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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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"
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.
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.
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.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Friday_Experiment
 - http://www.erowid.org/plants/mushrooms/mushrooms_journal2.sh...
 - https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/psilocybin/psilocybin_artic...
 - http://www.amazon.com/LSD-Spirituality-Creative-Process-Grou...
 - http://www.salon.com/2011/09/28/the_new_lsd_cure/
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...
This is so much pompous bullshit.
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
>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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'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.