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Massive Dosing - the LSD Thumbprint (insanebraintrain.blogspot.fr)
164 points by emillon on Feb 13, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 156 comments



I note that "It's like tripping your balls off on LSD" is missing from the list. But, funny thing: It's the most accurate. Instead you get a bunch of gobbledygook about death, eternity, and direct messages from god. The fact that you might just be having an episode of impaired cognition does not actually enter your brain.

Let's not make this more complicated than it is.


Anything with the phrase (paraphrasing) "but I must warn you, you must be surrounded by evolved people" sounds so incredibly condescending and pretentious it really shows how these people see themselves as superior to others, like your friend who travels a lot and brings it up all the time. Except his stories are rational and meaningful, while stories about tripping balls are so subjective, they're meaningless.

Yes, I'm sure it was a positive experience, but the idea that you can learn wisdom and maturity via chemistry, well, that idea never panned out. Instead you get the typical empty-head drug talk about "seeing god" and "being nothing." And for all the elaborate salesmanship, what do these people get in the end? They're extremely ineloquent and whatever wisdom is purported to be there, just doesn't seem to be there. They've obviously invested into some kind of "rebel" personality and drug culture panders to them. I should know, I was invested in drug culture myself for longer than I care to admit on the internet.

Meh, the counter-culture petered out for a reason. Turns out ingesting random chemicals isn't the big statement so many thought it was. There's no shortcut to being an interesting and clever person. You gotta put the hours in.


>Anything with the phrase (paraphrasing) "but I must warn you, you must be surrounded by evolved people" sounds so incredibly condescending and pretentious it really shows how these people see themselves as superior to others

That's actually the complete opposite of what he said. Your paraphrase and the rest of your post was full of transference. I don't know what bad experiences you had with stoners and/or hippies, but please be more objective. You can be, since you're not high.

What he actually said was : "I must stress that I was in the company of very evolved and older people that made sure my experiences were optimal."

This is a general safety measure you'll see mentioned a lot among documentation that goes into LSD (I've never tried it, but I was curious enough to read about it). And one thing they never say is it's OK to only hang out with other people who are also tripping or be by yourself. They all say you should be among those you trust to have your best interest in mind and make sure your experience is positive and, above all else, safe. This makes it vitally important that at least one or two people in the party remain sober.


I think he was specifically targeting the use of the word 'evolved' instead of, say, 'experienced' (as in people who have tripped balls before).


Plenty of crazy people have experience tripping on LSD. That does not mean they have the experience with dealing with LSD in the way that is really god for you, your mind, your soul.

Evolved is an appropriate word in every respect. I suspect that those who have some mental knee-jerk against it have not done LSD too much.


I agree completely. Once you do enough psychedelics you quite literally think and see differently, and if you're going to continue exploring --particularly at high doses-- you don't want to risk entering that place without being surrounded by those who have navigated it before and who you trust.


"Meh, the counter-culture petered out for a reason."

If you read about the history of the 60's counterculture, you'll see that there was a massive political, physical, economic, and social backlash against it from the dominant culture.

Kind of hard to keep participating in the countculture when the whole rest of society is hell-bent on eliminating "those dirty hippies", putting you in jail, and making illegal the drugs that aided consciousness expansion and questioning the status quo.

Not to mention the huge incentives for conforming and working on Wall St or in Silicon Valley vs giving up your posessions, dropping out, living in a commune, and refusing to participate in the dominant culture.

Also, it takes quite a lot of dedication, patience, and perseverence to stay part of the counterculture for extended periods of time.

There are consequences to all of this and prices to pay quite apart from whether you achieve wisdom from psychedelic trips (which, sadly, most aren't even interested in).


The insights available through meditation and psychedelics are insights into the workings of conceptualization and the odd subject/object split we habitually do with thought and language. Being able to experience reality below the lens of conceptualization is the most powerful experience of my life.

I can now clearly see the fake reality created instantly by thought and the truth that there is only this moment of experience and it is totally inherently free from meaning. In this is realization is liberation from limiting thoughts and ideals and an existence that is free from anxiety, boredom, or any sense that something is wrong or needs doing.

Describing what its like is like describing an orgasm to a person who has never had one. "Uh...its like a really good sneeze."

I did this through the path of meditation, but I know others who have used psychedelics to similar ends.


That reminds me of a speech by Terence McKenna who has to be mentioned anywhere psychedelics are discussed ;)

If you like you can have a listen to this sample used in a song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDlbsgdXFxY

He has been sampled in numerous other songs, too, most of them are psychedelic ambient tracks. I also recommend anything you can find about him on youtube especially "Seeking the Stone"


I did this through the path of meditation, but I know others who have used psychedelics to similar ends.

Based on what I've read and observed, the people who get real benefit out of psychedelics are those who are already fairly meditative people, who use them in reasonable settings (with people they trust) and know what they are doing.

There clearly are people who are able to make good use of these chemicals, but they seem to be fewer and farther in between than people who succeed on other, less risky, paths. What seems to be the mainstream in psychedelic drug culture (although it's hard to tell what the mainstream of an underground, illegal subculture is) is just lazy.

The idea that one can pop a pill and have a spiritual experience (instead of context-free noise) is ridiculous. LSD seems to be a magnifying glass, so people who use it as part of their spiritual practice seem to get real benefit, but those who use it as a "party drug" are just magnifying crap and polluting their minds.


"The idea that one can pop a pill and have a spiritual experience (instead of context-free noise) is ridiculous."

On the contrary. There have been a number of studies which have provided evidence that psychedelics can, in fact, lead to spiritual or mystical experiences.[1][2][3][4][5]

Now, that isn't to say that when you take psychedelics you are guaranteed to have a spiritual or mystical experience (or any other kind of experience). The effects of these substances are just too varied, not well enough understood, and not fully under our control. However, you can prepare for and structure the experience such that the likelihood of spiritual or mystical experiences increases.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Friday_Experiment

[2] - http://www.erowid.org/plants/mushrooms/mushrooms_journal2.sh...

[3] - https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/psilocybin/psilocybin_artic...

[4] - http://www.amazon.com/LSD-Spirituality-Creative-Process-Grou...

[5] - http://www.salon.com/2011/09/28/the_new_lsd_cure/


Who's talking about using LSD as a party drug? It's certainly not even slightly suggested in the posted article or this response.


LSD is actually a fairly popular party drug. At certain types of electronic music events it tends to be more popular than MDMA, even. With psychedelics, the environment has a profound effect on the experience. As such, people using it as a party drug may be seeking (and receiving) a different experience than a user taking it and going on a stroll through the woods.


I've actually known quite a lot of people who have used LSD to that end. The Mushroom, however, is a different, more spiritual journey that is very difficult to evade.


I like that, "very difficult to evade", read: no escape ;-)

Then again, LSD, is not exactly easy to avoid, nor is Ayahuasca or any other class of hallucinogen.

In the woods or at party will of course have different expectations/outcomes. Will be intense regardless...


I've known quite a few people who take mushrooms as party drugs, as well. Anything is a party drug to the right group of people.


'tis true :/


> The idea that one can pop a pill and have a spiritual experience (instead of context-free noise) is ridiculous. LSD seems to be a magnifying glass, so people who use it as part of their spiritual practice seem to get real benefit, but those who use it as a "party drug" are just magnifying crap and polluting their minds.

This is so much pompous bullshit.


Have you ever taken LSD? More than just a tiny amount? Look at your reply, and how you reacted to the article, and think about if someone would want to be around that during such an extremely sensitive and vulnerable time (tripping).

That's all it really means... not that people who take acid or drugs or any better than anyone else. It's just an openness of mind that doesn't really put labels on things and can just go with whats said. It's a state of mind that doesnt automatically as a knee jerk reaction shut someone elses (subjective) opinion down as to what wisdom they can learn in a state of ego-less-ness.

After all, you may think the article sounds pretentious or condescending, but to me I see just what it's saying in such a wonderful non-judgmental way. I think the fact that point might not occur to some is, in essence, exactly what its referring to. Kind of self reflexive :)


While recreational drug enthusiasts are often boring (especially cannabis enthusiasts), your post is misleading -- it overlooks the fact that psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin cause an extraordinary change in cognition when compared to the rather mundane effects of alcohol, cannabis, coke etc.

At the end of the day, the state of one's cognition is rather important to one's perception of life. It is extremely memorable to alter your cognition in such a dramatic way, and to experience the temporary loss of the personality that you are accustomed to waking up with, and it's fair enough that people should want to talk about it. And it seems very likely that understanding the effects of those drugs on the brain will be helpful in understanding the construction of consciousness by the brain. For what it's worth, the stuff about death definitely chimed with me; I've been sure I wasn't coming back.

So yes, some druggy people are definitely pretentious, and the crap about "evolved people" would make anyone cringe, but those observations do absolutely nothing to diminish the significance of psychedelics as substances providing a unique and extremely dramatic perturbation of our perception of reality which will presumably be scientifically important.


When I did 2 hits of acid, I had the exact opposite experience of seeing God. The fact that such a tiny amount of a mere chemical could effect my "soul" so profoundly was proof positive that the soul is completely material.

I already believed this intellectually, but this experience solidified this knowledge into my very being. So personally, I would recommended experimenting with a psychedelic or two for those who wish to study Philosophy.

In my experience, LSD dosing is exponential, so I can't fathom what taking a dose thousands of times a typically heavy dose would do to you. People I know who occasionally did like 10 hit doses, never fully returned to reality, if you ask me. I might have an inkling of what it would be like from a few experiences with nitrous, but this lasts for a couple of minutes, not for hours and hours, which would end up making a huge qualitative difference.


"When I did 2 hits of acid, I had the exact opposite experience of seeing God. The fact that such a tiny amount of a mere chemical could effect my "soul" so profoundly was proof positive that the soul is completely material."

Your so-called "soul" may in fact be "completely material", but I don't think what you describe above proves it.

There was a famous mystic who once said something like, "when you put a lit match to cotton, it is not the fire that burns the cotton, but God."

Relating it back to your account, how can you know if it was in fact the chemical that changed your consciousness and not the grace of God (or gods, or the devil, some alient, or the program/programmer running your virtual reality, etc).

There could be some cause that caused you to both take the chemical and to have the experience. Or they could be caused by two independent things, with the experiences just happening to succeed one another in time (see Hume's critique of causality).

Finally, I'm not a physicist, but from what I've read, even physicists now have a lot of trouble defining "matter" as such. I don't think they even use the term much at all anymore. And, whatever reality happens to be, it might be infinitely divisible, and ultimately not completely understandable or knowable as far as science is concerned. At the very least, science now does not have a full understanding of it, and to say that science will one day have such a full understanding is merely an expression of faith.


> Finally, I'm not a physicist, but from what I've read, even physicists now have a lot of trouble defining "matter" as such.

As someone with physics training I do not see physicists having this trouble.

> I don't think they even use the term much at all anymore.

Most the physicists I know use it often.

Please be a little more careful when spreading information you are not sure about. The best way in my opinion is to be specific, give concrete examples, and/or give specific resources that you drew your conclusion from; preferably resources with concise explanations, more people will look into them that way and get back to you with their analysis of the source, it's like getting a free tutor.


You say this and you don't give him a serious response.

>As someone with physics training I do not see physicists having this trouble

What is definitively known about mass besides E = mc^2 and the limited information we now about the Higgs Boson?

>Most the physicists I know use it often I'm glad the physicists you know use it often. Why is it used so often? If it was known what matter and mass was there would be no need to discuss it.


We know quite a lot about matter, actually. We can describe huge swaths of its properties: we can categorize it into different particles, we know how it acts in various fields, we can tear it apart and build it back up. All in all, quite a lot of knowledge.

Also, the Higgs boson is more interesting for its evidence in spontaneous electroweak symmetry breaking than for its ramifications on matter. Despite what popular science tells you, it actually doesn't give most of what you think of as "matter" its mass, that's quantum chromodynamic interactions.


> Your so-called "soul" may in fact be "completely material", but I don't think what you describe above proves it.

Re Hume, not to mention Leibnitz, I didn't mean proof to a logical certainty. I meant proof beyond all reasonable doubt. But if you want to believe that God hides super-soul-cleanser inside simple chemicals, then more power to ya!

To tell you the truth, I actually believe in epiphenomenalism, which is a kind of materialist dualism, but that's beyond the scope of this discussion.


"I can't fathom what taking a dose thousands of times a typically heavy dose would do to you."

Pretty sure there are limits to the subjective experience somewhere, and above them there won't be much difference.

Of course somewhere up there is the LD50 as well, but that's pretty huge for ergoloids AFAICT.


>Yes, I'm sure it was a positive experience, but the idea that you can learn wisdom and maturity via chemistry, well, that idea never panned out. Instead you get the typical empty-head drug talk about "seeing god" and "being nothing." And for all the elaborate salesmanship, what do these people get in the end? They're extremely ineloquent and whatever wisdom is purported to be there, just doesn't seem to be there.

Psychedelics give an empirical experience that is undeniable but most people don't have the cognitive constructs to interpret that experience in a logically consistent way. Take for example the idea of frequencies. To me a shift in perspective is like tuning into a different frequency. It's a metaphor that conveys the many alleged isomorphisms between these two phenomena. But to someone who doesn't have this logical background or frame of mind will take a syncretic interpretation like beings literally giving off vibrations and perspective literally having the attribute of frequency. As Sam Harris says, taking psychedelics is like getting into a sling shot, you don't really know where it's going to lead for any given person. They will give you "trans-rational" experiences but you still end up interpreting that experience through whatever cognitive constructs you already hold. If you're a fundamentalist christian then you're going to interpret the experience through those constructs. If you're an atheist you're going to interpret it through those constructs.

The most striking aspect of the psychedelic experience to me is the isomorphisms that present themselves. I start seeing one-to-one mappings between different phenomena(real or not). This hyperawareness of morphisms extends into the visions where every aspect of the vision correspond to some meaning. It's an amazing experience that isn't so easily dismissed.


"They will give you "trans-rational" experiences but you still end up interpreting that experience through whatever cognitive constructs you already hold. If you're a fundamentalist christian then you're going to interpret the experience through those constructs. If you're an atheist you're going to interpret it through those constructs."

Haven't done much research, have you?

A simple glance at the literature shows how dramatic a shift psychedelic experiences can have on a person. Its a highly creative class of drugs, and thus tend to inspire creation, not conformity or general past-experience umbrella-like interpretations. Further, there is an incredible amount of research that supports positive changes in individuals suffering from depression, drug abuse, and alcoholism, largely because of the creative, perspective-changing nature of the experience.


that was a very abrasive introduction considering your gross misinterpretation of the post you were responding to.

your idea, and the one you are replying to, are not mutually exclusive. reread it's thesis: "Psychedelics give an empirical experience that is undeniable but most people don't have the cognitive constructs to interpret that experience in a logically consistent way."

put simply, LSD does not magically infuse cognitive constructs that allow you to explain or understand the actual experience that is occurring while you are tripping.

consequently, the God/Death analogy becomes easy to dismiss if you forget that they are merely a best effort articulation, not unlikely drawn from previous experiences or beliefs.


Fact of the matter is set of mind and setting play a pivotal role in the surface content of a trip. You're deluding yourself if you think people don't often walk away with hand-wavey interpretations of their experience. My point is there is more to psychedelics than that edge case.


There's no shortcut to being an interesting and clever person. You gotta put the hours in

I agree, but would mention that where drugs have been useful in my life is in generating interesting avenues to put the hours into. As a shy and awkward young person who had difficulty relating to people outside a very narrow personality type, at one party where I had taken some acid, I had a mild experience of egolessness, where I became aware of all the people at the party as "real" individuals, who were all intensely fascinating people, with amazing stories and experiences and outlooks, with whom I could engage. Of course, as you point out, the hard part is integrating that experience with the rest of your life, but you've got to have the idea first.


I think that rather than viewing it as condescending and pretentious it may help you to use the following analogy:

"If you were to start hacking on the Glasgow Haskell Compiler's internals it will be a profound experience but I must warn you, if you are not fortunate enough to be surrounded by highly experienced older people who have been working with the codebase for many years and have offered to assist you, then you are going to have a very bad time."


I hope you understand it's not meant to sound condescending. Maybe my comment (http://news.ycombinator.com/edit?id=5211177) will help with the insight. Imagine the worst experience of your life. [rhetorical] Did you go through it with someone or were you alone? How much did that affect the experience? That's it. Having someone with you who has been through it before.

Again, I think my comment might give you some insights as to the claims about wisdom and maturity. There are also a vast amount of very smart people who have gotten a lot from LSD. I'd highly recommend this read: http://www.themorningnews.org/article/the-heretic


What do you expect from shroomery.org's phpbb installation?

It's optimistic, I think, to assume that you can even "put the hours in" to become an interesting and clever person. It seems more likely that, like many things in humans, being an intelligent (which is what I think you were proxying through "interesting and clever," so I'll cut to the chase -- correct me if I'm wrong) person is something that has a biological component, a critical period in development, and a long, hard road to substandard functioning if you miss out of one of the above.

I know a PhD who did lots of hallucinogens during his crisis of faith in grad school -- he talks about it all the time, because it became a big part of who he sees himself as, and he's one of the most intelligent, interesting, and clever people I know. When he brings up psychedelic experiences, it's always relevant and adds something meaningful to the conversation.

Personally, I think he's probably become a much better person since then, not because you can learn wisdom from drugs, but because drugs give you perspective the same way any divergent life experience gives you perspective. If I had a friend who climbed mountains and always talked about it, I wouldn't begrudge him that -- he's probably learned a few things along the way.


> drugs give you perspective the same way any divergent life experience gives you perspective.

Absolutely hit the nail on the head - drugs can show you things with _perspective_, not so much a mystical power given by god - and I see them as potential positives for this reason.

Psychedelic drugs are a shortcut to inducing an intense, temporary paradigm shift in your thought process and perspective, and those experiences can shape your conscious thought in either a positive or negative way afterwards. I am of the opinion that the nature of this influence is very much dependent on your mindset, reasons for and environment of the drug use.


One who have not seen the god, fears him, worships him, denies him. One who seen the god knows it is just a reflection of himself therefore becomes either object of fear or worship or denial from other bunch.


There's no shortcut to being an interesting and clever person. You gotta put the hours in.

Agree absolutely. My opinion is that "experience" is just a small part of being spiritual, at least on this side of death. It's nice, but it shouldn't be the primary goal. Experience without a larger context is just insanity.


I agree that people usually misinterpret their experiences where psychedelics and religion are concerned. However it's worth noting that in striving to create and discover interesting things one becomes vulnerable to all manner of possible obsessions and addictions -- most call it going 'crazy' (e.g. Beethoven, van Gogh, Tesla, Michelangelo, Schumann, John Nash and presumably many who ceased to function altogether in their pursuits)

It seems that psychedelic drugs have helped some people historically in locating an internal pointer or state which, if remembered, prevents this from happening. One wonders, for example, if the Beatles or Steve Jobs, notwithstanding their hard work, could ever have become what they did if they hadn't also taken LSD at some point.


One wonders, for example, if the Beatles or Steve Jobs, notwithstanding their hard work, could ever have become what they did if they hadn't also taken LSD at some point.

Honestly? I think that people who start using these drugs end up giving them too much credit. At some point, they start attributing all interesting or creative thoughts they have to the use of drugs when, while the drug experiences played a role, they weren't as primary as the person (due to the tendency to overvalue intense experiences in explaining personal traits) thinks.


"At some point, they start attributing all interesting or creative thoughts they have to the use of drugs".

i have never met anyone like this. i've also never heard of someone taking it to this extreme. i'm inclined to call it a straw man.

what Steve Jobs for instance, actually said, is that LSD is "one of the two or three most important things [he had] done in [his] life".

rather than responding to a generalized anecdotal scenario, it might suit your response better to respond to Steve's quote directly.

the question is, "could Steve Jobs have become Steve Jobs without LSD?"

now, i don't think Steve's quote is enough information for us to answer conclusively. i'm sure Steve himself doesn't even know. but when you compare Steve's feelings to the question your parent prompted, "Honestly?" seems like an awfully short sighted response.


i have never met anyone like this.

I've met quite a few.

I've also met people who use psychedelics regularly and remain very level-headed and balanced. There is a spectrum.


A human being is a part of a whole, called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. -- Albert Einstein

There. No drugs, just reflection, same result. And there is something to be said about experiencing something you know intellectually to be true. And then there are people who don't come to such conclusions through thinking; I dare say even if it's "just" tripping your balls off, a lot of people could use such an experience. Maybe not this particular one though, that seems a bit heavy.

Also, what is "impaired cognition"? Compared to what, exactly? I mean, what makes thinking you're person A with attributes X and Y and possessions Z not impaired cognition? They're both "just in your head", after all, and the view that "there is just everything" seems to be closer to what we know so far about reality, than our nonsense about individuals, nations and corporations. I mean, just because you call something a chair doesn't mean there is such thing; it's just practical and we don't think much of it, so we divided "whatever this is", into a trillion of such concepts, none of them able to withstand examination, but taking on a life on their own in our imaginations. They kind of become our masters, and I'm pretty sure letting go of all such delusions in one big go feels awesome, and a bit of "gobbledygook" is to be expected... just don't mistake nonsensical utterances with not understanding them.


"There. No drugs, just reflection, same result."

It's one thing to talk about oneness and accept it on an intellectual level, quite another thing to experience it.

Houston Smith, one of the greatest religious scholars, had already had a whole career writing and talking about religion, but when he finally took a psychedelic he said that he finally got to experience what he was writing about.

There have been studies that have shown that most people who take psychedelics in a therapeutic context consider their trips to be some of the most important experiences of their lives, some consider them to be the single most important experience in their life.

These experiences are not equivalent to what you'd get from reading a bumper sticker or an Einstein quote.

Most people who are condescending towards psychedelic experiences don't know what the hell they're talking about. They're like little kids laughing at the thought of having sex without ever having any.


These experiences are not equivalent to what you'd get from reading a bumper sticker or an Einstein quote.

Where did I say they are? When I said "same result" I was referring to Einstein (assuming the reader would get the point, not exactly equating that either), not to reading that quote.


> Also, what is "impaired cognition"? Compared to what, exactly?

How about this for an operational definition: When you open your eyes and are seeing shit that isn't there, you're suffering from impaired cognition.

It's really not that difficult, unless you want it to be.

Edit: OK Fine. I give up: It's mysterious cosmic stuff that puts you in touch with the everlasting oneness of all humans and the universe. Good luck with the whole enlightenment thing, I'm sure the chemicals will fast-track you to exactly the right path.


Again, don't mistake your simplicistic, non-scientific view of things with any desire on my end of "wanting" things to be "more [???] complicated than they are". Even just in "stuff that is there" are so many implied assumptions. Also, optical hallucinations don't enter into any of this.


You sound very pretentious. How can you claim to have the ultimate end-all definition of "shit that isn't there"? The mere fact that we are humans with extremely limited sensory perception should be enough to prove that "open your eyes" is not a good enough method to defining reality.

I mean relax dude... that's just like... your... opinion, or whatever dude. :)


Actually, there's an important (and under-appreciated) difference between visuals and hallucinations.

Visuals are when you see patterns, fractals, etc. You don't need to use drugs to get that. Use the latest brainwave synch. technologies and aim for low-theta. Entirely safe, produces closed-eye visuals in the dark. You're lingering in a state similar to that which occurs before you go to sleep. It's interesting, but ultimately visuals are just artifacts.

Hallucinations are when you actually believe what you're seeing is real. IMO that's undesirable and it can obviously be extremely dangerous (except in the dream state).


All spiritual experiences sound like gobbledygook to those who have never had a spiritual experience. That they are beyond rational explanation is a feature, not a bug.


They aren't beyond rational explanation. We may not have models that can predict and explain this qualitative phenomena, but I end this sentence with a resounding "yet".


The "pragmatic dharma" crowd does a pretty good job of this. Daniel Ingram's book, "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha" represents a nice collection (http://integrateddaniel.info/book/)

There is also a good pragmatic map of awakening at http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/2007/03/thusnesss-six...

I am also creating an iPhone app for tracking meditation experiences at http://mindblownapp.com/. We currently have a database of over 100 interesting experience that can occur during meditation such as "no self" experiences, spontaneous movement, etc.


Characterizing a subjective experience is not the same as experiencing the phenomena. If I look at brainwave data of a monk meditating, my experience is of looking at and interpreting data. I am not meditating.


The canonical thought experiment from philosophy is called "The Knowledge Argument". In it, you are asked to imagine a super-intelligent but color-blind since birth scientist named Mary who knows everything there is to know about human perception from a scientific point of view. (Btw, she's completely color-blind; she only sees in black & white.) Since she knows everything there is to know, surely she knows what it's like to see the color red, right?

On the other hand, we feel pretty confident that when she is cured of her color-blindness and is then handed a ripe tomato, she'll say, "OMFG! I never imagined that red would like like that!"

So one possible conclusion from this is that it is impossible to know everything (that can be known) scientifically.


"Mary who knows everything there is to know about human perception from a scientific point of view. ... Since she knows everything there is to know"

The second assertion does not necessarily follow from the first.

There may well be more to understanding something than what science can know about it.

Also, there's something that analytic philosophers like to call "qualia", which is what it's like to experience something. That's one thing that would be missing from the above account.

To take another example: I could know quite a lot about the neurological processes that underly the sensation of pain in the human nervous system and the brain. However, such knowledge is very different from the sensation of pain itself.

Same with sex. You can read up about its physiology all you like, but your knowledge of it is going to be of a quite different order from someone who's actually had sex.


> There may well be more to understanding something than what science can know about it.

I'm pretty sure I mentioned that. But who knows? Maybe I just did too much acid back in the hippy days.

The amount of literature on The Knowledge Argument is staggering, and there are many ways out of the apparent paradox. Frank Jackson who came up with the Knowledge Argument was using it to argue that mental states do not supervene on physical ones. I.e., one's mental states are not uniquely determined in the space of all possible worlds by one's physical state. (He later changed his mind about this, however, and is no longer a dualist.)

One way out of dualism is, as you hinted at, is to maintain that even if dualism is false, there are things that you can't know without having a certain concept in your head, and the only way to get the concept in your head is to have a certain experience which puts your mind into a state that you could not get to via pondering alone.

Another way out of dualism is to deny that Mary acquired any new knowledge when she sees the ripe tomato.

Etc, etc. And the philosophers will probably be arguing about Mary for the next thousand years.


All this tells us is that we have trouble transferring conclusions from the rational bits of brain to the emotional bits. That no amount of secondhand experience will truly prepare you to experience itself doesn't mean there's something special about perception, just that the brain doesn't have any other way to take in what it perceives as the subjective experience.


it's the difference between knowledge and groking I suppose.


Obviously, but that has no bearing on whether so-called spiritual experiences are "beyond explanation".


Don't mistake the finger pointing to the moon for the moon.


There is no finger. There is no moon. This is the fundamental Zen breakdown of the problem, at least. In Theravadan buddhism, the self is like a stick hut standing in a field: you can break it down and deconstruct it stick by stick, and thereby attain Buddhahood. In Zen, there is no hut. You are Buddha, right here and now.


Right here, right now, what is Buddha?

The Zen "approach" cannot be explained, much like the teachings of Krishnamurti or Ramana Maharshi, or, as in the case of this thread, the psychedelic experience, or, as in the case of this life, oneself.


This is one of the reasons I generally avoid discussing spiritual experiences, or reading others'. It's like sex. There are years you spend obsessed with it. Then there are years when it's a normal part of your life-- enjoyable, but not worth moral compromises or stupid risks-- and the obsession seems silly and you're embarrassed to have had such a fixation.

I also tend to believe that using any experience as a trophy cheapens it. When you remember something, you actually retrieve the memory and store an updated copy, which means the state in which you recall it will influence the long-term memory. If you turn an experience into a social token, you're recalling it with a cheap mind, and the memory will turn cheap over time.

I talked to an experienced meditator about this, and he said he never discusses experiences (except with his guru, when he was younger) because people are either less advanced and will not understand them, or more advanced and have no use for them.

Experience isn't the only point, which is my problem with psychedelic drug culture. There are people who use psychedelics for genuinely spiritual purposes, but they seem to be a minority in that world. The culture as a whole seems to be heavy on experience and light on insight and self-development. Look at what Tim Leary turned into.

The other thing is that you don't need psychedelic drugs to have "trippy" experiences. Six hours in a sensory deprivation tank will do it. Brainwave synchronization can also have some pretty neat effects-- and safely.


But for those who haven't experienced LSD, metaphorical descriptions can be helpful. And it certainly is more complicated than "impaired cognition", even though the heavy handed spiritual claims are silly.


A compiled executable is nothing more than a series of instructions; why do people have to make it more complicated than it is?


That seems a rather odd comparison, just as it would be odd to say that riding a bicycle is like riding a bicycle. I don't think it's as simple as labeling it as a cognitive impairment; since the effect/impairment in question is highly characteristic it's understandable that people reach fairly widely for terminology that's adequate to describe it. It has a lot of descriptive utility even though it doesn't have an objective basis.

Not that I'm endorsing massive dosing as described here.


I generally agree with you, and find myself revolted by pseudo-(or not-pseudo-)-religious tripe of the sort in the OP.

But I also don't think that it's unreasonable to say that altering your manner of cognition for a while can cause you to reflect on yourself in a new way and realize something new.

In practice, though, I've never really seen this theory come to fruit. Having acid trips was really fun, but my cognition really was more impaired then altered, and I didn't learn or realize anything.


The fact that you might just be having an episode of impaired cognition does not actually enter your brain.

It depends. I agree that it should. That said that realization doesn't make it less spiritual. Experiencing a different reality, seeing through different eyes, isn't that the quintessential spiritual experience?

We believe what we see. If one never experiences a different point of view, one might continue to believe her limited window to the world is the truth.

Experiencing other realities can help subjects realize how subjective things are. How to form a perception, imaginary fluff is added to fill the gaps. Like your comment.

It's not a silver bullet. One has to be curious, and brave enough to second guess the ego, which is probably one of the most challenging things we face (and might define how and how well we can last as a race). But it doesn't do us any good to underestimate the spiritual power of psychedelics.


My first thought was "those people are high" :-)


Oh, hush.


Somehow I cringe when entertaining the thought that there might be some open-minded HNers for whom it just so transpired that one of the first pieces of text on LSD chanced upon happened to be this. If it mere me, I'd probably remain unchanged after reading something which was written by someone who simply happens not to share many of the conceptual tools / words / concepts I presently have.

I would instead recommend reading Albert Hofmann's original accounts of how he came to discover and to sample LSD for the first time; his was a very measured (though his very first experience was unexpected and therefore somewhat peculiar), delicate and elegant approach to discovering the molecule's effects; a scientist with an open mind - that read stirred quite a few things in me! A good read / book by any measure.

http://www.maps.org/books/mpc/chapter1.html

edit - wanted to add that the book in question also includes early accounts of other researchers, psychiatrists, etc. - for a quick read, see e.g. this account in particular: http://www.maps.org/books/mpc/chapter4.html


I don't understand the negativity in this thread... haven't taken LSD myself, but Steve Jobs was a fairly smart individual, and described taking LSD as a profoundly important action in his life. Perhaps there's something to it beyond the ramblings of "burn-outs" and "hippies."


Its just that burn outs and hippies are the ones to both do it the most and talk about it the most.

But many people can think of something in there life that resulted in a complete change in the way they think - about some thing. Death of a loved one, some traumatic experience. Growing up, having kids, falling in love. Whatever. We naturally hate to think something as emotional or meaningful as those events could be compared to a simple drug, but at the end of the day, anything and everything you think and feel is the result of a chemical reaction. Is it so far flung to think that some other chemical reaction may lead to insightful experiences?


This article isn't about taking LSD. It's about the exceptionally rare and exceptional practice of taking 500x the normal dosage of LSD.


Steve Jobs tried to cure his (in all likelyhood medically treatable) cancer with herbal medicine, meditation and sing song.

So.. yeah..


I won't get into what I've done and haven't (real name) but it's not negativity so much as caution.

First, spiritual experiences are hard to describe but I'm not impressed by people who claim to have had profound experiences. People will also claim profundity out of the "drugs" of the bourgeois nincompoops-- power and money-- because the thrill of power is profound to a typical vapid nincompoop.

That's the fundamental problem with drugs: the upsides are subjective and personal-- that doesn't mean they aren't real-- while the downsides are often visible and awful.

Is LSD evil? No. Is there "something to it"? Yes. In fact, there was a lot of good research being done on these drugs until the 1960s, when they were (improperly) listed as Schedule I, meaning they have no medical value (which is not true). Should it be stigmatized? No, a lot of great people (not just "burnouts") have done it. Is it dangerous? Yes, it is. Can LSD be spiritual for some people? Yes. Do you need psychedelics to be spiritual or to have spiritual experiences? No, absolutely not.

If you choose to use these drugs, you're doing something that society knows very little about. You're experimenting with stuff about which our knowledge is in its infancy. Because society doesn't know enough about these drugs, it fears them, hence the stigma. That also means that if things go wrong for you, you will get no sympathy from the vast majority of people.


I have met only one person who has taken such an amount. He has permanent tunnel vision as a result, so I find myself suspicious. Certainly not a practice I would recommend.


Well, shit. A thumbprint is pretty intense, but you haven't really done LSD unless you've done a handprint. With both hands. You pass through death and eternity to become LISP.


Naw, man, you gotta do lines. Only then can you become a qubit.


While I'm certain this doesn't qualitatively compare to a thumbprint of LSD, I have had the most INTENSE experiences with pure DMT. So much so I'm very hesitant to ever consider doing anything within that class again.

Just like Strassman described in his research studies (http://www.rickstrassman.com/index.php?option=com_content...), the "entity" / "alien" contact that people report is utterly inexplicable and real to those experiencing it, myself included, and consistent. Spaceships, abduction tables, 3000000-million-years-in-the-future technology, telepathic communication, and so on. Its beyond words, and it's terrifyingly real.

Honestly, I hesitate to even call DMT a psychedelic; its more like a time machine or teleportation device. Having done the whole gamut of psychedelics, I can, with complete certainly, say that this is something else entirely, and it needs to be further explored.


I'm glad to see so few commenters dismissing the subject because of their own lack of perspective, and so many commenters articulating their experiences so well.

The Internet--which incidentally owes its current incarnation to so many acid-dropping individuals--has provided many forums (fora?) for truthful discourse about these substances. Those who have had experience with LSD together have a voice that is going to drown out the insane, fearful rambling propaganda of the prohibitionists. It's safe to say we've reached a tipping point, and it's only a matter of time before we recover our freedom to explore our minds. Respect.


I wonder if intelligent machines will infect themselves with severely disruptive but temporary algorithms (viruses) and believe they too understand the meaning of life the universe and everything.


Heh. Almost certainly, assuming that they have an analogue to "the pleasure of knowing" - a pleasure center that drugs like LSD seem to stimulate quite a lot (based on written texts like this). There is also, of course, "the pleasure of change", which probably really does have some good effects on cognition, assuming that it is real. To truly change one must become detached from the self, and most wise people believe that to be a Good Idea.

(Which brings up the interesting possibility of irrational attachment in artificial minds. I can easily imagine a panicked piece of software saying "No! Don't transfer me to that piece of silicon. This piece is me!" :)


That sort of thing might be similar to stochastic methods like simulated annealing, where one accepts temporarily suboptimal states in case a more optimal one is around the corner.

Let psychedelics be analogous to the random walk: it may be the case that one finds oneself shaken from some local optimum only to be banished to a desert of suboptimal states and no deterministic way to return.


A better analogy might be giving the machine a quick peek at it's debugger.


So would life be nothing more than universally good local viruses within the universe?


Loss of ego. Personal death. Seeing ALL, the "connectiveness" of everything.

This sounds like an extreme version of some of the experiences I had while meditating (usually after the 30-50 minute mark). These experiences for me typically vanish as soon as I come out of meditation. But something sticks, as if the mind is reminded of the experience at random times. Those times feel like "seeing the matrix". You're suddenly here seeing the intricacy of everything.

There have been Buddhist monks who after trying LSD suggested that it could be some kind of "accelerator" on the spiritual path.


You might be interested in reading the following article, titled "Are Psychedelics Useful in the Practice of Buddhism?"

http://psychonautdocs.com/docs/stolaroff_buddhism.pdf


LSD is an intense drug that alters ones brain chemistry. We are those neurons and synapses. When they change, we change.

LSD will alter one's perspectives. Maybe the correct statement is, add more perspectives.


we are neurons and synapses? is it not perhaps the case that neurons and synapses are simply arbitrary inputs into our true selves? which, like any input, could be configured, removed, or entirely replaced.


Yep, we are. No, that's not the case.


Well that just settles it. Thank you.


i didn't realize we were so intimately familiar with the source of human consciousness. i'd think, if our consciousness was conclusively just the sum of our synapses, we'd have stopped debating life after death by now.

i'd be happy to read more if you care to source.


This doesn't seem like a good idea.


I take psychedelics on a regular basis. Usually a couple of times a month. Although I've done several hundred micrograms (there is really no way of knowing) of LSD at once, I also really enjoy experimenting with smaller doses and casually micro-dosing on work days.

I happen to be a software engineer and try to apply my knowledge of "machines" to the psychedelic experience. While I don't believe in anything supernatural, I do think that there might be a chance that psychedelics, especially LSD, help your consciousness tap into some deeper abstractions of the human mind, maybe even the universe.

Let me explain that insane claim as best I can:

There is a great book on psychology that was published recently called: Thinking Fast and Slow. In summary, it goes into great detail about two systems of the human mind. System 1, the immediate reaction system, and system 2 which is responsible for computing and solving problems.

When your brain is in system 2 mode (solve 17 x 54 in your head) your heart rate increases, your pupils dilate, and your brain starts consuming glucose. It's doing work. System 1 is the trained mind that recognizes facial gestures and stuff infinitely more complex than a simple math equation. It reacts to danger before you are consciously aware of danger.

I would speculate that LSD turns on System 2 where normally my System 1 brain would give me an immediate response. Your mind starts processing information differently. This cascades into an incredible effect on your emotional awareness, creativity, introspection, insights, and behaviors both physical and cognitive.

I wonder if these extreme doses of LSD eliminate your minds ability to process normal sensory input. What you're left with are low level systems. You're self-awareness is turned off, but you are left with cognitive factories still churning away.

Imagine something sad that happened to you once. Now imagine the visual component is gone, the memory of language gone. You're left with the actual chemical response of the memory. Now do the inverse for something positive. That's what ego-loss is like. You're swimming in a sea of emotions as your brain randomly wanders off into different states, sometimes many at once, sometimes you get stuck in one. Sometimes that state is incredible panic, sometimes you're crying-laughing for 10 minutes straight. This is a common experience I've had on measly 300-500ug doses.

As for the universe claim, as far fetched as it sounds, maybe some of these systems are abstractions of the universal systems. What we are perceiving in these insane states are also little clues into how the universe organizes itself and a peek at something pre-selfawareness.

That last paragraph is all bull-shit heresy but even with my lighter doses I've had remarkable insights. Things that have changed my life in incredible ways. It's like a Pi of molecules or some shit.

edit: grammar


> I would speculate that LSD turns on System 2 where normally my System 1 brain would give me an immediate response.

As far as I've read, LSD is, surprisingly, just a serotonin agonist, similar to anti-depressants or MDMA. (Technically, it's a non-selective serotonin agonist, and it does this by reversing the chemical reactions that take serotonin apart, to basically "un-use-up" serotonin you've already spent--which might explain its differing experiential effects--but in the end it still means "more serotonin in the brain.")

Now, the two things serotonin has been heavily implicated for in neurology, are pleasure (though not reward; that's dopamine), and neurogenesis: serotonin is basically released when something "feels good" in a sensual way--something looks aesthetically pleasing, something tastes delicious, etc.--as a signal to the rest of your brain to backtrack to what caused this stimulus to happen, and build up the neurons involved. Basically, if I find some tasty berries while foraging, reinforce the memory of the walk I took to get to the berries. [This effect can be harnessed: consume a bit of some fat-saturated food right after you study something, if you want to remember it better.]

But LSD, MDMA, and other drugs that stimulate serotonin release, can have psychedelic effects well beyond what you'd expect from "remembering things better." This is because the reaction to serotonin, neurogenesis, goes way beyond sensible memory formation. It takes any spikes in electrochemical activity that are going on in the brain at the time, and says "that: build up the synapse for that." And, of course, neurons have an underlying level of noise, that usually gets buried under actual cognition--so, when you turn the "gain" up on what "becomes brain cells", suddenly you start forming 'concepts' for ideas that are made of nothing at all--the feeling of seeing shared properties between things that have none. Which would indeed, likely, be best described as "a trip."

Of course, this also informs the other thing people--especially those in creative fields--say about LSD: that it's a life-altering experience, quite foundational for later productive work. This is basically because pushing up the "noise floor," if you have a lot of potential ideas lurking just below the surface as potential connections you haven't made between concepts, ready to be exploited--they'll get wired together by the non-selective flood of serotonin too. But, unlike the nodes for "the purpleness of music" or what-have-you, these nodes will actually self-reinforce once created--that is, they're useful to have, so you'll keep using them--so they'll stick around, whereas the other synapses will just get their reactivity scaled back down when it turns out how purple a song is doesn't have any causal impact on anything else. :)


Thank you for this very interesting post, but I would like to point out a few things.

Most currently used anti-depressants are serotonin (some also norepinephrine and/or dopamine) reuptake inhibitors, not agonists. Tetracyclic antidepressants even act as antagonist (inverse agonists). Buspirone (more an anti-anxiety than AD medication) functions as a serotonin receptor partial agonist, but that is selective (5-HT1A) and I have never heard that it has any psychedelic value.

I would say there's a way more than just "more serotonin in the brain". That suggestion is even VERY DANGEROUS: too much serotonin means serotonin syndrome, which is potentially fatal condition. It may cause hallucinations, but rarely pleasurable ones and they are accompanied by various unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, sweating, tremor and eventually death. So, please don't try to abuse SSRI/SNRI anti-depressants. Few other AD-s have recreational value (for example tianeptine), but not for psychedelic experiences.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-depressants

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

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


Right--I probably shouldn't have even mentioned anti-depressants; X-monoamine reuptake inhibitors don't have much at all to do with X-monoamine agonists in terms of effect.[1] I was mostly just trying to connect the discussion to something people would more commonly have actual experience with.

So, to reinforce the parent: serotonin syndrome is very dangerous for precisely that reason of "neurological gain" mentioned above--eventually when you turn gain up enough, you get clipping[2], and then you don't have a signal any more, you have a seizure. Surprisingly, it's very hard to do this with LSD--probably because of its differing pharmacodynamics from regular serotonin agonists--but it's a real risk of pretty much any other drug that affects serotonin at all, either in overdose, or in combination with other drugs, even ones you might not expect (the nicotine in cigarettes is an MAOI!)

But anyway, it's really a shame that we aren't each (legally) given the neurological equivalent of a "chemistry set" at some point in our lives, to adjust all the knobs on our own brains and learn the effects. Knowing what serotonin, dopamine, GABA, acetylcholine, etc. are in a clinical sense is one thing; but intuitively understanding that a feeling you're experiencing is the way it feels from the inside[3] when some monoamine or another happens to be at a certain level of concentration in your brain at the moment, is quite another.

[1] Though you'd be surprised what things are, in fact, reuptake inhibitors (what you classically think of as "therapeutic drugs") instead of agonists (what you clasically think of as "stimulants.") Cocaine, for example, is just a triple (serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine) reuptake inhibitor; basically, ADD medication + an SNRI anti-depressant. In another society without our history of race-discrimination-related drug bans, Coca Cola (the original stuff) might be the office-worker's morning stimulant of choice instead of coffee. :)

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clipping_(audio)

[3] http://lesswrong.com/lw/no/how_an_algorithm_feels_from_insid...


Thanks, you have interesting points.

To others who are interested in psychoactive drugs I would like to suggest following book (you are probably already familiar with it):

A Primer of Drug Action by Robert Julien ( http://www.amazon.com/Primer-Drug-Action-Robert-Julien/dp/14... )

It contains concise and objective information about various psychoactive substances, their effects and mechanisms of action.


My understanding was that nicotine is not a MAOI; but tobacco has other MAOIs in it: http://www.gwern.net/Nicotine#fn2


That was incredibly insightful, thanks very much for posting!


>I happen to be a software engineer and try to apply my knowledge of "machines" to the psychedelic experience. While I don't believe in anything supernatural, I do think that there might be a chance that psychedelics, especially LSD, help your consciousness tap into some deeper abstractions of the human mind, maybe even the universe. Let me explain that insane claim as best I can

I don't find this claim insane at all.

A substance that changes how the mind functions (at whatever level) is also likely to help one see abstractions, connections and solutions that he normally bypasses.

Heck, even the morning coffee helps a lot of people to tackle some problems they would otherwise have difficulty in tackling.


Thanks, succinct explanation of the tripping mind. Have always felt there was some level of distortion in the trips I've taken, as if something were being created from nothing.

Then again, that is the appeal of the trip, the mundane takes on a life of its own and becomes something else entirely -- the oh, now-I-get-it-what-a-fool-I've-been-experience, it's been here all along!

Later, returning to work, relationships, etc., the trip becomes a memory, some far more pronounced than others, but a memory nonetheless.

Life is a moving stream, nothing to hold on to here.


I found the series of videos by David Nichols to be very informative of what current science actually understands about psychedelic drugs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_ud3NkZGmI


Sanity check for your argument: How many synapses are formed during the typical trip?


An insane and incredible book that I highly recommend reading is "A Heart Blown Open", the autobiography of a crazy Zen master / LSD manufacturer Jun Po Denis Kelly. Its the most unreal life I have ever come across. http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Blown-Open-Practice-Master/dp/16...


I wonder if there is some plausible medical research which could justify 20-50mg LSD doses.


These are interesting:

http://www.maps.org/news-letters/v07n3/07318fis.html

http://www.neurodiversity.com/library_bender_1966.html http://www.neurodiversity.com/library_freedman_1962.html

The first one perhaps moreso with its relatively extensive case series.

these are all studies of LSD in children for psychosis or autism


In 1962 a scientist gave an elephant LSD. Unfortunately they got the dosing very wrong and gave the animal a massive overdose. The elephant died.

(http://scienceblogs.com/retrospectacle/2007/05/30/science-va...)


I was not even aware it was possible to OD on LSD.... and the article does not do a good job of convincing me the original people who administered the drugs were not complete morons. I mean, who just guesses a dosage without ramping up the dose when nothing is known about the drug's interaction with elephant physiology?


If I recall the story correctly, they gave the elephant other drugs, too (to counter the effects of LSD after some hours/time into the experiment), and some of those countering drugs had associated known LD-50 (probably not measured for elephants, though..) - would need to reread the original text.


Yes, I don't have a link to the original article, but iirc they gave the elephant a gigantic dose compared to its body weight (the amount needed per kg of body weight goes down dramatically as body weight increases). The elephant started having what looked like seizures (faire enough, after basically eating the human equivalent of a full thimble of LSD), so they gave it a whole bunch of other drugs to try and stop the seizure. Then other things happened, so they gave it more drugs... etc.


It seems more plausible that they hated elephants rather than wanted to do science.


Try reading this: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008DZEWF8 for another point of view on LSD and the impact it has.


Interesting! Here's a bit from his blog that I thought was pretty spot on:

Acid is not like pot, or alcohol, or any other "mind-altering" drug. You don't know what mind altering means unless you've been on a hard core trip.13 It's like you suddenly realize you've been seeing the world in two dimensions and now you can see four. The rules change. People around you become perfectly comprehensible and beautiful creatures, instead of the average dicks they are most of the time. I reject completely that acid doesn't bring some insight about the universe; yes, it's all in your head, but so is the everyday, non-tripping, non-psychotic universe. You have one tool with which to experience the totality of your conscious life; if you make any deductions about the world around you with it, you have to reevaluate your deductions when you realize you can interpret the world in a completely alien way by rewiring your perceptions with half a gram of chemicals. Acid puts the whole meaning and being versus reality play you leave on the TV as background noise directly in front of you on an IMAX screen with surround sound and popcorn. Whatever experience of the universe there is to be unveiled by the modern human brain, a investment worthy percentage of it can be seen during a really good acid trip.


I tend to think of these things as karmic accelerators. The karma that would usually ripen over 2 years is, instead, experienced in 12 hours. If that karma is negative, that might take the form of an immediate psychotic crisis instead of some longer-to-unfold variety that might, due to time, be more manageable.

My personal belief is that, moreso than any religious belief, it's important to manage the karma we experience-- to learn from the bad, and not to turn the good into bad by becoming hubristic. Negative karma will ripen, and the important thing to do is to let it do so in a way that doesn't turn into recursive negativity that generates more bad karma (either for oneself, or in negative actions toward others). What bothers me about these drugs is that they seem to take away some of that ability to manage the karma that comes through. You experience a lot of sudden karmic ripening, which is interesting, but the insight that needs to develop over time isn't there for a lot of people, and those I've met who I think could use those drugs effectively (rather than haphazardly) often have no interest. I've been very unimpressed by most of the drug mystics I've met, because most tend to be sophomoric and unbalanced. I'd rather talk to a zen master any day of the week.

Personally, I'm not interested in using these drugs at this point in my life, but I don't think they should be illegal or as stigmatized (in the larger society) as they are. They're probably less dangerous than alcohol. The problem is that, if you choose to use these drugs, you're trying out a technology that's still in the very early experimental stages, mostly because the research has been (wrongly, I would argue) outlawed.


I have always thought LSD works in this way:

Your brain gets data, and has models of how all the data fits together. For example, if you look at someone you don't know, your brain will get the data "appearance" and plug it into the model "assorted stereotypes" and get out some expectations about who that stranger is.

What LSD does is perturb those models of how data fits together. If your models are in line with reality, you don't have much to worry about. After your trip, everything will settle back to about where it was before. If, however, your models are out of whack (e.g. you blame others for failures that are your own fault) then you run the risk of having some really really unpleasant realizations while you're looking at the data without your old model mucking things up.


I disagree, if only because I think some people diverge farther from reality when they take these drugs. I know some people who've gone from "slightly weird" to derelict insanity because of them.

If a person's already on a bad course, then psychedelics (under typical recreational use patterns) are going to throw this person farther out into space. The negative experience, in this case, isn't that person being ripped back into reality, but going even further away from it.


Could be, I'll admit I don't have much experience in this arena. I used the word perturb deliberately though, because it does not necessarily have to make you come closer to reality.


"I tend to think of these things as karmic accelerators. The karma that would usually ripen over 2 years is, instead, experienced in 12 hours."

That might play a role (assuming there is such a thing as karma). However, I think there's a lot more to it.

Psychedelics can be used constructively or destructively, therapeutically, religiously, or recreationally. They can be used with positive intention, negative intention, or no particular intention. They can be used in a safe, pleasant setting, in indifferent settings, or in a scary, unpleasant setting. You could use them alone or with friends, strangers, with wise, knowledgable, trusted guides, or in a mix of any of the above. The person using them may not know what to expect, or might be well educated on the effects of psychedelics. The person might be very experienced or this might be their first trip. The dose of the substance might be small or large. The substance may be pure or impure. The person might fight against the effects of the substance or give in. They may have great respect for the substance or have a very casual or cavalier attitude towards it.

All of these factors and more can greatly affect what happens during the experience. To reduce it all to karma or any other single factor is way too simplistic.


Hey -- great comment. Thanks.

I'd like to see a show of hands of past psychedelic use at an American dharma teachers' conference.

And I really wonder why one of these teachers hasn't written a little how-to guide for how to deal with the effects. I wouldn't really mind if it was really just a pamphlet for meditation. Just something from some kind of wise -- and nonjudgmental -- perspective. Maybe it's been done.


I often think that Steve Jobs' biography is the worst thing that has happened to enlightenment, and the methods we seek in achieving it, in modern culture.

This was a great read. Thanks for sharing it. It's a shame the responses are overwhelmingly arrogant and myopic/naive. You don't know what you don't know, especially when it comes to the individual perception of others.


For anyone who is curious (or skeptical) about the incredible potential for psychedelic use in a therapeutic setting, I highly recommend this read:

http://www.salon.com/2011/09/28/the_new_lsd_cure/

Probably the best general article I've read on the subject in recent times; it's also very hopeful.


you can also read what happens when you take it too far http://www.freeleonardpickard.org/Skinner-Timeline.html http://www.dallasdancemusic.com/awareness-politics/73509-tee... http://www.vice.com/read/life-is-a-cosmic-giggle-803-v18n5

of course rumor has it he would take DMT via IV for 8 + hours several times a week. I can only imagine what that would do to someone's mind (hint it wouldn't be pretty)


Oh yeah, I've read that Vice article before. EVIL dude. I couldn't imagine anything worse, physical or otherwise.


a few years ago i read the account of what went down with the kidnapping, Truly horrible stuff there, highlights include ball stomping, injecting him with an unknown substance which still affects him (likely a parasite) and leaving him for dead in the middle of the desert. For some reason I can't find it, which is likely for the better


Does anyone have real data on the LD50 (median lethal dose) for LSD in primates or something more similar to humans than rats? ...I find it nearly impossible to find any good hard data on this, and considering that the substance was once researched even by the military, there should be some data somewhere.

...and no, you can't compare LD50 for iv injected LSD with injested or mouth-absorbed LSD, there might be very different pharmacokinetics and the deaths from injected doses might be a "reflex" heart stop or some other preventable cardiovascular side-effect.


It was researched by the military for interrogation purposes IIRC. I think they used human subjects for this so I doubt any lethal doses were given, and doubt even further that they would be published if so.


This kind of thing seems, unwise, to say the least. If you value your brain functioning the way it does now, do not even think about this kind of thing. Don't get me wrong I have nothing against psychedelics, but this is not healthy and is unsafe for your brain. Most people who take a thumbprint never REALLY come back to their old selves. If you want a little psychedelic therapy session, just eat some fungus you can find in the forest. It's natural, rarely dangerous, It'll teach you a lot, but it won't permanently change you unless you want it to.


just eat some fungus you can find in the forest. It's natural, rarely dangerous, It'll teach you a lot, but it won't permanently change you unless you want it to.

If you don't know what you're eating, that's very dangerous. Foraging mushrooms without knowing what they are is a terrible idea, because some are deadly.

(I don't think that's what you meant, but in the rural US there are people who forage mushrooms, both for food and drug purposes. It's an awful idea if you don't know what you're doing.)


cow patty shrooms: wash, boil water, make tea, take a walk, sit.


That sounds vaguely like some of my experiences with ayahuasca.


From my experiences involving meditation and psychedelics I find it to be an energetic transformation. Basically, the drugs alters the subject's energetic vibration which pushes awareness into different realms.

The chakra model is a common map of these vibrations:

http://www.grdn.cc/energy-slash-quality-slash-organ-slash-ac...

Personally I'm finding some of these levels are achievable without the use of drugs. I used to work with micro-doses of LSD, 1 day dose 10ug / 2 days off, but quickly found I can achieve the states through meditation.

Here's a section from Ram Dass book "Be Here Now". He travels to India seeking answers to what LSD could be all about. He eventually encounters a very advanced yogi:

---

He looked at me and extended his hand. So I put into his hand what's called a "White Lightning". This is an LSD pill and this one was from a special batch that had been made specially for me for traveling. And each pill was 305 micrograms, and very pure. Very good acid. Usually you start a man over 60, maybe with 50 to 75 micrograms, very gently, so you won't upset him. 300 of pure acid is a very solid dose.

He looks at the pill and extends his hand further. So I put a second pill - that's 610 micrograms - then a third pill - that's 915 micrograms - into his palm.

That is sizeable for a first dose for anyone!

"Ah-cha."

And he swallow them! I see them go down. There's no doubt. And that little scientist in me says, "This is going to be very interesting!"

All day long I'm there, and every now and then he twinkles at me and nothing - nothing happens! That was his answer to my question. Now you have the data I have.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Be_Here_Now_(book)

---


Decades after "Be Here Now" was published, Ram Dass published a follow-up interview, in which he revealed that he found out that his yogi had actually never taken the LSD he was given. Instead, he used a magician's sleight of hand trick to make it appear that he swallowed the LSD when he did not.


Yogis and spiritual guides in India seem mostly to be conmen.

The idea that they have some sort of key to advanced spiritual knowledge is popular in the west but thoroughly misguided.


i spent a couple hours talking to a guy who had supposedly done approximately 60 mg print back in the day.

one component i didn't see in this blog post was what he described as "A PIERCING WHITE LIGHT". :)


I know of a fair number of people in the "700 club" (700mg single dose, liquid, instilled onto tongue); seem to have lived productive lives to date.

What's two orders of magnitude more? :)


That is nothing compared to the quantities described in the article, both in measurement and experience (as mentioned). This is assuming you meant to type micrograms, as no one would have a club for 700 mg as no one would bother to measure at that dose, considering it is 7,000x the normal dose.


700mcg you mean?


Yes, I meant 700 micrograms :(


60mg seems like it would kill someone.


Apparently Aldous Huxley's wife injected him with a lethal dose of LSD -- heroic-dosed directly into this


I wonder if Steve Jobs went out the same way. The quotes of his final moments sound like he was tripping off _something_


Death seems like a pretty mind-blowing trip without any drugs required.


His dose was 100 micrograms IM. That's nowhere near lethal for an oral dose.


She actually gave him two 100μg intramuscular doses on his deathbed, spaced several hours apart.

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2010/03/most-beautiful-death.ht...


suffice it to say that the guy seemed to permanently have a nervous sweat going on and he did this over 5 years prior to when i spoke to him.

per the article, it is not uncommon for "serious" distributors to do this for whatever reason.


Hey guys, with your cynical, snide comments...What would Steve Jobs do?...Not that I condone drug use, but...at least some guys have the guts to push their limits...for better or worse.


I remember finding this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uFzhEDdexc when I read that article


Brian Wilson explains rather well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9d45F7PqxxY


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