In a recent post I shared Aldous Huxley’s viewpoint that the brain does not produce consciousness but it instead acts as a filter. He believed that our minds are actually aware of far more that’s going on in the universe than we believe, but our brains are locking us into a particular point in space and time and filtering out all our other awareness. This same view was also shared by the famous psychologist William James.
What I wanted to share today is a website I found called Psychonauts Wiki. It’s basically the wikipedia of mind-altering drugs, and it’s a comprehensive encyclopedia of how all these different substances alter consciousness, all of the known neuroscience (such as what sites particular drugs bind to, etc), as well as first hand accounts of what people have experienced. There’s some really fascinating stuff on there.
Take their entry on DMT for instance. I mentioned before that it’s the most powerful mind-altering substance there is. It’s basically a naturally occurring neural transmitter that’s already present in our bodies, but when you flood the brain with it, people have what many believe to be ‘spiritual’ experiences. These experiences are short-lived because the brain already knows what DMT is and how to deal with it. It only takes the brain a few minutes to pump the excess neural transmitter away and restore balance, but during those few minutes people are shot into what they perceive to be another conscious dimension.
There does seem to be strong evidence that drugs like DMT are basically screwing with the operation of the brain’s normal filter operations, temporarily opening your consciousness up to domains you don’t normally experience. I’m going to list out, in bold-face, some of the most bizarre and profound things people experience on extremely high doses of DMT; it’s almost as if the brain’s filter is dismantled and you see beyond life’s curtain.
Perception of Eternalism
People report exiting time as we experience it and can see their entire lives laid out before them, from beginning to end, as if it all has already been written in advance. They see it all the same way one would see all the different blades of grass spread out in an open field, perceiving it all at once. They still perceive causality and being connected to the present, it’s just they can see the end from the beginning.
Perception of Self-Design
Though we feel like this life mostly “happens” to us, when the brain’s filter is pulled up, you see that you, yes YOU, wrote the entire script of your life before this thing even began. This includes creating your loved ones, the entire universe, and even the physical laws it all abides of.
Exposure To The Inner Mechanics of Consciousness
You directly perceive the “programming” which directs and controls your thought streams, why you like things and dislike other things. Your preferences. Your desires. This goes for anything one consciously or even subconsciously perceives. You sort of “stand above” the filtered mind you’ve been living in and can see it all in action, beholding the cage you put yourself in.
You become aware of some sort of “deeper” you beyond the filter, and just experiencing this is enough to flood people with an intense motivation for life and an ability to enjoy it.
After perceiving all of this, people find a new sense of purpose, they form complex spiritual and religious beliefs about their true nature and that of the universe, there is an increase in compassion and love toward nature and other people, an increased sense of unity toward others, nature, God, and the universe as a whole, they lose interest in material things and even money, and they lose their fear of death.
Unity And Interconnectedness
A much wider array of concepts is integrated into their idea of “self”. A person who used to be stuck in their “ego” and physical body now comes to feel they are the universe and everything they experience. “Internal” and “External” are brought together into just “self”. They are the people they’re talking to. They are the plants. They become everything, and the same love they had for themselves is expanded to everything.
Wild, huh? And naturally if you come to this realization, it’s almost as if you’ve designed this fictional world to send people to come after you and tell you you’re crazy, all to keep the illusion up a little longer. Apparently that’s the game — to trick yourself into believing that you are something that you’re not.
For a long time I’ve felt this world is an illusion of some kind. Of course western psychology calls this ‘dissociation’, claiming that you’re just trying to detach your emotions from this world because it’s too painful to acknowledge the truth of your existence. I don’t think that’s my case however. I’ve thought long and hard about it all, and when I look at quantum mechanics, when I study relativity theory, when I study the brain and consciousness, when I look at evidence these pschedelic “psychonauts” give me, just when I think of the mind, space, and time, I find myself standing back thinking that something is up.
There’s some sort of bigger picture and I get small glimpses of it, and while all the pieces don’t perfectly fit into a whole, when I lay them all out on the table I start to see something. I come to a conclusion similar to Alan Watts, that this is some sort of dream I’ve concocted for myself to play in, and that the nature of this game is convince myself that I’m something that I’m not.
It’s sort of like I created this illusory “self” consciousness, and its entire goal is to convince me that I’m my brain and some sort of petty consciousness my brain creates. When I started this dream I made sure to filter out the “higher” me so that I wouldn’t be aware of what’s actually going on, and the whole nature of the illusion is to convince me that I’m my brain and my body, and to greatly fear death. The reality is that once I die, my consciousness will expand, I’ll realize that I am in some way united with all matter and everything that ever has been or ever will be, that I am the Earth, I am the trees, and I am all of you. I’m not only the stuff of this world, but also the stage on which it all exists. Not “Jason”, but the real me. In the meantime, the dream is trying to convince me that it’s oh so important to maintain this blob of flesh and blood in a particular form, and that it’s going to be oh so scary when it finally rots back into dirt. It’s determined to keep me from returning to the Mind At Large.
Lately when things I experience are frustrating me, I start chanting this silently in my mind, “Om So Hum”. It means “I am that”. It’s a Yogic mantra I learned from, I think, Sadhguru. Probably will sound corny to many, but try it and take it seriously. A great love from within seems to permeate your mind, it brings you peace, and somehow that peace starts fixing situations around you. It’s to remind you that what you’re experiencing is actually yourself (the real “deeper” you), even if what’s in front of you is crazy and something you want to get away from. Don’t reject it, bring it back into the fold with open arms. It’s about bringing unconditional, universal love toward everything and everyone.