These drugs are extremely powerful. They can potentially destroy healthy minds. I support more research and even, in time, legalisation - but I am sharing the story so others may take away the point that when you start hacking with your brains firmware, you should be EXTREMELY careful you dont accidentally brick it.
EDIT: For clarity purposes, this wasn't my first time doing LSD and it wasn't a huge dose. Nobody understands exactly how these drugs work, maybe this was a 1/1000 event. But it happened - and I don't do drugs any more.
What I didn't expect was that the effects wouldn't just "feel real" or "be convincing", they were real. Subjectively, it wasn't inside my head, it was the actual world that changed. The fact that a small amount of psychoactive substance could fundamentally alter my perceived reality put the final nail in the coffin for any possibility that my mind was generated by something outside my own skull.
Something an acquaintance in the old Atari users group I was a part of in the 80s/90s said to me (when I was a teenager, saying "acid could be neat to try") stuck with me.
"You know how if you drop some screws or something on video circuitry of the PCB of your computer and the display gets all scrambled? That's analogous to what LSD is doing to your brain."
The patterns displayed across the TV after doing that might be really cool. But it's a profound mistake to assume meaning in them. In fact it'd be very difficult to work backwards from what's on the screen to how the video circuitry works.
It's like solipsism taken one step further, no I'm not the only thing that exists because -I- don't really exist in any meaningful way either.
We're all just P-zombies.
Qualia is nonsense
If you thought relating to normal people as a nihilist was hard.....
As best I understand it, our "consciousness" that "feels" things is basically an overblown condition monitoring system bolted onto the top of a highly effective correlation/prediction engine attached to a whole lot of sensory nerves. Sure, a signal goes from the senses into the middle bit and the result feeds into the consciousness bit which cross-checks everything including its own responses, but that's a control system, not a 'soul'. Or conversely, you could say the spectrum of "error term is saturated negative" through to "error term is saturated positive" is a range of qualia "felt" by a PID loop.
Exactly, it's kind of like how the debate about "free will" is being handled, either you use a definition of free will that makes it trivially true, but useless, or you use a definition of free will that requires you to literally believe in magic
Ever been tired and run on autopilot? Our experience of ourselves vary in strength all the time. If I'm really really honest with myself, I don't actually have the experience of qualia all the time
The more I read on cognitive science (Strange Loop was the first and then you understand what was behind GEB) the more I concur with your view. It is depressing though.
For short term daily tasks, one can depend on routines.
For longer planning the implications are horrifying if there is no qualia in the sense that we think of it.
It's just like with nihilism, it might be "true" but it is not very productive.
At best it leads to Vito Corleone type of ethics, ie tribalism, I'll take care of my family/village, but woe to the outside world.
At worst it leads to Michael Corleone actions, ie screw everyone besides yourself.
Where do you get joy in life if Dennett turns out to be right?
As far as medium term motivation, guilt, fear and debt seems to work for most people regardless of philosophical disposition.
That's is what you say, but how can we know that you are not a conscious being imitating a p-zombie? ;-)
So I'm going for the one that requires the least magic
And music... It takes a whole other dimension. Calling it `high def` doesn't do it any justice. Experiencing music aside, it feels as though you live the music you are hearing. It is hard to explain. It also becomes your reality.
Wow awesome insight! Thanks for sharing your experience, this blows my mind. I might be able to try it now without fear of other worldly entity bad trip encounters.
While experiencing a trip, are you able to recall that you took a substance and that this is your altered reality? Can you close your eyes and see darkness? Can you take a benzo to abort trip like shrooms?
Steve Jobs on psychedelics:
> "Throughout that period of time [1972-1974] I used the LSD approximately ten to fifteen times," Jobs said. "I would ingest the LSD on a sugar cube or in a hard form of gelatin. I would usually take the LSD when I was by myself. I have no words to explain the effect the LSD had on me, although, I can say it was a positive life-changing experience for me and I am glad I went through that experience." On another occasion, he found some more words to describe the impact:
> "Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important—creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could."
There is no ego death. It's part of us.
Given everything I've read and heard it would appear that, yes, one can experience ego death and bring that experience back with you and reintegrate it into your life. It is then that you might feel good about the accomplishment because it provides you an immediate insight that is ordinarily far out of reach. Why then could the ego not feel that satisfaction?
I have a friend who whenever we are talking about these sorts of issues (the self, consciousness, that kind of thing) nearly always corrects my phrasing as if to say, "you have less authority and insight than I do". It's so frustrating. It's not some kind of enlightenment pissing contest.
> There is no ego death. It's part of us.
Do enlighten us, oh master.
I'm not entirely sure you're reading the definition correctly. It's a "complete loss of subjective self-identity", not so much your "ego" no longer being there.
(Apologies if I missed what you're getting at, though)
I didn't have hands, eyes, or anything physical - I became (i think white) mist of atoms, whirling in an endless dance (think mist in the hamam and when you blow air through it).
It didn't happen suddenly, but very gradually. When it began to (very slowly) fade, I slowly recombined from those atoms back into my personality, started to rediscover physical parts of existence - breath, eyes, hands etc. I could still perfectly recall what was happening with me 1 hour ago (unlike say alcohol which just dumbs you down to potato), but mind was less and less able to comprehend the whole picture with all the subleties - it literally shrank back. After main trip was gone, I still had 1-2 hours of literally walking down the hill with intense emotions of absolutely pure happiness and inner peace. Very spiritual, especially for an atheist/agnostic person like me.
Massive mental exhaustion afterwards with very strong headache, but that was the price I was willing to pay.
By far the strongest experiences in my whole life (and i've been through some stuff), absolutely positive without a single negative atom. The beauty of psychedelics is they work with who we are inside, and thus it's a very unique experience for each of us, not much transferable/understandable beyond vague descriptions.
But that breakdown and reassembly - I literally had the feeling that if I had some mental issues, they would definitely manifest right there. If you come from bad background, have some issues, do evil stuff without reason etc don't do them, the risks are then too big and those forces are titanic
LSD-25 will show you certain truths within yourself and your subconscious; these truths can be negative or positive in nature. It took me months to fully integrate the experience, though. I’d argue the integration period after the trip is as important as the trip itself.
I might be wrong, but I find these psilocybin experiments extremely enlightening as to why we as humans struggle so much with religious experience.
Did my suggestion make sense? I tried to word it as plainly as possible, but these are things we aren't used to discuss...
Funny enough, if he kept taking LSD and exploring his spirituality he could deal with the feelings of believing in science but being shaken by the possibility of the supernatural. That's actually pretty straightforward.
But he is choosing to close the book on it, and now is blaming the drug when really its himself. An act of ego if I've ever seen one.
You can't get similar experience anywhere else apart from years and years of mediation training, I'll believe when I hear somebody who experienced both and compared favorably. So far 0 persons. Look at what people are willing to do to get to Everest for example, and even reaching the top during multi-month expedition won't get you such a powerful experience (didn't do exactly that, but smaller similar stuff - very nice, but 'meh' compared to this).
Sure, I'll keep defending it, against prevalent ignorance and stupidity in the population. It was one of the best things that happened to me in my life (didn't have any for last 10 years maybe, the experience is still part of me and always will be).
That is ENTIRELY different from being predisposed to psychosis, which psychedelics can bring out.
And your logic can be reversed. Lives have been saved from giving extremely depressed people microdoses of LSD. But people like you would rather throw those people to the wayside and tell them they can't take the drug that works for them because you have some kind of personal agenda.
and really, their experience fundamentally sounds like a good thing. a new way of looking at, or experiencing the world was opened to them. yeah, it can be frightening, and that's why you need to put more work in, to accommodate it in your life.
The ways in which we organize and make sense of the world calcify with the repetition of certain memes.
The idea at least is that psychedelics add entropy to this habituation. Perhaps this itself causes a lot of trouble for people (like myself) who think they have this world figured out in a significant way, only to start seeing God/Satan/Hades and throw that all up in the air.
Going on that journey without an experienced guide would be the dangerous part methinks (Pollan discusses this in another podcast he was a guest on recently)
I could almost feel the adrenaline pumping inside my brain. I felt the immediate urge to sit in the safe corner of my apartment, with a clear view of my surroundings. My brain was clearly anticipating an attacker. It felt primal. It took me a while to calm down.
What's really interesting is what proceeded to happen over the next few months. Basically, at a subconscious level, my apartment was marked. Especially the front door area which I remember being most afraid of - every time I'd walk by, I'd become scared, as if I anticipated somebody to jump at me. At other times, I'd catch myself looking around to make sure I'm alone. I had absolutely no way to control this - it's as if every fiber of my being KNEW I was in danger, even though I was consciously aware it was nonsense. I became acutely aware of how separate our conscious and unconscious decision-making is. At the beginning, I would sleep with the lights on. For a while I considered moving to a different apartment. Instead, with some effort, I've mostly trained those reactions away over a period of 2-3 months. I still feel a bit jumpier than usual when alone in the dark, but mostly back to normality.
This is one of the most valuable experiences of my life, but also one that I wouldn't recommend to anyone.
Well, it sounds like you went from being an atheist to an agnostic. That certainly is a more rational and less dogmatic position to take, based on what we know. As for the Hell thing, well, it's a possibility. Even Buddhism has hell realms.
Had something similar happen to me. I was a staunch atheist before psychedelics, now the notion of a purely material universe seems naive. Anyway, I wanted to share with you an excerpt from a blog post I'm working on. Might be a bit rough still.
> There's no easy path to enlightenment, but we do have some astounding tools and methods at our disposal. There is the humble magic mushroom, which, along with LSD and other psychedelics, breaks down the substrate of reality for a brief period of time. After witnessing the day-to-day patterns of conditioned behavior, and reality itself, melt away, it's a bit easier to disattach from falsehood. But it's also tempting to take the psychedelic experience for truth, when it itself is a distorted presentation of reality. I personally think that psychedelics increase communication between the rational mind and the rest of the brain, and that psychedelic visions are the rational mind's interpretations of subconscious activity. Mostly these are just wrong interpretations; the two sides of the mind don't communicate often and can't understand each other very well. We have to resist taking the experience at face value and dig deeper to find the kernels of truth.
I'm not sure why this argument shows so often (and it's not even limited to religion), but it's an incredibly bad one. The positions here are not a ternary matter. The options are not limited to 100% one way, 100% the other, or right in the middle.
The 'most rational' position lies somewhere in that continuum. When converting to the usual trinary labels, one extreme or the other may end up being the most rational position. The center is not automatically best.
> I was a staunch atheist before psychedelics, now the notion of a purely material universe seems naive.
Continuing to try to avoid the religion topic directly, I'd caution you against reading too much into your trips, which your excerpt oddly points out as well. Our brains are rather questionable devices for perceiving the world as it really is even when they are functioning properly. There is no reason to believe intentionally screwing with it's functioning would somehow increase it's ability to perceive the world truthfully.
I can see potential value in using trips to improve lateral thinking, and perhaps even for insight into yourself, but in terms of exposing hidden secrets of the universe... There's no rational basis for that, and the most likely explanation seems to be the combination of the intentional misfiring and the usual imperfect operation of our brains.
One pattern I've noticed while reading reports of bad trips is people being so miserable during the experience that it forces them to acknowledge that existing in this universe can be really really shitty at times, which shattered their notion that everything's going to be okay due to their limited experience as a relatively well-off white person in 21st century USA. The reports are often written as if whatever drug they took is to blame for their new existential crisis, but I see it more as the fault of the bubble they were in. If they come out of the experience having more compassion for others who are less privileged then I'd say it's an improvement.
Right, my point is that psychedelics are great for exposing falsehood in your thinking, but not necessarily uncovering truth.
> The 'most rational' position lies somewhere in that continuum. When converting to the usual trinary labels, one extreme or the other may end up being the most rational position. The center is not automatically best.
What are you talking about? I think you're misrepresenting my position. I'm nowhere on the continuum, I'm agnostic.
Likely because poster is assigning some linear value on metaphysical positions that can not be constrained in such a system.
Agnosticism is more rational than Atheism "based on what we know"? Come on now.
What we know is that there is absolutely no proof that God exists. With that being the case, I don't see why being an atheist is not the most rational position to take.
Can I win a $100 million lottery someday? Sure. Should I be living my life believing that I'd win a lottery? No, that would be stupid.
Because the absence of proof is not the proof of absence.
Also note that it's not only theological propositions that are impossible to prove: The omphalos hypothesis could be true and the whole universe could have started existing a microsecond ago. I could be a brain dreaming in a vat, or a simulation, and no one can prove that isn't the case. Should I be 'agnostic' about that, too?
For example, agnostics are not theists, therefore they are a-theists - according to one possible definition of the term. Similarly, ignostics do not take a position on the existence of gods, therefore they are agnostics - according to one possible defintion of the term. In both case, you could argue that agnostics are not atheists, or that ignostics are different from agnostics. That does not mean that the binary classification theists/atheists or the tripartite classification theists/agnostic/atheist is wrong - it just means that you're asking a more nuanced question that requires a more nuanced terminology.
In any case, we're drifting way off-topic here. It's fine if you don't agree with what I think atheism is, although I would be interested to see what kind of definition you base it on. Aside from the definition (this means an outside source, not just something you write down here) I'd also be curious what you see as the difference between agnosticism and atheism.
All ontological claims are unprovable, resting on axioms that have to be accepted on faith. I can't prove I just wrote you this message, I just believe I did. Philosophically speaking, there is no certainty.
I would be interested to see what kind of definition you base it on
Binary classifications are useful. There are people who affirm the existence of gods. Let's call them 'theists'. There are people who are not members of that group. Let's call them 'a-theists'. Done.
Now, you might be interested why people do not affirm the existence of gods. For example, they might think it unlikely due to empirical evidence that contradicts most traditional religious claims. Or they might think there's not enough evidence to come to a conclusion either way. Let's call the latter agnostics and make our binary classification into a tripartite one. But wait, what about ignostics, believing that the question itself is ill-posed? Should we include them as well as their own category? What about all the other ways not to be a theist? You have to draw the line somewhere if you want to avoid an explosion in complexity.
None of the possible ways to draw the lines is inherently more correct as long as you take care to define your terminology, it's just that you might upset different groups of people because they feel underrepresented or resent being grouped together with 'those guys'.
God can exist, I could be Superman.
> God can exist, I could be Superman.
That doesn't sound like a rational argument to me.
The universe had to be formed somehow, right? It's a mystery how. God is a possibility.
I'm saying that there being a creator is a serious possibility. It's certainly not the only one, but it doesn't deserve the flippant attitude or ridicule. And sure, God doesn't really "explain anything" (who created God? what is He like?). Doesn't mean it's not a possibility.
Part of the atheistic position is an inability to admit that there are things we don't know. What's beyond the universe? We have no idea. I think many atheists are just reactionaries frustrated by the irrationality of religion and throw out all spiritual or religious concepts without thinking it through.
IIRC, the posterior superior parietal lobe essentially orients your body within your consciousness. When people have religious experiences this part of the brain has extra activity. If that activity was blocking that part of the brain from properly orienting your body, wouldn't a feeling of 'oneness' make a lot of sense? I imagine that if you combine that with strange, new temporal lobe activity and you have a divine consciousness communicating with yours.
The people who I've seen talk about about that took very high doses, usually of dmt or ayuhuasca.
If this could happen then the experience could possibly manifest itself in a few ways. In the larger discussion thread, many are talking about having an experience where somebody feels they are at one with the universe, so their sense of being is that they feel like they are everywhere.
Another possibility that occured to me is, consider that we percieve the world from the position of inside our head - which also happens to be the default calibration for our sense of geometrical "being". We also experience vision from this perspective, so it seems completely normal to assume that our brains process raw eye-signals. However, consider the possibility that our experience which we call vision is actually not the raw data feed, but actually is calculated/derived from both the raw data feed and our internal sense of geometrical viewpoint. If this were the case, then someone who had their sense of geometrical viewpoint displaced (but was still taking in raw data from their eyes, which do have a fixed real-world location) would experience a sense of vision, from the viewpoint inside the world wherever their sense of geometrical viewpoint has been displaced to.
This seems a plausible explanation for how people (who are often experiencing medical trauma) could have a legitimate out of body experience - their sense of geometrical location was displaced, but their brain continued to process vision, so it projected a viewpoint from location X using the data it was receiving from positiom Y and what it already knew of the world.
consider the possibility that our experience which we call vision is actually not the raw data feed, but actually is calculated/derived from both the raw data feed and our internal sense of geometrical viewpoint. If this were the case, then someone who had their sense of geometrical viewpoint displaced (but was still taking in raw data from their eyes, which do have a fixed real-world location) would experience a sense of vision, from the viewpoint inside the world wherever their sense of geometrical viewpoint has been displaced to.
The info your senses take in is processed in multiple stages. The stages can be accessible to your consciousness, despite damage or interference.
So, signals from your eyes go to a primary receptive area, which likely processes shapes and colors. Then a secondary receptive area tries to figure out what exactly is being gazed upon and gives you a more concrete image. Finally, the visual association part of the brain adds in context; memory, emotion, other sensory input, etc..
I kind of view the consciousness as a super-organism of consciousnesses, with all but a few of the last stages of processing considered our subconscious.
According to David Nutts study psylocibin is regarded as one of the least harmful drugs. I have also seen a study showing that use of psychedelics was associated with lower rates of mental health issues later in life.
Sounds to me like it put a crack in your ego rather than a crack in your sanity.
This is what many so called psychonauts do not understand.
A bad trip can be traumatic and can revive other traumatic experiences.
Psychedelics can lead to decreased wellbeing, decreased psychological and emotional stability and decreased strength and robustness to deal with further stress and unpleasant challenges.
Medical experts use psychedelics because of their strong destabilizing effects.
Nothing is gained and much is lost if this uncomfortable weak unstable state remains.
Set and setting is important. Do not try psychedelics to solve problems.
But set and setting is not everyting. A bad trip might happen anyway.
Who knows about its genetic, biological and psychological constitution and reaction before the trip ?
That is why a medical expert as trip sitter is so important.
"Despite these difficulties, it is notable that 84% of respondents reported having benefited from the experience, with 76% reporting increased well-being or life satisfaction attributed to the experience."
Something maybe similar happened to me after being with my grandfather while he died peacefully at home. It doesn’t take drugs to change a personal narrative that might be stuck in certainty, life can do that too, nor is it necessarily a bad thing in my mind.
As someone who likes science and have an analytic approach I guess I would probably have ended up as an atheist if it wasn't for a number of events that would be really hard to fit into an atheist worldview.
Furthermore I've also come to realize that this position has been really good and useful for me, -and the rest of the world. It has helped me go from an angry boy from a poor family to a reasonable man who's not only able to feed my family but also actually able to help others.
So, for what I know free will and God might be an illusion (I don't think that), but in that case I'd say it's a really useful illusion.
“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”
― William Shakespeare, The Tempest
You can get there by walking through the Marin headlands. Give the Green Gulch folks a smile as you pass through. Have a good one :)
No doubt a lot of recreational users get away with just dropping acid without forethought, but some don't fare well.
I cannot in any way see how prohibition creates more safety compared to this.
The substances are available to anyone with persistence and a few dollars. The guidance, knowledge, and systematic approach to navigating the space they provide is gone.
I don’t see how this is helpful.
Fucking bullshit war on drugs man. Why doesn't our government have room for rationality?
You should disclose all the substances you took for your comment to have any validity as anecdata. Your story is very different whether the “other substances” were “marijuana and theine” or “datura and cocaine”.
And your comment is just railing against LSD. Ridiculous.
You have no place to be telling people about psychedelics.
As someone who has also done LSD, I'd agree with this. However, I'd also suggest that shattering a sense of "certainty" and introducing doubt into the mind of someone who previously had certainty isn't necessarily "destroying a healthy mind". What you characterize as a, "crack in my sanity that I can never completely fix", could also be characterized as expanding your awareness. It can be frightening and permanently altering to tear away the facades our psyches have created, since birth, to process and "understand" reality as we perceive it (even temporarily). That's what LSD does. While I also don't consider this a spiritual experience, I do consider it extremely profound. Certainly anyone considering doing LSD should be understand that they are in for an extremely intense and potentially life-changing experience.
But to each their own.
I love how people start panicking when their worldview is questioned, by themselves.
What's so wrong with an open mind? I was a firm 100% atheist and became a non-dualist because of my experiences. I'm still INCREDIBLY logical and scientific in 99.99999% of things (I'm a Data Scientist/Analyst for a living). But I will never, ever shake those experiences... once you get a glimpse of 'infinite', it tends to stay with you.
How could something of the simulation let you "peek behind the curtain?"
Scientific apparatuses have allowed us to "see" the complete elecromagnetic spectrum, the cell, the quasar... psychedelics may be an apparatus allowing us to see dimensions of reality heretofore unquantified.
So why do we cavalierly assume that our brains are physically capable of understanding all true things? What does a machine which transforms ideas which are literally inconceivable to our physical brains look like? What do the crude analogs of these inconceivable thoughts look like?
(I realize I've drifted far afield from the OP -- I don't mean to say that psychedelics are a window into true mysteries. But these discussions always seem to lead me down this path...)
Its up to you to make it significant or just accept it was a few hours of your head not working how it normally does.
Do you still vividly remember these "meetings"?
Would you be able to describe how these God/Satan/etc. look like?
So you're only delusional if it impairs your ability to function normally within the context of your society. Or if it negatively affect your quality of life, like, say it prevents you from sleeping, makes you overly anxious, etc.
In that sense, I think most common believer of a religion aren't affected in their normal functioning within society, and don't feel negatively affected by their beliefs. But some are, and those could be called out as having mental disorders.
Belief in religion is a normal part of the human experience, even though the beliefs differ and some folks don't have them. These beliefs are generally harmless at best and for some, they help folks have community, a purpose, and all of these other positive things. Sure, some negatives, but that's life.
Normalcy plus lack of the belief causing life problems. Doesn't sound like general sickness to me.
Naturally there are grey areas and exceptions and cults and all this sort of thing, but it doesn't take religion to produce them.
I should at this point mention that I'm atheist.
These kind of descriptions of "experience" you can also see in New York hipster yelp reviews of the 'most amazing' sushi joint or the latest game of thrones episode or whatever bullshit.