a creative protege pushed me to explore new ideas, new forms of expression, and new ways of defining myself. I discovered quickly that most of the legendary musicians and lyricists were under the influence of some kind of illicit substance. That’s when I said, “Why not? Maybe I could become even more creative.”

So when I was offered my first joint at a reggae bar in Thailand, after much hesitation, and to prove to my friends that I was indeed open-minded, I took my first puffs of ganja. I didn’t immediately feel something. I didn’t know what to feel. Was I just a little drunk? A few more puffs. And a few more. Then boom!

My mind was accelerated to epic light speed and before I could finish my sentence, a new idea came up. Conversations were immediately deepened, and their range of topics widened. My friends and I explored never before discovered brain waves, thoughts, and connected with one another deeper than ever. We discussed politics, philosophies, social norms, religions, and our deepest fears. It wasn’t bad, it didn’t make us go into panic attacks, it just exercised our minds and made us want to eat. 

Sure, some people would respond adversely to the plant, some would even get addicted. But did it make us hate or hurt others? I didn’t feel so. And it’s a plant, just like carrots. It didn’t make any sense to me how a plant could be banned from growing. Some people are deadly allergic to peanuts, I don’t see that being banned from supermarket shelves. McDonald’s food possibly causes cancer, I don’t see people stop eating it. So why stop someone from exploring other states of consciousness?

Of course, Marijuana was a gateway drug to me, because after I’ve tried it and deemed it to be something not at all scary nor harmful, I wanted to know what else could activate my brain in that way, and what else our governments have been lying to us about. Across the next few years, every time I went out of Singapore, I took the chance to explore different substances. 

I was never addicted to anything, I never became dependant on anything. Except cigarettes, which I quit last year after an intense acid trip that helped me question my hypocrisy in using organic products and at the same time supporting unethical tobacco giants. I never sought the substances out, but rather, when people offered them to me at parties, I’d try them with caution. And when I discovered psychedelics, that was when I really saw myself change. 

My first trip to India in 2012, to discover what Goa meant to me.

My first trip to India in 2012, to discover what Goa meant to me.

I was going through changes.

As my mind was under the influence of LSD, I questioned my way of life and whether I would have liked to spend all my waking hours chasing a career, dreaming of a shiny car, a beautiful wife, and eventually, children. It was the only way of life that I thought was possible for me. Sure, I’ve watched documentaries of people who live in the forests and live off the land, but no WIFI? Fuck that.

I was mostly in a state of conscious bliss during my trips, I didn’t feel intoxicated, I felt awake. It was as the veils have been peeled off in my brain, and I saw things clearer than I did before. My so-called career – did I really want to be part of an industry that had been responsible for making people buy shit so that they could feel better about themselves, a propaganda machine that constantly told the world that they were not good enough and these new products could be their answer to happiness? 

Was marriage important to me? Did I want my romance to be reaffirmed by a certificate that told us we were committed to one another instead of just staying committed willingly? 

I started to feel like when I was in my “normal” state of consciousness, I was actually always drunk on my own ego, social expectations, social roles, and norms. I thought I was thinking for myself, but in fact, I was just trying to stay out of trouble. Live life like others, be unique but not too unique, wear a shirt, but maybe choose a brighter colour to exhibit my creativity. 

I questioned everything, discussed them extensively, and formed my own conclusions. And nothing is sacred. When someone else comes along with a better argument, I’ve always been happy to change my point of view. 

And since happiness is a mere state of mind and could easily be replicated by the chemicals in our brains, why was I chasing happiness instead of just being happy?

The new me – the best person I could be up until today

I gave up my career pipe dreams and focused my attention on being a good person, and whatever that meant, I was willing to explore that. I wanted to love as many living beings as I could unconditionally, and I try not to forget that. And I started writing Buddha Mag to share these thoughts, not to tell my readers that I’m right, but to offer another point of view, with the hope of reminding our fellow human beings that we could shake away the shackles of societal expectations, and start discovering our own journeys through life. 

I became convinced that I wanted to be a Rainbow Warrior – an activist for peace, love, unity, respect and freedom. I wanted to try my best to base all my actions on these five pillars. I wanted to use my writing to sustain myself economically, but I refuse to write another headline to sell another useless product. 

I let my hair grow long and painted my nails, because to me, it is a big “Fuck you” to the gender norms that have limited many human beings and have made women disadvantaged in many areas, and made men incapable of being gentle, loving, and vulnerable. 

I moved away from Singapore because I wanted to find out what life was like living in a culture vastly differently from what I grew up with. I’m staying in Malmö, Sweden, because I’ve found a home that truly empowered me to be who I am, and encouraged me to explore that.

And my biggest goal is to go to sleep every night, or morning, knowing that I have been the best person that I could be up until this moment. And tomorrow, I would try to be even better. 

Rainbow Warrior Handbook – sharing my lessons

Rainbow Warrior Handbook Cover.jpg

I’ve questioned many things and learnt many things throughout my journey of consciousness exploration. And I’m trying to put these lessons into positive action every day. This book is all about that. I’m not smarter, I’m not better, I’m not wiser. I just want to share with you my discoveries, and hopefully, you would consider reading what I have to share, and then share your lessons with me, and the world. Thank you for taking the time to read this. And I hope that you would support this dream by ordering Rainbow Warrior Handbook here.