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Interesting post! Erowid is a pretty useful site for research...

https://www.erowid.org/experiences/exp_list.shtml#Mushrooms

I could never take a ride in something that I cannot control and can go totally bad... I guess mushrooms are not for me. I would still like to know what it feels like to have no ego, though.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUyObjDNkts

Luciano, check out the link (above). As someone who has personally experienced mushroom induced ecstasy and hell (and everything in between) many times, I can verify that the young man is offering a pretty accurate description. He could be a little more articulate and, perhaps, more mature, and I wish his language was a little cleaner, but he is still describing the essence nonetheless.

The experience is, as you suspect, not for everyone. With age and sober background work the mushrooms tend to offer a more coherent and useful ride, but sometimes their method of instructing can still be surprisingly harsh and/or bizarre (from the standpoint of every day ego life).

I have never thought of the mushroom trip as being waking dreaming. There is little in it that is reminiscent of a dream, IMO; not even lucid dreaming. However, I suppose that there is some overlap to the extent that dreams and mushrooms both involve the logic of the subconscious.

I completely agree that strong positive mushroom trips often has positive effects on the user for several months afterwards - in some cases even for a lifetime.

"I could never take a ride in something that I cannot control and can go totally bad"

Actually, that sounds a bit like the deal we make when we agree to experience life in a human body. :)

Of course, we can control the body -- somewhat. But the downside is that it's *guaranteed* to eventually self-destruct.

The bottom line is that souls have been entering bodies, and people ingesting mushrooms, for a long, long time. In both cases, the rewards must be substantial.

" a state of consciousness akin to a "waking dream.""
Art Kleps, founder of the psychedelic Neo-American Church and author of The Boo Hoo Bible, was opposed to attempts to explain or make sense of the lesson or experience of psychedelics beyond saying, "life is a dream." His church's official hymn was "Row, row, row your boat." His "Bible" can be had at Amazon for $20 used, here: http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Neo-American-Church-Catechism-Handbook/dp/0960038817/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404513716&sr=1-1&keywords=boo+hoo+bible
"I could never take a ride in something that I cannot control and can go totally bad . . . ."
There's no need to dive into the deep end of the pool.

I used what was supposed to be LSD a number of times as a young person. This was not in the pursuit of mind expansion but for a good time.

Even then I felt extreme anxiety as the drug kicked in fearing a total loss of control. I had a couple of less than positive "trips" but nothing like walking into the pits of hell.

I never had any great insight or revelations. I can recall a lot of real time anomalies distracting me like purple snow and non existent crinkling paper in my pockets. Giggles galore would often subsume me and who I was with. All too often these would occur in the most inappropriate locations.

That said my mouth and mind felt like the bottom of a bird cage for the next few days.

At my age I could not fathom taking anything like this without someone paying me for the research and holding my hand! Actually it would have to be A LOT of money!

Back then I doubt that most of what I took was pure LSD (late 70's and early 80's). Probably a cocktail of substances with a ton of whatever speed was on the market.

As someone who has emotionally and spiritually benefited from LSD, magic mushrooms, and mescaline usage, something occurs to me just now: perhaps there is no reliable criteria for adjudicating what is and is not a "bad trip."

Perhaps "bad trips" are semiotic events, i.e. one can surely, and often unexpectedly, experience difficulty on a substance even with what appears to be good set and setting. But what does the difficulty MEAN?
Often difficulties arise when dealing with things one "should" attend to (I use "should" liberally--it's a case by case basis), e.g. one's relationship to the Divine, repressed memories, a broken friendship/relationship, something more pressing than a trip that one is putting off, etc. In other words, I think a bad trip is only "destabilizing" when one attempts to fight or repress things that were difficult within oneself to begin with! So, one can choose to think of the suffering one encounters on a trip in terms of health (or a lack thereof), i.e. your mind is telling you that something is psychically off kilter and you need to get better.

So, in my mind, one's ability to have a bad trip is directly correlated with how healthy one is emotionally and spiritually in general, and how much one is willing to learn from suffering. As such, I think that most people probably should NOT take these things outside of an explicitly medical/therapeutic context unless they are well-adjusted. Otherwise, they probably will fear and fight difficult things and hurt themselves.

What would be the differences between a waking dream and lucid dreams?The idea is confusing to me.

On another note have any of you seen this article?What could it mean for consciousness?

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329762.700-consciousness-onoff-switch-discovered-deep-in-brain.html#.U7g6hLERIgk

"So, in my mind, one's ability to have a bad trip is directly correlated with how healthy one is emotionally and spiritually in general, and how much one is willing to learn from suffering."

I agree, John! In my own case, I was well-primed for my psychedelic experience by many years of involvement with primal therapy, which is about allowing oneself to feel emotional pain, rather than defend against it.

I had several substance-induced trips that can best be described as agonizing, but I knew better than to try to fight the experience, or even to waste my energy figuring out what was happening, because that's often a form of non-acceptance.

I simply "rode out" the waves of pain, which is often the best we can do.

That attitude is still important to me. When I let myself fully experience the unpleasantness in any given (unfortunate) situation, I'm often delighted at how naturally I move back to a good place, and without having taking any unnecessary or foolish measures I might later regret.

Of course, in some situations I need to take certain steps if I want to feel better. And I admit that it's sometimes tricky to know whether I need to simply let myself experience a discomfort, or try to remedy the problem by changing my behavior or circumstances.

Sometimes it's one, sometimes the other, and sometimes a combination of the two is called for.

For me, this is where prayer comes in. I think of it as calling on my largest self: "Help me to see this situation through your eyes."

Bruce Siegel said:

I was well-primed for my psychedelic experience by many years of involvement with primal therapy, which is about allowing oneself to feel emotional pain, rather than defend against it.
. . . . . .
I'm often delighted at how naturally I move back to a good place, and without having taking any unnecessary or foolish measures I might later regret.


That's triggered me to write this uplifting little stanza:

King’s men, begone;
Humpty’s happy
Sunny side up

What does everyone think of this new study out

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329762.700-consciousness-onoff-switch-discovered-deep-in-brain.html?full=true#.U7l1J7FQu6v

I think it shows that consciousness can be deactivated then reactivated.

Roger said:

"Humpty’s happy
Sunny side up"

I like it! Though I confess: sometime I go from whole to scrambled.

No One: I'd like to experience all that beauty... to have that comprehension... without the space-time shattering insanity.

I know I'm not the kind of person that is able to take that risk. It just sounds so scary to me...

Roger said:

"Humpty’s happy
Sunny side up"

I like it!

Posted by: Bruce Siegel | July 06, 2014 at 03:04 PM

Here's an afterthought: A cartoon should be drawn with the caption, "Humpty's Happy, Sunny Side Up," showing a poached egg with a smiley face at the bottom of the traditional Humpty Wall. King's men stand scratching their heads nearby.
Though I confess: sometime I go from whole to scrambled.
Well, you know what they say about making an omelet! Omeletville's OK! (= a more flavorful & decentralized ego.)

"I know I'm not the kind of person that is able to take that risk. It just sounds so scary to me... "

Luciano, it's scary, to some extent, for just about everyone, myself included. That is one of the reasons that psychedelics have a low risk for psychological addiction. It's just not somewhere you want to go to again right after having been there. You have to feel "up to it". Your mind set and the setting have to be right. You have to really feel the need and after a few intense trips most people don't have that need anymore. They got it. If they want to proceed on the path they usually switch to a gentler method, like meditation and a spiritual life style.

Even given my affinity with the mushrooms, the last time I used a psychedelic mushroom was about a year and a half ago and before that was probably also about a year and a half between sessions. Otherwise, it used to be something I'd do, at most, twice a year. I am thinking about ingesting some in the near future. A species of active mushroom grows on my property and I was able to harvest some this spring*.

I have had difficulties living a spiritual life style. I have a lot of excuses as to why (e.g. I work too much on a job that requires a lot of energy sapping mental processing, too much family responsibilities, too little time in the day considering all of my demanding past times and hobbies like race horses, working out, volunteer work.....). So I allow myself to get into mind numbing routine ruts. I like the mushrooms because I know they will work and work in a big way right here and now and I know that they will set me straight for months afterwards. The point being that I know a lot about psychedelic mushrooms, but my example is not necessarily one that you'd want or need to follow.

* Never attempt to harvest mushrooms for consumption unless you really know what you are doing in terms of identification. Most mushrooms look very similar and visual identification based on a picture is an entirely insufficient methodology. There is a very real possibility that you will encounter a poisonous species in the same environment as the variety you seek. Always use a legitimate field guide and always be sure that the mushrooms you harvested adhere to ALL of the descriptions in the guide; especially the color of the spore sprint.

Bruce,

Great response -- I think what you are describing is akin to what the Daoist tradition names "wuwei" or what generally is referred to more generally as mystical "disinterest," i.e. attempting to move with existence rather than against it (the latter of which is--as the Buddha knew--the stuff of attachment). Ultimately, I find the value of psychedelic substances is their ability to help neurologically, emotionally, and spiritual reconfigure the feedback loop of the self and help one focus on what one wishes to focus on, i.e. working through suffering, acceptance, etc.

I'd prefer it if people did not give advice on harvesting mushrooms, using them, etc. Even though I'm sure this advice is well-intended, it conflicts with my own view, stated in the main post, that people should not experiment with psychoactive substances on their own. Not only is it illegal, it's also potentially dangerous for all kinds of reasons. Some people have such terrifying trips that they never fully recover their psychological equilibrium. They may be plagued by panic attacks and other issues for the rest of their lives.

"I know I'm not the kind of person that is able to take that risk. It just sounds so scary to me... "

This is, I think, the right attitude, and nothing to feel apologetic about. It's reckless to risk permanent damage to your psyche. No doubt there is some potential benefit in some cases, but this is not something to fool around with, in my opinion.

I would steer clear of shrooms, LSD, peyote, etc., and I suggest that others do the same unless they're participating in a medically supervised study.

There are safer ways to explore your inner self. Try guided meditation or Hemi-Sync. No, these methods are not as quick, but what's the rush? Safety first.

Apologies, Michael. I figured that once the topic comes up in a positive light (such as the referenced researched), someone is going to be bound and determined to try it and get into trouble without experienced cautions - and maybe with then too.

OK. We'll leave that to others and stick with your sound advice to employ alternative methods.

"I would steer clear of shrooms, LSD, peyote, etc., and I suggest that others do the same unless they're participating in a medically supervised study."

That's really restrictive. It would mean, in practical terms, that almost nobody would get to explore this territory.

Instead, I'd put it this way: look for a mentor. Someone with experience, and whom you deeply trust.

I think that's Michael's opinion, not an instruction. If that's his opinion that's fine by me.

Michael, I do hear you on the need for helping people understand the risks entailed in using powerful psychedelics. But when you say "safety first," I can't help but have this thought:

What's happening around the world suggests that this planet may not be safe for *anybody* if we don't begin to adopt a more genuinely spiritual (as opposed to religious) perspective. And there's a wealth of evidence pointing to the potential of certain substances, used knowledgeably and conscientiously, for facilitating this paradigm shift within peoples' hearts and minds.

So there's more than one way to think about safety.

You have a point, Bruce, but I'm sure you can understand why I'm not comfortable with having my site used as a platform for advising people on how to obtain and use illegal (and potentially dangerous) substances.

I'm not blaming the commenters. It's my fault for posting about this study in the first place. Any post about psychedelic drugs seems to lead in this direction in the comments thread. Every time it happens, I promise myself not to bring up this topic again. (Slaps forehead.) Dumb!

And ... ouch.

"Every time it happens, I promise myself not to bring up this topic again. (Slaps forehead.) Dumb!"

I hear you, but I don't think it's dumb at all. For any forum that looks deeply and impartially into spiritual matters (or even just world events!), the question of how people use drugs of all kinds is an absolutely unavoidable topic.

And like so many sensitive issues, it's not easy to approach without running into one difficulty or another.

I hope you (and others) will continue to bring up the subject when it seems appropriate. Any blog that deals with "matters of life and death" and stays strictly within the boundaries of what's safe and easy would be pretty dull!

But to be perfectly clear, Michael, I do not have a problem with your steering clear of comments that advise people on how to obtain substances that are currently classified as illegal. That's not something I feel the need to discuss here.

Michael,

Even though I would disagree with your "just say no" policy to psychedelics (obviously, given my own usage of them), I think that it is a good thing you offer a space for people to read about these things with an open mind. So I hope that you won't steer clear of commentary or note of psychedelic material that is relevant to your exploration of the universe!

I fully agree this isn't the place to discuss advice on foraging, etc., etc. However, I do think the discussion of "the psychdelic experience" is an important component to the type of musing you do here on this blog. I respect that you think such things are dangerous (and indeed, I wish more of my psychdelic-using friends were more cognizant of the risks), but I know I myself wouldn't be one myself to appreciate, e.g., your approach to reality without my previous usage thereof. So I try to keep a balanced perspective on the whole thing!

P.S: I also stand by my previous comments about understanding "bad trips" as semiotic/symptomatic phenomena--I don't think there is anything INHERENTLY dangerous about common psychedelic substances. What is dangerous is one's psychological/spiritual health. I think of, for example, Ram Dass' story of going to see Maharaj Ji, the latter of whom ingested a massive amount of psychdelics with no effect to himself whatsoever. Maharj Ji was completed unfazed because he was spiritually self-actualized to begin with and was unmoved by the effects of such substances--he didn't need them. (Of course, most of us AREN'T Maharaj Ji, so make of the story what you will.)

Re: The very real psychiatric dangers of taking psychedelics without expert guidance.

I saw a video tutorial decades ago on how to trip. It was by Ken Kesey (a star of the non-fiction book "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test"). I remember in particular Kesey saying to have a "good downer" (i.e., a sedative) on hand in case the trip took a turn for the worse. He called this emergency sedative a "parachute".

I share Michael's misgivings about a thread such as this possibly inspiring someone to take a reckless inward journey with mind expanding drugs. The reason I wrote this post was to help reduce the psychiatric dangers for those who have made up their minds to take an inner journey without seasoned expert guidance.

Again, I got over exuberant given the opportunity to discuss one of my favorite topics and I fully appreciate and respect Michael not wanting to host a discussion on the how to's of illegal activities.

That said, I do think there is an over emphasis of the dangers associated with psychedelic use. Psychedelics, IMO, are often unfairly singled out for demonization. I think this over emphasis of the negatives is purely due to cultural perspectives and it is not in proportion to any real potential for harm - which is actually relatively very small - and it in effect, obfuscates the very real potential for positive outcomes.

IMO, the most dangerous thing about psychedelics is that they are illegal and you might get arrested for using them if you are not discrete.

http://www.healthline.com/health-news/mental-psychedelics-not-linked-to-mental-health-problems-082213

We live in a society where 20% to 30% of school aged children - young humans with forming brains - are prescribed, long-term, some form of potent psychoactive medication that alters the chemistry of the brain; medication with very real known side effects/downsides to include seizures, flat affect, interrupted/delayed/distorted sexual development, addiction, suicide, homicidal ideation (homicide itself?) and so on and so forth.

http://www.psychmedaware.org/statement.html

The % of adults prescribed similar drugs is approximately the same.

We accept these risks and costs just so we can get through our busy days without any squeaky gears in The Machine, but psychedelics are too risky? Sorry, I don't buy it. It's nothing more than a cultural values calculation.

I believe that psychedelic use is prohibited precisely because it gives an individual immediate access to realms of truth, knowledge and power that are beyond - and often in opposition to - the petty propaganda and political systems created by church and state to exert control over the masses; as if the masses are cattle.

From the Soma of the Vedas, to the psychedelic intoxicant of the Eleusinian Mysteries to the Hashish of the Magi and the mushrooms of Maria Sabina, mind expanding drugs have everywhere and always played a role in living breathing spiritual traditions. As John says, it's pretty difficult to talk about the paranormal without sooner or later addressing mind expanding drugs.

I would also note that, a la Joe Fischer, involvement with all paranormal phenomena carries a risk of psychological damage.

But then not getting involved in the spiritual/paranormal journey also presents its own psychological harm. Or, as Bruce observes, far worse.

I think you seem to be connecting Joe Fisher's suicide with his investigation and manipulation, I wondered why you thought there was a connection. Perhaps I missed something but I can see any necessary link.


"We accept these risks and costs just so we can get through our busy days without any squeaky gears in The Machine, but psychedelics are too risky? Sorry, I don't buy it. It's nothing more than a cultural values calculation."

Good point, no one. And maybe at the heart of that values calculation is this: psychedelics aren't particularly useful for creating material wealth. Magic mushrooms, for example, are free for the taking or growing, and the psychological states they engender don't make you want to buy a new car or whiten your teeth.

Contrast that to this country's favorite legally sanctioned intoxicant -- alcohol. It's a proven killer and destroyer of lives that is beloved by the rich and powerful because, in countless ways, it helps to make them richer.

But change is in the air:

http://www.businessinsider.com/r-pot-shops-buzz-crime-eases-as-colorado-law-marks-6-months-2014-03

"Six months on . . tax dollars are pouring in, crime is down in Denver, and few of the early concerns about social breakdown have materialized - at least so far."

"We accept these risks and costs just so we can get through our busy days without any squeaky gears ..."

Having suffered from panic attacks when I was younger, I can assure you that they are far, far more than "squeaky gears." One of the reasons I would never "experiment" with psychedelics is that in some cases they bring on recurrent panic attacks that last long after the other effects have worn off.

I agree that some drugs, like Ritalin, are over-prescribed, and that alcohol can be (and is) abused - but to me, those are good reasons to be extra-cautious about *any* mind-altering substances. If even the milder ones can do permanent damage, who knows what the stronger ones might do?

I'm also not convinced that the use of psychedelics has the beneficial effects that are sometimes claimed. The descriptions I've read of LDS trips and DMT experiments sound like vivid hallucinations, not doorways to true insight. Here are a couple of examples of people's LSD trips that are supposedly similar to NDES, yet I find the similarities superficial at best:

http://www.near-death.com/experiences/lsd01.html

The above page also links to a discussion of an LSD trip compared with a supposed NDE (both experiences were reported by the actor Larry Hagman), but I'm not convinced that Hagman's NDE was the genuine article; it seems to me that it was probably a drug-induced hallucination, just like the LSD trip.

Rick Strassman's DMT test subjects similarly reported bizarre hallucinations that don't track with NDEs. I remember one of his subjects reporting that he felt he was strapped down in a laboratory while human-sized insect-like creatures performed tests on him. I'm guessing this was his subconscious interpretation of fears associated with being injected with DMT in Strassman's lab. It doesn't sound like any NDEs I've read about (thank God!).

"I'm also not convinced that the use of psychedelics has the beneficial effects that are sometimes claimed. The descriptions I've read of LSD trips and DMT experiments sound like vivid hallucinations, not doorways to true insight."

Are you talking about psychedelics in general, or just these two substances? I agree that DMT trips are so radical, and often so beyond the experiencer's ability to integrate, that they're not a useful starting place to discuss therapeutic applications or results.

LSD is a different matter. As are mushrooms, peyote, and others.

So my question to you is: have you read accounts of psychedelics use that led to what you call true insight? Because if the answer is no, you really need to dig more deeply into the subject.

And a "no" answer would certainly explain why you see the risks/rewards equation differently than many of us do!

Speaking of insight, and the relationship between LSD and NDEs, here's what Kenneth Ring has to say:

"I did not know my colleague well, and as I was soon to find out, he was not only impish, but embodied the trickster archetype. While he gave me to believe I was taking mescaline, he had actually given me 300 micrograms of LSD.

I will not bore you with an account of the next twelve hours. Suffice it to say that all the pillars of my previous ontological categories soon began to crumble into dust. At the time and afterward I realized that this was the most important and most transformative experience of my life – and forty years later, I still feel the same way. Nothing could ever be the same . . .

. . . . What animated me and drew me to study near-death experiences was my desire to understand the state of consciousness and the transpersonal domains that I had begun to experience when I took LSD."

Are you open to suggestions as to reading material on this subject?

Michael, I don't think that psychedelics induce anything resembling NDEs either. On the other hand, I know they don't produce hallucinations either. The term "hallucinogen" is misapplied. Most people that are in the field of studying these things prefer terms like "entheogens".

Some of the "trip" stories I've read are different than anything I've ever experienced or that anyone I know has ever shared experiencing as a result of psychedelic use. DMT is a harsh drug that I think is of little value. I tried it and you couldn't pay me to use it again. I think that Strassman's accounts are cherry picked and embellished. They're very weird.

If you take a large enough dose of psilocybin or LSD you will see intense vivid incredible visual images with the eyes closed. The inner landscape expands into infinity and evolves as if originating from the very source of creativity itself. However, with eyes open you will see your living room. There may be some shifting arabesques appearing on intricate surfaces like wood grains, wall paper and such, but you will say to yourself, "interesting, there are shifting arabesques arising from the detailed surface of the wood grain". You know that these are illusions. You know you are looking at your wooden coffee table. You are not hallucinating that you are somewhere you are not or that objects or people or animals or whatever that really aren't there, are.

While the closed eyes visuals are interesting in a captivating way, awesome in fact at times (in the true sense of the word)they really aren't what it's all about. The real experience is in the cessation - or at least de-emphasizing - of the ego and the energy and mental and emotional freedom that are released as a result.

The Joseph Kerrik account at the link in your most recent comment sounds about right to me for a first timer experience. He is a little confused because it's all new to him, but notice he is not perceiving flying purple hippos or thinking he is walking on the surface of the sun or anything.

"One of the reasons I would never "experiment" with psychedelics is that in some cases they bring on recurrent panic attacks that last long after the other effects have worn off. "

100% agree that if you have a history of panic attacks you should not try psychedelics (unless that use is prescribed and supervised by a highly competent professional with a good track record). Also, it is probably appropriate to use a prescription for pharmaceuticals designed to control the condition.

A bad car crash can also cause PTSD- heck can paralyze or kill - yet we continue to drive cars despite the risks.

As I said, psychedelics aren't for everyone. But then what method is?

To be clear, I certainly didn't mean you - Michael - when I noted over-prescription for squeaky gears is prevalent. What I meant was that, IMO, there is no way that 20% to 30% of the population is actually suffering from a clinical diagnosis that merits use of powerful brain chemistry altering drugs. I absolutely believe that, to a disturbingly large extent, pharmas are being used as social control and to nullify individuality. That, and/or, if such a high % of the population really is clinically ill with a psychiatric condition, then we have a serious problem with our society. We are more than willing to take mind altering drugs recently designed (meaning unknown long term benefits/side effects) in for-profit companies' laboratories - and to give them to our children - to ameliorate these symptoms, but we shy away from plant based drugs with millennia of use. That's a cultural bias refarding both means and ends.


Michael,

I'm shocked at you dismissing people's experiences with these substances when you yourself have never experienced their usage. If you had ever taken one of these chemicals you'd know that these experiences are definitely not hallucinations! As a person who has had mystical/paranormal experiences both on and off of psychedelics I can tell you there is often no phenomenological difference between a psychedelic and non-psychedelic altered state of consciousness. (I would recommend a little chapter from Houston Smith's book Cleansing the Doors of Perception called "Do Drugs Have Religious Import?" for a nice little exploration of precisely this point).

Additionally, to poopoo DMT subject's hellish experiences as being unrelated to NDEs seems ungenerous--did you read all of the other accounts in Strassman's work? And while they are the exception rather than rule, there are indeed horrendous NDEs that are just as bizarre and twisted as the DMT stuff. Also, it is worth noting that the motif of being "operated" upon is in fact found in alien abduction reports, sleep paralysis reports, and even classically reported shamanistic experiences (go back and read Eliade's Shamanism where non-Western, non-test subject practitioners report being prodded by otherworldly beings and having metal inserted into their bodies, etc.).

I think no one hit the nail on the head: the paranormal ITSELF is terrifyingly dangerous. Psychedelic usage is simply one way for many people to achieve contact with other dimensions or aspects of reality. I agree with the later John Hick on the idea that the brain is not just a reducing valve to be transcended willynilly: it's metaphysically protective. There's a big old universe out there and we should be safe if we're gonna explore it (whether that's through psychedelics, meditation, prayer, or something else)!

P.S: Even though I imagine you do not mean it in this way, Michael, I would be careful about doubting the religious import of psychedelic substances out of hand. By doing so you are rejecting not only the reports of many Westerners for the past century, but the reports of North, Central, and South American indigenous peoples who have used substances such as peyote and ayahuasca to commune with the divine (in some cases for centuries). I would be wary of telling them they're simply hallucinating and they haven't had "real" experiences--seems spiritually imperialistic and intellectually stingy to do so.

Interesting points, No One. I think a lot depends on how we use the term "hallucination." And I'm not at all sure of the correct way to use it myself. Is a hallucination any perception that cannot be confirmed by others, or that others simply don't share? Or are some private visions real, while others are fantasized? And where do we draw the line? I don't have answers to these questions.

Some might say that all perceptions are equally real, but this is obviously problematic. Your perception that you are flying will smash into the cold concrete of reality (or at least "consensus reality") after you jump off the roof. Others would insist that private visions that contradict some doctrine or worldview are hallucinated, while private visions that conform to and reinforce a given doctrine or worldview are meaningful. But then we're arguing in a circle: the visions prove the worldview, and the worldview proves the visions.

Finally, many would argue that consistency among apparent hallucinations gives them greater credence. This argument is commonly used for NDEs - the parallels that are found across many cases suggest some kind of actual reality that is being accessed, rather than a purely private, imaginative construction. This is probably the most practical way of distinguishing between hallucinations and genuine extra-dimensional perceptions, but it, too, has its drawbacks, inasmuch as there are also commonalities in the visions experienced by users of certain drugs. Ayahuasca, for instance, is known to produce certain visual patterns and experiences in a variety of users. This could mean that ayahuasca is a gateway to another dimension, but it could also mean that, since all human brains are wired basically the same way, a given chemical can have predicable effects.

The whole subject strikes me as more confusing than helpful, with the chemical actions of the drugs complicating any hypothesis about the validity of the users' experience.

I also admit, on a personal level, that I find the idea of taking these drugs very unsavory. Yes, this is a prejudice, but it's one I've always had. (Maybe in a past life I was a drug addict!)

Whatever the reason, the idea of shooting, snorting, or ingesting powerful psychoactive agents has always made me viscerally uncomfortable. I don't even like to see it depicted in movies. It strikes me as a form of self-abuse, similar to tattoos and piercings (which I also strongly dislike). I don't know the reason. Perhaps anything associated with a preliterate tribal lifestyle turns me off.

BTW, I'd ask commenters to please refrain from using italics. Often the italic tags are not closed properly, and then the rest of the thread will be italicized until I perform the necessary html surgery.

It's better to set off text with *asterisks* or ||straight lines.||

"I don't know the reason. Perhaps anything associated with a preliterate tribal lifestyle turns me off"

Well, they wouldn't go to Amazon and purchase a Michael Prescott thriller. I'm with you on tats and piercings, but I have to admit that I kind of like the sense that psychedelic use ties me to a tradition that has been around since ancient tribal times. I often feel alienated when faced with too much high tech and modern flash and glitz. I am even struggling with the idea of purchasing new car right now because all the LED panels on the dashboard and all the built in wiz band ap.s truly disturb me. I just don't trust these things. I don't want my car to talk to me or tell me how to drive. Similarly, I don't trust pharmaceutical companies, big corporate media or big government for that matter. So there's a window into my personal biases when it comes to modern versus primitive.

I want cars that can drive themselves. Computer-operated cars have got to be safer than cars driven by humans.

Unless the computers are running Microsoft software, in which case all bets are off.

"I'm with you on tats and piercings, but I have to admit that I kind of like the sense that psychedelic use ties me to a tradition that has been around since ancient tribal times."

Same here. When it comes to supposed "progress" that the human race has made, I think something's lost and something's gained. And you'll have a hard time convincing me that we've gained more than we've lost. (Nor do I think the reverse is necessarily true.)

Michael, your use of the term "preliterate" is telling. As I see it, the adoption of language is at the heart of our glory *and* our degradation. Our reliance on words and symbols changes us in ways we can't begin to grasp until we get beyond it -- that's one of the key lessons of deeply altered states, however we arrive at them.

I myself have a fascination for the preliterate mind. I can't imagine not wanting to know how it feels to be an animal or early human. I'm certain that in both cases, there's a richness of sensory and emotional experience that's sadly missing from our lives. (And yes -- various forms of suffering as well. As I said, something's lost and something's gained.)

"I think a lot depends on how we use the term 'hallucination.' "

One thing is certain: it's a word that's used to downplay the value of an experience.

Nobody's commented on that Kenneth Ring quote I posted yesterday. Coming from one our most distinguished NDE researchers, I think it says a lot.

My old Ford works wonders and is the best truck I ever had. Can fix everything myself. My newer Honda has all the trinkets (that I don't need) but I'm lost with the computers they got hooked up to every part. It's a money tank. Stick with the old, newer things just glitter and shine. Nothing has changed in centuries from age old spiritual practice.

\\"I think a lot depends on how we use the term 'hallucination.' "

One thing is certain: it's a word that's used to downplay the value of an experience.//

True, Bruce.

Ironically, what the hallucinogens do is bring you around to the ancient eastern idea that everything we are experiencing just a hallucination in light of the truth; which is atman.

But almost nobody wants to hear that.

So instead we have all these wars and strife and suffering over whose hallucination is actually the true reality. It'd make you laugh if it didn't make you cry.

"One thing is certain: it's a word that's used to downplay the value of an experience."

That's true, Bruce, but we're still stuck with the difficulty of distinguishing between (for want of a better term) "real" visions and hallucinations.

I was going to go into more detail, but the comment got so long that I made a whole new post out of it!

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