The Doors Of Perception

This may sound strange to many, but ever since I was little, I have had trouble accepting “time”.  Whatever time is (and if you think deeply about it, the more puzzling it is), it’s often been a force which seems to steal beautiful things from me.  People will tell you not to get caught up in the past and to move forward, but I’ve never been good at that.  I typically don’t like change, even when that change is for the better.

We’re told we’re supposed to love the things we experience in the world.  Well, I do fall in love with different things, with people, with certain experiences, and then time always, without fail, takes it away from me.  It makes me feel alienated from the world.  Nothing is ever “mine”.

Like take an event from a few months ago.  I would often go out for a run at the track.  Off in the distance was my old junior high school.  When I looked at it I remember thinking, “In what sense is that the junior high school I went to?”  It isn’t.  I haven’t been in that school building for almost 25 years.  By now they’ve remodeled the building.  My old teachers have long since retired.  The students I went to class with back then aren’t in that building.  That isn’t my school; it’s some weird foreign entity.  This same idea applies to most everything I experience; everything I become accustomed to is stolen in this way.  Even my memories of what it was like when I experienced it are stolen from me too.  My brain slowly forgets everything.

I didn’t even like my experiences in that junior high school, but they were my experiences, nonetheless.   As I stood out there at the track, I had a desire to transform into a young kid again, it’s a little after 3 pm, school’s out, and I run over to some of the guys’ lockers and see if they want to go the park and play some basketball.  But I can’t.  I’m stuck in some flow of “time” which inhibits me from revisiting the past.

Nasty problems also arise when dealing with the future.  I’ve never been able to accept this strange notion that I’m supposed to make decisions and not know where those decisions will take me.  Half of the time, when you’re choosing your career path, or romantic relationships, or entrepreneurial ventures, there is no way of knowing what will happen.  You may have your intentions of what you expect and want, but the world has a wonderful way of telling you that all of that is null and void; reality doesn’t care.

I’m told to go out and create the future.  The future is mine!  But is it?  From my personal experiences, the world doesn’t care what I want, at all.  It has its own agenda.  I may make certain plans, prepare for this or that, but when I actually go to execute, reality just twists, turns, and does whatever it wants and I’m forced to go along with it.  In what sense is the future mine?  Is isn’t.  Most of us seem to get a little of what we want, and the rest we’re just forced to accept; we don’t have much of a say otherwise. In what sense is this my future?  It isn’t.  I agree with Satre when he said that, “Man is condemned to be free.”

I’m responsible for my decisions, but most of the time, I’ve had little to no way of knowing what I was getting myself into.  Life can feel like a rather raw deal, especially when things aren’t going well.  It’d be one thing if God came down and would show me visions, demonstrating to me all the consequences of every action.  Yeah, then it’s on me.  I’m actually choosing.  But since that isn’t happening, this world can feel like a game show.  A bunch of doorways are put before me and there’s this announcer saying, “Jason, the future is up to you!  What door shall you choose?  The world of your dreams may be just behind that door!”  But I can’t see behind the doors.  So I make a choice, the announcer says, “Awww, shucks.  If you’d only chosen door #4 instead of door #2, you could’ve had it all.  Too bad.  Try again next time.  Oh wait, there is no next time.  Make due with what you got.  See ya later!  And for all of you watching at home, remember, anything is possible!”  I suppose anything’s possible, that is, if you choose the right set of doors, at all the right times, but your probability of correctly doing so is next to nothing.

And like I said, even if you do navigate this maze of doors and end up with something in this world, reality often quickly takes it away from you.  In the end, everything will be taken away from you if you live long enough.  Ever since I was young I’ve never liked this “gameshow” of life.  Something felt very wrong about it all.

But what’s wrong with it?  What would I change about it all?  First off, I want to be connected to every moment and be able to experience it anytime I want to.  If I want to be a kid playing basketball with my friends in the early 1990’s, I should be able to do so.  If I want to be with friends at a video game arcade in the late 1980’s, my simple intention of wanting to experience that should draw that reality instantly to me.  Also, I should be able to step in and out of time if I want.  And I should be able to foresee the consequences of any action I choose before I make the decisions, and have control over this flow of time and my experiences.  That includes my ability to “not know”, and be able to turn on and off my foreknowledge over events.  If I want to experience a mystery, then that should be my choice, but if I want “out”, I should be able to look up to the sky and say, “Ok, enough of this”, and return to a God-like state of power and knowledge, similar to what we do in video games.

Maybe reading all of this has put you in a sour mood?  Well, you might guess that this post has a serious twist, and it does.  I was just reading Aldous Huxley’s “The Doors Of Perception” and realized that things already work in the way that I want them to, roughly speaking.  Many of you will find this interesting, so read on!

Huxley proposes that our brains are not what create consciousness, but are merely filters.  Our true Mind has all knowledge, it knows everything that has happened or ever will happen, not to mention the principles behind how everything works.  It’s at total peace.  It’s indestructible and eternal.  Listen to this excerpt from the book for yourself.

But how in the world did he come to that conclusion?  That’s not what we experience.  And after all, aren’t we all supposed to be good scientists and make our first-hand experience the grounds for how we expect everything to work?

In ‘The Doors Of Perception’ Huxley takes part in experiments involving a drug called Mescalin.  How does that substance work?  Basically it inhibits certain enzymes in your brain from processing glucose.  This weakens your brain and its “filtering” mechanisms begin to break down.  So what happens when you take it?

On Mescalin, a person will have the same sort of experiences people have when they die in near death experiences.  First off, your perceptions are heightened to an extreme degree.  You begin to see colors you’ve never seen before.  All of reality begins to glow and burst with life.  Things begin to seem more real than “reality”.  You also begin to experience the “meaning” and “purpose” behind everything.  Everything becomes complete and whole.  Absolutely perfect and breathtaking.

If you take enough of this substance, your sense of space and time dissolve.  Time stops flowing and you’re not limited in space any longer.  You sit still in this perfect moment, at total peace and full of bliss.

As nice as this sounds, it also poses a slight problem for the researcher.  Once on this substance, the patients no longer care about your questions or anything you’re pursuing.  They understand you loud and clear.  These people can walk around, perceive the world fully, and talk with you.  However, they find your questions boring, mundane, and simplistic.

Scientists were grilling Huxley while he was on Mescalin, asking him about famous artwork, musical compositions, culture, etc.  In that heightened state of awareness, Huxley saw all of the things going on in man’s filtered pea-brain minds as cheap dollar store toys.  However, reality in its “suchness” was so amazing, it had no need for man’s symbolic representations or thoughts.  Huxley spent most of his time on Mescalin admiring his pant cloth and a table leg.  Perceiving it without the brain’s normal filters made it all infinite.

The thing about Mescalin is that once these filters of your brain are pulled off, you no longer desire anything.  You are basically reunited with your true self, beside God, in this perfect realm, wanting or needing nothing, in perfect safety and security.  You have to limit yourself from that state in order to have desires.  After all, what is a desire?  It’s a chasing to become “whole” again, back to that perfect state with God.  According to near death accounts, God puts that in everyone who “leaves” so that they’ll always find their way back.

So (apparently) there’s all kinds of ways to come close to returning to that state.  Drugs are the easiest way.  Use of certain substances will peel the brain’s filters off, such as magic mushrooms (in very high doses), DMT,  ayahuasca, peyote (Mescalin), and others.  Or you can come near to death, such as drowning, and be rescued at the last minute by doctors (not something I’d recommend).  Either way, you’ll experience the same sort of thing.

Most people experience a mix.  Their brain’s filtering systems hold on to varying degrees, depending on how much and what particular substance is distorting the brain’s “normal” operations.  However, some substances like DMT injected intravenously just blow the filter out of the water and the person is almost completely released out of the limited perception of space and time their brains put them in.  For example, here is an example of someone’s consciousness in an ‘inbetween’ state.  Mckenna’s brain filter is breaking down, his consciousness is opening up, but he’s still perceiving his bodily functions and judgement systems which DMT leaves alone.  After all, DMT is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter anyway, so it’s not dangerous at all.  It’s just that when you flood your brain with it, the normal high-level filtering functioning is temporarily disrupted as your brain is pumping out the excess neural transmitter.

The question is, why does this filter exist in the first place?  I think Huxley may have the answer.  He proposes that when our species evolved, most of our higher Mind was unnecessary for terrestrial life on Earth.  Perceiving every detail going on throughout the entire cosmos was a huge distraction.  Also, as I said, when you perceive the end from the beginning, you don’t care about a petty life on Earth, moving some blob of dirt and water (our bodies) around, reproducing, and moving dirt around into temporary structures.  We have to forget who we really are in order to care enough to indulge ourselves fully into this sort of petty existence.  However, the fullness of reality can’t hide forever.  If you look for it hard enough, you’ll find it.  As I always grew up hearing, “Seek and you will find, knock and the doors will be open to you.”  That includes the doors of perception.

So to bring all of this full circle, am I really separated from my childhood friends playing basketball?  From the old video game arcades of my childhood?  From any event that’s ever taken place in my life?  From any possibility I could have lived?  Am I missing out?  No, not at all.  It’s all there.  It’ll always be there.  As I said in a previous post, the more I study all this, I realize that everything is fine.  You’re ok, I’m ok, we’re all ok; it’s just a ride.

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