Ayahuasca as a Triple Phenomenon
The Person, the Environment and the Tea
As far as the influence of Ayahuasca is concerned, the intensity of the stimuli – both through the amplification of details and points of view, and through the greater influx of perceptual data – considerably increase the possibilities of response to the experience. Thanks to this magnification of perception, special attention needs to be given to the quality of the stimuli which come both from the individual and from the environment where the tea is being used.
The hypothesis described in English as “set and setting” was initially set out by Timothy Leary in the 1960s in the context of early studies into psycho-active agents, and it was rapidly accepted by other researchers in the area. The general theory says that the nature of an experience with a psycho-active substance results from the interaction of three basic factors.
The essential factors are: the “set” or the “personal factor” – in other words, what the individual brings with himself, his intention, attitudes, personality, mood etc; the “setting” or “environmental factor”, which refers to all the external elements which may influence the experience – whether they are to do with relationships, the social context, or the environment. The substance itself – the “Tea” – acts as a trigger or a catalyst, and causes the various other factors to interact in a specific, creative and intense dynamic.
It’s evidently impossible to define which of the factors is most important, just as it is impossible to say which is the most essential side of an isosceles triangle. However, the “environment”, is the aspect of the experience which can be programme, studied, rehearsed and carefully prepared for the best outcome.