Whole Body Absorption – Consciousness Explorers Club

“We were both in the fugue-state that exhaustion through repetition brings on, a fugue-state I’ve decided that my whole time playing tennis was spent chasing … hypnotic, a mental state at once flat and lush, numbing and yet exquisitely felt.”   
– David Foster Wallace

Last week, three friends and I took an introduction to mountaineering course in the Canadian Rockies, north of Banff, on the Wapta Icefield. Every morning for five days, our little group put on our climbing harnesses, clipped into a long snaking rope, and began our glacier ascent. Some days the sky was cobalt blue, and we moved single-file along a narrow causeway next to sheer drop-offs, tiny figures in a vast landscape of stone and ice. Other days, the combination of snowfall and diffuse sunlight turned our world to white: no horizon line, no features, no direction. We used a compass to keep our four-person rope arrow moving in a straight line, ice axes ready to secure us in case one of us were to suddenly disappear into a crevasse.  

It was an exhilarating week — the friendship, the adventure, the self-sufficiency. The ridiculous perspective you get at 10,000 feet, where the scenery is so huge there’s simply no room to think about yourself or your problems. A good view sucks both right out of you; a good view for five continuous days resets the brain. No wonder people live in the mountains. All of us felt great: clear, settled, present.

At some point I realized that I was, in fact, at a meditation retreat — only, not a mindfulness one. This was more about the body: hour after hour engaged in a single activity, all of me engaged, attention riveted to my next step and the slithering rope in front of me. As DFW put it so beautifully, for hours on end I found myself in a mental state “at once flat and lush, numbing and yet exquisitely felt.”

Sometimes this is the practice we really need. There’s a dimension of human happiness that emerges not from panning back into more awareness, but from plunging into less. It’s a kind of trance, one that depends on our whole body’s capacity to become absorbed in experience. 

Often in life I’ve been too ADD to meditate in the usual seated way – too jumpy, too agitated, too busy-brained. When this happens, I’ve learned to turn to these sorts of active absorption practices. This is a path of concentration, but not the Buddhist kind, or not exactly. More the athlete’s or the artist’s kind. Its external form may look like going for a run, or drawing on a canvas, or even moving the vacuum around the house.

Most of us have experienced the fruit of this kind of commitment – the one-pointed focus, the mental settling – but we may not realize there are ways of increasing the activity’s potency and its powerful soothing effect. It has to do with how much of our total attention we bring to what we’re doing.

Here is a cruel human calculus: every time attention splits, the thing we’re paying attention to becomes exactly half as rewarding. For many of us, our attention spans are chronically divided, with one part paying attention to our physical surroundings, one part worrying about work, and one part self-conscious about how we look or what we’re saying. Our attention in these cases is like a frayed braid, an exploded frazzle of thin waving strands. Thin strands = a thin world. No single strand is satisfying, to say nothing of the cumulative effect of all that half-worrying.

By contrast, as we bring more strands together, the braid of attention gets thicker and stronger until it effectively merges with the activity itself. At this point, whatever we’re doing becomes inherently more rewarding and satisfying – in part because the “complaining strand” of attention is no longer present (or at least, it is not being actively reinforced). This is one way we get over ourselves, and it leads into the delicious mental state that DFW called “fugue,” athletes call “the Zone,” and Czech psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi famously calls “flow.”

When people tell me they’re “too ADD to meditate,” this is what I suggest: get absorbed in something else instead.

The key is to really go for it. How fully immersed can you become? Can you bring your entire body into play? The whole of your being? Don’t say “yeah, running is my meditation” and then ruminate on your problems while pumping your legs. This is about devotion. Devote your attention to your breath, to the feeling of energy and exertion, to the flow of movement in your arms and legs, or the scenery tracking by. Choose one direction, and then converge the strands.

Your body is waiting. Waiting for your commitment, waiting to absorb your mind back into itself, waiting to disappear into the action. 

This month at the CEC, with summertime finally blooming and buzzing all around us, we let our bodies take the lead. Peace to all my fellow explorers!

Jeff
Chief Exploring Officer, The Consciousness Explorers Club

Ascension: A Flowering of the Consciousness – Steve Beckow

Artist ~ Keith Allen Kay @ Quantum Fractal Energy Mandala

~*~

Ascension: A Flowering of the Consciousness

What does Ascension mean? Many people will have differing viewpoints on the subject; I can only offer mine.

For me, Ascension means a deep and continuous relaxation of inner tension and the assumption of a permanent and complete experience of life as love. Not the love that we commonly experience, which is “weak meat soup” compared to higher-dimensional love. But rich, red, living love as flows continuously in the Fifth Dimension and higher.

And not a love that’s vanilla in Fourth Dimensionality, chocolate in Fifth, and strawberry in Sixth.

But the same love we experienced when our hearts opened; just deeper and deeper and deeper.

There is only one love.  Only our experience of it deepens.

Ascension is complete when we live in a full and permanent experience of higher-dimensional love and/or the divine qualities, all of which are forms of love. That implies a full and permanent heart opening.

As it happens, there’s an enlightenment event that closes off our Ascension cycle. It’s called Sahaja Samadhi. And it is in fact and reality a full and permanent heart opening. When we know our heart to be forever open, we can know that we’ve ascended.

Ascension as a process is both gradual and sudden. It’s gradual in that we’re integrating and assimilating each enlightenment event after it happens and preparing for the next one, over sometimes long stretches of time.

It’s sudden in that the process consists of several sudden, enlightenment events (1) spaced in between times of assimilation and preparation.

It’s necessary to divide up the enlightenment experience, and not to skip stages, so as not to burn out the human body.

In the past, people ascended after the death of their physical form. In this first mass, physical Ascension ever, people will ascend with their bodies. It’s a first in the universe, being eagerly watched by all.

When we say “ascend,” all we’re really talking about in the final analysis is a flowering of the consciousness.

We come alive in ways we didn’t even imagine we could. And our experience of love, bliss, joy, etc., leaves us wanting nothing.

Footnotes

(1) Radical breaks in continuity of experience, accompanied by an inspiring, empowering, and ennobling expansion in our consciousness, knowledge, and ability to love.

https://goldenageofgaia.com/2019/05/25/ascension-a-flowering-of-the-consciousness/
Gratitude & Appreciation to all artists & photographers ~ Credit given where this is known. Any queries, please contact me, Shekinah

Life after death has been ‘confirmed’ by experts who say consciousness continues

by Jade Small

We all know it’s coming, sooner or hopefully later! Death is just one of those things that happen to us all, eventually.

One thing many of us agree on, is life after death, but now scientists confirm that once your heart has stopped beating, your consciousness continues!

Over 2,000 people were studied by British scientists who say thought persists after death, and they have also found evidence that out-of-body experiences are in fact real in those who are declared dead and then revived.

Commonly believed by most scientists is that the brain was no longer active after the heart stopped pumping blood for 30 seconds and that consciousness awareness then also ceased to exist. The researchers at University of Southampton feels otherwise and have proven that awareness is still experienced for up to 3 minutes after declared dead.

Dr Sam Parnia, the head researcher of the study said: “Contrary to perception, death is not a specific moment but a potentially reversible process that occurs after any severe illness or accident causes the heart, lungs and brain to cease functioning.

“If attempts are made to reverse this process, it is referred to as ‘cardiac arrest’; however, if these attempts do not succeed it is called ‘death’.”

40% Of the 2,060 cardiac arrest survival patients who were interviewed for the study said that after being pronounced clinically dead, they were able to recall some form of awareness.

“This suggests more people may have mental activity initially but then lose their memories after recovery, either due to the effects of brain injury or sedative drugs on memory recall.” Dr Parnia explained.

One of the biggest and most significant finding was that of a 57 year old man who, after a cardiac arrest, was able to recall everything accurately that happening around him while he was temporarily dead!

Only 2% of patients said that their experience was similar to an “out-of-body experience”, this is when one feels almost totally aware of their surroundings following death. About 50% of patients in the study said that they felt fear, rather than awareness.

Dr Parnia said: “This is significant, since it has often been assumed that experiences in relation to death are likely hallucinations or illusions occurring either before the heart stops or after the heart has been successfully restarted, but not an experience corresponding with ‘real’ events when the heart isn’t beating.

“In this case, consciousness and awareness appeared to occur during a three-minute period when there was no heartbeat.

“This is paradoxical, since the brain typically ceases functioning within 20-30 seconds of the heart stopping and doesn’t resume again until the heart has been restarted.

“Furthermore, the detailed recollections of visual awareness in this case were consistent with verified events.”

Reference: News.com.au

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The Four Layers of Consciousness – Lion’s Roar

“When you say the rain is falling, it’s very funny, because if it weren’t falling, it wouldn’t be rain.” Photo by Lacie Slezak.

Abhidharma, Buddhism’s map of the mind, is sometimes treated as a topic of merely intellectual interest. In fact, says Thich Nhat Hanh, identifying the different elements of consciousness, and understanding how they interact, is essential to our practice of meditation.

The Vietnamese Zen Master Thuong Chieu said, “When we understand how our mind works, our practice becomes easy.” To understand our minds, we need to understand our consciousness.

The Buddha taught that consciousness is always continuing, like a stream of water. Consciousness has four layers. The four layers of consciousness are mind consciousness, sense consciousness, store consciousness, and manas.

Mind consciousness is the first kind of consciousness. It uses up most of our energy. Mind consciousness is our “working” consciousness that makes judgments and plans; it is the part of our consciousness that worries and analyzes. When we speak of mind consciousness, we’re also speaking of body consciousness, because mind consciousness isn’t possible without the brain. Body and mind are simply two aspects of the same thing. Body without consciousness is not a real, live body. And consciousness can’t manifest itself without a body.

It’s possible for us to train ourselves to remove the false distinction between brain and consciousness. We shouldn’t say that consciousness is born from the brain, because the opposite is true: the brain is born from consciousness. The brain is only 2 percent of the body’s weight, but it consumes 20 percent of the body’s energy. So using mind consciousness is very expensive. Thinking, worrying, and planning take a lot of energy.

Mindfulness keeps us in the present moment and allows our mind consciousness to relax and let go of the energy of worrying about the past or predicting the future.

We can economize the energy by training our mind consciousness in the habit of mindfulness. Mindfulness keeps us in the present moment and allows our mind consciousness to relax and let go of the energy of worrying about the past or predicting the future.

The second level of consciousness is sense consciousness, the consciousness that comes from our five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. We sometimes call these senses “gates,” or “doors,” because all objects of perception enter consciousness through our sensory contact with them. Sense consciousness always involves three elements: first, the sense organ (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, or body); second, the sense object itself (the object we’re smelling or the sound we’re hearing); and finally, our experience of what we are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or touching.

The third layer of consciousness, store consciousness, is the deepest. There are many names for this kind of consciousness. Mahayana tradition calls this store consciousness, or alaya, in Sanskrit. The Theravada tradition uses the Pali word bhavanga to describe this consciousness. Bhavanga means constantly flowing, like a river. Store consciousness is also sometimes called root consciousness (mulavijñana in Sanskrit) or sarvabijaka, which means “the totality of the seeds.” In Vietnamese, we call store consciousness tang. Tang means to keep and preserve.

These different names hint at the three aspects of store consciousness. The first meaning is of a place, a “store,” where all kinds of seeds and information are kept. The second meaning is suggested by the Vietnamese name, because store consciousness doesn’t just take in all the information, it holds it and preserves it. The third meaning is suggested by bhavanga, the sense of processing and transforming.

Store consciousness is like a museum. A museum can only be called a museum when there are things in it. When there is nothing in it, you can call it a building, but not a museum. The conservator is the one who is responsible for the museum. Her function is to keep the various objects preserved and not allow them to be stolen. But there must be things to be stored, things to be kept. Store consciousness refers to the storing and also to what is stored—that is, all the information from the past, from our ancestors, and all the information received from the other consciousnesses. In Buddhist tradition, this information is stored as bija, seeds.

Suppose this morning you hear a certain chant for the first time. Your ear and the music come together and provoke the manifestation of the mental formation called touch, which causes store consciousness to vibrate. That information, a new seed, falls into the store continuum. Store consciousness has the capacity to receive the seed and store it in its heart. Store consciousness preserves all the information it receives. But the function of store consciousness isn’t just to receive and store these seeds; its job is also to process this information.

The work of processing on this level is not expensive. Store consciousness doesn’t spend as much energy as, for example, mind consciousness. Store consciousness can process this information without a lot of work on your part. So if you want to save your energy, don’t think too much, don’t plan too much, and don’t worry too much. Allow your store consciousness to do most of the processing.

During the night if your room becomes cold but you continue to sleep, your body can sense the cold without the intervention of mind consciousness. Store consciousness may give the order to your arm to pull up the blanket without your even being aware of it. Store consciousness operates in the absence of mind consciousness. It can do a lot of things. It can do a lot of planning; it can make a lot of decisions without your knowing about it.

When we go into a department store and look for a hat or a shirt, we have the impression, while looking at the items displayed, that we have free will and that, finances permitting, we are free to choose whatever we want. If the vendor asks us what we like, we can point to or verbalize the object of our desire. And we likely have the impression that we are free people at this moment, using our mind consciousness to select things that we like. But that is an illusion. Everything has been decided already in store consciousness. At that moment we are caught; we are not free people. Our sense of beauty, our sense of liking or disliking, has been decided very certainly and very discreetly on the level of store consciousness.

It’s an illusion that we are free. The degree of freedom that our mind consciousness has is actually very small. Store consciousness dictates many of the things we do, because store consciousness continuously receives, embraces, maintains, processes, and makes many decisions without the participation of mind consciousness. But if we know the practice, we can influence our store consciousness; we can help influence how our store consciousness stores and processes information so as to make better decisions. We can influence it.

You may not see something as beautiful, but if many people think that it’s beautiful, then slowly you may come to accept it as beautiful also, because the individual consciousness is made up of collective consciousness.

Just like mind consciousness and sense consciousness, store consciousness consumes. When you are around a group of people, although you want to be yourself, you are consuming their ways, and you are consuming their store consciousness. Our consciousness is fed with other consciousnesses. The way we make decisions, our likes and dislikes, depend on the collective way of seeing things. You may not see something as beautiful, but if many people think that it’s beautiful, then slowly you may come to accept it as beautiful also, because the individual consciousness is made up of collective consciousness.

The value of the dollar is made up of the collective thinking of people, not just of objective economic elements. People’s fears, desires, and expectations make the dollar go up and go down. We are influenced by the collective ways of seeing and thinking. That’s why selecting the people you are around is very important. It’s very important to surround yourself with people who have loving-kindness, understanding, and compassion, because day and night we are influenced by the collective consciousness.

Store consciousness offers us enlightenment and transformation. This possibility is contained in its third meaning, its always-flowing nature. Store consciousness is like a garden where we can plant the seeds of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, and then flowers, fruits, and vegetables will grow. Mind consciousness is only a gardener. A gardener can help the land and take care of the land, but the gardener has to believe in the land, believe that it can offer us fruits, flowers, and vegetables. As practitioners, we can’t rely on our mind consciousness alone; we have to rely on our store consciousness as well. Decisions are being made down there.

Suppose you type something on your computer and this information is stored on the hard drive. That hard drive is like store consciousness. Although the information doesn’t appear on the screen, it is still there. You only need to click and it will manifest. The bija, the seeds in store consciousness, are like the data you store on your computer. If you want to, you can click and help it appear on the screen of mind consciousness. Mind consciousness is like a screen and store consciousness is like the hard drive, because it can store a lot in it. Store consciousness has the capacity of storing, maintaining, and preserving information so that it can’t be erased.

Unlike information on a hard drive, however, all the seeds are of an organic nature and they can be modified. The seed of hatred, for example, can be weakened and its energy can be transformed into the energy of compassion. The seed of love can be watered and strengthened. The nature of the information that’s being kept and processed by the store consciousness is always flowing and always changing. Love can be transformed into hate, and hate can be transformed back into love.

Store consciousness is also a victim. It’s an object of attachment; it’s not free. In store consciousness there are elements of ignorance—delusion, anger, fear—and these elements form a force of energy that clings, that wants to possess. This is the fourth level of consciousness, called manas, which I like to translate as “cogitation.” Manas consciousness has at its root the belief in a separate self, the belief in a person. This consciousness, the feeling and instinct called “I am,” is very deeply seated in store consciousness. It’s not a view taken up by mind consciousness. Deeply seated in the depths of store consciousness is this idea that there is a self that is separate from non-self elements. The function of manas is to cling to store consciousness as a separate self.

Another way of thinking of manas is as adana consciousness. Adana means “appropriation.” Imagine that a vine puts forth a shoot, and then the shoot turns back and embraces and encircles the trunk of the tree. This deep-seated delusion—the belief that there is a self—is there in store consciousness as the result of ignorance and fear, and it gives rise to an energy that turns around and embraces store consciousness and makes it the only object of its love.

Manas is always operating. It never lets go of store consciousness. It’s always embracing, always holding or sticking to store consciousness. It believes store consciousness to be the object of its love. That’s why store consciousness isn’t free. There’s an illusion that store consciousness is “me,” is my beloved, so I can’t let it go. Day and night there’s a secret, deep cogitation that this is me, this is mine, and I have to do everything I can to grasp, to protect, to make it mine. Manas is born and rooted in store consciousness. It arises from store consciousness and it turns around and embraces store consciousness as its object: “You are my beloved, you are me.” The function of manas is to appropriate store consciousness as its own.

Now we have the names of the four layers of consciousness, and we can see how they interact. Store consciousness is a process—always flowing, always present, never interrupted. But mind consciousness may be interrupted. For example, when we sleep without dreaming, mind consciousness is not operating. When we’re in a coma, mind consciousness stops working completely. And there are deep concentrations when mind consciousness completely stops operating—there’s no thinking, no planning, nothing—yet store consciousness continues to operate.

Some neuroscientists use the term “background consciousness” to describe store consciousness. And the level of mind consciousness is what they call, simply, consciousness. Whether you’re awake or you’re asleep, whether you’re dreaming or not dreaming, the work of processing and storing information is continuously done by store consciousness, whether you want it to or not.

There are times when sense consciousness operates in collaboration with store consciousness without going through the mind. It’s funny, but it happens very, very often. When you drive your car, you are able to avoid many accidents, even if your mind consciousness is thinking of other things. You may not even be thinking of driving at all. And yet, most of the time at least, you don’t get into an accident. This is because the impressions and images provided by eye consciousness are received by store consciousness, and decisions are made without ever going through mind consciousness. When someone suddenly holds something close to your eyes—for instance, if someone is about to hit you, or when something is about to fall on you—you react quickly. That quick reaction, that decision, is not made by mind consciousness. If you have to make a quick maneuver, it’s not your mind consciousness that does it. We don’t think, “Oh, there is an accident, therefore I have to quickly swerve to the right.” That instinct of self-defense comes from store consciousness.

In the cold room at night, even though you’re not dreaming, and mind consciousness isn’t functioning, the feeling of cold still penetrates into the body at the level of sense consciousness, which makes a vibration on the level of store consciousness, and your body moves the blanket up to cover you. Whether we’re driving, manipulating a machine, or performing other tasks, many of us allow our sense consciousness to collaborate with store consciousness, which enables us to do many things without the intervention of mind consciousness. When we bring our mind consciousness into this work, then suddenly we may become aware of the mental formations that are arising.

The word “formation” (samskara in Sanskrit) means something that manifests when many conditions come together. When we look at a flower, we can recognize many of the elements that have come together to make the flower manifest in that form. We know that without the rain there can be no water and the flower cannot manifest. And we see that the sunshine is also there. The earth, the compost, the gardener, time, space, and many elements came together to help this flower manifest. The flower doesn’t have a separate existence; it’s a formation. The sun, the moon, the mountain, and the river are all formations. Using the word “formation” reminds us that there is no separate core of existence in them. There is only a coming together of many, many conditions for something to manifest.

When Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am,” his point was that if I think, there must be an “I” for thinking to be possible.

As Buddhist practitioners, we can train ourselves to look at everything as a formation. We know that all formations are changing all the time. Impermanence is one of the marks of reality, because everything changes.

Formations that exist in consciousness are called mental formations. When there’s contact between a sense organ (eyes, ears, mouth, nose, body) and an object, sense consciousness arises. And at the moment your eyes first gaze on an object, or you first feel the wind on your skin, the first mental formation of contact manifests. Contact causes a vibration on the level of store consciousness.

If the impression is weak, then the vibration stops and the current of store consciousness recovers its tranquility; you continue to sleep or you continue with your activities, because that impression created by touch has not been strong enough to draw the attention of mind consciousnesses. It’s like when a flying insect lands on the surface of the water and causes the water to ripple a little bit. After the insect flies off, the surface of the water becomes completely calm again. So although the mental formation manifests, although the current of the life continuum vibrates, there’s no awareness born in mind consciousness because the impression is too weak.

Sometimes in Buddhist psychology, one speaks of forty-nine or fifty mental formations. In my tradition, we speak of fifty-one. Of the fifty-one mental formations, contact is the first, followed by attention, feeling, perception, and volition. These five mental formations can take place very quickly, and their intensity, their depth, varies in each level of consciousness. When we speak of attention, for instance, we can see attention in the context of store consciousness, and we can see attention on the level of mind consciousness, and the intensity or the depth of attention is quite different on the two levels.

The fifty-one mental formations are also called mental concomitants; that is, they are the very content of consciousness, the way the drops of water are the very content of the river. For example, anger is a mental formation. Mind consciousness can operate in such a way that anger can manifest in mind consciousness. In that moment, mind consciousness is filled with anger, and we may feel our mind consciousness is full of nothing but anger. But in fact, mind consciousness is not just anger, because later on compassion arises, and at that time, mind consciousness becomes compassion. Mind consciousness is, at various times, all fifty-one mental formations, be they positive, negative, or neutral.

Without mental formations, there can’t be consciousness. It’s as if we’re discussing a formation of birds. The formation holds the birds together, and they fly beautifully in the sky. You don’t need someone to hold the birds and keep them flying in one formation. You don’t need a self to create the formation. The birds just do it. In a beehive, you don’t need someone who gives the order for this bee to go left and that bee to go right; they just communicate among one another and are a beehive. Among all the bees, every bee may have a different responsibility, but no bee claims to be the boss of all the bees, not even the queen. The queen is not the boss. Her function is simply to give birth to the eggs. If you have a good community, a good sangha, it’s like this beehive in which all the parts make up the whole, with no leader, no boss.

When we say it’s raining, we mean that raining is taking place. You don’t need someone up above to perform the raining. It’s not that there is the rain, and there is the one who causes the rain to fall. In fact, when you say the rain is falling, it’s very funny, because if it weren’t falling, it wouldn’t be rain. In our way of speaking, we’re used to having a subject and a verb. That’s why we need the word “it” when we say, “it rains.” “It” is the subject, the one who makes the rain possible. But, looking deeply, we don’t need a “rainer,” we just need the rain. Raining and the rain are the same. The formation of birds and the birds are the same—there’s no “self,” no boss involved.

There’s a mental formation called vitarka, “thinking.” When we use the verb “to think” in English, we need a subject of the verb: I think, you think, he thinks. But, really, you don’t need a subject for a thought to be produced. Thinking without thinker—it’s absolutely possible. To think is to think about something. To perceive is to perceive something. The perceiver and the object that is perceived are one.

When Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am,” his point was that if I think, there must be an “I” for thinking to be possible. When he made the declaration “I think,” he believed that he could demonstrate that the “I” exists. We have the strong habit of believing in a self. But, observing very deeply, we can see that a thought does not need a thinker to be possible. There is no thinker behind the thinking—there is just the thinking; that’s enough.

Now, if Mr. Descartes were here, we might ask him, “Monsieur Descartes, you say, ‘You think, therefore you are.’ But what are you? You are your thinking. Thinking—that’s enough. Thinking manifests without the need of a self behind it.”

Thinking without a thinker. Feeling without a feeler. What is our anger without our “self”? This is the object of our meditation. All the fifty-one mental formations take place and manifest without a self behind them that’s arranging for this to appear, and then for that to appear. Our mind consciousness is in the habit of basing itself on the idea of self, on manas. But we can meditate to be more aware of our store consciousness, where we keep the seeds of all those mental formations that are not currently manifesting in our mind.

When we meditate, we practice looking deeply in order to bring light and clarity into our way of seeing things. When the vision of no-self is obtained, our delusion is removed. This is what we call transformation. In the Buddhist tradition, transformation is possible with deep understanding. The moment the vision of no-self is there, manas, the elusive notion of “I am,” disintegrates, and we find ourselves enjoying, in this very moment, freedom and happiness.

© 2006 by Parallax Press. For more on this subject, see Understanding Our Mind: Fifty Verses on the Nature of Consciousness, by Thich Nhat Hanh. Published by Parallax Press.

Princeton Study Observes Group Consciousness Has Physical Effects On World During Large-Scale Events – The Global Elite

For the first time in scientific history researchers have discovered that group consciousness (i.e. collective consciousness) elicits physical changes in the physical world around us. Researchers made the discovery in a groundbreaking study from Princeton University’s PEAR Laboratory (Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research). “The power of thought is not just ideological. It manifests physically. Cohesion between individuals ramps up this power,” write the study’s authors. The research was spearheaded by Roger Nelson, who coordinated research at PEAR for two decades, and who is now the director of the Global Consciousness Project (GCP), a collaboration between researchers world-wide to test the power of human consciousness.

GCP writes: “In field applications, the research shows that in situations which produce a coherent group consciousness the data may depart from expectation even without specific intentions. The GCP/EGG project’s measures are a direct extension of the laboratory and field applications of the REG technology. In field studies with REGs we have found consistent deviations from expected randomicity in data taken in situations where groups become integrated or unified by something of common interest. During deeply engaging meetings, concerts, rituals, etc., the data tend to exhibit slightly greater order than random data should, and we are able to predict this deviation with small but significant success.”

“The best way to describe the anomalous effects we see in the data is as a correlation that comes to exist between the devices spread around the world — just during major events, defined in terms of the widespread attention and emotion the produce,” adds GCP “That is, there are departures from expectation when human consciousness is powerfully engaged. The devices are designed to be independent, and they are separated by hundreds or thousands of kilometers, and yet we see the correlations — that is anomalous, and it is linked with consciousness. The implication is that we are not isolated from each other as seems to be the case, but linked in a subtle, unconscious and inaccessible way. Learning more about that, and tapping into the potential of our interconnection is the next phase of human development. We are at the beginning, and ready to move forward.”

The discovery provides major proof to the existence of the Unified Field (also known as Uniform Field Theory), a theory of quantum physics. Dr. John Hagelin is Professor of Physics and Director of the Doctoral Program in Physics at Maharishi International University in Iowa, and in one of his published papers he examines the connection between group consciousness and the Unified Field: “Following a general introduction to Unified Quantum Field theories, we consider [the proposal that] the Unified Field of modern theoretical physics and the field of ‘pure consciousness’ are identical. We show that the proposed identity between consciousness and the unified field is consistent with all known physical principles, but requires an expanded physical framework for the understanding of consciousness. Such a framework may indeed be required to account for experimentally observed field effects of consciousness and phenomenological aspects of higher states of consciousness.”

To learn more about Princeton’s PEAR Lab research you can watch the video below. David Lynch also describes the Unified Field theory beautifully in a terrific Q&A which you can watch below. And Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor also touches on the very same subject in perhaps the most profound TED Talk of all, entitled “Stroke Of Insight,” her personal account of her brush with the Unified Field when the left hemisphere of her brain shut down. You can also watch Dr. John Hagelin in his own words as he summarizes years of scientific research bridging consciousness and the Unified Field in the lecture below.

Psyleron – Princeton Mind-Matter Interaction Research

Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight

The Charlie Rose Brain Series 2: Consciousness

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The Universe in You: A Higher Consciousness – The Conscious Continuum

One of the most profound experiences in life that one can have is to fully realize the infinite interconnectedness of everything ~

This experience goes much deeper than the words on this page. As a synthesis of the left and the right brain, the mind, body, spirit, and heart, come together effortlessly for the benefit of all of life. To experience the wholeness of existence through mind and spirit is to see the world as a single gigantic organism with its own collective mind. Everything connects to everything else, boundaries break down, and many ecological alignments become perceivable. From here, the universe is not a merely a collection of inanimate parts but rather, is alive, intelligent, and a product of your own creation.

A higher consciousness is not to be judged as better than any other state of being, it simply is an operation of human awareness on a different wavelength. It is more closely aligned with love, peace, joy, and gratitude, and can see a bigger picture.

While effortlessly flowing with nature in grace and simplicity, a higher consciousness values spiritual purification, awakening, transcendence, liberation, unconditional love, compassion for all, emotional mastery, presence, mindfulness, gratitude, unity, deeper and deeper levels on interconnectedness, selfless living, and humility.

When awakening to a higher state of awareness, the metaphysical background of reality that lies beyond the mind, begins to shine. One begins to fully recognize “Maya” or the illusion that has been painted onto our reality. From here, one can see past the illusion and is able to transcend all concepts, philosophies, biases or beliefs. Embodying this truth results in a radiance of love, and a manifestation of the self for the benefit of existential reality, life, and the entire planet.

One also begins to clearly see that all of what mankind is really searching for is a higher consciousness. At the core of our being, we are all searching for love, which is achieved unconditionally with a progressive evolution of our awareness. As a result of this understanding, one becomes interested in cooperative action for elevating the consciousness of mankind while helping to awaken humanity and assist in remembering the magnificence of our existence. This is a process of integration that leads to wholeness and synthesis that lies beyond analysis, and gives rise to an importance of being, as opposed to knowing, doing and having.

We may then come to realize, in truth, that we are not just a coincidental being that happened to appear billions of years after the big bang. But we are in fact, the heart of it all.

Concepts in this article were interpreted from my personal research on Spiral Dynamics. Credit to: Clara Graves, Don Beck, Christopher Cowan for this amazing work.

Involution’s Essence. The Uneaten Core. (Only Consciousness) – INVOLUTION: Science and God: Reality Redefined

What is the book about? (A Vision to Challenge Darwinian Randomness and Competition) Memory Creating and Integrating towards Unification.

This epic charts the history of scientific thought to offer a complementary and challenging vision of evolution. Involution— the in’forming’ by memory of the structure of matter— and by co-creating the material forms, integrating a ‘unified intelligence’, akin to a bio-computer pervading throughout. Diversity (and convergence) were consensual, not merely or even dominantly competitive. This book proposes that the history of scientific thought was the incremental recovery of memory (through the inspirations of genius) and uses the evidence of science’s chronology itself to tilt at the insufficiency of the scientific viewpoint.

How is the tale told? ( An Odyssey through Individuals- called Genius.)

By retaking the story of human understanding, from the unified theories of pre-Socratic Greece, through the Dark Ages, the Renaissance and Enlightenment to Modernism it tracks the continuous thread of what science has ignored, its own inspired and maverick origins. It moves from the unified field origins of the universe through the divergence of forms, to the single Man, who re-spirals and retraces this journey in reverse. The early fields of pre-Socratic integrated understanding (Parmenides, Empedocles, Pythagoras Heraclitus) splits after Plato and Aristotle and then diverges through the scientific disciplines until, from Einstein, Schrodinger and now Laszlo, Man returns to the unified field theories of QM and relativity, the last remaining division.

That division is the product of the process of science, to divorce its intellect from the unified bio-computer (consciousness) in which intellect is, in fact, embedded: and to which it is occasionally susceptible. Poets mystics (and genius) have provided ample evidence.

The reliance on inspiration, subjective, single, unrepeatable, and individual defies everything science claims to be about. Yet it drew its sustenance and direction from such moments and such individuals. This is a book about unique contemplative people, not just an idea.

It weaves its spiral like a single DNA molecule through memory, the record of evolving consciousness. The two companions who narrate and argue are Reason (who holds up the catalogue of scientists and their ideas, left brain and uni-directional ) and  Soul (who signals the multi-dimensional inspirations of art and music). Together they trace the episodes of genius and embrace in those moments when memory informed the journey of memory’s recovery.The Odyssey of Mankind is back towards Eden- holistic spirituality.

Why is it important to read it? (Why science is on the cusp of change)

It is, the book maintains, the recovery of memory that has inspired the model science has built of evolution, the collective intellect or what Teilhard de Chardin called the Noosphere.  In the process, science has ignored the severing of man’s mind, epitomized by the two hemispheres of his brain and permitted the dominance of the left, when it was the right that truly guided it. Mind and matter are perceived as distinct through this artificial separation of intellect from consciousness. All is consciousness, the field where DNA shapes and is shaped by electromagnetism in its varying forms, and the deeper Akashic Field, the ‘ether’ record of space-time, in which nothing is lost.

Science still perceives that field as external and searches for deficient matter, and the origins of consciousness; proposing un-testable string theories, antimatter and anti-gravity, when the deficiencies themselves are possibly created by science’s collective blindness. Creation’s reality is consensual, and the error ( and limitations) lie in consensual perception. The world we have, we have created ( subject to laws and the consent of the whole). Having exhausted the external materialism of intellect where the cupboard is now almost bare, science stands on the cusp of change, and must dive into consciousness that connects. Involution explains how this occurred and why all will now change. Consciousness is all there is: to some it appears solid, to others illusory and to some non existent. Relativity extends throughout perception: degrees of spiritual perception. The mirror reflects back what looks into it.

This is a bold ( many would say foolhardy) hypothesis but only because new to science, the perennial philosophy is the oldest story of all. Man’s return to Eden through the Exile caused by knowledge was always foretold. Rather than the ‘dictator’ of evolutionary change by error and slow increments, DNA is the resonant collaborator conserving it all yet changing constantly, communicating incessantly. Brain is not the emitter, but the receiver of this field of information. Sometimes.

Why Symphonic Prose? ( A musical language for a harmonious truth.)

Perhaps the use of ancient rhythmical language is itself an indication that recovery has reached its origins and may now be the language an integrated vision requires. Science has involuted back to metaphysics, consciousness to poetry. If we look at evolution through the lens of science and the logic of prose, encumbered by necessary facts, we are limited to only the external half that intellect permits. Science is the spectrum of understanding chosen because it is well known and provides a sturdy ladder, but only to afford a greater height  for the vision of a science behind science (The Cathedral behind the Scaffolding). By looking at memory through the multi-layered evocation of symphonic prose we find, as readers, what we already know. It is gratifying to keep company with poets and find the familiar.  This odyssey is to the depth of ourselves.

The Author might show you the scars

New Study Links Human Consciousness to a Law That Governs the Universe

 

Human Entropy

Our species has long agonized over the concept of human consciousness. What exactly causes it, and why did we evolve to experience consciousness? Now, a new study has uncovered a clue in the hunt for answers, and it reveals that the human brain might have more in common with the universe than we could have imagined.

According to a team of researchers from France and Canada, our brains might produce consciousness as something of a side effect of increasing entropy, a process that has been taking place throughout the universe since the Big Bang.

Their study has been accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review E.

The concept of entropy is famously confusing, and the definition has evolved over time. Essentially, entropy is a thermodynamic property that refers to the degree of disorder or randomness in a system. It can be summed up as the description of a system’s progression from order to disorder.

 

The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy can only remain constant or increase within a closed system — a system cannot move from high entropy to low entropy without outside interference. A common example that demonstrates entropy is an ice cube melting — the cube is in a state of low entropy, but as it melts and disorder grows, entropy increases.

Many physicists think that the universe itself is in a constant state of increasing entropy. When the Big Bang occurred, the universe was in a state of low entropy, and as it continues to gradually spread out, it is growing into a higher entropy system. Based on this new study, our brain may be undergoing something similar, and consciousness happens to be a side effect of the process.

The Brain and Disorder

To see how the concept of entropy could be applied to the human brain, the researchers analyzed the amount of order in our brains while we’re conscious compared to when we’re not. They did this by modeling the networks of neurons in the brains of nine participants, seven of whom had epilepsy.

They looked at whether or not neurons were oscillating in phase with one another as this could tell them if the brain cells were linked. They compared observations from when patients were awake, when they were asleep, and when patients with epilepsy were having seizures.

The researchers found that the participants’ brains displayed higher entropy when fully conscious. “We find a surprisingly simple result: normal wakeful states are characterized by the greatest number of possible configurations of interactions between brain networks, representing highest entropy values,” the team wrote in the study.

This finding prompted the researchers to suggest that consciousness might be a side effect of a system working to maximize information exchange. In other words, human consciousness emerges due to increasing entropy.

While the team’s theory is exciting and will likely lead to further research exploring a potential link between human consciousness and entropy, it is far from conclusive. The study’s sample size was exceptionally small, so they’ll need to replicate their results on larger groups and different types of brain states. Still, it provides a fascinating explanation for human consciousness and may be the clue that eventually helps us fully understand the strange phenomenon.

Neuroscientists Say They’ve Identified The Unique Brain Patterns of Consciousness

Humans have learned to travel through space, eradicate diseases and understand nature at the breathtakingly tiny level of fundamental particles.

Yet we have no idea how consciousness – our ability to experience and learn about the world in this way and report it to others – arises in the brain.

In fact, while scientists have been preoccupied with understanding consciousness for centuries, it remains one of the most important unanswered questions of modern neuroscience.

Now our new study, published in Science Advances, sheds light on the mystery by uncovering networks in the brain that are at work when we are conscious.

It’s not just a philosophical question. Determining whether a patient is “aware” after suffering a severe brain injury is a huge challenge both for doctors and families who need to make decisions about care.

Modern brain imaging techniques are starting to lift this uncertainty, giving us unprecedented insights into human consciousness.

For example, we know that complex brain areas including the prefrontal cortex or the precuneus, which are responsible for a range of higher cognitive functions, are typically involved in conscious thought.

However, large brain areas do many things. We therefore wanted to find out how consciousness is represented in the brain on the level of specific networks.

The reason it is so difficult to study conscious experiences is that they are entirely internal and cannot be accessed by others.

For example, we can both be looking at the same picture on our screens, but I have no way to tell whether my experience of seeing that picture is similar to yours, unless you tell me about it.

Only conscious individuals can have subjective experiences and, therefore, the most direct way to assess whether somebody is conscious is to ask them to tell us about them.

But what would happen if you lose your ability to speak? In that case, I could still ask you some questions and you could perhaps sign your responses, for example by nodding your head or moving your hand.

Of course, the information I would obtain this way would not be as rich, but it would still be enough for me to know that you do indeed have experiences.

If you were not able to produce any responses though, I would not have a way to tell whether you’re conscious and would probably assume you’re not.

Scanning for networks

Our new study, the product of a collaboration across seven countries, has identified brain signatures that can indicate consciousness without relying on self-report or the need to ask patients to engage in a particular task, and can differentiate between conscious and unconscious patients after brain injury.

When the brain gets severely damaged, for example in a serious traffic accident, people can end up in a coma. This is a state in which you lose your ability to be awake and aware of your surrounding and need mechanical support to breathe.

It typically doesn’t last more than a few days. After that, patients sometimes wake up but don’t show any evidence of having any awareness of themselves or the world around them – this is known as a “vegetative state”.

Another possibility is that they show evidence only of a very minimal awareness – referred to as a minimally conscious state. For most patients, this means that their brain still perceives things but they don’t experience them.

However, a small percentage of these patients are indeed conscious but simply unable to produce any behavioural responses.

fMRI scanner (Semiconscious/Wikipedia/Public Domain)fMRI scanner (Semiconscious/Wikipedia/Public Domain)

We used a technique known as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which allows us to measure the activity of the brain and the way some regions “communicate” with others.

Specifically, when a brain region is more active, it consumes more oxygen and needs higher blood supply to meet its demands.

We can detect these changes even when the participants are at rest and measure how it varies across regions to create patterns of connectivity across the brain.

We used the method on 53 patients in a vegetative state, 59 people in a minimally conscious state and 47 healthy participants. They came from hospitals in Paris, Liège, New York, London, and Ontario.

Patients from Paris, Liège, and New York were diagnosed through standardised behavioural assessments, such as being asked to move a hand or blink an eye.

In contrast, patients from London were assessed with other advanced brain imaging techniques that required the patient to modulate their brain to produce neural responses instead of external physical ones – such as imagining moving one’s hand instead of actually moving it.

(Tagliazucchi et al. 2019)(Tagliazucchi et al. 2019)

We found two main patterns of communication across regions. One simply reflected physical connections of the brain, such as communication only between pairs of regions that have a direct physical link between them.

This was seen in patients with virtually no conscious experience.

One represented very complex brain-wide dynamic interactions across a set of 42 brain regions that belong to six brain networks with important roles in cognition (see image above). This complex pattern was almost only present in people with some level of consciousness.

Importantly, this complex pattern disappeared when patients were under deep anaesthesia, confirming that our methods were indeed sensitive to the patients’ level of consciousness and not their general brain damage or external responsiveness.

Research like this has the potential to lead to an understanding of how objective biomarkers can play a crucial role in medical decision making.

In the future it might be possible to develop ways to externally modulate these conscious signatures and restore some degree of awareness or responsiveness in patients who have lost them, for example by using non-invasive brain stimulation techniques such as transcranial electrical stimulation.

Indeed, in my research group at the University of Birmingham, we are starting to explore this avenue.

Excitingly the research also takes us as step closer to understanding how consciousness arises in the brain.

With more data on the neural signatures of consciousness in people experiencing various altered states of consciousness – ranging from taking psychedelics to experiencing lucid dreams – we may one day crack the puzzle.The Conversation

Davinia Fernández-Espejo, Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology and Centre for Human Brain Health, University of Birmingham.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Carl Sagan’s Profound Essay On Why Cannabis Consciousness is Desperately Needed in This Mad and Dangerous World | High Existence

“Cannabis brings us an awareness that we spend a lifetime being trained to overlook and forget and put out of our minds.”

— Carl Sagan

Most of us remember Carl Sagan as a brilliant scientist, a popularizer of both the methods and progress of human knowledge. Some know him as an advocate of space exploration and peace on earth. Some will even recognize his brilliant work in the science fiction community, as a writer himself, and as a commentator on sci-fi authors such as Arthur C. Clarke.

Carl Sagan, 1994. Photo Credit: Johann Heupel (Flickr Commons

Few, however, know that he wrote an absolutely thrilling and insightful essay on the merits of the psychoactive properties of the cannabis plant.

Writing under the pseudonym ‘Mr. X’ (due to the political sensitivity of coming out as a smoker), Carl starts out by going into the well-known sensory enhancements bestowed by cannabis, most notably those which occur during sex, while listening to music, and while savoring art.

While these qualities are important and valuable in themselves, the true magic of an altered state of consciousness lies in its paradigm-shifting potential, as Sagan eloquently explains

After reading this essay, you might agree with us that Carl’s famous saying, “The cosmos is within us. We are starstuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.” was first thought of when he was rather high.

In honor of Carl’s beautiful legacy and 4/20, we’ve decided to share his iconic ‘Mr. X’ essay in full below. Savor this magnificent explanation of the cannabis experience from one of the greatest minds of the 20th century.

[Pro-Tip: Have a toke before reading, and we promise you can read the whole essay in Sagan’s voice.]

Dr. Sagan’s Profound ‘Mr. X’ Essay

It all began about ten years ago. I had reached a considerably more relaxed period in my life – a time when I had come to feel that there was more to living than science, a time of awakening of my social consciousness and amiability, a time when I was open to new experiences. I had become friendly with a group of people who occasionally smoked cannabis, irregularly, but with evident pleasure. Initially I was unwilling to partake, but the apparent euphoria that cannabis produced and the fact that there was no physiological addiction to the plant eventually persuaded me to try. My initial experiences were entirely disappointing; there was no effect at all, and I began to entertain a variety of hypotheses about cannabis being a placebo which worked by expectation and hyperventilation rather than by chemistry. After about five or six unsuccessful attempts, however, it happened.

I was lying on my back in a friend’s living room idly examining the pattern of shadows on the ceiling cast by a potted plant (not cannabis!). I suddenly realized that I was examining an intricately detailed miniature Volkswagen, distinctly outlined by the shadows. I was very skeptical at this perception, and tried to find inconsistencies between Volkswagens and what I viewed on the ceiling. But it was all there, down to hubcaps, license plate, chrome, and even the small handle used for opening the trunk. When I closed my eyes, I was stunned to find that there was a movie going on the inside of my eyelids. Flash . . . a simple country scene with red farmhouse, a blue sky, white clouds, yellow path meandering over green hills to the horizon. . . Flash . . . same scene, orange house, brown sky, red clouds, yellow path, violet fields . . . Flash . . . Flash . . . Flash. The flashes came about once a heartbeat. Each flash brought the same simple scene into view, but each time with a different set of colors . . . exquisitely deep hues, and astonishingly harmonious in their juxtaposition. Since then I have smoked occasionally and enjoyed it thoroughly. It amplifies torpid sensibilities and produces what to me are even more interesting effects, as I will explain shortly.

I can remember another early visual experience with cannabis, in which I viewed a candle flame and discovered in the heart of the flame, standing with magnificent indifference, the black-hatted and -cloaked Spanish gentleman who appears on the label of the Sandeman sherry bottle. Looking at fires when high, by the way, especially through one of those prism kaleidoscopes which image their surroundings, is an extraordinarily moving and beautiful experience.

I want to explain that at no time did I think these things ‘really’ were out there. I knew there was no Volkswagen on the ceiling and there was no Sandeman salamander man in the flame. I don’t feel any contradiction in these experiences. There’s a part of me making, creating the perceptions which in everyday life would be bizarre; there’s another part of me which is a kind of observer. About half of the pleasure comes from the observer-part appreciating the work of the creator-part. I smile, or sometimes even laugh out loud at the pictures on the insides of my eyelids. In this sense, I suppose cannabis is psychotomimetic, but I find none of the panic or terror that accompanies some psychoses. Possibly this is because I know it’s my own trip, and that I can come down rapidly any time I want to.

While my early perceptions were all visual, and curiously lacking in images of human beings, both of these items have changed over the intervening years. I find that today a single joint is enough to get me high. I test whether I’m high by closing my eyes and looking for the flashes. They come long before there are any alterations in my visual or other perceptions. I would guess this is a signal-to-noise problem, the visual noise level being very low with my eyes closed. Another interesting information-theoretical aspects is the prevalence – at least in my flashed images – of cartoons: just the outlines of figures, caricatures, not photographs. I think this is simply a matter of information compression; it would be impossible to grasp the total content of an image with the information content of an ordinary photograph, say 108 bits, in the fraction of a second which a flash occupies. And the flash experience is designed, if I may use that word, for instant appreciation. The artist and viewer are one. This is not to say that the images are not marvelously detailed and complex. I recently had an image in which two people were talking, and the words they were saying would form and disappear in yellow above their heads, at about a sentence per heartbeat. In this way it was possible to follow the conversation. At the same time an occasional word would appear in red letters among the yellows above their heads, perfectly in context with the conversation; but if one remembered these red words, they would enunciate a quite different set of statements, penetratingly critical of the conversation. The entire image set which I’ve outlined here, with I would say at least 100 yellow words and something like 10 red words, occurred in something under a minute.

The cannabis experience has greatly improved my appreciation for art, a subject which I had never much appreciated before. The understanding of the intent of the artist which I can achieve when high sometimes carries over to when I’m down. This is one of many human frontiers which cannabis has helped me traverse. There also have been some art-related insights – I don’t know whether they are true or false, but they were fun to formulate. For example, I have spent some time high looking at the work of the Belgian surrealist Yves Tanguey. Some years later, I emerged from a long swim in the Caribbean and sank exhausted onto a beach formed from the erosion of a nearby coral reef. In idly examining the arcuate pastel-colored coral fragments which made up the beach, I saw before me a vast Tanguey painting. Perhaps Tanguey visited such a beach in his childhood.

A very similar improvement in my appreciation of music has occurred with cannabis. For the first time I have been able to hear the separate parts of a three-part harmony and the richness of the counterpoint. I have since discovered that professional musicians can quite easily keep many separate parts going simultaneously in their heads, but this was the first time for me. Again, the learning experience when high has at least to some extent carried over when I’m down. The enjoyment of food is amplified; tastes and aromas emerge that for some reason we ordinarily seem to be too busy to notice. I am able to give my full attention to the sensation. A potato will have a texture, a body, and taste like that of other potatoes, but much more so. Cannabis also enhances the enjoyment of sex – on the one hand it gives an exquisite sensitivity, but on the other hand it postpones orgasm: in part by distracting me with the profusion of image passing before my eyes. The actual duration of orgasm seems to lengthen greatly, but this may be the usual experience of time expansion which comes with cannabis smoking.

I do not consider myself a religious person in the usual sense, but there is a religious aspect to some highs. The heightened sensitivity in all areas gives me a feeling of communion with my surroundings, both animate and inanimate. Sometimes a kind of existential perception of the absurd comes over me and I see with awful certainty the hypocrisies and posturing of myself and my fellow men. And at other times, there is a different sense of the absurd, a playful and whimsical awareness. Both of these senses of the absurd can be communicated, and some of the most rewarding highs I’ve had have been in sharing talk and perceptions and humor. Cannabis brings us an awareness that we spend a lifetime being trained to overlook and forget and put out of our minds. A sense of what the world is really like can be maddening; cannabis has brought me some feelings for what it is like to be crazy, and how we use that word ‘crazy’ to avoid thinking about things that are too painful for us. In the Soviet Union political dissidents are routinely placed in insane asylums. The same kind of thing, a little more subtle perhaps, occurs here: ‘did you hear what Lenny Bruce said yesterday? He must be crazy.’ When high on cannabis I discovered that there’s somebody inside in those people we call mad.

When I’m high I can penetrate into the past, recall childhood memories, friends, relatives, playthings, streets, smells, sounds, and tastes from a vanished era. I can reconstruct the actual occurrences in childhood events only half understood at the time. Many but not all my cannabis trips have somewhere in them a symbolism significant to me which I won’t attempt to describe here, a kind of mandala embossed on the high. Free-associating to this mandala, both visually and as plays on words, has produced a very rich array of insights.

There is a myth about such highs: the user has an illusion of great insight, but it does not survive scrutiny in the morning. I am convinced that this is an error, and that the devastating insights achieved when high are real insights; the main problem is putting these insights in a form acceptable to the quite different self that we are when we’re down the next day. Some of the hardest work I’ve ever done has been to put such insights down on tape or in writing. The problem is that ten even more interesting ideas or images have to be lost in the effort of recording one. It is easy to understand why someone might think it’s a waste of effort going to all that trouble to set the thought down, a kind of intrusion of the Protestant Ethic. But since I live almost all my life down I’ve made the effort – successfully, I think. Incidentally, I find that reasonably good insights can be remembered the next day, but only if some effort has been made to set them down another way. If I write the insight down or tell it to someone, then I can remember it with no assistance the following morning; but if I merely say to myself that I must make an effort to remember, I never do.

I find that most of the insights I achieve when high are into social issues, an area of creative scholarship very different from the one I am generally known for. I can remember one occasion, taking a shower with my wife while high, in which I had an idea on the origins and invalidities of racism in terms of gaussian distribution curves. It was a point obvious in a way, but rarely talked about. I drew the curves in soap on the shower wall, and went to write the idea down. One idea led to another, and at the end of about an hour of extremely hard work I found I had written eleven short essays on a wide range of social, political, philosophical, and human biological topics. Because of problems of space, I can’t go into the details of these essays, but from all external signs, such as public reactions and expert commentary, they seem to contain valid insights. I have used them in university commencement addresses, public lectures, and in my books.

But let me try to at least give the flavor of such an insight and its accompaniments. One night, high on cannabis, I was delving into my childhood, a little self-analysis, and making what seemed to me to be very good progress. I then paused and thought how extraordinary it was that Sigmund Freud, with no assistance from drugs, had been able to achieve his own remarkable self-analysis. But then it hit me like a thunderclap that this was wrong, that Freud had spent the decade before his self-analysis as an experimenter with and a proselytizer for cocaine; and it seemed to me very apparent that the genuine psychological insights that Freud brought to the world were at least in part derived from his drug experience. I have no idea whether this is in fact true, or whether the historians of Freud would agree with this interpretation, or even if such an idea has been published in the past, but it is an interesting hypothesis and one which passes first scrutiny in the world of the downs.

I can remember the night that I suddenly realized what it was like to be crazy, or nights when my feelings and perceptions were of a religious nature. I had a very accurate sense that these feelings and perceptions, written down casually, would not stand the usual critical scrutiny that is my stock in trade as a scientist. If I find in the morning a message from myself the night before informing me that there is a world around us which we barely sense, or that we can become one with the universe, or even that certain politicians are desperately frightened men, I may tend to disbelieve; but when I’m high I know about this disbelief. And so I have a tape in which I exhort myself to take such remarks seriously. I say ‘Listen closely, you sonofabitch of the morning! This stuff is real!’ I try to show that my mind is working clearly; I recall the name of a high school acquaintance I have not thought of in thirty years; I describe the color, typography, and format of a book in another room and these memories do pass critical scrutiny in the morning. I am convinced that there are genuine and valid levels of perception available with cannabis (and probably with other drugs) which are, through the defects of our society and our educational system, unavailable to us without such drugs. Such a remark applies not only to self-awareness and to intellectual pursuits, but also to perceptions of real people, a vastly enhanced sensitivity to facial expression, intonations, and choice of words which sometimes yields a rapport so close it’s as if two people are reading each other’s minds.

Cannabis enables nonmusicians to know a little about what it is like to be a musician, and nonartists to grasp the joys of art. But I am neither an artist nor a musician. What about my own scientific work? While I find a curious disinclination to think of my professional concerns when high – the attractive intellectual adventures always seem to be in every other area – I have made a conscious effort to think of a few particularly difficult current problems in my field when high. It works, at least to a degree. I find I can bring to bear, for example, a range of relevant experimental facts which appear to be mutually inconsistent. So far, so good. At least the recall works. Then in trying to conceive of a way of reconciling the disparate facts, I was able to come up with a very bizarre possibility, one that I’m sure I would never have thought of down. I’ve written a paper which mentions this idea in passing. I think it’s very unlikely to be true, but it has consequences which are experimentally testable, which is the hallmark of an acceptable theory.

I have mentioned that in the cannabis experience there is a part of your mind that remains a dispassionate observer, who is able to take you down in a hurry if need be. I have on a few occasions been forced to drive in heavy traffic when high. I’ve negotiated it with no difficult at all, though I did have some thoughts about the marvelous cherry-red color of traffic lights. I find that after the drive I’m not high at all. There are no flashes on the insides of my eyelids. If you’re high and your child is calling, you can respond about as capably as you usually do. I don’t advocate driving when high on cannabis, but I can tell you from personal experience that it certainly can be done. My high is always reflective, peaceable, intellectually exciting, and sociable, unlike most alcohol highs, and there is never a hangover. Through the years I find that slightly smaller amounts of cannabis suffice to produce the same degree of high, and in one movie theater recently I found I could get high just by inhaling the cannabis smoke which permeated the theater.

There is a very nice self-titering aspect to cannabis. Each puff is a very small dose; the time lag between inhaling a puff and sensing its effect is small; and there is no desire for more after the high is there. I think the ratio, R, of the time to sense the dose taken to the time required to take an excessive dose is an important quantity. R is very large for LSD (which I’ve never taken) and reasonably short for cannabis. Small values of R should be one measure of the safety of psychedelic drugs. When cannabis is legalized, I hope to see this ratio as one of he parameters printed on the pack. I hope that time isn’t too distant; the illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.

This account was written in 1969 for publication in Marijuana Reconsidered (1971). Sagan was in his mid-thirties at that time. He continued to use cannabis for the rest of his life.