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It will be interesting to see how this plant is incorporated into a Michael Prescott novel!

That is one I never used (Actually, long before it was available in "head shops", someone gave me a young plant specimen. I tried to keep it alive in Tucson, AZ's dry heat, but after a struggle, it dried up and died). People I know that have ample experience with exploring the more typical psychedelics (LSD, Peyote, mushrooms) have told me that Salvia D. is totally different and is a true hallucinogen (IMO the typical psychedelics do not cause hallucinations and are more mind expanding). They said it is weirder than they care for and a totally different "high".

I also was told that the way the natives down in Mexico prepare the plant material for ritual use is not fully understood as they work hard to keep it a secret. The head shop versions are concentrates and are therefore considerably more potent that chewed or smoked leaves.

What else?... I also understand that the experience is much shorter lived than that of the typical substances. That can be attractive to a user. Say 2 hours of strong effects versus 6 to 10 hours (dosage dependent).

But yeah, responsible explorers use psychedelics because they work; and they work right now. If you are smart, healthy and disciplined enough to get past the noise effects, you can get into a space that professional meditators - like yogis - take a lifetime to attain. However, of course, an irresponsible user can have a rough time of it and maybe have lasting negative impacts.

Salvia was the first hallucinogen I ever used, because it was legal at the time in my state.

My experience was roughly as follows:

I was looking at my right hand when the drug kicked in. My hand disintegrated, then my whole body disappeared and I could not see or hear anything. Yet I still existed in this vast blackness.

I was not afraid at all. Nor was I happy. I felt detached and peaceful but even those words are not quite the right description.

Then I saw something approach me. At first it was a purple light, but as it got closer it took on the form of a headless woman. She had no head, literally, but the rest of her was stunningly beautiful. Her lack of a head did not disturb me.

She finally got right up to me and embraced me. As she did so, I could see that the purple light she was made of was actually a sort of fire or energy. She hugged me, then kept hugging, so tightly than I ceased to exist as anything like myself and was engulfed in her purple fire. In a sense I was the fire.

Then I heard a beautiful female voice that said "We are the fire that does not burn."

At that point I began returning to the normal world. To me, the whole experience seemed like it took, well, aeons. In reality the trip was about 2 minutes long. My wife, who was sitting with me, said that during the event I sat absolutely still, with my eyes closed, but with a very broad smile on my face.

And that was my experience with salvia. I never tried it again. It did not seem necessary.

The first time I tried this, all it did was make me somewhat paranoid.

The second time I tried was almost a decade ago in a park with some friends. After the three of us had taken a toke, I wasn't feeling it like the others so I took a second toke. Suddenly everything seemed to slow down and all I can remember was the intense throbbing of the vibrations of the cicadas. The next thing I knew, I was utterly gone from this world, all sense of individuality was destroyed and I was just this witness watching these strange panels of light changing colour in this otherwise dark place. I'm sure that more took place during this part of the trip but I can't really remember it.

My return to the physical world was announced by the sound of my own voice screaming. Apparently I had been doing this the whole time. The trip was not over however as hell would continue to break loose all over the physical world. I felt my sense of geometry change as if I were in more than one place at once, I saw reality being torn apart at the seams and when I looked at my female friend (I thought she looked like an Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph (interestingly enough my male friend later remarked to me that she had looked very "Egyptian" to him during his trip).

This was probably one of the craziest experiences of my life. I have had other Salvia experiences since but this was the most powerful. Very different to Magic Mushrooms, to name another psychedelic I have used.

"The stories are also broadly consistent with the idea that physical reality is analogous to a virtual-reality simulation generated by an information-processing program, and that the subjective experience of each of us is akin to the rendered imagery on the screen of our own personal computer terminal - imagery that can glitch up, get caught in an endless loop, or disappear altogether if the render engine fails."

The "universe is a virtual reality simulation" concept may be reaching its use-by date. There apparently is a new physics research study that shows that reality probably can't be a hyper-advanced computer virtual reality simulation developed by an unimaginably advanced alien civilization. Too bad, since this approach seemed so promising.

A popularized article about this is at . The paper itself is at , and is only for experts who speak advanced math.

"In October 2017, a team of mathematicians and physicists published a research paper that takes an admirably straightforward and two-fisted approach to the question. They decided to get to the bottom of things by using some very powerful computers to crunch some heavy-duty numbers."

"The conclusion: Based on everything we now know about physics and computers, it is mathematically impossible for the known universe to be a computer simulation. Theoretical physicists Zohar Ringel and Dmitry L. Kovrizhin–from the University of Oxford and the Hebrew University in Israel–published their findings in the prestigious journal Science Advances."

"Kovrizhin and his colleagues didn’t actually set out to prove or disprove the Simulation Hypothesis. Their conclusions were a kind of side effect generated by a separate study concerning quantum systems and computational algorithms. Ultimately, the new research just indicates that advanced civilizations could not simulate the known universe using our current understanding of computing technology. .....computers, as we understand them right now in the year 2018, will never be able to simulate an entire universe."

I’m not suggesting that the universe is actually a VR simulation generated by an alien supercomputer. This would be a purely materialist approach - reducing everything to literal bits of data on a physical "hard drive" of some kind.

Instead, I’m suggesting that reality may perhaps be understood as an information-processing system grounded in a nonphysical plane of pure information, and "rendered" into percepts and qualia by consciousness.

The limitations of computing technology are irrelevant to this hypothesis, since we aren’t talking about technology. The only way the idea could be definitively disproved, I think, is if there were some purely mathematical or logical reason why the external world could not be reduced to data. As I understand it, the paper you’re citing argues only that no physical computer could produce something as complex as the observed universe.

From the popular article:

//According to the research team’s best approximations, it would require a terabyte of RAM to store just 20 spins of a single particle on the quantum level.

“If one tries to extrapolate this to few hundreds of spins, then building a computer with such a memory would require more atoms than there are in the universe,” Kovrizhin says.//

This is a purely physicalist approach, which of course is understandable since the research was done by physicists. But it has no bearing on a nonphysical system, which would not be built out of atoms and would not use physical storage media.

As a side note, I’m not sure that such a system would need to calculate the spin of every particle at every moment. What if all pathways exist only as potentia until observed? What if positions of macro objects are calculated only as approximate averages based on a sampling of potentia?

Nice post!

I enjoy going to Erowid and reading the posts about bad trips. Did you get your cites from there? I haven't seen them yet on here:

There's a philosophical argument against the simulation hypothesis that I find fairly conclusive (not my own... too lazy right now to try to give proper credit...).

It is often imagined that the simulation is taking place on a digital computer, etc. I.e., the world that simulates us is like our own. But this is a gratuitous assumption, as there is no reason for the simulator world to have physics like our own.

If that is the case, then all that we could say in such a case is that the simulator world is in control of our world in some sense or another. But we already knew that we are not in control of our world. Thus, the hypothesis is vacuous and meaningless. It's in essence Descartes' demon (a heck of a lot of things like this reduce to Descartes' demon...).

doubter wrote,

||The "universe is a virtual reality simulation" concept may be reaching its use-by date.||

I think it's fine as a gateway metaphor, but I think Michael is basically right when he says: "reality may perhaps be understood as an information-processing system grounded in a nonphysical plane of pure information, and "rendered" into percepts and qualia by consciousness."

I call it "fiat reality." For that which is not so a priori, there is some power or potentiality that in effect says, "Let it be so." How this could be so is exceedingly mysterious. But it's no less mysterious than how a universe could exist in the materialist paradigm.

"Instead, I’m suggesting that reality may perhaps be understood as an information-processing system grounded in a nonphysical plane of pure information, and "rendered" into percepts and qualia by consciousness.

The limitations of computing technology are irrelevant to this hypothesis, since we aren’t talking about technology."

Not entirely irrelevant, I think. Such a nonphysical information-processing system would still be based on calculation, requiring logical and mathematical manipulation of numbers and symbols. I don't think we can conceive of such a system that wouldn't be in principle representing some things (quantum states for instance) by means of other things (numbers and symbols), and processing these things by means of some sorts of algorithms.

The measure of change is time, and this calculation process inherently takes time, which must have associated limitations. And there inherently must be limitations of the sheer magnitude of the processing. Unless we imagine something truly magical - just POOF, it's an instant transformation with no processing. Admittedly, these limitations are not what was calculated by the physicists in the research study based on our physical universe, but these parameters still inherently must have some sort of limits even in a nonphysical processing system.

\\"As a side note, I’m not sure that such a system would need to calculate the spin of every particle at every moment." - michael Prescott//

I saw a quote one time that said something to the effect that God is a mathematician. Perhaps everything is governed by laws and formulas so that the "program" essentially writes itself? It wouldn't have to be billions of bits of computer information but instead it is mathematical formulas that write themselves as the program progresses, and perhaps even erases itself after the "program" runs?

I still stick to the holographic theory where it is all some kind of strange holographic film where everything, past, present, and future has all ready been designed and then we are simply like actors on a stage and as we just live our lives we "learn" holistically (the lessons are embedded in our everyday lives) as we just go about living our lives.

All the things that we go through in this life is important to teach us things that can't be learned in the place we call heaven. And it is because the physics of heaven is very different from the physics we normally experience here.

We learn whether we want to or not. Belief is irrelevant, acceptance is irrelevant, all we have to do is live, that's all just live. As we go about living our daily lives we learn the things we need to learn like what it means and how it feels to be separate, what time and space look and feel like, what it is like to be in a body and control that body and the parameters of the body, and make memories of what it was like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time universe.

While in CR I had the time to "ceremony" with a very well known Shaman on Black Ayuhuasca. As the layers of standard perception of reality were stripped away I was left with profound understanding that what we perceive as real is simply a mental construction. What is most perplexing to me is the different descriptions of what lies under the onion skin as we peel back layers. Could it be that these "medicines" are doors to different dimensional realities? Rather than a single true reality? Each reality would be akin to a different cable station so that in effect there are no true ultimate realities. Just an infinite number of channels? The channel that you view depends on the medicine you take? What else could account for such a differential experience as the one described when taking Salvia as opposed to Ayuhuasca or Magic Mushrooms

I'm against the idea of taking drugs to create spiritual experiences, and reading this reinforces that idea more than ever. Salvia and other substances may indeed help us expand our awareness into the spiritual realm, but they seem to show that not everything 'out there' is benevolent or welcoming, and using these substances seems to be a roll of the dice: you may open the door to a welcoming place, or a door to a place that wants to destroy you. Eric, FDR, and J are examples that people can use these substances and have beneficial insights, but it seems too risky and dangerous to me.

Another way to look at it is that life is like a game: playing by the rules that are meant to protect us (spiritual growth from studying religion and channeled materials, viewing said materials with a healthy dose of skepticism, and asking God/a supreme being for guidance instead of spirits who may or may not be malevolent beings in disguise) allows us to grow naturally, like an acorn transforming into a tree or an athlete training for the Olympics. Breaking those rules to try and speed the process up carries a very high risk of harmful effects: you can make a plant grow faster with chemicals, or an athlete perform better with steroids, but their bodies are not designed to operate that way, and just fall apart faster. Allow growth to unfold naturally, and that won't happen, and is easier in the long run.

What interested me the most in this post was the idea of a higher society playing with us, and us with them. While it could seem like we're the helpless playthings of higher beings, akin to rats in a maze, the situation may be more benevolent: these beings could be akin to spirit guides and angels who try to help us grow as individuals, and in return, they're given opportunities to grow themselves via helping others. In time, we reach their level and then do the same to others. In other words, a cycle that helps everyone in the long run.

This is interesting - and should make for an intriguing novel plot, but I'm going to be the contrarian here. I've read and listened to many NDEs, and, on the contrary, people report feeling more real and more peaceful (aside from a few Hellish NDEs). Taking this and other hallucinatory drugs may be more like dripping water into your TV or throwing something at it. For the most part, the afterlife is reported as being peaceful and ordered - nothing like any of these experiences. People feel good and invariably meet happy and healthy dead relatives,friends, and pets, not fictional characters, or historical figures, and many are sure that they've been welcomed by Jesus. I'm not saying there aren't alternate planes of reality, maybe there are, but I don't personally think this is the way to get to them. The drug-induced experiences described here also remind me of a few times when I was very ill and had a fever. It seems to me the mechanisms of the brain are just going haywire in both cases. But this drug in particular seems like it would make a very interesting novel plot point. And, of course, to each his own, this is just my opinion, and what I've read about NDEs.

Ian and Kathleen,
I agree with both of you. Under controlled situations, hallucinogenic substances may be OK for a one-time experience but SPECT brain scans of regular drug users, including those who use marijuana, show serious damage to their brains. I am told that brain scans of people using alcohol however show improved functioning at least for a while but I don't think that applies to long-time users. - AOD

Kathleen and Amos, I think I agree with you. I’ve never been tempted to try hallucinogenic drugs myself. I think the downside probably greatly outweighs the potential upside.

Proponents would argue that traditional societies encourage the use of such drugs – but in most cases, this usage is limited to shamans in training, who are carefully prepared for the experience. And even then, the resulting trips can be extremely disturbing and result in permanent social alienation and ostracism on the part of the shaman. If you read George P. Hansen’s “The Trickster and the Paranormal,“ you’ll find that shamans and other paranormal adepts are generally divorced from ordinary society, and exhibit clear signs of mental illness.

I suspect that any attempt to short-circuit the usual learning curve in these matters will result in physical or psychological damage - or both.

And yes, I think that NDEs and ADCs generally give a much mire positive view, and are more reliable.

I am very sure that psychedelics and cannabis do not cause organic brain damage. The risk lies in the potential for psychological issues.

If you take a psychedelic carelessly and you don't recognize that there is a spiritual realm populated by both angels and demons, light and darkness (and many people don't know that), then you are opening yourself to spiritual danger. There are purely psychological issues that can arise too. One is a panic reaction to the loss of ego that can occur at higher doses. That is nothing to be trifled with or entered into lightly. It's not just a wild ride like going to an amusement park, though many think it will be. Then there is all sorts of magnifications and other distortions of aspects of one's personality and/or reality that can lead people to come to psychologically unhealthy conclusions; either temporary (while on the drug) or long term.

However, IMO, this is true of any spiritual practice entered into carelessly. This includes yoga and meditation (the real practice of these, not the watered down strip mall or fitness club versions). It is also true of Ouija boards, mediumship/channeling, etc even when practiced at the parlor game level of involvement.

I very much doubt that there is some higher being guiding our spiritual development. IMO, it is up to us to choose. We can see that there are people who chose to listen to demons and who degenerate spiritually and do horrible things. If one is physically healthy, mentally tough and prepared, has set their mind on the right objective and has good people to back him/her up, then psychedelics can provide very positive life changing effects. This has been proven in controlled university studies. If one enters into the realm of psychedelia (or any real spiritual practice) with one or more of those prerequisites absent, then one is most definitely rolling the dice - because the universe and oneself is not all beneficent and loving.

"Please My Dear Aunt Sally"

= P M D A S

= Parentheses Multiplication Division Addition Subtraction

It's a mnemonic for the sequence of evaluating an arithmetic expression.

If you get a chance, look at the evidence of brain damage in regular users of psychedelics including marijuana. Take a look at the SPECT scans. I am not making this up! If you want to see a scan, check out Amen Clinics web site or email me at [email protected]. I will send you one.

(Actually we have been through this argument before on this blog. Each person is responsible for their own actions. If they want to use psychedelics and other chemicals that destroy brain function, then go ahead. Enjoy!) - AOD

I spent a little time looking into the argument that the complexity of the universe rules out the virtual reality simulation model. At the linked article, I found some comments that I thought were worth sharing.

A commenter named aki009 writes, "I don't see why it would be necessary to simulate all the particles and interactions of the universe to present a reasonably coherent view to anyone caring to look. I'd expect that one only needs to maintain reasonable state information, and present an absolute answer only when an observation is made."

This is essentially what I’m inclined to think - not that I’m any expert in physics, of course. But according to some interpretations of quantum physics, a particle occupies a definite position only when observed/measured. This *could* suggest that in the vast majority of cases, the position is only a statistical approximation.

Another commenter, j wunder, makes a similar point: "You don't need to simulate every low level event in the universe, just enough higher level events to to make it appear to your consciousness that the world adheres to some lower level model, like quantum mechanics. The universe would expand consistently from the top down wherever you direct you attention, rather than emerge from the bottom up ..."

A third commenter, Ralf Biernacki, writes, "You don't need to simulate the physics of quantum phenomena. All you need to simulate is the entire sensory input of a single human mind, and when needed convince that mind that it is observing evidence of such physics. If you took care to make that input reasonably consistent, the mind couldn't know it is living in a simulation. This is not a pipe dream; it is very nearly achievable with current VR technology, if you don't mind making it surgically invasive ..."

He adds that he disbelieves the simulation hypothesis "for reasons having to do with Occam's razor," but he regards the quantum complexity argument as irrelevant.

Let's see if this link works. - AOD

MP wrote, “Doing research for a novel, I read up recently on salvia divinorum, a psychoactive plant that is usually smoked or chewed. … What follows are quotes from some people who had bad trips on salvia ….” Here’s a sample:

Suddenly everyone I'd ever known, all the places I'd been, my whole life, had been a lie. It had been just a game, a silly puppet show, and it meant nothing in comparison to the depths of existence beyond my life, way into the infinity of the universe ... I realised I wasn't tripping, this was real. All along my life has been this insane charade which God has now chosen to break down. As I am engulfed in terror at this new reality, the deeper, endless layers of the true reality began folding into my view like the bag of an accordion. A dark, powerful stream of places and perceptions I can't begin to describe, and didn't understand at the time.

MP, I’m guessing that you’ll want to convey how unhinged a “Sally” consumer in your book has become. Let’s say that he suddenly vanishes, and his dwelling is checked. In his diary, the last entry is a poem titled “Splatori,” (below, which you can use for free). (Its verses should be centered in your book, so they make more of a “point.” I can’t achieve that effect here.)

After reading it, the head honcho sadly shakes his head and mutters, “That’s big-time wig-flippery there. He’s round the big bend and going, going, gone, far away,” Or words to that effect.


Ye shall know the truth*
And the truth shall
Make you

Shuck the shell
And free the

Planter-plant your seed and
Crack the crock
Of ages

Let the heavens fall
Where they

Lost & found

*“the truth”: God is an atheist; God has no IQ.

**“Sound”: As a nut.

PS: Here’s another far-out diary-entry for your book:

Walk Right In

The door swings wide
On the keyless side
Unhinged, Unpinned

(The title, “Walk Right In,” alludes to a 1963 hit rock song by the Rooftop Singers containing the lyrics, “Walk right in / Set right down / Daddy let your mind roll on” and “Everybody’s talkin’ / ’Bout a new way of walkin’ / Do you want to lose your mind?”)

Serious research does not support what is claimed at your link, which, as far as I can tell, is an attempt to scare people into purchasing services.

Right Eric! If those brain SPECT scans were my scans I would be scared too.

SPECT scans are expensive (more than $2,000) and insurance programs usually do not pay for them although sometimes they do. I doubt that many people are going to be running to the Amen Clinics just to see what their brain scan looks like although it may be useful in court cases involving criminality in that the scans could be used to provide evidence that the wrong-doers brain was compromised . The scans are most helpful to the practicing physician or clinician to motivate a patient to change behaviors and they may assist the clinician to develop a plan of care, including medication therapies that best treat the abnormalities shown on the scan. Some people are able to change their brains when they change their behaviors.

I agree that SPECT scans may be a controversial topic to be discussed, in that they only show a lack of blood flow through certain parts of the brain. They may also indicate over- activity in the brain as well as under-activity. They clearly show injury to the brain as in the case of stroke and brain concussion. Interestingly non-symptomatic people , that is people who do not have symptoms of memory loss, anxiety, depression, ADHD and other behavior or mood disorders do not have a SPECT scan that show these blood flow abnormalities. When the brain scans of the so-called 'normal' people are compared with those of people who abuse drugs, one sees an obvious difference that calls for an explanation. The obvious explanation is that the drugs caused the activity and blood flow abnormalities seen in the scan. Perhaps that is an assumption. - AOD

I have recounted my own Salvia experience before in the Bardo comments. What resonates with me in this piece is the Roger Ebert "elaborate hoax" quote. This can be taken as positive or negative. When you experience it, it just is, like Toto pulling back the curtain on the Great and Powerful Wizard of OZ, you can't unsee it. This is also the opposite of a relaxing escape. Normal consciousness is the escape (and rightly so). Didn't Dennis McKenna have an experience where some kind of entity said "you monkeys just think you run things"? Maybe it's best that we don't?

Susan Blackmore has documented her experience with Salvia as well as a plethora of other psychogenic substances. Her website makes for an interesting read. - AOD

I’m a former Randroid who has a fair amount of experience with these substances. I believe DMT is where the focus should be. Salvia is in a weird class of its own. I recommend that Michael watch the following video. It’s a compilation of various DMT users, but what is notable about it are the common themes that recur again and again. There are similarities to NDE experiences as well.

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