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Mind at Large: Reflections on a Recent Psilocybin Experience
Thoughts on the mind, universal consciousness, and the report of a transcendental trip
I'm writing this approximately a month after my most recent experience with psilocybin mushrooms, a month which has been spent largely in a deep contemplation concerning the content of said experience. This paper is not necessarily a traditional trip report, it's also a summary of some ideas of mine which were explored during the experience. It seems with each mushroom experience that I am allowed to plunge deeper... "Deeper into what?" one may ask, and I would respond quite truthfully that after at-least 30 experiences, I'm not quite sure, and perhaps less sure than I was to begin with. When I first started experimenting with psychedelics, I was rather certain that what I was plunging into was the human unconscious, and although I would still maintain that stance today, I'm not quite as certain on what the unconscious actually is. Certainly, those realms which are plunged into by psychonauts are realms which are by definition not ordinarily conscious, therefore unconscious, but the content extends beyond the understanding of Freudian thought, and although it can be better understood using a Jungian framework, it is still far from fully decipherable in these psychological terms. So then there's the other possibility, that the unconscious contents experienced during the mushroom experience are actually unconscious aspects of the overarching Reality rather than only unconscious aspects of the human psyche. That's the troublesome position of psychedelic explorer, whether the contents which are experienced with utmost certainty are real in an internal or an external sense, in a concrete or a symbolic sense, and furthermore, whether the reality we return to and live within holds up to the same criteria, because suddenly after the ingestion of a single chemical compound, things are revealed to be much less certain.
Returning again to partake in the mystery, I ingested the 2.5 grams of cubensis, knowing well after many previous experiments that this dosage gives me the exact momentum I need to break free of my Ego and to establish contact with higher aspects of my Self, or perhaps the Self. I wrote in my notebook from that night, "What awaits me? Which avenues will my mind explore tonight, which planes of being?" On a table next to my bed I had laid out two figurines, one of the Buddha (Buddhism being a recently discovered interest of mine), and one of an elephant. In my notes from the night it explains, "My wish is that the symbol of the elephant will help lead me to my true self, my Jungian-center. The reason being that I read recently the elephant represents the emergence of the Self in dreams." This concept of the true self has become a central theme in my mushroom experiences, it's both what Jung meant by the archetype of the Self and what Hinduism might refer to as the Atman, it's the center of the psyche from which all springs but equally in which all is contained, the original sense of being from which the Ego splits away during childhood. It should be noted that I was in a bit of an odd place ideologically, my head was filled with ideas from a number of different directions, for instance anything from the work of Jung I had been reading to the bizarre ideas surrounding the date of December 21st 2012; it was December 19 2012 at the time of the trip.
I find it's hard to put a finger on when the transition happens between the sober state and the psychedelic state, it happens paradoxically, gradually but instantly, clearly defined but subtle, and how strange it is because the states are so drastically distinct from one and other. You ingest the fungus and then you wait, and when you're anticipating it and trying to pick out definitive hints of "I'm tripping", all of the sudden you're back there. And back there I was, but where was there? There is a mental location, and whether we know it or not we always have a mental location, a place where part of us is while the other part is here. When we sit about and chat with our friends for example, we're just as much chatting with our ideas of who our friends are and sitting in our concept of what that place is. It's in this realm of experience that the majority of the mushroom-trip takes place, except the there becomes so present that it merges with the here, if that's understandable. As every psychonaut knows however, sometimes there is really beyond words. On this occasion, I was there, tumbling through my unconscious, and progressing towards something fast. I wrote in my notebook, "Some minutes have passed, I've easily transitioned into the thick. Everything becomes allegorical in the mushroom experience by symbol and content. Drinking from a water bottle brings about associations of a calf drinking from it's mother's utter. My mind flips through symbols accumulated."
When I reach that last strand of Ego, that last strand of normal "I" consciousness, I'm always disappointed to find out that I haven't completely overcome my fears entering these states. It's only natural though, there's a primal fear of mystery in the psyche. In my notebook I wrote down a small epiphany, "The fear of mystery, that fear so well established in humanity, IS the fear of first-hand knowledge and experience." Mystery represents anything contrary to the conditioned beliefs of the individual, beliefs which are conditioned through experience, and any experience threatening the familiar belief system naturally produces fear. This is obviously why it is difficult not to meet the psychedelic experience with fear, even with a lot of accumulated experience, because each experience often challenges the ideas of the last experience. That fear of mystery, of change, always greets me in the mushroom state as if to signify that I'm about to embark into territory that I've not yet explored; it's as if an invisible inner voice is issuing a warning of "Prepare." Well, I felt that warning sounding clearly this time as something large was arising or approaching my consciousness. That's when it happened...
To explain what I experienced during this section of the night is rather difficult, as it was quite unlike anything else I've undergone in the mushroom state, not that this is in any way surprising given the unpredictable nature of psychedelics. It can perhaps be summed up in an idea: Imagine that it is not merely you who is conscious through your body, but rather that there is a something which is conscious through you, and that your consciousness is but an extension of this something. Psychedelic users often talk of universal consciousness, a force of consciousness from which our consciousness comes and returns to, that One which we all belong to, and this is what I was experiencing. Imagine further that there is not only a force of universal consciousness, but that the universe itself is conscious through us; while we are conscious through our experiences of the world around us, our experiences of our own actions and our experience of our self, the higher consciousness or God or simply It with a capital I is conscious through the reasoning of those actions and drives which compel us; We are conscious of and act upon the residual aspects of the messages communicated from It. Huxley would have said mind and Mind at Large. This realization of mine which was imposed upon me during the experience, is very much like the experience described by Hindus of realizing that the Atman (True Self) is identical to the Brahman (Universal Self). Perhaps, and this is just a lingering thought of mine, perhaps the world within is a sort of to-scale replica of the world without. Perhaps the idea of a Creator isn't so crazy after all, except that the Creator is identical to the Creation. Imagine that the force of creation inside of us, which we call the imagination, is similar or the same as the force from which we were created. Just as we have thoughts in our consciousness, maybe we are the thoughts of that Supreme Something. Of course, if this is true, it perfectly explains the symbol of God, and even the Gods of myth can be seen as symbolic forces which are given shape both in the individual and outside of the individual. That picture that floats about the internet where a map of a brain cell is shown beside a map of the universe comes to mind. I felt as if my central nervous system was hardwired to the Central System (so to speak), my body felt flooded with unseen energy, I picked up my guitar and my fingers literally played without me. There was no thought involved in the creative act of playing the instrument, it was simply impulse and energy converted into music with no "I" caught in between- and what rhythm! These rhythms and melodies weren't mine, they were more involved and nuanced than anything I would normally be able to improvise. I felt entirely synced, as if synchronicity was increasing to the point of Mckenna's singularity.
Keep in mind, I had found myself in this state of connectivity with God or the Supreme Something or Mind at Large rather quickly, I had only begun the journey and I felt I had stumbled right into The Answer. This was all a little too powerful for me to keep progressing further so it seemed like the experience got sort of caught up and stuck. This was the main conceptual point I wanted to talk about so I can go through the rest pretty quickly; what came next was a long string of delusion, eternity, and what felt like a battle for sanity. The force that I felt I had connected to suddenly seemed to be sucking me away, my heart rate seemed to sky-rocket and a fantasy sprung into my head where my spirit was carried away from my body to merge again with God and my body was discovered dead in my basement by family. I felt that I had to ground myself back here and now, and my efforts to ground myself resulted in one of those endless time-loops that occur when the psychonaut is caught in between that world and this world. I know now that this was the last shreds of my Ego fighting against a complete Ego death. Me being stuck between one state and another, I became confused and started producing delusions. I mentioned earlier that it was 12/19/12 at the time, a few days before 12/21/12, and although I had no belief in any events or global shifts happening on 12/21/12 the experience played off of it. I now believed that me being this far out of reality, and this close to Reality had in someway disturbed the space-time continuum, and that this tear would force the human race into a new state where we would all wake up as this One Being, and it seemed as if the world was splintering around me giving way to a new dimension. There remained a part of me that recognized that I had fallen into delusion, and this part of me seemed to think that the force of imagination I was attuned to was the same force that lies behind schizophrenia. Perhaps the child represses the imagination in order to become "mature", and in some individuals that repression becomes so severe that the imagination has to express itself through the ego. In this way, schizophrenia could be a sort of imagination-imbalance, and could be understood if we could only understand the imagination.
I felt an undeniable sense in my messianic delusion that the whole world was experiencing the disturbance in reality that my journey was causing. To try and confirm this I hurriedly flipped open my laptop and two statuses greeted me... "Severely disappointed," read one. I felt that this was directed at me for ending the human dimension and causing us all to wake up as One Being. The next one I read was from a friend and it was about committing suicide, so of course I interpreted this as another reaction to what was happening. In my inner world, this apocalypse was happening, and I was sure that this was what had been significant about 12/21/12, that I had fulfilled any prophecy there might have been. This all made me really understand afterwards how we all have inner doubles of the outer world, those mental locations which we superimpose over the external and which govern our interpretation of the outside world. I experienced subjective eternities folding over one and other, which is something I have experienced many times before. The shadows in the room and the motions they were making in my visual field looked absolutely divine, scarily divine, like the Divine was momentarily entering the ordinary world, as if the spirit world was eclipsed over the land of the living. Symbols which struck me as Mayan or Aztec seemed to bubble up from my carpet, strange monsters and fantastic beasts that one would imagine having seen as cave drawings or hieroglyphics somewhere. Double helix symbols of DNA appeared in the air now and then. Finally, I felt as the event was both climaxing and receding as I looked around and suddenly felt as if I could mentally alter the objects in my line of sight. Looking back on it, a lot of this delusional sequence was a symbolic representation of all the ideas people had about December 21st, and these ideas were meeting in my head. First, the Mayan and Aztec symbols were manifestations of the concept of the Mayan prophecy. Secondly, the DNA double helix was a reference to a video I had seen where somebody claimed that more codons would become activated in the DNA structure on December 21st, or that there would be a mass DNA change. It was also possibly a reference to Crick discovering the double helix on LSD, and me feeling as if I had discovered something massive in the force I had come into contact with. Lastly, when I felt that I could control the physical shape of objects with my mind it was a reference to the idea of a global consciousness shift to the 5th dimension that so many people had prescribed to 12/21/12. It's not that these ideas became alive momentarily inside of me and controlled me, but rather that ideas are always alive inside of us and when they become conscious they alter the current state of mind.
After an eternity repeating like a broken record, I eventually landed back here. And since then, I've been contemplating what I've experienced intensely, even moreso then my many other past experiences. The sheer realness of feeling hardwired to the Universal Consciousness, the Supreme Something, or whatever you personally feel like calling it if you allow the idea of its existence, is something I knew in the moment and I still know now. My experiences gradually mold my more Atheistic beliefs towards something resembling Pantheism, with dashes of Jungian, Buddhist, and Hindu thought. Thanks for reading, and I'd love to hear anybody's thoughts..
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