Understanding Psychedelic Experience
By Robert E. Leihy
This essay is careful not to advocate the use of psychedelic drugs but instead to
describe their effects, their possible benefits, and the cautions to be taken in their
use. It is updated on occasion with new ideas, information, and better wording.
Please download it, copy it, and distribute it as you please.
It is now 146 pages long in Microsoft Word and it can’t be bookmarked on the web
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By way of establishing my credentials in this area, I have been involved in
psychedelic drug research for many years, both professionally as a psychotherapist
and also casually as an interested explorer. I have had the privilege of acting as
“ground control” for well over two hundred people experiencing high dose LSD
sessions: normal volunteers, mental patients, and alcoholics. Over the years I have
also personally explored these realms of consciousness rather thoroughly and
carefully within myself from both the psychological and the spiritual perspectives
with different natural and synthetic psychedelic drugs and at different dosage levels.
I feel that I am at least somewhat qualified to present some observations and
conclusions regarding this area of investigation. I hope and believe that I have
brought back something interesting and useful to contribute.
Throughout history there has always been certain percentage of people who have
chosen a particular lifestyle that leads to deepening relaxation of the body and
tranquility of mind. This general theme often appears in religious, philosophical,
and psychological literature. This essay adds to the same body of work, but with
emphasis on two methods that facilitate the process that are often glossed over.
One pertains to the fact that diligent practice in relaxation of the body leads to the
production of “bliss hormones”. I know little about brain chemistry, but I
understand that two of these hormones are serotonin and dopamine. If deep
relaxation leads to feeling good, there is nothing wrong with training the body to
relax deeply. Seeing the world while feeling good is much more pleasant and
usually much more productive than seeing the world while feeling anxious or
depressed. The other method pertains to the occasional use of low doses of
psychedelic drugs to stimulate and reveal the growth process. When the rational
and the intuitive sides of the mind can work together to resolve tension areas and to
find inner areas of peace, contentment, and positive attitudes, the path to positive
growth becomes more obvious and more vivid.
I believe that the psychedelic experience is so rich in its potential for self-
understanding and the understanding of mental processes that it could be
considered as a separate field of study in itself. I think that the model that I present
here brings considerable structure to it, some of it new and some built on the
shoulders of giants, and that there is still much to learn.
One of my intended audiences is the people who are gravitating toward or who have
already joined the current trend of marijuana use in our culture. Certain subgroups
of these people might be interested in exploring its use as a stimulant for self-
reflection, meditation, and the exploration of philosophical and religious
perspectives and not only for the pleasant “high” that it otherwise provides.
Another intended audience is psychotherapists who are interested in the nature of
the psychedelic experience and how it can be harnessed to help resolve emotional
and philosophical tensions and conflicts in their clients. Another intended audience
is people in all of the other categories who might be interested in this area of regard.
I believe that the psychedelic experience can sometimes safely substitute and
provide the same “self transcendence” that the addicting and unhealthy drugs
provide, sometimes at great personal expense.
Perhaps the first and most important point to consider regarding psychedelic drugs,
including marijuana, is that in spite of the residual prejudice that still exists against
them, they are statistically extremely safe. They are not addicting or toxic and they
lead only to calm meditation or the enjoyment of low-key but vivid artistic or
creative activities. When alcohol is misused it is addicting and poisonous, and it
leads to recklessness and to unfortunate drama. Of course, there are still plenty of
problems involving corruption and violence in the production and distribution of
marijuana. In his book Marijuana Is Safer So Why Are We Driving People To Drink?”
Steve Fox describes in detail and with many references the social and legal forces
that encourage the use of dangerous and deadly alcohol and the suppression of the
much safer marijuana.
If you are aware of the pros and cons in this controversy and would just as soon skip
this section, you can search for the word “second” by pressing control>f. However,
a few important points are made in it that might be of interest.
Assuming equivalent dosages (low, medium, high), psychedelics are far safer
physically, mentally, and socially than alcohol both for the individual and for society
and at all dosage levels. There is considerable controversy on this topic on the
Internet. After reading some of it one gets the impression that prejudice outweighs
reason, even among scientists conducting experiments. I freely confess to coming
from the point of view that it is both safe and useful, and this is based on many years
of formal and personal experience and knowing many people in the field.
The synthesized psychedelics, also known as hallucinogens, include LSD, mescaline,
psilocybin, and DMT. They have no toxic properties whatsoever. This is also true of
marijuana. I am totally unqualified to comment on the toxicity of other naturally-
occurring psychedelic plants in nature, but I know that some of them taste terrible
and cause upset stomachs. Some are no so bad. I understand that African witch
doctors adapt their bodies to curare for the purposes of divination. The amanita
muscaria mushroom is very poisonous but is nevertheless used as a hallucinogen.
The myth of “reefer madness” could not have been more of a fraudulent hoax. The
movie itself portrayed people acting out in an uncontrolled manner while the actual
marijuana experience is in reality a little sedating. Inappropriate or antisocial
behavior is extremely rare with psychedelics and even then probably only when a
beginner takes an unexpectedly high dose under poor conditions. Admittedly, my
experience is limited, but I have not heard of a single episode of violence that could
be attributed to the drug experience itself. I have heard of only one minor incident
where alcohol and marijuana were taken together.
How such a safe drug became so demonized is a real puzzle. One of the reasons why
it is gaining so much popularity now is because people are coming to realize that it
provides a completely safe “high”. Someone or some organizations with a great deal
of influence and perhaps vested interests must have moved very quickly to defraud
the federal government as well an entire nation. It had to be quick because anyone
who happened to try marijuana even once or twice would realize that the myth was
a hoax, at least in terms of the nature of the experience itself. The fact that there is
no hangover whatsoever would seem to be a tipoff that it is not harmful to health.
Overdoses will psychedelics would be extremely rare and most probably accidental.
They would result in nothing more than deeper meditation for longer periods of
time. No one will ever die from an overdose of a psychedelic drug unless they
happen to eat too much of a poisonous psychedelic plant. There will never be
rehabilitation clinics for either mental or physical problems or for addictions
attributable strictly to the use of psychedelics even if everyone who uses alcohol
now switched exclusively to psychedelics. There could be rare cases where a
borderline person gets tipped over into a temporary psychotic episode, but so far I
have never heard of one. Psychedelics can be discontinued altogether at any time
with few regrets and absolutely no withdrawal symptoms. I experienced a thirty-
year hiatus myself with absolutely no problems.
I am not sure how conclusive the studies are, but there are indications that both
crime rates and alcohol consumption decrease in neighborhoods where there are
medical marijuana distribution centers.
Judging by the extent to which intoxicating drugs are abused, the need for “self-
transcendence” is a significant force in society, and psychedelics including
marijuana can safely satisfy this need without the added complications of addictions
or health hazards. Some people are willing to make great sacrifices for self-
transcendence including the overuse of dangerous and addicting drugs, and to take
great risks such as driving while intoxicated. It would be of great benefit if these
people could experience self-transcendence in a comfortable recliner with a
psychedelic drug rather than by gradually eroding their health and their lifestyle in
A definition of the self-transcendence that psychedelics provide would include a
temporary “elevation” or “escape” from the turbulence and the tedium of everyday
life. It also includes a stimulation of intuitive feelings, impressions, and non-verbal
impressions and understandings. As will be described in some detail, this mental
state also offers enhanced perception, creativity, and greatly expanded
opportunities for self-reflection. It is a little like the scene where Dorothy stepped
out of her black-and-white Kansas house into the magnificent color of Oz.
Assuming that marijuana becomes more available and popular, an interesting
statistic to track would be a hopeful decrease in the percentage of people who
overuse the more dangerous drugs. Already there is anecdotal information
indicating that some recovering alcoholics can replace alcohol with cannabis. They
take their own chosen dose of marijuana every day during the replacement period. I
don’t yet know what comes after the replacement period although I am hoping to
start an informal survey to find out. Hopefully the craving for the old drug would be
extinguished and the use of the new one would be responsible. There would be
some expected variation between people in the frequency and dosage of the use of
the new drug once things had settled down. I am guessing that usage would
gradually diminish over time since psychedelics are not addicting and there are
absolutely no hangovers to be relieved.
I have yet to hear about even a single case of any kind of violence motivated by the
psychedelic experience itself. This is certainly not the case with alcohol. In addition,
I have heard of no personal or social problems associated with the legalization of
medical marijuana. I am guessing that the overall prejudice against marijuana and
other psychedelics is going to be gradually revealed as essentially unfounded. In
addition, it will be discovered that psychedelics are manageable and safe tools for
self-transcendence, creativity, enhanced perception, and meditative reflection from
higher and broader perspectives.
Alcohol combines self-transcendence with feelings of grandiosity, amphetamines
combine it with feelings of stimulation, and opiates combine it with feelings of bliss.
Psychedelics combine it with relaxation and a mild euphoria, but at the same time it
opens what appears to be just about the full range of human emotions, attitudes,
and philosophical points of view.
Pure cannabis indica tends to provide an experience of deep relaxation and bliss,
but I do not know the extent to which it might be successful in replacing the self-
transcendence of the opiate experience. It would be interesting to conduct a study
to find out. A high dose of cannabis is as powerful as a high dose of LSD, so perhaps
this humble weed could provide some competition for the seductive self-
transcending properties of the opium poppy. Perhaps harmless and healthy
marijuana could replace the fields of poppies surrounding the Emerald City.
More experienced users of psychedelics can learn to combine their drug experiences
with a calm and rational relationship with the external world. People have no
problem getting around at rock concerts. A time can come where it is almost
impossible to tell whether a person is “high” or not, even if that person had taken up
to a moderate dose. The subtle tipoffs would be the tendency to sit peacefully and
contentedly, the choice of somewhat more abstract topics to talk about, a pleasantly
elevated mood, and more relaxed and fluid movements in general.
Perhaps people with “addictive personalities” might use psychedelics more often
than other people, but at least they would not be damaging their health or become
addicted to the drug. Since they would not be addicted to the psychedelics their
frequency of use should diminish.
The extent to which government should be allowed to legislate personal activities is
certainly a controversial topic. One obvious relationship is that too much of the
wrong kind of governmental influence and enforcement can lead to rebellion, and
the rebellion can get even uglier than the enforcement itself. The current ugliness
with respect to marijuana relates only to the illegal growth and distribution.
The drug cartels and organized crime exist for a two purposes: drug money for the
sake of excessive greed for some or for just plain survival for others. If those
purposes were removed, the whole endeavor would collapse and a lot of people
would have to find some other way to make a living.
A 2010 TV documentary called “Marijuana Wars” showed a collection of gold-plated
and jewel-encrusted pistols and machineguns confiscated from Mexican drug lords.
Without question, they represent the full approval of deadly violence by some
people in the interest of personal greed.
The drug lords and organized crime in this country know that if marijuana were
legalized, it would be bought and sold like any other commodity and that they would
be out of a job. One wonders if any of their obscene excesses of blood money ever
indirectly find their way to Washington or to other law enforcement agencies. It
happened during the prohibition of alcohol.
It might be possible that future historians will consider the reefer madness myth to
be one of the all-time fiascos in the human drama and as preposterous as the
“weapons of mass destruction” fiasco that supposedly “justified” the war with Iraq.
Hopefully citizens and governments of the future will realize that vociferous
minorities can sometimes lead entire societies down the primrose path into
unnecessary bloody scenarios and to do so simply for the sake of their own personal
According to a salesperson at a local medicinal marijuana distributor, some
“patients” take up to eight or nine doses per day to reduce pain or the side effects of
chemotherapy for cancer. They experience no aftereffects or addictions whatsoever
and they are still able to function during the day.
The responsible use of alcohol might be relatively safe and pleasant, but overusing it
strictly for the purpose of self-transcendence can be deadly. The mermaids can lure
the sailors right onto the rocks. I am quite sure that the reason for the high demand
for marijuana is that so many people realize that it is the only way to get “high”
without any negative mental or physical aftereffects. Speaking poetically, the sailors
have found a beach on which to land their boats so that they can safely pursue the
seductive songs of the mermaids. The rocks can be avoided and pleasure can be
enjoyed without guilt.
I am guessing that there is a relationship between the safe satisfaction of needs and
reduced turbulence in society. Contraceptives replaced a great deal of other sorts
of drama. Marijuana seems to have greatly reduced domestic violence. At least I
have never heard of any. It would be nice to reduce the number of alcohol-related
stabbings of relatives.
Legalizing alcohol ended the violence associated with its acquisition and
distribution after prohibition and I am sure that legalizing marijuana would do
exactly the same thing now. Considering the tonnage of marijuana currently
crossing the border from Mexico and going through its illegal and lucrative
distribution chains in the United States, the results could be significant. The same
TV documentary mentioned above indicated that the profits from smuggling
marijuana, by far the major product, help to fund the smuggling of other drugs such
as cocaine and methamphetamine, so presumably some of that activity would
For those seeking a temporary total escape from the world (getting “wasted” in the
vernacular), the psychedelic drugs, including marijuana, can suffice for that too. I
prefer to use the popular euphemism “couchlock” to suggest that the high-dose
experience can be entirely safe and positive. All of my high-dose clients experienced
couchlock but even so they could still easily get up to go to the bathroom and to
perhaps to chat a little on the way back to the couch even at the very peak of their
experiences. None of them staggered in the slightest as they walked, and they all
could carry on at least a short completely rational conversation before escaping
from the material world entirely and plunging back into the abstract mental
All of my high-dose clients experienced new insights, but even in those days I had
the feeling that the high-dose experience, although exalted, cosmic, and lofty, was
too abstract for the purpose of the analysis of oneself in relationship to his current
circumstances. I always thought that occasional low doses would be more effective
for these purposes and now I am sure that this is true.
However, the high dose experience can facilitate the very abstract religious and
cosmic concepts. Questions and conflicts on the cosmic level might involve such
things as the existence of God, the source of creation, the nature of being, evolution,
etc. As will be discussed, resolving conflict on those levels of abstraction, if any, can
also help to smooth out the flow of mental energy and lead to greater tranquility and
contentment in daily life.
If psychedelics were commonly available, they might tend to be overused to the
point of interfering with other activities a little at first because of their novelty,
fascination, and pleasure, but it is necessary to learn moderation with all such
activities and in fact with psychedelics it comes somewhat naturally over time. The
experience becomes more familiar and more matter-of-fact and its initial intrigue
and appeal are thereby reduced. Its use can eventually become something more like
occasional low-intensity “TGIF-type” celebrations or even discontinued altogether.
I believe that a person can become more aware of his intuitive faculties and his
powers of abstraction and that he can bring them both back into his daily life to
some extent and as such his desire for self-transcendence is already partially
satisfied. In addition, having discovered and traveled the pathways to positive inner
experiences, attitudes, and viewpoints makes them much more easily accessible
both in daily life and with future low doses of psychedelics.
A second consideration is that spaced sessions with low to moderate doses of a
psychedelic drug, even including marijuana, can be harnessed as a significant tool
for interesting and useful self reflection, deeper understanding, and personal
growth. Of course, the intent has to be there for this to take place. Structures and
models such as those provided in this essay should be helpful. In the early days of
psychedelic therapy it was hoped that one or two high-dose sessions would result in
lasting positive changes, but experience is showing that considerable continuing
refinement and learning can be accomplished with occasional low doses. Lower
doses allow the rational and the intuitive minds to work together.
A new insight can be worth its weight in gold. For instance, if a person discovers a
new interest within himself, he could have direction and purpose in his life for a
long time to come. If he finds a way to resolve an inner rational or emotional
conflict, he will experience deeper peace of mind. If he remembers possibilities that
he had previously passed over, he can go back and investigate them more
thoroughly. In this manner a great deal of good work can be stimulated in the inner
world with a low dose psychedelic. With the rational mind present, plans can be
made regarding putting new insights into effect and testing them in the outside
In my own case, discovering that ultra-deep relaxation results in the production of
bliss hormones started me on a whole new lifestyle.
Bhante Gunaratana refers to the mental tension issues that block the path to
tranquility as “psychic problems” and the bliss associated with deep relaxation as
“rapture”. The rapture state is well-known enough that it has its own Sanskrit word
to describe it: jhana. What I call the “spontaneous thought generator “ or the
“intuitive insight generator“ he calls the “deep mind”. He points out that insights
come spontaneously when the rational mind is at rest. He also points out that
meditation is a procedure that disentangles a person from his rational thought
process to allow the emergence of intuitive insights. He also points out that the
final goal of meditation is to see the world exactly as it is, the good, the bad, the ugly,
and the indifferent without prejudice. He sees bliss as a welcome byproduct to the
process. I describe the same state when I refer to the “inner detached observer” of
the world. It is a state of deeply relaxed blissful and pure objectivity.
The “path of successive resolutions” to the inner domain of refinement and
tranquility is often referenced in Eastern religions in so many words. Perhaps this
concept was sacrificed for the sake of science and industrialization. I think I add to
the literature when I suggest using diligent relaxation practice and occasional
psychedelic experiences to the process, at least to begin with. Once the path has
been well established and identified, one is free to follow his own intuition on how
to proceed. The proof of the pudding is one’s relationship with his outside world as
well as with his inner world.
Examples of the ways in which psychedelic experience can facilitate personal
growth are discussed throughout this essay, but they are generally summarized
Expanded consciousness stimulates broader mental abstractions (bigger pictures)
while heightened perception stimulates the intuitive faculties. This shift in
perspective can result in a flow of productive new insights and new ways of
regarding one’s past and present situations. It presents new, more general, but still
entirely realistic and authentic ways of looking at things. Adjusting the dosage in
such a way that the rational mind and the intuitive mind can work together can
result in solid immediate observable insights and progress. These low-dose
experiences are not necessarily just for entertainment and recreational purposes
although they can certainly qualify as such.
The broader abstractions can be seen as the recognition of general contexts within
which individual events with specific similarities take place. An example would be
where a single event such as where a person taking a bite of food could be
generalized to hunger and eating as being a critical universal principle that affects
the entire human drama from beginning to end. The broader abstraction needs to
be represented by a symbol in order to encompass the entire concept. Universal
hunger and all that it entails could be symbolized by a wolf that needs to be fed
every few hours by everyone.
Psychedelics also stimulate the mind’s ability to recognize opposite ends of conflicts
and also the spectrum of levels of gradation in between them. Levels of gradation
between extremes can be considered and examined for their real-life implications
and reflections in the outside world.
When the mind can take more items into account, better decisions can be made. For
instance, relationships between people are immensely complex when considering
tone of voice, body language, timing, set and setting, and choice of words. Seeing
these relationships from broader perspectives can reveal disconnects and influences
that would not be seen from lower perspectives. I recently read about a lady who
had a strong and persistent need for commitment in a relationship, but it was
coupled with a strong insecurity and jealousy. These traits did not reveal
themselves significantly at the beginning of new relationships, but bit by bit they
eventually contributed to the ending of the relationships. This repetitive pattern
might have been seen from a broader perspective, but from the perspective of
individual events taking place during the day it looked like unconnected separate
individual misunderstandings. Had this lady conceptualized the larger perspective
and if the underlying emotions and attitudes were revealed and experienced, she
might have been able to gain some control over the problem because she could see
its real source and nature. One problem with psychotherapy or even self-reflection
is that it can take a long time to discover a larger perspective of this kind while with
psychedelic drugs it can often take place more quickly in the form of a sudden
spontaneous overall insight. Such insights can be quite useful in clearing the path to
deeper peace of mind and a smoother relationship with the outside world.
As with all explorations at this conceptual level of stimulation, the efforts to control
the direction of the flow of experience with the rational mind needs to “dance” with
the natural automatic flow of thoughts emerging on their own. Sharing the lead
without conflict is the most efficient way to flow through the emerging train of
rational and intuitive thoughts and insights. As dosage is increased, rational thought
becomes more abstract and tentative while the automatic flow of thought coming
from within becomes more vivid.
With increased dosage, the world of broad mental concepts becomes more
dominant and the world of individual events becomes a narrower perspective that
takes much more energy to deal with. Remembering a hundred events is a lot more
difficult than thinking about a single concept that covers the same territory. In this
manner, the mind tends to deal with overall concepts instead of individual events in
the material world. It is much easier to resolve a tension that is a single concept
rather than by examining the minutiae of many individual events. An example of a
very significant “revelation” could be where a person might stop seeing himself as a
victim fighting the world and instead as a calm and productive person “flowing”
with it. The new overall perspective could then be employed to redefine all of the
individual battles that would otherwise have taken place.
The religious, or “cosmic” concepts are the broadest. It is interesting to explore
them with moderate doses because the rational mind is still very much present and
can “take notes” for later review.
These concepts can suddenly “flood the system” and become very apparent. This is
normally not a problem unless the new concept is extremely different from the one
that one is used to. One common new concept is where a person feels that he has
entered a three-dimensional painting and has become part of the paint. This
experience is a variation on the experience and perception of the unity of existence
and can come as an extreme surprise to a person who normally thinks on the lower
level of abstraction where structures are conceptualized as being strictly separate
realities. Another is where a strict materialist suddenly conceptualizes that there
could be a spirit operating behind the scenes and influencing causation. On a more
everyday level, a person with a particularly harsh personality on the surface could
suddenly be recognized as surreptitiously doing little things that reveal a great
underlying generosity and concern for others.
When I prepared my more rigid high-dose clients for their sessions, I would give
them examples of how it is possible to see altogether new viewpoints and that the
process was both interesting and harmless. I am guessing that this helped their
experiences to flow more smoothly and easily. I think that reassuring them that no
matter where they went during their session they would come back as exactly the
same person as they started out but with some new insights to think about also
helped to smooth out the inner landscape. I hope that this essay makes it clear that
the psychedelic experience provides all manner of new ways of looking at things so
that any future explorers will not run into any self-imposed blocks to the experience.
It helps to be as “loose as a goose” from the philosophical perspective.
The broadest concepts are where God and outer space are each seen as entities
evenly distributed throughout the universe and in all things. You can’t find concepts
much broader than that. It is possible to superimpose the two concepts into one of
spirit-space such as the Tao in eastern philosophy. Whereas space is truly
stationary, infinite, and eternal, spirit is presumably involved with creation and
causation within space. Since space does not flow around our hand like water
around a fish when we move it, our hand becomes the space and the space becomes
our hand. From this perspective, solid objects can be seen as being like laser images
in mist or like pixel images on a TV screen. No matter how these objects or images
might move or what drama they might portray, they do not disturb the space, the
pixels, or the mist in the slightest.
The bottom line here is that the nature of being is sometimes contemplated from the
broad perspective of the high dose experience.
In a way, a strong and solid concept of space can provide serenity and balance to the
mind. It is eternal, infinite, invisible, all-pervading, motionless, imperturbable, and
it contains all things. If the mind were completely filled with the concept of space, it
would be at perfect peace. One’s own personal drama and the human drama in
general could be viewed with perfect detachment. New insights and resolutions can
become apparent when viewing one’s memory banks from such broader
From the materialistic point of view, all structures in the universe, including air and
gases, are made exclusively of atoms. Mysterious forces organize the universal
atomic machine in such a way as to create the structures that make up our moment-
by-moment experiences. Conceptualizing this miracle taking place with the
stimulation of a psychedelic drug can be quite an exalted experience. It is close to
the concept of the unity of existence in that everything exists as ever-changing
groupings of atoms within a single volume of space.
The actual psychedelic experiences of these concepts and of others like them are far
more vivid than just reading about them, but they are still the same topics. They
flow to mind with psychedelic stimulation much like an amplification and expansion
of the sudden insights and understandings that come to mind in daily life.
Psychedelic experience stimulates the intuitive, or spontaneous part of the mind.
Intuition is like a combination of “feeling” with the senses as well as “understanding”
nonverbally with the mind. Rational verbal thought can be combined with this
process anytime, but most easily with lower doses. The dictionary defines intuitive
thought simply as non-rational thinking. In the model that I suggest, rational
thought is the application of anything that can be communicated to the outside
world onto emerging invisible intuitive thoughts. This would include words, images,
music, and even body movements such as talking with one’s hands or dancing a jig.
When intuitive thought is stimulated with a psychedelic drug, concepts become
more abstract because the intuitive mind can find additional items and associations
to add to them. It can sense links to memories on the level of feelings and
impressions instead of on only those that are strictly rational. For instance, concrete
memories of a person’s behavior can be combined with the looks in their eyes, their
tones of voice, and their subtle mannerisms in such a way as to provide larger
pictures of what they were communicating. Much of this clustering process can take
place outside of awareness, but when an overall insight emerges it is sometimes
possible to backtrack to its source and to see the subtleties that contributed to it.
One time I had the out-of-the-blue insight that the reason why two people that I
knew were in a relatively constant state of bickering was because each one wanted
to be dominant and have his own way. In other words, dominance was more
important than the topic of the bickering. My intuitive mind had to examine the
topics of many of their individual conversations and to somehow tease out the ones
that were appropriate to an authentic meaningful big picture. The intuitive mind
does this kind of work outside of awareness and then presents the big picture to
I suggested to these people that if each one would bite the bullet and go along with
the other person ‘s wishes or points of view a little more often, the bickering tension
should be reduced. There actually was a satisfying reduction of tension and an
increase in friendliness in their relationship due to an insight graciously offered to
me by my spontaneous thought generator.
Even though the insight was generated on an intuitive level outside of consciousness,
it was right on target with respect to the outside world. This process must be at
least somewhat analogous to the mathematical process of factor analysis. In this
technique, items that move together in clusters mathematically are identified within
a larger group of items. Doing this with numbers is complicated enough, but doing it
with memories of events both on the rational and the intuitive levels would be much
It is noble to indulge another person’s unreasonable wishes when possible, and a
noble person is on high moral ground. He is not being forced to agree to something
against his will. Avoiding the tension of a disagreement is the reward and the
justification for the voluntarily choice of relinquishing dominant control to another
person who simply wants dominance. The decision could even be stated explicitly:
“I am only agreeing to this to stop your angry nagging and not because I think that
you are right”. The angry nagger needs to admit to himself down deep that he failed
to truly dominate the other person and to the fact that his opponent is more noble.
Perhaps he will reconsider his need to dominate in the future. Of course, calm
objective debate is always the desired option for reaching conclusions. The facts
themselves become dominant.
Since intuitive thought seems to come from nowhere, some people such as Deepak
Chopra and the followers of the “eastern” religions choose to consider that its
source is actually spirit. Existence is “God’s dream” and we are dreamers within the
dream. From this point of view, it is impossible to prove that an outside external
world even exists. This is the so-called “idealistic” concept. The resolution to the
conflict between the spiritualistic and the materialistic points of view is simply that
ultimately existence is a complete mystery. This resolution ends all of the
controversy, and it might as well be accepted since neither of the other points of
view can ever be proved anyway. Both polar points of view individually cover all of
the territory and can be legitimately conceptualized and used as desired. In
addition, there are many levels of abstraction between these two polar points of
view. Spirit could be conceptualized as being involved in some things and not
others or it could be conceptualized as not existing at all. On the other hand, the
entire universe could be conceptualized as being a manifestation of spirit or it could
be conceptualized as nothing but atoms that are organized by some unknown force
Besides finding resolutions to tensions that exist on the various levels of abstraction,
the psychedelic experience tends to reveal the dualistic nature of conflicts. Opposite
sides of issues become more apparent as well as the levels of gradation between
them. Sometimes a higher level of abstraction can resolve a conflict, and sometimes
it is possible to identify with the mental process of detached observation of the
conflict itself. Either way, the resolutions can be remembered and used again in the
future. Sometimes it is possible to experience some of the gradations between the
opposite sides of a conflict and to find the one that is a “sweet spot” with minimum
tension. Whatever that point of view might happen to be, it can also be remembered
in the future.
Another set of experiences that resolve tension deals with emotions. The
experience is so flexible in terms of emotions that it becomes easy to solidly
conceptualize and “feel” that they are influenced by hormones and that they are felt
in the body. Subtle nuances in music and even in another person’s tone of voice can
influence the experience on the emotional level. There is a veritable symphony of
hormone states ranging from abject suffering to exquisite bliss that can be
experienced. It is not always easy to put these experiences into words, but suffice it
to say that their intensity makes it easier to find resolutions as compared to the
more vague emotions that come and go during daily consciousness.
The psychedelic experience makes it more possible to feel individual emotions
intensely as well as to willfully relax any resistance to them. Speaking poetically, it
is like being able to get to know one’s standard repertoire of emotions more
intimately. It is possible to become so used to some of the unpleasant ones that they
can flow through the mind like laser images in mist evoking few if any stress
Third, psychedelics often reveal a variety of positive states of being. The discovery
of positive states of being, positive attitudes, and more useful points of view within
oneself is the fundamental definition of the path of personal growth. Skipping ahead,
all of the positive experiences can, with practice, ultimately lead to a highly
transcendent yet completely natural drug-free state of near-perfect relaxation, near-
perfect peace of mind, a fully functioning alert and clear rational intellect, clear
situational awareness, and the physical effects of a body luxuriously stimulated by
the bliss hormones associated with deep relaxation. Terms for the purest level of
this state of being would be something like “the goal of meditation”, “deep
tranquility”, “deep contentment”, “Buddha consciousness”, “centeredness”,
“wholeness”, or “fulfillment”. It is like finding a priceless treasure in a jungle. I
personally like to think of it as a “home base” or a “zone” in the background of the
mind that is always there. An experienced and well-practiced person can drop at
least to some extent into this “zone” instantly at will during the day under most
Experiencing relaxation and tranquility in the here-and-now moment is a high ideal
considering the turbulence and the tedium of living in frail, needy human bodies in a
world that is often hostile and always uncertain. Bringing tranquility into more and
more of daily life can be a pleasant and satisfying lifestyle. A person using the
technique of “mindfulness” might monitor his relaxation status on a fairly constant
basis and continually relax any stress tensions to the point where they produce few
if any toxins into the bloodstream. In addition, he can remember the most relaxed
state he has experienced so far on his path, and he can mentally and physically “let
go” in that direction.
All tensions that interfere with tranquility boil down to two sources: the survival
instinct and the desire for pleasure. These are the forces that hold us here in this
reality. Without them we would just sit around waiting to die, as did the great guru
Ramana Maharshi before others found him, cared for him, and built him a church.
The pursuit of pleasure includes the areas of desire in general and the satisfaction of
needs. It is the intermingling of these energy sources that feed our drama of
survival here on this earth. In this sense the body can be a demanding and even
cruel despot. Osho recommends satisfying all of the biological needs insofar as
possible in order to subdue them. Ascetics recommend enduring them until they
are controlled such as with fasting or abstinence from sex. They can also be avoided
by cultivating opposite attitudes such as compassion and generosity toward others
rather than selfishness. Yet another escape from survival concerns is some form of
physical or mental activity including chanting and rituals.
Relaxation practice is a form of letting go of concerns regarding the body and its
relationship to the world. One approaches attitudes of detachment and acceptance
of the current moment, both of which reduce all survival concerns. When one can
“simply be” and let things happen with no resistance whatsoever, he is free of the
survival struggle in all of its forms and subtleties. What is left over is tranquility and
bliss hormones. There is a transition from the demands of the physical world into
the spirit-mental domain of thought as well as into a relaxed and contented body
that is supplying pleasure instead of needs.
Evil Knievel’s jewel-encrusted cane could be symbolic of the point of view that
transcending the survival instinct has its value. Fortunately, this point of view can
be experienced rather fully in a recliner with a safe psychedelic drug instead of
while hurtling through space on a motorcycle.
Reaching the tranquil state while still being here in Earth means learning to quiet all
combinations of these two overall tensions, thus providing the deep physical
relaxation and the release of the bliss hormones. Deep relaxation and contentment
become an “escape” from the drama of the struggle for personal survival and well-
being. It is a temporary transcendence of the self including the tedium and
annoyances of daily life. It seems paradoxical that reaching deep well-being
requires giving up the struggle to find it and instead relaxing and letting things be.
It is the process of relaxing and letting the hormone/emotion of contentment
emerge from within rather than struggling to reach it by manipulating the outer
world. Struggling for contentment is like walking toward a mirror and seeing your
image recede. Letting go of absolutely everything is what works.
Tranquility is what is left over naturally when enough of the mental tension issues
have been resolved or de-energized to the point where they can be avoided or
ignored. Situational awareness and rationality are not compromised. It is possible
to continue activities with far less effort. If an absence of tension is the cake, then
the resulting bliss hormones that come with it that are the frosting. This state of
being and those that lead up to it can be first discovered and experienced during
psychedelic experience (or otherwise) and then to become goals or targets to
practice and cultivate both during daily life and during future psychedelic
experiences, if so desired. Practicing to make this type of experience more
accessible and enduring and can become a meaningful and satisfying lifestyle.
Progress involves discovering and resolving the mental tension issues that obstruct
the path to deeper tranquility, at least to the point where they can be avoided, as
well as continuous diligent practice in the relaxation of the body. Training the body
to relax is a necessary condition in a focused path toward of tranquility.
Carrying this type of experience in the head has an advantage over carrying it in the
pocket. The body becomes a natural and healthy mobile luxury spot.
Deepak Chopra describes this same “fully aware” state as being centered, at a place
of inside peace and silence, not divided by inner conflicts, transcendent of local
disturbances, seeing the world from an expanded perspective, and the experience of
inner organization. He believes that contemplation is the path to this state, but I
suggest that occasional low doses of a psychedelic drug combined with continuous
practice in relaxation can stimulate and focus the process. The psychedelics are
helpful in that expanded consciousness can look forward and reveal goals that can
be focused upon as steps in personal growth.
A time will come when the body starts to “learn” the positive aspects of deep
relaxation and will automatically fall into that state whenever circumstances permit.
During such times, the mind can still deal with topics pertaining to daily life and to
memories as usual, but negative thoughts and memories will not tend to evoke any
emotional reactions or tensions because the body maintains a relaxed state. The
relaxed body becomes the soft protective barrier against any uprising mental
tensions. Positive thoughts and memories will still evoke positive emotional
reactions in the body, however, because positive emotions do not cause muscular or
A strong habit of relaxation is not only a pleasure but it is also healthy because
stress is reduced. The quality of moment-by-moment life can be greatly improved
by means of relaxation combined with what Chopra defines as the “contemplation”
of tension areas. His definition of contemplation involves learning not to focus on
isolated details but to consider larger generalities, a process that psychedelics can
Since the mind works in terms of dualities, it is necessary to at least acknowledge
that the “contented state” has its opposite and that there are many gradations in
between. It is a continuum from a profound affirmation of existence at one end to a
profound cynicism toward it at the other. The cynical side asks the question: “if
existence is such a miracle, then why is there so much suffering in it?” This is a
legitimate question. The resolution to this conflict of opposites is the dead center
point where existence is seen and accepted as being exactly what it is. Why it is and
why it is what it is are mysteries. A perfectly detached attitude toward the fact that
existence is what it is would be the neutral point both in terms of philosophy and
attitude. Mentally observing this continuum while being deeply relaxed and
experiencing the bliss hormones tends to activate the neutral-to-contented side of
the continuum, which is where most of us would just as soon be. I think that an
important point is that the cynical side of the continuum needs to be acknowledged
as another legitimate point of view otherwise that fact would have to be forcefully
ignored. If it were, an individual would have either an inauthentic “messianic” or a
“Pollyanna” attitude. If we see a person preaching one of these attitudes we might
accept them or we might become very cynical toward them because we sense that
the person is kidding himself into thinking that life is always a bed of roses and is
trying to get us to make the same distortion.
The bottom line to all this is that since we are pleasure-seeking creatures we can
further maximize our pleasure by at least recognizing the fact that the cynical point
of view does exist and that it is entirely justified considering the nature of existence.
In this way we avoid the tensions necessary to maintain a one-sided “messianic” or
“Pollyanna” attitude. The tension in this particular attitude is the mental energy
required to repress, or deny, the negative end of the mental continuum. Each time a
cynical or negative thought came to mind it would need to be crushed forcefully
with a positive thought. For a person who has been exposed to significant negativity
in his life, this could take a lot of energy as well as a significant distortion of reality.
We all naturally try to avoid thinking about our past or possible future negative
experiences, but considering the real nature of existence, repressing them all can be
like trying to hold down the lid on an overflowing garbage can. Letting them flow
and exhaust themselves is not pleasant, but it takes less energy. Once one of these
thought-memory-fantasies loses its intensity, it is possible to willfully relax more
deeply and to return to the path to tranquility and to proceed to strengthen it in
neuroplastic space. The detachment and acceptance that is learned as one toward
tranquility makes it easier to let the negativity flow through mental space with less
resistance. It can become like watching laser images move through mist without
activating any stress hormones. With psychedelic stimulation, these flows of
negativity can take on the characteristics of a “bad trip”, but it could be assumed
that the spontaneous thought generator produces them In order to discharge their
strength, to reveal how to avoid similar negative circumstances in the future, and to
strengthen the high ideals of detachment and acceptance. Deep relaxation can
become the “soft wall” blocking negativity from tranquility. The tranquil side of the
continuum is just as justified and authentic in this existence as the cynical side, so it
can be freely enjoyed without repression, distortion, or guilt.
There is a place between the rose colored glasses and the brown colored glasses
where the lenses are perfectly clear. This would be the point of perfect emotional
detachment and a place of clear unprejudiced thought.
Psychedelics can reveal various relaxed states and as such can provide tangible
“targets” of states of being for which to aim. I assume that various tranquilizers
could do the same thing, but I have had no experience with them, and I am unaware
of any side effects, after effects, or addictive properties that they might have. In
addition, I am not sure of the extent to which they might dull the mind and keep a
person from working through or resolving the tension issues that interfere with
natural relaxation. Psychedelics definitely do not dull the mind. Since doctors often
prescribe tranquilizers and since they are popular, I assume that they are
reasonably safe and effective in many cases.
Relaxation practice includes the calming of the stress hormones that tense up the
body and that cause the mind to fret. The body can be trained to relax just as it can
be trained to do any other activities. Once the body has been relaxed it is possible to
mentally stimulate the natural output of bliss hormones just as it is possible to
stimulate sex or anger hormones just by thinking about appropriate situations.
Discovering the mental tension issues is easy; they are the ones that disturb
attempts at relaxation. Resolving tension issues involves finding appropriate
philosophical points of “overview” and appropriate attitudes toward them and also
to relax any muscular tensions associated with them. Sometimes it includes the
discovery of new ways to handle difficult situations in the outside world.
The breathing muscles are particularly sensitive to tension issues, so the softer the
breathing the deeper the overall relaxation. Psychedelics used with intent are
useful in this part of the procedure because they amplify both the tension issues
themselves and also the ability of the body to relax. It is easier to learn something
that is temporarily made more vivid.
Getting into more detail, it seems valid that every emotion has its opposite. No
doubt this has something to do with the magic that generates hormones. For
example, one person might feel very arrogant while another might feel like a
worthless failure. There are all gradations in between these extremes, and
sometimes there is conflict as to where one is actually located on that continuum
both emotionally and rationally. For the purpose of deep relaxation, the best place
to be on it would be dead center, where self-esteem is not even an issue and there is
no tension relating to it. As Popeye the sailor man used to say: “I yam what I yam”.
In any case, this zero-tension point is something that can be found, practiced and
deepened on different emotional continuums.
With psychedelics, the various gradations that make up these continuums can often
be separately experienced more vividly and examined more closely than they can be
in normal daily consciousness. They can include continuums such as trust-distrust,
greed-generosity, optimism-pessimism, spontaneity-control, flexibility-rigidity, etc.
Sometimes a single “shade of gray” can be discovered to have been defining one’s
In daily life, it is possible to become completely involved in one gradation of a
continuum and not even realize that other gradations exist. Psychedelic experience
can help to reveal that one is not necessarily trapped in an unproductive or
unsatisfying way of seeing the world or himself. The stimulated flexibility in points
of view is one of the ways that psychedelic experience can “teach” a person. It can
reveal other points of view automatically or sometimes a particular point of view
can be chosen willfully for investigation. Finding a new and authentic point of view
and then working it into one’s relationship with the outside world can be an
interesting and productive process.
In any case, it is possible to explore these areas at different dosages and to learn a
great deal about any of them. The Zimbardo prison study showed how quickly and
deeply it is possible to get totally involved into a different lifestyle even without any
drugs whatsoever, so being able to explore and identify with a wide variety of
experiences with the stimulation of psychedelic drugs is not all that unexpected. In
the Zimbardo study, volunteers were randomly assigned to the roles of prisoners or
inmates in a realistic prison setting. In a matter of days these people started taking
their roles so seriously that the study had to be called off. Even the person in the
role of “warden” started getting paranoid that his funds would be cut off.
The insights that have been experienced in psychedelic sessions can be carried back
into one’s daily life and examined there in relation to the current circumstances and
drama taking place in the outside world. Working new useful insights and
understandings into the outside world is an interesting and creative challenge.
It is fortunate that there is no hangover to psychedelic experience to crush or
overwhelm things that has been learned. It is also fortunate that the larger
abstractions experienced during psychedelic experience can be remembered. The
memory is not necessarily as vivid as the original experience, but it is present on the
more rational level and it can still be worked with. I believe that working with
broader abstractions can become a habit in daily life. Some people, such as leaders
and innovators, naturally see things from the “big picture”.
One of the interesting continuums of experience to explore is defined by a powerful
superhero on one end and a desperate helpless child on the other. The “superhero”
end of the continuum is experienced as the “power trip”. The entire continuum
deals with the topic of the struggle for survival, but the central point is one where
survival is not even an issue. At that point survival seems to be happening
effortlessly all by itself and the fact that it can end at any moment is recognized and
accepted without any argument. One simply does what needs to be done moment
by moment while going with the flow of events.
Conceptualizing this center while in daily consciousness can reduce tension in the
immediate relationship with the world. In a poetic sense, it is like pacifying the
survival instinct by yielding completely to the here-and-now situation and letting all
of it unfold as it will including one’s own contribution to it. On the cosmic level, it
could be conceptualized as oneself being a three-dimensional moving and thinking
puzzle piece fused by his skin and his senses to the overall moving puzzle that
makes up the rest of the environment and the rest of the universe. It is also like
walking into a painting and becoming part of the paint. If a beginner sees this point
of view with an initial dose that is too high, it could feel to him like a cosmic trap. On
the other hand, it could also be seen from the religious perspective as being at one
with the entire unfolding universe.
The expression “what will be will be” is not quite appropriate from this point of
view because it assumes that destiny is predetermined or influenced by a higher
power. A predetermined destiny, like free will, are only two of the very interesting
but improvable cosmic assumptions that are discussed later.
I like to think that the energy that was being wasted in emotional conflict is
channeled into clear rational thought and to a stronger concept of the background
tranquility that is left over when tension areas have been reduced to manageable
levels. Since pure rational thought has no emotional loading, it is clean and precise.
Poetically, it is like working methodically with intricate machinery composed of
titanium and jeweled parts, all functioning calmly and smoothly within a domain of
thoughtful creativity. This type of thought process is at least neutral emotionally,
pleasant, optimistic, and creative due to the release of the bliss hormones. It is not
the perfect silence of a perfect peace of mind, but it is the next best thing. Another
level higher is where the spontaneous thought generator relinquishes a certain
amount of structure. The experience becomes one of semi-formlessness. “Organic”
images might be good symbols for this level. The highest level is where all structure
is sacrificed and the remaining concepts include all things: infinite and eternal God
and/or infinite and eternal outer space. Both are everywhere and in all things. This
is the highest point on the organization chart of cosmic concepts. There is nothing
bigger than everything, at least so far as I know.
Grousing uselessly and futilely over minuscule tension issues would be at the
opposite end of this particular mental spectrum.
A useful advantage to the balance and centeredness of deep relaxation is that it can
act as a “neutral balance point” in the world of personal experience against which all
other experience can be compared. Sometimes it becomes clear that one is putting
too much energy and concern into areas that are leading nowhere or not enough
into more possibly rewarding ones.
It is not easy to conceptualize a “higher” state of being than drug-free deep
tranquility while we are still here on this earth in human bodies. The various
pleasures of life are certainly enjoyable, but deep contentment is beyond even the
slightest desire for any of them. In fact, our greatest desire is for satisfaction and
contentment, but this state of consciousness is only possible when desire itself has
I have had no experience with narcotic drugs except a little in the hospital, but it is
difficult to believe that they could provide a much more satisfying experience.
Contentment is an absolute. There is no such thing as being more contented than
contented. Of course, the pain-killing qualities of those drugs are a huge blessing.
Not having to depend on any kind of a drug for deep contentment is another
element of personal freedom. Fortunately, the path toward that level of personal
development is not too unpleasant either.
I think that Dr. Deepak Chopra’s concept of “love” and that of “contentment” as
described here are quite similar. I may be wrong but I think that when Dr. Chopra
refers to love, he is generally thinking in terms of love with a target. Compassion
would be an example of love with a target. I like to expand this concept to a “love”
or a “profound affirmation” of one’s total experience in the current moment. It is the
feeling that it is very good to be alive in this moment in time in this miraculous but
mysterious existence in spite of the problems in the world.
An interesting aspect of this experience is that it becomes possible to sit or to stroll
around contentedly for long periods of time without feeling any need for more
intense activity, distractions, or entertainment. The experience is complete and
sufficient within itself. It becomes possible to be relaxed and contented in situations
where there are few outside distractions.
This particular state of being is not common knowledge for a variety of reasons.
One is that it is not achieved overnight. In fact, it can be a continually developing
lifelong practice. Another is that very few people, even psychologists and clerics,
even know that it exists and as such have no “target” to aim for. Another is that it is
often associated with organized religion which, although not a hindrance, does not
usually emphasize this particular process. Another is that we are so involved in the
pursuit of survival and lower-order goals that we are too busy to do the diligent
work that is necessary to be successful at this practice. Psychedelics can at least
reveal the path and perhaps hasten the process. They can reveal periods of deep
peace, they can reveal the tension issues that block progress, and they can provide
the insights that can help to resolve or bypass the tensions. As Jung and others have
pointed out, personal growth involves the successive resolution of conceptual
opposites, a process that psychedelics can stimulate. He also points out that the
symbol (the goal) comes first in the progression.
It is sometimes possible to direct a psychedelic session by rationally conceptualizing
a target symbol. Sometimes the intuitive flow of thought will merge right into it.
Sometimes this technique is useful in reviewing or expanding areas of interest
because of the tendency to see things from broader perspectives. I like to explore
the fantasy domain symbolized by the “serene knight living in an idealized Camelot”;
in other words a perfect citizen interacting with a perfect society or a utopia
populated by nothing but thoroughly evolved and enlightened people.
I also like to use expanded consciousness to contemplate the possible futures of the
growing worldwide “exobrain” (Internet). I think it has already influenced the
current rebellions against tyranny in Arab countries, on Wall Street and in cities
where the gluttonous and the greedy gorge on local resources at the expense of
populace. I am not referring to the honorable and capable leaders and organizers at
this point but instead to the general theme of the “haves” exploiting the “have nots”.
An appropriate myth to represent this current conflict would be David versus
Goliath. Even now corporations are yielding to what they call “consumer feedback”
and are reducing and eliminating inflated charges. Much of the exposure of
corporate excesses and the resulting consumer rebellion takes place over the
Internet and some takes place in the streets. Perhaps in a more transparent society
financial improprieties will be harder to hide. Perhaps George Orwell’s Animal Farm
repetitive theme in society will smooth out. In any case, expanded consciousness
allows a second level of authentic meditation regarding current trends and
influences in society itself.
High tech has also made it possible to take out individual bad guys instead of
bombing entire cities. The tyrants, the terrorists, the war mongers, and the
bloodsuckers are being more quickly identified and better controlled with the help
of high technology. I am in hopes that the Internet helps to level the playing field
between the bad guys, the gluttons, and the good guys and that it makes everyone
smarter in the process. Joan Bello noticed that psychedelics tend to make a person
more oriented toward the community and less toward the self. Perhaps this has to
do with the fact that a community is a broader abstraction than an individual and
that psychedelics do in fact reveal broader abstractions.
Another important abstraction nowadays pertains to cultures involving burkas, the
burning down of girls’ schools, lashings and death for women who have performed
indiscretions, mutilation of female genitals, and extreme repression of females in
general. Why such a strong and prevalent myth defining female sexuality as being
evil ever emerged in a culture can only be guessed at. Other societies have much
less repression of female sexuality and it doesn’t seem to matter much. There are
different dramas involved, to be sure, but usually not such ugly ones. The other side
of the burka custom is that men must consider it evil to be sexually aroused by the
female body. In other words, sex in general is repressed in these cultures. The only
logical reason for such a practice that I can think of would be a need for population
control. In some cultures newborn babies have been and are still immediately killed
for the same reason. Two hopeful points of view regarding this situation would be
that there is no proof that sex itself is evil, and that contraception can be used to
control population growth. The myth that contraception is evil is yet another
improvable cosmic assumption. Combining the cosmic concepts that sex is evil and
that contraception is also evil can lead to unpleasant drama. Repressing sex can
lead to scandals such as are being seen in the Catholic church these days. On the
other hand too much sexual freedom could lead to broken families for which the
children would suffer the most. No doubt the conflict of sexual freedom versus
commitment will continue be with us. Perhaps the fact that people who use
contraceptives do not grow horns and tails will eventually become more obvious to
more people. Perhaps people will better learn how honest communication can help
to avoid ugly confrontations. Sex is strange: it is as common as water and yet it is
filled with all kinds of conflicting taboos.
Such is wool gathering on the level of broad abstractions.
When it has been discovered and experienced that deeper relaxation of the body
results in deeper and deeper bliss, the path forward becomes more obvious. When
the relaxation-bliss combination becomes deep enough, the body can feel and the
mind can conceptualize a “blending” of the self and the surrounding environment.
Even from the rational perspective, we really are fused to our environment and our
interaction with it is critical to our well-being.
One appropriate meditation image for deep contentment and relaxation is a person
sunning himself on a beach. Others would be a Buddha image or the tranquil faces
in various works of art such as Michelangelo’s Pieta.
After enough practice, maintaining this type of experience over time can be
facilitated by keeping the attention on the moment-by-moment positive feelings in
the relaxed body. If the mind is released to travel too far from the here and now, it
may tend to start to generate anxious or otherwise negative thoughts, and a session
of mental churning and physical tensions could start. The generation of neutral and
positive thoughts, however, does not evoke tension states and they can flow freely
without disturbing the relaxation-bliss state or the pathway to it. A peaceful mind
relaxes the body and a relaxed body pacifies the mind.
Any remaining minor tension issues encountered along the last part of the path can
become interesting dramas to work on either at the moment or to be postponed
until later. In other words, they do not invade consciousness to the extent that they
cannot be controlled.
Not all inner tension issues are negative by any means. A significant tension for
some people is that of a creative urge. For others it can be a desire for activities.
Interacting with the “inner teacher”, described later, is also a pleasure. These forces
are real and they do indeed block the path to deeper peace and contentment, at least
for the moment, but that certainly does not make them bad. They bring meaning,
purpose, and even entertainment to life. Psychedelics can even help to discover and
to develop and explore these dimensions of existence also.
Sexual tension definitely blocks deep relaxation. Each person has to decide for
himself how to handle this particular problem. Some people believe that abstinence
eventually kills it, but I personally have not tested that assumption and I do not
intend to. Osho (osho.com) recommends the regular satisfaction of those urges in
order to pacify them so that “direct perception” of reality can become a possibility.
Sex can be a great pleasure and cause few problems, but it can also mess up a
person’s life and others’ lives quite thoroughly. Wisdom is required when choosing
outlets for this particular very powerful instinct that hates to be repressed.
Paradoxically, sex is as common as water and yet it is also filled with all kinds of
significant and conflicting social taboos and customs. On the one hand there is the
pleasure and the needed release of tension with sex but on the other there are
sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted children, abortions, overpopulation
pressures, and ruined lives in general. The various religions and laws have
struggled to find resolutions to these problems, and many different customs have
tried to accommodate them, but we are still far from any kind of an overall solution.
Each person still has the responsibility to make his own wise decisions within his
own set of circumstances in this area. Psychedelics might help to forcast the
possible outcomes and the consequences of various paths of action that could be
A couple of science fictions movies have suggested interesting machines that could
be used to satisfy the nearly-irrepressible sexual demands of the body, but they are
not available for general public use just yet. Maybe it is the overheating problem
that has not been solved.
Feeling good under a variety of circumstances brings us additional pleasure and
reduced conflict as we proceed through the maze of life. In other words, life can
become more worth living. It can become easier and even a pleasure to get up in the
morning. Personal growth is a path worth following.
Deep tranquility is very healthy because it involves minimal stress and a positive
state of being. I will be repeating from different points of view that cultivating the
ability to relax deeply at will is a valuable and healthy asset in this turbulent and
uncertain world where our survival instinct and our circumstances tend to keep us
struggling even when it is not all that necessary. It can help a person to maintain his
composure and objectivity when circumstances become complex or stressful and it
is a pleasure otherwise. It is like having a peaceful and yet vivid and real oasis
within easy reach during the day.
Developing the skill to relax deeply can be compared to the efforts of an athlete or a
dancer in that it can take consistent attention and practice to train the body.
Progress is not exactly a straight line and it is important not to let discouragement
interfere with the process. Psychedelics can help because they can reveal the
peaceful goals themselves and their relaxing properties can be harnessed in the
A welcome side-benefit to developing the skill of willful deep relaxation of the body
is that it can take the place of tossing, turning, fretting, and struggling to get to sleep.
These nighttime situations are excellent times for relaxation practice because there
are no distractions and because they can be very luxurious. These periods of deep
relaxation seem to be at least as rejuvenating and refreshing as sleep itself, so the
vicious circle of the anxiety of not getting enough sleep being what keeps one awake
disappears. Psychedelics can help in that they can help to find some kind of
authentic resolutions to the mental topics that one tends to fret about at night.
Deep relaxation can be practiced, learned, and enjoyed even by people who engage
in extremely active lifestyles. It is possible to be serene and busy at the same time.
Pursuing a pleasure that is healthy is a win-win undertaking.
Positive goals in the worlds of personal, mental, and physical experience can
establish direction, meaning, and purpose in life, whereas without them one is more
or less at the mercy of circumstances and other people’s opinions to dictate his own
outlook and state of being.
The cold hard fact is that we are, needy, vulnerable, biological creatures that have
been thrust from God-knows-where into a world that is sometimes hostile,
competitive, turbulent, wearisome, and always uncertain. We face confusion,
sickness, the loss of loved ones, mistreatment by others, and death. In this respect
we must all pass through this “vale of tears”. Stress is inevitable. We can have
various attitudes toward the negative aspects of our earthly situations, but the most
tension-free one possible would have to be a combination of calm acceptance and
imperturbable detachment. Deep tranquility and Buddha consciousness can help us
to not only transcend many current negative circumstances, but also to evaluate
them from a more objective viewpoint. In other words, we can at least pacify to
some extent the unpleasant emotional component of suffering. Of course, trying to
make things better and actually succeeding in doing so is the other side of the coin
and is also very gratifying.
In addition, the release of the bliss hormones that attends deep relaxation can help
us to discover positive possibilities or alternatives that may still exist that might
otherwise have been overlooked. Having this mental “refuge” or “oasis” within
reaching distance during the day can bring a certain amount of comfort to otherwise
hostile situations. I am quite sure that the huge serene religious statues of the world
such as the 130-foot statue of Jesus overlooking Rio De Janeiro were designed in
part to exemplify this particular state of being, and no doubt holding images of them
during difficult times could bring a measure of inner peace.
Like all the others, the accepting-detached-contented attitude strengthens naturally
with practice and contemplation. As it becomes more of a natural daily habit, it can
come as a surprise to realize how much of life is actually one form of endurance or
another. Just sitting in an office all day can be something to endure. Being able to
dip into the peace of contentment for a few moments when fatigue starts to set in
can be very refreshing and rejuvenating.
While seated in a chair it is possible to employ the secret meditation technique of
balancing the head on the shoulders like a marble on a marble while relaxing the
breathing muscles and perhaps repeating a mantra. The only tipoff to this state of
consciousness to other people is that of sitting very still for an unusual length of
Fourth, the various tension issues that block the path to these positive goals become
more obvious during psychedelic experience because expanded consciousness, with
its broader abstractions and stimulated intuition, clusters them into better-defined
units that can be more easily understood, examined, concentrated upon, and
resolved. My mentor, Dr. Stanislav Grof, referred to these clusters as COEX
(condensed experience) systems. At first there might be a single memory or attitude
that comes to mind, and then a clustering process of similar memories, points of
view, attitudes, and feelings can take place either quickly or over rather extended
periods of time. It could be compared to a gathering of only the cashews from a
bowl of mixed nuts. The many similar individual memories, feelings, attitudes, and
points of view eventually blend into a single overall concept-experience that in turn
can hopefully be “felt”, and understood at a broader level of abstraction. One
thereby works with larger solid wholenesses instead of with scattered vaguely-
connected thoughts. Even when working with less-than-blissful COEX systems, the
process is very satisfying in that it can resolve conflicts and tensions with a solid
grasp on the essence of the situation rather than with dispersed elements of it.
As will be discussed, this same clustering process can take place with regard to
viewing the complexity of current conditions in regards to both relationships with
other people and with conditions in society. Existing patterns and trends can
become more obvious. Perhaps this is the reason why psychedelics have been used
for divination over the centuries.
More than once I have worked on a personal tension area that became like a COEX
(condensed experience) system in itself. “Working” was a combination of “chasing
down all of the loose ends” that applied to the system as well as solidifying a more
concrete single concept of the system itself. When these two tasks were completed,
the problem became a single enclosed package. The whole thing could be set aside,
or suspended, until further notice or maybe even half-forgotten forever. A cluster of
bad memories, for instance, can be put to rest in this manner. Having a single
mental “container” for many diverse, free floating, and unpleasant but similar
intrusive memories is a little like rounding up criminals and putting them into jail
cells. Getting them under control and off the streets permits a little more freedom of
thoughts and feelings.
“Locked horn” types of conflicts can be seen for what they really are from the
broader perspective and they can sometimes be resolved. The mental “outside
observer” of the conflict observes it from a level free of tension. “He” thinks with
unprejudiced rationality, so he can calmly propose and suggest possible resolutions
to problems without loading the debate with the survival instinct based angry need
to dominate and win.
A person who felt and believed that he had to continually fight with the world in
order to get by might rather suddenly discover that he could picture himself as
“flowing” with it and dodging the bullets like a graceful matador instead. As Jung
pointed out, the symbol comes first. It might truly be a jungle out there, but one can
be a calm, strong, smart lion strolling among the trees.
Another example of this process would be an anxious person who had been over-
programmed by the work ethic and plagued with a feeling of being obligated to rush
through daily life and to be productive every waking moment. During psychedelic
experience, a cluster of similar memories, feelings, and attitudes pertaining to time
urgency might cluster into a single unit and be experienced as an overall “feeling”
and concept rather than as a collection of separate events. Once a cluster has
consolidated, the broader point of view and perhaps a symbol of something like
overheated machinery might emerge in order to conceptualize and observe it. In
this case, a vivid concept of background time as being eternal and unmoving might
emerge as a contrasting point of view. The symbol of eternal outer space would be
appropriate for this new concept. This insight neutralizes the COEX system of
urgency and resolves it. It is like putting the keeper-bar onto a horseshoe magnet,
neutralizing its influence, and letting the entire topic dissolve into the background
tranquility. If the feeling of needing to rush unnecessarily should appear again in
the future, the broad abstraction of eternal time can also be remembered and the
tension issue can once again be neutralized or at least avoided. Also to be noticed is
that many times tension issues on lower levels of abstraction are resolved by
insights on broader or even “cosmic” levels.
Conceptualizing stationary eternal time during a psychedelic session can be quite
vivid, as noted by Aldous Huxley, compared to conceptualizing it during normal
daily consciousness and thus making it a stronger and more useful mental reality
and a stronger memory. Strong attitudes and images can be cultivated in
neuroplastic space and be available during daily life in the same way that monks
meditating on their compassion for the human condition can do so.
As more and more bothersome COEX systems are resolved and neutralized in this
manner, the background tranquility becomes more prevalent both during
psychedelic experience and during daily life. One person might refer to this process
as “refinement” while another might refer to it as “cleaning out one’s head”. Either
way, increased peace of mind and more a rational comportment in the outside world
promote an easier lifestyle.
Neutralizing a tension issue could also be compared to looking down onto a maze
from above to solve it rather than wandering around randomly inside of it. Even a
slight expansion of perspective can cause the emergence of many new helpful
insights regarding a person’s past or his current situations.
I believe that some tension issues simply cannot be resolved on the level of
individual events on the daily life level of abstraction and that the clustering effect of
psychedelics or some other kind of mental stimulation would be necessary in order
to do so. A great deal of conventional psychotherapy involves going over scattered
individual events that may not seem similar from the rational perspective. But from
the intuitive level they may be seen as having similarities from the “feeling” level.
As will be discussed, I believe that tension issues can exist even on the cosmic levels
of abstraction and that even they can be revealed and resolved. An example might
be a person who was agonizing over whether to believe in God or not. If he
eventually concluded on a deep and authentic level that God’s existence cannot be
proved or disproved and is is a mystery, another COEX system would be resolved
and he would be free to find other uses for that energy. The “crisis of faith”
experience could become the calm acceptance of the fact that the answer is
unknown. At the same time, one can choose any answer that seems to reduce his
tension and rest in it. Knowing that it is only an assumption to explain a mystery
does not seem to diminish its authenticity because since the real answer is a
mystery, the assumed one could just as well be the true one.
Fifth, there are no poisonous hangovers whatsoever with psychedelic drugs as there
are with alcohol. The memories of resolutions and of the peaceful background
tranquility can be carried right back into active daily life. The “tail” of a psychedelic
experience is so gentle that it is not always easy to tell when it is over.
There have been suggestions that marijuana is effective as a pain killer. In my
humble experience, it helps to kill toothaches and headaches to a significant degree,
and it also strengthens detachment toward them. The people at the marijuana
distribution center say that different strains are more effective than others, but I
have not tried them. I am unaware of any studies measuring the effectiveness of
psychedelics for killing intense pain, but I am quite sure that it will never be used as
an anesthetic. It would be an advantage to use cannabis to kill pain if it does so
sufficiently because it is not addicting, while in addition a person can learn to
function quite normally while under its influence.
I believe that initial psychedelic experiences tend to involve more intense mental
activity. Mental insights and resolutions tend to take place at that time. As mental
refinement continues and internal tension comes down, the experience tends to be
more of a stimulation of the relationship between the body and the outside world.
Being “high” while at the same time having full situational awareness becomes easy
and can be very interesting. Sensory inputs become more vivid and the rational
mind becomes more focused and concentrated. This is exactly what would be
expected from enhanced perception and expanded consciousness.
Instead of being trapped and grousing endlessly and uselessly over residual tension
issues on low levels of abstraction, one can rise above them, resolve them, and
become more free to discover and explore an expanded world of positive new
Sixth, there are no known negative health effects with psychedelics. As such, there
is no residual guilt resulting from their use either for self-reflection or for recreation,
or for both. Alcoholics and drug addicts have to suffer their burden of guilt for
having damaged their health for the sake of the escape and the pleasure that they
seek. They must also carry the self-image of a person whose will power is so weak
that they cannot resist the lure of the drug. One investigator, whose name escapes
me at the moment, took LSD every day for about a month back in the 60’s to test it
for any damaging effects. There were none and there was no addiction. A saleslady
at a legal medical marijuana distribution point told me that customers who were
recovering alcoholics and also cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy took
cannabis several times every day with no adverse effects. It would seem that
surveys and studies regarding the treatment of alcohol addiction with cannabis
would reveal a great deal of useful information. Perhaps recovered alcoholics could
even use alcohol responsibly with the occasional use of cannabis to satisfy their
desire for self-transcendence. Using alcohol strictly for self-transcendence can be
Seventh, psychedelics almost never cause inappropriate social behavior. As dosage
is increased, there is a greater tendency for deeper relaxation and meditation, but
never the abusiveness, grandiosity, recklessness, or loss of motor control associated
with the excessive use of alcohol. However, a beginner taking too high a dose of a
psychedelic drug under poor circumstances can start to mix up his inner world with
his outer world with possible unfortunate consequences, so a “caretaker” or
“ground control” is a necessity on those occasions. On the other hand, friends don’t
let friends drive drunk, either.
Eighth and last, the highly abstract cosmic and religious experiences that a high-
dose psychedelic session stimulates are fascinating territory for the psychologically,
philosophically, and religiously inclined. Special considerations are necessary for
this type of experience such as an experienced “sitter”. The sitter can serve two
important purposes. One is that the user can rely on him to take care of any
problems that might come up in the outside world, thus permitting him to
completely “let go” and explore the inner experience. The other is that he can
furnish a solid rational platform to a user who gets into complicated mental
territory. Fantasy can become very real in a high-dose session, but knowing that
there is a solid rational foothold way back down there in real reality can be very
reassuring. Sometimes a person will “touch base” with his sitter every so often for
the sake of a sense of security.
Although the high dose experience has its advantages, I believe that lower dose
experiences have the advantage of permitting more detailed and refined rational
interpretations of daily life. Being more or less flooded by intuitive thought with a
high dose is useful for experiences involving trusting and surrendering to “higher
powers” and, as described later, there is much to learn there. Lower doses still
permit at least the contemplation of cosmic abstractions, but in addition they permit
attention to the details of unfolding daily life and moment-by-moment here-and-
One of my acquaintances once told me that she used an occasional mild marijuana
session strictly to stimulate her lifestyle practice of what she called “refining her
comportment with the world”. Her explanation was that if a person were to interact
with the outside world with both her rational and her intuitive faculties of mind, she
would be relating to it more completely, more effectively, and with more sensitivity
than she would if she used her rational mind by itself. She says it is like using more
of her mind to experience the world. Her practice involves “reaching out” to the
world right through her skin with her intuitive skills while her rational intellect
continues to participate in the process unhindered. She practices an extra “sixth
sense” with which to link to profound but more subtle realities in the outside world
in a more sensitive and refined manner. She “feels” people, places, and things and
new possibilities with a calmer and stronger focused attention and with what she
calls “much finer precision with respect to the give-and-take moment-by-moment
relationship with the world”. Even trivial tasks can become the cultivation of the
expression of contentment and “flow” instead of the strained expression of some
aspect of the survival instinct. Movements of the body can become relaxed, smooth,
and controlled rather than a series of jerks.
Carl Jung pointed out that the symbol comes first. If the symbol is oneself as a more
relaxed, refined, contented, and well-integrated person, then that state of being can
be cultivated both in daily experience and with psychedelic stimulation. A concrete
symbol-target for personal growth certainly gives more direction than endless
random reactions to the various complexities of the world.
Practicing to relate to the world in this manner is a lifestyle involving the refinement
of the emotions, thoughts, speech, relationships, and even body movements. In
other words, one’s total being in the world in the here-and-now moment can be
recognized as an energy process that can be crafted in real time. A person can
practice becoming less clumsy, unaware, impulsive, frantic, and insensitive, and to
move toward becoming a more refined, tuned-in, flexible, effective, graceful,
contented, and effective dancer through the maze of life. As this skill is practiced a
person can also better detect, appreciate, and relate to more of the intuitive, artistic,
and meaningful qualities of existence and also to become more of an expert
communicator in the subtleties of interpersonal relationships.
The super-complex relationship between the self and the outside world can become
better “lubricated” with a combination of relaxation, focused attention, and a
repertoire of graceful methods for handling standard situations. Refinement also
means no rush. Something positive and refined cannot be slapped together. It
grows at its own pace as practice continues.
It can sometimes come as a surprise how well particular situations are handled
automatically because the general topic had already been resolved. One time the
surprise words “have a good time” jumped out of my mouth as my wife was leaving
for dinner with her girlfriend. I couldn’t believe my ears. In the past I most
certainly would have said or at least thought something snarky because I would
have resented being left alone to watch cartoons on TV or some other dumb thing.
My “inner self” had grown a notch in maturity while I was not looking. Once I knew
it was there, I started exploring it. I found that it really was a “wholeness” in terms
of overall personality. It was obviously a refinement and an improvement over
what it had been in the past, and in exactly the directions that I had chosen. There
were no qualms in letting the “new me” start to express itself into the outside world
because good and constructive responses kept popping out of it all by themselves. If
the reality was that I had allowed myself to be taken over by some kind of a mental
or spiritual “body snatcher” I did not care. I was still me and I was seeing real
progress on the path toward refinement and tranquility. In fact, I still experience
new and unexpected automatic behaviors that are in keeping with my new
Carl Jung was right in this respect when he said that the symbol comes first. It can
become a target to move toward and cultivate rather than simply allowing oneself to
respond randomly to current circumstances all of the time. In this case I had a
sudden mental image (COEX system) of an unflappable, good natured, and rational
diplomat who was skillful at smoothly defusing tense situations. He basically
wanted his good-natured feelings to manifest themselves in his outside world as
well as in his inside world, and it was always clear what had to be done each
moment in time to make it so. He could dodge the incoming artillery and offer
possible approaches to end the war at the same time. After discovering the image, I
mentally “tested” it in relation to some of the situations that were causing me
tension in my everyday life. The effects were very satisfying.
Working with such a mental image that was already a fully formed wholeness was
much easier than going to charm school and going over all of my past and current
immature responses while trying to figure out better ways to handle things.
Maybe charm schools of the future will emphasize a focus and an elaboration upon
various idealized images such as those of the unflappable good-natured rational
diplomat, the honorable and fearless knight in shining armor, the loving Aphrodite,
the wise Athena, and Hephaestus, the craftsman of fine jewelry. Mental images such
as these are positive, and since we are pleasure-seeking creatures, it would seem
that we would tend to let them act as guiding lights through the maze of life. Rather
than dwelling too much on individual past or current unproductive behaviors, a
person could start putting some extra energy into keeping his eye on possible
positive ideals. This approach would undoubtedly be at least as effective as the
various forms of aversion therapy used in existing and past forms of charm schools.
I got the feeling that the “smooth diplomat” image that I experienced was something
like an already-formed COEX system on the intuitive level and that it got presented
to consciousness as a large insight, or a revelation. Other insights might not be as
profound or as complete, but they can sometimes be elaborated upon over time.
Some forms of personal growth take longer than others.
Jung also pointed out that when a personality or even a situation becomes overly
polarized in one direction, elements of the opposite start to appear. He also
mentioned that a personality polarized in one direction would require that all
contradictory personality traits need to be repressed. For these reasons, I suspect
that a person with a personality polarized in one direction will tend to find the
opposite aspect within himself during psychedelic experience. A person who had
endured long oppression, for instance, might be the one to experience the “power
trip” which in turn might help him to bring his emotional-philosophical system
closer into balance. The same holds true in society. When people become too
repressed, they rebel.
The inner “spontaneous thought generator”, or “insight generator” works in terms
of “larger wholenesses” or “clusters” outside of awareness and condenses them into
new insights and concepts and suddenly presents them to consciousness. I like the
phrase “spontaneous thought generator” to describe it because new insights and
concepts come to mind all by themselves and at unpredictable times.
As with the prohibition of alcohol, the prohibition of marijuana has resulted in
average citizens being treated as criminals, gangsters becoming extremely wealthy,
corruption in law enforcement agencies and government, and bloody violence
taking place in the streets. Al Capone, the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre of 1929,
the current drug lords, and the drug wars between the Mexican cartels and the
government are the result of the same basic set of circumstances. In this case,
history’s lesson was not learned. The differences between the two scenarios are
that alcohol by itself does indeed sometimes result in very serious health and social
problems while marijuana by itself does not, and this time around there is
considerable carnage taking place at the Mexican border. Mexican drug cartels are
at war with each other and with law enforcement over smuggling marijuana into the
United States. Whoever was responsible for the “reefer madness” myth has
considerable blood on their hands. Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s crackdown
on drug cartels in 2006 has resulted in more than forty thousand drug-related
deaths over the next five years. That is the size of a good-sized city. If marijuana
were legal, there would be no drug cartels, no drug lords, and no gold-plated
machineguns. In addition, safe marijuana would likely be taking the place of some
of the dangerous overuse of alcohol and other addicting drugs.
Summarizing the benefits of occasional mild psychedelic sessions, not only can they
be used for self-transcendence, entertainment, and pleasant feelings (getting “high”
in the vernacular), they can also be used to stimulate the practice of moving toward
desired goals such as the deep relaxation of “Buddha consciousness” or the “refined
comportment” of a sensitive, mature, and cultured person. They can also be used to
stimulate creativity and for finding better and more efficient ways of looking at
things. With higher doses, it is possible to deeply contemplate and actually
experience the cosmic and spiritual concepts of existence. All this is possible
without addictions, health problems, hangovers, or the risk of antisocial behavior.
As Dolly Parton’s baby might put it: “All this for me?”
The “reefer madness” myth was and is now a complete hoax. Marijuana causes calm
meditation and contemplation rather than irrational behavior. Anyone with even a
little experience with marijuana would agree, thus proving the point. The myth
resulted in considerable unnecessary suffering and is still doing so. Being jailed for
an activity that is less dangerous than drinking beer is in fact a social disgrace. A
victimless crime is an oxymoron. The extent of the commercial crime as well as the
bloody violence at the Mexican border that resulted from this myth are other
disgraces that result strictly from greed and not from the marijuana experience
itself. According to Ethan Nadelman, the head of the Drug Policy Alliance, the
prohibition of marijuana created a very lucrative cash cow for law enforcement
agencies and for the prison system. At the same time, it provided a substantial
income to everyone involved in the trafficking of the “product”. In addition, many
businesses are thriving by laundering the drug money. To the extent that this is true,
there is substantial payoff to the reefer madness myth on both sides of the law. No
doubt these factors function to perpetuate the myth.
Whoever was involved in the perpetration of the reefer madness myth made a very
bad and maybe a self-serving decision. A cynic might guess that the gigantic alcohol
industry was afraid that marijuana would cut into its profits. I am suggesting that
with the right intent, non-addicting marijuana could possibly replace the excessive
use of alcohol while perhaps only slightly affecting its responsible use. More on this
later. In my limited experience, the grape growers in Sonoma and Napa counties of
central California are concerned with the proliferation of marijuana in northern
California, but I think that alcohol and marijuana can live together without conflict
and that used responsibly they both have their benefits. Alcohol has been around
for a long time and no doubt is not going anywhere soon.
At this point in history it seems reasonable and responsible to see if psychedelics
could be used to help treat the addiction problem. I am quite sure that many over-
users of alcohol and other drugs could use self-chosen doses of non-addicting
psychedelics at self-chosen intervals to work toward an outcome where the one
drug could perhaps almost completely or even completely replace the other. The
reason is because marijuana easily and safely provides the “self-transcendence” that
some people are looking for without even leaving a hangover. Light and responsible
use of alcohol is a pleasure and is reasonable safe, but using it specifically for self-
transcendence can be deadly.
I enjoy the feelings of anxiety reduction, expansion, and the social lubrication that
alcohol provides, but I know the current and future consequences of each level of
alcohol intoxication and I keep a sharp eye on it.
I would much rather see mild, safe, slightly sedating, psychedelic-type drugs drifting
around in society rather that to see an addicting dangerous drug invading our well-
being indiscriminately with deadly health problems, broken families, abusive
behavior, dangerous highways, and dangerous city streets. I would rather be
chatting with cheerful rational friends stimulated with mild psychedelics and/or a
little alcohol while enjoying cheese and crackers and listening to good music rather
than to be facing a sick addict holding a knife or an abusive parent holding a belt.
We can see from experience that the responsible use of alcohol is a relatively
harmless and pleasant diversion and not by itself a problem. The same is true with
psychedelics, but with psychedelics there is no risk of ever getting trapped into a
physical addiction. There is no need or even a desire to keep increasing the dosage,
although on rare occasions some people might want to make arrangements for a
high-dose experience in order to explore its cosmic and religious dimensions. I
explored these regions to my complete satisfaction in my earlier years and feel little
need to do so again. I can still review them on the rational and the low-dose levels
and that is satisfying enough. In my case a “TGIF” type of celebration once a week or
so with a low dose is entirely sufficient for self-transcendence, self-exploration, and
recreation. According to my local newspaper, the sheriff of Mendocino County does
the same thing twice a week but never while on duty. Apparently psychedelics do
not necessarily interfere with a responsible workweek. All of my volunteer clients
were able to return to work the day after their high-dose experiences, the reason
being that there are no hangovers and no other degradations whatsoever. This in
itself should be convincing evidence that psychedelics are harmless unless they are
misused. Misuse would be defined as too high of a dosage under poor
In the interest of presenting a reasonably complete overview of the extensive topic
of psychedelic experience, some general areas are covered with a broad brush. This
is not to belittle their significance but only to present them as doorways to areas
that can be explored far more fully. In addition, reading about the various
experiences and points of view is only a very superficial exposure to them when
compared to the psychedelic experience of them. It is at least the difference
between looking at a rollercoaster and actually riding it. Sometimes it is possible to
get 99% “inside the skin” of a character in a psychedelic drama. Each conceptual
experience can have a wide range of different implications. They can be examined
deeply and explored in a single session or in repeated psychedelic sessions, and they
can also be carried over and contemplated in daily life. In this sense psychedelic
experience could be compared to a stimulation of very deep meditation. One can
learn from within.
It could be said that the mind contains nothing but concepts. No doubt the mind can
conceptualize an extreme range of concepts but that one individual’s range is
limited and dictated by his own particular life story. In other words, there are a
great many more concepts in there that have not been explored. For some reason,
psychedelic experience sometimes allows an exploration of concepts that do not
correspond to one’s own life story. For instance, there can be a deep and detailed
identification with people in various situations other than those in one’s repertoire.
I suspect that we all have the general potential to experience the entire range of
human experience and that psychedelics can stimulate an exploration of many parts
of it. It becomes possible to peek at the world from other points of view and even
with other self-images. One of my very withdrawn lady patients had a vivid and
satisfying experience something like Godzilla stomping on cities. She found a source
of energy that she did not know she had. On follow-up, it looked like she had started
to put some of that energy to good use in her daily life.
Not too much has been written regarding the individual areas within psychedelic
experience that can be explored, enjoyed, benefited from, and brought back to the
world. My attempt here is to describe the overall psychedelic landscape including
its daily life, creative, cosmic, and religious dimensions without too many of my own
personal biases being involved or at least being made clear. The territory is
considerable, so please forgive me if it is not perfectly organized or if I repeat myself
a little now and then. I hope that the overall effect will be the presentation and
reinforcement of various psychedelic concepts.
As with any psychoactive drug, there is considerable difference between low dose,
moderate dose, and high dose experiences, so they will be discussed separately. In
general, the higher the dose, the more deeply introspective a person becomes. In
addition, his inner world changes more and more from the daily-life level of
abstraction to the “cosmic” and religious levels that are described later.
The medical benefits of marijuana may have been noticed first because it is available
and popular and is often used more than once. The various delivery systems such as
smoking, vaporization, eating, and drinking make it easy to regulate the dosage. I
am guessing that the relaxing qualities of the psychedelic experience have much to
do with their medicinal effect. A healthy and relaxed person certainly enjoys life
more than a tense emotional person obsessively ruminating over tension issues that
he cannot resolve. Relaxation practice is the “mechanical” side of reaching deep
tranquility, while effectively working through tension issues is the mental side.
Both are necessary because deep tranquility involves a relaxed body and a
untroubled tension-free mind. Clear rational thought is present with tranquility
because it does not have a negative emotional component and it does not interfere
with the production of bliss hormones. When tranquil, it is possible to feel good and
to think clearly at the same time.
Thinking in terms of broader abstractions and with stimulated intuition makes it
possible to cluster larger “wholenesses” as mental concepts to experience and work
with. This is the essential feature of the “teaching quality” of the psychedelic
experience that has been recognized through the ages. One’s mind can move from
small screen to IMAX in 3-D depending on dosage. It can “look down” on things
from bigger and bigger pictures revealing things that had not been seen or thought
The “inner teacher” can be conceptualized as being a stimulated mental process of
brain activity. It is convenient to conceptualize this process as an imaginary teacher
relating to an imaginary student because the verbal interaction between the two
helps to rationalize any new insights. In the model that I suggest, the spontaneous
thought generator generates intuitive understandings to the rational mind for
interpretation in this manner. The interpretation process is the psychedelic
experience itself and it is indeed a learning experience since new concepts are being
formed from already-existing inner material.
After a new insight emerges to consciousness, there can be a reversal of roles: the
student can become the teacher. In this case, the rational mind proceeds to explain
the new intuitive insight in increasing detail to a hypothetical “imaginary inner
student”. In this way, the insight is nailed into rationality in more detail. The
rational mind seems to enjoy this process, but the drug stimulation must be low
enough that the new intuitive material coming to consciousness, if any, can be
blended in with the rational task at hand rather than overwhelming it. If
psychedelics are being used and the dose is too high and if the mind starts being
diverted into new areas, it is a good time to pick up the voice recorder and to at least
nail the insight into the external world at its current level of abstraction with a few
words if possible. A new insight remains permanent in memory, however. If it is
revisited later it is seen as completed. The work has been done. At that point it can
be explored for any interesting implications or it can be left to join the remaining
mental material available to the workings of the spontaneous thought generator. A
new insight can be carried over into daily life and into future drug experiences if so
desired for additional investigation. Teaching and learning are two-way streets, but
the process continues whether one identifies with the role of the teacher or that of
Some insights are well defined immediately while others can have many
implications and extensions to be explored over time. Some are like minor new
viewpoints and some are like great revelations presented in detail. One of my high-
dose clients was an architect agonizing over the design of a shopping center. During
his LSD experience he had a vision of the completed project right down to the
plumbing and the wiring.
One meditation image that I often enjoy and benefit from is that of an emerald life-
sized living statue of the Buddha. The transparency symbolizes that he is absolutely
free of all inner tensions, including even in his head, while the emerald represents
the value of the associated tranquil experience. I like to imagine that I can the world
through his eyes and with his patience and detachment. When I do, I often see
relationships more clearly, feel impressions more intensely, and experience more
I am quite sure that this meditation practice is good for mental and physical health
and maybe even for longevity. It would be nice to age like fine wine instead of
turning to vinegar.
It is possible to remember the image of the emerald Buddha or its equivalent during
daily life when appropriate occasions arise. Becoming instantly more patient,
detached and objective can be a real advantage at times, one being when someone is
trying to get under your skin. It is the psychedelic equivalent to counting to ten
before allowing emotions to take over. If an image of this nature has been cultivated
in neuroplastic space, it can result in automatic responses at the right times during
the day or otherwise it can be remembered on purpose and still used effectively.
What I call cultivating an attitude in neuroplastic space is also the cultivation of a
new habitual way of seeing the world that presumably correlates with new neural
pathways in the brain. Positive concepts cultivated in neuroplastic space can
become guiding lights and sources of structure and purpose within the maze of life.
It might be useful to ask what Jesus would do when dealing with moral issues, but it
might also be useful to ask what the Buddha would do when dealing with a
Providence that is currently less than kind. Having strong ideal images of these
“inner teachers” present in one’s inner world would seem to provide wise guidance.
On a cosmic level, I like the somewhat old-fashioned word “Providence” to refer to
the source of our earthly experience because it does not imply that any kind of a
spirit that has an agenda or a personality is behind it. Neither does it assume that
our existence is strictly the unfolding of a network of natural laws. Providence
simply provides what it provides. How or why it provides it are, in my estimation,
complete mysteries. It is sometimes possible to guess at the possible nature, agenda
or personality of the “Provider”, but later experience eventually usually reveals that
our guesses are really only guesses. At times the Provider seems to be a sensitive
creator of great beauty, sometimes a war monger, and sometimes a cartoonist. Be
that as it may, we are stuck with it and we need to get by with it as best we can.
Another quality of psychedelic experience includes what might be conceptualized as
a natural pathway that leads toward deeper well being. The experience presents
positive states of being that are tempting to pursue. It is possible to enjoy the search
and the challenge of finding deeper areas of relaxation, peace, contentment,
optimism, constructive attitudes, and good feelings within oneself if he is willing to
resolve the tension issues that block them. It is intuitively clear that this pathway
also leads to better physical health. Prolonged residual stress can suck the energy
right out of the immune system. It can take quite a bit of diligent practice to calm
the anxiety produced by the stress of life combined with the emotional forces of the
survival instinct. Extremely calm states can be revealed by psychedelics and can
provide targets to work toward. No doubt the body is healthiest and happiest when
it is relaxed and contentedly “flowing” through the maze of daily life.
Understanding psychedelic experience is easier when a reasonable assumption is
made. The drugs seem to stimulate an independent part of the mind-brain that
could be called “intuitive”. An “inner second mind” starts to present itself more
intensely from a mysterious source somewhere in the mind-brain. Even though the
dictionary defines intuitive thought simply as understandings that have not been
made rational, I would like to add non-rational emotions and feelings in the body to
that definition since they all tend to flow to consciousness together during a
This flow of new material spontaneously from an unknown source can be a bit of a
surprise the first time it is experienced, but this material is generally both positive
and interesting and in general presents new and more vivid ways to look at the
world. Dr. Charles Savage, one of my mentors, described it as “turning up the gas
I find it reasonable to conceptualize that intuitive thought in its pure form is
invisible until it presents itself to the surface of consciousness where it can be
converted into some form of rational structure to the extent possible. This is a
normal process that takes place continuously, but it is far more vivid and visible in
psychedelic experience. Watching the invisible intuitive process automatically
taking on rational structure such as words, images, art, music or anything else that
can be presented to the physical world or to one’s own rational mind is what could
be considered to be the psychedelic experience itself. With this model, generalities
such as impressions and understandings emerge, some of which can be converted
easily into words and images immediately and some of which are very abstract and
require an abstract vocabulary or symbols for presentation. Both the religious and
the materialistic models for the high-dose very abstract psychedelic experience are
appropriate and will be discussed later.
I do not know the extent to which intuitive thought is exclusively “right brain
activity” and that rational thought is exclusively left brain activity, but if such is the
case then psychedelics definitely stimulate the right half of the brain. The
psychedelic experience could pertain to the flow of right brain activity through the
corpus callosum to the left side of the brain for rational interpretation. In addition,
we know that we can influence our feelings with our rational thoughts, so perhaps
the psychedelic experience also involves rational left-side material flowing through
the corpus callosum to the right side of the brain also. Perhaps ongoing research
will shed some light on this model. Another part of the model could be that the seat
of consciousness is located at the point where the rational processes and the
intuitive processes join. According to this model, it could be said that by getting a
proper dosage of a psychedelic drug, this back-and-fourth mental process through
the corpus callosum (or wherever) could be stimulated and optimized. I make the
rough guess that this would be the equivalent of about 75 micrograms of LSD or four
or five puffs on one of these new powerful marijuana cigarettes on the average. But
there are individual differences and other variables are involved. Fortunately, self-
experimentation in this particular area is not exactly unpleasant.
An interesting level of psychedelic stimulation is to find a dosage where rational
thought becomes strengthened and stimulated but not too high that intuitive
material becomes too distracting. If the stress hormones have been relaxed out of
existence, the mind becomes more like that of Data, the self-aware humanoid robot
in Startrek. Solid, crystal-clear rational thought is a pleasure. Interesting
discussions with others can take place on this level as well as the thinking through
of concrete ideas or problems. I like the model that some of the mental energy that
would normally go into intuitive thought gets rechanneled to assist rational thought.
One time I was enjoying a mild psychedelic experience, unbeknownst to a friend of
mine who came in to discuss problems that were on his mind. He described many
individual events regarding his relationship with one of his parents. My mind went
ahead and automatically divided all of these events into general clusters. As he
would talk I could watch the clusters and their associated symbols become more
clear and well formulated in my mind pretty much all by themselves. At appropriate
times I would describe one of the general clusters and sometimes even give
examples. One was that to the extent that both parties were struggling for
dominance, they were like two rams butting their heads. If one or the other took
one step backwards and walked away, there would be no more conflict in that
particular dimension and rationality could prevail. Even though my mind did the
work for someone else in this case, it provided a resolution that was found to work
in practice. This is quite typical of what can be done when the rational and intuitive
minds can work together. It also points out that some problems are very hard to
resolve on the abstract level of daily consciousness where individual events are seen
as very separate instead of as having similarities. Another point was that I was
thinking and speaking in terms of general abstractions while my friend was doing so
in terms of individual events, and he did not even notice the difference. At the same
time we understood and communicated with each other perfectly. So even though
the sometimes-called “mind-bending” psychedelic drugs were involved, the
conversation was entirely authentic and extremely useful. The “other worldliness”
of the psychedelic experience can to a large extent be described as “this worldliness”
seen from different levels of perspective.
Marijuana cigarettes (joints) are much more powerful these days, but I am guessing
that just a few puffs would be plenty for anyone. One advantage to smoking a joint
is that a person can put himself at the level that he chooses quite quickly. Edibles
react more slowly, but advantages are that there is no smoke to irritate the throat or
other people and no paraphernalia is necessary. Of course, sharing paraphernalia
can be a pleasant social nicety like pouring wine for guests.
One example of an intuitive thought would be the one that is fully formed in one’s
mind but for which the right words have not yet been found or that have been
forgotten. Such a thought is solid, real, and useful, it is being experienced, but it has
not yet been converted into something that can be communicated to oneself or to
others in words, pictures, music, or in any other symbolic way. It is there, but it is
invisible and has not yet manifested. Sometimes it is discovered that a particular
insight or understanding simply does not have exactly the right words to describe it,
such an impression of a work of art or a fine wine. In the low dose psychedelic
experience, these intuitive thoughts normally involve a flow of daily-life memories,
events, and perceptions and are quickly and automatically translated into rational
verbal thoughts. With higher doses, the intuitive thoughts become more sweeping
and abstract in nature and they can require a different vocabulary or skill to be
converted into something that can be communicated. We might be thinking in
terms of food in general rather than a single cheeseburger by itself. Composers,
authors, inventors, and artists of all kinds utilize these sorts of skills to bring
understandings of abstractions to light.
With a low dose, this material is almost always pleasant and fascinating but at first a
bit of a surprise. In extremely rare cases where a beginner takes an unexpectedly
high dose under poor circumstances, he might get seriously paranoid. Battling
against having his mind apparently being “taken over” by something powerful and
unknown can appear to him as an extreme vital threat. How to handle a paranoid
experience in oneself or in another person is one of the “cosmic” topics discussed
later and it is a good thing to know about just in case.
A high dose experience is extremely vivid. A well-seasoned traveller who came up
through the ranks with lower doses would know the territory sufficiently well and
could flow right into a high dose experience even if it came on by accident or by
surprise. I speak from experience. The saleslady at the medical marijuana
distribution center said that one brownie equaled one dose but it turned out that it
really equaled four doses. Talk about couchlock. Handling high doses is easier for a
person who knows what to expect beforehand, such as our patients did. Rational
understandings provide structure.
I did not see a single case of paranoia in any of my thoroughly prepared clients who
never had a prior psychedelic experience, but I gingerly explored that point of view
a few times myself when I was exploring the cosmic levels of psychedelic experience.
As drug intensity increases, the rational side of the mind will become more aware of
the intuitive side. At first it is not much different from talking to oneself or
experiencing an upwelling of ideas and feelings, but as intensity increases the “other
inner self” and its more intuitive nature becomes more distinct. An image that I like
to use to represent this level of experience is when the first astronaut and the first
cosmonaut met and shook hands in outer space. They teamed up for new adventure
in a strange new world. In other words, it could be compared to being awake and to
be dreaming at the same time.
With higher doses the spontaneous material flows to consciousness like an
upwelling fountain. It is definitely independent from that of the usual verbal rational
thought processes and the usual mental imagery. Rational verbal thought is still
present during a high dose session although it acts more as a surface observer than
as an interpreter. Although the intuitive material can take on a wide variety of
qualities, it is helpful to conceptualize that it simply emerges from a single hidden
inner source. An appropriate name for this hypothetical inner source could be the
“spontaneous thought generator” since it acts independently and at its own volition.
It could also be called the “intuitive thought generator”. It explains why creative
people sometimes say that they are only the messengers of what they produce. The
creative material appears in their minds all by itself. We have all experienced
sudden answers to problems, new understandings, or new ideas, proving that a part
of our mind can work and consolidate real-world information outside of our
awareness. Psychedelic drugs stimulate this process, at least the part where insights
automatically come to consciousness for conversion to some form of rational
From a broad cosmic perspective, the ego and the body could be conceptualized as
the vehicle through which creative ideas emerge into the outside world. The source
of the idea can be conceptualized on one level as the output of a super complex
electrochemical brain-machine and also at another level as something beyond the
machine itself and that is unknown and invisible. In the latter case, Dr. Grof uses the
analogy that a TV set does not originate programs but instead mediates information
coming from an outside source. Such “cosmic concepts” are interesting to work with.
In any case, new ideas and understandings come from somewhere and it is always a
pleasure to bring something new and positive into the world regardless of how its
source might be conceptualized. It is another example of putting into practice in the
field what has been learned in the classroom.
As intuitive material flows to consciousness, it can be “intuitively known”, “felt”, and
understood even when not rationalized at all. In the vernacular, we can “dig it” or
“grasp” it. We have all detected the “atmosphere” of certain situations, people, or
works of art without putting them into words. In addition, the intuitive mind and the
rational mind can work together, but one or the other can dominate from time to
time. The higher the dosage of a psychedelic drug, the more the intuitive mind tends
to dominate. A these levels the rational mind can remain as an observer and more
or less just “watch” but still “feel” the intuitive material as it flows by. Even this can
be a satisfying and relaxing experience although it is necessary to sacrifice the
desire to rationalize or to understand it at the moment. It feels as though
explorations, resolutions, and understandings are taking place in a “feeling” world,
or in a world of impressions, rather than in a rational world. When a flow of new
impressions is taking place, it feels like one is on a mental journey, hence the word
“trip” being used in the vernacular to describe portions of a psychedelic session.
Trips can also take place with real-world, fantasy-world, or symbolic imagery.
With more moderate doses, the spontaneous thought generator acts much like our
usual rational mind in that it often creates a high percentage of verbal thoughts.
However, the thought process it provides is more distinct and incisive. Thoughts
are slower and more to the point. I am guessing that this is because each thought is
a broader cluster of information than normal daily thought and therefore it takes a
little longer to formulate. This alone can be a satisfying vacation from the “mad
monkey” that normally generates our thought processes (at least mine). A clear,
distinct, conflict-free and emotion-free verbal thought process can be a real pleasure.
I like to associate this mode of thought with the symbol of an emerald city. Deep
relaxation must be maintained in order to subdue any stress hormones that would
otherwise lead to mental tensions and conflict. It becomes possible to rationally
contemplate any chosen earthly or philosophical topics while at the same time being
open to contributions from the spontaneous thought generator. The scarecrow
finds his brain. He takes it back to Kansas. He cultivates it in neuroplastic space.
Discovering this mode of thought indicates that psychedelics can stimulate clear
rational thought as well as irrational intuitive thought. No doubt an MRI machine
would show that different parts of the brain are active with each mode of thought.
The spontaneous thought generator seems to have a much better memory of the
past than the rational mind, and it can cluster similar thoughts, feelings, impressions,
attitudes, etc. into single broader and more abstract entities. My primary mentor,
doctor Stanislav Grof, refers to these clusters as COEX, or “condensed experience”
systems. These “larger perspectives” can be very useful. For one thing, they will
stimulate a flow of new insights due to the new perspective and they can provide
the opportunity to resolve tension issues on both the rational and intuitive levels of
thought at the same time. Dr. Grof, being a psychiatrist, tended to focus upon and
explore the COEX systems that were tension issues in his patients. I will be adding
to this and placing some emphasis on some of the extremely positive COEX systems
that can also be experienced and brought back to daily life.
In normal daily consciousness, a person might have very mixed and opposing
feelings toward another person in his life. With expanded consciousness he might
find a resolution to the feelings on the intuitive level. A tempestuous love-hate
relationship with another person, for instance, might be resolved by intuitively
discovering a more mature, civil, objective, and congenial self-image involving a new
and more productive overall attitude. This entire new attitude could emerge as a
single insight during a psychedelic experience. A person could see himself
automatically behaving in a whole new way. While the intuitive mind might have
discovered the new possible attitude, its implementation would require the help of
the rational mind interacting with the outside world. This could amount to a
satisfying refinement of one’s personal growth and his comportment in his
relationship with the outside world. No energy is lost; it is instead channeled toward
something more refined, productive, liberating, and satisfying.
An interesting aspect of this process is that over time the “inner teacher” can
become a more distinct mental reality. In this manner one gets used to relating to
the intuitive and abstract side of his mind. This mental skill can also be
remembered and experienced in daily life. In Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse,
Siddhartha became skilled at “inner listening”. In this case, insights come to be
considered as golden nuggets of the thought process rather than as vague trivialities.
The hypothetical spontaneous thought generator may or may not correlate with
activity in specific regions of the brain, but it is very clear that spontaneous mental
material does indeed flow out from some inner source or sources when moderate or
high doses of psychedelic drugs are taken. Perhaps the different qualities of
spontaneous thought such as visual imagery, enhanced perception, impressions,
broader perspectives, creativity, feelings in the body, insights, etc. come from
different areas of the brain, but to the user it seems to all come from a single inner
source. Whatever this secondary source of mental information might be called, or
however it might be conceptualized, it definitely becomes a reality when
psychedelic drugs are used. I usually prefer to regard it as essentially a stimulation
of the normal intuitive functions of the mind-brain, but sometimes a more
appropriate definition would seem to be something more like that of an inner
creative spirit. It is always possible that spirit provides all of our experience.
The insights produced by the spontaneous thought generator seem to be
integrations of greater-than-normal ranges of memory data that in turn produce
concepts at more general levels of abstraction. “Bigger pictures” are produced that
extend the depth of understanding of various topics. This process is similar to
creativity in that something new is produced from material that is already known.
For instance, once enough knowledge is gathered regarding another person’s
behavior, an intuitive insight might reveal an underlying general motivation or need
or intention experienced by that person. The ability to recognize such broad but
subtle patterns is magnified with psychedelic drugs.
When any new insight or understanding pops to mind, it is interesting to realize that
the part of the brain that composed it is smarter and more creative than is our
regular rational mind. In addition, it obviously processes real-world information
and real memories. It knows what we know and on occasion puts things together
and extends them in ways that we would normally never have even thought of. In
this way it is creative. It has the advantage of the sensitivity of intuition. It can “feel”
the world as well as to “sense” it with the five senses. New insights and
understandings are almost never unrealistic or useless. In fact, new insights can
almost always serve to our benefit. They extend the scope of our understanding and
they help us to deal with our world a little bit more effectively. This in turn suggests
that the spontaneous thought generator is a built-in mental ally that is motivated to
contribute to our survival and well-being.
One day recently I was working on a difficult and frustrating problem trying to fix a
piece of mechanical equipment. I finally gave up and was ready to hire an expert.
During the rest of the day I had a series of “flash insights” regarding what the
underlying problem might be as well as possible procedures regarding how to fix it.
This was all in normal daily consciousness. The last insight was a sequence of
perfectly reasonable troubleshooting and repair steps to try. They turned out to be
right on target and I ended up quickly and easily fixing the equipment. No doubt
everyone has had experiences of this nature. This indicates that not only can the
spontaneous thought generator work on real-world issues completely outside of
awareness, but that it can work on strictly mechanical issues as well as intuitive-
feeling-impression types of issues.
When a new insight pops to mind, it is usually possible to backtrack the logic that
composed it although not always completely all at first. It would probably be to our
advantage to learn to recognize and evaluate such new insights and not to toss them
aside too quickly simply because they were not the result of our rational thought. A
“gut feel” is not necessarily wrong. No doubt intuition is quite accurate many times,
and perhaps this is true because it is sensitive to non-rational aspects of existence
such as subtle impressions, feeling-level involvements, subtle additional perceptions,
and meaningful connections between events. When logically backtracking an
insight it sometimes becomes clear that the spontaneous thought generator is not
only smart but it also has an excellent memory. It can remember what was said,
inflections of tone of voice, looks in people’s eyes, circumstances, etc., from long ago.
Stimulating this function of the mind is certainly an example of what could be called
I suspect that one of the reasons why psychedelics have a somewhat controversial
reputation is because some people consider “alien” material coming to mind from
inside the mind itself could possibly be scary and dangerous. Strange thoughts,
images, and feelings coming from an unknown inner source could seem threatening,
but when they are found to almost always be pleasant, realistic, useful, and
interesting, concern falls away. Bad trips are a fairly uncommon possibility, but they
are usually of fairly low intensity possibly because psychedelics tend to be mildly
euphoric and because “bigger pictures” and broader perspectives of daily life
situations usually provide the opportunity for conflict resolution. In addition,
meditating on these negative areas can often bring about significant personal
understandings and resolutions at deeper intuitive levels. In this respect
psychedelic drugs can be used as a journey of “self psychotherapy”, deeper personal
understanding, and personal growth. This will be elaborated upon later. It is
possible to get very familiar with the nature of the ‘alien” material that comes to
mind and to even interact with it and use it freely. A person finds that he can trust
and respect this aspect of his inner being.
Antisocial or unacceptable repressed impulses are almost never acted out with
psychedelics because any heavy work that needs to be done can be done even better
on the inside. A mental Godzilla can crush cities and shoot fire out of his mouth. I
have seen little more than only slightly inappropriate behavior now and then
presented by my 200-plus high-dose clients.
I am guessing that there is another factor that influences a person’s attitude toward
psychedelics. I knew one person personally who was very hesitant to try marijuana
but whose curiosity finally got the better of him. The self-revelation that
immediately started taking place was not at all positive. He saw some things about
himself that he did not like at all. Fortunately he intuitively knew that he should see
them through, which he did. Then the experience released him to see more positive
things. I am guessing that people who have skeletons in their closets will tend to be
wary of psychedelics. However, psychedelics can help a person to do the inner work
that is necessary to help these skeletons to rest in peace. In doing so these people
could possibly release themselves from underlying tensions that might otherwise be
difficult to resolve on the more restricted daily-life level of abstraction.
I have seen only one episode of significant aftermath after taking a high dose (500
micrograms) of LSD, but this lady was a patient in a mental hospital who had a
history of similar episodes prior to her LSD experience.
I don’t know if it was overconfidence, naiveté, or sensitive intuition, but back in the
early days I let a client bring his bayonet with him to keep under his pillow during
his high-dose LSD session. At the time I did not consider the idea to be the least bit
threatening and I agreed to it without hesitation. Later, in his deep LSD experience,
he brought it out, examined it, and handed it to me saying: “I don’t need this any
more”. I said “Good. Now you can relax”. I am sure that this experience stayed with
him and that it helped him a lot.
In one way, the Freudian concept of the subconscious mind had an unfortunate
consequence. Although it might be a useful concept for certain psychiatric
therapeutic processes, the average citizen came to consider his inner mind as being
filled with evil and dangerous material that had to be repressed in order for a
civilized society to survive at all. Anyone will certainly get desperate when
threatened enough, but people are not threatened and desperate all of the time.
Freud postulated that the mind seeks equilibrium and that discharges of energy are
sometimes necessary in order to move toward it. In psychedelic experience, these
discharges are entirely “inner” and are acted out only in tensions and emotions in
the body. The drama is in the inner world and not the outer. They are typically
very satisfying experiences much like the discharges of pent-up energy.
I believe that an offshoot of this consequence is that the word “irrational”, a word
often used in a derogatory or pejorative sense by the psychiatric community, was
sometimes applied to intuitive experience. Intuitive experience is indeed often
irrational, but that does not make it all bad. It includes all of the good feelings,
attitudes, and the not-yet-rationalized insights and understandings also.
It is unfortunate that so many people should have such a negative a self-image.
Spending one’s life thinking that he is constantly repressing his evil nature is not
exactly the path to enlightenment. Psychedelic drugs reveal that there is much more
to the subconscious mind, if that is what one chooses to call it. Much of it is
extremely pleasurable, interesting, useful, and definitely sociable. Because of
psychedelics, perhaps one day there will be a general consensus that people are
basically good inside instead of being walking time bombs. In my experience, I have
never even once seen a display of outwardly directed aggression fueled by
psychedelics either in formal or informal situations. I had a girlfriend once who
used psychedelics and alcohol together, and she could get a little feisty at times.
Maybe it was my fault.
The rational mind has varying degrees of choice in the general direction that the
spontaneous flow of experience should take, depending essentially on dosage. With
low doses, heightened perception and expanded consciousness can enhance
activities such as the enjoyment of the arts, learning, recreation, socializing,
satisfying work, problem solving, and general pastimes. It can also be used to calmly
contemplate specific topics in a more concentrated and penetrating manner.
“Penetrating” could be considered as a stimulation and extension of the process of
mental associations. The rational mind has a greater reach of appropriate material
and memories to work with. The spontaneous thought generator can often stay on
topic and provide material that would not otherwise come to light without the
psychedelic stimulation. The rational mind working with the spontaneous thought
generator can be a very satisfying and creative relationship. The astronaut and the
cosmonaut can journey through expanded space together.
With higher doses, the experience starts to pretty much run itself while the rational
mind stands by, observes, and rationalizes it to the extent possible or desired. The
intuitive material has a distinct and obvious quality and it flows to consciousness at
a rather steady pace. This is a good time to have a little hand-held voice recorder
handy in case useful insights should pop up to mind. A musician might like to also
have his instrument and a recorder nearby so that his intuitive experience could be
converted to music and remembered. The artists that I have talked to seem to have
a problem. A single brush stroke can become so rich and captivating that they might
neglect to keep on painting. They have to wait until the experience loses intensity to
finish their work.
Lady Gaga admitted freely on television that she uses marijuana when she writes
her music, and Willie Nelson’s relationship to marijuana is well known. This would
indicate that psychedelics do indeed stimulate real and useful creative material and
also that they are indeed becoming more and more a part of our mainstream culture.
I am guessing from my own experience that as more and more inner emotional-
hormonal tensions are resolved, the hormone-emotion system of the body becomes
more refined and can react more fully with music. It seems to get richer and richer.
Somehow it infiltrates and blends with the intuitive side of the mind-brain system
more and more completely. It seems to “drive” many different emotional-intuitive
feelings throughout the body. What amazes me is how immediately the emotional
reactions in the body follow the music. It is like a mental musician is in the group
playing a keyboard that emits different instantly-acting combinations of emotion
hormones into my mind-brain. The mood of the music and the mood of the body
seem to play together perfectly. There is no lag waiting for the hormones to take
effect. In addition, it is possible to influence the hormone combinations with the will
power. Poetically speaking, it is like being able to choose the color of the river of
energy to follow while knowing that the yellow one leads to crystal-clear rational
thought in the Emerald Palace while the Orange one leads to melting into sunsets in
Hawaii. These are tough decisions, but if left alone they will make themselves. We
can trust our deeper self to seek the greatest pleasure, and we can always come back
later. Besides, each river leads to greater mental and physical health so it does not
One of the drawbacks to psychedelic drugs at this time is the fact that the experience
has such considerable range and that it is somewhat unpredictable in nature. It
would be nice to someday also have psychedelic drugs that stimulated experiences
with more specific ranges. Another drawback, at least with psychedelics taken
orally, is that the experience lasts for several hours. It would be nice to have
shorter-acting oral psychedelics. DMT is shorter acting, but it must be injected.
Since the low dose, medium dose, and high dose experiences are so different, they
will be examined separately. In general, the low dose experience deals with
everyday life realities, the medium dose with creative experiences, and the high
dose with the cosmic and religious “existential” concepts. Of course, there is overlap
between them, there are many gradations, and there are individual differences. At
all levels it is noticed that concepts can become more vivid and “lived” more deeply.
Exploring old and new concepts on a vivid level is an interesting journey.
The low dose experience
When the drug first starts taking effect, or when a low dose is taken, individual
thoughts become more distinct and vivid. The “mad monkey” of a chattering mind
becomes more incisive and actually a bit more “profound”. I am guessing that this
is because a stimulated mind generates more data and that it takes more time to
create the broader levels of abstraction that are necessary in order to encompass
The body typically relaxes, and one starts to experience what could be called an
“artistic” relationship with the outside world. Speaking poetically, it is something
like walking into an extremely realistic and very vivid three-dimensional painting
and “feeling” one’s surroundings “through the skin” as well as being aware of them
with the five senses. This “feeling” could be called “intuitive awareness”. With
initial experiences, the analogy of walking into a painting is appropriate in another
sense; it is also a little like walking into another reality. It could be compared to
walking from Kansas into Oz where the colors are much brighter. It could also be
compared to seeing the world from the IMAX level instead of from the small-screen
level. The best approach to it is to relax, explore it, and enjoy it while it lasts. With
additional experiences, the territory in the new state of being becomes completely
The low dose would probably be considered by most users as being a safe and
satisfying stimulant that could be used essentially for recreational purposes.
Reference can be made to rock concerts. As Aldous Huxley put it, psychedelics clear
the windows of perception. The world becomes more vivid, fascinating, and
significant. In addition, the intuitive side of the mind is stimulated so that music and
art take on more richness, vividness, and meaning. Perhaps this is because they are
closer to being intuitive in nature and they resonate more strongly with the
stimulated intuitive process in the brain. Rational thought, judgment, and motor
control are not appreciably affected, but time does seem to slow down somewhat. It
seems to take longer to get something done or to get somewhere. Of course, when
one is relaxed there is no hurry. Apparently Huxley made the discovery early in his
explorations that the high-dose psychedelic experience can be moved from a strictly
inner experience out to the relationship with the outside world. I am guessing that
most people would need more experience in order to make this transition. Perhaps
Huxley had few internal tension issues to begin with.
There is considerable controversy on the Internet regarding marijuana-related
automobile accidents, possibly because it is not always easy to establish direct
cause-effect relationships. Even a very impaired driver can be involved in an
accident through no fault of his own. However, tests with driving simulators show
that users of marijuana tend to drive more slowly and carefully, perhaps in part
because there are no feelings of invulnerability, grandiosity, or recklessness, as is
often the case with too much alcohol. I have no data to confirm this, but I am
guessing that the fact that time seems to slow down would affect the ability to solve
the time-distance problems that constantly come up while driving. In addition,
since new material tends to constantly flow to mind, it would be harder to
concentrate on the task at hand. Accidents would probably be the result of driving
too slowly or being in the wrong location at the wrong time and not to speed,
recklessness, or poor motor control.
I am not entirely sure of this observation, but I think that with more and more
psychedelic experience the actual experience itself tends to manifest more and more
on the boundary between the body and the outside world. It becomes easier to
carry out complex tasks without being distracted by inner thoughts. I am guessing
that this might be the case because more and more of the internal tension issues
have been resolved. As the mind and the thought process become increasingly clear,
it becomes easier to rest the attention onto the outside world. The “gas jet” is still
turned up, but not so much in the area of mental activity. Instead, the gas jet makes
the outside world more vivid. Relaxation and smooth flow in relation to a vivid
outside world becomes more prevalent. This is a good time for art galleries and
musical concerts. Huxley’s “Doors of Perception” describes the artistic and creative
aspects of this type of experience. This state of being can carry over very nicely into
normal daily life and can be practiced there assuming that intent is present.
The experience tends to be mildly euphoric. Unlike with anything more than a low
dose of alcohol, where the user tends to become expansive, extroverted, reckless,
and to lose motor control, the user of a psychedelic tends to become more calm,
centered, and slower and more precise in his movements. Even with a very high
dose of a psychedelic it is possible to walk around without even a hint of clumsiness.
Statistics are showing that aggression, violence, and hospital admissions are far less
frequent with users of marijuana than they are with the users of alcohol. There is no
physical damage whatsoever. Since psychedelic drugs are not addicting and there is
no desperate physical need for them, crimes related to their acquisition should be
far less likely. People would gravitate to their use solely because they are
interesting, pleasurable, and even therapeutic and not to satisfy any physical craving.
Criminal activity with psychedelics deals with illegal production, distribution,
possession, and sales and not with the nature of the experience itself.
Perhaps someday there will be a survey to see the extent to which people will
gravitate consistently to alcohol or psychedelics. If there is consistency, there may
be observable personality differences between the two groups. My own guess is
that people who gravitate toward the “liberal” point of view would also gravitate
toward psychedelics while the people who gravitate toward the “conservative”
point of view would gravitate toward alcohol. Perhaps there is a normal curve
distribution where most people will gravitate toward average in both the choice of
stimulents and political leanings.
Even with a low dose, and interesting process can start to take place. One can start
to find himself involved in a dialog with his “inner voice”. Carl Jung referred to the
fact that the brain is so powerful that it can conceptualize an “autonomous complex”
where a portion of the mind can seem to take on a seemingly separate personality of
its own. We do this every day when we ask ourselves a question and an answer
appears, but the process becomes more vivid and fascinating with the stimulation of
a psychedelic drug.
Within the right dosage range, it can be very interesting to hold an inner dialog with
the spontaneous thought generator during periods of meditation. Sometimes it will
answer questions asked of it and sometimes it will provide fully fleshed out rational
or intuitive concepts out of the blue. Sometimes it will suggest a provocative line of
In any case, the spontaneous thought generator is just as interested in our survival
and well-being as we are up here on the rational level, so it can act as something like
a smart silent inner ally. Mine has yet to give me any unrealistic advice. I am
guessing that when someone’s spontaneous thought generator sounds like God
telling him to kill someone that an intense and serious emotional issue is involved.
Raging hormones and even light ones can totally overwhelm rationality, while a
relaxed mind in a relaxed body can think laser-like clear rational thoughts. This is
another benefit to relaxation practice.
The Moderate Dose Experience. With a moderate dose, the recliner or the couch will
probably be calling at least part of the time. The moderate dose is good for
meditation, relaxation, and creativity. Also, the moderate dose can be used to get
more deeply involved in any intellectual, manual, or artistic activity. In the
vernacular, it is possible to get “hung up” on something. Of course, one is free to
move between activities as he wishes. Sometimes the spontaneous thought
generator will choose an activity that the rational mind can accept or reject and vice
For the sake of comparison, the moderate dose is defined here in about the same
way that it is by medical marijuana distributors. A few puffs on a marijuana
cigarette might provide a low dose experience, but a single dose provided by a
medical marijuana distributor as an edible, a capsule, a candy, or a tincture might be
enough qualify as a moderate dose, at least during the time surrounding the peak
intensity of the experience. Of course, there are individual differences. The different
cannabis edibles have differing strengths and provide slightly different experiences,
and the time since the last meal makes a difference. The cigarette takes effect
almost immediately, but some would consider it somewhat messy and offensive.
Edibles take somewhere near an hour to take full effect, but they are not messy at all
and they don’t bother anyone else.
A convenient demarcation for the moderate dose experience would be where the
“aperture” to the inner world opens. Some have called this the opening of the “third
eye”. It is at this point where the intuitive mental material clearly flows on its own
volition from the spontaneous thought generator to consciousness. New ideas,
insights, and creative material flow up all by themselves.
Although motor control is little affected if at all at this or even higher dosages, the
mind is constantly being distracted by the continual emergence of vivid and
interesting inner experience. For this reason it would be unwise to try to do
anything important or risky that required sustained attention to the outside world
such as driving a car.
The material that emerges to mind could be called intuitive, creative, and artistic
which is why these drugs are sometimes used by musicians, artists, authors, and
other types of creative people. Some call it a stimulation of “right brain” activity.
This type of experience could be called deep meditation, the difference being that
when one relaxes in the psychedelic experience the mental material can flow
entirely on its own rather than being directed or coerced by the rational mind. If so
desired, it is possible to indulge entirely in the intuitive side of the experience
without making any effort to think, evaluate, or to direct its flow. The experience
can become a combination of a magic carpet and a recliner.
Perfect relaxation is one of the ecstatic experiences that can sometimes occur with
the help of a psychedelic drug. Sometimes it occurs spontaneously and sometimes it
can be encouraged by an act of will. Perfect relaxation is even more luxurious than a
massage or a soak in a hot tub. A beach on Tahiti or being stroked with an angora
mitten are not by themselves sufficient in order to reach this depth of relaxation.
My mentor, Dr. Stanislav Grof, refers to this experience as the “melted ecstasy”. Dr.
Grof’s extensive contributions to psychiatry, transpersonal psychology, and
expanded consciousness are presented on his web page (stanislavgrof.com). Once a
person has discovered the melted ecstasy or any deep level of relaxation even once,
he will tend to practice relaxation in his daily life. A mind at peace in a relaxed body
is a very pleasant and healthy state of being. Physical relaxation of the body
dissolves stress, and extremely deep relaxation is one form of ecstasy that can be
cultivated in daily life even without drugs. Deep enough relaxation promotes the
release of the bliss hormones. Practicing to remain relaxed and serene in intense
daily-life situations can become a healthy quest in one’s lifestyle. If a person uses
other drugs to relax, the need for them would certainly diminish to the extent that
he could learn to relax at will. One can develop “grace under fire”. The body itself
can become a mobile luxury spot.
An interesting quest with psychedelics and otherwise is to explore and resolve the
various inner emotional, psychological, and philosophical tensions that block the
path to deep relaxation. Once the goal of deep relaxation and peace of mind has
been experienced at least once, the tension issues that act as blocks to it become
more obvious and thus easier to identify, work on, and resolve. Mild psychedelic
experience is an excellent stimulant for this process. Tension issues are a
combination of rational and intuitive thought, and having a strong flow of intuitive
thought available makes it quicker, easier, and more interesting to resolve them. A
time can come where the tension issues regarding the inner world, the outer world,
and the relationship between the two blend into a calm interesting drama that takes
place within a mental background of tranquility. Tranquility and rationality blend
together very nicely because the thoughts are free of emotional loading. Rationality
promotes an efficient and effective relationship with the world while emotions can
distort it. Of course, all distortions are not unpleasant.
Dr. Grof refers to these “tension blocks” as COEX (condensed experience) systems
and describes them as clusters of similar feelings and memories gathered from
different levels of abstraction extending from the everyday to the cosmic. As
described later, the levels of abstraction are important because some tension issues
exist at levels broader than everyday thought. As Jung suggested, mental tensions
can have their roots in the very abstract religious areas of consciousness. These
COEX systems can become much more obvious and concrete with psychedelic
stimulation, providing a good opportunity to explore them, experience them, and
hopefully to resolve any that contribute to problems. As will be discussed, their
philosophical component can be resolved by discovering broader points of view to
encompass them and their emotional component can be resolved by working
through and becoming familiar with and accustomed to the associated feelings.
The tensions issues are not all negative. There can be topics that are made up of
clusters of positive memories, creative endeavors, feelings, and points of view
reaching far back into time. These are not usually considered to be problems.
Cosmic and religious concepts, described later, can also cluster into positive
experiences, some of which could be called “exalted” in nature. Creativity is a
tension, but it is certainly not unpleasant except when you have to get up in the
middle of the night to write down an insight. Each of these COEX systems has a
specific theme. The “glue” that holds their items together is a combination of a
particular feeling, an attitude, and a meaningful topic. For the sake of a model, I
suggest that it is the intuitive aspect of the spontaneous thought generator that
condenses these clusters together since it seems to follow a similar process when it
silently condenses together the clusters of life experience that result in the insights
that it sometimes presents to consciousness in daily life. Without this clustering
process, our memory banks would be more like a random mosaic of items, so the
spontaneous thought generator is an essential mental machine in this regard.
Without it, we might have a great deal of trouble structuring our world. An
interesting question would be whether hyperactive children, who are “all over the
map” in their thoughts and behavior, might be able to learn to be more focused and
structured with psychedelic therapy.
Exploring a COEX system can be a very interesting process of experiencing a
sequence of similar memories, insights, feelings, and points of view as they
automatically emerge into consciousness. Not only does it have a dramatic
component, much as do movies and books, it all is also strictly personal material. To
each of us, there is nothing more interesting than ourselves.
A significant advantage to the psychedelic experience is that “self therapy” or “self
improvement” or “personal growth” is possible. One needs only to stretch out on a
recliner, focus on the theme of an emerging COEX system, and then to become
immersed in that system to the extent desired and to analyze it to the extent desired.
Not only will the spontaneous thought generator tend to produce the data making
up a COEX system, it will make clear the ways to resolve any tensions found within it.
This process can sometimes take place very quickly, such as a “flash understanding”,
or a “revelation” or it can be worked on over a longer period of time both during and
between psychedelic sessions if so desired.
There is a large range of creative and emotional experiences and viewpoints to be
discovered that are entirely pleasant. These are the ones that can bring meaning to
life. Exploring them can even provide suggestions regarding possible new lifestyles
and attitudes to practice. Just one of these could be the discovery and the practice
of the skill set that helps to make a person an amiable companion and a skillful
diplomat, thus smoothing the pathway through the maze of the social life. Picturing
such a person in his wholeness and in detail is possible in psychedelic experience; it
seems to be a preprogrammed COEX system within itself with many appropriate
attributes. Another could be a basic childlike curiosity toward the world that
reveals opportunities to explore new and meaningful activities such as in the social,
educational, recreational, vocational, or athletic areas of life. The bottom line is that
a psychedelic session can elevate a person out of a lifestyle that has become
If marijuana or some other mild psychedelic drugs do indeed become more common
in our culture, I predict that “holistic” relaxation will gradually attain more emphasis
as a method of healing. Aspirin might bring about almost immediate relief to a
headache, while holistic relaxation would bring about a gradual and very gratifying
strengthening of the entire mind-body system. With too much stress for too long a
period of time, the immune system can be sucked dry of its energy and all kinds of
symptoms can start to appear. With less stress, the immune system can move
toward maximum effectiveness.
Even with a moderate dose of a psychedelic drug it is sometimes possible to relax so
deeply that the body can be partially forgotten and there can be a total immersion
into the inner world. Different forms of visual imagery can come and go.
Sometimes it is realistic imagery, such as floating down a gentle river in a gondola
filled with luxurious pillows while inside a new body, or to float as a disembodied
mind through beautiful scenery such as the Grand Canyon. The visual imagery is
usually appropriate to the general feelings in the body, which in turn are generally
quite positive. Sometimes the visual imagery is a light show of complex moving
colors and patterns. This light show will move and “dance” precisely with any music
that is playing (synesthesia). The emotions will follow the music also, and with
heightened perception and stimulated intuition it can seem as though the entire
nervous system can resonate with the vibrations of the music.
At this level of stimulation, the rational mind can still focus on such interesting areas
such as inner exploration, problem solving, and creativity if so desired. In my
humble experience, this particular level of stimulation with the moderate-dose
experience is one of the great pleasures and benefits that psychedelics has to offer.
It is the best of both the rational and the intuitive worlds joined together.
A variety of “bad trips”, although somewhat rare and usually of low intensity, are
always a possibility. There is plenty of negativity in both the human drama and
one’s personal life drama, so they can’t always be avoided altogether. No doubt each
of us has the potential to feel the entire range of human emotions, our imagination is
limitless, and we have essentially the same basic brain structures. Putting these
facts together, if follows that just about any human situation could be experienced
during a psychedelic session.
The “Psychedelic Death” experience
I once had a very vivid trip that started out bad but ended up extremely good. I
found myself strongly identifying with a woman wandering lost in a snowstorm
while carrying her baby who had already died of the cold. I knew that I was also
close to death, but I felt that at least I still had my faith in God and heaven. I closed
my eyes to surrender to death, but all I saw inside my mind was a meaningless and
preposterous cartoonland. My life had been a wasted farce. The dark, still, painless
emptiness of approaching death was the only relief in sight. When the “psychedelic
death” washed over me, my body let go and became profoundly relaxed. Death is the
ultimate act of “letting go” or “surrender”. The extremely deep relaxation resulted
in a cascade of bliss hormones, making death seem like an extremely positive
experience. Oddly enough, death seemed like the safest and the purest place in the
universe. Any and all feelings resulting from the survival instinct were no longer
appropriate. There were no earthly needs or cares there. Having a concept of death
of this nature, even if it is nothing more than a fantasy or a cosmic assumption,
makes a big difference. Since existence is a mystery, and since we already live
entirely in our minds even here on Earth, death could simply be our same mind
filled with a different state of being.
In the days to follow, I noticed that my “life of quiet desperation” that Thoreau spoke
about brightened considerably. The positive cosmic assumption regarding the
nature of death reduced my anxiety with respect to the survival instinct even though
I knew it was only an assumption. Since so many earthly activities involve survival
struggles in one form or another, the new outlook was quite pervasive.
My previous concept of death was one of dead bodies moldering underground in
scary cemeteries at night and was very morbid and gruesome. The new one of a
disembodied mind suspended in a domain of luxurious bliss and purity is
considerably better. This is another example of how a cosmic concept can reduce
tension in everyday life. Since death is such a significant and pervasive reality in our
existence, a more positive concept toward it can streamline the flow of energy
through much of our mental domain of cosmic concepts.
Even now, when some bossy person tries to tell me that I should not eat (such-and-
such) because it has (long chemical name) in it, my automatic response is: “I don’t
care if I die”. As a matter of fact, I keep myself in top health because I am a pleasure-
seeking animal and I like to feel as good as I can as much of the time as I can. I also
like to cut bossy know-it-all people off at the pockets, so it is a win-win situation.
I am quite sure that if a person with a terminal illness could experience the
“psychedelic death”, his anxiety level associated with his survival instinct would be
reduced considerably. Perhaps someday drugs will be discovered or synthesized
that would reliably provide the same specific sort of experience or one like it. Not
only would such an experience reduce the anxiety of a dying person, it would also be
of benefit to the feelings of his friends and family. The concept of “going to a better
place” would become more vivid and believable.
Our here-and-now immediate existence is entirely subjective. Maybe there are no
different dimensions of reality or different levels of being or parallel universes but
only different domains of consciousness. We live in our minds, the source of mental
material could be spirit, and it would seem that spiritual realities could be more
varied and flexible compared to the restrictions of natural laws that we experience
here on this gross material level. Perhaps the level that we live in now is the only
one with all of the pesky restrictions of natural laws including the forces of creation
and destruction. Maybe there are levels of existence where intelligent energy
processes, such as our own, can endlessly transform and combine in luxurious and
Why it was that I should have had an experience of this nature that was so out of
keeping with my actual comparatively fortunate life and as a male is a mystery. To
give it some structure I assumed that perhaps reincarnation was a possibility or that
perhaps my inner teacher wanted to teach me specific lessons about certain aspects
of life and death. In any case, I certainly learned a lot from it even thought the first
part of it was a “bad trip”.
A well-practiced person can remember and re-experience the contented state in
normal daily consciousness to varying degrees of depth while sitting in a chair or
while standing in line. Contentment can be cultivated into a “home base”
experience and a temporary escape from the turbulence and trivia of daily life while
still perceiving it with “direct consciousness”. One can become the stationary axle
to the turning wheel of destiny. The mind can become a domain of near-perfect
peace and clear thought while the body is suspended in relaxed luxurious bliss.
Besides the profound pleasure associated with this experience, it is probably the
healthiest of all because there is no stress anywhere generating toxins into the
Since all of the cosmic concepts are assumptions, we might as well choose the
positive ones and hope and have faith that they are true to the extent that choice is
possible. Choosing the negative ones and being afraid that they are true would
unnecessarily decrease the quality of daily life. Choosing the positive concepts
could also be called “getting right with God”.
String theory states that atomic particles are made up of much smaller energy
packets. These strings can vibrate at different frequencies thereby generating
different physical realities. This theory is based strictly on mathematics and
proving it in the material world is not going to be exactly easy. It is a materialistic
interpretation of the same underlying concept of the existence of different levels of
being. Different levels of being could be different sources for the contents of
consciousness. Esoteric cosmic concepts are not the exclusive domain of the
Another esoteric concept along these lines could be that since the mind, the body,
and the outside world are so obviously different and distinct levels of reality,
perhaps they are really energy processes taking place in parallel universes while at
the same time interacting with each other in such a way as to produce our moment-
by-moment experience in this universe. This concept would also be a little hard to
Digressing for a moment, an interesting point of view that is sometimes possible to
experience is to avoid making any cosmic assumptions whatsoever and to
absolutely “just be”. This point of view is like watching the human drama and the
rest of existence flow by without making any assumptions or having any attitudes
toward it whatsoever, positive or negative. This point of view is exemplified in
Hermann Hesses’ Siddhartha where the enlightened Siddhartha sits by a river
motionless, peaceful, and detached while watching images of history flowing by in
the water; the good, the bad, the ugly, and the trivial. Watching the river of life flow
by without comment is a conceptual ideal on a similar level to that of facing the
worse that could possibly happen in this world with perfect tranquility. They are
both very broad abstractions and high ideals considering the nature of our existence.
As a Winston Churchill impersonator calmly said to a person about to shoot him in
an old movie: “Well, get it over with”.
The only science I know of dealing with neuroplastic space has to do with the MRI
testing of monks who meditated on compassion for the suffering in the human
drama, but I know that a lot more has been done lately. Specific areas of their brains
became gradually activated. I am quite sure that various positive abstractions can
be purposefully cultivated in neuroplastic space, perhaps in different areas of the
brain. A simplified point of view would be to say that it is the cultivation of good
mental habits. Perhaps the process is similar to that of stroke victims who find new
neural pathways in their brains in order to recover their functioning.
Another interesting existential point of view is that the apparent flow of history is
really only the continuous rearrangement of the same atoms that make up the
current immediate moment. Everything is atoms: us, our environment, and even the
air that we breathe. We are part of and at one with an extremely complex and
frictionless huge atomic machine. The future does not have to be conceptualized as
flowing toward us, becoming the here and now, and then fading into the past.
Existence could also be considered as the mysterious invisible hand of causation
continually rearranging the atoms that make up the immediate moment, which is
the only true reality.
Why it is that the Potter sculpts the clay of creation the way that He does reflects the
cosmic mystery of causation. There are many assumptions regarding why things
happen the way that they do, all improvable except for the reliability of natural laws
and clear-cut cause-effect relationships. Even our apparent free will is assumedly a
flow of atoms in our brains, and if we have any control over the flow of atoms in our
brains it is at a very abstract level. The changing configurations of the atoms in the
immediate moment are apparently limited by the constraints of natural law, a fact
that brings considerable structure to existence. Without natural law, the universe
would be a chaotic cluster of neutral atoms. Natural laws give the Potter something
solid to work with. Without them, organizing chaotic neutral atoms would be like
stacking marbles. Maybe free will also gets into the mix somehow.
Even if the Higgs boson particle is discovered at the Large Hadron Collider, or if dark
energy is ever understood, or if it could be understood how a faster-than-light
particle could hit a target before it was even shot, there will still be the mystery of
what it is that continually organizes the atoms of the existence that we know. Part
of this mystery is how the atoms keep getting reorganized in such a way as to
provide the ongoing human drama.
The bartender said: ”We don’t allow no faster-than-light particles in this bar”.
A faster-than-light particle walked into a bar.
It is not too hard to accept the assumption that the stars and the planets are
evolving strictly according to natural laws, but the extreme complexity of the
ongoing human drama or even of a single human cell, when viewed as a continuing
reorganization of atoms, would seem to require a little something more.
The fact that existence is a mystery can also be interpreted as us having been
“abandoned” here by something unknown, and that “here” is a mysterious limbo
suspended in what looks like space. Feelings of abandonment would not be
unexpected in this situation, and the archetypal image of the abandoned child is
appropriate to the situation. Accepting and being detached toward the concept that
existence is a mystery it is the transcendental viewpoint that dissolves any emotion
of abandonment. We have been stuck here here for the time being and we accept it.
Perhaps the part of the story of Jesus where He asks God why He has been forsaken
is meant to symbolize that being forsaken is a universal element of the human
drama. We got stuck here from somewhere, wherever here is. Detachment and
acceptance take the emotional “sting” out of this fact and free us up from that source
of emotional tension if we happen to find it in ourselves. We can “just be” and
continue to play our role in the mysterious human drama from a calm perspective
and ignore the abandonment issue altogether.
One of our main missions here on Earth seems to be to learn and use cause-effect
relationships that really work both to our own advantage and to everyone else’s.
We have discovered the cause-effect relationship that calmness leads to tranquility
and that tranquility leads to bliss hormones. All of the interfering mental tensions
pertain to problems of survival and well-being in one way or another, so quieting
this instinct is a significant event. No matter how we manipulate the outside world,
it will still be sometimes hostile and it will always be uncertain. The paradoxical
technique that works is to look within for well-being rather than to the outside
The pursuit of pleasure is one of our basic instincts; so doing so does not violate our
basic nature. There is no crime in sitting quietly, doing nothing, and feeling good.
The survival instinct and all of its associated mental and physical tensions can enjoy
a rest, and in doing so they can learn that periods of rest do not necessarily threaten
survival. As such, rest and contentment can become more familiar. The here-and-
now moment can become sufficient.
There are certainly mysteries at the cosmic level of abstraction. Perhaps the
resolution to the overall mystery of existence as far as we are concerned is to accept
that it is a mystery but that there are known aspects within it such as natural laws
and reliable cause-effect relationships that can be learned and harnessed. There
should be no religious conflicts between people with this particular orientation.
The human drama is the most complex energy process in the known universe, and
the atomic process in the human brain that produce thought is part of it. Since we
live in our minds, a physical brain might not even exist in the way a materialist
thinks of it, and the human mind itself could be assumed to be the highest known
process in existence.
We are trapped in the immediate moment no matter what we are doing or what we
are thinking, so we don’t necessarily need to continually focus on it as Aldous
Huxley and the “mindfulness” philosophy suggest. We are already completely here
anyway no matter what we are thinking or doing. Nevertheless, focusing attention
on the immediate moment can be an interesting and useful undertaking with or
without psychedelics. Some call it “mindfulness” while fighter pilots refer to it as
“situational awareness”. One use of mindfulness is to remain aware of and sensitive
to the relaxation level of his body and to the focus of the mind.
Digressing slightly yet once again, it helps to be content with the current level of
relaxation rather than to be upset that it is not deeper. One can accept his current
level while periodically focusing on deepening it. Being upset or critical or
depressed is not compatible with relaxation practice. Being anywhere on the path
Siddhartha had to endure many difficult lessons to reach his enlightened point of
view, but I think that with psychedelics it is possible to glimpse and at least
temporarily experience these points of view while comfortably stretched out in a
recliner. It is like reading the last page in a mystery novel first and then catching up
to it later.
Bad trips are best handled by letting them flow through the mind and the emotions
without resistance. Often they automatically provide useful insights and sometimes
end in significant resolutions of tensions. Willfully relaxing the body deeply as
possible during these times can help to subdue the stress hormones. Subduing
stress hormones with willful relaxation is always a good exercise at all psychedelic
levels and also in daily life. Stress hormones are no doubt very useful in true fight-
of-flight situations, but these situations are fairly rare in our somewhat civilized
society. As such, stress hormones actually interfere with the rational and logical
responses that would be more effective in all of the less threatening situations.
The moderate dose experience could be called semi-directed and semi-spontaneous.
As material emerges from the spontaneous thought generator it is sometimes
possible to steer it into chosen areas and to choose the degree of emersion within
them. However, the rational choice itself and the emergence of the associated
intuitive experience are sometimes separated by a little bit of time. The rational
mind can move much faster than the intuitive mind, possibly because hormone
generation takes time. If a person were impatient because the intuitive experience
was not keeping up with his rational wishes, it might be more to his benefit to wait a
little longer rather than to go off into some other direction. Oftentimes it is possible
to relax the rational analytical mind completely and to simply observe, admire, and
enjoy the intuitive material as it flows through on its own volition whether is
structured or relatively formless.
Many people have used drugs to stimulate creativity, many of which are
unfortunately dangerous or addicting. How Freud and his colleagues becoming
addicted to cocaine would be an excellent example. It would seem that psychedelics
would be a much safer choice for creative and dedicated people such as these. They
do not negatively affect health, they are not addicting, and yet they still very
definitely stimulate creativity. Musicians can hear music in their minds, artists can
see pictures, authors can hear words, etc. One of my high-dose clients was a doctor
who felt that he was able to examine and witness the workings of the heart in
extreme detail. The rest of us can enjoy our own satisfying levels and forms of
In his book The anatomy of Addiction, Howard Markel describes how some very
intelligent and dedicated medical doctors experimented with addicting drugs in the
late 1800’s. They were interested in their pain-killing properties and their
stimulation of creativity, but they got trapped by addiction without even realizing it.
They unknowingly sacrificed their health and longevity, but the payoff was their
ecstatic and creative moments and the blessings of the pain-killers that we currently
benefit from. Cannabis was available and legal at the time, but apparently it did not
have sufficient pain-killing or ecstasy-producing properties of cocaine or morphine.
However, non-addicting cannabis stimulates creativity, self-transcendence, and a
mild euphoria, so it is should be adequate for those purposes. Apparently different
strains have some pain-killing properties, but I am quite sure that they will never be
used for surgery.
There is never even a hint of any kind of a hangover with psychedelics. I am
convinced that hangovers reinforce a negative attitude toward existence and
towards oneself and that this negative attitude increases the desire for an escape
with even more drugs and around and around it goes. Since we are pleasure-
seeking and pain-avoiding creatures, this process can become a vicious circle that
increases in intensity with increasing drug dosage and increasingly unpleasant
hangovers. The tsunami of discomfort and guilt for having overdone something that
is bad for health, livelihood, and social standing tend to swamp any useful insights.
Since there is no hangover whatsoever with psychedelic drugs, any useful insights
or points of view can be very easily carried right back into daily life. With a higher
dosage, some of the insights will not be rationalized and as such will be less likely to
be remembered immediately, but the mental work has really been done and will
remain so. Any future visits to the same areas will reveal that this is the case.
I am quite sure that the current high demand for marijuana is due at least in part to
the fact that so many people realize that it is a satisfactory “high” with no negative
Another factor that I believe is in effect regarding hangovers is that a heavy drinker
will come to consider that hangovers are a form of punishment for being so weak as
to need self-transcendence (escape). This further deteriorates his self-image and
makes him even more of a helpless self-loathing slave to alcohol. If he could
gradually switch to using psychedelics for self-transcendence instead, this factor
would completely fall by the wayside because psychedelics provide a very
satisfactory self-transcendence with no physical or mental repercussions
whatsoever. With psychedelics it might be easier for him to heal his addiction, and
he could hopefully become a self-confident, fully functioning, and tuned-in member
of his surrounding community while still enjoying occasional but safe experiences of
Self-transcendence does not need to be conceptualized as nothing more than an
escape from reality for weak people. In fact, it is clearly a “higher” state of being.
Expanded consciousness, enhanced perception, enhanced creativity, and inner
peace are certainly desirable and healthy states of being, and at least with
psychedelics they can be remembered and practiced in daily life.
Oftentimes it is possible to translate some of the intuitive material to rational
thought as it flows through the mind. This is a very interesting experience. This is a
good time to have a voice recorder handy because more new experience continually
continues to fill the mind, and it can very quickly swamp new insights. It is difficult
to backtrack a psychedelic experience because new material keeps coming to mind.
Some people regard this as a loss of short-term memory, but I think it is more like
water flowing under a bridge. An insight lost downstream will certainly reveal itself
again in the future with or without psychedelic stimulation, so it is not necessary to
despair over losing something useful even though it cannot be remembered even
moments after it was experienced. In fact, more than once I have found myself
acting on the basis of one of these lost insights automatically and then realizing
afterwards that the insight had gone into effect without my knowledge. Once a
solution has been found, it has been found. If the same topic is revisited later, the
work will be seen as having been completed and maybe even already installed in the
As a person accumulates new useful insights, he will find himself automatically
taking more little shortcuts through the maze of life. When these little shortcuts
take place, two things are apparent. One is that they take place automatically, and
the other is that it is possible to remember and review the insights that made them
possible. For instance, during a psychedelic experience it might pop to mind that a
particular person continually makes snide or mocking personal attacks under
certain circumstances. It might also provide a perfect comeback that could be used
to squelch him. The insight might fly by so fast that it is not remembered, but when
the same situation or one like it occurs again in daily life, the comeback jumps right
off the tongue and skewers the assailant.
Seeing solutions from broader perspectives makes them applicable to more
If the incredibly complex and beautiful moving geometric patterns that sometimes
emerge as visual imagery during moderate and high dose psychedelic experiences
are any indication, the spontaneous thought generator can process, condense, and
organize huge amounts of intricate data. If this is true, the insights it produces
should be quite valid because they would be distillations of large amounts of
detailed life experience. In my own experience, these insights are always both valid
and useful. It is possible that the spontaneous thought generator processes large
quantities of life experience on the intuitive non-rational level, distills it, and
occasionally presents flash understandings to consciousness. If they have been
captured with a pencil or on a voice recorder, or if they are remembered, they can
later be backtracked and checked logically, but usually they seem good and valid
and unnecessary to bother with. Backtracking can be quite interesting, however,
because all kinds of subtle things can be found in the mix such as a person’s
Sometimes it can seem as though there is a “flow” of intuitive or “emotional feeling”
material coming into the mind that is significant but not rational. Sometimes these
flows are represented by seemingly appropriate visual imagery. Sometimes two of
these “flows” can join and form a new third flow. The new flow can feel like a
significant resolution of different themes, mixed emotions, or philosophic points of
view. If the dosage is not too high, it is sometimes possible to verbalize at least part
of what is happening during these experiences. In any case, these resolutions feel
like true permanent reductions of various tensions and perhaps they really are. It
seems to me that resolutions on such high levels of abstraction that they cannot be
well verbalized would be quite significant somehow. If they are really real
resolutions of mind-brain energy, then they are resolutions that cannot be
accomplished in normal daily consciousness. A rather grandiose assumption might
be that psychedelics are one key to accomplishing important work at extremely high
levels. The process that assumedly takes place there might be a step in evolution.
Sometimes the resolutions seem very dynamic in nature and at other times they
seem lower key. If these experiences are in fact resolutions on deep intuitive levels,
they should have overall therapeutic affects that should result in an average deeper
level of peace of mind. The process could be called something like automatic
intuitive “self therapy” where tensions are discovered within oneself, resolved, and
“liquefied” into the background tranquility. As more and more of these and other
tensions are discovered and liquefied, the mental domain of the luxurious
background tranquility will fill a greater proportion of inner space.
Conflicts on broad abstract intuitive levels can be difficult to deal with during
normal daily consciousness. For instance, if a person’s life made him feel
overwhelmed and helpless in the world, finding and deeply experiencing a self
image of himself as a strong and perfectly capable person during a psychedelic
session could sweep aside the need to grapple with the memories of countless
individual overwhelming events in order to reach the same goal. All of the work
could be done at once, it would really be done, and it could be remembered and put
into practice in daily life. The “power trip” or the “Godzilla” trip can nicely activate
the maximum feelings of strength in a person. They can be thoroughly enjoyed
without even getting up from the couch. Having an experience of this nature can do
wonders for a person’s self confidence.
Oftentimes various emotional pressures emerge which provide the opportunity for
very satisfying experiences. If an emotion is positive, such as when embracing a
loved one, so much the better. If it is unpleasant, there will be a tendency to want to
work it through and dissolve it for three reasons: (1) it can reduce tension, (2) it can
be interesting, and (3) the psychedelic experience can condense it into a single
workable unit (a COEX system) that is easier to work with than fragments of feelings
and thoughts. It can be like using a bulldozer instead of a teaspoon to level a pile of
An analogy to this process is the scene in Moby Dick where two sailors are seated on
the deck of a whaling vessel facing each other over a container of whale oil. They
reach into the extremely smooth and creamy oil (which was used in making
perfume) to crush any lumps that were found there with their hands. The process of
crushing the soft lumps into the background extreme smoothness of the oil became
a hypnotic and luxurious experience. As work proceeded, the remaining lumps
become smaller and softer until finally the entire barrel became absolutely smooth
and pure. It seems that a similar process can take place during psychedelic
experience but in this case the lumps are various forms of mental/muscular tension
combinations. If one of these “mental lumps” is examined rationally, it will be found
to be made up of a combination of a particular overall emotion-attitude combined
with appropriate tangible thoughts and memories.
Examining the “mental lumps” rationally does not always seem necessary; they can
sometimes be liquidated simply by focusing attention onto them and letting the
spontaneous thought generator do the work on the intuitive level.
The interplay between rational analysis and intuitive processing can become a give-
and-take process. If the rational mind gets a little greedy and wants too much
control when the intuitive mind wants to go off in some other direction, there can be
an undesirable tension. On the other hand, sometimes the intuitive mind is
perfectly willing and happy to let the rational mind refine the abstractions that it
produces into crystal clear mental structures while at the same time contributing
the energy of expanded consciousness to the process.
Carl Jung referred to another analogy regarding the mental refinement process in
which ancient alchemists strove to purify crude and ugly lead into gold. The
physical process supposedly reflected an internal mental process in which the gold
represented a highly refined and pure mind, body, and spirit free of the “dross”
represented by the contaminations in lead. Distilling out or dissolving the dross
represents the growth process.
The refinement process has sometimes been compared to our personal life
experience and destiny. Our personal world can be conceptualized as a proving
ground where we learn to relate to it more and more efficiently and with more
satisfaction as we gain experience. This point of view gives some positive structure
to the difficulties and ambiguities that we face in life in that we can learn from them
and become smarter, stronger, and better people. Assuming that difficulties have
the purpose of teaching us something makes us think about what these things might
be, and thought causes an increase in understanding. Another positive assumption
regarding the trials of our lives is that ultimately everything is for the best even
thought we cannot see the “big picture”.
I have not encountered much material regarding what can be done to work on the
personal refinement process except for psychotherapy and groups interested in self
improvement. I think that the “new age” philosophy reflects this process.
Psychotherapy will help a person to resolve mental tension issues and also the
conflicts that he experiences in relationship to his daily life. This can be very helpful
in that it at least focuses the mind on the task of resolving tension areas rather than
just allowing oneself to be randomly around buffeted by them. I believe that
psychedelics offer further advantages. They sometimes reveal the goal of deep
relaxation, peace of mind, and clear rational thought. This is a pleasant experience
to have and to work toward deepening and extending. They also amplify and
consolidate the areas of tension and make them more tangible and easier to work
with. They also help to suggest new points of view and attitudes that can serve to
resolve conflicts and reduce tension. Used with intent and restraint, I believe that
they can focus and stimulate the refinement process. Using them for self-
transcendence and enhanced awareness is not necessarily a waste of time because
they show a positive range of experience that is possible. A person who was
depressed because of the tedium in his life might find a whole new outlet for
enthusiasm and enjoyment.
I see the refinement process as one of “commutation” with or without psychedelic
stimulation. Various tension issues can be dealt with and then there can be a return
to the relaxed, peaceful, clear, pleasant, and centered state to enjoy and practice. To
the extent that this state has been experienced or approached, it can be
remembered, meditated upon, and practiced as a goal. All other experiences can be
compared to this central one and can be examined for possible ways to reduce or
avoid the negative tensions that block it. The positive tensions connecting us to the
outside world such as interest, creativity, satisfaction, love, and enthusiasm can still
be welcomed to stay in place.
Deepak Chopra notes that the “inner watcher” in the mind-brain is the “real you” or
the “soul”. I like to call this conceptual entity the “silent witness” so that its
existence is not restricted to the strictly spiritual definition. It makes room for the
interpretation that it it could be the production of a material brain in a material
world. The silent witness observes the total contents of the ego’s experience with
perfect serenity and detachment. It even watches the mind as it conceptualizes all-
pervading God, all-pervading space, or the domain of perfect tranquility.
Within our personal existence, there is a watcher of experience as well as an
experiencer of experience. With this basic concept, the flow of mental energy
through the personal domain of cosmic concepts becomes smoother because it
covers one’s entire existence. The inner watcher is always present in the immediate
moment calmly watching our personal portion of destiny as it flows by regardless of
what it might contain. It cannot think but it can watch thoughts go by. It cannot
evaluate, question, feel emotions, or draw conclusions but it can watch these
processes as they take place in the mind. It is not disturbed by any thought or
activity that the ego is involved in no matter how confusing or intense. A movie
screen is not disturbed in the slightest no matter what movies are shown on it. The
mental continuum in this case ranges from the detached observer at one end to the
ego being completely immersed in its experience at the other. As always with a
continuum, there are many conceptual gradations in between the ends. The degree
of involvement in experience can vary. Dead center on this continuum would be
where a person is half watching and half experiencing his experience at the same
time; a very detached person. To the extent that one conceptualizes and identifies
with his inner silent witness he will become relaxed and detached, a state that
permits the release of bliss hormones. The fact that relaxation and detachment can
bring about a positive state of being can be a very satisfying alternative in a life that
is currently stressed, unhappy, or tedious. The body can feel content and good even
when circumstances are less than pleasant.
The inner silent witness of existence is a concept at a level of abstraction close to
that of an all-pervading God or of infinite space because it observes the ego’s entire
world of experience on a moment-by-moment basis. It is as detached as a movie
camera with film that continually regenerates itself. Much unnecessary daily-life
drama can be avoided with emotional detachment. It its purest form, it would be
like Siddhartha sitting contentedly in silence and stillness watching destiny flow by
like images in a river.
Just to show that it is possible to split hairs even on the cosmic levels of abstraction,
one could consider the eastern concept that the soul is the background darkness out
of which all mental experience emerges including the image of an assumed outside
world. The “detached watcher” can be conceptualized as a separate part of the mind
that watches these mental contents flow up into consciousness. In other words, the
soul and the watcher can be conceptualized as two separate mental entities. Since
this is all taking place inside of our head, we can conceptualize anything that we
want. The watcher watches the flow of consciousness go by with absolute
detachment. He also watches the ego and the body as they interact with an assumed
outside material world. From the materialistic standpoint, mental material is
assumed to emerge from the physical brain, but the concept of the watcher remains
the same from both the spiritual and the materialistic points of view. To the extent
that the concept of the detached watcher is being identified with at any given
moment, the ego and the body are calm and relaxed because the watcher is
absolutely tension-free. This would be the advantage to conceptualizing the
“watcher” as a distinct mental construct. The watcher can watch the rational mind
at work, and when the mind-body system is at relative peace the rational mind is
very clear. Thinking clearly is a pleasure compared to the “mad monkey” mode of
Yet another entity can be conceptualized in this mix: the rational thinker. Serenity
and clear thought go together. It becomes possible to contemplate one’s life from a
very calm and objective viewpoint. Resolutions to conflicts and new opportunities
can sometimes be found there.
I had somewhat trivial but pleasant resolution that had to do with the fact that I
very much enjoy dancing rock-and-roll style either with others or even while alone.
I had a friend who liked to do the same thing while using her hair brush as a
microphone. If I had been there at the same time, I would have played the air guitar
to accompany her. While alone, the minor problem sometimes persisted that I
would keep imagining various audiences judging me either as a great and natural
creative performer or an idiot acting like a fool. This was a “taint” in an otherwise
happy experience. Finally the insight popped to mind that I could imagine my
audience as being a roomful of happy people interpreting the music just as freely
and joyfully as I was. We all agreed that dancing is a form of musical Tai Chi enjoyed
for the benefit of developing and maintaining physical fluidity, strength, refined
control, and spontaneity. The body can become a totally compliant vehicle for the
expression of something happy, natural, and intuitive from the inside world to the
outside world. It helps to perfect the flow of ki (absolutely pure life energy) both
inside the body and out to the outside world. Being a reality in the inner conceptual
world, ki can cross the boundary from the inner world of thought to the mental
concept of the apparent outer world (the “inner outer world”) because they both
share the same mind. The relationship between the inner and the outer world can
become as smooth as whale oil. It is a form of both physical and mental therapy.
One can become increasingly unselfconscious and more selfless. The music itself
can come to drive the entire process completely while the ego disappears into it.
Surrendering by choice to something positive is always a pleasure. Speaking
poetically, it is like shaking off tensions and opening the floodgates for ki to fill the
body and express itself without resistance. A roomful of people smoothly
expressing ki in this manner is a group sharing of an extremely positive experience.
It is like Tai Chi on steroids or a group prayer of thanksgiving. It refines body
language and comportment in the outside world and it enhances mood. When
relating to the world with respect to ki it is more of a fluid flow of movement and
thought than while relating to it with respect to some form of contentiousness.
The body is the instrument through which we are aware of and relate to the outside
world. To the extent to which it is relaxed and feeling good, the immediate moment
is maximized. Relaxation practice can be conceptualized as the cultivation and the
flow of ki.
I guess that this insight was not so trivial after all.
This demonstrates how seeking and finding better attitudes can make life more
pleasant. It also demonstrates how a new attitude can reconcile opposites, such as
the foolishness versus the pleasure of dancing. Psychedelics seem to generously
provide such new attitudes quite automatically. As is quite common with
psychedelics, the resolution of the conflict involved a shift in abstraction, in this case
from the everyday level of self consciousness to the “cosmic” level of ki.
The source of the flow of ki, the hypothetical purest form of life energy, could be
conceptualized as emanating from the background tranquility of the mind, filling
consciousness, and then flowing out to the world through the behavior of the body.
Deepak Chopra conceptualizes the same process as spirit emanating from the inner
soul and doing the same thing.
A more psychological example of a resolution that I experienced was where the
insight that popped to mind was that past events that are normally regretted are
also in one way or another a form of education. Regrets are similar in nature, so
they can cluster into a single COEX system. Once this has been done, two things
seem to happen. One is that each one becomes less significant and another is when
they pop to mind they disappear immediately rather than starting an emotional
reaction. We definitely learn by our mistakes as well as by our successes. Failure is
just another way to learn how to do something right. Seeing oneself as being a little
more wise, experienced, and mature is productive while simply lamenting past
regrets is not. When a regret does pop up to consciousness, its emotional impact is
often felt in the body. This has the advantage of drawing attention to the body so
that it can be willfully relaxed. Another repetition in relaxation practice can take
place. The lemon can be turned into lemonade. It can go even farther than that.
Once one has relaxed, he can reconsider the unpleasant memory but this time from
a relaxed and rational perspective. He can glue the new perspective and the
memory together in neuroplastic space and experience the two of them together the
next time the memory pops up. The previous cringing emotion can in this way be
bypassed, thus leaving open the pathway to tranquility. One more tension issue has
been neutralized. A little more tension has been drained from a negative COEX
system making it less of an obstacle to tranquility. The fact that it can still be
thought about peacefully proves that it was not repressed into any kind of a high-
tension subconscious area of the mind-brain that could build up and explode later
on. The energy in the emotion of regret relaxes and blends in with the background
Making mistakes is part of the school of hard knocks. Life knocks us into shape like
a statue being carved by a hammer and a chisel. Much of our learning comes from
making mistakes out of simple ignorance and not due to evil intent. The only place
where none of this drama would be taking place would be in a utopia. The
continuum where the school of hard knocks (the statue) is at one end and a utopia
(perhaps an idealized Camelot) is at the other end has many levels of gradation in
between, all of which can be explored. Regrettably, much of our wicked world is not
all that close to the Camelot end.
Another point to consider regarding resolutions is that after one has taken place it
can be contemplated rationally without its emotional component being present.
This is useful because objectivity is closer to reality than are prejudicial emotions.
Country-western music often laments broken relationships, for instance, but when
such events are reviewed from a larger perspective they do not seem quite so much
like the end of the world. Couples are joining and breaking up all the time; it is the
law of nature. The rush of ecstatic hormones that takes place at the beginning of a
new romance is certain to subside over time thus leaving both parties somewhat
disappointed and maybe blaming each other. The bloom comes off the rose. It helps
to be prepared for this transition. It is the time to evaluate what might be left over
in the relationship in terms of positive feelings and rational considerations.
Resolution to this particular tension issue would be the broader abstraction that the
original rush of ecstatic hormones is to be expected, and that in effect it is Mother
Nature’s not-so-subtle trick to propagate the species. Broken relationships
afterwards are not necessarily anyone’s fault. They were a lot of fun while they
lasted. Sometimes the chemistry dies a little too much and there is not enough left
to keep the relationship going. Once Mother Nature has maximized the likelihood of
pregnancy, she backs off with her manipulation of the ecstatic hormones. She had
her chance. In any case, viewing this scenario from the more abstract level of
Mother Nature being at work might help to avoid a certain amount of heartbreak,
recriminations, and self-recriminations. The psychedelic experience tends to
vividly reveal such abstract points of view that in turn help to resolve even serious
issues on the daily life level. “Looking down” on an emotional problem is done from
a higher and more detached level. Cultivating the skill of looking at things from
larger perspectives can also reduce tension in daily life.
Regarding country-western music, one benefit that some of it provides is that it can
convert the despairing feelings of a romantic breakup into a beautiful sadness, an
exquisite yearning, or even into a don’t-give-a-damn attitude. I don’t know if it is an
urban legend or not, but there is reputed to have been a country song called “I am
lying on my back with tears in my ears from crying over you”. The conversion of
these sorts of feelings has become a fine art in country-western music. The words
can portray the tragic situation while the emotion in the voice and the music can
portray a positive emotion-attitude that can be taken toward it. The manipulation
of attitudes is not exclusively the province of psychedelic drugs.
Another productive assumption is that the energy in the emotional and physical
tensions that are resolved is rechanneled into a mental domain of clear rational
thought, serenity, and contentment. Hopefully it strengthens the brain in these
areas through the process of neuroplasticity. It is a benign circle. The less residual
and unnecessary mental and physical tension there is in the mind-body system, the
greater the mental clarity, and the greater the mental clarity the greater the ability
to focus on understanding, relaxing, and working through any remaining tensions.
With even higher doses, much of the intuitive material that emerges is on such a
broad level of abstraction that it is convenient to consider it as “cosmic” or even
religious in nature and that it needs to be translated into cosmic or religious verbal
terms and visual imagery in order to give it structure. It becomes like looking at
existence from an extremely abstract and exalted philosophical perspective.
As will be discussed later, the central cosmic concepts include spirit, creation,
awareness, the mind-brain boundary, the source of all experience, the nature of
being, evolution, causation, synchronicity, the value of life, the afterlife, morality,
commitment, redemption, personal responsibility, meaning, purpose, free will,
karma, retribution, the supernatural, etc. The critical point to be made is that each of
these cosmic concepts has a string of assumed answers, some of which are taken
very seriously and become convictions or even beliefs, but none of which can be
proved or disproved to even the slightest degree. We tease these concepts out of
our extremely complex life experience and then use them to provide structure for it.
They become our philosophy of life.
For instance, it is absolutely impossible to prove that God does or does not exist, but
since existence and experience are so complex it is possible to find plenty of
justification for either point of view and for all kinds of different definitions of His
nature. It is possible to have faith, of course, but faith means believing in something
that cannot be proved. Therefore, anything that is said about the nature of His being
(or not being) can never be anything more than speculation. At the same time, since
existence is so variable in terms of experience, any one of the cosmic assumptions
could appear to be irrevocably true to a single person with a specific set of life
Faith could be considered as having a positive point of view without necessarily
needing it to have it proven. Sometimes our faith is all we have to get us through the
rough times and sometimes faith gives us considerable structure for our lives.
Believing in and becoming totally involved in myths and gods is certainly nothing
new; people have been mentally generating them and living by them since the dawn
of civilization in order to structure both the current moment and the flow of events.
Psychedelic experience sometimes makes it possible to temporarily “live” one or
another of these different points of view and to explore its implications. It can also
allow a transcendental point of view where all of the different myths and gods are
seen as sub-mysteries within the great mystery of existence.
A myth can either be seen from the outside as a story or from the inside as a reality,
and there are all gradations in between. Exploring them with psychedelics makes it
ever more clear that they are all stories, not necessarily facts, but that they
nevertheless influence our lives.
The word “conviction” could be used to represent an assumption that a person has
become quite convinced is true. The word “belief” could be used to represent an
assumption that a person is willing to kill and die for to defend.
One example of the improvable nature of cosmic assumptions include the fact that a
great variety of creation myths have evolved to explain the beginning of time but
that it is still impossible to prove how existence ever came into being. Neither can
anyone explain causation. God, if He exists, could be influencing destiny to some
unknown extent or not at all. Natural laws would have to interact in an almost
infinite number of ways to create even the most trivial of daily life events and it
would be impossible to sort them out or to discover other influences that might be
acting within their network. It is impossible to know the nature of the afterlife, if
there is one, but there are many assumptions and each of us holds our own. We
don’t know the extent to which we are punished for our bad deeds and rewarded for
our good deeds if at all. No one knows the purpose of our existence, if there is one,
but there are plenty of assumptions, convictions, and beliefs regarding all of these
issues. We each have our own combination.
The great number of speculative answers to cosmic concepts can lead to
considerable controversy, some very extreme, both within a single individual and
within a society. Carl Jung suggested that all mental problems have their roots in
this basic area of abstraction, so finding resolution and coherence there is important.
In my own humble opinion, the overall cosmic concept that existence is a complete
mystery releases a person from the controversy over which of the cosmic
assumptions to consider as personal convictions or beliefs. It could be assumed that
the spontaneous thought generator silently selects which “assumptive cosmic
answers” for us to consider as convictions in order to provide us with our structure
and philosophy of life, and that this selection is based exclusively on real life
experiences. It is not easy to argue with real life experiences. With respect to the
model that I am using, it is the spontaneous thought generator that composes
clusters of real-life memories in order to produce overall points of view such as
cosmic assumptions, convictions, and beliefs as well as the ordinary everyday
insights and understandings. Without this clustering process taking place, however
it works, our outlook on the world would be nothing but a chaotic and meaningless
jumble of memories and sense impressions.
Other peoples’ assumptions can certainly influence one’s own to some extent, but no
doubt actual personal experience is most convincing regarding one’s definition of
Recognizing cosmic assumptions as the assumptions that they really are does not
mean that we abandon them. They remain as our basic philosophy of life and are
slow to change even with great scrutiny and influence. The extremely high
recidivism rate in prisons (above 70%, according to Wikipedia) attests to this. This
may have to do with the fact that our philosophy of life is a single comprehensive
picture and that it is not easy to change a single part of it into something that does
not fit. For instance, an honorable and law-abiding citizen might be hard to
convince that it is perfectly permissible to do something illegal so long as no one is
watching while a criminal might think that it is ridiculous not to do so.
In his book The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson recounts some experiments with LSD
done by the military and by psychologists with prisoners. In these cases
environments and influences were contrived in an attempt to influence people’s
self-image and world-view during psychedelic experiences. The results were not as
intended, so I am assuming that efforts to “brainwash” a person into an entirely new
personality with psychedelics will prove ineffective. I am guessing that if such
changes are to take place, authentic personal motivation to make them do so is
necessary and that it would have to be a step-by-step process in relationship with
the outside world. New points of view and attitudes need to be validated through
testing in the outside world before they will be accepted as permanent new cosmic
convictions. In addition, I suspect that a person is likely to pay a great deal more
attention to insights generated by his own spontaneous thought generator than to
other people’s points of view that he sees as being used to influence him. When
being influenced by others during a psychedelic experience, I suspect that resistance
in the form of one kind of paranoia or another will result. The recidivism rate of
psychopaths was found to actually be higher after LSD “therapy”, so it could be
assumed that their psychopathy was actually strengthened in the process. They
pretended to be influenced by the therapy in order to please their therapists and to
avoid confrontations with conceptualized malevolent cosmic forces. In addition,
the concept that malevolent forces are really at work in the world would be
I have had two episodes where my “sitter” seemed to be trying to influence my point
of view during high-dose sessions even though on the “surface” he appeared to be
just trying to be helpful. In a high dose experience it is possible to conceptualize
existence from the broad spiritual point of view. Both times I felt my defenses go up
and actually a movement toward paranoia. I thought it might be possible that subtle
evil controlling forces were expressing themselves through my sitter. At the time I
was almost willing to pretend to agree with him in order to avoid serious
confrontation with possibly real supernatural forces at a time when I knew I was
totally vulnerable. Instead, I was able to talk myself out of the vicious circle into
deeper paranoia by considering the high likelihood that my sitter was simply trying
to offer his own helpful points of view and that what he was suggesting shouldn’t
lead to problems. I think I was able to do this because I knew intellectually what the
paranoid experience involved and that I had no curiosity or obligation to explore it
again. After reading the daily newspaper, it is not too much of a leap of the
imagination to imagine that malevolent forces behind the scenes are responsible for
the tragic events in the world. When viewing the unfortunate aspects of the human
condition from a higher or a global perspective, a supernatural malevolent force can
be conceptualized as having a real influence on oneself and the rest of existence and
one can feel inextricably trapped in the situation. It is another legitimate way to
structure and explain this most unfortunate aspect of the great mystery of existence.
As Woody Allen put it: “The one negative thing that you can say about God is that He
is an underachiever”.
The belief that God is good and creative and that the devil is evil and destructive can
be conceptualized as a mental continuum of points of view that extends from one
end to the other. Events that take place can be seen as a combination of these two
forces. The dead center of this continuum is the point of view that is expressed in a
variety of ways such as “what will be will be”. The mental resolution to the conflict
between good and evil is a detachment toward the drama that they apparently
create. The “detached observer” level of abstraction is tension-free.
Even the question of the proportion to which each force might be in effect is
transcended. The yin-yang symbol suggests that the forces of darkness and the
forces of light are ultimately equal, and this may be true in the big picture.
Remembering this concept makes it unlikely that one would ever be tempted to
become too identified with the extremes of either point of view. He would be
unlikely to set off a suicide vest in crowd of innocent people to earn heaven or to
perform human sacrifice to ensure good fortune.
Perhaps the only influences that should be present during a high-dose psychedelic
session should be assurances of safety, encouragement to look within, and perhaps
the willingness to chat about and to encourage the structuring of any new insights
that might emerge from the experience naturally. Both a brainwasher and a pushy
psychotherapist might otherwise lose authentic communication with the user and
totally waste the experience.
I believe that one way to make lasting changes in functioning is to first set out a self-
chosen goal, conceptualize it as clearly and completely as possible, and then to
spend some time conceptualizing and experiencing its implications more deeply
during and in between occasional low-dose psychedelic sessions. Not only will the
goal become more fleshed out, vivid, and real, the tension issues that block access to
it can be discovered, consolidated, and resolved. For instance, if a shy person
wanted to become more outgoing, he could work on conceptualizing his new self as
such but in a variety of different situations that were previously experienced as
uncomfortable. He could let himself experience any particular emotional feelings
that might be associated with them, such as fear of rejection or failure, and
recognize them as troublesome but harmless. He could discover any related
inappropriate attitudes or points of view and to replace them with attitudes and
points of view that facilitate harmonious interpersonal relationships. He could “get
inside the skin” of people he knew that were more outgoing for the sake of practice.
A new authentic, friendly outgoing self-image will eventually emerge and will be the
reward for this effort. In my model, the path to deep peace of mind and tranquility
involves the resolution of bothersome tensions in areas such as this.
An interesting aspect of the pathway of personal growth is that more than one
desired area and improvement can be practiced and worked on at a time. In
addition, the hierarchy of goals can be changed over time. As old ones are more
completely satisfied, more time can be taken with the more needful ones.
It is worth pointing out that during a high-dose session there is a very strong
tendency to conceptualize the world from the supernatural, cosmic, or religious
points of view. In the model that I use, this is because the mind is stimulated into
working with much broader concepts and sweeping generalities than is true during
normal daily consciousness. A myth that influences an entire culture, for instance, is
a broader concept than a point of view that influences a single person involved in a
single event. As discussed later, none of the cosmic concepts can be proved or
disproved, so it is one is free to conceptualize any one of them quite vividly. With a
high dose session, there may not be much choice of which ones are considered since
a high dose session pretty much runs itself. If a person becomes used to the concept
that all of the cosmic concepts are really “sub-mysteries” within the overall mystery
of existence, this becomes no longer a problem. During a high-dose session, one is
able to say: “Now I am experiencing the (such-and-such) point of view and I know
that it is not the only one because I have experienced others”. On a very broad level,
it is even possible to shift back and forth between a deep emersion into the
spiritualistic and then into the materialistic points of view during a single session.
An experienced explorer of the philosophic cosmic territory of psychedelic
experience, or even of daily life experience, can move between the various points of
view more easily. Ambiguity tolerance is strengthened. One can become “loose as a
goose” while moving from one point of view to another. At the same time, he still
knows where he currently stands in his own system of convictions and beliefs.
The high dose experience
A high dose psychedelic experience is not a trivial event. Since an inexperienced
user could actually mix up his inner and outer worlds there is always the unlikely
possibility that his experience might push him into some dangerous or
inappropriate behavior. This is a good reason to have an experienced ground
control person nearby. Fortunately these events are rare and could possibly be
explained in part by a poor setting or a beginner getting an unexpectedly high dose.
Sometimes the high dose experience is one of feeling that one is soaring freely
through space, so a high dose should never be taken near the edge of a cliff or a high
open window. Without solid ground control, it is sometimes possible to mix up
inner and outer experience. Normally the experience is one of looking deeply within
for a few hours while in a relaxed position and in a safe situation. If an
inexperienced user tries to relate to the outside world by himself, things could get
totally confusing. A rational guide can help him to separate the inner experience
from the objective outside world, and to encourage him to relax and to look inside
again. Guidance at this time could be a statement such as: “What kind of visual
imagery do you have when you close your eyes?”
The mental material produced by the spontaneous thought generator becomes like a
continuously flowing fountain. It literally flows up and fills most of perception. It
takes an effort to maintain awareness of the outside world for any length of time,
especially for a beginner. The material is essentially very abstract and it flows by
relentlessly. Although it might be exalted, profound, and cosmic, and although it
might be understood easily on the perceptive and intuitive levels, rational
understanding might be elusive and might not become apparent for days, months,
or even years later. In my very first psychedelic experience, a high-dose, I visualized
some extremely huge and complex sophisticated structures being carefully and
rapidly built toward the sky one at a time, only to ultimately come crashing down
like houses of cards. Later I had the rational understanding that my intuitive mind
was attempting to integrate my life experiences and to solve the mysterious quality
of existence using various different belief systems and always failing. Fortunately
for me, the experience was hilarious rather than tragic, possibly because I already
suspected what the outcome was going to be. I saw the human struggle to
comprehend the impossible to be a joke rather than as being a tragedy.
One tragic/comic picture that I saw was that in religious wars people kill each other
on the basis of what they know down deep are nothing more than improvable
assumptions. Two men engaged in a bloody raging swordfight over nothing but
empty hot air is tragic and hilarious at the same time. Not to be disrespectful of the
value of religion in society, everyone knows on some level that God’s existence
cannot be proved or disproved. Thinking that something is true does not make it
true. This means that the parts of all religions that define His nature in any manner
are all nothing more than assumptions. All of the tragic drama and all of the
suffering resulting from wars over religion is and always has been based on
philosophical assumptions as empty as arguing over how many angels can dance on
the head of a pin, and they provide no justification at all for the horror that takes
place. Also, killing someone provides not a shred of proof of any assumption
whatsoever. If I believe that a thousand angles can dance on the head of a pin and
you believe that two thousand can do so, killing me will do nothing to prove your
point. Committing suicide in a crowded public place because it is believed that
seventy-two virgins wait in the afterlife might lead to a little disappointment. At the
same time, it is the survival instinct that is what makes us desperate, so reducing
threats to survival and well-being would seem to a far more productive way to
spend energy than fighting in the big picture. Fighting over invisible issues such as
which God is the real one does the opposite of alleviating the overall survival
problem. Finding new attitudes and new technological and social methods to
improve everyone’s overall safety and quality of life would seem to be more
productive. The card houses (belief systems) could be built of something more
substantial, such as education regarding the nature of our existence, the cause-effect
relationships that have been found to really work, and proven techniques of
resolving personal, political and social issues.
Although Osama Bin Laden was buried at sea according to Islamic ritual, certain
Islamic clerics complained that he should have been buried in a grave with his head
facing towards Mecca. Starting fights over what amounts to nothing more than
assumptions is a form of terrorism. Apparently these same clerics had no objection
to videos being made showing American prisoners having their heads being cut off
with knives while they were still alive. Differing cosmic assumptions can cause
extreme scenarios to unfold in the outside world, so clearly they are important. The
biblical story of the Tower of Babel could be interpreted as representing the fact
that one reason that we don’t understand each other because we sometimes live by
altogether different sets of assumptions.
Since it is absolutely impossible to prove that God does or does not exist, and since it
is impossible to prove how our existence ever came into being in the first place, our
only recourse is to find the cause-effect relationships within it that really work and
to use them to make it a better world. This fundamental fact should be the basis for
all of our philosophies. Anyone recognizing this fact is very unlikely to go to violent
extremes to try to prove something that he knows is nothing more than empty
assumptions. We are still free to recognize and pay homage to the source of this
incredibly complex and miraculous existence even though it (He) is a mystery.
Examining belief systems such as the spiritualistic, materialistic, idealistic (mind-
only), and even the one where we are a simulation created by creatures on a higher
level of being can be entertaining and interesting, but ultimately all of them will fail
to solve the great mystery of existence. Each belief system has many ramifications
and implications, some extremely positive and some extremely negative and many
contradictory. For instance, the Spanish Inquisition was part of one of the belief
systems, as well as at the same time extolling generosity and compassion toward the
unfortunate and the underprivileged. From the materialistic point of view, we can
transplant hearts and we can blow up entire cities. From the mind-only point of
view, experience comes to us from a mysterious non-material source, some of which
takes on the appearance of a body, an ego, and an outside world. There is
tremendous variation of concepts and attitudes within a single belief system. My
overall conclusion was that my mind was definitely unable to crack the code of the
great mystery of existence but that no one else’s ever had either. I also learned that
I could learn to relax in the mystery, accept my experience as it comes to me, and to
deal with it calmly and effectively as it does so.
All religions hit the wall when they reach the point where they have to admit that
God’s existence has to be taken on faith, faith being defined as belief in something
that cannot be proved. If His existence cannot be proved, then anything that is said
about his nature is nothing more than pure speculation. Materialism hits the wall
when it reaches the point where it must be admitted that some unknown
mysterious force or intelligence needs to be present in order to keep the atoms that
make up the universe organized in the way that they are. The incredible ongoing
reorganization and exchange of the atoms that make up a single cell in our bodies is
certainly no accident. Then, of course, there is the question as to where the atoms of
the universe came from in the first place. We have been placed here from God-
knows-where so we might as well accept the fact and make the most of it. We do not
need to die and kill each other over the assumptions that we make in attempting to
answer the great mystery of existence.
I left the experience with a much stronger conviction that existence is both
absolutely mysterious and totally miraculous at the same time. It was a
combination of feelings of humility and awe. There is certainly nothing inconsistent
with honoring and respecting the source of a mystery. Now, fifty years, later, I
occasionally continue to understand more of the parts of that first experience but
this time on the rational level.
I have never seen a “flashback” where a person actually re-experienced a portion of
a psychedelic experience, but I have seen several cases of suddenly rationally
understanding a previous intuitive experience.
In our research, the high dose was set at the equivalent of five hundred micrograms
of LSD. In any case, a convenient demarcation for the definition of a high dose
experience could be the point where awareness of the body can be essentially
forgotten and the inner experience can flourish with one’s full attention. In this
respect it is like an intense dream that one is fully involved in. The word “exalted”
would be appropriate to describe the general mood of the high dose experience. It
is always possible to “wake up”, talk, think, or move around for short periods of time.
Any kind of a longer-term complex task or obligation, however, would be quite
difficult to accomplish because the inner experience would be demanding attention.
For a high dose, one would be extremely well advised to have a few undisturbed
hours available in pleasant surroundings as well as an experienced person nearby to
act as “ground control”. Knowing that someone else will handle any problems that
might come up in the outside world will allow the user to “let go”, lose his body and
the outside world, and explore the inner experience. Just as friends don’t let friends
drive drunk, friends don’t let friends get too high without someone watching over
them. A recliner or a couch is a necessity. Favorite music helps considerably to
guide and provide structure to a high dose experience, although at times silence can
be just as productive.
Since there can be some anxiety regarding the loss of rational control during a high
dose experience, a few low or moderate dose experiences would be good
preparation. One learns that so long as someone else is taking care of the outside
world it is safe to let go and to become totally immersed in any aspect of the inner
world. Since the material that emerges is generally pleasant and interesting, it
usually does not seem threatening. If and when it becomes negative in nature, one
has probably already had enough experience to know that it is only inner mental
concepts, not reality, and that he can let go and let it flow right on through and
hopefully to learn from it and to resolve it.
Another caution regarding the high dose experience is the cosmic concept called the
paranoid experience. Strictly as a precaution, it is best to be prepared for this one
even if it never happens. It is extremely rare in pleasant surroundings. I have never
seen an example of paranoia with any my well-prepared clients although I have
explored some of this area myself intentionally and I know that other people have
had them. It will probably happen most often in cases where a beginner gets an
unexpectedly high first dose under poor circumstances. In general it involves the
cosmic assumption/perception that “a supernatural malevolent intelligence is
controlling one’s world” be it evil spirits, earthly people or organizations with
supernatural powers, extraterrestrials, etc. The high dose experience by its nature
does indeed feel like something else is taking over because intuitive mental material
tends to flow up and fill the mind. Because of its very abstract nature, it is often
conceptualized as spiritual in nature. If this material is negative in nature, as it
might very well be under negative circumstances, it could feel like something
supernatural and malevolent is taking over.
As described later, it is impossible to prove or disprove any assumptions regarding
cosmic concepts, including those of causation and the supernatural, so any one of
them could be seen as possibly true. A person can usually find considerable
confirmation for any of his “cosmic assumptions” throughout his previous life
experience. If I experience the hypothetical “supernatural controller of destiny”
during a psychedelic session, for instance, it always seems more like a benign
teacher since I have experienced a lifetime of learning. However, it is easy to see
how a person with a painful background could see it as a malevolent force.
The hypothetical “supernatural controller of destiny” can be conceptualized rather
vividly during psychedelic experience. No doubt most people conceptualize it as
God interacting with natural laws, but it can take on a large range of different
characteristics. No doubt this is due to the fact that existence is in fact extremely
multidimensional and that different people experience altogether different
backgrounds within it. Psychedelics provide the opportunity to “break out of the
mold” and to explore some of the ones that have not been programmed into us by
our own life experiences. In his book How to Know God, Deepak Chopra elaborates
on differing definitions of God based on personal life experiences. In a way this is
important because one’s definition can become substantial enough to become a
form of prejudice. Someone who has had a pleasant, bountiful, and peaceful life
might be too naïve to respond appropriately to the cruelty, corruption, and
dishonesty that truly exists out in the world. On the other hand, a long-time warrior
might not be able to respond to the compassion and the good will that also exists. In
the movie The Hurt Locker, the point is made that a long-term soldier constantly
confronting life and death situations could have difficulty adjusting to the apparent
trivial and the non-stimulating nature of peaceful everyday life.
Even in normal daily consciousness, we can all see that very negative events take
place all around the world every single day. Since the flow of destiny is a mystery, it
is not too hard to conceptualize that something evil is responsible for these events.
Religions struggle to account for this unfortunate fact. This being the case, a person
with a background of abuse warrants extra preparation for a high-dose psychedelic
experience. Lower doses where the rational mind can stay dominant would make it
easier for him to get a lay of the land, to explore and resolve these areas to some
extent, and to find that other ways of structuring existence are legitimate
If the user is prepared for the eventuality of a paranoid point of view emerging, he
will hopefully remember to tell his ground controller when it first starts because
once it starts it tends to feed on itself. In any case, he should remember to keep his
rational mind separate from the experience itself and to observe it as calmly as
possible it as it passes through. He can watch the apparent threatening
supernatural forces appear to be just as controlling, negative, and dangerous as they
want to be and to calmly experience the “cosmic trap” as it goes by. High doses of
psychedelic drugs tend to provide experiences that could be called very abstract,
cosmic, or religious in nature. A concept of a supernatural “controller of destiny”
certainly falls into this category. Ground control should realize that he himself is
part of the user’s paranoid delusion, and that if he is seen as being both rational and
helpful, overall anxiety should lessen. The apparent “controller of destiny” will at
least seem partially positive and friendly. A helpful statement that ground control
might make during this type of experience could be something like: “If something is
in fact controlling our destiny, we could always assume that ultimately it is a
Always communicating with the “observer of the psychedelic experience” within the
user’s mind establishes a shared rational mode of communication. The question
“What are you experiencing now?” automatically creates the concept of an observer
observing psychedelic experience within the user’s mind. The user can come to see
the sitter himself as symbolizing the rational foothold within the situation and will
naturally relate to him as such. This mode of communication can be very helpful if
the user starts getting trapped into a difficult experience. It makes it possible for
both parties to examine the nature of the experience like two objective scientists.
The same question also implies that what is happening “now” will not be the same
as what will be happening later.
In addition, it can be pointed out that the user is in fact in comfortable and safe
surroundings and that his experience must therefore be the temporary discharge of
“negative hormones”. He can be encouraged to rationally examine the negative
point of view and learn what it entails. What it will entail for him will probably be a
COEX system that clusters the times in his life when negative influences outside of
his control have actually persecuted him. The negative experience provides a
structure that explains this feature of his life. Becoming the “examiner” of the
experience helps him to formulate the rational processes and to better reveal the
negative experience as being one of many ways to structure one’s existence.
An experienced user of psychedelics can explore with ease all of the assumptions
involving the cosmic concept that supernatural forces control or at least influence
all or some part of our destiny. The reason he can do this is that he knows that each
cosmic concept, including those of causation and spirit, has a list of improvable
assumptions associated with it. He also knows that it is possible to experience and
“feel” and “submerge” into each of these points of view, but that such convincing
“feelings” still do not in fact prove their validity. Exploring the cosmic areas of
psychedelic experience will be discussed more fully in the later section entitled
“Other Cosmic Experiences”.
I certainly do not advocate psychedelics for youngsters, but if a youngster were to
start using any kind of psychoactive drugs at all I would choose psychedelics over
anything else including cigarettes or alcohol. There are simply no addictions and no
health problems, and little or no antisocial behavior. I am quite sure that there
would seldom be any psychological problems as great or greater than with any
other kind of psychoactive drug. In fact, the psychedelic experience tends to be one
of calm self-reflection, and the clustering of insights on the basis of real-life
experience, so it might provide authentic and useful points of view even on the basis
of less life experience. I have no data, but I suspect that psychedelics would not be
any more of a gateway to harder drugs than any of the others. It has been found that
alcohol consumption actually goes down in areas where cannabis is available. Since
psychedelics can provide a satisfying “high” and “escape” it might be enough for a
high proportion of people who would otherwise look elsewhere.
I have not seen a single case of erratic driving with psychedelics. But as Jay Leno
said: “If you thought old people drove slowly before, what do you think is going to
happen when they legalize pot?”
I am quite sure that psychedelics would not reduce overall motivation. I have not
seen this to be the case in any of my clients. The experience itself might be one of
peaceful meditation, and a user might discover the benefits of relaxation in general,
but it is also an experience of creativity and fascination with the world. World-class
entertainers such as Lady Gaga and Willie Nelson clearly put a lot of work into their
Another point in this regard is that a person takes too high a dose only by accident.
He knows when he has had enough and does not “throw caution to the winds” as is
the case with some other drugs. I am guessing that the worse that could happen
with psychedelics would be that people interested in the psychological,
philosophical, and the religious aspects of the experience would enjoy chatting with
each other. Perhaps someday coffee shops, sidewalk restaurants, and cocktail
lounges could all serve such purposes. The Internet is doing so even now. There is
so much to learn. The experience is limited only by imagination.
Since the experience is generally pleasurable and interesting, some people might be
tempted to use a psychedelic so often that it interferes with other activities, but
moderation and good sense are necessary in all pleasurable activities. Recreational
drugs are definitely a part of any culture, and so far I am convinced that
psychedelics are the safest. This is not to suggest that I advocate the use of any kind
of drug but to point out the one that I consider to be the safest and the one that
might even have some possible benefits. Since marijuana is becoming more popular
at this time in history, time and experience should confirm the extent to which I am
right or wrong.
Speaking of such studies, a doctor in Mendocino County, California wrote a letter to
the editor of a local newspaper saying that he sees a steady stream of patients with
alcohol-related diseases coming through his office but only a very rare panic attack
with marijuana. I am quite sure that panic attacks are almost always caused by a
beginner taking too high a dose under poor circumstances. Marijuana accounts for
two thirds of the economy in Mendocino County and the laws regarding its
possession and use there are very tolerant. No doubt local use is popular but even
so health risks are being revealed as nonexistent. Marijuana is to Mendocino County
what wine is to Napa and Sonoma counties.
It is possible for a person taking a high dose of a psychedelic drug to have a rational
conversation with an experienced “ground controller”, but the ground controller
needs to always represent the rock-solid rational perspective or the user could
become quite confused as to where reality actually is. For instance, if the user
happens to be hallucinating changing faces onto the face of his ground controller,
which is quite common, ground control needs to say something like: “Faces may
seem to change when you look at them” rather than saying something like: “I can
change into different people”. By having an “anchor” in the rational world, the user
can almost always quite easily distinguish what is real from what is part of his
Watching one’s face rapidly changing in a mirror is an interesting experience.
Regardless of whether this experience has any value or meaning at a given time or
not, it is interesting to see how extremely creative the spontaneous thought
generator can be. A couple of my clients suggested that the many different faces
might be acquaintances from past lives since they were never seen before in this life.
Others have said that maybe they reflect the rapidly changing subtle emotions
emerging from within. In any case, these changing faces are an interesting mystery.
If a person is experiencing a high dose of a psychedelic drug, talking with someone
who is not experienced with psychedelics could be a problem. That person might
not realize the extent to which the user’s mind is being pulled off into intense and
captivating areas. An experienced ground controller knows this. He makes short
specific questions or comments and is then content with the same kind of response
or with no response at all.
Normally the high-dose experience is pleasant and interesting and the user has no
trouble dealing with the outside world for short periods of time such as for using the
bathroom. The hallucinations that take place during those times are essentially
interesting colorful visions projected onto real objects. It is interesting to see many
changing expressions on faces in photographs or pictures, for instance. There is
never anything so vivid as a vision of an object standing independently in the room.
Watching the colors and patterns change in something like an oriental carpet can be
a fascinating and captivating experience. It is interesting to consider that the
spontaneous thought generator projects ever-changing structure into the patterns
that it sees and ever-changing artistic creativity into the colors. No doubt it does the
same thing on a non-stimulated level during normal daily life. Seeing faces and
animals in clouds and in the embers of a fire is probably the same process at a much
less intense level.
As part of their experiences, I asked some of my normal volunteers to look at a
somewhat ambiguous painting of a person’s face. All of them reported seeing a
rather rapid succession of projected faces that were all perfectly formed and vivid.
No two were the same. Many of the faces had never been seen before but they all
had a familiar “feel” to them. There are various explanations that could be used to
interpret this particular phenomenon, but an underlying fact is that the mind has
considerable power to project detailed structure onto ambiguity during psychedelic
experience. This might help to explain how the mind structures clusters of
memories and ideas into COEX systems, how it formulates the cosmic assumptions
that we live by, and how it produces its spontaneous insights and understandings.
One way to describe this process is to say that psychedelics stimulate the mind’s
ability to take countless individual life experiences and cluster them into meaningful
wholenesses. It also has the ability of projecting different structures over the same
experiential data; in other words it is sometimes possible to test different points of
view to find the one that seems to fit the real-world situation the best.
Ground control can always talk to the user in a rational manner and help him to
separate his inner experience from the outside world if necessary. Questions such
as “What are you experiencing now? ”, “Is there much visual imagery? ”, “Can you
interpret your experience?”, and “Does your experience seem to be leading toward a
goal?” will help the user to activate the rational observer in his mind while at the
same time still experiencing the psychedelic experience. Encouraging the user to
relax and to keep his experience inside of his head also works. An experienced
person can learn to carry the rational mind quite deeply into the psychedelic
experience, but it is never exactly known when it might get swallowed up by the
“intense inner fantasy”.
The fact that the spontaneous thought generator is reality oriented and logical
becomes clear over time. “Aha” insights are always right on target and never refer
to pixie dust or mumbo jumbo. It is easy to argue with concepts based on
assumptions and fantasy, but not so easy with actual life experience. The fact that
the spontaneous thought generator can produce insights based on actual memories
and experiences that we would normally not consider without the stimulation of the
drug indicates that its scope of associations is greater than is our usual scope. It is
something like having a very smart companion with a good memory inside our head.
However, this “companion” provides insights only when it is ready. The rational
mind can pose a question and let it linger, but there is no guarantee that a valuable
response will be instantaneous. It might come much later or not at all. The
spontaneous thought generator has a mind of its own. Since insights are almost
always useful, realistic, and productive, perhaps any that do not quite fit this
description are never sent up to consciousness. In addition, the insights it produces
are new and useful ways of looking at things and if a person is already looking at
things in the newest and most useful way possible then maybe there is nothing
more to add.
The spontaneous thought generator has no doubt always been there, but perhaps
we have not given it as much attention and credit that it deserves at this time in
history because we have emphasized the importance of the rational thought process.
Perhaps this is true because of the scientific and industrial revolutions. Perhaps the
next stretch of history will involve the establishment of a more balanced
relationship between rational and intuitive mental processes. Simply learning to
recognize and respect the “flash understandings” and the “gut feelings” that come
from the spontaneous thought generator would be a step in that direction.
There are some extremely positive and educational “experiential” experiences that
might take place during a high dose session. Sometimes they are highly and
exquisitely structured, as when viewing extremely complex and colorful moving
three-dimensional visual imagery. Sometimes visual imagery is as complex as a one
of a continually flowing fractal image circling perfectly and precisely into a vortexes.
A single snapshot of this 3-D imagery can sometimes be so complex that it would
take an artist his entire lifetime to paint it. One comes to respect the power of his
mind when seeing such intricate imagery. I personally like to consider it as intuitive
material that is being converted into material that can be perceived by the rational
mind. This aspect of the experience could be called “awesome”. The screensaver
“Euphoria” is a good start in representing this complexity and organization in the
physical world. An even better one would be of ever-changing flowing fractal
images in 3-D on an IMAX screen. Appropriate stereo music would help to complete
A significant benefit of the psychedelic experience is that it sometimes provides
these very powerful and deep positive experiences. These experiences can be
remembered, brought back, and cultivated in daily life.
At times the experience can be like an ecstatic melting of the entire mind and body
into a background of perfect peace. On the other hand, sometimes there can be the
“power trip” or the “volcanic ecstasy”, as it is called by Dr. Grof, where one feels as
powerful and invincible as a Godzilla stomping on buildings or as Thor killing
monsters with his hammer. If a withdrawn anxious person had an experience of
this sort, he might be able to bring some of it back to daily life in the form of
increased confidence. An interesting aspect of the power trip is that at its peak it is
not associated with good or evil; it is standalone raw power all by itself and can be
experienced fully without even a shred of guilt. Perhaps what is happening is that
the “power hormone” is felt all by itself.
Sometimes there is the experience of an absolute purity and perfection of the mind,
the body, and the outside world. Every atom in a miraculous universe can seem to
be trembling in exactly the right position. Speaking poetically:
With perfect precision and tiny divisions
This delicate filigree,
Its lines so fine they start to combine
With celestial purity
Another positive experience that relates to deep relaxation could be called “direct
perception”. The body is relaxed, the mind is still, and awareness rests entirely on
the here-and-now immediate surroundings. Aldous Huxley and the Indian sage
Osho (osho.com) refer to this as a state of “direct perception”. It could be called the
“savoring” of moment-by-moment raw sensory experience without any kind of
prejudice, preconceptions, or comparisons taking place at the same time.
Streetcars come and streetcars go
People came and went
Sitting here, watching this,
Contentment is a very real and very specific and special state of being. It includes
near-perfect relaxation of the body, near-perfect clarity and peace of mind,
luxurious feelings in the body, and total satisfaction. To reach this state, it is
necessary to find ways of resolving mental tension areas or to reduce their intensity
to the point where they can temporarily be avoided or ignored. When no tensions
are imposing themselves on consciousness, what remains is an inner domain of
purity and tranquility.
It becomes possible to settle back completely, let go, and watch the world go by.
There is no need for anything. Nothing is lacking. The last speck of desire and of
discontent melt into the background tranquility. All seeking ends. Even the last
speck of desire for deeper tranquility dissolves. It is paradoxical that the last thing
that we desire is that desire itself be extinguished. It is like asking desire to commit
suicide. It is also like when the fly lands on the flyswatter. When desire is
extinguished, there is a feeling of being completely present and whole and fulfilled
in the present moment. “Perfect contentment” is another way to describe “Buddha
consciousness” or the “deepest tranquility” or the “melted ecstasy”. It is an
“absolute” experience in the sense that there is simply no farther to go in that
direction. If nothing else, it is a temporary complete escape from anything that even
resembles the work ethic or the survival instinct. Having even once approached or
experienced this state of being makes the path to personal growth all the more
obvious. It involves practice in maintaining deeper tranquility under increasingly
provoking circumstances in daily life if and when they happen to occur. Bringing
more and more contentment to more and more of daily life can become a very
pleasant and meaningful lifestyle.
One mental continuum extends from perfect bliss at one end to “the worse that
things can get” at the other. Where one happens to stand in the immediate moment
is the result of his response to the stress of living. It is possible to condition oneself
to program this response toward the bliss end of the continuum through diligent
The rules of civility become important in the pursuit of contentment because any
kind of civil discontent is tension. In addition, the skill of psychic jujitsu can be used
to dodge oncoming tense situations. One can become Wally with his cup of coffee
when the pointy-haired boss comes at him with something preposterous.
Civility is also a measure of maturity. Ongoing personal growth leads to greater
It is possible to mentally move from the experience of boredom and frustration to
relative contentment just by remembering the actual experience itself. A trivial
frustration such as stopping for a stop light or waiting in a slow line at the grocery
store can become an opportunity to practice the combination of a relaxed feeling of
contentment combined with the cosmic viewpoint of watching the world go by with
total acceptance and detachment.
Stillness, balance, and steadiness are related to contentment because there is no
tension there. This means that balancing the head on the shoulders like a marble on
a marble can promote the experience. An excellent intermediate meditation task is
to move the head in such a way that the top marble makes small, smooth, relaxed,
controlled circles around the center balance point on the bottom marble. Not only
does this focus the attention, it removes the frustration for not finding the perfect
central balance point. Circling takes very little energy, so the overall relaxation of
the body is not disturbed. By making smaller and smaller circles, and perhaps
crisscrossing, the balance point might be found and stabilized for varying lengths of
time, followed by a return to the relaxed circling rather than to the frustration and
self-criticism associated with failing to maintain perfect balance.
When the balance is close to perfect and the breathing is close to perfectly natural,
things get pretty steady. The efforts to balance the head can start to become more
automatic, thus freeing the mind to enjoy the feelings of blissful relaxation
throughout the body. A good meditation practice image for this experience could
be a statue of a seated Egyptian pharaoh. Statues feel no tension or turmoil
whatsoever. They are certainly in no hurry to get anywhere. Another could be a
suit of armor sitting in a chair contemplating the world through the slit is the visor.
A human being in this same state would need to be centered in steady peacefulness,
no doubt a very healthful mental and physical state of being. A point can be reached
where the only tensions in the body are the natural need to take the next breath and
the miniscule muscle tensions needed to keep the head balanced.
As contentment deepens, the desire for even deeper contentment diminishes. This
is somewhat of a paradox because usually the closer we are to what we want the
more we want it. When the last dot of desire for deeper contentment is suspended
in the overall mental domain of tranquility, it is not exactly easy to figure out if it is
desired to dissolve the dot or whether one simply does not care if it stays there or
not. At the time it certainly does not seem to be too much of a serious problem. In
fact, it might just be about the least stressful problem that we could possibly
experience in this existence. It brings new meaning to the word “whatever”. And
yet there is a resolution even to this minuscule tension: to become the “watcher” of
the conflict. The mental concept of the “detached inner silent witness” of the mind is
the broadest abstraction and the purest form of tranquility.
The ego normally struggles to find greater security and well-being as a result of the
survival instinct. Contentment, on the other hand, includes having temporarily let
go of survival concerns altogether. In moment-by-moment existence, relaxation
and detachment become deep while survival is currently not even considered as an
From a larger perspective, both contentment and detachment can be viewed as
alternatives that can be used to deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous
fortune. As such, it would make sense to cultivate these points of view.
A very significant feature of the experience of contentment is the general feelings in
the body. No doubt this relates to the serotonin and dopamine hormones that are
released under deep relaxation. The entire skin of the body can be felt at once in its
luxurious state. The heart region can feel the effects of the love hormone, with or
without a target for the emotion. Such an experience is about as good as it gets in
this world. An appropriate poetic symbol for this type of experience could be a
living emerald statue of the Buddha bathing in warm golden sunlight.
A hair-splitting observation at this point is that the positive feelings such as love or
the profound affirmation of all existence may be simply a hormonal state that does
not really require a “target” for the emotion. It can be felt by itself while various
targets can be chosen to give structure to the experience.
One obvious and important benefit of natural contentment is that the relationship
between the self and the outside world remains entirely present and efficient
instead of their being a withdrawal from it. Being too withdrawn under the wrong
circumstances can eventually result in various forms of misfortunes and discomforts
for the body, and discomfort to the body interferes with contentment. Far better to
live in a healthy body feeling tranquil and content in the material world and in the
current culture while interacting smoothly and productively with present
circumstances. In this way there is no guilt for mistreating oneself or others, so
maintaining a good relationship with the material world is worth the sacrifice. Guilt
is very significant contaminant to contentment. It is like seeing trash in Lake Tahoe.
An interesting concept is that we live entirely in our minds and that all of our mental
contents can be seen as emerging from the background tranquility including our
thoughts and the inner conception of our bodies and of the apparent outside world.
Our total existence can be conceptualized as emerging from the inner “background
tranquility/spirit” and filling our mind. Considering the possibility that the creative
background tranquility is a spiritual domain instead of something generated by a
physical brain makes for interesting conjecture. Deepak Chopra explores this
possibility. Since the emergence of existence is a mystery, there does not have to be
any conflict between these two points of view.
When all tension issues have been resolved, what remains is always the background
tranquility. Even when there are still a few mental tensions remaining, as is usually
the case, the background tranquility can still be seen beyond them. I consider the
background tranquility to be a “home base” for this reason. No matter where a
person might start in his mental world, if he resolves the mental tension issues
themselves, he will end up experiencing the same background tranquility. Both
Deepak Chopra and Carl Jung refer to the “refinement” process that must take place
in order to approach the final goal and both of them regard the process as the
resolution of conflicts. Chopra considers the final goal to be strictly spiritual while
Jung considers it to be “individuation”, a total integration of one’s personality. I
believe that conceptualizing the deep tranquility and contentment, working toward
it and practicing it, will keep the process in motion. This process can take place with
or without psychedelic drugs, but I believe that they can greatly facilitate it by
revealing the tranquility itself, the conflicts that block its attainment, and methods of
It is pleasant to conceptualize some cosmic concepts while exploring the relaxed
states of being. For one thing, relaxed parts of the body feel hollow since all inner
physical tensions have been dissolved. This conceptual emptiness can be mentally
filled with ki, life energy conceptualized in its purest form. It can be conceptualized
as a clear fluid that dissolves all tension and that it can be willfully moved around in
the body. Buddha consciousness would take place when the ki fills the body and the
mind and is absolutely still. Ki can surround tense or painful areas in the body that
are caused by medical problems. Movement of the body can be conceptualized as ki
flowing and moving through the limbs. Life energy does indeed move our limbs, but
it could be conceptualized as ki for the sake of meditation purposes.
We can imagine that ki fills both the body and the mind. In this way the concept
itself can become an effective tool when practicing relaxation and peace of mind.
With a little psychedelic stimulation, the concept of ki can become more vivid,
thereby allowing a deeper experience and more vivid practice.
If it is further conceptualized that one’s being and his environment are all part of a
single three-dimensional domain evenly penetrated by all-pervading space or an all-
pervading God, then one’s body can be conceptualized as a flexible moving and
thinking three-dimensional puzzle piece outlined by the skin and intimately fused to
the moving three-dimensional puzzle that makes up the rest of the universe.
Conceptualizing one’s body as being connected to or being a part of the environment
while tension-free ki flows back and forth between them can serve to refine one’s
physical relationship with the outside world. If the universe is conceptualized as
being a manifestation of spirit, then one feels “enfolded” and “occupied” by God. If
not, he feels like a subset of the same atoms that make up the rest of the universe
and that he is part of a huge atomic machine unfolding according to unknown and
mysterious forces. Needless to say, these are rather transcendental points of view.
Just knowing that they are there inside the head can help to reinforce a more
optimistic and detached view of life.
To the extent that ki flows automatically, one “flows” in relation to the world in
moment-by-moment experience. Clear rational thought and intuition can cooperate
to decide the direction that ki should take. To the extent that the rational and the
intuitive processes of the mind can work together without conflict in order to direct
personal behavior in the outside world, “flow” with the outside becomes more
effortless and refined. “Flow” is the most pleasant and yet the most rational and
effective relationship within the maze of life. Serenity, comfort, and clear thought
are certainly to be preferred to the more tense, conflicting, and desperate lifestyles.
During a psychedelic experience, these exalted experiences and others like them can
sometimes emerge entirely on their own without any special provocation or any
justification from the outside world. Sometimes it can feel as though one has
discovered a treasure trove of latent bliss hormones within himself. Sometimes the
right music can help trigger this particular intuitive journey. I think that the reason
for this is because music can express so many complex and subtle “gradations”
regarding feelings and emotions.
It would seem that these positive experiences could be real breakthroughs for
various people. A “power trip”, for instance, would seem to be of value to a person
who generally felt overwhelmed by daily life. He would know that strength and
confidence are realities within his being and that they could be nurtured. The
“melted ecstasy” would be of value to a person who is too tense and stressed. The
“meaningless” experience would be of value to a person who needed to learn to
relax and even luxuriate while experiencing the concept of a mysterious and
seemingly meaningless and absurd existence. The religious experience would be of
value to a person pursuing the “spiritual quest”. An experience of deep contentment
might be of value to a person who tended to over-respond to the difficulties of life.
The experiences of ecstatic joy would certainly be a significant breakthrough for a
depressed person. Perhaps over time safe “designer drugs” will be discovered or
synthesized that will provide these sorts of specific therapeutic experiences. If so, a
person could not only learn that such experiences really exist within his being but
also that they could be remembered and cultivated in daily life.
The psychoactive drug in the salvia divinorum plant tends to stimulate an interesting
specific point of view. It is the one where the limits of one’s senses seem to bet he
limits of his existence. In other words, nothing exists on the other side of the paint
on the walls. This is in keeping with the “cosmic” point of view that our immediate
personal experience is the only reality. This particular point of view has several
interesting implications that can be explored. One would be that the table out there
is not really made of wood; it is made of experience.
Even though existing psychedelic drugs can provide an extremely large range of
experiences, the moment-by-moment experience is somewhat unpredictable. At the
same time, it could be assumed that the mind is always seeking equilibrium and that
psychedelic drugs stimulate the most productive experiences moment by moment in
order for a person to move toward that equilibrium. Considering the tension-
resolution pattern to the overall experience, this possibility seems reasonable.
Feeling good by itself is not a delusion; it would require the projection of something
unreal onto the world to make it qualify as such. In other words, it is possible to
observe and to deal with the difficulties of life objectively and without distortion
while feeling strong and good instead of while feeling confused, miserable, and
It is possible to relax and flow thought the maze of daily life while enjoying more of
the highly refined bliss hormones and fewer of the fatigue-inducing and depressing
stress hormones. Relaxation and the resolution of emotional, psychological, and
philosophical residual tensions can make this possible. As Baba Ram Das put it in his
book Be Here Now, it is possible to operate from “ah-h-h” rather than from “erk”.
No doubt even an expert in brain functioning would have some difficulty explaining
how a single drug could cause so many extremely different mental/emotional
experiences. In fact, this expert would have trouble explaining how a brain can
create a mind in the first place.
The Religious experience
The religious experience is composed of a rather specific set of extremely broad
concepts and exalted emotions. The Walter Pahnke Good Friday Experiment can be
researched on the Internet. In any case, the high-dose religious experience would
have to be categorized as cosmic in nature because it deals in concepts such as spirit,
eternity, infinity, oneness, creation, purpose, and causation.
Becoming “one with God” can be interpreted from different viewpoints. From the
materialistic viewpoint, the universe would be seen as being made of atoms and
energy. Without an organizing principle at work, the atoms and the energy would
be random and chaotic. There would be no structure anywhere, such as the case of
when silt is suspended in water. Even if the organizing principle is at work and has
created structures out of the “silt” (atoms in chaos) everything is still made out of
silt. On the atomic level, we as individuals share the same dance of atoms and
energy that makes up the entire universe, we share the same volume of space, and
we are therefore at one with it. Even without any expansion of consciousness
whatsoever, this can be recognized as a truly miraculous and astonishing process.
With expanded consciousness, there is a shift from small screen movies to IMAX 3D,
so these concepts become truly exalted.
The same organizing principle that continues to structure us and our environment
also organizes the rest of the universe, so everything is under the influence of the
organizing principle of the entire universe. Needless to say, these are extremely
broad concepts, but they can be experienced vividly on both the intuitive and the
rational levels with psychedelic drugs. Of course, it is not easy to say much more
than “wow!” on the rational level. At the same time, contemplating these same
concepts during low dose sessions and even during daily consciousness is possible
and can be interesting and productive. They make good food for discussion.
In any case, the religious feelings of awe, reverence, and humility can be felt toward
a mysterious organizing principle as well as toward a God that is conceptualized
more as an all-pervading intelligence. In either case, there is the strong conviction
that something much bigger than ourselves has a lot to do with existence itself as
well as the flow of destiny.
These concepts can also be viewed from the spiritual level where the atoms and the
energy emerge from an invisible creative spirit that fills the universe. These atoms
can be conceptualized as packets of energy, bits of matter, or as manifestations of
spirit. In any case, they are the building blocks of the universe and something is
doing the building.
The important point within these concepts is that the organizing principle behind
the scenes is always a mystery. All we know is what it has done: to structure the
current moment that we are experiencing right now and the moments that we have
experienced in the past. We know that it is doing all of the work because we
certainly can’t arrange atoms. Of course, our free will, if it exists, may have some
kind of influence on the macroscopic level that we live on.
This concept can be seen from the point of view that the organizing principle has a
personality and an agenda. Personifying “God” in this way poses the big questions
regarding His overall agenda. We see a little general historical structure in the
increase in technology over the centuries, but other than that a clear agenda is
elusive. The universe continues to expand and the same dramatic themes are
repeated endlessly in the human drama. Another big question regarding the
personification of God is the problem of why “He” allows the suffering.
My own current resolution to the problem of suffering is that Providence provides
what it does for unknown reasons and that it may be true that the powers of
destruction must equal the powers of construction on all levels of abstraction in
order for existence to exist at all. We see the powers of construction as good and the
powers of destruction as evil. I agree with the Buddhist concept that detachment is
the only escape from suffering, but that the deeper the detachment also the deeper
the contentment. The image of a serene Jesus on the cross would symbolize this
highest of ideals in our “vale of tears”. At any rate, these are my personal
convictions, and they seem to be reasonably consistent with the rest of the domain
of my cosmic concepts.
One interesting resolution that can be observed on this level of abstraction involves
the opposite points of view regarding free will and a predetermined or otherwise
controlled destiny. Since it is impossible to know if our personal decisions are made
by natural laws interacting with a biological brain or by a spirit interacting with
both, the decision-making process is a mystery. Since it is a mystery, its nature of its
source can be ignored and it is possible to “just be” in this regard and to observe the
decision-making process unfold as it will wherever it comes from. Since it seems
like we have free will, we are obliged to use it wisely.
The internal “silent witness” of our experience is an extremely broad concept since
it observes our entire existence. It is possible to identify with the inner witness of
experience as well as the experiencer of existence or on any gradation in between.
One way to help to understand the religious experience or to move toward it during
a psychedelic session is to imagine oneself as being a disembodied mind hovering in
outer space as clearly as possible. Even in normal daily consciousness we can easily
conceptualize space as being invisible, all pervading, eternal, infinite, undefiled,
imperturbable, and changeless. On one hand it is nothingness and on the other hand
it is everywhere and in all things. It is an invisible immaterial reality that is evenly
distributed throughout the universe. It reaches out to and penetrates the farthest
stars and at the same time it passes through every atom here on earth. All of these
qualities are shared with the usual concept of God. This particular concept can
become extremely vivid with stimulation from a psychedelic drug. From this
perspective, solid objects could be compared to laser images moving through mist
without disturbing it. When a solid object moves through space, the space does not
flow around it like water flows around a fish. The object becomes the space and the
space becomes the object. As such, a volume of space can take on the characteristics
of any combination of matter or energy that exists. Taking on such characteristics is
an act of creation.
A laser image of an explosion in mist would not disturb the mist in the slightest in
the same way that a real explosion on earth would not disturb the space in which it
It is easy to conceptualize empty, eternal, infinite space as an abstract idea, but to
actually live it and feel it and experience it is quite another. For one thing, it is the
complete surrender of all tension.
The following lines describe this state of consciousness poetically:
The endless vastness of space
A silent witness is seeing
No disturbance anyplace
Only perfect being
Sri Aurobindo referred to this concept as “the peace so perfect that it does not even
need a ripple in it in order to exist”. In other words, observation by itself becomes
the primary mental process.
Conceptualizing perfect emptiness would be perfect peace of mind. However, the
mind loves to generate material, so usually the best we can do is to approach that
ideal. In my own case, and I am sure with others, the mental material surrounding
the perfect peace may or may not be rational but it is always pleasant and of low
intensity. Sometimes it is organic, random, or cartoonish and at other times there
are clear rational thoughts penetrating various topics. Usually the two work
together. It is sometimes possible to think very clearly and succinctly when Wiley
Coyote is contemplating the starry sky from his lawn chair. In this image, Wiley can
represent that existence can be seen as a cartoon where meaning is a mystery, the
lawn chair can represent that it is possible to relax and be content even when
experiencing that particular point of view, and the starry sky can represent the fact
that the cosmos is an incredible and magnificent miracle including even the lawn
Having been placed here on Earth as needy human beings in frail biological bodies
facing a world that is often hostile and always uncertain has its problems. Not only
is there a long string of obligations that must be met for the sake of survival and
well-being, but there are emotional tensions such as needs, anxieties, conflicts, and
uncertainties. There is even a string of intense dramas devoted to the basic task of
the propagation of the species. This being the case, it is no surprise that people
sometimes feel a need or a desire for some kind of self-transcendence. They feel the
need for a short escape from the endless rat race of seeking survival, well being, and
The overall fact is that any meaning that we might pursue in terms of personal
activities or goals is ultimately pointless because eventually we will all be long gone.
All life on Earth eventually gets recycled through the topsoil. Pursuing any
existential or religious sense of meaning of existence is like chasing a will o’ the wisp.
Something or other put us here and no one can prove that they really know how or
why. Referring to writings or to inspiration is not proof. We make up our own
reasons for being here, we live our short little story, and then we disappear like a
puff of smoke. To find peace of mind, it is necessary to accept our mortality
completely but to relax in it. Any other search for meaning is a form of tension
because accepting one answer means struggling to deny all of the others. Not that
this is bad because we all naturally enjoy having a sense of meaning in our lives, but
being able to accept the fact that ultimately meaning is a mystery can be a relief
even from that form of tension.
The need for meaning and the intense survival instinct are clearly built right into us,
but to reach peace of mind they must be temporarily set aside as issues.
Recognizing our mortality and the mysterious nature of existence are the broader
concepts that make it possible to do so. We can adopt the point of view that all of
our efforts will eventually amount to nothing so that we can, at least for the moment,
relax, do nothing, and be completely content and soak in the here-and-now moment
with no concern whatsoever regarding the future. It is like giving a giant sleeping
pill to the voracious survival instinct. Knowing that this particular state of
consciousness and point of view are available to some degree of depth at any time
during the day gives our struggle for survival, well-being, and meaning a refreshing
break. For the moment, at least, we can just be and smell the roses.
The organization of atoms that make up the current moment is one miracle, but
another is that the current moment proceeds through time as an ongoing drama. In
my own humble orientation, simply recognizing that these miracles are taking place
is in effect a personal payment of recognition and homage to them. It is not too
hard to respect the source of this incredible existence no matter what it might be.
Deep relaxation is very blissful. There is a tendency to conceptualize a background
tranquility as an inner empty serene mental domain. The mind-body system is
temporarily outside of, or has transcended, the dramatic world of emotions and
feelings. When thinking about a complex relationship with another person, for
instance, it becomes an energy process free of any emotional influences whatsoever.
Analyzing one’s self and his world from this super-rational perspective can reveal
things otherwise unnoticed.
While in the extremely relaxed state, the body feels the bliss hormones that could be
in part described as feelings something like “snug” or “cozy” in the skin and “floating”
otherwise. Other bliss hormones such as love, happiness, and appreciation may also
flow freely because they do not tense up the body. Contemplating one’s existence
and personal drama from this particular state can help to reveal positive
possibilities. Like sex and rage, positive hormones and feelings can be evoked and
stimulated with appropriate mental memories and images.
The mature person seeks the least conflicting and most pleasurable path through
the maze of life. The energy of the survival instinct is aimed toward doing what is
necessary to maximize the likelihood of survival and well-being rather than
grappling with imaginary threats, past difficulties, and unnecessary anxieties. Of
course, the option of grappling with real threats is still always present. The survival
instinct is still there but deep relaxation can pacify it until it is needed.
The “inner voice” emanating from the spontaneous thought generator, if it speaks,
can take on the role of being from a spiritual source during the religious experience.
Whether this voice is truly spirit or whether it is our personal concept of what spirit
would be like if it really existed is, of course, a mystery. In any case, this inner voice
presents itself essentially as a separate intelligent being with a great deal of
knowledge and authority. Rational thought continues to be present and continues
to function separately as always. “Talking with God” is obviously an extremely
significant and transcendent experience. No doubt its content is different for each
person and each person draws different conclusions from it.
I like to consider one particular aspect of the high-dose experience as being what
could be called “Buddha consciousness” because for me it includes the concept of a
blissful human being relating smoothly and comfortably to both his inside and
outside worlds while existing in a magnificent but mysterious universe. I know that
what is symbolized by the Christian cross is still out there in everyday reality and I
know that I may have to contend with it to some degree again someday in the future,
but for now Buddha consciousness is an option. I like to think that the detachment
and peace associated with Buddha consciousness would make it easier for me to
bear any future slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that might come my way. I
also like to think that practicing Buddha consciousness will help it to strengthen and
become more permanent in neuroplastic space.
A religious experience seems completely convincing while it is being experienced,
but subjective experience is not proof of any associated objective reality. This is a
very important point with respect to psychedelic experience. Any concept that can
be imagined can be experienced in a very convincing fashion during psychedelic
experience, and imagination is extremely flexible. As such, it is important to take
some of the extraordinary experiences with at least a little grain of salt and to
regard them as possibilities and assumptions rather than as absolute truths. They
may reflect a material reality or they may not. I know that in my own case and that
of many others, there can be a sensation that one is so light and free that he can
levitate and even fly. It would be best to test this one on the bottom step.
I take a very minor issue with people who go ahead and assume that the spirit that
they perceived during psychedelic experience was really the ultimate reality. I
know that it is nice to relax and go ahead and believe that concept entirely, but I still
feel some respect for the concept of a physical brain in a physical body. That
magnificent and fantastic biological machine might be generating the religious
experience all by itself. On the other hand, spirit could be causing the brain to
produce mental material to consciousness. If this is true, it answers the Dalai
Lama’s question of how the brain knows what thought to think next. In any case, I
still see it as a mystery and not as a certainty. Other people’s certainty is part of the
mystery for me.
I am definitely in the minority in this respect. People have defined this experience
as real throughout the centuries. However, I do not feel that God is critical of my
particular viewpoint. I am quite sure that He chooses to remain absolutely
mysterious anyway. I believe that He exists, but that He is so mysterious that
absolutely nothing can be said definitively about His being, His nature, or His agenda.
I remember reading somewhere that in at least one religion He is not even given a
name because a name would give unwarranted structure to something that is
Like Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts made the assumption that the spirit experienced
during a psychedelic session is the real God. He had the insight that God hides
himself most effectively in the most trivial, mundane, and absurd aspects of daily-
life existence. I personally like to put an intermediate step in there. What we
experience is a concept of God. He arranges the atoms of the universe in such a way
that such concepts can even exist in our minds. Or, put another way, He is
ultimately the source of our mental contents be it through the manipulation of
atoms in our brain or through direct communication. Of course, this is another
improvable cosmic assumption but to me at least it seems to fit. Perhaps the Potter
molds our moment-by-moment experience with possible limitations in the form of
natural laws, free will, yin-yang constraints, human nature, and possibly other fixed
influences that have somehow been built into the system. Anyway, it comes from
somewhere and ultimately no one knows how or why.
Dr. Grof likes the analogy that a TV station (spirit) transmits the signal, a TV set (the
brain) interprets it, and we (our awareness) watches it. This is a satisfying
conceptual resolution to the materialistic and the spiritual points of view with
respect to the mystery of the mind.
It was mentioned earlier that it is sometimes possible to experience an inner dialog
with what Jung called autonomous complexes. This inner voice can take on many
roles, but with a high dose experience it can take on the role of the broadest concept
of all: God himself. I once asked my “inner spirit teacher” if He were really God or
just my imagination. The answer that came back was: “You don’t know, do you?”
To me, that said it all. The universe could be made of physical atoms and energy or
it could be entirely a manifestation of spirit. Another point of view is that the
universe is made of nothing but experience because experience itself is the only
thing that we know absolutely for sure that really exists. In any case, a dialog with
the “inner spirit teacher” can be extremely interesting.
Huxley’s reference to cleansing the doors of perception, although accurate, could be
unfortunate in one respect. What needs to be changed is to relax the emotional
component of the thought process with its tendency to project preconceptions,
memories, structures, judgments, and interpretations onto the world, while at the
same time leaving the remaining process of direct, open, unprejudiced,
nonjudgmental, receptive perception and rationality still intact. When judgment is
suspended, all of one’s existence “simply is”. Everything in it is of the same value
although miraculous and fascinating. Rational processes need not be necessarily
seen as unwanted contamination that needs to be cleansed. Rational thought is in
fact one of the highest processes in the known universe. It can be just as productive
to refine rational thought to the point where it is as calm, clear, and as unprejudiced
by emotion as possible rather than to define it as a contamination that must be
cleansed out of consciousness. Deep relaxation will subdue the stress hormones
that in turn will allow stress-free thought to take place. Stress-free thought
combined with clear perception is a very rewarding experience, and it can be
It certainly makes sense that the more mental energy and time that is devoted to the
practice of direct perception, the more vivid it will become. The percentage of
mental energy that goes to each function (direct perception or rational thought) is
variable. It is not entirely like an on-or-off light switch. Each function “dances” with
the other and it is not even necessary to think about which is being primarily active
at any given time. They can work together smoothly. It is possible to be absorbed in
a fine work of art one minute and then to be totally involved in a textbook the next.
This can be done naturally as well as with the stimulation of a psychedelic drug.
Direct perception can be like a refreshing vacation from the mundane. In the
vernacular, it can be a refocusing onto “where it is really at” or onto “the which of
which there is no whicher”. As Alan Watts put it: “This is it, and this is all there is”.
From a social perspective, it could be speculated that Aldous Huxley will be seen as
a pioneer describing the way back into this particular mode of perception while
continuing to live in our current modern culture. He refers to words like
“transcendent”, “the source of meaning” and “is-ness”. Perhaps the word “awesome”
describes the entire mode of direct perception most completely.
It is useful to consider Carl Jung’s concept of the “autonomous complex”. In its
simplest form it is the “self” that we talk to when we are talking to ourselves. It is
the second party in an inner dialog. This process is not unusual; it can be easily
carried out in daily life and it can be relatively continuous in dreams. Psychedelic
drugs can make this second party seem a great deal more vivid and independent,
perhaps in part because the spontaneous thought generator already presents itself
as a secondary source of thought. Like Jung, I had no trouble getting used to other
people inside my head, partly because I know that they are only spontaneous
imagery and partly because they keep coming up with new and interesting ways of
seeing things. Some of them are like archetypal or mythical symbols in that they
represent sweeping influences in the human drama while others are more everyday
like people that I know.
This secondary source of thought engages in the process of clustering similarities.
These clusters can be considered as overall rational-intuitive concepts. They can be
structured with words, symbols, and activities in the outside world by such means
as art and music. In psychedelic experience, the symbols that emerge to represent
the various clusters are often “mythical” in nature. They can seem to have definite
personalities and agendas of their own. A scholar of mythology would enjoy this
aspect of the psychedelic experience. These “universal” clusters are broad
abstractions that are similar just by virtue of the fact that we are all human beings
facing essentially the same basic issues in existence. Individual events might have
considerable variety, but the clusters, being groupings of similar experiences, are
lower in number. Since visual imagery is often stimulated in psychedelic experience,
the association of mythic symbols with these universal clusters is not unusual. Jung
would call them the “archetypal symbols” that are shared by all cultures. Dr. Grof
would also call them COEX systems. Many of these images are of human-like
spiritual personalities such as loving parents, wicked witches, magicians, abandoned
children, or heroes. Some are animals such as snakes or mermaids. They all
represent generalities made up of clusters of similar events or patterns of behavior.
Discussing these mythic symbols might sound a little like Alice in Wonderland, but
they give considerable structure to the psychedelic experience and we can use them
to our advantage. The concepts of COEX systems, archetypal symbols, and mythic
symbols are similar enough that they can be used fairly interchangeably. They all
represent single concepts and clusters of similar experience. For instance, a “mad
monkey” or the “mad hatter” of Alice in Wonderland could represent the chattering
mind and mental turbulence in general. If the mad monkey could ever become
conceptualized deeply and intuitively as lying in his lawn chair gazing up at the
starry summer sky while contemplating the miracle of creation, many stress
hormones could be subdued. The rational mind can sometimes use a symbol of this
nature in order to encourage the corresponding intuitive experience to express
itself. Of course, this process could be practiced with or without psychedelic
stimulation. Such explorations could be considered as examples of “exercising
neuroplasticity” or, simply put, as developing chosen positive emotional habits. In
addition, the symbols associated with these clusters can change as the COEX system
itself is explored and cultivated. The relaxed monkey, for instance, might eventually
evolve into a serene and contented sage.
Positive symbols of this nature can used as desired to serve as guiding lights to help
focus self-exploration and to organize areas of mental experience into positive
Mythical and archetypal symbols can be very useful both during psychedelic
experience and at other times. It is possible to recall them and to willfully “float”
into them, explore them, and to sometimes even manipulate their various qualities.
For instance, if a person who felt generally overwhelmed by life started to feel the
beginnings of a “power trip” coming on during a psychedelic experience, he could
choose to drill down into that experience and feel its mighty thunderous power fully.
If he associated a hero symbol such as Hercules or Godzilla or some other image
with it, he could later recall that symbol with its associated COEX system, examine it
with or without expanded consciousness, and explore different ways of relating to
the world with the newly discovered hormone-attitude. He could learn ways to
relate to the world while being stronger, more confident, and more productive.
These symbols can help to harness expanded consciousness for the purposes of both
self-exploration and personal growth. In this way, a person can guide intuitive
experience to some extent using his rational mind. The astronaut and the
cosmonaut can share the adventure. One or two high-dose experiences, although
useful and illuminating, just do not provide this opportunity since everything flies
by so quickly and at such a broad level of abstraction. There is a great deal of detail
that can be learned and examined with occasional lower doses where both the
rational mind and the intuitive mind working together can be brought to bear on
interesting real-world scenarios while searching for the “holy grails” of
understandings and conflict resolutions.
A myth, an archetype, a COEX system, and a cosmic assumption share the quality of
having no substance in the material world. They are all universal mental
constructions that help to structure and give meaning to existence. They can be
experienced and examined closely in psychedelic experience due to the clustering
feature that the spontaneous thought generator provides.
For example, one particular idealized mythical symbol that is composed of many
positive attributes would be the knight in shining armor. This myth clusters
personal attributes that would serve to describe an ideal individual relating to his
surroundings and to his community in an ideal manner. The shining armor
symbolizes an honorable life in spite of the stresses and temptations that he has
experienced. There are no stains on his shield. It also symbolizes invulnerability to
all forms of recrimination due to his having lived an honorable life. Mud does not
stick to shiny armor. It also represents his ability to protect himself from the “slings
and arrows of outrageous fortune”. Being a well-trained knight, he is skilled and
well able to protect himself and to survive in a turbulent and uncertain world. He is
a citizen-warrior ready to protect his friends, his family, and his homeland against
all forms of evil. He also protects people who cannot protect themselves. In his
peaceful daily life he is calm, dignified, sensitive, responsible, considerate, refined,
chivalrous, and pleasant company in general. Being noble himself, he can spot the
first signs of corruption anywhere. Of course, a woman can contemplate all of these
ideal personal attributes in a psychedelic session or at any other time, but perhaps
with a somewhat different associated set of symbols. Two of my high-dose lady
patients experienced a deep identification with an idealized image of Joan of Arc. It
seems as though the rules of civility are built right into these archetypal images and
that they are already in our head. It might explain why people are sometimes
motivated to create and live in utopias or communes. Clearly, society is most
peaceful and rewarding when we all help each other, but the desperate side of the
survival instinct keeps getting in the way.
This COEX system, like all COEX systems that have clustered to the point where they
can be recognized as such, is a “gestalt”, or a wholeness that equals more than the
sum of its parts. During psychedelic experience, it is possible to more vividly “live”
the role of the knight or the lady and to even “take trips” through various chosen
situations and to experience what their reactions might be to them. It is also
possible to imagine how a knight or a lady would respond to the same situations
during one’s actual daily life since the basic structure is already present in the mind.
In this way, a COEX system that had been discovered and clustered during
psychedelic experience could be “fleshed out” to the extent desired through one’s
relationship with the outer world.
Another “romantic ideal” is the simple and thrifty life of living as close to nature as
possible. Thoreau portrayed this point of view, and it has a set of positive aspects to
it such as meditative peace, simplicity, solitude, ecology, and minimal disturbance.
It is similar to the Zen concept of minimalism, where there is a focus on the formal
and uncluttered aspect of experience. It is interesting and entertaining to explore
these points of view with psychedelics. There is no need to travel physically all the
way to a Zen garden when it can be found and experienced on the inside.
Such is psychedelic experience on the “archetypal” or “mythic” level of abstraction.
The level above it is the “cosmic” level and below it are expanded views of the
everyday level. Dosage generally regulates the level of abstractionalthough there is
overlap and flexibility between them.
A COEX system that has become completely formed is something like a pure abstract
point of view, or myth, or archetypal symbol. All of the known elements of the
cluster have been collected and all of the internal conflicts between any of them
have been resolved. It becomes possible to conceptualize the ideal knight or an
ideal relationship between man and nature or even a clear definition of any of the
gods in the Greek pantheon. Needless to say, none of these mental perfections
seldom manifest completely in the material world for any length of time for at least
two reasons. One is that a pure archetype such as peace on earth, although
something that can be conceptualized by all of us, cannot become a reality because
not enough people want to put into effect. If there were enough, it would happen.
Another reason is that different people live by different sets of ideals and these
ideals disagree with each other when they are put into reality. Even so, we can still
cluster and conceptualize the underlying myths and generalities at work in society.
This entire essay contains the elaboration of a single COEX system discovered
during a psychedelic session. The discovery was the simple and obvious fact that
new ideas and insights come from “out of the blue” from an unknown source within
the mind/brain all the time. There is a “secret processer” in there that can be
stimulated with psychedelics. It puts things together and it plows new conceptual
ground for us and expands our consciousness, and it does so entirely outside of our
awareness. This concept has many implications.
The idealized mythical image of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, represents a vast
range of intense, subtle, and exquisite feelings relating to all of the various shades
and aspects of love and affection. Experiencing this particular image during a
psychedelic session involves the release of a variety of exquisite bliss hormones. It
includes all of the shades of the positive feelings that can be felt toward pets,
children, friends, lovers, spouses, parents, and God himself.
Sometimes some quite incongruous, vivid, yet completely coherent experiences
come out of nowhere during a psychedelic session. I once had the unusual
experience of encountering some inner extraterrestrial beings during a rather high-
dose psychedelic session. We were all totally surprised to see each other. These
beings proceeded to present one of the youngest and smallest members of their
group to greet “us”, indicating that they were friendly. It never even occurred to me
that this would be one way to do so. Even though they were somewhat ugly and
scary, the children were as cute as bugs. “We” responded with our youngest and
smallest. What followed was a wonderful feeling of comradeship that could only be
experienced by meeting extremely friendly but nevertheless absolutely
extraordinary beings. It was like sharing and comparing two cultures, each one
looking for possible beneficial aspects in the other. I remember that one of the “ESP
topics” had to do with the problem of sexual freedom versus committed
relationships. We both ended up agreeing that sex is so intimate that it is
impossible to have it both ways. It has to be the or the other. Psychedelics can
certainly take us into unusual places. I cannot prove whether these beings had any
reality in any way, shape, or form, but I know for sure that I learned from them.
Strangers who seem a great deal different from myself threaten me much less now
and it is much easier for me to relate to them. I found a way to deal with a COEX
system involving “scary strangers”.
The appearance of the extraterrestrials and the presentation of their youngest and
smallest member were completely spontaneous experiences that came out of
nowhere, but my decision to respond in the same manner was my own rational
choice. This shows how the intuitive and the rational minds can work together. If I
had chosen to respond with suspicion, defensiveness, and hostility, I am sure that
the experience that followed would have unfolded much differently. It might have
even evolved into mental intergalactic war. I am sure that Aphrodite approved of
the decision that I made because She proceeded to elevate me to the level of feeling
loved by the entire universe. The psychedelic experience seems to reward us for
what we know are good choices and no doubt our conscience does the same thing in
It is interesting to notice the different levels of abstraction while moving from the
everyday level of greeting individual strangers to the semi-cosmic level of greeting
extraordinary beings to the super-cosmic level of loving and being loved by a
goddess. If psychedelics can to provide these sorts of lessons regarding the
meeting of strangers, as seems to be the case, they will be medicine both for society
as well as for individuals. I am guessing that psychedelics could help us to
understand deeply and to even adapt to different cultures because the underlying
features of them are revealed. They might even be useful in learning other
languages for the same reason.
Idealized COEX systems such as those symbolized by the serene sage, a loving
goddess, and the honorable knight can act as guiding lights to personal growth.
Without higher goals, both individuals and entire societies would continue to exist
on their current more primitive and chaotic levels of being. Not only can the
“clustering” feature of psychedelics make these systems and images more vivid and
far-reaching, they can also facilitate meditation regarding how their internalization
and implementation would influence relationships with the outside world. A
“serene sage”, for instance, would be seen as being very unlikely to get into trouble
for impulsive actions or extreme emotions.
During psychedelic experience, COEX systems and their associated symbols tend to
cluster themselves and emerge on their own into consciousness where they can be
experienced and explored. No doubt the ones that tend to emerge are influenced by
the nature of a person’s past experiences and certainly by his religion. Two of my
devout Catholic lady clients both had vivid experiences regarding a loving Virgin
Mary. After his experience, one of my Christian male clients who was strongly
addicted to cigarettes explained that cigarettes helped him to temporarily “escape
from the cross”. It is strictly conjecture, but I strongly suspect that if this person had
repeated psychedelic experiences at the right dosage, at the right intervals, under
the right conditions, and with the right motivation, he could deeply identify with the
cosmic concept of the suffering Jesus and work it through. Stronger detachment
would make it easier for him to endure the discomfort of tobacco withdrawal. He
probably would not even need ground control to help him to make it possible. He
might hopefully end up finding a positive image of Jesus in His strong, serene, and
loving aspect and to strengthen it in his neuroplastic space.
I suspect that such inner journeys tend to guide themselves to successful
conclusions because the spontaneous thought generator is an inner ally, is a part of
us, and naturally seeks our overall peace of mind and well-being. I am guessing that
Homer’s Odyssey, stories about knights seeking the Holy Grail, and the Wizard of Oz
are mythical representations of the same sorts of personal quests. The Wizard of Oz
and Alice in Wonderland suggest that the journey can take place on the inside rather
than in relationship with the outside world. In the model that I like to use, the
conflicts along the way are not so much monsters that need to be killed but instead
interesting emotional-philosophical puzzles that need to be solved by finding new
attitudes and points of view in order to transcend and neutralize them. The mental
energy consumed by these tension-issue-puzzles can be liberated and put to better
use such as in clear thought within a mental domain of tranquility. It can also
provide expanded freedom to enjoy more of the various pleasures that life has to
offer. A person who is always grousing can’t take the time to smell the roses and to
do all the other good things.
In this way, occasional low-dose psychedelic sessions combined with daily-life
experience and contemplation can become a lifestyle of mental housecleaning and
the cultivation of a smoother and more pleasant relationship with the environment.
The archetypal image of the suffering Jesus could be interpreted as representing
human suffering in general. Feeling compassion for suffering is a natural response
because we can all imagine how it feels and we all know that we may have to endure
it ourselves sooner or later. No matter how we twist and turn, we are still frail,
needy, biological creatures struggling for survival and well-being in a world that is
often hostile and always unpredictable. One only has to read the daily newspaper.
In this respect we must all somehow find our way through this “vale of tears”. The
archetypal image of a crucified Jesus in deep serenity represents an extremely high
ideal considering the true nature of the human condition. It represents detachment
toward the worse that fate could possibly have to offer. A vivid inner image of this
nature cultivated in neuroplastic space might help a person through some difficult
times and it might help him to face the future with greater tranquility. Discovering
and experiencing such an image deeply during a psychedelic session might reveal
and help to strengthen the corresponding daily attitude.
The Christian cross can symbolize a continuum from tranquility under the worse
possible conditions on one end to maximum suffering on the other. Another symbol
would be the religious monk who sets himself on fire and calmly lets himself be
burned to death. We are all somewhere on that continuum every minute of our day.
Discovering and cultivating the tranquil end of the spectrum is certainly not a sin, it
can help to endure suffering, and it can improve the overall quality of life.
From a general perspective, and assuming circumstances that are at least neutral, an
emotional feeling of an abundance that can be shared is more pleasant than a feeling
of desperation and neediness. When bliss hormones stimulate the body, there is a
feeling that one has all he needs and a great deal more.
Some people and some entire cultures consider mythical images as being strictly
spiritual in nature possibly because they are invisible and because everyone can
experience them and be influenced by them. They can be interpreted as spiritual or
psychological in an authentic manner so long as the mysterious quality of both ways
is recognized. It is not too hard to imagine that Mars, the god of war, influenced the
invasion of Iraq from behind the scenes of daily life since the invasion itself was so
unjustified and irrational. Since it is impossible to prove whether our thoughts
emerge from spirit or from a physical brain in a physical world, a spirit could be
conceptualized as subtly influencing attitudes, points of view, and decisions on a
global scale. Even if not, it is still an advantage to expand our level of abstraction
and to detect and rationalize these influences taking place. From the sociological
standpoint, they could be conceptualized as “hysterical epidemics” instead of as
being spiritual influences. The positive and fun ones such as Woodstock would not
be too much of a problem, but it would be of benefit to be able to detect and
neutralize the negative ones like the rush to war with Iraq or like the sudden belief
that more of the disadvantaged should qualify for mortgages. I am not sure that
there is a myth or a god associated with the latter belief, but the figure of Shylock
from Shakespeare seems appropriate.
A current “hysterical epidemic” or spiritual influence could be the current (2011)
rebellion of the common people against the greed and corruption of the people in
power in so much of the world. Perhaps as the world becomes more of a “flat earth”
and as communication makes it more transparent, inequities of all sorts may start to
be leveled out.
Some people consider the possibility that there are spirit-teachers in the
psychedelic drugs themselves, such as Mescalito in the Mescal cactus. I certainly do
not have the answer, but I am nevertheless sure that learning is a frequent aspect of
the psychedelic experience even while simply relaxing in a recliner. It is not
necessary to learn everything from the school of hard knocks.
The nature of being
The mind is certainly capable of conceptualizing very broad concepts. For instance,
the abstractions of “existence” and “space” are so broad that they include everything.
We already have a mental repertoire of cosmic abstractions in our mind. We can
explore them and manipulate them as we wish, but with the stimulation of a
psychedelic drug it can become a very expanded and interesting adventure.
Concepts are all immaterial mental structures, so they are not bound by the
constraints of natural laws. It is possible to see things from entirely different points
of view. A few examples follow.
From a very broad perspective, for instance, it could be said that we live entirely in
our minds. What appears to be an outside material existence could be some form of
dream-projection. We cannot prove that a material world exists beyond mental
experience. An even broader abstraction would be that experience itself is the only
reality. Our current experience could be interpreted in a spiritual, material, mental,
or in any other kind of manner to define it, but the current-moment experience by
itself is nevertheless the only reality that we can prove exists no matter how it is
defined. From this point of view, existence is experience only and nothing else.
Experience includes thought, awareness of an apparent body, and awareness of an
apparent outside world. The body and the outside world are trapped by the
constraints of natural law, but the world of thought is free to roam as it pleases.
Another very broad abstraction would be that whatever magic created our existence
in the first place could be assumed to be maintaining it. Organizing and constantly
rearranging its countless (hypothetical) atoms in order to produce the flow of the
human drama that we experience is certainly not a trivial task.
Since we were placed here by unknown forces, and since our experience is all that
we have, we could reasonably assume that the overall primary reason for our being
here is to experience the contents of the immediate moment. From this point of
view, we could assume that we were placed here strictly for the purpose of
experiencing the world. All other obligations and commitments would be seen as
secondary. When a student asked the Indian sage Ramana Maharshi if it was his
duty to serve his country in the military or not, Ramana’s reply was: “Your only duty
is to be”. From this point of view, no matter what it is that we are doing or
experiencing in the current moment, we are fulfilling our primary purpose and our
destiny just by virtue of the fact that we here experiencing it. A person who was
overly programmed by the work ethic to feel that he was obligated to be doing
something productive every minute of every day might find some relief in this
particular point of view. In addition, he would feel it to be less necessary to make
significant sacrifices in order to bring meaning to his life. Terrorists would not have
to commit suicide to prove that their lives were meaningful and ordinary people
would not have to exhaust themselves and ruin their health in order to reach
arbitrarily chosen goals.
Since our moment-by-moment personal experience is the only provable reality,
everything is made of experience as far as we are concerned. The contents of
experience can come and go like movies on a screen, but the screen will be there at
least as long as we are around.
From this point of view a person could be completely fulfilling his reason and
purpose for being here while doing nothing at all. The screen doesn’t care. He
would be free to contemplate possible secondary purposes and goals from his own
perspective but with less desperation. Thoreau pointed out that it would be a lot
easier for everyone if they each farmed a garden just big enough to support
themselves rather than to farm a thousand acres to support many other people. In
other words, if we keep our own scene in good shape, the rest of the world can be
left to take care of itself.
Other very broad concepts that have been suggested are that “all the world is a stage
and that all the men and women are merely players on it”, or that we are “God’s soap
opera”, or that we are the instruments through which God is aware of and relates to
the world. There are plenty of cosmic concepts to go around and none of them can
be proved to even the slightest degree. We are free to choose the ones that seem to
be the most authentic and interesting and that make life the most pleasant.
Knowing on an experiential level that these concepts are flexible goes a long way to
keeping a person from becoming too unrealistically prejudiced in any given area. In
addition, a person can feel free to identify deeply with any chosen cosmic, religious,
mythical, or archetypal concepts that he might experience. For instance,
conceptualizing death as a disembodied mind suspended in luxurious bliss, even if
recognized as only a tentative possibility, is certainly more positive than
conceptualizing it as moldering dead bodies, scary cemeteries, and zombies
staggering around with their arms outstretched and their mouths hanging open.
Deep and vivid identification with positive concepts make them more vivid in
neuroplastic space and as such closer to the surface of consciousness.
From an extremely broad perspective, the kind that psychedelics can stimulate, our
purpose here on Earth can be examined in more detail. The examination could
begin with the basic realization that we are a mind and an awareness (a soul)
apparently housed in a biological body. Our most important purpose is to keep our
body and our soul together. To do so, we must do what we have to do in order just
to keep our bodies alive. A single person living alone in the jungle would have one
set of obligations to do so while a person living in a complex society would have
another. In a complex society, the task of keeping the body and the soul together
becomes a shared endeavor. Some people extract the earth’s resources, others
process them, others manufacture items from them or convert them into energy,
others distribute the items and the energy, others organize the political and
financial systems that make all this possible, and hopefully all of us end up receiving
what we need to keep our bodies alive. In other words, we live in an extremely
complex machine made up of goods and services. All this activity is necessary just
for basic survival.
Assuming that survival needs are been met, the next endeavor in finding purpose is
the pursuit of well-being. Well-being can range from being barely satisfied to being
ecstatic. The pursuit of pleasure constitutes another extremely complex social
machine involving such things as travel to new and interesting places, learning new
and interesting things, social relationships, entertainment, and the various forms of
Assuming that the need for well-being has been satisfied, the answer to the purpose
of existence still has not been found. Even if everyone on Earth were in a constant
state of ecstasy, we still would not know why we are here. The only answer is that
purpose is a mystery and that the only tension-free attitude toward it is to accept it.
If an answer should ever appear, so much the better, but for now we have no
recourse but to relax and accept the mystery as it is. We are still free to set our own
goals and interests and purposes and to pursue them to the extent that we are
motivated to do so. To my own personal way of thinking, one meaningful purpose is
to help others in their pursuit of survival and well-being when such opportunities
present themselves. When I can do so, I feel that I am at least partially justifying my
Like politics and religion, these sorts of broad concepts are good conversation
starters at cocktail parties.
Even the broadest cosmic concepts cannot be proved or disproved, revealing that
the mysterious quality of existence exists at all levels of abstraction.
Exploring the tensions in some of the COEX-clusters may not be as pleasant as some
of the experiences mentioned earlier, but they can still be extremely interesting in
the same way that any drama is interesting. Exploring them can reduce tensions,
sometimes by finding broader concepts to resolve conflicts, and sometimes by
experiencing, working through, releasing, and getting used to any emotions that
they might embody.
Thoughts and concepts are the pinnacles of our existence even though they are
invisible and have no substance whatsoever. They are “higher” than even matter or
energy. They are even beyond and separate from the super-complex electro-
biochemical processes of the brain that theoretically produce them. Like ephemeral
ghosts, they are not really even a part of the material universe. They are the closest
things to spirit that we can still actually perceive. They are the mysterious “ghosts
in the machine”.
A useful demarcation point separating the religious level of experience from the
cosmic level is where the hypothetical “inner voice” seems to have a spiritual source.
Many people, including politicians, military commanders, and evangelists freely
claim in the media that they “look to God” for guidance, so presumably an inner
spiritual voice is not all that uncommon. In any case, it is sometimes possible for the
rational mind to interact with this “hypothetical spiritual being” (no offense
intended, Lord) during religious experience in fascinating ways. For instance, He
will always make it absolutely clear that He has no intention of doing anything in the
material world that would prove His reality. Neither will He provide any provable
answers to any of the cosmic concepts. We are plainly and simply not privileged to
know the secrets of existence and spirit. Not knowing the answers can be
frustrating, but here we are nevertheless. In my case, encounters with the “inner
hypothetical spiritual being” have always been very vivid educational experiences.
Eastern religion makes references to the point of view that we cannot know the Tao
because we are part of it. We cannot establish an external point of reference to view
our existence because we cannot get outside of it. If we did get outside of it, we
would not exist to view it.
If a scientist, made of dough,
Took a ruler, made of dough,
And measured objects, made of dough,
What, exactly, would he know?
He would know the length of the dough that he just measured, but not where it came
from, why it came into being in the first place, or what should be done with it.
In my own case, the hypothetical inner teacher either usually shows me various
aspects of our miraculous existence such as how moral and honorable behavior
avoids unpleasant repercussions in both the inner and the outer worlds. He also
shows me the “big machinery” of existence such as details in the miracle of biology,
the efforts of humankind to govern itself peacefully, and historical trends unfolding
in the current moment.
At one time, for instance, the inner teacher-spirit presented in quite a bit of detail
how the humble few inches of the earth’s topsoil actually exists as a recycling
factory for all of life. I had never even come close to thinking that particular thought
before. It definitely came out of the spontaneous thought generator. The magical
processes that step by step transform dirt into plants, animals, and human beings
are certainly miraculous, especially when considered from the chemical and the
atomic standpoints. It is a miracle how all of the atoms in our environment could
cooperate to produce the current moment. Who would have thought that dirt atoms
could ever be organized to the point where they could think?
Obviously, the organizing principle really exists. If it faded away, we would turn
back into mud and the mud atoms would turn back into atomic chaos. Something
out there is putting all of the atoms of the entire universe in exactly the right place
to result in our actual here-and-now existence.
Many years after this realization, it occurred to me that it had some similarities to
the biblical story of Job where God asked him: “Were you there when I made
The first miracle is that matter exists at all. No one knows how it came into being.
The second miracle is that atoms of matter are being organized to the point where
they can even think. Going up another level of abstraction, it could be
conceptualized that the boundary where the organizing force meets inert matter is
where our existence is produced. It could be assumed that matter is passive and
resists being organized and is always prepared to revert to its natural inert and
chaotic state. This resistance could be conceptualized as a cosmic destructive force
that is equal to and opposite to the corresponding organizing force. Perhaps in one
way or another the cosmic destructive force ends up accounting for all of what we
consider to be evil in the human drama. This concept is pretty abstract, but it can be
shifted up yet another level. As mentioned elsewhere, the conflict between the
creative forces and the destructive forces of the universe take place within the
larger domain of infinite eternal space. If space is equated with a universal all-
pervading spirit, then the conflict between creation and destruction is a subset of
that overall spirit. There is something higher than the conflict between the creation
and destruction that we experience all around us every moment. Deep meditation
on the concept of that higher being is certainly one form of peace of mind.
These abstract concepts are not new. In Eastern religions, different gods represent
different aspects of the creative force, the destructive force, and the forces of change.
The concept of spirit-space is represented by the Sanskrit word Tao. As Lao Tzu
said, “All things emerge from the Tao, all things return to it”. Taking a little liberty
with this definition, it could be said that it is impossible to understand the Tao
because any understanding of it would at the same time be part of it. A finger
cannot point to itself.
From this point of view, the destructive forces would give rise to new creation just
as the creative forces create new opportunities for destruction. A cosmic
abstraction of this nature might be of use at times. For one thing, it provides a
structure to the way things actually are in our existence. When we see the
destructive forces at work, we can consider and perhaps accept that they are an
inevitable and necessary part of existence in order for existence to exist at all. This
is turn might help us to view some of the unpleasant things that happen in life from
a more detached, accepting, and objective viewpoint. We are more able to deal with
things when we are calm and objective and not wracked with negative emotions.
These cosmic assumptions are another example of how broader abstractions can
relieve tension between conflicts of opposites. The psychedelic experience seems to
seek out such conflicts that are troublesome and to then provide broader
abstractions to resolve them.
These sorts of concepts may seem strictly intellectual in print, but during
psychedelic experience they can become both vivid and awesome. At the same time
they are the same concepts. Reading about something and actually experiencing it
are completely different things.
I personally seem to have a relatively tension-free relationship with the hypothetical
inner spirit-teacher (thankfully) possibly because I seem to have no trouble being
completely humble before Him (or it). I know that He might very well be real. As
Myron Stolaroff, one of my mentors said: “You can’t bargain with God”. I would not
want to be on the bad side of this part of me (or it).
From the strictly psychological perspective, it could be said that a person is mentally
interacting with what he assumes that God would be like if he really existed. But the
Baylor University national Survey of 2006 revealed that different people have very
different assumptions regarding God’s nature depending on their background and
their circumstances. This is in keeping with the seeming tendency for a person to
choose his cosmic assumptions on the basis of his real-life experiences. This would
mean that the “inner spiritual teacher” would teach quite different things to
different people. I am quite sure that this inner voice would still never provide any
provable answers to any of the cosmic concepts. At the same time, it would teach
each individual appropriately according to his background and present state of
development. The process is the seeing larger perspectives of things that are
already known, and of course what is already known is different from person to
If we were to add the characteristic of a mysterious creative potential to the concept
of infinite, eternal, all-pervading, and imperturbable space, it would be very close to
the usual definition of God. In the high dose psychedelic experience, and
presumably by other methods, it is possible to become deeply immersed into an
amplified version of this concept. If spirit, like space, is everywhere and in all things,
then it is a single oneness that includes everything and all of us. With this
realization, we can sometimes conceptualize ourselves as letting go of our sense of
separateness and to recognize ourselves as being a part of the single being that
encompasses the entire universe. This can be a supremely ecstatic and blissful
experience. It is the extreme state of the “letting go” of the self.
Suspended in the bliss of Nirvana
Touched by a tentative thought
Then merged again with the infinite sea
Brought home again, to Thee
From this point of view, our conception of personal separateness could be compared
to a chunk of ice in a swimming pool. The ice is separate from the rest of the water
but it is still water. How you see it depends only on how you look at it. If atomic
particles are vibrations of space rather than vibrations in space, then the universe is
a single three-dimensional domain of space miraculously taking on the form of
different vibrational structures in different locations. These changing vibrational
characteristics could be interpreted as events taking place in time, but against a
background of eternal time. Aldous Huxley described how deeply eternity could be
conceptualized with mescaline.
It is possible to conceptualize hovering on the boundary line between the concepts
of separateness and unity. This is an experience that definitely qualifies as being a
seed to plant into neuroplastic space. It is the boundary between perfect peace of
mind and the unfolding of daily life. A single mental thought will change the concept
of unity into one of separateness.
Deep relaxation is necessary in order to experience this area of cosmic concepts
because when there are mental or physical tensions, the body cannot conceptually
“melt” completely into the surrounding environment. But half a melt is better than
none. Being in a body that is almost completely relaxed while being stimulated by
bliss hormones is still far more satisfying than any possible vacation on the planet.
When contented, all other activities become secondary. Not melting completely is
hardly a matter of concern at such times. One counts his blessings. Remaining
tensions can be regarded as being interesting future diversions to eventually be
explored or re-explored.
A person able to bask in the current moment regardless of circumstances is an
interesting ideal image. A similar archetypal image could be a gladiator calmly
prepared to handle anything that fate might bring to him. These are good seeds to
plant in neuroplastic space. Feeling the effects of strong mental images of this sort
naturally and automatically is progress toward Buddha consciousness.
There is a useful assumption that can be made as one approaches a spiritual
experience with or without psychedelic stimulation that can help to avoid conflict. If
a person finds himself grappling with the question of whether the spirit that he is
experiencing really exists or whether it is nothing more than a mental concept
stimulated by a drug or by some other means, it can be considered that it does not
really matter. Whether the blissful surrender is to something that is really real or
whether it is only a mental concept, the bliss of total personal surrender itself is real
no matter how it is interpreted.
We know that experience itself is absolutely real because we really experience it.
The materialistic and the spiritualistic points of view are transcended in this case
and recognized as ultimately improvable concepts that attempt to structure the raw
experience itself. Experience itself is our only provable reality and we really don’t
know where it comes from or what it is made of, spirit or matter or something else.
In other words, the mystery of existence stays intact even at this very broad level of
abstraction. One advantage of this point of view is that it becomes unnecessary to
struggle to try to prove any of the less abstract points of view. At the same time, the
materialistic and the spiritualistic points of view can still be used as seems
appropriate or needed or desired at any given point in time.
Another advantage to conceptualizing experience as being the only provable reality
is that it is possible to surrender to immediate experience itself without using up
energy looking for structure within it. Letting go to the here-and-now moment is a
step toward deeper tranquility. It is also a very transcendent point of view.
Releasing immediate control to God or to a universe of organized atoms or whatever
it is that creates and manipulates our experience is a state of surrender and
acceptance. The surrender is to the overall experience of the immediate moment
whatever it might contain, even if it is work, confusion, or a struggle. Of course,
surrendering to positive experience does not pose all that much of a problem.
The overall religious concept includes the view that God is almighty, that nothing
happens outside of His will, and that He therefore controls every atom, every spark
of energy, and every thought in the entire universe. Back in daily life, however, it
seems as though we are separate beings and that we think our own thoughts and
choose our own actions, but even this cannot be proved or disproved. It is possible
that we have free will, or that destiny is preordained, or that natural laws rule
destiny, or that nothing happens outside of God’s will. This is an example of how all
of the various sometimes-conflicting “answers” to cosmic questions are really
improvable assumptions. The mysteries of spirit, causation, free will, and the nature
of being remain completely intact even after a religious experience. In a way this
can be a relief because the single concept of an overall mystery is a lot less
complicated than all of the other conflicting points of view. It is possible to
experience this exalted state of being and all that it involves and then to afterwards
relax contentedly and accept the mystery and the magnificence of existence.
Being that the religious experience is so powerful and convincing, there is a strong
tendency to lean toward the assumption that spirit really does exist behind the
scenes or is actually the scenes themselves. If nothing else, this is the one concept
that includes and explains almost everything. In addition, we know that there has to
be an answer out there somewhere otherwise our personal existence would not be
here. From the religious point of view, the only remaining question becomes: “How
did God come into being?” In other words, we are incapable of conceptualizing an
overall assumption-concept that explains absolutely everything. The great mystery
of existence remains intact no matter how we twist and turn. We cannot experience
closure on this topic so we might as well learn to accept the mystery and to relax
within it. At the same time we are certainly free to explore it and to experience it to
our heart’s content. We are also free to have our own assumptions, convictions, and
beliefs in these areas.
We might be trapped by our destiny or we might have some degree of control over it.
Destiny might be influenced by prayer or by our behavior or it might not be. It
might be ruled exclusively by natural laws. It might even be ruled by superior
beings on another level of reality. Whatever the case, all we can do in this mystery
of existence is to take responsibility for our actions and to continue to do what
seems to be right and honorable on a moment-by-moment basis. Doing so would
help to ensure less future backlash for ourselves in the future and also greater well-
being for those around us.
If pure spirit is conceptualized as invisible, all pervading and imperturbable, like
outer space, then it is necessary to also conceptualize another aspect of spirit that
explains our admittedly very perturbed creation. Not only do we have stars
exploding in space, we have an extremely turbulent human drama here on earth.
Life must eat life in order to survive. We find ourselves in a situation where we have
survival instincts so powerful that we become desperate when we are threatened
while at the same our territory and resources are limited (what could go wrong?).
We know for sure that our individual existence has been or is being created because
we are experiencing it. The “creator” or “designer” of this existence is also a cosmic
concept that has many different assumed improvable qualities and assumed
motivations. There is a great deal of controversial conflict in this area, some quite
extreme. One terrorist continued shouting: “God is great” into the cockpit voice
recorder while diving a commercial jet into the ocean.
When the USA buried Osama Bin Laden at sea with full religious rites, it certainly
represented a completely opposite set of cosmic assumptions regarding life and
It is possible to conceptualize the highest aspect of God as being pure, perfect, and
imperturbable, like empty outer space or clear light, and also at another level of His
being as the creator or “designer” of existence. Existence is made up of an
organization of countless atomic particles, each of which is an oscillating
perturbation that “defiles” the perfect stillness and purity of empty outer space.
These atomic particles must continually oppose themselves by rapidly switching
states from plus to minus in order to exist. It could be possible that the structures
that make up existence, all of which are made up of atomic particles that continually
oppose themselves, must also oppose themselves on the more complex and abstract
levels of existence. As Alan Watts, an expert it Zen Buddhism suggested, perhaps
everything that exists must have its opposite somewhere in order to exist at all.
Examples would be the equal and opposite reactions described in physics, yin and
yang, creation and destruction, life and death, growth and decay, forward and
backward, pleasure and pain, good and evil, etc. From this point of view, the creator
could be conceptualized more as a “creative principle” constrained by certain laws
of nature rather than as a personality picking and choosing what events to allow to
unfold on the basis of other principles. Whatever the case the relative turbulence of
our existence is a mystery.
It could be assumed that all of the good things and all of the bad things that happen
in the world are ultimately the result of the battle between the forces of creation
and the forces of destruction. They must both exist equally in order for our
existence to exist at all. The forces of destruction could be conceptualized as all
matter, both living and not living, naturally always being poised to return to its inert
state, or, on the atomic level, to its chaotic state. Without the forces of creation at
work, it would most certainly do so. Creation struggles to structure matter and to
keep it structured while the forces of destruction wear it away or destroy it more
It is possible to conceptualize that there is an aspect of God that is above the drama
of creation and destruction. In any case, this “cosmic assumption”, although still
only an assumption, is one way to answer the common question: “How could a good
God allow so many terrible things to happen?” An answer could be that in order for
creation to exist, destruction must also exist.
It is therefore possible to assume that the highest aspect of God reflects a possible
reality, and as such it is possible to experience Him as an actual concept and to
experience this concept fully in a psychedelic experience. God could be outside the
battle between the forces of creation and those of destruction in the same way that
infinite eternal space is outside the flow of material events that make up our
In any case, the concepts of creation, destruction, and a realm of peace that
transcends the two can be conceptualized and experienced deeply during a
No doubt many people, including Saint Theresa, have experienced a crisis of faith or
have even renounced religion altogether because of all the terrible things that God
seems to let happen in this world, but by making the cosmic assumption that there
is an aspect of God that is above the fray might make it possible to bypass this
conflict. This would be another example of a broader concept resolving the conflict
that exists on lower levels of abstraction.
Needles to say, the highest and purest level of God is an extremely exalted concept.
It is the most abstract concept that the mind can conceive of because it contains all
things and all things happen within its being. It can be remembered and re-
conceptualized in normal daily consciousness and relived to some extent with
future much lower psychedelic drug doses. There is certainly no crime in having a
concept of a Being that transcends good and evil in one’s neuroplastic repertoire of
mental cosmic concepts.
It is a benefit to find positive, coherent, and productive assumptions on the cosmic
levels of abstraction. Mental energy can flow around in the maze of inner space
more smoothly and effortlessly when one has a comfortable and coherent overall
philosophy of life and existence rather than having conflicting points of view, either
at the cosmic or the more everyday levels of abstraction. Answers discovered on
these levels do not even have to be believed. Just knowing that they exist reduces
conflict. For instance, assuming that God created the universe is nothing but the use
of one mystery to explain another, but often it is enough to satisfy inner tension
regarding the profound question of how creation came into being. Assuming that
life is a growth and a learning process makes it possible to approach it with greater
enthusiasm. Psychedelic experience can help make this entire process appear as a
worthwhile and interesting challenge rather than as a burden.
The cosmic concept of eternal infinite space, although exalted and supremely
peaceful, is nevertheless a concept of emptiness. It is conceptualized fairly often in
psychedelic experience and it can be made more permanent and vivid through
neuroplasticity. In this way it can become a kind of philosophical transcendental
point of view that can sometimes act as an escape from the turbulence and tedium of
daily life. All of us experience various extreme losses during our lifetime, and these
losses can leave us with devastating feelings of emptiness. Combining the earthly
feeling of emptiness with the cosmic concept of the purity of empty space could be
considered as an example of sublimating (making sublime) the emotion of
significant loss. The concept of pure emptiness contains no sadness but only
peacefulness. Sublimation is possible with psychedelics with other emotions also.
For instance, the loss of a loved one can become the experience of giving that person
back to God. These might be bittersweet experiences, but bittersweet is better than
Our personal drama might currently be making up our entire existence, but it is only
a very small blip against the backdrop of an infinite and eternal universe. This is
another cosmic concept that can help us transcend our earthly trials.
The strictly scientific point of view is that the material existence in its entirety is the
unfolding of an extremely complex interlocking and unchangeable network of
natural laws. The spiritual point of view is that spirit created once or is continuing
to create our existence. The real answer, of course, is a mystery. An advantage to
viewing these possibilities from this higher overall level of abstraction is that we can
go back and forth between them without mental conflict. When it is obvious that
something needs to be done we can assume that we are in charge and go ahead and
do it. When something is entirely out of our hands we can relax and let the assumed
designer of existence take care of it. We do not need to stress too much over things
that we have no control over. This particular “cosmic resolution” can reduce
internal tension and bring quite a bit of relief in various real-world situations. No
matter how hard we might worry about things, it does not seem to influence
outcomes. We might as well relax, attend to our own well-being and to that of those
around us as best we can, and accept the many less-than-perfect things that we
Other Cosmic Experiences
It could be assumed that higher doses of a psychedelic drug cause greater brain
stimulation that in turn causes more data to be processed. The more data that is
processed, the broader are the abstractions that are necessary in order to
encompass them. Lower dose experiences tend to deal with more everyday topics
such as interpersonal relationships and tasks at hand while the higher dose
experiences tend to deal with religious and cosmic abstractions. As such, the higher
doses elevate us above our everyday world and let us look down on it from a far
greater height. This can be both an “escape” as well as a learning experience.
When exploring cosmic concepts, I believe that it is possible to avoid unnecessary
conflict between different points of view by at least being reasonably comfortable
with the concept that existence is ultimately a perfect mystery. We do not know if
the source of our immediate experience is spirit, information crossing the brain-
mind boundary, the inside of a computer chip on another level of reality, or
something else really weird. When a cosmic conflict appears, such as different
definitions of the afterlife, the philosophical trapdoor “it is a mystery” is always
available. No one on Earth can provide any provable answer to any of the cosmic
concepts so we don’t have to worry about being right or wrong. In addition, it
becomes possible to freely explore any point of view as thoroughly as desired
without resistance because it is known to be only one of many, none of which can be
proved or disproved with respect to the assumed material world. With a flexible
attitude, exploring cosmic concepts can become like a disembodied mind exploring a
Just as in a vivid dream, it is possible to become deeply immersed in any particular
situation or any particular point of view. One of my clients woke up from her high-
dose experience, looked around and said: “Do you mean that I did not really destroy
the world?” My answer was: “Only in your head”. This is also true of all of the
“cosmic” points of view, which could also be called sub-mysteries within the overall
mystery of existence.
An important point to make with respect to psychedelic experience is that no matter
how vivid or convincing an inner experience might be, it still is not proof of a
corresponding reality in the material world. The real proof has to be in its testing
on the outside. On the other hand all inner experience is real in the sense that it is
really experienced. It is definitely not nothing, and it reveals different real points of
I use the work “cosmic” to describe concepts and experiences that pertain to
sweeping views of existence. The most abstract would be the cosmic concepts of
infinite eternal space and of an all-pervading God. Both God and space are
everywhere and in all things. The least abstract view would be that of a single event
taking place in the material world. The “archetypal” level of cosmic experiences
pertain to apparent general influences within the human drama and are represented
by myths and lower-order “gods” such as those in the Greek and Roman pantheons.
A modern example of such a myth would be the influence that caused the rush to
war with Iraq in spite of the facts that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and
harbored no weapons of mass destruction. Mars, the god of war, could be
conceptualized as having influenced this irrational scenario from behind the scenes.
Another sweeping myth revealed itself in 2008 when there was an apparent
consensus that home ownership should be extended to people who were unlikely to
be able to afford increases in mortgage payments. This myth was accepted
throughout the financial world clear up to Wall Street and in Europe by professional
economists who should have known better, and it devastated the economy.
Everyone knows that allowing toxic assets to flow into a finely-tuned highly
sensitive “flat earth” type of financial system will eventually lead to disaster, and yet
the myth was so powerful that everyone looked the other way. The builders got
paid but many of the houses and buildings that they built are vacant and even being
destroyed. These myths were so sweeping in their influence that it could be
conceptualized, as Jung suggested, as “spirits” of the times. Another “spirit” was the
one that caused the dot-com bubble. The spirit of greed became so great that
venture capital was pouring into companies that were not making any profits at all
and that had little hope of ever doing so. The religious concept of an underlying
spirit influencing society could be exchanged with the sociological concept of a
“hysterical epidemic” doing so. Maybe these myths act something like black holes:
when they get big enough they suck everything and everyone right into them. In
any case, psychedelic experience works on a level of abstraction that makes the
examination of gods, myths and archetypes more vivid. If our politicians in
Washington and executives on Wall Street experienced occasional low dose
psychedelic experiences, maybe they could see these things coming before they
could take over.
Please notice that I said “if” and not “should”. I know that if you give any kind of
advice and things turn out badly, that you are responsible. For this reason I don’t
advocate the use of psychedelic drugs but only try to describe their effects. If their
effects have various positive potentials and I give examples of such, I am still just
describing the tool itself and not advocating its use. I trust that proof, if any, will be
in the pudding.
Cosmic concepts are mental constructions that serve the purpose of giving structure
to the most general and sweeping views of existence. We each have our own
personal repertoire. The critical fact regarding these cosmic concepts is that any
and all proposed answers to any one of them are strictly mental assumptions, or
myths, or fantasies, none of which can be proved to be true even to the slightest
degree from either the materialistic or the spiritualistic standpoint. They are strictly
mental abstractions and not part of the material world. They include such things as
our own definitions of spirit, creation, awareness, causation, the mind-brain
boundary, the source of all experience, the nature of being, evolution, fate, the value
of life, the afterlife, morality, commitment, redemption, personal responsibility,
meaning, purpose, free will, karma, retribution, and the supernatural.
The fact that these all of mental constructs are all nothing more than assumptions is
largely ignored but at the same time extremely important for three reasons. One is
that the sum of the cosmic assumptions that we live by makes up our basic
philosophy of life, our system of values, our sense of meaning, our worldview, and
our most fundamental orientation in existence. Another is that sometimes people
and entire societies take some of these assumptions so seriously that they are
willing to kill and die to defend them even though they are all only mental
assumptions. Another is that there are many assumptions that do not agree with
each other and they can be a great source of conflict and confusion both within a
single person or within society. The default point of view is that existence does
indeed have an answer but that we humble human beings on this remote tiny planet
are not privileged to know it. For us all of existence is a mystery except for the
natural laws and the other cause-effect relationships that have been discovered and
that continue to work.
If everyone simply realized that all cosmic concepts are assumptions there should
be less controversy because they would be less likely to devote themselves to
extreme activities or to believe in the rhetoric of extremists. What is believed
inside the head and what really works in the outside world can be two very different
Carl Jung suggested that all mental problems have their roots in a person’s religious
orientations. I don’t know if he restricted the definition of “religious” to refer
specifically to spirit or whether he extended it to include the remaining “cosmic”
concepts as listed above. In any case, exploring the cosmic concepts with the
stimulation of a psychedelic drug can be quite interesting and educational and it can
reduce conflicts and tensions on that level of abstraction. To solve conflicts at
broad levels of abstraction, it is necessary for the mind to be able to conceptualize
those levels, and psychedelics can help it to do so. It is possible to identify more
completely with the different points of view, and it becomes more obvious that none
of them can ever be proved in the absolute sense. Their value can be measured only
by their productive effects when implemented in the outside world. The golden
rule, for instance, is a productive cosmic assumption because it is more likely to
create friends than enemies.
An example of a conflict between cosmic concepts might take place if a person were
treated very well during one part of his life and very badly during another part.
During a psychedelic session he might vividly conceptualize God as harsh and
judgmental at one time and kind and benevolent at another. A conflict of this nature
taking place deep within a person’s mind might cause a certain amount of confusion
and tension in a his daily life. He might not be able to see or deal with the source of
the tension because it exists on such a broad level of abstraction. Conceptualizing
God as a complete mystery and as such able to take on a variety of apparent
personalities might help him to resolve the conflict or to free him up to choose a
non-conflicting definition of His nature that seems authentic. For instance, God
could be conceptualized as providing our personal life dramas partially on the basis
of some outside influence such as karma or as on our need to learn certain lesions in
the cosmic drama of existence. Even though there is no way to prove any such an
assumption, it nevertheless clusters the mental conflict into a single unit that
hopefully can seem authentic and free of conflict. There can be a resolution to a
cosmic conflict by recognizing both sides and mentally shifting to a broader
abstraction. A reduction of conflict in the area of cosmic mental concepts can help to
lead to deeper everyday tranquility. From the religious point of view, It is good to
“get right with God”. From the materialistic point of view, it is good to relate to the
world in a consistent and productive manner naturally.
In the model that I like to use, the two sides of an opposite and its resolution are a
three-unit package. The resolution itself encompasses the energy of the two
opposite sides, thus making it possible to explore all three sides without resistance.
An ex-atheist could accept the resolution that the existence of God is really a
mystery and he could then calmly explore the implications of both sides of the
question of His existence as well as His mysterious nature. Psychedelic stimulation
can make journeys such as these quite vivid and, I believe, educational and useful.
Cosmic concepts can be experienced differently depending on drug dosage and the
corresponding level of mental abstraction. At the highest levels, it can appear that
God sees and controls every atom in the universe while at lower levels it can appear
that such influences as natural laws, free will, karma, probability, and randomness
are also in effect. Needless to say, the overall mystery of causation remains intact.
It would be possible to construct a table with cosmic concepts as column headings
and to collect all of the assumptions, both modern and historical, that have been
used as attempts to answer them to fill in the columns. Such a table would make it
quite clear that all cosmic concepts and assumptions are improvable mental
constructions. If any of these cosmic concepts had a provable answer, its column
would contain only one cell. People have agonized through the centuries to prove
Under the heading of spirit would be two subheadings: “Spirit Does Exist” and
“Spirit Does Not Exist”. Under the heading “Spirit Does Not Exist” would be all of the
assumptions that explain how existence could come into being and to stay together
and how the drama could keep on running without the influence of spirit. Under the
heading “Spirit Does Exist” would be the many assumptions regarding the nature of
His being, His desires, and His agenda. Under the cosmic heading of “The Afterlife”
would be heaven, hell, limbo, the transmigration of souls, nothingness, ghosts, and
spirits that remain on Earth. Under “Causation” would be God, a pantheon of spirits,
natural laws, karma, magic, probability, randomness, free will, synchronicity, and a
predetermined fate. Under “Meaning” there would probably need to be about as
many assumptions as there are people, and there would always be the one where
existence has no meaning whatsoever. Under “Morals” would be divine mandates,
rules programmed into our biology, and arbitrary choices made by individuals and
societies. Clearly, the cosmic concepts do not have concrete answers, but we each
have our own answers nonetheless.
It is only the repeatable and reliable cause-effect relationships in the assumed
material world that are provable, and they are the only philosophical “footholds”
that we have in this existence. The cause-effect relationships range all the way from
a baby crying to get fed up to the faster-than-light atomic particle hitting the target
before it had even been shot.
Accepting that existence is a mystery can leave a feeling that one is “at sea” or “living
in an existential void”, but when one becomes used to it, it significantly reduces
inner conflict and it increases ambiguity tolerance. With a reduction of tension can
come deeper tranquility.
Sometimes psychedelic experience allows a person to experience one or another
cosmic assumption from a broad perspective and to recognize that there can be a
certain amount of seemingly real-life confirmation for any one of them but that any
absolute proof remains forever elusive. Since it is actual experience that influences
the choice of cosmic assumptions, it could be said that each assumption has a real
element of truth while at the same time not being a final sweeping answer for
When a large number of people currently ascribe to a particular combination of
cosmic assumptions, they have an influence on the direction of the human drama.
Certain “fads” come and go such as the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the
predicted “rapture” and the end of the world. In these cases, large proportions of
people held the cosmic assumption that the world was much more dangerous than it
objectively really was but with no basis whatsoever. This may be due to the fact
that we all have anxieties arising from the survival instinct and that vociferous fear
mongers can activate it. Jung used the word “manna” to describe the energy of the
charismatic and influential people who spread such unfounded assumptions and
points of view. The leaders of suicide cults are also examples. Sometimes it is
amazing how many “sheep” will follow these people, and it shows how people will
accept various assumptions as facts simply because they feel lost in the mystery of
existence and feel the need for structure. Many have died because they believed
that assumptions were truths. Recognizing that existence is a mystery and that all
cosmic concepts are really assumptions would help keep these sorts of things from
We are absolutely sure that we are experiencing an inner mind, a body, and an outer
world in the immediate moment. As mentioned elsewhere, this could be
conceptualized as a single “field” of mental experience. The experience of this field
is the only reality that we are absolutely sure actually exists and it is impossible to
know what this experience is made of. Even materialists point out that what we
perceive as the outer world is really only a mental representation of a real material
outer world. Since the existence of a material outer world cannot be proved (it
could be a dream), it could be conceptualized that the source of the field of
experience that we experience comes from an unknown, or spiritual source. This
point of view has an interesting implication. The cave man never thought that it
would be possible to walk on the moon. No doubt he thought that only supernatural
creatures could do so. But intent through the ages made the impossible happen. Not
too long ago it seemed impossible that tons of invisible information could be
transmitted through space at the speed of light through walls and even through us
but now it is happening. It could be assumed that the seeming constraints of a
material universe are not really all that constraining because they really exist only
in God’s mind or in some similar conceptual realm. Who knows when the next
impossible discovery will take place? If some of the constraints imposed by the
concept of a material universe could be ignored and existence could instead be
conceptualized as a more flexible mental/spiritual domain, what other
“supernatural” miracles might eventually take place?
Another implication to the “single field” point of view might provide us the
opportunity to gain some control over our fate. If I perform a charitable act, that
behavior, that attitude, and any response to it from the “inner mental conception of
an outer world” (the “inner outer world”) are all stored in memory. That memory
with its associated attitudes and feelings could reemerge at any time in the same or
different form because they never leave the “single field” system. Perhaps in our
mind we eventually reap what we sow because the whole process takes place within
a single closed system.
If our inner mental concept of the outside world were filled with positive memories
and attitudes, we would expect positive energy to flow back from it. We would also
expect positive energy to flow back from the apparent material world as well,
assuming that it really exists, because we have “loaded” it with good deeds at the
same time that we did it in the known-to-exist “inner outer world”. More positive
behavior flowing out to our apparent external world, regardless of how we define it,
might “load” it accordingly.
So there may be three possible ways that we reap what we sow: from the closed
system of our own mind, from the appropriate responses that we get from an
assumed real material world, and from the possible realities of the laws of karma
and divine retribution. It is interesting to consider and test these three possibilities
to the extent possible within our own lives. A single benevolent act might result in
positive feedback whereas many might result in constant positive feedback. It is
possible that we could cultivate a more pleasant, satisfying, and rewarding
relationship with our external world in this way. We could learn how to keep from
contaminating our “inner outer world” with possible negative repercussions.
Expecting negative repercussions could be defined as guilt, anxiety, and paranoia.
Sometimes it is possible to watch the sowing and reaping process take place in real
time during a psychedelic experience. It is possible to imagine or remember some
emotional situation in the outside world and then to purposefully imagine reacting
to it with different chosen attitudes in psychedelic imagination. The possible
repercussions to each reaction can sometimes be experienced immediately. The
return energy from our cruel behavior, for instance, can come back to us
immediately as an expectation of cruelty to ourselves that in turn is a good
definition for anxiety. If we have a memory of having been mistreated we can see
the different forms of energy returning if we imagine ourselves responding in
different positive or negative manners. An interesting “trip” to take is to experience
the repercussions to the various different forms of “turning the other cheek”. For
instance, a soft answer can turneth away wrath and a calm, rational, and a true
statement can carry considerable weight in a debate even if it has to be repeated a
few times. If we find this sowing and reaping process to be a reality during
psychedelic experience, we can learn from it and start refining out relationship with
our apparent outside physical world and load it with the best possible material
under the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
One example of how psychedelics can be therapeutic in this area is a method of
treating guilt. Guilt is the energy that returns from the mental concept of the
external world after unjustified hostile or destructive energy has been launched into
it. It is like trash In Lake Tahoe.
Making up for what has been done, making amends, experiencing remorse, and
“loading” the external world with charitable and altruistic deeds can start to change
the average energy that returns from it. With the right drug dosage, this process can
actually be explored, practiced, and benefited from during a psychedelic session
without ever leaving the armchair. In psychedelic imagination, it is sometimes
possible to immediately “feel” and observe the natural positive results of different
positive actions that could be taken to compensate for the original transgressions.
In so doing, it is possible to let the intuitive mind help to start clustering a whole
new overall positive attitude toward one’s relationship with the outside world. The
guilt itself can be conceptualized as the hard lesson that must be endured in order to
solidly learn right from wrong in a particular moral dimension.
I knew a dentist once whom I could sense was wracked with guilt for prescribing
unnecessary and expensive treatments for the sake of his own financial gain. He
was caught in the trap of mentally denying the fact that what he was doing was
raising his own anxiety level. He was a young man, but his hands already trembled a
little at times. Maybe once arthritis sets in he might get an insight into his mistakes.
Maybe psychedelics would help to reveal his self-destructive path to himself and
that making real contributions to the world and to the people in it lead to the
Why it is that the “inner teacher” ends up teaching one person one thing and
another person another thing no doubt has to do with the fact that everyone has a
different set of past experiences. Perhaps the inner teacher naturally seeks mental
resolution (homeostasis, balance) and each person has a different set of tension
issues to deal with.
Whereas it is difficult to replace a part of an overall attitude, it is quite easy to
replace a whole entire attitude with a new and better one once that it has been
found. The psychedelic drug stimulates a level of abstraction that helps this to take
place. Working with and feeling “wholenesses” on this level of abstraction is
extremely efficient compared to working with the many detailed individual events
of ordinary daily life. The discovery of a better overall attitude, combined with the
conviction to live by it, can give a person an immediate start in a whole new
direction. Memory of the old damage may still be there, but the mental energy
associated with it can be channeled into something more productive and positive.
However this process is conceptualized, the bottom line is that we know for sure
that we live in an existence in which we have a mind, a body, and an apparent
external world. Making this single “field of experience” as positive as reasonably
possible would seem to be a worthwhile lifestyle.
The cosmic assumptions that we live by are in fact the myths that we use to explain
and structure existence. They grow from the circumstances that we live in. We no
longer consider the possibility that existence is on the back of a turtle, but our
current myths are in keeping with the fact that we have walked on the moon. Two
of the current myths that we tend to live by these days are that existence is strictly
material and that it is unfolding strictly according to an extremely complex network
of natural laws. These assumptions seem feasible when considering that we
harnessed natural laws to walk on the moon. We often tend to overlook or ignore
the possibility that there could be considerable spiritual influences to our destiny. A
single trivial daily-life event is so complex in terms of atoms, energy, and natural
laws that it would be impossible to sort out even a fraction of them and to prove
that they were exclusively in control. Not only are single events incomprehensibly
complex at the atomic level, but they keep on emerging into existence while at the
same time meshing together into a consistent drama.
Moment-by-moment flows of natural laws controlling the countless atomic particles
that make up events would seem to need to be influenced by a mighty overall
intelligence or some organizing principle at least to some unknown degree. It is
possible that God controls the position of every atom in the universe at every
moment. It is also possible that existence is entirely God’s dream. Spirit could be
influencing the overall flows of events without our knowing it. It is even possible
that our existence is a simulation generated by creatures on a higher level of being
such as in the movie The Matrix. God could have caused the big bang. Also, destiny
could be predetermined. As such, we still define our existence in terms of the myths
that we choose to honor and we are still nowhere near an answer to the great
mysteries of existence, causation, and purpose. We hopefully choose the beneficial
cosmic assumptions that are appropriate to our circumstances and also to our larger
Another myth that we live by is that technology will make our lives better. The other
side of that coin is that technology also strengthens killing power. Spears are a lot
less deadly than nuclear weapons. Hopefully through knowledge and science we
will continue to learn to solve our psychological, social, and political problems and
that gradually the world will become a more peaceful place and that eventually wars
will become things of the past. Even now wars are becoming more the surgical
removal of individual troublemakers with remotely controlled aerial vehicles and
military swat teams rather than the bombing of entire cities. Even the myths of
how warfare should be conducted are changing. Even now terrorists are hacking
the Internet in order to do their damage.
I use the word “convictions” to describe the point where a person becomes
convinced that a particular cosmic assumption is most likely true and the word
“belief” to describe one that he feels is absolutely true. For instance, everyone
knows down deep that it is absolutely impossible to prove or disprove the existence
of God, and yet hold differing convictions and beliefs regarding His nature, His
agenda, and His contribution to daily events have been and still assumptions that
are responsible for such serious events as religious wars.
For smooth psychedelic experience, assumptions and convictions are to be
preferred to rigid beliefs in the domain of cosmic concepts because they allow more
flexibility of interpretation. If the spontaneous thought generator presents a point
of view that is much different than the one that is currently held, it is nice to be able
to be able to relax and take a look at it rather than to use up all the energy that
would be necessary to suppress it. Fighting a high-dose psychedelic experience is
not exactly an easy or pleasant activity.
There is a great variety of assumed answers/convictions to each cosmic concept and
many are in conflict with each other. For instance, some people believe that all life is
sacred and others believe that anyone who lives by a religion other than their own
should be killed. There are all gradations in between. No one knows the extent to
which divine retribution or karma might be true influences. We can clearly see that
bad things happen to good people and vice versa. No one even knows for sure the
extent to which moral behavior influences future life, the afterlife, or if an afterlife
The cosmic assumptions that we live by change very little even after multiple high-
dose psychedelic experiences and even if we realize that they are only assumptions
rather than facts. It seems that real life experiences exert the greatest influence on
our unintentional choice of cosmic assumptions. At the same time, it is sometimes
possible to realize that we are living by a clearly unproductive assumption that is
not working out well in our current circumstances and that we can and should take
steps to redefine our orientation.
Another reason why it is important to realize that all answers to cosmic concepts
are assumptions is because many of them directly contradict each other. Simply
wondering if certain behaviors are truly sinful in the divine or the moral sense or
not can cause both social and personal confusion. For instance, some people are
wracked with guilt over having had certain sexual encounters while others consider
such events as trivial. Some politicians and celebrities are forgiven for their
indiscretions while others are permanently disgraced. These sorts of conflicts can be
confusing both in daily life and in the social world.
With respect to codes of moral behavior, we don’t know if they are dictums
established by God, whether they are programmed into our biology, or whether we
as individuals and as societies choose them arbitrarily. In some societies girls’
schools are burned down and in others women become presidents.
Different segments of society choose to believe in different assumptions and this
causes conflict and confusion between them. If a person encounters any one of these
contradictions, is nice to be able to use the broader concept that all of existence is a
mystery as a philosophical “escape hatch” from the conflict. Once that is done, a
person is more free to notice which points of view are the most truly authentic to
himself as an individual in his particular circumstances and to still honor other
people’s points of view.
It would be useful to have a great deal more tangible structure in this area. For
instance, if there were a paper-pencil test that could detect where a person stood on
these issues, it would be possible to get a picture of his overall view of the world and
his philosophy of life. No doubt there are patterns of responses that could be given
descriptive names and values such as responsible-irresponsible, charitable-greedy,
optimistic-pessimistic, rigid-flexible, ambitious-satisfied, etc.
A reasonable demarcation point for the cosmic level is where one starts to think in
terms of general concepts instead of individual events. Instead of thinking that one
was enjoying his meal, for instance, he might consider that life must eat life in order
to survive. Instead of simply enjoying being with his girlfriend, he might be
thinking that in the big picture life continually begets life. When these two
abstractions are combined, the religious symbol of the snake eating its own tail
makes sense. Instead of thinking about purchasing a certain item, a person might be
thinking about the economic system where goods and services are provided to
consumers. Instead of thinking about a single event in a relationship with another
person, he might be thinking about an underlying theme and an intuitive impression
involving a cluster of similar events. This clustering process makes it possible to
“read” another person and even oneself from new perspectives. Reading oneself
from a broader perspective permits new understandings and opportunities for
The clustering of more items into larger wholenesses and the association of intuitive
impressions to them is a particular way of thinking that is rightly called “expanded
consciousness. It involves learning to recognize the broad insights when they pop to
mind and to focus on them once they have done so. It is a skill that can be brought
back to normal daily consciousness and practiced in daily life. The world can be
seen and sensed from an expanded viewpoint and life can become richer. The
pathway through the maze of life can become easier, more interesting, and more
It could be speculated that the spontaneous thought generator silently sifts through
our life experience and clusters our own personal assumptions and convictions
behind the scenes, and it is quite clear that they are based on condensations of early
imprinting, later life experiences, and possibly to some extent by heredity.
An obvious characteristic of personal assumptions and convictions is that they vary
significantly from person to person. In the biblical story of the tower of Babel,
different languages made it impossible for people to understand each other. In our
world, different assumptions and convictions regarding cosmic concepts do the
same thing and they can cause both minor and extreme conflicts between people.
This is a very unfortunate consequence to living in a mystery. No doubt people who
live in the same culture hold similar sets of assumptions regarding the cosmic
concepts and no doubt this helps them to bind together and to reduce conflict
between them. At the same time, different sets of assumptions can cause significant
separations between cultures.
The domain of space within which all things exist is assumedly evenly distributed in
all things and exists everywhere. But even our concept of space is part of our here-
and-now “mental” experience and has no provable corresponding external reality.
This leads to the far-out concept that we cannot even conceptualize our minds as
floating in space because even space is a construct in our minds and it does not
necessarily exist anywhere else. So where are we? There are more things in
heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
These extremely broad concepts do not change anything, of course, except perhaps
to let us consider the possibility that the more narrow ones that we are used to are
not necessarily the whole story.
Such is the level of abstraction that can be experienced during the high dose
psychedelic experience. Experiencing these concepts from the intuitive perspective
is far easier than putting them succinctly into words.
An interesting current shift in emphasis regarding the concept of “life” is that certain
European countries are attempting to measure their “happiness quotient” as well as
their gross domestic product. Quality of life would fall under the “life” cosmic
concept. There are certainly many different assumptions regarding what life is for,
what it should involve, and what we should be doing while we are living here. A
positive assumption in this regard would be that we are gradually learning to
become better human beings learning to enjoy a better world.
Fortifying this assumption could be Carl Sagan’s statement that “technology, then
and now, is the key to survival” combined with the fact that technology has taken
fantastic steps forward recently. Advances in communication, for instance, might
help to reduce conflicts between the cultures of the world because by gradually
leading to more agreement and realistic compromises regarding chosen cosmic
For a person who is interested, psychedelic drugs at the right dosage can help to
allow a willful investigation of his own personal cosmic and religious concepts as
well as others that exist. Alice can float through Wonderland and leisurely explore
these different points of view without conflict. Strong ambiguity tolerance, an open
mind, and the basic assumption that existence is ultimately mysterious can make the
trips easier. Dosage is important if one wants to bring back rational insights. In
addition, it is sometimes a help to be willing to “let go” of an interesting area of
experience because new, interesting, but altogether different topics sometimes
simply insist on taking their place. This transition seems to take place just when a
conclusion is being reached on the intuitive level. Fighting to reverse the experience
does not always work very well. There are times when one has just barely clinched
a conclusive insight and another topic starts to flow in. A small 20-dollar handheld
voice recorder is very handy at these times. Also, consciously forming an
appropriate symbol to act as a “bookmark” helps to remember the insight later.
Another possibility is to notice the general theme of a series of insights because the
spontaneous thought generator tends to cluster even the clusters into overall more
general themes. Remembering the overall theme later in normal daily
consciousness can stimulate the memory of the stream of the individual insights
that were involved in the process. In any case, new insights are not lost. If they are
revisited later it is clear that the work has been done. Even in normal daily
consciousness it can be possible to remember the peace, serenity, and patience of a
living emerald statue of the Buddha.
In fact, a person can work with one or more specific themes over time both during
daily life and during psychedelic sessions. The work and the growth process itself
can progress on a continuous basis in both places. For instance, it could be
conceptualized that our purpose here is to learn as much as we can about this
mysterious existence and that learning can take place on many different levels and
involve many different things. Growth from this perspective is the discovery of new
and better ways to relate to the world and to oneself. Perhaps we each have
different destinies because we are being taught to experience and to mold the clay of
existence in different ways.
It also helps to realize that one will never get “lost” in the new psychedelic
neighborhoods. A person will automatically come back to the same exact cosmic
assumptions and convictions he started out with although he may have some
interesting new ideas and possibilities to think about and test. He is free to plunge
as deeply as he wishes into any new point of view without fear of brainwashing
himself. This might be due to the possibility that cosmic assumptions have been
hardwired into neuroplastic space by real-life experience and that although we can
see different points of view they would need a lot of new and different real-life
experiences to actually change them.
The spontaneous thought generator clusters individual wholenesses that result in
overall coherent points of view, so sometimes it is possible to start a cluster by
simply thinking about what is already known in a particular area. The spontaneous
thought generator will tend to proceed to gather material relevant to that cluster
both in the inner world of memories and also, if so desired, in relation to the current
outside world. If a person has an ongoing project in the outside world, psychedelic
drugs might help to organize it and to help it grow.
Steve Jobs credits many of his world-changing insights to psychedelics. This is
extremely significant from the philosophical perspective. Even though the question
might be whether the new insights come from the drug itself, from a stimulated
brain, or from spirit, the plain and simple fact remains that creativity does indeed
take place, psychedelic drugs are involved, and it comes from somewhere.
Innovation is the result of mentally experiencing larger abstractions.
A COEX system that has already been explored to some degree can be revisited at
will with the right dosage. For instance, it is possible to move from the world of
Camelot to the world of hard knocks and to further explore either one of them more
or less at will. Exploring all of the possible worlds would take forever, so one is free
to follow his own interests at his own leisure. Oftentimes the spontaneous thought
generator (the inner teacher) will suggest an itinerary.
Religion deals in mystery and assumptions. The word “faith” means that a
particular assumption has been chosen as a conviction or even as a belief but it does
not imply that it is necessarily provable. This honesty is certainly commendable, but
a problem still remains. The level of acceptance of an assumption can range from
considering it to be a possibility all the way to be willing to kill or die to defend it.
Religious terrorists kill and die for the sake of concepts that are really only
assumptions. Other people refuse to swat flies because they consider all life to be
sacred. It would be a good thing if terrorists did not have such deep faith in their
convictions. If such were the case, they might at least feel a little freer to consider
the possibility that alternate points of view exist. Deep faith is not necessarily a
positive virtue. There is tremendous room for interpretation of moral, religious and
cosmic assumptions, the depth of faith in them is variable, and this explains much of
the conflict within the human drama. This is clearly a consequence of living in a
The only answer to the conflict would be for everyone to understand and accept that
different people and different cultures have altogether different overall definitions
of existence. Of course, that is asking quite a bit. Maybe a free online video course
in “comparative cultural definitions of life and the cosmos” would help. It would be
interesting to have cartoon characters, each representing one of the overall
viewpoints that really do exist, and to have them interact in various dramas
pertaining to specific moral themes. It could be the modern equivalent to Aesop’s
Fables but pertaining to the whole world.
Why it is that different people accept different cosmic concepts and with varying
degrees of faith may not be well known, but no doubt psychologists and sociologists
could devise ways of measuring them, perhaps with paper-pencil tests. This might
actually be a useful field of endeavor. The Baylor University study of 2006 found
significant correlations between certain cosmic convictions and other aspects of a
person’s lifestyle such as socioeconomic status and political views. It would appear
that subtle differences in outside circumstances can influence the choice of cosmic
assumptions. If one path looks even a little less stressful than another, it might be
chosen and stayed with. Since cosmic and religious convictions are relatively
permanent, profiles of these convictions could provide great deal of information
about a person’s basic orientation and philosophy of life. If nothing else, it would
better structure where we stand and where other people stand within this
particular framework. Through the mathematical technique of factor analysis, it
might even be possible to identify and label different clusters of overall points of
view regarding one’s overall relationship to existence such as the extent to which a
person is spiritualistic, materialistic, fatalistic, responsible, honorable, charitable,
creative, having a sense of meaning and purpose, etc.
Throughout history, some people have defended their personal convictions in these
areas even to their own death or to the death of others even though in the final
analysis they are only assumptions. Obvious references would be the Spanish
inquisition, the Salem witch trials, and terrorism. The current restriction to the use
of condoms, justified by religious assumptions, is currently influencing the AIDS
death rate, overcrowding, and poverty especially in Africa. In this case the rights of
the human ova and sperm cells are assumed to be of greater significance than the
rights of suffering living human beings. The real suffering that we can see in the
world around us can be proved and would seem to provide a good argument against
the invisible possibilities that can only be assumed and never proved. Christopher
Hitchens points out very clearly in his work how religion has been and still is
sometimes used as a thin disguise to hide the darker side of human nature. Of
course, he focuses on the situations where negative cosmic assumptions have been
adopted by some people rather than the many positive ones that other people have
lived by. References to his point of view can be found on his web page.
Carl Jung, Dr. Grof, and many others consider that a significant aspect of the
pathway toward personal wholeness involves spiritual growth. No doubt this is
true and authentic for people who have no trouble assuming or having the
conviction that God exists. For people who cannot ignore the fact that God’s
existence cannot be proved or disproved on the basis of physical evidence, however,
another set of assumptions and convictions might be just as useful. One could be
that if God actually existed, He would not be the least bit offended if He were
considered as mysterious. He keeps Himself so well hidden in our existence that it
would seem to be His intention anyway. Another could be that He is not offended by
an absence of worship or devotion by someone who regards His being as mysterious.
With this assumption, a person would not have to feel guilty for not being a “true
believer” and not going to church every Sunday. Another could be that any truly
convincing supernatural event in the physical world would in fact be accepted as
proof of the existence of spirit without argument. Another could be that
assumptions and convictions regarding the existence and nature of spirit seem to
form in our minds automatically on the basis of our life experience, as suggested by
the Baylor study. As such, an atheist is not responsible for his point of view and it is
authentic on the basis of his life experience. This also means that it is possible for a
person to have concrete assumptions about the nature of God even if he is not
objectively convinced that He really exists. This leaves a person free to become fully
immersed in the concept of spirit in a psychedelic session while ignoring the
problem concerning its actual reality. He could assume that he could be
experiencing his own interpretation of the nature of spirit, as presented by his
spontaneous thought generator, or that he could be experiencing the real thing.
Having the flexibility to move back and forth between these two assumptions or
being on the outside simply observing each of them can reduce conflict both in
psychedelic sessions and in daily life. This is another example of how a broader level
of abstraction can resolve philosophical conflict. The “keeper-bar” on the horseshoe
magnet in this case is recognizing that the conflict is nothing more than another
philosophical pair of opposites.
One’s relation to an assumed or a real God is a basic and important personal COEX
system, and the less conflict within it the better. As a religious person would say, it
is good to “get right with God”. Carl Jung suggested that all mental conflicts are
basically on this level of abstraction. I choose to rephrase this a little by saying that
the conflicts exist in the mental domain of the abstract cosmic concepts. Finding
comfortable assumptions and convictions to resolve conflicts within this domain of
mystery is a way to “link up the mental machinery” efficiently even though there is
no provable final answer ever to be found there. People caught between two
religions in daily life could find relief in abstractions that are broader than those
held by either religion. For instance, a person could realize that the different
religions all consider different rituals, behaviors, and convictions as being divinely
ordered, and it is impossible to prove that any one point of view is the only true one.
A course in comparative religions or the in history of mythology might help to
convince a person that there are many different ways of looking at things.
Recognizing the awesome and miraculous nature of existence and its extreme
complexity is by itself a form of worship. It is possible to pay homage to the cosmic
source of existence while at the same time refraining from making any assumptions
regarding its nature or its agenda. Worshiping a mystery does not necessarily have
to seem paradoxical; we know that something has to be out there otherwise we
would not be here. We just don’t know what it is. Of course, we are free to make
any assumptions we wish regarding its nature and to change them if and when it
seems appropriate to do so.
Two positive cosmic assumptions that could be made regarding our existence would
be that (1) ultimately God, although mysterious, is benevolent and (2) that there is a
mysterious and unknown reason for the suffering. If a person’s remaining cosmic
assumptions generally agreed with these two, there should be few conflicts within
his cosmic levels of abstraction.
An example of how we hold onto our convictions even when we know that they are
assumptions is the way most of us insist on seeing the world as physical and
material. Even though we know that we live exclusively in our minds, it is very
difficult for most of us to hold the concept that the outside world that we experience
might be a dreamlike mental projection. Books and lectures by Deepak Chopra
elaborate on this “mind only” point of view. From this point of view existence is
God’s dream and the physical world is a projected illusion. We are quite stubborn in
our convictions, and this is both a good thing and a bad thing.
No matter how powerful or how convincing a subjective experience might be, or no
matter how strong a conviction or a faith might be, it is not proof of a corresponding
reality in the external world. The validity of any point of view can only be
determined by testing it against external reality, otherwise it remains only as an
assumption. External reality might exist only in our minds, but it is definitely a
specific subset of mental experience that so far seems to unfold essentially
according to real cause-effect relationships. Other influences might be involved, but
so far we have only the subtlest hints of such a possibility. The tunneling effect of
electrons and nonlocal correlation are examples.
We can deeply experience various points of view in a safe and comfortable recliner
rather than having to explore them in the sometimes dangerous and sometimes
uncomfortable outside world. We do not need to take a vow of poverty and live
alone for years in a cold damp cave in order to experience a religious concept. We
can also feel the perfectly seamless and inescapable trap and the absence of
personal responsibility in a predetermined destiny or, on the other hand, the
responsibility and uncertainty of needing to carefully choose each of our own
actions and being prepared for any consequences from bad choices. We can feel
total devotion to a God with a particular set of characteristics and a particular
agenda or we can feel like we are living in a machine-like set of natural laws that
unfolds without the influence of any higher intelligence. We can see our existence as
God’s dream or as our own personal dream or we can see it as our physical body
living in a physical world. We can see the moral quality of our every thought and
our every action as having future repercussions or we can see the absolute freedom
of there being no such things as karma or retribution at all. We can see our life as a
meaningful pathway to certain goals or as a formless and aimless comic strip
leading only in circles. We can see ourselves preparing for an afterlife with a certain
set of qualities or we can see ourselves as trying to experience as much pleasure as
possible because we believe that there is no afterlife. We can see life as a precious
and miraculous gift or as an accident or a joke. We can also see ourselves as being
noble and doing what seems to be right and honorable moment by moment. There
are all gradations to all of these viewpoints. All of these approaches to life are based
on the collection of assumptions that we have made regarding cosmic concepts, and
they are certainly basic to our self-image and our view of the world.
Inner explorations can be very educational. It is even possible to sometimes project
the likely outcomes of various dramas that are unfolding in daily life. If a person
were involved in a high-tension love triangle, for instance, expanded consciousness
might help him or her to choose the best resolution to it. The spontaneous thought
generator seems to pick up on more of the subtleties of other people’s personalities
as well as our own as well as the subtleties of current circumstances and processes.
Since more data is processed the more likely is an arrival at productive decisions
regarding interpersonal relationships and life dramas in general.
In Carlos Castaneda’s book The Teachings of Don Juan, the concept is presented that
psychedelic drugs embody “spiritual teachers”. The teacher in the peyote (mescal)
cactus even has a name: Mescalito.
It seems to be true that a person can learn a great deal from a psychedelic session,
much of which could certainly be conceptualized as spiritual in nature, but the
source of that knowledge could already be buried somewhere in the brain. Research
with MRI equipment has been suggesting that activity in specific areas of the brain
correlate with religious experience. This area of the brain has been nicknamed the
“God Spot” and can be researched on the Internet. Of course, it could still be
assumed that spirit communicates to our rational mind through the God spot.
Another possibility is that the sequence of experiences that make up our entire
personal life drama could have been doled out already or are being doled out on a
moment-by-moment basis from a mysterious source. If this is the case, then
experience itself is the only reality. All of these improvable assumptions reflect the
fact that both spirit and existence are complete mysteries and that no one point of
view is necessarily true.
We live by our basic convictions so we might as well be aware of them and to be
sure that they are authentic, coherent, and up to date on the basis of our own life
experience. If things are currently not working out too well in one area of our life,
we might check to see if we are operating on less-than-useful convictions. For
instance, if we are exhausted and stressed out, we might check to see is we might be
assuming that we are somehow required to take on too many obligations and
responsibilities. If we are feeling and assuming that our life is meaningless, we
might be unnecessarily trapped in the mistaken assumption that looking for
interesting involvements, challenges, and activities would be a waste of time.
In her book The Benefits of Marijuana, Joan Bello refers to encouraging results with
posttraumatic stress disorder patients who were treated with marijuana therapy
(repeated experiences). She focuses primarily on the effects of marijuana on the
brain structure and and on its chemistry. She points out that the functioning of both
the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems are affected in a positive
and calming manner. I am focusing on the subjective component that is presumably
associated with these processes. The mystery of the mind-brain boundary is
ignored in this discussion. The subjective experiences, including insights and
understandings, can be remembered and actually put into practice during daily life,
thus extending the benefits of the psychedelic experience and allowing their
implementation in the outside world. A person can find, learn, and practice serenity
and composure and practice to make them part of his daily life personality.
I believe that psychedelic therapy can also help to ease the residual pain of tragic
losses and other tragic memories in general. It is possible to discover extremely
broad and cosmic perspectives of existence in high dose experiences and then to
remember them afterwards. I suggest that high doses might be the most beneficial
at the beginning of treatment of PTS syndrome because they would hopefully
provide a quick ascent through the lower levels of abstraction where much of the
tension exists. The cosmic views of existence are the most abstract and hopefully
the most healing. It is possible to work from the top down.
For instance, if a person experienced a vivid cosmic concept of the struggles, the
personal losses, the suffering, the uncertainty, as well as the pleasures and the
accomplishments of the entire human drama, his own life would seem like a very
small and insignificant part of it. The high-dose psychedelic experience tends to
present points of view on this high level of abstraction. The pair of opposites in this
case is on the one hand total detachment and on the other hand total involvement.
There are all gradations in between. The less significant something can be
conceptualized to be, the easier it is to feel detachment toward it. Speaking
poetically, a broad abstraction of the entire human drama would be like seeing it as
an extremely active anthill on an insignificant planet suspended in eternal and
infinite space. The completely detached inner “silent witness” of this experience
could watch the flow of events going by without any emotional or philosophical
response whatsoever to anything that takes place within it. The life story of a single
ant becomes a passing triviality. The history of the entire human drama becomes
trivial when compared to the infinite and eternal qualities of space, which is about
the highest possible level of abstraction that can be experienced and which can be
experienced deeply with a high dose of a psychedelic.
After solidly experiencing and conceptualizing the detached inner “silent witness”
observing infinite and eternal space, it becomes possible to start the process of
finding resolutions on increasingly closer-to-life levels of abstraction. The inner path
would be to remain detached but at the same time a more relaxed and contented
participant in the levels of abstraction that are necessary to allow a comfortable
flow of activity within the current drama of daily life. For instance, we all manage to
maintain a certain level of detachment when we read about wars and other
tragedies in the daily newspaper. Doctors manage to continue their work while
surrounded with tragedy and suffering. People eventually work through their grief
and rejoin the world after losing a loved one. With a goal such as the cultivation of
an inner relaxed detachment and acceptance, daily life can become an odyssey
leading to positive goals rather than a stationary painful trap. Without goals,
progress depends on the luck of the draw.
I believe that knowledge of the various concepts and the assumptions that exist on
these broadest levels of abstraction can be of value even if they are not part of one’s
own makeup of cosmic assumptions. Knowing other points of view and knowing
that they are as legitimate as one’s own is an education. An archetypal image, a
mythical image, or any cosmic image can represent a fundamental and basic point of
view. These points of view manifest in a person’s philosophy of life and his
corresponding behavior in the world. Psychedelics present these basic points of
view and one is free to see which ones are his and which of those others have
The human drama can be seen as a complex and extremely intense simmering “stew”
of tragedy and comedy that has been churning since the days of the cave man.
Unfortunately, war has been a fact during the entire process. This concept is a fact,
not a fantasy, so one cannot use pixie dust and denial in order to escape from bad
feelings and memories. But he can confront the way things really are and find a new
conceptual definition of himself in relation to it. He can relax and let the stew
continue to simmer around his tiny and insignificant existence, as it surely will.
Relaxation practice is a concrete exercise in stress reduction and when it is deep
enough it brings pleasure by means of the release of bliss hormones. Once a person
has felt the stimulation of the bliss hormones in his skin, he can later enjoy the
process of relaxing deeply and at the same time stimulating the bliss hormones
mentally. It becomes a two-pronged approach to achieving and maintaining the
super-healthy state of a peaceful mind in a peaceful body.
The infinite and eternal space that is conceptualized by the inner “silent witness”
can also be defined as the “background tranquility” of the mind into which all
tensions can melt. It can also be conceptualized as background out of which all
experience emerges. The concept of the background tranquility is an excellent seed
to plant in neuroplastic space. Even exploding stars and colliding galaxies are trivial
in this concept. Traumatic memories can be de-energized by associating a concept of
detachment with each of them. Every time a traumatic memory comes to mind, the
concept of its trivial nature when compared to the “big picture” can also be
remembered. The emotional “traps” of traumatic memories can in this way have
cosmic escape hatches.
After experiencing a cosmic perspective deeply, it is still possible to shift back to
seeing oneself as the center of his own personal existence and as the most
significant part of it. If nothing else, the psychedelic experience reveals that it is
possible to shift giant perspectives.
Another way that psychedelic experience can help to ease the pain of tragic
memories is that it reveals that hellish experiences can be passed through. They do
not need to be conceptualized as permanent solid walls acting as prisons in the
mind. The high dose psychedelic experience tends to keep moving by its very
nature, so it can reveal that experience is in fact fluid no matter how overwhelming
and permanent it might seem at a given moment. If a person can pass through a
hellish experience even once, he knows he can do it again. In fact, he can do it
enough times that it starts to become more familiar and less significant.
Detachment and “grace under fire” can deepen.
Actually experiencing both positive and negative experiences with the stimulation of
a psychedelic drug will tend help to bring about changes more quickly and
effectively than simply talking about them alone, but talking provides the extreme
advantage of negotiating and creating structure. Having a rational structure in place
can help to guide and structure the emotional, intuitive, and philosophical qualities
of the psychedelic experience toward meaningful resolutions. It also helps to make
it more possible to interpret the psychedelic experience as it unfolds. Rational
processes are helpful in bringing new insights out into the world where they can be
remembered and implemented. Sometimes a purely intuitive experience, such as the
feeling of bliss hormones stimulating the skin, can be remembered and reactivated.
Also it can be noticed that any negative experiences that we might have had have
already occurred repeatedly in the human drama. We are not alone in our troubles
and do not have to burden ourselves with the assumption that we have been singled
out to be mistreated by fate or God for some other reason. We don’t have to take
our misfortunes personally or to blame them on any assumed “sins” that we might
feel responsible for. Instead, a possible goal might be to more completely accept our
role in the tragi-comedy of the human drama for what it has been up until the
present, to relax, and to orient ourselves toward searching for something more
positive in the future.
Sometimes a very deep level of detachment, relaxation, peace, and contentment can
occur in a psychedelic experience. Just the memory that the “melted ecstasy” exists
as a reality and can bring hope and direction to a mental existence that is otherwise
burdened with tragedy.
There is a curious conundrum regarding the state of detachment. Accepting
something in the inner or the outer world means to allow it to flow by without
judgment or resistance. When it flows by without resistance, one is allowing himself
to experience it fully. This means that the rational observer of experience and the
intuitive experiencer of experience can be one and the same. In other words, a
person can say to himself: “Bad things are happening in my immediate experience
that I can’t control, but I will just let them go by”.
Psychedelics can provide entirely new and different experiences to a person. No
doubt each of us has the potential to experience most of the range of possible human
experiences. If a person is trapped in an intense but limited scope of experience by
negative circumstances, he can still see with psychedelics that a much greater range
of experience is available to him. There are many new things and ideas to
experience. If the dosage is right, the spontaneous thought generator can generate
an upwelling fountain of a great variety of new experiences to explore. He might
remember various opportunities for new endeavors that presented themselves in
the past and he might resolve to take advantage of any similar ones that might come
up in the future. He might remember old situations and how similar ones could be
handled better in the future. Since psychedelics encourage broader perspectives, a
person could even consider positive expansions and changes to his own self-image.
Continual daily practice of relaxation can lead toward an increasing level of calm
serenity. Many techniques for practicing relaxation are available in the media. As
already mentioned, psychedelics plus acts of will can be excellent aids to relaxation
and stress reduction practice. Finding the “melted ecstasy” even once gives a person
a target to aim for. Persisting on the path toward serenity and relaxation is a
meaningful and healthy journey through life. It can bring a measure of internal
peace and contentment, which are pleasant and physically healthy attitudes to have
in this troubled world. There is a concept called “Odic armor” where a person
becomes surrounded by an aura of peace that shields him from the slings and
arrows of outrageous fortune.
Not to be ignored is the fact that there are some extremely negative cosmic concepts
that can be experienced in a psychedelic session. Much can be learned from them.
Perhaps the most negative of all is the concept of Hell itself, an eternal trap complete
with scenes of agony, fire, and various monsters. When a high dose experience
becomes negative in this manner, it is still almost always possible to identify with
the “rational observer” within the mind. The rational observer can stand by, let the
negative material discharge itself without resistance, and to rationally define the
experience to the extent possible or desired as it flows through. A helpful image for
the rational mind to hold is that the mind is actually an invisible insubstantial entity
and that negative material can flow right through it like laser images can flow
through mist. It is also helpful to remember that the experience is a temporary
immersion into only one of many different cosmic concepts. An experienced person
acting as ground control can help to keep the user’s internal rational observer alive
and functioning if necessary. Hellish experiences might not be exactly pleasant, but
even so they are interesting. An artist could remember and paint the monsters.
Negative experiences always eventually end. Sometimes they just weaken as the
hormones run out and at other times there are breakthroughs into more positive
The hellish psychedelic experience, although certainly not pleasant, can actually
provide two opportunities: the chance to face one’s greatest fears once and for all
and the chance to learn and to practice “grace under fire”. Having experienced it
even once reduces its fearsomeness down to something that is merely
Sometimes it is possible to move out of negative psychedelic experiences into more
positive experiences with he help of music. Sometimes it helps to get up and to be
diverted with photographs, pictures of various sorts, a snack, or by chatting with
ground control. Some people assume that whatever experience a person is having
at the time is the best for him at the time and that it leads most efficiently to mental
equilibrium, but sometimes the experience seems to be somewhat grungy, leading
nowhere, and to be of little benefit. Probably it should be left up to the user whether
he wants to “shake off” a negative topic or to stay with it. If the topic is discussed
with ground control, it can sometimes be accelerated to a goal and a resolution.
Sometimes ground control can detect a theme to the experience and to encourage
the user to go to its heart in order to resolve it. One time one of my clients had been
experiencing various vague semi-formless anxieties. I suggested that she try to get
to the source of the tension. Later she told me that things got very black and fiery
and that she got a knot in her stomach and throat. Then a grizzly skull slowly
emerged from the darkness and looked at her face to face as though she were its
next delicacy. This lasted for a several seconds that seemed like an eternity and
then there was a very refreshing breakthrough into an experience involving imagery
of blue skies and puffy white clouds. She believed that this single experience
changed her daily life anxiety level for the better. No doubt it had to do with facing
her fear of death. If a hellish experience represents one’s greatest fears, and if it is
possible to endure it and to move through it and beyond it, all other fears pale in
comparison. If a person can move through a highly negative experience even once,
he learns that they are not impenetrable barriers to be trapped in forever but
instead areas that can be passed through. Since the psychedelic experience by its
nature continues to move and change, these experiences would tend to be passed
through anyway with hopefully a degree of tension reduction and insight. These
experiences come to be seen as some of many that can be experienced, re-
experienced, and explored if so desired.
A process that often works is to identify with the part of the mind that chooses to
“let go” and to let the negative experience unfold without any resistance. This part
of the mind is “above” the negative experience itself and can choose to let go and to
let the experience burn itself out in its own time while watching it from above.
Watching it from above is better than being a part of it. The “watcher from above” is
a valuable concept in a great variety of experiences and is in itself cosmic in nature.
It can also be a useful viewpoint oftentimes in daily life.
The hormone system is an important part of psychedelic experience. It can produce
countless different positive and negative blends of feelings and moods, some very
intense. It is the source of all emotions. Learning to neutralize or at least control
negative emotions that become problems by means of relaxation is a worthwhile
continuing project. Another is to pay close attention to the extent to which
hormones are influencing us into any unproductive dramas in everyday life.
Emotions are often far more influential than reason and can often override it, so
they are not trivial parts of our lives.
Considering the nature of the human drama and also of our own personal drama,
there is no lack of negative material to deal with. Getting immersed into any one of
these areas during a psychedelic session could be called a “bad trip”. They tend to
be somewhat rare and not too intense, perhaps because the drug experience tends
to be somewhat expansive, relaxing, and euphoric in general. During a psychedelic
experience, these areas will sometimes be viewed and resolved by finding broader
and more objective perspectives, but at other times it seems that certain emotions
need to discharge themselves also. Either way, self-knowledge is gained and
oftentimes internal pressure is reduced. Sometimes these experiences are relatively
mild and other times they are more intense. Sometimes the emotions are familiar
but their connections to real-world circumstances are not exactly clear. In any case,
letting these experiences discharge themselves in their own way without resistance
seems to be the best way to handle any and all of them. The rational mind can take a
detached attitude toward the emotional material even as it is emerging.
Bad trips can also take place with alcohol intoxication, especially toward the end of
the experience. Fights at bars usually start around closing time. Extreme guilt and
regrets can be felt the next morning.
Considering the nature of the human drama, a little internal stress is certainly not a
surprise, and there is no need to be ashamed of it. Also, there is certainly no crime
in facing it and working it through. The rational mind can try to understand the high
dose experience as it flows through if so desired, but otherwise it can run by itself
and hopefully resolve itself on the intuitive-emotional level in its own time and in its
own way. Sometimes there are feelings of relief and resolution during a psychedelic
experience even though there is little or no rational knowledge to structure what
The highest and most refined state of being would include a mind at peace, clear
rational thought, a relaxed body, and an accepting, contented, and yet enthusiastic
attitude toward existence. Of course, this state is not easily reached or maintained
considering the turbulence of our personal dramas, the human drama in general,
and the constant demands of our bodies. It could be assumed that one of our
missions on our pathway through life is to move toward and maintain this highly
refined state of being to the extent possible. Life could be conceptualized as a
proving ground or as a personal refinement process. We naturally tend to move in
that direction as we mature and gain experience. Two of the things that
contaminate a refined state include individual emotions and emotional conflicts, so
getting control of our hormonal-emotional world is clearly part of the work.
One way to hasten the refinement process is to relax the body to the extent possible
during meditation or psychedelic experience and then to observe any negative
tensions (COEX systems) that block further progress into deeper relaxation. These
tension issues are what need become identified, condensed, and eventually
dissolved. The spontaneous thought generator will occasionally send one of these
topics up to consciousness, and with or without the advantage of expanded
consciousness it is possible to work on its dissolution. Oftentimes one partially
explores one COEX system and then others and perhaps comes back to the first ones
Different COEX systems seem to emerge at different levels of drug intensity. As the
intensity of psychedelic experience increases after ingestion of the drug or
decreases after peak intensity, different levels of abstraction are experienced. This
in turn might mean that different COEX systems will tend to come to the mind as the
psychedelic session proceeds. This assent and descent through levels of abstraction
and the different topics of the COEX systems becomes more obvious with repeated
sessions. A time can come when most sessions follow a relatively standard
sequence of COEX systems and in each one it is possible to take up where it was
previously left off. Some of these systems are pleasant and interesting and others
are problematic. Some are everyday, some are cosmic, and some are spiritual. With
heightened awareness, they are all vivid and interesting. One advantage to revisiting
COEX systems is that they can be interpreted more and more completely and deeply
with the rational mind. Eventually one or more of the negative ones will essentially
lose intensity and will remain only as passing relatively neutral memories. They
become old news.
Emotional conflicts, or “mixed feelings” can be identified and transcended. A third
feeling or a broader perspective might eventually be found to resolve the conflict.
For instance, a person devoted to perfecting a particular skill or talent might find
himself frustrated by lack of success. Instead of stubbornly letting the emotion of
desire continue to clash with feelings of failure, he might discover a different skill or
quest in which he might be more successful and feel more accomplishment.
Conflicting emotions toward individual people can sometimes be transcended by
developing indifference or some other attitude toward them. Letting a love-hate
relation continue forever, for instance, would not be exactly productive or healthy.
A better path might be to hold oneself open to the possibility of new relationships.
Sometimes a resolution is actually a recognition of gradations between polar
opposites. If a husband does not particularly care which restaurant that he and his
wife go to, he can be satisfied in many places. But if his wife refuses to go back to
certain places because a certain dish was not to her liking or if she assumed some
mistreatment by the staff, then the repertoire of possible restaurants decreases.
Some of the polar opposites are resolved by withholding the judgment that causes a
full identification with one extreme or the other. If the wife were to try some of the
other dishes at some of the other restaurants, she might be satisfied. If a person felt
overly responsible for conditions in his world, he might try considering that some
things are simply outside of his control and to relax and to let them happen on their
own. There is sometimes a tendency to “snap” to one pole or the other of a set of
polar opposites. To do so might appear to simplify matters, but it denies all of the
possibilities in between, some of which might be much more productive. An
example in daily life would be the people who stubbornly gravitate to the far right
or the far left political philosophies, both of which are too extreme to be productive.
A useful model for the emotional component of the psychedelic experience
recognizes the fact that all emotions are caused by hormones. It is possible that the
organs that produce hormones have a limited capacity at any given time. This
would mean that it is possible to feel a single strong emotion for only a specific
length of time because the fuel runs out. A person does not have to worry about
being trapped in a particular emotional state forever. During the discharge of a
particular emotion, it can sometimes be interesting to rationally examine its source
or sources and also to observe how it has affected one’s interpretation of the world.
In other words, it is possible to be emotional and rational at the same time. In her
book The Female Brain, Louann Brizendine demonstrates how different hormones
can affect the perception of oneself and the outside world throughout a woman’s life.
Sometimes emotions can cause inappropriate prejudices and distortions of reality.
Other times they can be right on target. In any case, it is sometimes possible to
examine one’s emotional world more thoroughly and deeply and rationally in a
The psychedelic experience will tend to keep on moving along and changing even
when the person might be presently conceptualizing the eternal reach of time.
Conceptualizing the eternal reach of time might be a great pleasure while having a
heavenly experience, but it is considerably less so while having a hellish experience.
A high dose psychedelic conceptualization of damnation is bad enough by itself, but
conceptualizing it as also being eternal is absolutely the last straw. One need not be
too concerned about finding a cosmic concept much worse than that to experience.
In addition, facing one’s worse internal fears even once results in much greater
confidence in daily life. The oversensitivity of the innate fight-or-flight reaction
Deep relaxation and smooth breathing are effective in helping to subdue the
production of stress hormones both during a psychedelic experience and during
daily life. An obvious fact that is sometimes overlooked is that relaxation is the
opposite of stress. With practice, it is possible to train the body to relax quickly and
deeply and to thereby subdue much of the residual and unnecessary stress. Many of
our stressful feelings are actually over-responses caused by our innate flight-or-
flight reaction, so being able to subdue them with relaxation can often be a relief and
to bring us back to more rational evaluations of reality. Deep relaxation can also
make it easier to rationally analyze memories that otherwise would be laden with
emotions. It seems paradoxical to attack something as overpowering as stress with
something as peaceful as relaxation, but it really works. It is something like putting a
soft hand on a screaming baby and watching him calm down and go to sleep.
Another experience that deserves to be mentioned is one that might be called
“meaninglessness”. No doubt we tend to consider our own life experiences when
we try to find meaning in our own existence. We tend to look at the history of the
human drama in order to try to find the overall meaning of existence. Just as with
all of the cosmic concepts, many assumptions regarding the meaning of existence
are possible. Many intelligent people have suggested possible meanings to our
personal dramas, the human drama, and to existence itself. We can choose among
them as we please until we find one that feels right for us or we can accept and relax
in the fact that the meaning of existence is really a mystery.
The spontaneous thought generator generally presents the most cosmic
abstractions such as God, outer space, eternity, and infinity at the highest dosages,
but as the drug effect diminishes, the next level down could be called the
“meaningless” level. It is like moving from the sublime to the ridiculous. At this level
there is a hint of essentially random structure such as in organic imagery or
cartoons. There is a temptation to consider that existence has no meaning or that
meaning is just out of one’s grasp. There is also a temptation to try to make sense of
this area but I think it is better just to relax and let it go by. It is not easy to make
sense out of minimal structure. The next lower level of abstraction could be called
the archetypal or the mythical because it deals with sweeping generalities
pertaining to the human drama and it has considerable structure. The rational mind
can have a field day on this level, recognizing the meaning of the myths and the
influences that take place within the human drama. The level below that is a general
overall view of one’s own personal existence in the human drama and it has a more
detailed structure. One sees how he fits into his personal drama and perhaps can
see ways that he might fit into it even better. The level below that is everyday
existence with no psychedelic stimulation whatsoever. This level has the most
structure in the form of individual events and with less abstract thoughts. This same
sequence of levels of abstraction can be experienced each time a person comes
down from a high dose session.
The meaningless point of view seems absolutely valid while it is being experienced
and it is indeed one of the many discreet cosmic assumptions regarding the purpose
of existence. One’s personal existence and existence in general seem to have no
more significance than a nonsensical comic strip that runs in circles. Seeking
meaning in this experience of formlessness, aimlessness, and futility can be quite
intense and unpleasant and is probably an amplification of the search for meaning
that we all sometimes feel in daily life. I personally feel that it is easiest just to let
this experience go right on by and to assume that different points of view regarding
meaningfulness will be presented by the spontaneous thought generator on the
lower levels of abstraction: myths and archetypes, and one’s personal drama. In
other words, it is easier to let different definitions of meaningfulness emerge by
themselves rather than to search for the “right” one. Anyone experiencing an
unpleasant intense search or conflict regarding meaning on the personal or cosmic
levels might find some relief in considering the fact that meaning is a mystery
because no other assumed meaning can be proved.
Another point of view is that meaninglessness is close to chaos. There cannot be
conflict or tension in chaos so sometimes it is possible to relax quite deeply in this
experience. It is possible to relax when conceptualizing the meaningless experience
by not struggling to find meaning and in any experience of chaos or randomness by
not seeking structure in it.
Temporarily giving up the search for meaning and resting in what appears to be an
endless, absurd, and aimlessness reality can actually be a considerable relief. It can
be like finding a comfortable spot where to relax in cartoonland. Wiley Coyote and
the roadrunner could call a truce, stretch out in lawn chairs, and contemplate the
miraculous quality of the starry desert sky and even of the entire comic strip of
Soldiers returning from prolonged combat have experienced extremely meaningful
life-or-death situations. This is also true of people engaged in dangerous
occupations. After doing so, the everyday world can seem extremely trivial to them.
However, these people can learn to accept and relax in the seeming triviality. They
don’t need to seek the same feelings of adrenaline-induced meaningfulness and
purpose that they previously experienced and hopefully can become relaxed and
accepting in cartoonland.
Feelings are only feelings and letting them come and go naturally involves the least
internal controversy. It is good to remember that feelings do not always reflect
reality and that they can actually be distortions of reality.
A bonus to both relaxing completely and ignoring the search for meaning is that
things don’t look as though they need to be taken quite so seriously. We can still can
go ahead and do the things that need to be done and play the games that need to be
played, but without wringing our hands because there seems to be no meaning or
purpose to our unfolding personal drama.
If a person has a psychedelic experience of this nature, he will still return to his
original definitions of what is meaningful. This is an example of how it is possible to
completely immerse oneself in a particular psychedelic viewpoint without
After an experience of this nature, it might be somewhat easier to find new
meanings on new levels if so desired. We tend to cling to our old definitions of
meaning even after their authenticity has expired, but we can update them as
needed with new life experience. We can graduate from our collection of marbles to
a collection of education, new experiences, health, pleasant relationships, and
completed good works. Even if meaning remains elusive, at least we can be assured
that we are probably doing the right things anyway.
I personally suspect that there may be a specific hormone or something else that
promotes core feelings of absurdity and meaninglessness because it seems to be
such a distinct experience. It could also be due to the fact that there are many
definitions of meaning but only one of meaninglessness.
Along with the cosmic continuum of “meaningfulness versus meaninglessness” is
another one that could be called “progress versus regression”. It is extremely rich in
its variations and interesting to explore. Progress and regression can come to look
like nothing more than the endless rearrangements of the same atoms that make up
our current existence. A similar point of view is that existence boils down to an
incoming flow of experience from a mysterious source and that it could take on any
form, progressive, regressive, stagnant, or anything else. There are other
possibilities such as the accumulation and playing out of karma, etc.
If we restrict the definition of existence to nothing but experience itself, then the
apparent expanding universe and our expanding control of it could in reality be the
expansion of our ability to conceptualize broader concepts. The cave man could not
conceptualize walking on the moon but we can.
We can each find our own comfortable assumptions regarding cosmic concepts and
explore the other ones. One of my non-psychedelic friends thinks that it is very
possible that we are an experiment being conducted by beings on another level of
reality. Even that assumption provides some structure to some of the events that
take place in our world.
As mentioned elsewhere, finding appropriate, coherent, and comfortable
assumptions and convictions on the level of cosmic concepts can help to cultivate a
coherent, relaxed, and relatively conflict-free philosophy of life. With sufficient
flexibility, a person could tentatively adopt the set of assumptions regarding the
cosmic concepts that is generally shared by his current surrounding culture and
thereby easily join in with it.
The single most useful conviction that we can hold in this existence is that cause-
effect relationships that have been found to work and to be reliable will probably
continue to be so. Natural laws are totally reliable. More complex reasonably
reliable relationships also exist such as that people tend to treat us in the same
manner as we treat them. From one point of view, it could be said that our mission
here on earth is to find and to learn to use both the rock solid and the more general
cause-effect relationships that work, and to use them to our own and everyone
else’s advantage. Holding convictions such as that destiny is predetermined, that
God controls every atom in the universe every single second, that cause-effect
relationships are not dependable, or that existence is an accidental structure in
chaos would lead a person to feel that any decisions he made to make things better
for himself and others would be a waste of time. There is always the possibility that
one of these assumption is in fact true, but no one knows if this is the case or not and
living by any one of them simply on the basis of an assumption would certainly be
unproductive. If production is needed, unproductive cosmic concepts need to be at
least temporarily set aside and productive ones need to take their places. Franklin
Delano Roosevelt once said: “Let’s build the Grand Coulee Dam”. John F. Kennedy
said: “We choose to go to the moon.”
An interesting cosmic concept regarding the scientific point of view is that every
event that takes place in the universe is the result of an inextricably confounded
interaction of immutable natural laws extending back to the beginning of time. This
point of view cannot be proved because even a simple event in daily life involves an
interaction of so many natural laws that it would be impossible to account for and
check even a fraction of them. How many natural laws would have to interact
perfectly in order to let us take a sip from a cup of coffee? What would it take to
organize all of those atoms and natural laws? A contrasting concept from the
spiritual point of view is that God creates existence as He wishes on an ongoing
basis. These contrasting viewpoints and all the gradations between them are
examples of the extreme diversity of assumptions regarding causation, and
causation is just one of the cosmic concepts.
A conceptual resolution to the conflict between the materialistic and the
spiritualistic points of view could be that God influences “flows” of natural laws to
take place in order to guide destiny while at the same time not interfering with the
individual natural laws themselves. These flows could encompass extremely high
numbers of natural laws, such as those involved in cultural trends as well as in more
limited events such as those involved in one person taking a sip of coffee.
Organizing the atoms to create and sustain events is certainly not a trivial matter.
Obviously it is happening but how it is done is clearly far beyond our understanding.
Carl Jung, Deepak Chopra, and Stanislav Grof refer to “synchronicity” (extremely
unlikely coincidences that are connected by their meaningful relationships) as
indicators that spirit guides destiny. As an example, Dr. Grof relates that he was at
one time flying over northern California reading a book. The words “Mount Shasta”
appeared only once in the book. When he read them, he looked out of the window
and saw Mount Shasta down below him. Dr. Grof concluded that this was an
example of how something more than normal cause-effect relationships had to be at
work. Another possibility is that each of us is dealt a specific destiny and that some
destinies contain many synchronous events and others do not. This being the case,
synchronicity is as much of a mystery as everything else. If in fact each of us is dealt
our own specific destiny, what is absolutely true for one person is not necessarily
true for another. Since the source of experience is a mystery, this is a distinct
possibility. It would explain why different people hold so tightly to different beliefs.
For them their truths are indeed true.
Chopra refers to studies showing that flocks of birds and schools of fish flow
together at exactly the same moment when they make turns, as proved by high-
speed motion pictures. No bird or fish is the leader. These events are extremely
unlikely if they are coincidences. Countless atoms flow in an organized fashion
when a hand reaches for a cup of coffee, perhaps under the same influence as the
birds and the fish. This concept is one possible assumption that resolves the conflict
between the spiritual and the materialistic explanations of causation. God could be
causing events to occur, but natural laws that He created limit the manner and
structure in which they can unfold. Anyone accepting this more abstract
assumption or one like it would never again have to defend or deny either the
spiritual or the materialistic point of view regarding causation. Of course, the real
answer to the mystery of causation is something that is far beyond our
Finding such resolutions, even though they are only mental assumptions, is a
reduction of conflict and a relief from both the personal and the social perspective. I
believe that it is possible to stimulate such resolutions on all levels of abstraction
with psychedelic drugs as well as without them. Considering that such resolutions
reduce conflict, it is worth seeking them rather than hassling and arguing over them
It is nice to know that our mind somehow sifts through all of the complexity of
existence and automatically provides us with our own personal repertoire of
assumptions and convictions. The psychedelic experience can help us to recognize
our own comfortable cosmic convictions and to tweak them if it ever seems to be
authentic and advantageous to do so. The spontaneous thought generator seems to
be able to process and distill very large amounts of life data, so when it summarizes
our experiences, even our psychedelic experiences to some extent, it should be able
to suggest some very appropriate and authentic points of view and resolutions of
It is useful to know that all cosmic convictions are assumptions and not facts when
we see others or ourselves proceeding down paths of action that look destructive or
dangerous. We can become cautious and examine the convictions motivating such
actions and remember that they are only distinct different ways to interpret
existence. The horrendous actions of terrorists, for instance, never achieve the
desired overall results because they are based on erroneous assumptions. They
might convey a message and a particular cosmic concept, but they have never
replaced entire governments. The actions of a terrorist, although horrific, are too
localized to have a sweeping permanent social effect. If a terrorist had a psychedelic
experience where his spontaneous thought generator summarized all of the events
in his life involving loving and mutually beneficial occurrences as well as mankind’s
many attempts to govern itself peacefully, he might realize that his original
assumptions were in fact assumptions and not facts.
Experiencing a cosmic concept emerging from the spontaneous thought generator
on the high dose level of abstraction while at the same time being serene, relaxed,
and fully rational can be a great and satisfying adventure. Alice can float through
Wonderland and see things from many different perspectives. It is a valuable study
to consider how differing personal assumptions and convictions can influence one’s
own life drama and the human drama.
Sometimes it is possible to start with a relatively everyday thought in a psychedelic
experience and then to watch as it spontaneously develops itself through levels if
abstraction clear up to the cosmic level while at the same time staying on point.
An example of this process could start with a everyday thought about some aspect of
the Internet. The Internet in its entirety could be seen as evolving into an “exobrain”
for the human race. Its capabilities are progressing at an astonishing rate. Already
it is possible for almost anyone to look up almost any information, to store
mountains of data, and to almost instantly do searches and data processing that
used to take months and even years. Reference could be made to fingerprint
recognition programs. The Internet is becoming the first worldwide meeting place.
This emerging exobrain is and will be doing productive thinking about such useful
things as international relations, the economy, government, business,
manufacturing, the ecosystem, science, innovation, religion, education, energy
production, data storage and processing, communication, recreation, navigation,
virtual travel, personal relationships, the arts, and hopefully other good things in life.
The exobrain as it exists now and will exist in the future will be like a computer in
that it will be a combination of electrical processes and hardware, but like a thinking
organism in that it will run and will evolve under the control of human minds. It
could be conceptualized as a single worldwide evolving biological machine. It would
be like a planetary brain made up of individual human minds rather than individual
cells. It already is far and away the most complex manmade organization of energy
One could then mentally shift up a notch in abstraction to the cosmic level and
assume that this exobrain could be the equivalent of the next step in an assumed
human evolution. Perhaps it all started with a monkey discovering that he could use
a stick as a tool. The stick has become the exobrain and the monkey has become us.
If that monkey had not discovered that a stick could be used as a tool, we might all
still be monkeys. If we have come this far in this amount of time, where will we be
when the same amount of time has passed once again? It is impossible to imagine.
After discovering the scientific method, we have changed our environment to
include satellites and computers. We relate to these machines every day. In a sense,
we are “joined” with them. A somewhat over-the-top cosmic observation would be
that computers are made up of extremely complex organizations of atomic particles
and energy just as we are, so they end up sharing existence and contributing to it
just as we do. No doubt this man-machine relationship will mature in many
fascinating ways over time. Perhaps one day wars will be carried out as
international video games. Perhaps the population of the world will be such that it
can be sustained exclusively on renewable resources. Perhaps we will be able to
travel through space faster than the speed of light. Perhaps we will have an ESP link
with the exobrain. So far we have rudimentary verbal communication with the
Digressing far and wide for a moment, there is currently a video game called Infinity
Blade. It starts out where you, as an armored knight, proceed to fight more armored
knights and monsters to the death. The game is so refined that you have to learn to
duck at exactly the right time and to discover your opponents’ weaknesses and
openings. When you find an opening, you have to do as much damage as you can as
fast as you can because he will recover and come at you again. You need to rack up
damage points while it is possible. When your opponent is on the ropes and you are
smashing him with everything you have, it is an extremely exhilarating experience. I
have heard this type of experience referred to as “victory in the air”. A psychedelic
stimulation of this sort of experience has been called a “power trip”. Such
experiences are useful growth processes because a person learns that feelings of full
strength and power do indeed exist within himself. All this can be done without
anyone getting hurt. Monsters in the computer or the mind don’t care if they die.
Maybe if more of our aggressions could be directed toward virtual monsters, we
would not need to direct them so much toward each other. Maybe computer games
of this nature will become more sophisticated and will elicit even deeper
involvement. Maybe they will eventually include 3-D surround sound. Maybe they
will become emotional outlets and even dimensions of self discovery. Maybe they
will be networked so that players could compete at their own skill levels with real
people in real time in virtual space. They could help to practice learning quick
reflexes in a virtual world that would carry over to the outside world. Quick reflexes
are good for both health and for survival. Maybe players could get together between
fights in a virtual coffeehouse in some exotic place for a chat.
Maybe a person could design and maintain a garden in three-dimensional virtual
space. He or she could float through it and see how it flourishes over time. There
could even be fountains, pavilions, and koi ponds. It could be a team effort with
another real person in real time, all of the plants would be free, and they would
plant themselves at the push of a button. Near-total involvement with a game of this
nature could evoke and satisfy some of the leisurely feelings and the creative urges.
In 2011, David Ferrucci of IBM referred to Watson, his latest supercomputer, as
“making it a smarter planet”, so evidently he had a similar insight. If education up to
the highest levels becomes free and available to everyone, such as is starting to be
the case at kahnacademy.org, the world will indeed become a global virtual
university. The mind loves to work on different kinds of challenges and problems.
This being the case, becoming educated by using a computer could become a
pleasant pastime since a person could choose his own topics and learn at his own
pace. He could be learning at home without paying a penny for tuition, housing, or
textbooks. He could start at any age. He could switch courses midstream. It would
be possible to set up methods for earning formal accreditation in various areas. A
brain surgeon would still require certain accreditations and qualifications.
Designing the various courses themselves for the quality of their text, sound, and
graphical presentations could become a legitimate and righteous occupation. Real-
time classrooms of any size with opportunities for one-on-one question-answer
face-to-face relationships with teachers and experts would be possible. The planet
would indeed become smarter.
Speaking of the expanding nature of data storage, we are starting an electronic
“Akashic record” of our history. I am guessing that historians of the future will be
using some new concepts and techniques in order to interpret the new deluge of
digital data. Perhaps computer programs will sift through mountains of data to
measure specific cultural realities. For instance, it would be interesting to know the
extent to which giving tax breaks at the top really “trickles down” to main street and
to the various forms of consumption thereby affected (or not). Perhaps the “cloud”
of data storage will intersect more and more with the “cloud” of scientific research.
Yet another possible future could involve an interaction between technology and
income. If computers and robots take over most of the production in society,
technological unemployment will require new methods of distributing goods and
services fairly. A person’s wealth could no longer be proportional to his
contribution to society because the computers and the robots would be making
most of the contributions including even the ones that require high intellect and
resourcefulness. One equitable way to do this would be to assure a basic measure of
goods and services for everyone and any additions in proportion to education and
the production that only humans can carry out. This way everyone could get by
even without making any contributions to society at all and some people would be
motivated to study in order to qualify for more luxuries. The machines could be
adjusted to produce appropriate amounts of goods and services to keep this system
in balance. In this case or something like it, it would definitely become a smarter
planet while basic survival would become less of a problem. Wars would be
unnecessary since needs would be satisfied. Of course, population control would
have to become a reality for this to work otherwise it would explode out of control.
It would be like ants on a candy bar. Current statistics (2011) are showing that for
every death in the world there are 158 births, but that 154 of them come from
Such are examples of how expanded consciousness can move up through levels of
abstraction from the mundane to the worldly and to the cosmic levels and to explore
the implications of each level. The ability to compose different levels of abstraction
is one of the great strengths of the human mind. Doing so reveals much more
understanding regarding exactly the same realities. Mental concepts are arranged
into broader “gestalts” (wholenesses) that still remain authentic with respect to
perceived realities in the outside world. Thinking in terms of a broader concept is
like shifting up a notch in the level of understanding. Speaking poetically, it is a little
like stepping from black and white movies to color movies, to IMAX and then to
IMAX 3D. After that it is like floating out as a disembodied mind into the starry sky
and becoming one with it.
The most basic level of abstraction would be the impressions of individual elements
of existence. Higher levels would be the clustering of similar elements of existence
into broader understandings. The broadest abstractions would be those of God or
infinite and eternal outer space because they cluster everything that exists.
There is even a cosmic resolution between the concepts of the creationists and the
evolutionists. Assuming that existence is an ongoing process influenced by spirit,
such as it is seen by people who believe in prayer, it would not be too much of a
jump in logic to assume that God is creating existence in such a way as to make it
appear that evolution has and still is taking place. He could even now be influencing
the apparent adaptation of various plants and animals to the apparent current
global warming situation. With this more abstract assumption, the points of view of
both the evolutionist and the creationist would be in agreement. Evolution could be
taking place but God could be causing it. He could create large jumps in complexity,
such as the seeming sudden appearance of humans in the biological mix. This could
be one of the very clever ways in which God hides himself in existence. The
resolution of such an issue in this manner could reduce tension both in the social
world and in an individual’s internal philosophical world. No one could prove that
this more abstract assumption is a fact, but the same is true of the original
assumptions of the creationist and evolutionist in the first place. In any case
evolution is still a mystery, so although new archeological discoveries might be
convincing evidence that evolution has and is taking place, they will still not be
proof that it is taking place with or without the influence of spirit. So the mystery
Now that synthetic DNA has been invented and stem cells can be created from
regular cells, it is conceivable that eventually it will be possible to engineer more
mentally, physically, and spiritually advanced human beings. More advanced
human beings connected to an advanced version of the exobrain could lead to a very
If there is a God and if He has a plan, our history would suggest that it involves
advancements in technology. Technology is the one thing that has changed over the
millennia. Human nature, not so much. Perhaps great advancements in medicine
and psychology are coming next. Perhaps such tools as psychedelics will help us to
improve our intuitive skills and our humanistic qualities. Perhaps we will mature to
the point where we will learn to govern ourselves rationally through a dispassionate
study of empirical data for the sake of the greater good. Watson, the latest
supercomputer, is hopefully going to help refine medical diagnosis and to suggest
treatments that have been proven to be the most effective. Perhaps we will learn to
place greater emphasis on some of the more positive archetypal themes that run
There is also the assumption that creation took place once and was then freed to
unfold by itself. There is also the concept that creation is God’s ongoing dream
which makes it seem like something more mental than something physical. It can
even be conceptualized that existence is a simulation under the control of beings on
a higher level of reality such as in the movie The Matrix. Since none of these points
of view or any other can be proved or disproved, the default point of view has got to
be that all of creation is a mystery and probably always will be. Abiding in the fact
that creation is a mystery resolves all of the other conflicting assumptions regarding
cosmic concepts. It becomes unnecessary to defend any one point of view while
denying any of the others, and at the same time a person is free to explore and to
live by the ones that he finds to be the most authentic, believable, and interesting.
Resolutions of higher abstractions might be nothing but invisible constructions in
the inner mind, but they can be found and manipulated with and without
psychedelics. They can be used to refine our relationship with the world, to make
the world a better place and to make our own experience more pleasant.
Recognizing the mysterious quality of existence might have helped Mother Teresa
avoid her long crisis of faith. It might help a person to think longer and harder
before taking a possibly destructive approach toward a problem.
Carl Jung referred to universal myths concerning the upwelling of a fountain of new
life energy followed by reconciliations of opposites. This theme seems similar to
what sometimes takes place during psychedelic experiences. New insights that
resolve conflicts tend to emerge.
High dose experiences are not for everyone. Some people are simply not interested
in exploring these areas, and some are not exactly willing to risk a “bad trip” on the
cosmic level. Some people are very comfortable, confident, and secure in their own
convictions in the areas of the cosmic and the everyday and they might not want to
grapple with any other points of view. Perhaps if these people cautiously continued
their explorations, however, they might find it interesting and even harmless to
examine different points of view.
A person considering a high dose experience would be well advised to be willing to
risk a bad trip, to have a trusted and experienced person nearby to act as ground
control, to have strong ambiguity and absurdity tolerance, at least a willingness to
entertain the concept that all of existence is a mystery, and to be in a pleasant
setting with no obligations for several hours. A good sense of humor is always
helpful. He should have a hand-held voice recorder handy. Favorite music can help
to guide and structure the experience. Music can also help to divert the mind into
the strictly intuitive side of the experience when it is so desired. Previous
experience with lower doses would be an advantage, as well as verbal descriptions
of various areas of psychedelic experience such as those provided in this essay. I am
guessing that high dose experience will never become extremely popular except
perhaps among people who are interested in exploring cosmic and religious
concepts and experiences and even then on rare occasions. There are those who are
on the “spiritual quest” and these experiences could be very satisfying to them.
After having experienced a cosmic concept with a high dose, the work had been
done and it stays done. As such, it is possible to contemplate the same concept later
with a much lower dosage and also in normal daily consciousness. Contemplating a
cosmic concept with the rational mind and considering its implications is interesting
food for meditation.
Thinking in terms of larger abstractions includes the ability to detect general trends
that are currently taking place in society and to see where they might be going.
This could be called “visionary” thought and I am guessing that the predictions made
with psychedelics might quite often be accurate. Steve Jobs, a modern visionary,
credited LSD as a major reason for his success. No doubt his powerful mind also
had something to do with it.
Summary and Suggested Research
Psychedelic drugs open a door to a huge and fantastic inner world. Hopefully
explorers of this world will return to this one wiser and happier. Used with a
modicum of caution and much good will, I am sure that this would be the case.
Probably the most important aspect of psychedelic drugs is that they are statistically
extremely safe. There will never be rehabilitation clinics for people addicted to
psychedelics and there will never be hospital stays for people who have endangered
their health by using them. They are not addicting and can be discontinued
altogether at any time with few regrets.
Another point is that any antisocial behavior ranges from extremely little to none.
The experience is either one of relaxed meditation or the enjoyment of creative,
artistic, or pleasant social activities. There is little or no behavior such as aggression,
domestic or other violence, recklessness, or significant loss of motor control or
rational thought. Higher doses would do nothing more that to encourage deeper
relaxation and introspection. No one will ever die of an overdose.
I hope and believe that the universal need for “self transcendence” can be satisfied
by psychedelics rather than by more dangerous drugs or by extreme activities. One
can more easily and safely reach a very satisfactory level of self-transcendence
sitting in a recliner listening to favorite music. He could become perfectly relaxed
and perfectly content, and yet he could still get up and do any chores that needed to
be done with no difficulty. A motivated individual addicted to alcohol or other
dangerous drugs might find enough satisfaction in the “high” provided by
psychedelics to help him to wean himself from them. Alcohol consumption has been
found to decrease in areas where legal medical marijuana is available. The extent to
which it would replace the responsible use of alcohol is unknown, but I am sure that
the responsible alcohol use will always be a pleasure and will always have its place.
The need for self-transcendence is an extremely important issue. It is a very strong
influence in all cultures and at all levels of society. Some people will go to extreme
lengths in order to experience it and to justify it. An example is the fact that
bootleggers were selling bottles of alcohol from suitcases in the Capitol building at a
high cost during prohibition. The buyers were assumedly very intelligent, honest,
and responsible representatives of the people who had to be relying on some
extreme form of doublethink in order to justify their need for self-transcendence. A
program on prohibition on the Public Broadcasting Channel revealed many of the
convoluted ways that people got around the Volstead Act, which listed the penalties
for alcohol distribution and consumption. Today, in 2011, a tunnel was discovered
linking San Diego and Tijuana along with 17 tons of marijuana. One important
reason why the demand for marijuana is so high is because so many people know
that it is the one safe way to “get high”.
An interesting point brought up by a PBS documentary was that the overindulgence
of alcohol was a far more serious problem around the turn of the century than it is
now even though it was readily available both then and now. It was an even a more
serious problem during prohibition and alcohol-related crime became rampant even
within law enforcement. The reason why the alcohol problem is less serious these
days than it was around the turn of the century could be the availability of a large
variety of drugs, prescription and otherwise, that affect consciousness. Perhaps the
need for self-transcendence has not really changed over the years. So far it appears
that psychedelics are the safest way to achieve self-transcendence and that they also
provide a guide to personal growth.
Psychedelics are useful for deep reflection, problem solving, and even self-
psychotherapy. The stimulated mind clusters broader perspectives of memories
and of current situations. This shift in perspective promotes a series of new and
more efficient ways of looking at things, new insights and understandings, and
attitudes that can make life more relaxing, meaningful, and easier. These positive
discoveries can be easily brought back into daily life because there is absolutely no
guilty sick hangover to squelch them or to distort a person’s self-image, or his
definition of reality.
Psychedelics vastly stimulate the intuitive processes of the mind. The world
becomes more vivid, meaningful, and miraculous. This feature would be a
revelation to a person trapped in tedium, depression, alienation, or hopelessness,
and it could be brought back to daily life. A person can practice in daily life the
positive things that he has learned during a psychedelic session.
In order to maximize the use of psychedelic drugs for self-exploration and personal
growth, I believe that an individual would need the freedom to find the best dosage
level for himself in order to balance the functioning of his rational and intuitive
mental processes. I am quite sure that this dosage would be low to moderate on the
average. It would act essentially as a stimulant to meditation if and when desired.
The freedom to choose the frequency of sessions would also be of value. Sometimes
it takes a while to digest new knowledge with all of its implications and at other
times it is more like a sudden overall revelation.
Even a low-dose experience can be distracting so it would be wise to avoid any
important or risky activity that requires sustained attention to the outside world
such as driving a car or brain surgery. Regular activities can usually be handled
with no problem, but it is important to realize that current thoughts tend to be
quickly replaced with new ones. It is easy to forget that something is on the stove.
Higher doses could be used for deeper introspection and for exploring and
experiencing abstract, cosmic and religious concepts. This would be satisfying for
people interested in psychology, philosophy, and religion. High-dose sessions
require a few precautions such as a “sitter” nearby, several undisturbed hours, and
unthreatening surroundings. A couch or a recliner is also a necessity. Favorite
music is not an absolute requirement, but it can be very useful and very satisfying.
Of course, these drugs need to be used with all due caution and respect and always
within the law.