Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Psychedelics and Spacetime

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wr5oO9fJWU

"Imagining the Tenth Dimension is one of the most brilliantly-conceived and mind-stretching books that I've ever encountered." - David Jay Brown
"Utterly charming, beautifully illustrated, and elegantly designed, O is for Omniverse is a book to be read aloud, again and again." - David Jay Brown

David Jay Brown has been a good friend to this project, offering very kind words for both of my books. He is the author of seven mind-expanding books about the evolution of consciousness, achieving optimal health, and the future, including four well-known volumes of interviews with leading-edge thinkers: Mavericks of the Mind, Voices from the Edge, Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse, and Mavericks of Medicine. David holds a master’s degree in psychobiology from New York University, and writes regularly for publications all over the globe, including Scientific American.

David is also one of the world's leading experts on psychedelics, and has acted as editor for issues of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies newsletter: the MAPS Bulletin. One of my facebook friends is Rick Doblin, Ph.D, and Rick is the current Executive Director of MAPS. It was through Rick that I heard about an event they are holding in Los Angeles from December 10th to 12th this year which promises to be very interesting; it's called Catalysts: Psychedelics in Culture, Consciousness, and Creativity. Click here to see the facebook page dedicated to this event.

In recent entries like Extra-Dimensional Geometry and Thinking Bigger, we've been talking about how difficult it can be for our "monkey brains" to visualize extra dimensions. In Are Bees More Sixth-Dimensional, we looked at the startling evidence that bees use sixth-dimensional geometry to describe the location of food sources to each other through their complex dance patterns. How could a bee be able to think in six dimensions when even four can seem like a stretch for we human beings? For me, these discussions always come down to finding ways to picture what parts of our reality come from the extra dimensions which are at additional "right angles" to the four dimensions of spacetime, which leads us to the title of this entry.

I know I keep repeating myself on this topic, but people come to these blogs sometimes without having read other parts of my body of work so I want to be clear on this: I have no experience with psychedelics myself, and that leads me to the conclusion that people do not need to take psychedelics in order to visualize what lies beyond our reality. There are other paths to these insights. Nonetheless, I hear every day from people who have taken psychedelics of various kinds and tell me that my approach to describing how the dimensions are connected together makes a great deal of sense when applied to what they experienced, and in many cases has helped them to understand what they perceived.

Terence McKenna was a charismatic speaker, a philosopher, an author, and a strong advocate for psychedelics. With my project, I've spoken a number of times about Graham Hancock's amazing book Supernatural, which makes the claim that there are multiple ways for human beings to achieve altered states which allow them to peer into these additional realms, and psychedelics offer one of those ways. In the following YouTube video, you'll hear Terence McKenna voice a contrasting view: he says psychedelics are the only way for people to open their minds up to these possibilities.

Terence on Psychedelics and Religion (thanks to Joshua Holmes for showing me this video!):

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ngKwlHLwGs

Here's a link to a Terence McKenna article which proposes that as primitive human beings developed consciousness , those who narrowed their perceptions down from these extra realms to "spacetime only" developed an evolutionary advantage. Let me quote some of that article here:
I think that, and it seems logically compelling to me, that consciousness as ordinarily experienced is a human ability shaped by evolutionary pressure, and since evolutionary threat and harm usually comes at us in three dimensional space, this is where consciousness has been forced...to concentrate and define itself.

... So what happens when you take a compound like psilocybin in silent darkness in a situation of no threat and low anxiety and low input from the exterior world is that this function, which is essentially in most situations a closed fist ready to strike out at something coming from nearby, unfolds into something much more beautiful, much more interesting, and much more true to itself. In other words, not defined by an exterior context or situation, but defined by its own mechanics.
The question is this: are the visions experienced by persons taking psychedelics simply tricks of temporarily altered brain chemistry, or are people actually catching glimpses of something real? And does that mean someone with the proper grounding in extra-dimensional geometries and cosmology might be able to find a way to incorporate those visions into their theories? Here's a link to a page which reprints a seven-year-old article appearing in New Scientist magazine. The original article bore the whimsical title "Einstein an Acid". The reprint on Alok Subbarao's blog calls the article "Pscychedelic-Influenced Astrophysics".
The article is about some creative new proposals for the structure of reality which came from Metod Saniga, who was at that time an astrophysicist at the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava, and is now a professor at the Institute for Discrete Mathematics and Geometry, Vienna University of Technology . Dr. Saniga was quite willing to admit that he came up with these insights while under the influence of psychedelics, but he also portrays himself as a serious-minded scientist, and accepts that some critics will reject his ideas outright because of pre-conceived notions about the evils of psychedelics.
The diagrams at left come from the New Scientist article on Dr. Saniga's proposed new framework. Is there a way to marry this approach to the Imagining the Tenth Dimension framework? Perhaps, but if so that's not immediately apparent to me. If you go to Dr. Saniga's website you'll see that his interests are far-reaching, and do extend into the more metaphysical tangents that we've played with in this project, so I would certainly like to know more about this man's work and if any of his innovative concepts have received any mainstream acceptance yet.
Finally, here's a quote from Terence McKenna on David Jay Brown:
"That our perfected selves whisper to us from the future is but one of David Jay Brown's fertile insights." --Terence McKenna, author of Food of the Gods.
Clearly, this is an idea which connects to my project as well, including one of my favorite blog entries from a few months back, Love and Gravity. We're going to continue exploring these fascinating patterns that are at "right angles" to our spacetime next time with an entry called Bees and Tangential Thinking. Till then, enjoy the journey!
Rob Bryanton
PS - I'd like to thank my facebook friend Joshua Holmes, who kindly offered the use of the painting seen at the beginning of this blog when he heard I was doing an entry on psychedelics - this painting is Joshua's visual interpretation of a DMT trip. Thanks so much, Joshua!

1 comment:

la_zingaro said...

Super neat article. I have always loved your style, ability to succinctly explain near incomprehensible ideas and now, certainly your open mindedness. As someone who has experimented with psychedelics I can say from experience that it can be very liberating and in the least open up synaptic highways for us to travel upon that we might not otherwise find. But my chemical experiences (and to their credit) only made me want to find a way back on my own which opened my mind to meditation and the study of physics; meta, general and astro. So, not every one needs them, and not everyone uses them exclusively to embrace the Real Reality that exists beyond our limited perception capabilities. I find that chemicals no longer suit me the way they once did, but I shall never forget how they inspired me with allowing me to peek inside my mind and outside my universe. While I see some natural psychedelics as useful they are still limited and anyone truly searching for the Ultimate, will find a way to get their on their own regardless of how they found the infinite. Thanks again for being Awesome! I'm gonna link this to my blog to spread your magic around. Ciao! La Zingaro

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