I've never had a mini-stroke, or at least, not one dramatic enough to act on. There are little lapses in consciousness, especially at times of stress, but whatever. Maybe just some subsystem crashing and rebooting.
But his stuff on LSD matches my experience exactly. For some years, I got into the habit of taking maybe one or two milligrams, just before going to sleep. Usually a little drunk, and very stoned, with a full stomach. So I'd wake up, perhaps 3-4 hours later, in the middle of the peak.
I clearly remember just being the observer. There was no self-talk. No language at all. Just observing. But not observing external reality, because those systems were also hosed. What I was observing, I think, were internal states. Maybe comms traffic among subsystems.
But I really have no clue what I experienced, in any detail, because it was timeless, and memories are timelike. All I remember is being very calm and happy. And the amazing hallucinations, a mix of geometric and periodic (but less so than with peyote) and "organic" and flowing (but less so than Psilocybe spp).
I also remember the process of coming down from peaking. As TFA notes, subsystems came back gradually.
Not sure if observer is needed at all to have efficiently functioning system, though. Rather contrary: it _feels_ the impact of the observer on external world or even internal states is at most very limited, if not totally negligible.
Not sure as well if observer goes away in case of sleep or anesthesia. Maybe, just maybe the subcomponent responsible for forming memories is shut down and therefore there are no memories from that period. The observer could be still present, patiently observing the _void_ and/or snoring and/or _anything else_.
I had a drug experience once that "I" was a story I was telling myself about a conversation between a number of distinct drives or entities in my head, and that I could "uninvite" them from the conversation, or with discipline create or destroy them.
I've always wondered if this had any basis in reality.
You should alter your consciousness if you want to understand it :)
Because sometimes it's easy to confuse the voice in your head to be actually you and since it's you, it must be right! But when you disassociate it as a third person and maybe give it a name and treat it as a seperate entity that though lives inside you (or your head) but it is not you, you can start giving it the same treatment as you would give a negative or positive comment made by a third person about you and actually apply rational logic to what is being said by it (your observer) and even defend your position instead of just taking everything on face value or trust.
"Oh, there goes my control of my left arm. Oh, there goes my sense of smell. Oh, language is nextgsnghghqfnvjznv"
Also sounds terrifying
Not sure if this relates to your experience, but the lesson I learned was: Take real vacations. Where you are not tethered to your phone, social media, work calls, PagerDuty, social calls, etc. You can just eat, drink, sleep, breathe, and take in the moment. Even if it is just for a day, take time to remember what it means to be human.
Edited: for tone
I'd been feeling fuzzy all day at work - losing track of what I was doing, constantly searching for common words. Eventually I decided to head home.
I got to the train station and started feeling a rising sense of worry, especially once I noticed that my left arm had stopped obeying any commands, so I texted my partner. Texting was hard. The words were in my brain but my thumb wouldn't obey me. Eventually I got there. I noticed a few typos, but I couldn't find it in me to correct them and I reckoned it was understandable enough, so I sent it; partner later reported back that the text was completely unintelligible. He called me, and I couldn't get any words out except the word 'help'.
He looked up my location on Maps, called an ambulance, and told me to find a seat. By the time it came, the episode was mostly over and I was back to just feeling very fuzzy and having trouble speaking clearly.
They took me to hospital, booked me in for a CT and MRI, kept me in for a couple of days of observation. The doctor later told me that what I'd had was an atypical migraine, rather than a stroke. I'd never had a migraine in my life, and (other than a regular pain-migraine which kicked in the day I came home from hospital) I've never had one again.
Brains are really, really weird.
"10..9..oh there goes the left-hand side of my brain...8.."
He mentions that in the course of meditation, you learn to "distinguish all the components of your consciousness." I think that might be "many" rather than "all". There's a lot we can learn from meditation, but I think these lessons are mostly about how to work with the minds we have, rather than how to create new minds. It's not as though centuries of serious Buddhist meditators arrived at a recipe for creating new consciousness.
Why might the subjective, internal, phenomenological approach not be enough?
Having a body, feeling your body, and using your body might let you learn deeply what it means to have a body. But if you want to build a new body, you'd better spend some time looking in microscopes and analyzing proteins and a thousand other things. The experiential view isn't enough. Objective exploration of the real world is needed.
And setting aside how one should go about acquiring information about how minds work, is the question of whether we're equipped to arrive at an operational conceptualization given that information. He talks about animals, drugged or impaired humans and heathy humans as all having fundamentally different cognitive capabilities. I can do addition in front of a dog with an abacus, a chalk board, etc, but it won't conceptualize addition. It's not obvious that just because we have language and tools and symbolic reasoning and social cognition that our particular ape brains are going to be able to hold the concepts of how minds work.
Can't be done, not even in principle.
> how to prepare my observer for the dissolution of my own mind and body.
The observer is unaffected by death or birth. If you can give up attachment to the impermanent aspects of your being then death is a change not an ending.
(This is the whole point of human life, everything else is kind of a sideshow. Less than one in a thousand ever even think about this stuff, of those less than one in a thousand will take it seriously and seek. Which is really really sad, because the path, though narrow, is not particularly hard. Avoid BS, seek Truth with persistence and sincerity. Do it every day. Eternal life guaranteed or triple your money back!)
edit: I had a really high dose of LSD about ten years ago and it really changed my perspective of what reality is made of. I feel like the filter of ego on the true reality of the universe is just a tiny slice of the full spectrum of what is possible/actually happening.
The observer in isolation is the act of observing observing itself, and as such it is featureless and, in a sense, outside of time. So, yeah, eternal life. The catch is that it's life in general, it has nothing to do with your everyday life.
I only know that stuff from Burroughs' The Western Lands, which is his take on a "book of the dead".
FWIW, this is a decent description of what I'm talking about: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramana_Maharshi#Self
> Ramana considered the Self to be permanent and enduring, surviving physical death. "The sleep, dream and waking states are mere phenomena appearing on the Self," as is the "I"-thought. Our "true nature" is "simple Being, free from thoughts".
As I understand it from Burroughs, there are seven souls in the Egyptian theory. Three of them are eternal. Sort of like components of Ramana's Self: Ren (meaning, destiny), Sekem (energy, power) and Khu (guardian). Then there's Ba (emotion), Ka (the double) and Khaibit (memory). And Sekhu (remains). The only one left after ones death is Ka, which has the chance at eternity in the Western Lands.