February 2, 2013
There’s several ways to go about studying the link between consciousness and brain activity. You can, for instance, study patients who have suffered various forms of brain damage, examine what cognitive functions they’ve lost, and go from there. However, I’ve been speculating that as nanotechnology comes into play, and we build super tiny computers which can swim around in our brains, letting us completely monitor and control our brain activity, some really bizarre research will start to take place.
I like to think about virtual reality, especially once we have the medical nanomachines connected to our neurons, manipulating the signals. I find myself thinking about the sorts of experiences we could make a person have. I also think about things like movies. People could go into VR and watch a sort of vivid “movie”, literally living the life as the character, but at certain points in the “plot” they could “live” out weird psychedelic trips where they’re transported to a different dimension and have a total out of body experiences. Say the character you’re living as dies, then they have some totally out there experience and reincarnate as something else entirely. People start screaming, “What the hell am I experiencing!” Virtual reality will open some neat possibilities to us, not just enabling us to enter worlds like our own, but also worlds we haven’t even been able to imagine prior to this. Maybe I’ll paint a picture of what I’m thinking of.
Even now, we do have some crude means to send the brain off into some weird states of consciousness. Take the drug DMT for instance. It’s a neurotransmitter naturally produced by our bodies and brains, not to mention most of the plant and animal kingdom. It’s everywhere. If you crush up certain types of plants, extract this stuff, then smoke it, you’re totally disembodied, and strangely, taken to this “machine dome” where all these highly intelligent beings exist. They bombard you with love and start offering you things. Then they tell you to speak whatever you want into existence. DMT users then feel this “bubble” swell up within them and words flow out of their mouths which aren’t accompanied by understanding. They’re special words though. They create what you’re thinking about and what you want. As you learn to do this, the “elves” as Terence McKenna calls them, start to cheer. ”Horray! Horray! You’ve got it!”
DMT wears off within 5 to 15 minutes. Within 15 to 30 seconds after inhaling, you see these flower patterns, then you fly through the flowers, and then you start going through a series of tunnels. You hear this wind up noise, faster and faster as you pass through them, and then you end up bursting through a “membrane” and end up in the “elf machine dome”. It’s filled with sentient creatures, cheering that you’ve arrived. McKenna says it looks like a metal machine, the walls of which are “covered in hallucinations”, and you feel that you’re underground.
In this video below, McKenna talks about a DMT experience, and explains the drug.
When I first heard about this, I immediately thought about Christians speaking in tongues. When they describe it, they’re speaking words which aren’t their own, and the words are not understood in the normal sense. Christians will do this as a form of prayer and they say it’s the “holy spirit” speaking through them, and it gives them peace of mind. Maybe these religious folks have brains which produce more DMT?
McKenna says that the ancients knew all about this stuff, and that’s why he traveled the world, listening to Shamans out in the middle of nowhere, and learned all about the different hallucinogenic drugs they were using. They spent their time trying to find plants, and studied their effects on the mind because they felt they were finding answers to what lie beyond our reality.
Apparently during REM sleep, our brain releases a bunch of DMT as well. That explains why our dreams can be so bizarre.
Anyways, what I’m saying is that our human brain is capable of creating experiences unlike anything we’re used to. The scientist side of me wishes I had sophisticated brain monitoring equipment along with nanomachines which would allow my computer systems to control and monitor brain activity. Technology like that of H+ (in the video above) would allow me to do this kind of research. I could assemble a team, put myself (or others) in sensory deprivation tanks, totally mess with the brain activity and log what’s going on. Me and the team would take turns researching the link between brain activity and consciousness, trying to induce different states, and so forth. It’d be terrifying, but at the same time, really exhilarating. I imagine that it’d be really out there, and a day in the lab would be very similar to one of McKenna’s DMT trips.
You could try to reproduce that DMT experience of being in the dome, and then see if it’s possible to consistently induce others into that same state. Real or not real, it’d be neat to ask those “elves” questions, monitoring all brain activity the whole time, seeing exactly what’s going on.
Even if this is all “in our heads”, the fact that our brains are capable of producing this magical world which barely any of us even know about says a lot about our level of self-understanding. The brain is a mysterious object.
I view Terence McKenna as an early pioneer in researching this area. He used the tools available to him at the time, and came to some fascinating research. He’s incredibly entertaining to listen to and was very intelligent. You’ll learn a lot from him.