Yesterday afternoon, I was talking about the relationship between psychedelic experiences and mystical experiences and pointing out that the there were really two major features in common. One of the sensation of polarity of you as a subject, a Noah, a center of action. Get this astonishing experience of being inseparable from everything that you had hitherto defined as other than yourself. Because you understand that the sensation of self cannot be experienced except in relation to the sensation of something other, and therefore that there is something in common between everything experienced as other and everything experienced the self. It’s as if there was sort of a conspiracy like Tweedledum and Tweedledee agreeing to have a battle. And you see and you have the vivid sensation of the motions and behaviors going on inside you, which are voluntary, being simply it were the other face of all the motions and behaviors that go on, whether inside you or outside you that are involuntary, that they were two sides of the same coin dancing together. And this is a very fascinating feeling and a very good feeling.
If you have the there’s something iffy about this, which I’ll come back to a very good feeling on the whole, because you feel that the whole arrangement of life of the the world of the universe is fundamentally harmonious.
Even though you can understand that there are tragedies and agonies, nevertheless, for some peculiar reason, you see that those are. Shall I say bands on the spectrum of experience. The spectrum of experience is vast, is multidimensional, and that the energy of the world is playing on all parts of the spectrum.
So it ranges you see on the what we could call a pleasure pain scale from extremes of ecstasy to extremes of agony.
Now what we feel you see, we always feel that the extreme of agony is threatening because it can bring about death and we are up. We have been carefully trained to try to avoid experiences on the agony extreme of the band. When you were a little baby and for example, you vomited. Your mother may have reacted dizzy and that taught you that vomiting was not a pleasant sensation, although in fact it is. And when people got sick, your parents got anxious and said, Oh, you are.
And you learn to imitate those reactions. When people died, they started crying and had a funeral and it was all very solemn. And so you learned that dying was a bad thing. But all these attributions of good and bad to the natural events of life are artificial. There are social conventions there, a game being played. And when we play games, we take various elements like, say, opposing your playing poker and you’ve got chips and you say red chips where so much blue chips were, so much white chips worth so much. And you put your valuation on the chips. So in exactly the same way life is going on and you put your valuations on it. Your parents put valuations out because they were playing games with life, competitive competitions.
Who wins, who loses, etc., etc. Easy. And so they put all these values on them. And consequently, these are so ingrained in everybody that they find it difficult to be liberated, to see everything in what Buddhists call it. Such as. Now, such news means this, and this is a very, very common feature of psychedelic experience that you see that everything is simply a dance of energy. It isn’t good, it isn’t bad, but it is beyond good and bad good with a capital g that it’s just great. It’s a fantastic achievement. Sea life.
And it’s going do do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do.
There are all sorts of ways that it it it it is a goody goody goody goody goody goody, you know, doing all these dances and that’s what it’s all about.
And therefore, in a certain sense, anything goes. And yet in another sense, it isn’t just anything goes because the fun of this whole thing is to make patterns.
To figure out games, to do something with it.
And it’s doing this forever and ever and ever and it’s going to surprise itself because you know what a shock death is. No, it just blows you right out. But, you know, if you observe the world, you see that it keeps coming back. So for heaven’s sakes, don’t worry yourself with images of being annihilated forever. You know, of being, as it were, buried alive in the dark. And to be confined in darkness for always and always and always, which would be just unbearable.
Just forget it. That’s his complete hallucination.
After you dead, you know where you’ll be someone else, just as you are now, you know, you came into this world, came out of this world is more correct way of saying and experienced yourself altogether new. Well, everybody who comes out of this world has the same experience and it keeps happening. And when one of them is finished and feels itself disappear, then as we know, another one starts. And that’s you all over again. That’s a difficult thing to understand because most people are unaware of the reality of intervals.
Of spaces and there are spaces, intervals between all human lives and those spaces join the lives together, whether they are spaces is what the ordinary little space or whether their spaces of time, intervals of time. And you can understand this when you listen to music and realize that the melody that you hear is a result of hearing the intervals between the tones. If you don’t hear the intervals, you just hear a succession of noises and you don’t hear melody at all.
So in the same way that the intervals between lives that join the lives together, you don’t have to imagine any strings attached. And his soul spook trance migrating from one life to another lives. The lives are joined simply by the interval between them. And to become aware of space in this way is the most important thing. Most people are completely unconscious of space and regard it as nothing.
Then so I said this then is a major feature of psychedelic experience, which is in common with mystical experience, is then we’ll call it first the sense of polarity and of the games. The such list of things that life is simply what it is, that it has no absolute value, but you put your values on it like you put values on the chips in poker. But actually, let’s suppose you let me give two illustrations of such a.. Let’s say we consider the word yes. And that we mean by something that it’s affirmative. But say yes several times.
Yes, yes, yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes, yes, yes. You begin to hear it as a nice. Yes. Is it funny that we make that noise? Yes. Yes.
And suddenly the meaning evaporates from it and you get just the noise. So in exactly that way, you begin to look at everything. I’ll take another illustration when somebody doesn’t know about. I mean, shrug of the shoulders. And you do it once and it has a meaning.
But imagine you’re watching someone going, you know, and suddenly you see everything is like that.
It. It doesn’t mean anything.
But it’s fascinating because it is just a certain play of pattern. Like you’re fascinated when you look at a crystal. You like to turn it around, look at all the angles. And the thing and all the patterns are a pick up a seashell, pick up a fantastic rock, admirer of fish, the sea. And this way of looking at it, that it just everything is a fantastic pattern, has no meaning, except it’s just what it is, dancing like that. Did you ever see a lady go this way? Go that way? Mm hmm. That’s what it is.
And that’s such a..
And then the second aspect is that you can often come to a level of experience where you get in touch with the final basic energy that is operating in all these patterns, diagrams and games. And this is generally experienced as a sensation of intensely brilliant light.
As if you realized the current inside your nerves and saw it as this brilliant light.
Somebody hits you on the head hard. You see stars. See, because then you suddenly experience the current inside the nerves. And with psychedelics, you very often come to an experience of absolutely vivid light in accord with the physicist’s realization that everything is really light, that this whole world is light throbbing in different vibrations, so that wherever we encounter something dark or something solid, it isn’t actually against light, but it is a form of light that is going so fast in its wavelength that it has effects us as the experience of density and impenetrable ability. If light is too bright, it smashes your eyes as quite as effectively as somebodies fist can smash your face. So what? Everything that we call density and impenetrable city is not. It is really in effect. Strength of light.
Now, these are the two features then of two principal features of psychedelic experiences which correspond with mystical experiences.
Now, I want to talk. Particularly today, about the aspect of danger in these things.
Because you will see in what I’ve been saying so far, come on me, that there’s a departure from common sense.
For example, people say, oh, I want my life to be meaningful, I want it all to make sense. And therefore, when you propose the idea that life really doesn’t make any sense at all. That is there some kind of jazz going on? This is threatening to people. They say, is it, after all, a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing. But as our age, Blythe said once when commenting on this passage from Macbeth, it is said so well that it doesn’t seem so bad after all. Maybe the whole thing is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury, but it’s the sound and the fury that are important listening.
But that’s an idea which we are not used to. We are taught to think that if your life doesn’t have some purpose, you’re a washout. You’re just an idiot. But maybe it’s a very good thing to be an idiot.
To be a complete fool.
And simply to sit and watch the wave, know how good a thing it is to sit on a beach and just watch waves breaking and dissolving, you can sit for hours completely fascinated. And children like to do this. I just sit by a pond and drop pebbles into it and see all the concentric circles coming out of the plop.
While you could say, well, it’s much more important to go into business and achieve some substantial results and raise a family, why you’re just making a bigger splash. That’s all.
And you have children and the children go, bla bla good. The bird, the goody, goody, goody, goody, goody, goody.
Finally they give when they start in better living and how they make sense and they talk and so on. But it’s all just the kind of jazz. I mean, raising families and businesses and getting food and eating and going on and going up this way and so on. It’s like gun hair growing or trees coming out and everything should be all over the place.
That’s scary. If you’ve been brought up to think that it’s supposed to mean something when you see it doesn’t. And that’s just what’s happening.
Like people get frightened and they think they’re going insane. And they wonder whether they can remember the rules. Well, now, in getting into this predicament, the most important thing to understand.
Is the immense sanity giving power of letting go and not trying to hold on to any sort of security? This is a I think this is one of the most important things in life to realize how powerful and how great in conferring order and sanity and a feeling of comfort on any conceivable situation, it is to be able to let go. Now that there is a difference between this kind of relaxation and being merely limp in the sense of when you hang a cloth over a clothesline, it is limp, it simply drops. And there’s a subtle difference between being completely relaxed and being merely limp. You see, when you are as a physical body or completely relaxed, you still have muscle tone as you have a sudden vibrancy going in you.
You are not just a bunch of jello or kind of grease that if you relax, you will form a nasty blob and eventually slip through the floor.
There is the varsity and strength. So in the same way, if you relax psychologically and completely let go of things. You will find that you have psychological terms, energy. And you cannot really do anything skillfully, any art, you can’t talk, you can’t think you can’t have sexual orgasms or anything like that unless you have learned fundamental relaxation.
So when in the midst of some sort of psychedelic experience, whether you are using LSD or whatever, or whether you have an experience that comes upon you spontaneously and you get scared that you’re going to go out of your mind, you’re going to lose control.
And I’m gonna be in charge anymore.
You do exactly what you do. If you find yourself in a typhoon and see when you find yourself in a typhoon, what they do is they turn off the engines because in a big steamship, if the propellers get swung out of the water and turn on their own, they shatter the ship by vibration. So they turn off the engines and drift cause they keep an eye on how near to land they are, but they try to get as far from land as possible and just drift in the same way. If you’re in a sandstorm in the desert, there’s absolutely nothing you can do. So the Arab League, he wears a wall by noose and he crouches down on the ground like a fetus in the womb and simply covers himself with his burns and doesn’t move until the sandstorm is over.
And you know, Edgar Allan Poe story about the vortex, about the man who gets into the middle of the thing where it went well.
The calm center is. I had a friend in London years ago. He was a psychiatrist and a very wise one. And he wanted to see a royal procession celebrating the king’s jubilee or something. But he wasn’t going to walk out onto the street at four o’clock in the morning and wait so as to get a front seat. He came just a few minutes before the procession started. There was this milling crowd of people pushing and shoving and so on. He just leant on the back of the crowd, did nothing else but lean, and in all the jostling he learned. And then they leave. They found himself in the front row.
So when any kind of terror starts and you begin to feel uncomfortable and uneasy, you just let go. Now, why does it work?
It works for exactly the same reason that you got long. You had nothing to do with it from the conscious point of view. All this remarkable brain and bones and everything came into being you or even your father and mother didn’t understand really how it happened. They knew they had to do certain formalities to get the thing started. But really how it all works. Nobody understands, but it does it of itself. It’s why the Chinese call nature a run, which means of itself. So spontaneity and this extraordinary organization of intelligence happen.
And we we we are afraid of it because it is scary from the point of view of individual consciousness, as the Simons says.
The Lord, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and that means I am scary to myself.
And so we think that we know better and that we ought to make certain corrections to nature so that it will function more desirable. But that’s quite doubtful, you know, whether we really ought to do that. It might have been better to leave it all alone as the great diarist sages of China had always advised his leave life alone.
They say the man who train first man who trained horses was called polo.
So you get the name of the game of polo from him and that he ruined the nature of horses by doing this, we could say to that by our technology, we really made an awful mess of things.
It perhaps you see what we call cost, where we are stuck with it. That’s the nature of karma.
Once you once you’ve interfered, you’re stuck with it. You’ve got to see it through.
But it could be argued quite persuasively that we never should have done anything like that. That we should have followed our feeling and just let live happen.
And then, of course, we wouldn’t have any of the problems we have now in terms of atom bombs, population bombs or all these problems.
You see, it would not have occurred only from the standpoint of civilized people, we should say, of human beings in that state. Well, they’re just barbarians. They do what they feel like.
And from our standpoint, that is not very pretty because we’ve got a special concept of what it is to be very pretty, which is all stuck about with Ding Dongs and clothes and bells and whatever, you know, houses.
But the fish, the cats, the birds live with their curious dignity and they make no. You know, you remember Jesus when he said, consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. And I’ve never yet heard a sermon on that passage where the preacher commanded it. They all say, well, that’s a great life. But of course, for all practical purposes, it’s impossible. The most subversive pathogen that’s been out anxious for the morrow.
They take care of itself. Drift be like a leaf on the wind.
I remember when I had my very first mystical experience. I was 17 years old.
And. I was in a great state of tension trying to find out something and suddenly I abandoned the whole thing. And worked.
You know, you live, it flipped, you’re inside. And I felt like I was a leaf on the wind that happened to be at the time of year. It was autumn and there were many dry leaves floating around and skittering about. You know, how leaves play like their little children let out of school, go particularly along the street with the wind.
And I felt exactly like that, as if I didn’t own anything, didn’t have any responsibilities. Didn’t care whether it went this way or whether it meant that I was completely released.
And I felt completely one with a leaf being blown by a wind, and I was the wind and I was the leaf and this wind was the wind blowing where it listed that Jesus uses as an analogy of the spirit. You know what list of means it blows where it likes, not where you hear. It’s nothing to do with. Listen to the old English list of means that blows where it wills.
In other words, at random and to let go in that sense.
And allow and and really consider the possibility that everything in life is completely out of control and at random, but go with it. This is fundamental to any kind of strength, any kind of real control. So that what happens in a psychedelic experience is that when it is valuable for the reason that it can be a very threatening experience, it can suddenly show you that you are not really in control, that anything might happen.
And this, I think, in a way is the center of the whole thing, why these sort of drugs are effective is that they throw you off your normal function and they’re out.
You see that this is why there are a whole complex of drugs that are quite different, but act in the same general way. What they do is they throw you off. And as I said, I think earlier in the seminar, we gave you a sense of something clear change your state of consciousness so that by contrast with your habitual way of feeling things, you say, I feel odd. Now, it may be odd good and it may be odd bad, but you feel odd. It’s as if everything the whole said, sorry, I’m your whole consciousness has had a change in it and you can’t really figure out what it is because it’s common to every particular sense impression, to seeing, to hearing, to to white, to blue to red. Everything has been subtly altered as if it were buzzing, as if it were at a strange angle, as if it had become luminous, as if it were suddenly transparent, as if it were squirming a bit. And because this is common to everything you say, this is clear.
So you suddenly are out of control. Things aren’t ordinarily what they should be. And of course, the same thing can happen in sickness. Some people when they are dying, have the sense that everything is completely wrong. It’s all out of order. It’s weirdly out of order.
Now, these then are opportunities to let go. Give it up. Don’t try to control anything.
And as soon as you are really persuaded by some kind of event to do that. Like the person caught in the typhoon or the sandstorm or people who are dying. Anybody in extremis will recognize that he just has to give up. There’s nothing else to do. And when you do that, you suddenly discover you have enormous reserves of strength.
Intelligence and power. If you let go.
But is the common sense militates against this. They say, well, if you let go, you just become a slob who will just become nothing at all and you will be sucked down the drain.
But it isn’t true.
It’s only by complete letting go that you have a source of strength.
Which bounces right back at you.
So then when people get the horrors and the terrors.
In using, say, LSD, you also act to panic and go running off to a doctor or turn themselves in at a hospital and say, please, please, please, I’m.
I’m lost in the corridors of my mind. I’ve been chased down some endless passage and I can’t find my way back.
Help! Help! Help! I’m lost.
And then, of course.
Because if if a psychiatrist doesn’t know what to do and thinks this person is really in a very serious condition, he gets anxious.
And his anxiety instantly community Kate’s itself to the patient who gets more anxious and they come around and they look official and they give medications and this, that and the other, and the person is completely spooked.
So a good psychiatrist can handle anything like this. Just.
Treats it as if it were the most normal everyday occurrence.
People think they’re going to die.
People think they have are about to lose the power to breathe, that their hearts are going to stop, that their brains are going to dissolve into phantom drip and feel all those sort of sensations that all those sensations you see of being out of control are the sensation of the dissolution of the ego.
That’s what’s happening.
Their ego is a what you once called a cramp in consciousness and in Sanskrit, there’s a word some culture, which means essentially contraction and the the give out man, the the the ego is a sum culture.
And do you often feel if you experience yourself organically, thoroughly, that you’re contracted, can you feel a constant strain in yourself? It centers right between the eyes. Yeah. And triggered Barrow, made experiments with electro and settler graphs and things to see what was the difference between the state of a person who had a cramp here and the person who relaxed it. But it’s not only here. You feel it all over you. If you become aware that through all the day long you are in a state of defensiveness. Europe tightening where you needn’t tighten. And a lot of people experience it here. And as a result, generate ulcers.
There all sorts of places where we feel this this holding on.
It doesn’t do any good.
Cos I can’t tell anyone. You just simply you should relax because that’s as a sort of double bind, because the moment you say should you inculcate a state of mind which is, um, relaxed.
Thou shalt love the Lord, our God. You better watch out if you don’t. Well, you can’t love on that basis. You can’t love because you know that you ought to love in self-defense.
Love is something. Not under any ego control at all. You have to let go to let love happen. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But that’s none of your business.
So it’s very, very frequent in psychedelic experiences that people become vividly aware of how tense now defending themselves against everything all the time on the watch out.
But almost all the energy we expend in doing that kind of thing is waste.
So that if you stop doing it because you see that the only way to stop doing it is you can’t will yourself to stop doing it. You can only realize that it’s completely useless. That it doesn’t achieve anything at all, it just wears you out. It’s absolutely no good. It’s like having a sense of guilt is an entirely destructive emotion that doesn’t do anything for anyone.
There are a lot of existentialists today who say that unless you feel a anxious and be guilty, you are not living a genuine existence.
Imagine, you know, you’re not authentic because if you’re a real human being, you know that if you exist, you might not exist.
Therefore, you try to be or not to be. If you’re a human being, you know that you’re not really up to what you might be and therefore you feel guilty because you’re a little defective.
And all this is posturing. It’s a great pose. People say to be real. You’ve got to be a. Yeah, that’s that’s all play acting. It’s just a joke. Yes, I am deeply sincere, you know. Yes, I am terribly sincere. I really mean this.
You know, do I really need to exist to be here as an organism? I mean, good lord, I am here, you know.
And, well, I can’t help it.
It has nothing to do with my ego that I have feet and that I exist and that I’m here. Do I really mean it or don’t I? Well, I guess I do. I mean, my my physical existence here is perfectly sincere. It’s about as real as anything can be.
But I didn’t intend it. I don’t have to say no. I mean, if somebody threatens me, then I may bounce back rather strongly. But I don’t have to make a sort of cause out of it.
So are they.
The notion that I ought to feel anxious all the time, that I ought to feel guilty all the time is simply a way of people who really don’t have a very good sense of existence. And they drum something up like lying on a bed of nails because that makes you feel more real.
It hurts. It’s a kind of masochism.
Well, you can do that if you want to. There’s really no reason why you shouldn’t.
Except that I think it’s a sort of a drag.
So the point being that people who who say, well, you should lie on a bed of nails and feel that makes you feel important, you’ve done something that most people don’t do and you are you’re a bit far out and therefore perhaps they’re more real. I say, OK, but just please have a sense of humor about what you’re doing.
Don’t take it quite that seriously.
Try to convert everybody else to sleeping on a bed of nails. Because it’s not to everybody’s taste.
And but a lot of people you see who sleep on beds of nails just because they’re very insecurity, because they feel that unless they suffer that something awful going to happen, they try to convert everybody else to doing the same thing. So that’s one way of finding out that knowing that you are right is to get as many people as possible to agree with you. Like be bad to log the monkeys. And Kipling’s story in The Jungle Book will keep exclaiming. We all say so. So it must be true. And so to feel guilty and to feel anxious and then make a religion out of it and say this is the way any authentic human being feels. And if you don’t, there’s something wrong with you. You know, like a lot of people who are being psychoanalyzed feel that anybody who is not being psychoanalyzed is neurotic. Philip Brief puts it in his book on Freud, The Mind of the Moralist. He says, The characteristic institution of our era is not the parliament, but the hospital, that everybody is being undergoing therapy. Everybody must admit that they are in the costs of being cured, but is not cured. Nobody can claim anybody who got up and say, I am perfectly psychoanalyzed. I have no further problems would be regarded in this day and age as someone who would in a former age get up and say, I’m absolutely holy. I’m the perfect saint. That is immediately spiritual pride. You can’t possibly claim that all saints are measured as saints by the degree to which they declare themselves to be sinners.
I am. My sins are worse than yours. I am more sorry for my sins than you.
You can see them from the point of view that these chemicals give you.
You become aware of all these intricate games that people are played. I remember once long ago, Dana and I had a wonderful psychedelic session in which we were listening to the radio on a Sunday evening and all these preachers were coming on with their messages. And the only one that rang true was a Negro revivalist. And he was stopping to make any sense at all.
He was saying that gift is about it. That is it. Now, our congregation was saying that I am an. You know, if you got that far, they shut him off and change the program.
That was all right. There’s a poor little man who was talking in an echo chamber, so it sounded like a great, great cathedral.
And he played records of hymns and then he came on with this Bible message.
And he kept saying, if you want a copy of this message, be sure to send one dollar to the station.
Be showed us in those your dollar and we’ll listen to that. Oh, yeah. Isn’t that grubby? But then you listen down into this voice saying that. Be sure to send in your dollar. You realize this is a poor little creatures saying, well, I’ve got to make a living somehow, too. And in that voice, that awful corny voice saying be Sharon sending you down, you hear a crying child.
Oh, you hear a lost animal calling out, please help mama. I I want.
I want to help you listen down into that and you go further listening to the sound. And finally, the human voice becomes like breath going through a flute.
You. And do you think at first that’s sad. And after a while you realize it isn’t. It’s just one of the ways things happen. It’s the fundamental sound. It’s the ohm. It’s the voice of God playing a particular tune.
And you think marvel of marvels. You heard the divine sound through the throat of a Baptist preacher.
So, you know, that’s that’s one of the really great things about this kind of experience. You can tackle you can confront things that in the ordinary state of consciousness you think were downright awful.
And learn to understand why they’re there.
You can take people that you thoroughly disapprove of and you can begin to understand why they are the way they are. For example, from my point of view, I’ve always been an argumentative person because I liked the discussions and talking about philosophy and religion and so on, and I won’t argue about anybody’s religion anymore.
I regard all the different opinions as so many different flowers and a garden. And they need each other. In other words, if somebody disagrees with me, then I know where I stand. If I said there wasn’t somebody who disagreed with me, I wouldn’t know where I stood. So I have to thank him for pointing out to me what I think and say. Keep it up. That’s great.
We’re all you see by our differentiations of point of view. Making up a great pattern, which you could call the intellectual life.
It depends on that.
But the basic point that I want to make in all this. What I am really talking about is how through the use of the psychedelic chemicals, you can be so shocked, you can be so disturbed that you will learn that you’ve got nothing else to do but completely relax your controller, your sensor, your ego, and that to the degree that you really let go and don’t try to hold onto life anymore.
You just you become enormously strong and able actually to control things.
But all fundamental control depends on giving up control.
And this paradox, which scares the hell out of us is the is the main lesson of the whole thing.