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Altered States of America

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Lately, though with some decreased regularity which I may need to correct, I’ve been reading a book called “Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered.” I forget where I picked it up. I think it was at some random book seller somewhere in New Jersey or Philadelphia. Of course, having had some minor experiences in my life with the so-called “drug culture,” I figured that the book might be interesting. It appeared to delve into the drug experience in a rational, scientific manner, which might elucidate the reality of what is really going on.

I am about halfway through, since I’ve only started reading it a few weeks ago, it’s fairly thick, and I also haven’t devoted enough attention to it, I guess, so I cannot give a worthwhile synopsis, yet. I am not really interested in making a book review, either. This post is more for putting forth some thoughts which this book has made into budding form.

The book goes over primarily LSD and related drugs, giving chemical information and notes on physiological and psychological changes in subjects. Besides the “hardcore” scientific facts and reports, they also have a number of testimonials of those under going the effects of the drugs. There are some commonalities in different drugs taken, doses given, and so forth. There are a few salient, interesting points to that. First of all, even undergoing these “trips” most (if not all) subjects realize that they are in the midst of the influence of drugs. Despite that many of those drugs labeled “hallucinogens,” they do not, apparently, produce true hallucinations in that the subject thinks they are real, like a mirage or something. They will understand that much of what they are experiencing is the effects of the drug.

What interests me the most about this is the fact many of these drugs have been used, probably in olden times and in other cultures, for mystical purposes. Many believed they were catalysts for spiritual journies and insights. Many of the subjects in the book experienced a strange “oneness” to existence. A lot of them found new perspectives to their lives and new meanings to things, a depth otherwise unseen before. One question that comes to my mind is: was the experience always there, just waiting for the right catalyst, or was the experience entirely induced because of the drug?

Ultimately, it makes one consider that the brain is quite a strange mechanism in which we observe and interact with our environment. If we introduce chemicals and other changes, we are capable of entirely altering this perception. But what does that mean? Is this just chemical reactions in that squishy matter in our skull, so that if you mix it up and give it some different juice, we’re living in another universe? What’s real then? Do these chemicals simply let down our filters so that in comes an on-rush of sensations and stimuli that we’re suddenly finding ourselves ill-equipped to now sort, categorize, and rationalize?

If we find God in our drug experience, what does that say about God? Did the drug trick us with an illusion, a chemical substitute? Or did the drug melt the veil from our third eye, to see with new sight and a new light? A lot of these drugs are to be found in nature. Are they, like Bill Hicks has said, been put there to help Man to evolve? Give us a little different spin on things, widen our horizons, put things into a different arrangement? If our brains are capable of having these experiences with drugs, is it possible we are able to achieve these states without them? Are the reactions in our brain able to align themselves with their own methods to do this? Are the drugs just the “easy way” already laid out upon the earth for us to “try before we buy” and figure it out for ourselves?

I’m still stuck on finding out what it really means, the depth and breadth of it. And what are we so afraid of in the experience? Where is the taboo? Sure, we can treat the experience with a little reverence and healthy respect, but awe bordering on superstitious fear seems a little much. The drug laws are a whole seperate issue, however, so I’ll let that lie for now. Am I missing out on a piece of reality? I’m I keeping myself mired in mundania by accident or design? I guess we shall see.


Written by 2ndhandsoul

September 30, 2008 at 9:03 pm

a line is a series of points

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so small
only fitting
a second
at a time

so little
but ourselves
what else
can we fit?

each second
a second gone
the last
of its kind

every moment
worth having
and giving it up
for the next

the space
our time
our lives
and forgetting
the rest

Written by 2ndhandsoul

September 15, 2008 at 9:05 pm