Part 4b – Gödel, Self-Knowledge & Magic Mushrooms – Transcending Stuff to Know Stuff
This is the last video in this series. I absolutely LOVED creating each one of them. I hope you have enjoyed watching as much as I have enjoyed creating!
Has taken me quite a while to be in the frame of mind where I have felt comfortable sharing this experience with the world. My heart needed mending, that's all. I haven't felt this strong in a long time; making myself vulnerable feels good right now. There is the funny side and the profound side in sharing experiences such as this one… I understand some may not understand my message, and that's ok. Hopefully, my attempt to convey the ineffable can touch a few hearts… Life is so magical – it really is ❤
*Note: the Electric Sheep fractals have unfortunately lost definition with YouTube's own conversions. I actually rendered the video in super high definition, with crystal clear imagery (that reminded me so much of the imagery experienced in my psychedelic trip). It is so crisp and amazing to watch on my computer, and then – once uploaded to YouTube – it loses the "wow" factor… But, that's life! Hope you can still enjoy the imagery anyway!
Altered States – Dissolving boundaries: a Taste of Transcendence
I’d like to finish this series with an account of one of my own personal experiences of transcendence. This was an experience I will never forget, and I would honestly rate it amongst the most significant spiritual experiences of my whole life. It was incredibly intense, breathtakingly beautiful, blissful, joyful and sad and terrifying, all at the same time. It was simply mind-blowing… unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I gained a remarkable fluidity in my ability to switch perspectives. I experienced ways of being which transcended this human being – Dolors – whom I usually identify with. The experience took place in October 2014, and it was only the second time I had taken psychedelics in my whole life.
I would like to stress out that – despite the fact that I rate this event as one of the most significant spiritual experiences of my life – in no way do I feel like this is something I seek to experience on a regular basis. I consider myself to be quite a grounded person, and I feel very strongly that it is in everyday consciousness – in the experience of its limitations – that my potential for growth resides. While it is great to be able to feel the interconnectedness of it all while in an altered state of consciousness, it is actually the nitty gritty of my everyday life – the reality of what it means to be human, including the frustration of feeling separate – that I see as my main challenge. Having a profound and meaningful spiritual experience is not necessarily a catalyst for positive change, unless we can find a way to integrate any gained new knowledge into our everyday life. My work needs to be done here, on this plane of existence, and this is where my main focus is.
Ok, now that I have got all this out of the way, please fasten your seatbelts and get ready! Here’s my story:
I had taken 1.5 g of dried liberty caps, a type of psilocybin mushroom which – if you know where to look – grows pretty much everywhere here in the UK. Now, I know this is a rather small dose for most people… but trust me – to me – that felt like one of McKenna’s heroic doses. Let’s not forget that set and setting are extremely important factors, and the nature of my own body is one of these factors. Turns out that I have always been a bit underweight. Despite all my efforts, I am a bit skinny; it’s just the way it is. Furthermore, I don’t usually drink alcohol. My alcohol consumption is something like half a glass of wine three to five times a year maximum… Definitely not more than that. Another factor is that I don’t take any regular drugs or medication of any kind either. I hardly even take paracetamol these days, unless I am very, very ill. I mean, I can’t even have coffee; have not had any for about 18 years, because it makes me faint! So… I’m sure that by now you get the picture. It is fair to say that it is not just that my body is on the skinny side, but that I am simply not used to taking any kind of psychoactive substances! They affect me a lot; I am very lightweight, so yeah, I just need to be careful.
Alright, so where do I start…? Perhaps rather than describe all the details of my whole experience, its implications and what followed afterwards, in this video I will just touch on the aspects of the experience that are most relevant to the ideas I have been discussing so far. Everything I am going to tell you took place while I was lying in bed, in the dark, with my eyes closed, while listening to classical music, over the course of about 4 hours or so.
Ok, first of all (brace yourselves) I experienced reality from the perspective of a chicken and then a duck. Yep, you’ve heard me right! I experienced chicken-ness and duck-ness. I won’t deny that saying this publicly sounds absolutely nuts, but I just have to say it was so beautiful and amazing! For those of you who have been following me for a while, I have a question for you: do you remember a video I made ages ago titled “Minds from Brains or Brains from Mind?” in which – amongst other things – I was wondering what it would feel like to be a platypus?
Well, turns out that, about nine months after making that video – and with no intention whatsoever of having this kind of spiritual experience (in fact my intent when I took the mushrooms was to gain some insights on how to be healthier) – so with no intention whatsoever of having such an experience because I had completely forgotten all about that, it actually happened to me! I didn’t become a platypus, no, but oh my god, I became a chicken and a duck, in all their glory and magnificence! I mean, it is kind of ridiculous to hear myself when I tell people about it, when I tell you about it. Where’s my credibility gone? Out of the window probably! But I’m ok with that 🙂 Yes, it is weird – I admit it – and I am the first one who can laugh about it. But then, I promise you – when you are in it – it is not funny, it is simply the sweetest, most beautiful, moving, incredible, mind-blowing experience you’ve ever had. I really did feel that I was those animals. It felt real.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the intensity and quality of what you experience not only depends on the dose, but also on set and setting. On that particular day there was hardly any rational thinking involved, particularly at the peak of my experience. There was only this eternal now moment, the experience of pure emotion and this feeling of becoming this and becoming that, of being one with this, being one with that; this merging of experience and experiencer, of the seeing and the seer, this pure experience of the –isness of stuff. Objects or living beings which I had never considered to be parts of myself in waking consciousness, now I was them, I was feeling the essence of their way of being, from the 1st person perspective. And you know the most amazing part was that – as I was shifting perspectives – I felt that I was also transcending them. From chicken-ness as chicken to chicken-ness as viewed from the perspective of Dolors, and from there as something much larger than Dolors. At certain points I actually felt that I was experiencing chicken-ness and duck-ness as seen from the perspective of Nature itself, if that makes any sense at all. From one fragment to another fragment, and from the fragments to the whole, backwards and forwards, from Dolors, to chicken to duck to Dolors to Nature itself experiencing them all as parts of itself. This was not a single glance view from the outside, but a myriad of glances, a constant shifting of points of view, experienced fluidly from the inside, subjectively, without boundaries. It was so so beautiful…
Another very interesting thing worth mentioning was the remarkable change in the symbolism I used while I was in this altered state of consciousness. In particular, I’d like to mention the shifting from first to third person language that I experienced when thinking about myself. I introduced this idea in part 2 of this series, when talking about mother and child. I then expanded on this idea in part 4a when talking about awakening and non-duality. Remember, awakening can be defined as the process whereby we start to identify with that which is not an object. And this is more or less what happened to me in my psychedelic journey. Now, I don’t really see that particular experience as an awakening one – not in a permanent sense anyway – but it did give me a tiny glimpse of the awakening process, transcendence and non-duality. The “I” ceased to identify itself with Dolors, and Dolors became an object in my experience, as opposed to being the subject of experience.
I just find it fascinating that the person I usually refer to as “I” in my everyday life – the human being talking to you right now – this person, in that altered state of consciousness, was no longer addressing herself in the familiar first person language whereby the “I” who experiences is usually implicitly taken to be synonym with “Dolors”. Nope, during those magical hours, Dolors became an object, a fragment of something larger, throughout the experience. What I usually refer to as “I” was now clearly experienced as a part of something else, and any reference to her was made always in the third person. I could feel her as part of me, and how her physical body was struggling, like a passenger being subjected to an exhausting trip. Her body had to endure all the annoying side effects of having ingested psilocybin; she was so tired, but at the same time so open to this flood of new information, and of course feeling very overwhelmed by it all; hundreds, thousands of tears rolling down her face, her delicate body unable to contain the joy and beauty of her experience.
I have to stay that this switch of symbolism in my language had never happened to me before, other than when I was a child, when both me and my mum referred to ourselves in the third person, and also recently, being a mother myself, when I often still refer to my own person as mummy when I talk to my son. Well, never in my life other than in those two specific cases – which involve mother and child interaction – do I recall referring to myself in the 3rd person. In my psychedelic trip, after becoming a duck and a chicken, I found myself consistently remaining in a sphere of existence where Dolors was clearly a part of something much larger. Hence all conceptualisations of what I was experiencing – the symbols I was using – they involved talking about this being called Dolors, in the third person, cause I no longer exclusively identified with it. In other words, in that state, I had transcended Dolors. I guess that I was thinking of Dolors almost in an analogous way to when, in ordinary waking consciousness, I think of my arm, or my leg, or any other part of my body, and I simply think of them as objects, small parts of myself.
And then there was this extraordinary conversation taking place in my field of experience; which I have to say it was mostly not in ordinary language, but it was nonetheless clearly a conversation between fragments of myself, and many of these fragments definitely transcended Dolors, they were much larger spheres of existence than little Dolors ever was. Throughout the conversation – paradoxically – the “I” that was experiencing all of this was one and the same, there was only ever one “I”, although its perspective, its focal point, was constantly shifting, becoming one with the parts, then transcending them, and then back to the parts, moving from one part to another, and so on. At the highest – or I guess I could say the deepest – points of my experience, it was not even that I was temporarily identifying with all these different entities. At the very root, what was truly happening was not really a swap of identities, but a complete dissolution of boundaries. At the most profound level, even the boundary between the perceiver and the perceived disappeared. The observer and the observed became one and the same. I lost any sense of identification with a particular subject or object. The boundary had dissolved and a sense of unity and continuity with the contents of my experience prevailed.
Eventually, at a certain point, I found myself thinking this: “what does Dolors actually want right now? What does she really really want?” Then the answer came, crystal clear, and it had to do with my friend, my sitter, my lover, who was at the time resting in another room. And the voice said… “Dolors really wants to help this person. Dolors wants to help him so much. She wants to truly understand him. She wants to learn what it means to love him unconditionally.” After getting this answer, all these different parts of the self ended up having a kind of discussion between them for a while, as to how they – or should I say as to how “I” – was going to show Dolors the answer in such a manner that she: (a) would not totally freak out, and (b) could maximise her learning and the integration of the experience in her life. So – eventually – these beings, these parts of the self, they seemed to come to some sort of agreement, something was decided … and then… then it all happened…
The experience that followed was one that I will never forget for as long as I live. I honestly rate it amongst the most incredible and blissful experiences of my whole life. To put it in simple terms, I experienced what it was like to be that person. I became him. I became the person Dolors wanted to help, understand and learn how to love unconditionally. Let me just say that I am referring to this person as him, without a name, simply because I’d rather not reveal his identity. I think it’s the right thing to do; he is no longer in my life, hasn’t been for a long time and I doubt he will ever be again… but I still respect his right to privacy. Ok, so back to the story… Not only did I experience the –isness, the true essence of being that person – from the first person perspective (what it felt like to be him) but on top of that, my perspective then expanded and became one with what I can only call this person’s higher self. And then – simultaneously – I experienced what it was like to be him from the perspective of something which I can only describe as Nature itself. The focal point was still him, but there was knowledge and understandings that were way beyond anything I could ever put into words. I experienced the beauty of feeling what it was like to smile, to cry, to suffer, to feel joy, to thrive… as that particular person. It was all feeling, all emotion, without a single thought. And it was all kind of motherly and raw and primordial… and just blissful. I was simultaneously him and something larger, and just can’t even begin to describe how beautiful and full of unconditional love that experience was. It was honestly one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. Dolors was crying and crying and crying all the way through… It was such pure feeling; and her poor little body could hardly cope with the experience; it was so overwhelming! But she knew, deep down, that she was going to be ok.
When thoughts and the world of language came back again, Dolors asked Nature… Please, please let this person experience this right now, please let him see himself under this light… or if not right now, at least one day. I want him to see himself from this wider perspective. He deserves to experience this so much more than Dolors does. Why Dolors? He is the one who needs to see how beautiful, magnificent, precious, significant, amazing he really is! He needs to see how meaningful his life is! And so Dolors’ tears kept rolling… there was sadness now too. That person’s life was so beautiful and sacred; but he didn’t seem to know it yet… Perhaps deep down he did, but his everyday perspective had become such a prison; he was so trapped within the confines of his own darkness, that the light of his true nature could not come through. He had been taken by depression, anxiety and self-loathing. Dolors just wanted to help him, to show him the truth, and in that moment she desperately wanted him to experience exactly what she was experiencing… She knew that seeing himself as part of something so much larger than his own person – to see himself under that light – had the potential to be an incredibly healing experience for him. It felt such a shame that this could not be shared… But the fact was that she was the one who had ingested the mushrooms – not him – and for now all she could do was surrender, ride the wave and enjoy it by herself while it lasted. Once it was over, perhaps, somehow, she could attempt to describe to him what had just happened. Although words would inevitably fail, because an experience such as that one was utterly ineffable.
Today, Dolors, in her heart, still wishes that one day he can experience something like that; maybe spontaneously while climbing a mountain, or maybe while witnessing a breathtakingly beautiful sunset, perhaps after taking some mushrooms or while in profound meditation… Dolors still hopes that one day he can truly know, that he can understand what she felt when she told him “I love you” for the first time the following day, right before he totally freaked out and left the relationship for good. Yes, little Dolors was a bit hurt, cause she wanted romantic love, reciprocated love – of course she wanted that! But nearly two years after that amazing experience she still sees and appreciates the magic of it all. Because with that first “I love you” that came out of her mouth she felt that the “I” who was uttering those words was so much larger than Dolors herself. It was one of the most unconditional “I love yous” she had ever uttered before in her life. As she opened her mouth, she knew with absolute certainty that he would never say the same words back to her. And it was precisely because of that knowledge, that uttering those words meant so much to her. They were truly unconditional.
Well, I am her and she is me. And for being able to express those words without expecting anything back, for having the joy of experiencing that kind of empathy, that feeling of oneness, and for having the opportunity to even attempt to communicate my unconditional love to another human being other than my own child, I am forever grateful. For now I know that – at its deepest level – saying the words I LOVE YOU is nothing but the unmistakable recognition, the profound understanding, the crystal clear knowing that, once the veil is lifted and all boundaries are dissolved, I AM actually YOU.
I Love YOU = I AM YOU
"Oneness is the source of Love" ~ Ram Dass
"Love is the recognition of Oneness in a world of duality" ~ Eckhart Tolle
" Love is how it feels to recognise our essential Unity. Awakening to Oneness is the experience of Big Love. Knowing you are One with All, you find yourself in Love with All" ~ Timothy Freke
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