In Search of Your Purpose? Psychedelics and Plant Medicines Could Help

In Search of Your Purpose? Psychedelics and Plant Medicines Could Help

“We all have a purpose, a reason for being,” said Bhaktivedanta Govinda Maharaja, a Colombian Hare Krishna monk and medicine musician. “Even a flea, an insect–everything has a reason for being. Every blade of grass on this earth has a reason for being.”

37-year-old Maharaja is sitting on the porch of my house in Santa Elena, Medellín, Colombia. He’s wearing a devotional orange robe, his forehead painted with a traditional tilaka marking. Last year, Maharaja took a lifelong oath of celibacy. He often travels in Colombia and abroad, giving lectures about the Hare Krishna way of life, and sharing his music.

Though, this wasn’t always the case. Initially using it to help him manage his studies alongside working, Maharaja struggled with a 15-year-long cocaine addiction. He was also previously a devout atheist. “Always reason over the heart,” was how he described himself before he found spirituality.

Maharaja embarked on this journey of profound transformation with the help of yagé (the name for ayahuasca in Colombia). Thanks to his experiences with this Master Plant, alongside other important plant medicines such as mambe (powder made from coca leaf and yarumo ashes) and rapé (sacred tobacco snuff), Maharaja was able to kick his cocaine addiction and devote his life to service and the Hare Krishna way of life.

“Thanks to this path, somehow, I have been able to connect with a transcendent purpose,” he said.

The story of Maharaja is one of many of how sacred plant medicines and psychedelics have helped people kick old addictions and self-defeating patterns of behavior and find purpose in life. 

Medicines such as ayahuasca, psilocybin, 5-MeO-DMT, and even sacred coca and tobacco, have the power to help us transform our lives and discover our reason for being–our purpose on this earth.

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Bhaktivedanta Govinda Maharaja, Colombian monk and musician. Photo courtesy of Maharaja.

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Finding Your Purpose–What Does That Even Mean?

Everyone’s purpose in life is individual to them, but there’s no doubt of the benefits of connecting with a reason for being.

However, most of us do not have a clear vision for ourselves: only 25% of adults in the US say they know what their purpose is and what makes their lives meaningful, according to a 2010 study on wellbeing. Almost 40% feel neutral on the topic or don’t have a clear sense of their ‘why’.

Research has found that feeling connected to your purpose has important benefits for life satisfaction and well-being. One study on almost 7,000 US adults found that people with a strong life purpose live longer. Scientists at University College London showed that living a meaningful life reduced depressive symptoms, better physical health, and stronger social bonds.

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Elias Moskona, psychedelic integration specialist.

Meaning-Making with Medicines

Plant medicines and psychedelics can help us find meaning beyond the mundane. In fact, the idea is backed up by research. One study found that psilocybin administration helped terminally ill patients see meaning in their lives. Participants in another found a mystical experience with psilocybin to be one of the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lives.

Elias Moskona is a psychedelic facilitator and integration specialist. For him, finding his purpose, which happened for him in part by using plant medicines, has enabled him to walk a path of service and explore his own potential.

“I believe the only purpose we have in life is to figure out how to unfold into our full potential. We each have a unique life story, a unique set of genetics, unique gifts and challenges, so we each have one thing that we can do best: be ourselves,” he said.

“Our purpose is to solve the mystery of who we are so that we can shine our light the brightest it can be. That’s the path I am on.”

This sentiment of self-discovery as a way to find one’s purpose was echoed by Maharaja, the Colombian Hare Krishna monk.

“The purpose that I have in my life is to really recognize who I am, who God is, what the relationship I have with him is, why he created me, and what he is waiting for me to give him.”

“That has become my purpose in life, thanks to what I have been taught by my spiritual teachers, and what medicine has taught me as well,” he explained.

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‘A Deconditioning Process’

How is it that psychedelics and plant medicines can fast-track us on this search for purpose and meaning?

According to 5-MeO-DMT facilitators, retreat leaders, and F.I.V.E cofounders Joel Brierre and Victoria Wueschner, “5-MeO-DMT allows direct access through the deepest parts of our psyche and into the central core of our being, to be able to tune into our true self unbound by conditioning and patterning can be the exactly the medicine we need to find our direction and purpose in life.” 5-MeO-DMT is among the strongest psychedelics. 

This tendency of psychedelics to help us de-condition is also present for Paul Austin, founder of The Third Wave, a psychedelic education platform. “The most relevant thing here is that psychedelics facilitate what’s called a deconditioning process. Oftentimes, people work with–especially higher doses of psychedelics–they go through this process of letting go of the conditioning that they’ve been subjected to, whether that’s through parents, their church, their friends, or through the culture that they were raised in,” said Austin.

Austin explained that growing up in a conservative and religious environment in Michigan meant that he adopted beliefs and narratives he did not connect to his “deeper, fundamental truth and awareness,” until he began to work with psychedelics. Psychedelics helped him reframe his previously-held beliefs and find a new way of doing things.

This was also evident for Moskona, who credits psychedelics with helping him connect to his ‘Elias-ness.’ 

“These journeys have a way of cutting through the layers of education, indoctrination, traumas… all those things that get in the way of self-love, and they unearth that diamond that contains our true self,” said Moskona.

‘The Plants Can Be Extremely Sharp’ 

Jue Karollys is a Colombian medicine man who facilitates ceremonies with huachuma (a cactus that contains mescaline), wilka (a psychedelic snuff), kambô (a cleansing frog medicine), and sweat lodges.

“The plants can be an extremely sharp, extremely useful means to find our purpose,” said Karollys. “Because in altered states of consciousness, you can conceive of a higher energy of divinity.”

“In many cases, they shake up the mundane aspects of our life, aspects that can lead our purpose to be a little empty of meaning, such as the zeros you have in the bank, obtaining material possessions, or partying a lot.”

It’s important to remember that these medicines are not for everyone, argues Maharaja. But for those who struggle with addictions and do not feel connected to a sense of purpose, medicines can be extremely beneficial. “Yagé played a fundamental role in being able to let go of those vices, practice Krishna consciousness correctly, and stop intoxicating myself,” he said.

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Journeying to Find Your Purpose

There’s no guarantee that simply by taking psychedelics you’ll find your life purpose. As with any psychedelic or plant medicine journey, the container and your set and setting are crucial. Your intention going into the experience and your commitment to integration afterward will be instrumental in ensuring you carry the lessons from the experience into your everyday life.

Brierre and Wueschner advise working with a qualified guide throughout the process. 

“Work with your facilitator to dive deep into your intentions, work with whatever modalities may help you notice what aspects of your own psyche may be most resistant to change or stepping into the unknown,” the facilitators say in a statement. “Take some time and get to know these parts and to understand what they need to feel safe with this process.”

“Make sure you feel safe with your facilitator, that is one of the most important aspects of your journey, we need to feel safe to surrender into an experience,” they said.

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Plant Medicines Break Down Blockages 

In her article, Can Ayahuasca Tell Me My Life Purpose?, healer and teacher Nina Izel explains that ayahuasca may not tell you clearly what your purpose is, but rather she shows us “what’s blocking the expression of our gifts and manifestation of our destiny.”

“These blockages can manifest in many ways like fears, expectations, limiting beliefs, self-sabotage, or dysfunctional behavior just to mention a few,” she writes.

“So, the idea is that you already know your purpose, gifts, and path, only your eyes are obscured by internal obstacles and limitations. Once you can see those and let them go, you will see your purpose clear like the sun.”

Karollys also notes the importance of understanding your blind spots and blockages so you can get in touch with your true self. “The plants are not the ones that are going to give you your purpose. The plants are going to clear your perception in order to understand.”

“They’re not going to walk your path for you or make everything easy. But they can give you certainty in your heart that your purpose is there and you can see it, understand it,” he explained.

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Integrating Your Purpose

There is work to be done, however, between understanding your purpose during an experience with psychedelics or plant medicines and turning that into actionable, long-term change in your life.

“The distance from that vision to materializing it–that depends on us, on our level of commitment to our own life, and the amount of desire we have for it,” said Karollys. He explains that he often sees people attending ceremonies and receiving valuable information for their lives, yet in the weeks that follow they fall back into the same behavior patterns. 

To see the changes we seek requires order, argues Karollys. “What this commitment will lead you to is order. To get your life in order so that your purpose materializes.” Karollys says that coca leaf and sacred tobacco are two plants that help him personally create order in his mind, and in his life.

Brierre and Wueschner advise finding integration support. This means someone to speak to if things get challenging and “a specialist to work with who can help you draw content from the experience and have it result in lasting change rather than a peak experience.”

Spirit Vine Retreats

Questions to Ask

If you’re seeking to find purpose and deeper meaning in life, Spirit Vine Retreats, an ayahuasca retreat center in Bahia, Brazil, recommends asking the following questions:

What do you love to do the most?

What are you really good at?

If you tried, what could you be good at?

This self-inquiry, with the help of psychedelics or plant medicines, can help you better understand what it is that could give you a sense of your life purpose. As the medicines help you de-condition from society’s expectations and clear away blockages, you will be able to more easily access your own internal truth.

“We have to start that journey towards the interior of our being. We have to go to the deepest part of our being to know what it is that we have to give,” said Maharaja.

“Because each of us has wonderful things to give. And each of us has something specific to give. And that is where the purpose of life lies.”

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Magdalena Tanev

Magdalena Tanev

View all posts by Magdalena Tanev

Mags Tanev is a freelance writer and editor with a keen interest in sacred medicines, indigenous plant wisdom, and psychedelic science. She is based in Medellín, Colombia. You can find more of her work at

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