Five Steps to Mindfulness
The most extensive scientific study of the mental and perceptual effects of a psychedelic drug since the 1960s. Strassman provides fascinating insight into the world of psychiatric research as he seeks to understand these most mysterious substances and their profound effects on human consciousness.
To revert to the ancient view in which human life, and in particular human consciousness, is considered to be somehow significant therefore seems completely out of the question, a futile move serving only to stir up false hope in a Universe that basically 'just don't give a damn'. This is especially so if our only motivation is a dislike of current scientific reasoning. Only if such a new theory were driven primarily by direct conscious experience could it possibly hope to possess validity. And not just wishy-washy conscious experience either. The experience, if it were to bear upon notions of the ultimate nature of reality, would have to be remarkably compelling and potentially accessible to all. It would have to provide incontrovertible evidence that we have some significant role to play in the reality process. But could a direct conscious experience really afford us such an insight into the 'big question' Well, if we keep in mind that science proceeds through verifiable...
But the authorities and, for most part, adult society are missing the point here. Craig and his compatriots are not interested in obtaining and selling valuable documents. These kids are not stealing information - they are surfing data. In Cybena, the computer serves as a metaphor as much as a tool to hack through one system to another and yet another is to discover the secret rooms and passageways where no one has ever traveled before. The web of interconnected computer networks provides the ultimate electronic neural extension for the growing mind. To reckon with this technological frontier of human consciousness means to reevaluate the very nature of information, creativity, property and human relations.
In humans, MDA and MDMA have been reported to produce positive mood changes, enhanced emotional awareness, and improved interpersonal communication (Greer and Tolbert 1986 Downing 1986 Shulgin 1986 Peroutka et al. 1988). Because of these psychotropic effects, MDA and MDMA have been used in psychotherapeutic situations (Naranjo et al. 1967 Yensen et al. 1976 Grinspoon and Bakalar 1986). In addition, presumably because of the same positive subjective effects, recreational use of MDMA on college campuses has increased in recent years (Peroutka et al. 1988).
In the chapters that follow, I hope to develop a new non-technical and user-friendly theoretical framework with which we can explain consciousness, and in which we can properly place the entheogenic experience. Essentially this conceptual framework derives from Aldous Huxley's reasonable assertion that the psychedelic experience results from an influx of information not normally available to us - hence the 'doors of perception' being 'opened' after ingestion of substances like, in Huxley's case, mescaline. What I eventually hope to show is that consciousness itself is a form of information that physical matter can be described in terms of information also and that reality consists of an evolutionary flow of self-organising information, with human consciousness occupying a significant functional role in the entire process.
When your brain is forming, explains Kottke, using his long fingers to draw pictures in the oriental rug, it makes axons that are long, linear things, feeling their way to some part of the brain very far away to get connected. Your consciousness develops the same way. The middle teen years are about making connections between things in your mind like computers and psychedelics and fractals and music. Everyone is staring at the impression Dan's fingers have left in the rug, relating the pattern he's drawn to the design of the colorful weave underneath.
Hence, it is overwhelmingly apparent that the human mind with all its attendant beliefs, ideas, neuroses, fears, hopes, goals, and aspirations is intimately bound up with the unsightly wet blob brain. Indeed, what distinguishes Homo sapiens from, say, our primate cousins, is the sheer size of our brains and the mental abilities that such a relatively big brain grants us abilities like self-awareness, language, complex social behaviour, foresight, problem solving, metaphysical musing and so on. We are what we are by virtue of our evolved brains, the phenomenon of human consciousness being determined by this fortunate evolutionary cerebral turn of events.
And there you have it, the essential features of the brain's neuronal machinery in a highly sophisticated nut-shell. Information is transmitted and processed by the brain via the collective firing patterns of billions of neurons. Like the myriad on-off bit components of a computer, unbelievably large systems of neurons are able to carry out various computational processes and procedures, although in the case of the brain it's capacity to compute and literally think far outstrips the capacity of any currently existing computer. To imagine a sentient HAL-like computer by 2001 which worries about being turned off is, perhaps, excessive wishful thinking. Whilst computers might be good at numerical calculation and other well-defined logical operations, they fail miserably when it comes to carrying out the types of thinking which we do all the time like crossing a really busy whilst simultaneously contemplating a Shakespearean metaphor. Perhaps if computers were born into a society of...
The predominant effect of depressants is to depress, or deaden, neuronal activity. Consider anaesthetics. They are so strong in their depressant action that beyond the state of general anaesthesia which they induce there lies only coma and death. It is believed that once anaesthetics have been administered, they reach the brain and inhibit neuronal firing so much so that consciousness is 'lost'. Therefore it is clear that without adequate neuronal firing there can be no information processing or informational conductance and hence no mindfulness. Already then, we have yet more proof that consciousness is bound up with the billionfold action of activated neurons in the brain.
Finally we have come to the class of compounds we call the psychedelics or entheogens. Admittedly it has been a little tough getting here, yet the journey is worth it since the psilocybin mushroom is always worth pursuing for its striking implications relating to human consciousness. Thus, we are now ready to home in even closer to the link between neuronal chemistry and consciousness.
Most of the weirdness that passes for higher consciousness, cosmic consciousness, mystic awakening, artistic genius, is Fifth Circuit alienation. Many post-hive, self-reward people get carried away with the freedom and selective choice. They become megalomaniac and fail to realize that others are also attaining post-hive Self-Actualization. It is true that to evolve beyond hive-robot hood, one must pass Megalomania 1A (Caste 13) and master Simple Godmanship and Basic Narcissism (Caste 14). But a most perilous leap awaits the Self-Developer. After one has become a Self-Reward Adept it is necessary to realize that, although one is god, it's a pan-theistic universe, that other post-hive reality-creators exist.
The machinery of the industrial culture - be it technology, economics, or even the more subtle underlying psychological principles and social mechanisms - is turned against itself for its own good. Just as the earth uses its own systems of feedback and iteration to maintain a viable biosphere, house culture exploits the positive feedback loops of marketing and data sharing to further human consciousness. Radzik explains his take on the Gaia hypothesis and McKenna's prediction about the year 2012
We can boldly refer to this quixotic reasoning as being but one corollary of the fantastic hypothesis. The fantastic hypothesis views reality, or Nature, as a meaningful and intelligent system as opposed to some mindless accident going nowhere. According to the fantastic hypothesis, we are woven into an orchestrational tide of information, interconnected throughout, whose glorious and spectacular purpose awaits us. For if the natural tendency of the Universe is to foster the integration of more and more information, then, as with gravity in the 'physical' realm drawing together atoms and elements, the result of this tendency in the realm of human consciousness might be to draw some kind of 'truthful solution' into being like an ultimate pattern falling into place.
To suggest that reality is anything but remarkable and mysterious is to be a victim of life's hypnotic aspect. Because we are so conditioned to reality, we are generally oblivious to the fact that, compared to most of the Universe, the processes of informational integration occurring here on Earth are astonishing and indeed science fiction-like. In fact I am prepared to go as far as saying that there is 'nowt as strange' as human history and human consciousness within the on-going reality process.
Each conditioned response, or cue, has the capacity to elicit craving for drugs every time the recovering addict encounters it. Every day, the addict may encounter many cues to light up, inject, snort, chew, drink, or inhale the drug he or she is trying to give up. Each one of these cues initiates both a conscious awareness of the desire to use drugs and measurable physiological responses in the brain and body that mirror the craving and add to the addict's discomfort.
Without a subject, an ego, that perceives this reality. The subjective experience of so-called objective reality is the result of interactions between external sensory signals, mediated by the sense organs, and the ego, which brings this information to the level of conscious awareness. In this situation, one can think of the external world as a sender of information or signals and the deep self as a receiver. The translator m this case is the ego. In the absence of one of these either the sender or the receiver reality does not exist. There is no music on the radio, and the screen is blank. If we adhere to this concept of reality as the product of the interaction between sender and receiver, the perception of a different reality under the influence of hallucinogens may be explained by the fact that the brain, which is the site of consciousness, undergoes dramatic biochemical changes. The receiver is thus set for wavelengths other than those associated with normal, everyday reality....
Those who are ideologically committed to the still-prevailing Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm will at best consider the statements and descriptions of the ayabuasqueros as drug-induced hallucinations, incapable of being scientifically evaluated or verified. From the perspective of a Jamesian radical empiricism however, the phenomenological descriptions of consciousness explorers must be accorded the same reality status as observations through a microscope or telescope. They lie outside the normally perceptible realm of sense experience, yet nevertheless they are subject to verification, comparison, testing, and replication by anyone else who chooses to avail themselves of these perception-enhancing tools. In other words, contrary to the assumption of materialist science, it is possible to be objective to one's subjective experience. In fact, Buddhist mindfulness meditation and Gurdjieff's self-remembering are practices designed to help one learn to do just that.
At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one. One way of life is based upon the will of the majority The second is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections and the suppression of personal freedoms.
The wild weed originated in temperate Central Asia, that vast region stretching between eastern Europe and China. Though its seeds can be carried by wind and water, birds and beasts, the foremost agent of its distribution has always been Homo sapiens. Some remote human ancestor perhaps noticed this beautiful leafy vegetable in the meadow and gobbled it down tor lunch. The effects were far out a jolt, to the forming of human consciousness. As Pamela Lloyd has said, The shock of recognition must have registered psychoactive animal meets psychoactive plant, . The two have been nearly inseparable ever since.
Around 8 30 pm, I was given a 10 ml booster and almost immediately threw up. When I came back to my place in the Circle, I focused my awareness more deeply into my brain to feel the effects of the medicine. I sank deep within the actual substance of the brain, experiencing there a serpentine consciousness in the physical form and experiencing electrical currents running through the brain in the form of little serpents. The close physical proximity of these serpents to the ajna (third eye) and crown chakras made me think how curious was this juxtaposition of pure consciousness and serpentine substance. I observed that these two opposites were close, but not interrelating at this point.
He informed the Look reporter that he had sought inner peace his whole life long, but yoga, hypnosis, and mysticism had not helped him. Only the treatment with LSD had made a new, self-strengthened man out of him, so that after three frustrating marriages he now believed himself really able to love and make a woman happy.
The discovery that the fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) was known for its psychoactive properties in Siberia invited the conclusion that this mushroom was used as a psychotropic agent in medieval Europe as well. In fact, there is very little evidence from the Middle Ages to indicate widespread knowledge of the effects of specific mushrooms on human consciousness. However, I believe that past reports on psychoactive mushrooms were causally linked to Amanita muscaria simply because this was the only known psychotropic mushroom in Europe at that time.
Leary particularly wanted to develop an organized framework for understanding the potentials released by psychedelic drugs. He set out to devise a manual or program that would serve as a guide for acid initiates on their jaunts through higher consciousness. Given that there were no extant myths or models in his own tradition, he looked to the only sources that dealt directly with such matters the ancient books of the East. In The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Leary found a text that was incredibly specific about the sequence and nature of experiences encountered in the ecstatic state. With a little intellectual tinkering the self-proclaimed priest-scholars Leary, Alpert, and Metzner produced an updated interpretation of the ancient scripture. They represented it not as a treatise for the dead but as an instruction manual on how to confront the Clear Light of the Void during the acid peak with a minimum of fear and confusion.
Two years of uphill struggle and Strassman finally acquired all the necessary permission to perform a DMT study, The remarkable results were subsequently published in reputable but specialised scientific journals, a bit like planting the seeds of a new paradigm underground. Perhaps the most interesting finding concerned the subject's reports on what the (intravenously injected) DMT experience was like. As with psilocybin, the effects of DMT warrant our attention if we are interested in the latent potential of human consciousness to transcend 'normal' reality. In Strassman's own words Although the study of mystical experiences and neurochemistry might seem like compelling science, the fact of the matter is that most scientists exercise great caution when it comes to explaining, in scientific terms, something as precious and as guarded as the mystical experience. Those who tend to police communion with the divine like religious leaders are quick to react when science attempts to reduce...
In terms of the Universe at large, it could be argued that the attractor towards which it is being inexorably drawn is a kind of 'big crunch' whereby the Universe collapses into a singularity due to the effects of gravity. However, we can also view the attractor as being not a super-concentration of 'matter', but an integrated state of information or meaning. When human culture and human consciousness has succeeded in realising its true role and function within reality, and when the Other has fully transformed or reflected itself within the totality of Gaia, then this will represent the attractor or final stage of the reality process as we know it. At that point, Nature will have made maximum sense of itself.
If reality is indeed a rushing river of integrating information, then it must surely be destined to meet some final organised form. This would appear to be an inescapable conclusion if my reasoning so far is correct. For if the processes of organic life and human consciousness were a latent capacity woven into the fabric of reality, then there must surely be more information yet to be read out of the Universal Computation. If Natural Intelligence is anywhere as massive as I suspect, then there absolutely must be some final point or solution to it's prodigious algorithmic Gaian-sized endeavours. I offer such entertaining speculation not because I believe it to be true, only that this kind of idea highlights, in principle, how reality as we know it might well be coded to produce some climactic output at some stage of its evolutionary progression. Equally plausible is the idea that our computer technology might spawn some new level of information-integration - the so-called emergence of...
Entheogenic species of plant and fungus still offer us a wealth of psychotherapeutic power if we choose to look their way, not to mention the information they reveal about the chemical mutability of human consciousness and the possible transformation of our models of reality. Like most philosophers, Koestler seemed far removed from the natural botanical world, but with the advent of Gaia theory and a renewed interest in all things Green and environmentally friendly, our deep connection to the rest of Nature looms
It seems to me that to hallucinate-to dream-to write, stands at all times in contrast to everyday consciousness, and their functions are complementary. Here I can naturally speak only for myself. This could be different with others-it is also truly difficult to speak with others about such things, because people often speak altogether different languages
Leary relates the 22 trumps of the Medieval Tarot deck, the 12 sun signs of astrology and the 8 trigrams of the Chinese Book of Changes ( Ching) to the evolving periodic table (here spiral) of elements, the ethological concept of castes, and, most important, to the next quantum leap in human consciousness (as well as the next several down the line), I want to back up a bit and reiterate two basic principles of exo-psychology. What kind of transmission would be most helpful in facilitating the exploration of human communities tolerant and knowledgeable enough to withstand the accleration radiation of post-terrestrial individuals One answer lies in human ethology in the exo-psychological concept of seasonally varied genetic differences in human nervous systems. Exo-psychology's success in prediction is backed by Dr. Leary's career of anticipating the movements of human consciousness.
So do yourself a favour, if you're not ready to see what natures rhythm is really like, and go camping. I promise you'll enjoy it, as long as you just let it happen and experience it without judgement. Try to notice your thoughts while you lie in the tent or look up at the stars, and think about what you are missing. Think about sitting on the couch and eating a takeaway and leaving the washing up, and watching program after program on the tv. Then come back to the present moment and be aware of what you have.
(2) the authoritativeness of the expericncc or the certainty that such knowledge is truly real, in contrast to the feeling that the experience is a subjective delusion. These two elements are connected because the knowledge through experience of ultimate reality (in the sense of being able to know and see what is really real) carries its own sense of certainty. The experience of ultimate reality is an awareness of another dimension not the same as ordinary reality which is the reality of usual, everyday consciousness, yet the knowledge of ultimate reality is quite real to the experiencer.
Ultimately, the personal computer and its associated technologies may be our best access points to Cyberia. They even serve as a metaphor for cyberians who have nothing to do with computers but who look to the net as a model for human interaction. It allows for communication without the limitations of time or space, personality or body, religion or nationality. The vast computer-communications network is a fractal enhancement of human consciousness. It provides the means for complex and immediate feedback and iteration, and is even self-similar in its construction, with giant networks mirroring BBSs, mirroring users' own systems, circuit boards, and components which themselves mirror each participant's own neural biocircuitry. In further self-similarity, the monitors on some of these computers depict complex fractal patterns mirroring the psychedelics-induced hallucinations of their designers, and graphing - for the first time - representations of existence as a chaotic system of...
We need to remember basic things, such as how to brush our teeth, how to drive a car, how to do our jobs, or even how to make lasagne But what I want to discuss with you here is something different, it is the use of memory to enable us to live in the past, not in the present moment. Let me explain Maybe it is part of our make up as humans that we attach memories to our emotions. Maybe in the past it had some biological benefit, such as remembering that a lion was a dangerous animal and thus triggering the body to act, or remembering that a certain fruit with a delicate scent was very tasty. From a survival point of view it makes sense. From a living in the present moment point of view, they are a hindrance, a burden that man can do without. As humans we are psychologically attached to memory. Memory is not just something you access when you are looking for information, it works autonomously, giving us helpful (it thinks) little snippets of past...
The very heart of tissue culture work is sterile technique. I have tried to describe everything else first what is needed, and why. But to describe sterile technique is somewhat difficult. The actual task is not difficult, as you will see in the drawings. What is difficult is overcoming your fears of the unknown in this case, contamination. Because mistakes are not immediately apparent, nor are the sources of contamination, there is a natural initial over-cautiousness over details which will seem to be important but quite often are extraneous. I think therefore the best way to teach it is to show the movements. Like any meditation, with time you will choose the movements which are most comfortable. The secret is to relax, breathe deeply and focus your consciousness at a certain point in space, e.g., the inoculating loop, while moving with flowing gestures.
If ayahuasca is not the most complex binary drug delivery system in existence, what is It certainly must be the oldest. Exactly how the technology was devised to locate and combine certain plants to enable the oral activity of DMT remains a mystery. The only certainty in this area is in the identification of active plant alkaloids and their subsequent effects on human consciousness.
Because the information-integration processes displayed by our culture in the wake of evolving computer technology and computerised telecommunication systems shows no signs of abating and appears to be speeding up at an unprecedented rate, and because of the type of information accessed during the entheogenic experience, I believe that the destined output of the Universal Computation in terms of our biosphere, or Gaia, is something that human culture will eventually usher in. In other words, the 'intent' of Nature is now being revealed through the evolutionary development of human culture and human consciousness. If so, this would imply that conscious human culture with its attendant technology is a kind of penultimate function within a certain part of the Universal Computation, just as different organs play differentially timed functional roles in the developing body. This is the sort of speculative idea taken up in the next chapter.
Meditators spend their time trying to transcend thought, to quieten the mind from its incessant mind talk, to achieve a state where thought does not exist, only pure consciousness and clarity. They attempt to do this through various means - by chanting mantras for instance - to force out all other noise, but we will discuss meditation in more detail as a separate topic. Let us just say that thought has been giving anyone concerned with the mind a great deal of problems over many years
As we have seen, the brilliant fine-tuning of Nature is most clearly indicated in the evolutionary process which Nature has facilitated here upon the Earth. Over some 3 and a half billion years, our planet has transformed itself from a lifeless mass of rock into a veritable metabolising organic matrix in which countless replicating patterns swarm about the Earth's surface, each pattern or organism an informational expression of Natural Intelligence. Yet, like the hour hand of a clock, science has failed to see the contextually directed movement of Natural Intelligence, claiming instead that evolution is essentially a pointless and mindless process. But this can only be a subjective inference likely drawn according to the perceived duration over which evolution works, a duration so great that the intelligence operating over such spans remains all but invisible. If we instead imagine viewing a time-lapse film of Gaia wherein 3 and a half billion years of information-gaining evolution...
Consciousness may turn out to be the ultimate mystery, resistant to self-interrogation. Whatever may be at the roots of human consciousness, there is no debate that what, and how, a person thinks is deeply intertwined with his or her functional neurochemistry.144 Simply put, controlling what chemicals can or cannot reach a person's brain synapses, directly affects how that person thinks. As a result, compelling a person to use a pharmacotherapy drug not only implicates the person's traditional rights to bodily integrity and informed consent, it also implicates the fundamental right to freedom of thought.
The experience of such a comprehensive reality is impeded in an environment rendered dead by human hands, such as is present in our great cities and industrial districts. Here the contrast between self and outer world becomes especially evident. Sensations of alienation, of loneliness, and of menace arise. It is these sensations that impress themselves on everyday consciousness in Western industrial society they also take the upper hand everywhere that technological civilization extends itself, and they largely determine the production of modern art and literature.
Motivated people perform well in school, work hard for their employers, and persevere on laboratory tasks. Yet some of the world's most famous achievers failed in these domains. People do not share the same goals or value the pursuit of objectives in the same way. Some cultures emphasize future plans over a focus on the present. Others clearly do not. In fact, the intense pursuit of future goals may minimize enjoyment of the present moment, leading to considerable distress (Burke, 1999).
Finally, remember that wanting to change your consciousness is not a symptom of mental illness or an unhealthy need to escape from reality. It is normal to want to vary your conscious experience. * Drugs are just one way of doing it, though, and if you come to rely on them before you are grown up, you may not be able to appreciate a whole range of nondrug experiences that are more subtle but more rewarding over time. There is no question that drugs can get you high, but they are difficult to master and will fail you if you take them too often.
According to the various schools of traditional psychoanalytic thought, the dissolution of neuroses is a lengthy process, whose progress depends on penetrating layers of character armoring and identifying the root causes of unhealthy fixations. Hoping to shorten the duration of treatment by accelerating the pace of resistance dissolution practitioners, have turned to pharmaceuticals as an adjunct to the therapeutic process. Thus, upon discovery of the unique properties of hallucinogenic agents during the 1950's, LSD gained widespread popularity as a therapeutic agent, while mescaline remained obscure, as it was used by comparatively few practitioners. Patients under the influence of these substances confronted long repressed traumatic events as they began to surface and enter conscious awareness. In some cases, such emerging traumatic experiences had been repressed since early childhood. Medical records and case histories indicate that many patients not only remembered, but actually...
Like MTV videos that substitute texture for story and quick cuts for plot points, Rose X videos work on an almost subliminal level. Meaning is gleaned from the succession of images more than their linear relationship. Viewers process information moment to moment, thus the amount processed increases with the number of cuts, even if the data is less structured, Rose X takes these techniques a step further by intentionally appealing to the viewer's ability to experience a kind of morphic resonance with the patterns and data flashing on the screen. Even their subject matter - their most popular videos are talks by Terence McKenna and Ralph Abraham - is intended to awaken dormant zones of human consciousness. Again, the final stage in the development of a cyberian genre is the designer being, mated both with technology and with psyehedelics in the hope of creating a new territory for human consciousness. But what the designers of the new literary milieu may not realize is that around the...
She turns on you quite suddenly. She gets more and more demanding and gives less and less in return. Like all plant allies, she wants your consciousness, but unlike the others her home is in the Paleozoic only her spiritous ghost wafts through our own eon. Nerve cells doze, sleepwalk with the ally back to a gooey subterranean syncline.
After their expulsion from Harvard, Leary and Alpert were determined to carry out additional studies in the religious use of psychedelic drugs. They set up a grassroots nonprofit group called the International Federation for Internal Freedom (IFIF), whose ranks quickly swelled to three thousand dues-paying members. Local offices sprang up in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. IFIF believed that everyone should be allowed to use mind-expanding chemicals because the internal freedom they provided was a personal and not a governmental matter. They envisioned a society in which large numbers of people would seek higher consciousness, ecstasy, and enlightenment through hallucinogens. It's only a matter of time, Leary stated confidently, until the psychedelic experience will be accepted. We see ourselves as modest heroes, an educational tool to facilitate the development of new social forms We're simply trying to get back to man's sense of nearness to himself and others, the sense of social...
After ingestion of 1.2 grains 72 g the following symptoms occur an agreeable warmth of the skin, general nervous excitation, a desire to move, tickling of the skin, and a peculiar feeling of ecstasy similar to drunkenness. One addict said that he saw his destiny full of great possibilities clearly and distinctly before his eyes.'' This state continued for one and a half hours. After ingestion of 2.4 grains there was an urgent desire to move. All movements were generally facilitated, and when walking the limbs were lifted far more than necessary. Intellectual thought was impossible. There was a flood of ideas, chasing each other with great rapidity, without any one being analysed. The individual lost perception of his identity. After vomiting, awareness returned, although distraction, forgetfulness and vacancy of mind persisted. On awaking the state of intoxication seemed to have been extraordinarily long and full of events of which the subject did not remember any. After 3 hours he...
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