First, as a new poster, I'd like to state that I do strength train. I've recently gotten my squat into the low 300s at 170lbs bw and I'm using a bill starr 5x5 type program. I've also got a blue belt in bjj. Having given my 'credentials', I'll now turn to the issue which motivated me to stop lurking.
Psychedelics have interested me for many years and I've made a study of them through both rational/verbal and experiential means. This two pronged approach seems to me to be the only fully satisfactory method. Those who have only explored psychedelics through rational/verbal means can not really be said to have explored them at all. In contrast, those who use the substances but, due to low intelligence, lack of motivation or inclination, fail to intellectually explore the accumulated cultural wisdom(both ancient and modern) germane to the psychedelic experience are bound to have a less well rounded understanding than one who uses the double approach of both intellectual and experiential exploration.
In this post I intend to make a few overarching claims about psychedelics and illuminate these claims by quoting some books I have. If people respond well I am willing to write further on this topic. I was excited to see a topic so dear to my heart appear on this forum.
I think that, perhaps, some of the same character traits that attract us to self directed efforts like strength training may carry over to exploration of psychedelics(or rather our exploration of ourselves via chemical tools). I have in mind here the drive to do something hard/painful/scary/intimidating that society discounts and promotes half truths and misunderstandings about in order to achieve goals of self improvement and exploration.
Claim #1: People who have not had experience with psychedelics do not and cannot know what is being talked about and those who have had experience are unable to communicate it except very imperfectly.
The manifold experiential states one can undergo using psychedelics defy verbal description. Rational, linguistic linear thinking of the sort we are used to can only dimly grasp and grapple with the mere memory of a psychedelic experience. We 'successfully' use language to communicate ideas with one another because we have similar experiential referents about things in the material world. Psychedelics rapidly show us the limitations of language because one can have inner experiences so profoundly alien that any verbal description attempted is felt to fall infinitively short of what would be required to communicate the fullness of the experience. In this way only those experienced are able to communicate their experiences well to each other, and even then it is imperfect.
So above I'm claiming that the experience is weirder than can be imagined by those who have not had it and if one has had it it can't be grasped in its fullness either as a memory or communicated adequately. This is both because we have not developed much of a shared vocabulary for many inner experiences and also because psychedelics can allow us to transcend language. Language can be thought of as a "program" the mind runs and psychedelics can completely disengage that process. Thus it is impossible to "get here from there" in some sense.
I'll make the following related but distinct claim: All the above is true, however it is possible to give someone an inkling of what a psychedelic experience can be like using words. After all this is what I'm attempting right now! Most people have not even been exposed to verbal descriptions of the most profound psychedelic states. Almost always, popular knowledge of what a psychedelic experience is extends only to very minor, low level perceptual changes. So most people are in a position of having never heard of what is impossible to imagine, let alone actually experiencing it.
To do my very small part in addressing this for the interested people in this thread I'll quote some passages and surmise some of a really first rate book I have called The Antipodes of the Mind: Charting the Phenomenology of the Ayahuasca Experience by Benny Shannon.
This book can be found on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Antipodes-.../dp/0199252939
Let me say a few words regarding the credibility of this book. It's published by Oxford University Press, for what that is worth. Secondly, the author holds a professorship in cognitive psychology. He has taken Ayahuasca over 200 times. Ayahuasca is a plant based tea containing the powerful chemical DMT used for centuries(and probably much longer) in the Amazon basin. In the book he explains how he interviewed hundreds of Ayahuasca drinkers and, together with his own extensive first hand experience, used this data to draw some preliminary generalizations about the effects of Ayahuasca. One of his basic conclusions is that this body of evidence should inform cognitive psychologists that the interior world of mind is far stranger than they supposed.
Ayahuasca and DMT generally are well known for being visonary in the sense that many users experience full blown visions while using the psychedelic substance. This is in contrast to the lower level visual changes typified by recreational doses of LSD, mushrooms, etc. Benny Shannon notes that the visual aspect of Ayahuasca is easiest to describe verbally but is only one small part of the total experience.
Ok I'll finally start quoting from the book to give you guys some examples of what can happen in deep visionary states. I implore the reader to remember these are only extremely crude verbal approximations of the visual aspect of the recounted experience. Reading this in no real way will impart on the uninitiated what it would be like to actually undergo this experience.
From page 107, one of Benny's own experiences with the brew:
From page 108, another experience of Benny's:I entered a landscape. It was a meadow and there was a bridge in front of me. I crossed, found a trail, and went forward. At one turn of the trail I met a bearded old man sitting on a beautifully adorned chair. The man wore a splendid white robe full of rich embroidery, some of it golden, held a scepter in his hand and his countenance was wise and benevolent. With his hand, he indicated that I should follow the trail to the left and go on. This I did until I met another old man, very much like the first, and he too indicated that I should go on. Soon I reached a magnificent mansion. Upon my entry, I was welcomed by a host of beautiful young maidens. they were clad in white, delicate lace and they invited me into a hall in which a sumptuous meal was set. I interacted with the various people present and then the vision faded.
From page 129, a Brazilian native Ayahuasca user:I saw a series of six visions presenting monarchs in their throne halls. The most spectacular of these were the first two scenes, which depicted ancient Egyptian pharaohs. In all cases I was invited to step in, stay in the corner, and witness the monarchs as they ruled. I was given the chance to observe the challenges and difficulties that absolute power presents. I appreciated the potential pitfalls as well as the grandeur associated with such power.
Keep in mind that, depending on the intensity of the experience(the is related to dose, set and setting) that visions may be 2D and seen with closed eyes, 2D and seen projected onto the material world with open eyes, 3D with closed eyes, 3D and floating in material space or, the most immersive visions are felt to be "more real than real" and are seen as fully realized worlds in which the drinker feels they have been thrust into in the same way that we feel that we do not "see" the world but rather simply exist in it.I was looking into the mouth of a cauldron. Within the circle defined by the rim, a cinematic presentation of evolution unfolded. Outside the boundaries of the rim, everything looked utterly normal. This was the most powerful of the very many Ayahuasca visions that I have had.
Do not think the Antipodes book is a mere collection of trip reports. He goes into great detail in synthesis and analysis of various aspects of the Ayahuasca experience. Take a look at the table of contents on the Amazon page for a summary.
This is post is already quite wordy. My apologies. Hopefully this will prompt at least one person, perhaps the OP, to investigate the Antipodes book further. It is well worth the price. I have about 14 other high quality books about entheogens/psychedelics including some published by the Council for Spiritual Practices(http://csp.org/practices/entheogens/entheogens.html. If people are interested then I'll continue to quote books and introduce some more claims that I think are valid generalizations.
Thanks for the post. It wasn't too long. I guess I never realized how important it was for some people to be relieved of the tendency to think linearly.
I just don't understand the use of chemicals as a chronic or long term solution to this.
Visions, dreams, body states brought about by tripping are fine- but being able to see the synchronicity, metaphor, silliness or profundity around us is,ideally something we should be able to do at will
Hallucinogens are fun and exciting and show us a sign.
Placing inordinately high value on their worth is like continually being excited about the sign, pointing at it and marveling at its complexity- without going down the road.
Zen, as Sully pointed out, has famously been called a finger pointed at the moon. This doesn't stop people from staring at the finger (in all religions, really). Some people do get caught up in the tool itself, but psychedelics have the advantage of being extremely disruptive. You can't help but see the moon, because the finger and the moon are the same thing, if you will. You can fail to see the significance of it, of course.
And you, my friend, have the advantage of access to mental states difficult for others to achieve in their normal lives (without vigorous training, anyway) through music. And this perhaps gets you closer to seeing the "synchronicity, metaphor, silliness or profundity around us". Haven't you noticed that old musicians are often more than a little bit like holy men?
I guess it discourages me to see forums in which the arts are routinely treated as being somewhat useless,,,, while psychedelics are treated like the 8th wonder of the fucking world.
have you ever noticed old musicians being like crotchety bitchy losers?
Allow me to get off my high horse:
productive training is productive training regardless of the medium. The line between intermediate and elite is an interesting one no matter what pursuit is being considered!
Peyote told me to not be gay and stay with one girl forever and Peyote even did show her to me.
Call me absolutely crazy/nutcase/mad but I could never be happier.
In Peyote I trust; why? one good reason is this:
First time I consumed peyote, the lichen on the rocks at the mountains I was tripping at turned to some obscure human alphabetical stone carvings. something I hadn't seen before. then some time later, I was watching a documentary in TV, it was about native American cultures. and suddenly I noticed the same alphabetics carved on the temples and other ancient sites the documentary was showing. it was exactly the same thing I saw during that trip.
Now there is only two explanations for this:
1. Peyote is really magic.
2. (the materialist explanation) Peyote causes some specific neurochemical activity in the brains of users, which causes them to see such alphabeticals, and native Americans indeed copied what they did see during their trips and adopted it as their alphabetic system.
Last edited by pigeons=protein; 08-12-2012 at 01:41 PM.
I don't have a picture to link or know their name or even don't know which culture's temple was I watched in the documentary.
But the symbols look like made of rectangular shapes with round corners.
Psychedelics are often fun and exciting in lower recreational doses with recreational intentions. There is nothing wrong in my mind with moderate recreational use of substances such as mushrooms and LSD. It is not necessarily at odds with non-recreational uses of psychedelics/entheogens.Hallucinogens are fun and exciting and show us a sign.
I'll quote Shannon (pg 8):
This applies generally to any high dose psychedelic session, but particularly so in the case of Ayahuasca. This is because the brew is well known for causing stomach upset.Ayahuasca sessions are by no means easy, purely enjoyable experiences. One has to endure moments which may be very, very harsh, physically as well as mentally. Often I would take the brew and say to myself, "Never Again!" But I was driven to continue, hence I had to confront the difficulties and learn how to handle them. This was a training process in itself. And like any struggle that one overcomes, it does not leave one the same. One's inner constitution is affected, and in the process one undergoes significant personal transformations.
Shannon, pg. 56:
Ayahusaca is well known for inducing a purge(57):The very first sensation that Ayahuasca evokes is the gustatory one. It is notorious that Ayahuasca tastes 'awful'. Many even go as far as saying that the taste of Ayahuasca is the worst that they have ever come across in their entire lives. The brew is bitter and there is something pungent and biting to it. In Ayahuasca sessions, it is very common to see, just after the sipping of the brew, people producing facial expressions of revolt and disgust in a kind of automatic reflex reaction. It seems that they try, in vain, to get rid of the repugnant taste of the liquid they have just consumed. Typically one sees eyes shut, heads shakes, faces contort. People cough, spit, swear, and in some contexts cross themselves and pray for mercy.
It is a vomit like no other -- drinkers often feel that they are pouring out the depths of both their body and their soul. Several informants have told me that when vomiting in this manner they saw snakes coming out of their mouths; some described the snakes as fluorescent or luminous. The people of South America refer to the vomiting induced by Ayahuasca as an act of purga, that is -- a purge.
Regarding Shannon's extensive(perhaps viewed by some here as excessive) experience with ayahuasca; I'll note that Shannon first partook of the brew in 1983 and wrote the book in 2002.
A crude analogy may be drawn between physical training and the progression one encounters with repeated use of Ayahuasca. (301):
The interior world is much larger than most people realize. I feel that it was only after I took psychedelic substances about 100 times that I started to realize their potential in my own life and begun to realize their importance, profundity and depth. I think that a lot of people trip a few times and think they have enough data to make general judgments about the merits, uses and content of Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness occasioned by psychedelics. I think most of those people are wrong.The Ayahuasca Schooling
One several occasions throughout the foregoing discussion, I have alluded to the partaking of Ayahuasca in terms of a skill that is developed over time. As indicated in Ch. 18, with accumulative, long-term experience drinkers' handling of the Ayahuasca inebriation changes. For indeed, Ayahuasca is a course of training, a school. Many Western individuals adopting a hedonistic self-centered attitude partake of Ayahuasca with the aim of having exciting experiences-- either fun or great drama. Expressions I have heard include 'try Ayahuasca', 'do Ayahuasca', 'trip'. But Ayahuasca cannot be measured in terms of one-off, great experiences or in simplistic hedonistic terms. In this respect, it is no different from any other serious learning experience. If one wishes to know something about classical music, just stepping into a music shop and listening to one piece by Bach, one by Mozart, and one by Schubert won't do. Appreciating music is a long, accumulative process -- at times it is dramatic, often it is just very pleasurable, and always it involves concentration and reflection. Similarly, rushing to a library, opening a couple of books, and leafing through them is by no means a way to acquire knowledge of what literature is or is about. For this, there is no way but to start reading. Moreover, the reading should be done in an orderly fashion -- some books can be read only after others. some suit the interests and mentality of only certain types of people, some require further prerequisite expertise. All this is true with Ayahuasca.
From page 303,Especially interesting are long-term changes in the contents and themes of visions and in the import they have for the Ayahuasca drinker. As one gains more experience with the brew, one discovers that what happens to one under the intoxication is not haphazard -- it seems to have an internal logic and order. It is as if there is, within the brew itself, a wise teacher who decides what one should experience and learn in each session. At the time, during each particular session, this may not be evident but in retrospect the picture becomes clean and then its coherence is often most impressive. My experience has been that after every so many sessions, I would appreciate that I have completed what may be likened to a course on a particular topic. Often, this appreciation dawned upon me only when I was already two or three sessions into the next course. Long clusters of courses comprised what I would characterize as cycles. At times, there were also special classes -- like guest lectures in a university course -- on topics that seemed to be appropriate at that particular juncture of my life but that did not belong to the general theme of the course in progress at the time. I have heard the very same overall characterization from other experienced drinkers.
The Antipodes book is very dense, this makes it highly convenient to quote from. The peyote alphabet story brings to mind some very interesting passages in the Antipodes book about commonalities between different people's visionary experiences and commonalities between what one witnesses during a vision and the material world. I'll dig some quotes up later.The long-term developments in the Ayahuasca experience are manifested not only with respect to the structure, content and themes of visions, As indicated in the scheme sketched above, no less important are developments pertaining to the Ayahuasca drinker himself, With experience, drinkers learn to handle the Ayahuasca inebriation and their stance and demeanor under the intoxication change. One person told me: 'It is like learning to handle a high speed race car.'