IQUITOS, PERU—Saying he was trying not to think about how awful the next few days would be, master ayahuasca shaman Piero Salazar expressed his sense of dread Tuesday as he confirmed his week would once again be spent guiding American tech CEOs to spiritual oneness.
Speaking to reporters, the practitioner of ancient South American religious rituals involving the hallucinogenic ayahuasca plant explained that, while he was ordinarily happy to share his culture’s spiritual wisdom with others, the constant stream of wealthy Silicon Valley executives seeking transcendental enlightenment had become an increasingly loathsome and disheartening part of his occupation.
“I’m not sure if I can take another one of them telling me how some guy named Ryan or Spencer from their ZogSports league turned them onto ‘the whole ayahuasca thing.’”
“These days, I can’t even look at my calendar without cringing—it’s pretty much all tech execs,” said Salazar, adding that he had thought the developed world’s interest in the ayahuasca tea ceremony was generally a positive until it became his full-time job to provide celestial guidance to Bay Area venture capitalists and app founders who had learned about the practice through a Viceland special. “I believe this source of healing should be available to everyone, but lately it seems like the people I guide toward a vision of cosmic wholeness are all 32-year-old billionaires hoping to gain a deeper insight into their SEO strategy or whatever.”
“In the past month alone, we’ve had half of Roku’s board of directors come through here,” he continued. “It’s getting kind of depressing.”
According to Salazar, his despair sets in long before the ayahuasca ritual begins, when the executives arriving at his meditation hut immediately start networking with one another and loudly discussing new start-ups they may want to acquire. Once the ceremony begins, the visibly disgusted spiritual guide told reporters, his ancient shamanic chanting is invariably interrupted by the sound of his guests’ Snapchat and WhatsApp notifications.
“I’m not sure if I can take another one of them telling me how some guy named Ryan or Spencer from their ZogSports league turned them onto ‘the whole ayahuasca thing,’” said Salazar, who reportedly spent years learning to prepare the traditional medicine from psychoactive plants he painstakingly gathers by hand from the rainforest. “Although, maybe the most insufferable ones are the guys who keep talking about how this is going to help them to envision new applications for their live-streaming platform.”
Wincing, he added, “Yeah, they’re definitely the worst.”
Salazar conceded the executives do at least quiet down a little bit once the psychotropic effects of the ayahuasca tea begin to take hold, but added that accompanying the hooded sweatshirt–clad tech entrepreneurs on their spiritual journey is both tedious and exasperating, and that none ever achieves any kind of unity with the infinite cosmos aside from feeling as if they have a fuller, more profound understanding of the “mobile social space.”
While stressing that he would never intentionally harm anyone under his shamanistic care, Salazar admitted he had, on occasion, derived satisfaction from watching CFOs from Zynga and Slack vomit all over their $300 sneakers during the purging stage of the ritual.
“I know it’s my job to guide them, but after meeting these guys, the last thing I want to do is witness the visions they have deep in their souls,” he said. “Even when I do manage to help one of them overcome a long-held fear, it’s always something really boring, like anxiety over a patent lawsuit, or concerns that one of their seed investors may fall through. And no matter what spiritual experiences they have, in the end, they all leave even more convinced than ever that their true purpose in life is to invent some new kind of crowdfunding app or teleconferencing software.”
“At least you can’t argue with the money,” Salazar said. “These people will pay almost anything to escape from themselves for a while.”