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DMT drug study investigates the ‘entities’ people meet while tripping (bigthink.com)
255 points by jelliclesfarm 9 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 179 comments





Some friends of mine did some tests with DMT entities. Apparently they can't solve math problems.

I never believed they were anything other than hallucinations, but they were still some of the most positive and meaningful events in my life. I hope one day we'll know enough about consciousness to understand why DMT causes the formation of these seemingly other selves.


We are capable of holding more than one identity in our minds and switching between them. Some people use that ability to create "characters" (tulpas: https://www.businessinsider.com/hearing-voices-in-your-head-...) that they interact with or even allow to take over their bodies. Apparently some people go as far as replacing themselves with a tulpa they've created (they call this ego-suicide).

We are also capable of realizing directly that personal identity itself is also construct, a mask we put on to make sense of the world. Seeing through this illusion can be deeply unsettling, as well as deeply liberating. E.g. Buddhist insight into anatta, or non-self.

Shinzen Young's description on the nuts and bolts of Shingon Buddhist deity yoga practice is simply fascinating.

https://alvinalexander.com/personal/shinzen-young-shingon-sh... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_VizlDWcTA


This is cool, but I've always felt buddhists make this too big of an issue. Yeah, the ego is just a process, like any other, but it was probably created as a result of some selection mechanism.

I'm pretty sure in a situation of conflict, it's beneficial to kick the ego in higher gear. Sure, when things calm down, relax that thing. I feel pretty strongly that's the evolutionary reason for having an ego to begin with.


The evolutionary reason is survival. When you were ostracized from your group, or attacked by others in the group, for tens of thousands of years, that meant certain death.

Now it doesn't, and our emotional evolution hasn't caught up to our society or our intellectual sophistication. You don't have to respond to conflict at all, in 99% of cases. There is no benefit to winning. If someone cuts you off in traffic, getting mad and honking causes more pain for you AND for the other person. The most beneficial thing is to not even react other than to prevent a crash.


There’s not much personal direct benefit, but if someone cuts you off, honking has the benefit of letting that person know they were being antisocial. Without feedback, it’s easy for people to start to think that selfish behavior is ok.

Done out of anger, it rarely works. When someone honks at you in anger when in traffic, you might take time to self-reflect on what you've done wrong, if you've committed any antisocial behavior, and what you might do differently in the future, but most people don't. Because of their ego, they feel the need to defend themselves from attack.

Better yet, ram into the back of them so they really get the message.

I think the point is that you will do less to reinforce positive behaviour in others, than you will to amplify your own negative response conditioning.

Though I would add that if you sent your message across in a state of absolute zen then perhaps the reaction would be beneficial all round.


I'm no expert on this, but here's an essay from an American Buddhist monk that might explain the context a little better. In short, Buddhism is meant to be practiced and the idea of "no self" isn't supposed to be an answer to a philosophical question, it's supposed to be a guideline for how to relate to your experience. (Emphasis mine)

> A case in point is the teaching on not-self. Many students interpret this as the Buddha's answer to two of the most frequently-asked questions in the history of serious thought: "Who am I?" and "Do I have a true self?" In the light of these questions, the teaching seems to be a no-self teaching, saying either an unqualified No: There is no self; or a qualified No: no separate self. But the one time the Buddha was asked point-blank if there is a self, he refused to answer, on the grounds that either a Yes or a No to the question would lead to extreme forms of wrong view that block the path to awakening. A Yes or a qualified No would lead to attachment: you'd keep clinging to a sense of self however you defined it. An unqualified No would lead to bewilderment and alienation, for you'd feel that your innermost sense of intrinsic worth had been denied.

> As for the question, "Who am I?" the Buddha included it in a list of dead-end questions that lead to "a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion, a writhing, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, [you] don't gain freedom from birth, aging, and death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair." In other words, any attempt to answer either of these questions is unskillful karma, blocking the path to true freedom.

> So if the not-self teaching isn't meant to answer these questions, what question does it answer? A basic one: "What is skillful?" In fact, all of the Buddha's teachings are direct or indirect answers to this question. His great insight was that all our knowledge and ignorance, all our pleasure and pain, come from our actions, our karma, so the quest for true knowledge and true happiness comes down to a question of skill. In this case, the precise question is: "Is self-identification skillful?" And the answer is: "Only up to a point." In the areas where you need a healthy sense of self to act skillfully, it's wise to maintain that sense of self. But eventually, as skillful behavior becomes second nature and you develop more sensitivity, you see that self-identification, even of the most refined sort, is harmful and stressful. You have to let it go.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/quest...


It doesn't matter how it was created, it's still poison. Practicing Buddhists don't "make a big deal" of the ego out of some neurotic compulsion taken too far: the ego is seen clearly as an essential link in the chain of suffering and is dropped, breaking the chain.

I invite you to directly experience it for yourself; come and see.


I don't think we would have survived as a species in an "egoless" state. It's very nice while you have it, but it lacks all strength and drive that are necessary for great achievements or for putting up a good fight when necessary.

For full perspective: I've practiced various meditation techniques my whole life - Orthodox Christian, various flavor of yoga (mostly Raja and Kundalini related stuff), even some Buddhist techniques (mostly Zen). I'm fairly familiar with the Buddhist doctrine, and Christian, and the Hindu Dharma. I've had my share of experiences, including some that looked quite ego-free - and yeah, it's awesome.

I'm just saying, we shouldn't draw absolute lines here, or anywhere. The danger of narrow dogmatism is always present. And there's room for, and value in, the inner fire, the energy that builds things up and pushes things forward. That, too, is what we are.

You live in a wonderful, immense house; don't confine yourself to a couple rooms only.


Absolutely. Imho, there are a couple of different directions we can take in exploring reality via contemplation. The direction of (for lack of a better term) purification/egolessness is emphasized by Buddhist schools. An orthogonal direction might be the age-old practice of shamanism, in which engagement with wild realms of the spiritual Outback is sought, for the purposes of healing and exploration.

Sorry to keep shilling for Shinzen Young, but he is one of the few authors who has legitimacy in traditional Buddhist lineages, but seems interested in exploring and systematizing alternate traditions.

You might find his thoughts on shamanism interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33u14OjeHpE


It doesn't matter if we would have survived as a species or not. Our great achievements can be summarized as a continuum of suffering done in the name of I. Even now a billion people live in the most abject daily torment of survival while the richest of us pack our noses with a stimulant that destroys whole swaths of the natural world.

You're confusing the relative world with awakening and then making it out for wisdom. All of man's great achievements can be summarized in a few passages from "Ozymandias": gone tomorrow.

'Even if a whole mountain were made of gold, not double that would be enough to satisfy one person. Know this and live accordingly'

We should absolutely make out for wisdom what is wise and point out unskillful pursuits where we see them. Buddhist teachings aren't a postmodernist mash-up of whatever you like. It can sound rude, even condescending but it's not what you make it out to be. The suttas are there to offer wisdom, Right Understanding.

Practicing various meditation techniques your whole life sounds like you haven't made up your mind yet or haven't seen one through to the end. I know exactly how that feels and I'd trade the decade I spent sampling for depth in any one.


> It doesn't matter if we would have survived as a species or not.

That is a point of view completely detached from reality. Have a nice day.


Are you saying you do not have an ego?

"You must give up your ego!"

"Who said that?"


_I yam what I yam!_

--Popeye


I'm not an authority on this stuff, but the rationale that resonates with me is: 1) gaining awareness of & context for the ego-narrative can HUGELY reduce psychological suffering, and 2) the ego doesn't go away for the vast majority of practitioners - it is put into perspective within a larger awareness

I agree, and I find the buddhist method very useful.

But it seems that ambitious people usually have strong attachment to the ego and that what drives them.

And that's useful in a highly competitive society, where apartments are expensive, for example.

And once you out that into a larger perspective, some of that drive gets lost.


I came across a concept of “direct experience” with out going through normal meaning-making structures. Anyone have more details on this?

An emphasis on direct experience can be found throughout Buddhism, usually in the context of emphasizing its utility, while downplaying the usefulness of intellectual elaborations on Buddhist ideas. I.e., it's much better to have a single, concrete, personal experience of emptiness/non-self in meditation, than to read several volumes of Buddhist logic.

If you want to trot out the doctrinal stuff, Dharmadhātu probably what you're looking for - it's the label given to purified mind in its natural state, free of obscurations. It is the essence-quality or nature of mind,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharmadhatu


For hallucinations there's been some research on the brain that found that what we see is more imagined than actually there. Our brains kind of fill in the gaps by hallucinating images.

The easiest way to point to the distinction is to ask the question: in your direct experience, who came first, you or your parents?

If you'd like a secular guide to experiencing this yourself, for my money, Sam Harris's Waking Up app is the best way to do it. It takes quite awhile to build up the mental toolset to get there, but it's very much worth it.

https://www.wakingup.com


That's amazing! I did not expect to read about Tulpas on Business Insider, so thank you for that.

Somehow I'm not surprised that the tulpa in question is a batpony. There seems to be an interesting intersection between Tulpamancing and My Little Pony.

Perhaps something about escapism.


> Apparently some people go as far as replacing themselves with a tulpa they've created (they call this ego-suicide).

Sure, but I wonder how useful that is. After all, you're replacing one ego with another. Before, the controller was this group of processes running on this slice of the CPU, now it's a different (but similar) group of processes running on a somewhat shifted slice of the CPU.

Maybe if the new processes are better in some ways then it would be worth it? Less anxious, more confident, something like that.


There's no "worth it" outside of not existing. The "person" that was there before is not there now, otherwise it would be suicide.

There's a great Reply All episode on this: https://gimletmedia.com/shows/reply-all/49hr6k (#74 Making Friends)

I started watching that video and something about the interview with the "Tulpamancer" just really creeped me out.

I think it's because we're watching schizophrenia and a doc who feels it's just rich escapism.

Mental illness like schizophrenia are by definition a net negative, that’s why their disorders. It seems strange but people can be very different without mental problems or seem perfectly normal but have severe issues.

It’s why some but not all young children with imaginary friends can be considered fine. More strangely some adults have similar imaginary friends which they realize are mental constructs but they still enjoy interacting with them.


How do we cope wit it

Wonder how close this phenomena is related with lucid dreaming. The reason I bring it up is back in college I was struggling with an assignment and could not get the solution to a problem. That night I had a extremely vivid lucid dream where I was told the solution to the problem. The crazy thing was I tested it the next morning and it worked. Most likely my subconscious solving the issue but it was extremely strange as the answer was very clear and was not a technique I was used to.

Leaving problems to simmer in the subconscious overnight is a pretty common technique. Results aren't always as vivid as a dream, but it's not unusual to wake up with an "Oh yes - of course" if you prime the problem the day before.

Back when chemistry was just getting started and scientists were still trying to figure out the structures of molecules, benzene was a tough issue, probably because folks could not make yet the mental leap to non-linear structures (closed loops).

And then one night Kekule dreamed up the benzene ring, and the rest is history.


Apex Twin claims he's using lucid dreams to make songs:

> [...] it’s a technique James claims to be responsible for 80% of the tracks of Selected Ambient Works Volume II. In a 1994 interview he explained, “I go to sleep, dream I’m in my studio with imaginary bits of gear and do a track. Then I wake myself up and recreate it. I can do this in about 20 minutes.”

https://www.factmag.com/2017/04/14/funny-little-man-the-fact...


He also claims a lot of other weird things to add to the Aphex Twin “lore” I’m not sure how much of it you can believe.

I had both type of experiences, lucid dreaming and something like what's described in the article. While a theory of the subconscious may explain both, they feel completely different. It's like skiing is technically like kicking a can because you use your legs for both, but no one analyses them both from the same framework and gets interesting conclusions or predictions.

My colleague used to joke about having “shower ideas” he’d come into work with some new direction or solution he’d come up with while in the shower or doing other day to day non-programming things. I’ve heard other people mention walking around the block works for them too.

Oh yes, I certainly have "shower ideas" and I usually actively cultivate them. Sometimes its actually in the shower but other times it's while I'm mowing grass. It happens enough that I've grown to depend on it and use it purposefully - "I can't figure this out so I'm going to not think about it and go mow grass."

The trick is you have to stop trying to solve the problem and just let your brain work on it in the background.


As a layperson reading experiences, it sort of seems to align with a lot of Jungian psychology models. The idea that there's a guiding visualizable other self that provides insight and meaning when visited, but is still ultimately an extension of the self.

I have tried DMT more than a few times. Every time I felt a sense of connection to something greater, some would call it "God", and some call it "the Universe", etc.

On one trip I caught a glimpse of this and within the trip I moved towards it, curious what it was, and I was pushing closer towards it trying to discover what it was, and then it "shattered" and revealed itself as my own subconscious - that force within me that protects me and guides me and loves me, it was my own self at its purest essence, stripped of all the layers that we construct to deal with the rest of the world. It was a rapturous epiphany, I literally turned into a million smiles and my own subconscious welcomed me "home".

I know it probably sounds strange to some, but I do consider it a breakthrough. I haven't really needed to do any DMT since then. "Once you get the message, hang up the phone" - Alan Watts. I got the message. Oh wow, I got that message.

I never believed the "aliens" in DMT trips were anything like "aliens", because after all, everything that occurs during a DMT trip is happening within your own brain. These aren't "beings", they are you, yourself, or at least the inner workings of "the self".


I've had a similar experience and it made me a better person. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. Thanks for sharing.

I don't think that everyone that tries DMT will get there. The visuals can be distracting and are easy to focus on instead of using it as a tool for deep introspection. The "machine elves"/aliens may be something the subconscious uses to distract and some may see them as "the thing" and not look further, I don't really know. No doubt every trip is different, as is every person.

I see other dimensions, aliens, a higher mathematical order to reality, God, etc... as another way to explain "the subconscious". I think your subconscious manifests itself as what would be easier to understand for your ego, with varying degrees of effectiveness depending on the person.

A conspiracy theory fan, a priest, a therapist, or a hardcore fan of David Lynch movies will probably see their inner selves manifest differently when the subconscious pushes through to show itself to ego in a way were it can be seen with our "eyes" and heard with out "ears".


Just beautiful, thank you for sharing.

I am always wondering. From split brain patients we know that there are two fully functioning halfs. And when you think about it from an IT perspective, it is difficult to imagine that they are fully synchronized (emotionally, information, etc). So basically you have a pair of twins sharing a phone line giving somehow the idea of a single person. I am not surprised that some odd things going on.

(The old: left hemisphere math, right art or vice versa has been debunked if I remember correctly)


> From split brain patients we know that there are two fully functioning halfs

I don't think it necessarily shows that. The "two halves" may just be a phenomenon that arises when the brain splits, not something that's normally there. And I believe there have been recent studies that even brought the original split brain conclusions into question, i.e., there might still be communication happening between the two halves.


>(The old: left hemisphere math, right art or vice versa has been debunked if I remember correctly)

As usual with biology, it's a bit more complicated than the '60s explanation ever revealed to the public. https://youtu.be/dFs9WO2B8uI


Well, he did deliberately induce this state on himself and record the results in The Red Book. And given that he had those experiences, it's no surprise his model of psychology aligns with those who also have.

Which is not necessarily to discount it. I'm intrigued by his research and willingness to apply the scientific method to things other scientists would dismiss out-of-hand.


I have a copy of the red book that’s still shrink wrapped, it’s big.

Think I should open it or read a digital copy now?


You should open it. The art is beautiful. I read a page everyday.

Half the book is in Middle German. So..there is that...I just admire the calligraphy.


To the other jungians out there- a note/reminder that the black books are finally being released in October.

Since I haven't bought/read the 'Red' book, does the Black contain everything the Red does, i.e. a superset?


Exciting!

I wonder if this lines up with the psychology of Internal Family Systems (IFS): https://www.reddit.com/r/InternalFamilySystems/

Basically, that we are a collection of inner-selves, not a single self. IFS provides a framework for working with our inner selves.



Both.

There are multiple selves, and each one of them is not as set in stone as we think.


I've given up on reddit since their redesign. I know there is the `old.reddit.com` trick you can do, but I can't be bothered.

Is there a non-reddit reference to this "Internal Family Systems" thing? I'd be interested in looking into it more.


It's mentioned in The Body Keeps The Score

From an IFS perspective, it sounds like DMT introduces parts that guide our attention toward the Self. That's different from regular IFS parts - protectors and exiles - that guide our attention away from the Self.

> they can't solve math problems

> I never believed they were anything other than hallucinations

I mean, dogs can't do math either, yet they are real.

I'm not necessarily arguing for the independent reality of the entities, I'm just saying that's not a super-conclusive test.


I think people generally perceive these entities as being advanced and hyper intelligent, hence the math question.

But yeah, still not conclusive either way (but the most likely answer is still that they're constructions of your own mind).


maybe they are so hyper-intelligent that they let their subconscious handle the math problems

Just to be pedantic, dogs can count (probably, or something akin to it).

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12357291/


But they can't look up

To play devil's advocate: Math arose largely to deal with the problem of scarce resources. Magical drug-summoned beings might never have needed to do that.

To then argue against that: Trippy aliens would not need to confront our simplest kinds of scarcity, like for land or food, in order to need to economize. Any world that offers choices offers tradeoffs by definition. Rational agents facing tradeoffs arrive at math.

Unless somehow emotional intelligence is more useful to them than economic rationality.


Hi-tech aliens could send no-tech agents.

> Apparently they can't solve math problems.

I wonder if math problems, or even simple logic statements, are the most appropriate criteria for interactions.


Hmm, depends, it's one way to aim towards objectivity though. Unless of course these being exists in dimensions where base reality itself necessitates a different mathematical makeup ... causing the entities themselves to respond to your presence with "yeah, right, nice try fantasy person, wink-wink, now get out of my day dream"

I was more thinking about how music is a common element for trips. Maybe math problems aren't appropriate because, as you say, it requires an entirely different structure. Music though is very sensory and perceptual so could you elicit say pattern recognition? If you played a sound or pattern but isolate the sound from the participant, could the entity repeat the pattern?

Like the idea of using music but since we have to take into account that the participant's mind acts as the "gate" to the entity it makes little sense to expect the entity to be able to repeat a pattern that has not entered the participant's consciousness.

One way this could work however would be if the same entity revealed itself to two participants. Then it would be quite straightforward to see if information/music/other shared by between one participant and the entity could be accessed by the other when participant when communicating with the entity.


True; I think the rational stems from the following research questions:

R1 - Is the entity a projection of the participant or manifestation of a separate entity?

R2 - If the entity is a manifestation, can it process information that is not presented by the participant?

R3 - Can that information be presented to another participant with the entity acting as an intermediary? This would expand on your idea of "if the same entity revealed itself to two participants", then perhaps having Person 1 receive musical input, describe the entity's reaction, Person 2 does not receive the musical input and describes the entity's behavior. If there is are common reaction behaviors between the entities, it wouldn't prove they are separate from the host, but could lead to additional types of studies.


There is a classic Slate Star Codex post/short story about whether DMT entities can do math: https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/04/21/universal-love-said-th...

> “Right,” I said. “We’ll have more transcendent joy if you help me out and factor the number than if you just sit there being spiritual and enigmatic.”

This is hilarious :) Especially when you think of the entities he's arguing with as different aspects of his own consciousness.

There's parts of all of us that want to pursue knowledge of the world around us and those parts that want to pursue our emotions and knowing ourselves.


So, I've not read any of SSC, though obviously the news lately has made me aware of him.

But this? This is pure genius. Thank you for the link! So many laugh out loud moments. I particularly enjoyed '“I demand a better answer than that,” I demanded.'


Scott is fond of sentences like that, especially with puns thrown in. I have no idea how he's so good at coming up with them. They took me a moment to understand so I'll explain with an example from this page [0]:

“I’m not going to make a deathbed conversion,” Tom said diagnostically.

The sentence indicates that Tom is dying and not currently religious, and the word "diagnostically" sounds like a mixture between "die" and "agnostic". They aren't quite funny when explained but when you spend 3 minutes trying to figure one out before it slaps you in the face it's a very good time

[0]: https://slatestarcodex.com/tag/tom-swifties/

More examples:

“I went rock-climbing with my girlfriend,” Tom updated.

“The defibrillator worked!” Tom said, repulsed.

“My karate instructor died,” Tom said, desensitized.


Woah. I never got most of the jokes on that post when I first read it. Now it's all obvious (and fun, finally). Thanks!

I wonder if this is determined by skill of the person

In lucid dreams entities can solve math problems to a certain degree. Does it mean that the lucid dream ones are real then?

I've never tried DMT, though it's something I'd like to try. I did have an experience with entities and salvia though. I've smoked it a few times and there was always things there...it always felt like to them I was an ant they'd suddenly noticed were aware of them and they just seemed kind of amused.

But one time, I tried smoking a small amout of it while chewing on some extract. I'd read that south American shamans would chew the leaves rather than smoking them.

It was a totally different experience. After about ten minutes I had this extreme sense of derealization, like everything in the world was flat and 2 dimensional the like backdrop of a play and if I tried I could have just ripped it all down to see everything hidden behind it. It was a really strange feeling.

Shortly after that though, was when the entity showed up. At the time, I was fairly addicted to minecraft. Like would spend ally free time playing that game.

All of a sudden there was a voice screaming in my head that i'm wasting my time and life...something made...I really don't know how else to describe it, stand up and start walking into the wall over and over while the voice kept going see, this is what you've been spending your time doing. If you've ever played minecraft, it involves a lot of walking into walls to mine blocks.

At that point, I started getting this overwhelming urge to go outside for a walk. I remember arguing with the thing saying it would be a bad idea to go outside. It ended up relenting and left.

The whole experience was strange...I swear that must be what it feels like to be possessed or something. I know it's like just a hallucination, but it sure felt real and even remembering it it feels real.

Real or not, I stopped playing minecraft after that. Haven't played more than a few hours since.


I never smoked DMT, but I smoked salvia a lot. To avoid crazy trips, you have to take it horizontally in the dark quiet room. About 50% of trips started the same: the UFO arrives and hangs over me. Pulsating tunnel is started to connect me with the ship. Then 'they' start to drag me to the ship. The result depends of the smoked quantity. If you got 1-2 hits, you will not reach the ship. Yes, they will help you, they will drag you, but with no luck. But if you took 2-3 hits, the next what you will see is the space. With ships and 'lands'. So I felt those entities like good older brothers. In IT terms I was like junior and they like teamlids. I agree that that world feels more real than this one.

I have no desire to ever try salvia (heard too many bad things about how dysphoric it can be), but the 2D nature of it is really fascinating. You hear that same type of thing from many people. I wonder what the mechanism is that causes that to happen.

>heard too many bad things about how dysphoric it can be

I tried Salvia once (35x extract which, yes, was incredibly dumb for a first timer), and my experience was so nightmarish and traumatic that I've never tried anything stronger than coffee since.

Salvia is its own deterrent.


Yeah to agree with you and the parent commenter, salvia's not fun. It's interesting, but not fun. It can be fairly terrifying and i'm not a big fan of the body feeling. It's certainly not something you start craving or wanting to do long term. That was all years ago and when I finished everything I bought, I never replenished it. But, it was interesting.

And just so I don't have to write a second comment, to the above poster.

The 2d effect was one of the strangest things i've ever experienced. I've tried my fair share of hallucinogens, but nothing's been quite like that. It lingered a while longer than everything else. Again though, it wasn't the most pleasant feeling, my girlfriend and roommate were with me and even they had that 2d not real seeming look to them which was kind of disconcerting.

Overall it wasn't really something I regretted and feel like breaking my game addiction was a good outcome, but it's not an experience I'd like to repeat. Even after years, the memory of it all is still pretty vivid.


A breakdown in our perception of the holographic projection we live within.

Your experience with our world being '2 dimensional' and entities observing you existing in a higher dimensional universe - almost as if they're reading (or writing) a two dimensional picture book, we inhabit - gells extremely with one of my salvia experiences. Most profoundly 'psychadelic', almost Lovecraftian experience I've had.

> overwhelming urge to go outside for a walk

classic salvia


Congrats on quitting the game. No better way to waste your time.

From infinity converging onto me: a neon hued triangle. Three beams shoot from its vertices, which have sprouted eyes. The laser beams scan my body and enter into my soul through my eyes.

WHO ARE YOU

i'm... me?

WHO IS I?

i am... ?

Reality breaks down as colors rush over me. Intense joy suffuses my hitherto depressed existence. I return from the trip shivering and crying tears of joy.

Strong shit.

Years later, during a music show, I close the time loop by going out of body and becoming that triangle, letting my past self know everything will be okay, and life is worth it.

DMT... yeah.


Mine looked like hanging drapes closing in around me, but completely non-threatening. They were bright white, green, and brown stripes, and rhythmically pulsing, like breathing. I had the strongest sense they were non-threatening and watching over me. I never thought they were anything but hallucinations though.

It's pretty remarkable how overwhelmingly intense and yet benign the experience can be.

The geometric patterns are interesting to me because we can generate them as the effect of feedback loops, recursion, and iteration in pretty much every physical and logical domain. When you introduce a delay or discontinuity into a continuous process, it causes echoes and periodic patterns we would interpret as "geometric" as well. Think effects pedals on musical sounds, or modelling queues.

The underlying presumption seems to be that there are barriers to understanding a truth that can be "unlocked," which seems like a leap fraught with baggage. Even though using a poison that impairs the ability of our brain to reconcile its sensory inputs with its memory of itself is an out of "self" experience, this idea of viewing it through the lens of an enhancement or impairment yields different interpretations. A functioning society and civilization requires that people can be acted upon by - and respond to - the artifacts of language, so something that impairs that is going to raise hackles among people who think about those sort of things. But to grow it and survive we also need things that originate outside of it, so the insights people get from these trips can also be very valuable.

DMT elves I can't explain, but geometric patterns, just generate interrupts on a signal that has feedback. If they do exist, I'd have to assume they're some instantiation of tech support, as something is going to detect the signal jitter and check it.


I've seen geometric patterns and it's very similar to tie-dye fractals that kind of pulse and move among itself. A friend and I had very similar experience of the patterns (no elves wasn't DMT). You'd see them only when looking close up at something, not your entire visual field. They conform to the object you are staring at. A cardboard box wilth all its micro texture and creases "generated" the patterns and your brain would interpret it moving, pulsing, distorting, adding color.

(I am not saying this as some kind of allure of the drug's effects, just interesting to think about why and how the perception change happens).

I think maybe it has to do with your brain trialing new pattern recognition algorithms.

warning more musing below

I mean what is to say how any signal from our perception should look or feel internally? Visually the input in just raw EM radiation. And our brain makes this vivid picture out of basically a field of numbers. In this case you could argue that the extra pulsing or moving is not from a signal in reality, but we also can easily be tricked with visual illusions into seeing a static image move while completely sober. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_motion.

There is no "right" perception of reality, or at least ours is subjective to begin with. I think drugs just allow new patterns or patterns recognition "algorithms" a trial run. Our biology ended up as it is to keep us alive; it is not "poison" or wrong to try to re-jigger it temporarily to see what else is possible - as long as you are in a good situation to do so. (Or not, who am I to judge).


You may find that with enough experiences like this, you can perceive the same type (but not degree) of fluctuations when looking at any kind of textured or patterned material, such as asphalt or a woven rug. Try gazing at a surface in a slightly unfocused, highly “relaxed” manner. I expect that to your point, your brain filters or corrects for this type of perception.

I especially enjoy looking at "MagicEye" style autostereogram images for another completely sober psychedelic-like experience.

The way the 3D view comes into perspective, that sensation of maintaining an altered mode engaging with the 3D image, with distractions or a decision to leave that view disengaging. It's very similar to how modal and deliberate interacting with hallucinations on psychedelics can be.


To chime in with my personal experience, I'm also able to see this kind of noise/distortion if I relax a bit and stare at something, although I suspect this is mostly a consequence of the rods/cones on the retina getting fatigued.

When I felt sick as a child I would do this with the pattern on our wallpaper to distract myself from the discomfort. Edit: Or to help myself fall asleep by doing something similar with the "noise" you see when closing your eyes.


I actually have this pretty much constantly, as well as after images on lights and what not.

Have you had it all your life?

My personal explanation for the others is that we are pattern recognition machines. One of the patterns we train to recognize every single day is a human shape and figure. On DMT your pattern recognition goes into overdrive, and you find these patterns out of nothing.

What I find interesting though is that almost everyone has nearly identical experiences with this. Almost everyone goes from sober -> geometric shapes -> "the others", advancing between the levels dependent on the dose.


If you're interested in these kinds of parsimonies... I suggest looking into traditional and modern "psychedelic art" (especially dmt-related) and machine generated "art." There are similarities here too, some uncanny.

Interestingly, many hallucinatory geometric patterns fall out of a simple mathematical model of V1. This is a great paper that is less known than it should be:

Geometric visual hallucinations, Euclidean symmetry and the functional architecture of striate cortex

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1088430/pdf/TB0...


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3182860/ this is a neat paper as well -- the hallucinations can be provoked without any pharmaceutical assistance -- just diffuse flickering light.

One of my favorite papers! Thank you for sharing!

I occasionally wake up half way during the night and experience glorious intensely colorful geometric hallucinations. It definitely feels and evolves like feedback. There are sometimes beings and encounters. The colors are hyperreal, impossible to see or display on a monitor. Normal dreams don't have colors at all really.

This is a natural part of our brains I guess.


It's so great that there are actually people dedicated in scientific studies about DMT! I have a degree in CS and work in the field for 10 years. For 6 years now I've been participating in those mediunic rituals with ayahuasca and everything that comes to me is love, greatefulness and a contact with my inner self. When it comes to God we are actually talking about a more intense contact with our inner selves which already can be explained by psychology, but then it comes the interesting part: it feels like technology is inside my mind in such a way that when I'm under effect of ayahuasca the "beings" that I encounter are very much like "elven" machines but I don't see them, I feel an energic presence and the visual manifestation of that energy in my brain reflects in the form of patterns thus this "machine" looking visuals. Something very interesting about me being on DMT is that I'm able to render those voxels words indefinitely and visualize everything with sound like the sound is the code behind those renderers in my mind. I believe guys like Tesla, Einstein and so many others did have this same capacity to interact with their inner selves / sub consciousness and fully use their mental capacity in such a way that the "energic entities" (read the energy in your own brain parts) were able to describe to them the factories of the universe in the middle of a dream. You may actually follow up on this work with convicted man in Brazil: https://revistatrip.uol.com.br/trip/presos-de-rondonia-usam-...

Thank you for sharing your experience.

> I believe guys like Tesla, Einstein and so many others did have this same capacity

Sometimes when reading quotes by people like them, I get a similar impression, like they were "connected to the source", or "enlightened", and they intuitively followed that connection towards their achievements.

It also reminds me of a part in a documentary about Steve Jobs when a friend of his says "Steve was enlightened, and he blew it", hinting at him using that connection or "power" for what she felt was the wrong purpose.


Thank you for your appreciation! It is a reality that those guys are enlightened and were able to experience a more intense connection to God than many people but I still believe everyone is enlightened as well although some may not notice most of this world beautiful secrets... My hypothesis is that God is in the DNA so you don't have to worry about having ayahuasca experiences nor visualizing physics in your head like Einstein, living and loving are enough to understand most of Life! I also believe that people can blew things when they stop feeling, feelings separate us from the inanimate world but remember everything still vibrates

What’s the name of the documentary?

Can't remember, it seems like it's "Man in the Machine", and the friend was also Jobs' former girlfriend and mother of his first daughter: https://mashable.com/2015/03/15/steve-jobs-man-machine/

The most common emotions were "joy (65%), trust (63%), surprise (61%), love (59%), kindness (56%), friendship (48%), and fear (41%) during the encounter experience, with smaller proportions reporting emotions such as sadness (13%), distrust (10%), disgust (4%), or anger (3%)." Interestingly, 58 percent of respondents said the being also had an emotional response, almost always a positive one.

Wow!


If you're into some awesome science Towards a Science of Consciousness conference is going on right now, amazing talks / Zoom chats with some great scientists. Join in on the conversations! https://consciousness.arizona.edu/

Wow I wonder if this is just luck in the respondents having a good setting / proper preparation, etc. or innate effects of the drug. Ive had other psychedelics kick my ass more than a few times with anxiety / paranoia.

The difference to other psychedelics is the nature of the DMT trip - it is extremely "fast", short, and overwhelming. There simply is too little "idle" time in the trip (none, actually) for the rational mind to start developing paranoia or anxiety about what is happening.

It also helps that the whole thing is so otherworldly, the thinking mind is simply awed into silence. It takes a while before you could even begin to develop a conceptual interpretation of what is happening, and by then the whole thing is over and you are back to your sober self.

With other, long-acting psychedelics, there is plenty of time and opportunity for the mind to develop its own "spin" on the experience, and produce anxiety. Not so with DMT - it's like being shot out of a cannon and then coming back to earth just as fast.

It sounds terrifying and it is, when you're reflecting on it outside of the container of the trip. Somehow, while it's happening, you don't even have time to think about how terrifying it is, and as a result of that it ends up being OK. Tells you a lot about the nature of anxiety, really.


See, that logically sounds like the outcome you'd expect but the time dilation from enough DMT can make the experience feel like hours, or potentially even an eternity if you start looping or time stops.

You are no longer player by the normal rules, so you can throw deterministic time measurements out of the window lol.


Might be for someone, but I never had that experience. All my experiences have been very very rapid, and there was certainly no sense of being somewhere for hours or even minutes.

Really I can't even speak of time in this context. It felt more like a series of moment instants, and usually, before I even located "myself" in the experience, it was over.

I'm going to be bold here and say that if someone speaks of experiencing time dilation or loops on DMT, it is more of a question of the rational, linear mind, trying to make sense of a timeless, or non-linear experience of time (which it is not able to comprehend), by imposing familiar, linear concepts on it post-facto.

So, someone might speak of a time loop after the trip, but while you're actually having a DMT breakthrough experience, there simply is no "observer" there to generate the thought "oh, I am stuck in a time loop here". Therefore, the feeling of anxiety or terror, which might normally be associated with such a finding, will not arise.


I just want to add that taking DMT vs. say Ayahuasca in a ceremony setting doesn't mean any potential emotional processing or anxiety that you may feel may simply be restricted, delayed, and processed at a different time - or perhaps never processes as deeply as it otherwise would in an Ayahuasca ceremony.

The potential for anxiety and paranoia are heightened for me since I took cannabis edibles and had a horrendous reaction where I was 99% sure I was dying from a heart-attack or lack of oxygen. I took it at 11AM and I was still slightly high the next afternoon, so it lasted well over 24 hours! It was the worst experience of my life with any drug. This is coming from someone that smoked Salvia over 150 times in one year... I was basically doing it every other day. I only had one bad trip on salvia. I also did shrooms at a rave once and while that experience wasn't great nor horrible, it was just exhausting and I wanted it to be over after a couple of hours. All of this leaves me with a desire to try DMT but a huge fear of dealing w/ the same anxiety and paranoia I got from the edible cannabis ordeal.

You just had too much THC. Edibles are nothing to mess around with - you have to know your dose. You have to know how you will react to the dose. You have to work your way up with a known source to gauge your reaction to it. If you just eat whatever cookie someone hands you, you're almost certainly going to have a bad time.

I have the same reaction to THC, smoked the stuff once, and convinced my friends that I was actually dying so they dumped me off at the hospital. Never touched the stuff again. If you have anxiety issue THC can spike them and cause you to go into a full blown panic attack and a full blown panic attack when you are stoned is one of the worst experiences you can have. The one I had was 1000 times worse than any panic attack I have had before or after.

Possibly responsible for many of the reported differences between dmt (especially traditional oral varieties such as ayahuasca) and lsd or psilocybin. The latter are often used in recreational (and often irresponsible) settings, while dmt is often treated more seriously.

Even in a controlled test, expectations probably still play a meaningful role. Possible ethical issues with randomizing the active test.


That's a good point as well, but I wonder if this will change over time as DMT seems to become more known and talked about.

I did quite a bit of DMT (smoked) as a teenager and absolutely loved it every time. Friends of mine also got some of their own at the time, and was REALLY interesting how similar everyone's experiences were.

At first I thought maybe the whole "friendly elves" (for lack of a better phrase) thing might just be because my friends and I had read the same things about the experience and as such were predispositioned to that experience. However, a few friends that had literally never heard of DMT tried it and had virtually the same experience. Everyone I know personally that's tried it has the same "friendly fractal elves trying to show you something" or "fractal basketball" (that's what we called it) story.

It's a delight and I'd at some point in the future like to try ayahuasca, but I'm very leery about MAOIs. I think a lot of people may not be aware of the very real risks associated with them. DMT itself may be relatively safe, but harmala alkaloids can be incredibly dangerous depending on the person. There was a Netflix show (I think called Wellness maybe?) that touched on the possible dangers of ayahuasca but didn't go so far as to describe the possible problems of inhibiting an enzyme (monoamine oxidase) that performs vital functions in your brain and body.

I'm really glad that more and more researchers are spending more time and resources on psychedelics in general and look forward to advances that may be made in this area.


Where did you find DMT as a teenager?

The internet. I haven't done any sort of drugs in nearly a decade for personal reasons and couldn't help you with that.

Anyone interested in this should check out Towards a Science of Consciousness conference going on right now. Selen Atasoy just spoke, Dennis Mckenna, Paul Stamets, Robin Carhart-Harris, and lots of other really great Psychedelic scientists. + Many many other avenues of Consciousness https://consciousness.arizona.edu/


Never encountered a being while using DMT. The closest thing I recall was looking at the moonlight through clouds and hallucinating that it was all made out of skulls watching over me.

I had the same experience of skulls on mushrooms. The moon seems to induce the strongest hallucinations for me for some reason. I've also seen it sprout wheels and drive down a mountain on acid. On ecstasy I saw perfectly symmetrical flower petals around the moon.

If you get insight by looking at the moon I would recommend next time you try fire.

Yikes!

I believe this shared motif is some default mode pattern matching in our unconscious mind.

i.e. We have a built in "entity" template and DMT puts us in such a state that we fill in that template


Or there is no such template by default, but DMT causes it to be created in a similar way across people taking it, and the differences in what people experience are filled in according to their personality/life/...

Sorry, too busy too look up the exact terminology and hypothesis now, but IIRC there's these 2 major theories on how the mind/drugs work: one camp (a bit like your statement) says things are built-in and certain feelings/states/thoughts/.. exist by default but in a 'normal' sober state the neural pathways to them are not active, and drugs just open the correct gates to be able to access them; the other camp (more like what I wrote) says drugs alter enough things in the brain to create those feelings/... from scratch i.e. not opening a gate, more like creating a gate then opening it and keeping on creating what lies beyond.

I can recommend the thought experiment of trying to figure it out which one it is, especially when on drugs, it's rather interesting :) Personally I settled for believing it's a mixture of the 2, mainly because I find it hard to believe the circuitry for some of the things I experienced is readily available whereas at the same time once you have a certain experience it can have a lasting effect and the neural connections remain somehow, making it much easier to have a similar experience next time.


Long ago when I used to do maintenence on video consoles and pin-ball machines. The pin-ball machine was built with a standard desktop motherboard with additional circuits for the display and sound. If you wetted you finger and ran it along the tracks on the PCB, the audio circuit emitted strange avant garde sounding music. I figure it was the machine equivalent of a DMT trip :]

OH WOW: self-transforming fractal machine elves ;]


This could be a good analogy to what our brain experience. We do compartmentalize things, for efficiency reasons. (I.e. a book is a book. we have concrete models of the world to reference; like a PCB board has concrete functions it performs)

Then...one can swipe the board with a wet finger that produces unintended non-negative consequences. Same could be said of DMT and the brain. Great comparison Stierlitz!


Related fiction: "Universal Love, Said The Cactus Person" [0]

[0] https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/04/21/universal-love-said-th...


I've always wanted a comprehensive entity guide, broken down by drug type.

With that we could schedule PPV events like Mescalito vs ShadowPerson cagematches.


In my experience that guide needs a dimension of personality type or at least character traits. Most papers that analyse psychedelic experiences show that clustering by personality traits is a better or equal predictor of the type of experience than dose and (when appropriate) setting.

Incredibly interested in diving deeper into this. Can you point me to the best papers you've read on the topic?

It'd be considerate if they wore name tags. A brief bio would be nice too.

Reading the comments on this was thrilling. I don't normally go for hearing about trip experiences but something DMT stories makes them so much more fun to read vs. LSD and Psilocybin. Love the comments here.

I would argue Ayahuasca ceremonies, a group setting, with experienced individuals who are already open and have very heightened senses and higher than average sensory ability, and cataloguing the experiences individually - and then matching to see if there were shared experiences with specific entities or other beings - would be the research necessary to start creating proof points.

Reminds me of this episode of tales from the trip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1h9OjS8NTw

This one too (sees the same entity as his friend): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHLpB38LNg4


I would love to read some fiction where a study such as this leads to discovery that people are encountering the same concrete entity(ies).

The Phillip K Dick Novel, "The Unteleported Man" explores a similar theme: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Unteleported_Man Been a very long time since I read it, but I believe the gist was that two people experiencing the same hallucinations somehow confirms the hallucinations.

Catholics identify the 'machine elves' as demons

Anyone who’s adequately informed about spiritual matters is able to identify “machine elves” as demons who still seek to rule humans as in times past and desperately try to hide their identity. I’ve heard they get extremely angry and transform into malicious monsters if you interrogate them about the truth of Jesus Christ. Doing that will guarantee a bad experience. People shouldn’t be doing drugs anyways.

From personal experience (which I am by no means alone in) you can absolutely have a 'good trip' while contemplating Jesus Christ or other aspects of Christianity, and believing fully in it all. I am quite certain both good and bad drug experiences have driven people to that religion, and many others.

To be honest, this sounds like some b.s. my mother picked up from 'Christian' radio (i.e. GOP propaganda meets X-files) and terrorized the kids with. There was a book called the beautiful side of evil that informed a lot of the kind of thinking you describe, and it is 100% purely anecdotal assertions from one person with extreme views. If you look across the spectrum at more individuals, those assertions fall apart pretty quick.


The precondition is full sincerity and desire to know the truth. It’s a deeply personal commitment that can’t be argued in the hypothetical/abstract. Either you go all in or you don’t, and nobody else will know but you. I’m just the messenger.

> The precondition is full sincerity and desire to know the truth.

Believe me when I say I had both of these, and applied them earnestly in fervent & frequent prayer, study and self-denial for years. What did it get me? A whole lot of disappointment and confusion. The scientific world view has not brought me anywhere near the false happiness of believing I could become a blissful immortal, but it has at least given me firm ground to stand on, and to have rock-solid reasons for what I can still appreciate.

I'm glad for anyone who can experience a happy daily life in a religious worldview, but having the prideful audacity to claim that it is equally available to everyone (and by implication, that anyone who doesn't have the same response is a liar) is either dangerously ignorant or outright evil. I have known your kind before, because I was one. Think about it.


Thanks for sharing. One thing I differ from a lot of people on is the idea that faith cannot be evidence-based. Many people of “faith” fake it because they so desire what they do not have. On the contrary, evidence is required for faith. If a lack of correct evidence has led you to a different worldview I won’t argue with that. Surely I’ve been slammed with ugly disappointments as well. But consider what a God worth knowing would do. Among the many things we can come up with, at least one is that he would do what we could not do. Certainly evidence is not out of scope for a God worth knowing, but it may not come in the form we expect. So I don’t argue for you to accept what you can’t see, just that when you see it to keep pulling the thread and don’t dismiss it. In my opinion that is a true walk of faith. Once again, thanks for sharing :)

This sounds super interesting and is exactly what I'm interested to hear more about. Where can I read more on this?

The experiences come from testimonies I’ve heard from drug users and those who practice various forms of meditation. The historical context, which is partially reliable, comes from Dead Sea Scrolls (which have not all been released and translated) such as the book of Enoch. The Bible has a lot of hints throughout, such as in Genesis 6 and Jude. The Dead Sea scrolls also explain the origins of pagan religions and there’s a striking number of prophecies in them have have come true over the course of thousands of years. There are a few brilliant scholars who are working very hard to research these things

I was reminded to think I found "the solution" in the past, "After the lost of 'the feeling for an I' -to clarify my thoughts- a phase of a conditioned ego -also selfishness- began.. Wasn't jesus eating fish ?", -'thoughts'-(crossed out) stimulus came overwhelming, not ? P-:

For some reason this brings to mind the visions that Jesuit founder Ignatius Loyola had at some point:

"Ignatius also began experiencing a series of visions in full daylight while in hospital. These repetitive visions appeared as "a form in the air near him and this form gave him much consolation because it was exceedingly beautiful ... it somehow seemed to have the shape of a serpent and had many things that shone like eyes, but were not eyes. He received much delight and consolation from gazing upon this object"

Doesn't sound very holy. Then again he was quite the ambitious military officer before his post-injury convalescence.


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137697/ : meditation probably contributes to mental states that arent unlike DMT induced ones.

we are chemical soups sloshing around within our meat sacs.

i am interested though.. in the imaginary friends children make...could it be that when we are children, the brain releases 'DMT like' chemicals or signals that make them hallucinate our imaginary friends. children lose this ability when they grow up.

same with ghosts and alien sightings. i think ..on a more diluted level..people with synesthetic proclivities. many religious and spiritual experiences can also trigger meeting 'other entities' not from our plane. angels and such. fairies etc.

finally, could be seizures. certain kinds of epileptic episodes can trigger hallucinations and visualizations.


Do kids really think their imaginary friend is real? When I did it as a kid, I knew there was no one there, but pretended and in a way role played situations. Normally this was only in between long gaps where I didnt get to hang out with other kids. I've never known any kids who truly think their imaginary friend is real or see them. I thought it was just a lame movie trope.

People dealing with Lewy Body Dementia often have very vivid hallucinations.

It's a while since I've listened to much Terence McKenna, but I have a vague memory of him talking about this, possibly related to Psilocybin instead of DMT, about how there's a recording of a woman in South America speaking in Spanish while tripping and yet "being told" the same content by the psychadelic entity. Another part of the world, another language, same message. Anyone know the details of that story?

Right now it feels a lot like how UFO sightings have barely changed in the last twenty years despite over 2 billion smartphone cameras being pumped into the world, and countless millions more standalone digital cameras, tablet cameras, webcams, etc. A 1960s or 1970s recording from the "dawn" of tapes, a crackly recording of a woman in a mental hospital speaking in a distant place in a foreign language is extremely evocative, a far better story than a study at a dowdy chemical research lab in a flyover town.


I remember the entities. Or in my case a singular one. I went into it with zero expectations or knowledge of what other people experience and I'm glad for that. It's amazing that the common thread of the descriptions is so similar.

The Default Mode Network codes for your sense of self in time and with others. DMT basically turns it off and that's why you feel that sense of oneness with everything right?

> The form and nature of these beings vary in reports, but one thing remains curiously constant: People tend to rank these encounters among the most meaningful experiences of their lives. For some people, these encounters change their beliefs about reality, the existence of an afterlife, and God.

Wonder how much of this is simply the fact this is a highly illegal and hard to obtain drug. By definition it would be an unusual experience for anybody and people tend to assign more meaning to the not-mundane. I sincerely doubt you'd be hearing all these stories if you could get these drugs in a grocery store.


This is a classic DMT video (starts at 2:00)

https://youtu.be/awChThLHAKQ


There's an interesting book about encounters with the entities:

DMT Dialogues: Encounters with the Spirit Molecule ( https://b-ok.cc/book/3688170/74a672 )

It really does seem like there's whole other levels/dimensions of reality and these things are real and independent of the person.


There are two competing theories: There exists another dimension that can only be accessed during hallucination, or people hallucinating hallucinate. One of these requires fewer assumptions.

I know what you're saying, and agree. But I think it's worth pointing out that the explanation of "people hallucinating hallucinate" doesn't end the conversation. Can you answer the question of "what is a hallucination?" with still fewer assumptions?

Maybe you can, but I think if you're acting in good faith you'll find you have to discuss the nature of consciousness and its relationship with the natural world. Now, this may still come to a simpler explanation than one involving extra dimensions but I think it's a lot more complex than "people hallucinating hallucinate" if you're being fair in your investigation.


>Can you answer the question of "what is a hallucination?" with still fewer assumptions?

Not the OP, but I think google's deep dream provides a nice analog to the process of hallucination that goes on within us on psychedelic drugs. Essentially our brains are wired to detect certain patterns in the world; our neural wiring is isomorphic to the structure found in the world. What these drugs do is increase the excitability of some neural structures, which structures are excited correspond to the kinds of experiences different psychedelics induce. The fact that DMT seems to universally induce encounters with "entities" suggests the areas of the brain that are excited.


Yeah, that's true but still doesn't really explain a hallucination. It's like seeing an infrared video of a complex machine like a car. Ok, so the main heat seems to happen in the front part. Does that explain it?

As one who has hallucinated intensely, the experience is not just about what your senses create for you while certain neural structures are excited. Often times it's about what is left when your senses have gone off the deep end. For many it's a deeply spiritual experience, some experience a total ego death. Others experience lifetimes in different bodies, working jobs and having families that never existed here.

So while it's interesting to know something about what the neurons are doing, I don't think that gets us any closer to an explanation.


But none of those things you cite are intrinsically outside of neural structures. To be clear, explaining a hallucination doesn't require that one explains consciousness. Consciousness is a background assumption. But given consciousness, hallucinations are merely abnormal patterns of neural excitations, some of which influence conscious experiences. What is "left over" after a psychedelic experience could be due to new memories that give one a fresh interpretation on typical experiences, or new connections made in the brain from the over excited state that induces new patterns of thinking.

But you don't actually _know_ none of the things I've cited are intrinsically outside of neural structures. Nobody actually _knows_, except the very religious. It might be a reasonable assumption, but at that level I'm not sure it's simpler an assumption than that there are things about the universe we don't understand that many naively file under "extra dimensions".

If you want to compare two explanations for the experiences of one who is hallucinating where one invokes extra "dimensions", and the other invokes "hallucinations mean you hallucinate", and you want to say one is obviously simpler than the other, from a certain perspective you might be right but from where I sit you're leaving a lot of potential discussion on the table.


> But you don't actually _know_ ...

An interesting observation I've had is that there seems to be something about the nature of human consciousness such that people are ~literally not able to fully grasp the idea that they often/usually don't actually(!) know what they think they know, with high accuracy. With some people, depending on the topic (it seems) of conversation, they are sometimes able to switch to an abstract mode of thinking and realize and admit that yes of course, they do not really know with 100% certainty that "<X> is True"...but often only if this abstract notion is pointed out to them by a third party. But upon resuming the object level discussion, this knowledge that existed mere minutes ago often seems to once again become inaccessible. And with some people, they seem unable to accomplish (or at least admit) this at all, and even more curiously, seem strongly motivated to resist even discussing the idea that they may have made an error.

On one hand, you might just write this off as people "being people" who want to "win an argument" and that sort of thing, and surely that's a big part of it, but is that all there is to it? As a terrible analogy, consider how difficult it is to say, recite song lyrics while doing mildly complex math in your head - considering this, is it so hard to imagine that the mind may also be sub-optimal to an unknown degree when it comes to reckoning about the complex reality we live in at the object level (physical reality and events), while concurrently executing a "proper" abstract background process to do things like evaluate logical consistency and epistemic soundness of the primary object level processing, particularly on sensitive topics?

Just pondering the general notion, I tend to lean strongly towards the intuition that I'd be surprised if we could do this in a skillful and accurate manner, rather than being surprised that we cannot (which seems to be the overwhelmingly default opinion), and observations of internet discussions (regardless of community) tend to strongly support this theory as far as I can tell. Might this help explain how do so many people believe so many diametrically opposed things (increasingly, as the complexity of the world increases), while also having an extremely strong self-perception of objective correctness, even despite objective correctness often being literally impossible for the topic being discussed?

How this relates back to the original topic, is that a lot of people perceive a dramatic increase in the ability to think (in more ways than one) deeply about extremely complex topics while under the influence of psychedelic drugs, and fMRI tests are now starting to illustrate some changes at the neurological level that may plausibly explain why this is, at least in part. I think it's quite philosophically interesting to consider what the real-world consequences might be if the situation is that our perception of reality is not 100% consistent with actual reality - might this possibly result in sub-optimal decision making at both the individual and societal/national levels from time to time? And what if it's not off by just a little bit here and there, but by a lot all over the place? If so, might this perhaps help explain the counter-intuitive human behavior and general state of world affairs that I've been reading about on the internet lately?


> is it so hard to imagine that the mind may also be sub-optimal to an unknown degree when it comes to reckoning about the complex reality we live in at the object level (physical reality and events), while concurrently executing a "proper" abstract background process to do things like evaluate logical consistency and epistemic soundness of the primary object level processing, particularly on sensitive topics?

Agreed. To add to the point, one can't help but consider given what we know of the evolution of the tree of life of which we are a part the particular factors that do and do not lend themselves to survival. Namely, "reckoning about the complex reality we live in at the object level" is probably not a skill needed for survival in the way that developing hunting, language, and social skills probably were- not to mention "while concurrently executing a "proper" abstract background process to do things like evaluate logical consistency and epistemic soundness of the primary object level processing"

In my own experience, had my experience in a severely altered state of consciousness persisted for more than maybe a day or two, I would have needed a lot of assistance for basic survival things. In that state I perceived the world differently, if not more objectively, but was not well equipped for survival.

So, no, I see no reason to think the mind is well equipped for that kind of reasoning when evolution might select against that kind of adaptation.


Sounds fair... A german comic about what maybe become common - if 'training' is, what you were referencing to... with 'real-world-consequences' :

> //www.bildhost.com/images/2020/09/16/909.1_ABGEDUNKELTER-RAUM-KAMERAS...mar.15_FINAL.Mail.png ^^


Well one day we all die. Leading up to that we live in a world that exists entirely in the space between our ears. I kinda wanna believe in a dimension full of benevolent machine elves that we are linked to spiritually.

A cloud-castle ...a sequel -Oh wait, I forgot, this is just for entertainment purposes, right? And doing nothing makes us the greatest traitors of all time, not? (-;

There exist collective hallucinations, and some people say the biggest one of all is what most people agree to call reality.

These things people see on psychedelic experiences are not completely dependent on the person but are also not the same for everyone, like most things we perceive with our other senses.


If there are collective hallucinations then some of these article theories don't work. How can there be a personal entity and a shared one.

I may convince you that my personal entity is real and then you'll see it and it's not personal anymore. It's like religions work only that everyone gets to have their own religious experience and it's not only a matter of ego-driven debate.



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