I think of the children who will never know, intuitively, that a flower is a plant’s way of making love, or what silence sounds like, or that trees breathe out what we breathe in.
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Pot is walking a foot off the ground; LSD is leaving the earth entirely and zooming across the galaxy at the speed of light.
— Baba Ram Dass
Mescalito is a protector, a kind, gentle protector; but that does not mean you can make fun of him. Because he is a kind protector he can also be a horror itself with those he does not like.
— Don Juan in
The Teachings of Don Juan
You should be able to enter that drugged dream world without the drug. Because to make an effort and enter this world makes you stronger, to enter it by means of a drug makes you weaker.
— Anaïs Nin
A drug is not so much a thing, as it is “someone.” The problem is thus cohabitation. Whether to love (play together, unite or also reinforce, exalt each other) or else to conflict (fight, evade, outdo the other, withdraw). Here, too, some are gifted for union, others for their preservation.
— Henri Michaux,
Light Through Darkness
Editor’s Note: David Bonnis’ ideas about how the mind works — and how the psychedelics affect us — can be difficult to follow. They’re worth your careful attention. Reading the article is itself an exercise in expanded awareness; at least that’s David’s intention. We remind you of the possible legal, medical, and psychological risks involved in using psychedelic drugs; they are detailed below. Psychedelics have played a major role in shaping a generation’s collective awareness; yet, they have undeniably been abused by some. No tool is, in itself, good or bad; only in how we use them do we prove ourselves wise, or foolish.
The emergence of psychedelic drugs into contemporary society has probably created as much controversy as any other agent affecting the body-mind complex of man since the discovery of fire.
The reactions of contemporary man to psychedelics have been much the same as the reactions of early man to fire. Eary man probably reacted to fire first by fearing it, second by worshipping it, third by experimenting with its applications, and fourth, by using it as a tool to enhance his existence.
Contemporary man first reacted to psychedelics by fearing for his sanity and the stability of his chromosomes, second by worshipping the expansion of mind he seemed to derive from the psychedelic experience, third by exploring the benefits which can be derived from the experience, and fourth, by applying psychedelics to enhance his existence.
As a whole, contemporary man is at the beginning of the third stage. A few understand psychedelics enough to apply them in a controlled manner. A few yet fear or worship psychedelic effects. Most are open to finding out what psychedelics are and how, and how not, to use them.
We learned to influence the temperature of our physical environment with fire when it was desirable and we will learn to influence the content of our conscious environment with psychedelics if that is desirable. It is in the spirit of the unfolding awareness of mankind that I appeal to your interest in the known and prospective effects of psychedelic drugs on the human state of being.
The primary fear of psychedelic drugs is losing one’s continuity of mental and physical functioning. This is certainly not an unreasonable fear. There have been many cases of psychedelic-drug-induced psychoses of varying degrees. There have also been reports of chromosome breakage from LSD, one of the most potent of the psychedelics. Fear is usually induced by a lack of understanding; I believe this is the case here. If I could find enough information to describe to you exactly how psychedelics affect mind and body I would. Perhaps the following will improve the general understanding about them and alleviate the fears.
Many psychedelic drugs in natural and synthetic form are in use today. These range in form from decorative garden plants to pure synthesized chemicals such as LSD.1 Most of the information available centers around mescaline, psilocybin, and LSD, particularly LSD. Human psychology and biochemistry is very complex and intricate and I caution the reader not to generalize from one chemical to the next. For instance, standard human doses necessary to show full clinical effects for the adult male weighing 150 pounds are 500 milligrams of mescaline, 20 milligrams of psilocybin and 0.1 milligram of LSD.2 If one were to generalize mescaline and LSD as “psychedelics” and ingest 500 mg. of LSD, one would likely experience serious genetic disturbance and long-range altered perception.
In regard to psychedelic dependence:
“The exact nature of LSD’s biochemical influence is not yet known with certainty, but it is clear that neither that drug nor mescaline is addicting in the sense that usage makes the user physicially dependent on it. And so far the evidence indicates a high probability against psychological dependence. At the time of usage, however, there are typical physiological effects which include marked changes in autonomic responses such as sweating, salivation, respiration, pulse, blood pressure, body temperature, and pupillary and vasomotor functions.”3
“The hallucinogenic drugs are not addictive, if one means by addiction that physiological dependence is established and the drug becomes necessary, usually in increasing amounts, for satisfactory physiological functioning. Some individuals become psychologically dependent on the drugs, however, and develop a ‘habit’ in that sense; indeed, there is a tendency for those who ingest hallucinogens habitually to make the drug experience the center of all their activities. LSD, mescaline and psilocybin do produce physiological tolerance. If the same quanitity of LSD is administered on three successive days, for example, it will not suffice by the third day to produce the same subjective or physiological effects; tolerance develops more slowly and less completely with mescaline and psilocybin.”4
In regard to LSD and chromosome damage:
“The controversy about LSD and possible chromosome breakage is another matter. Scientists have adapted language unique to each field, as all specialists do, and it becomes difficult for them to translate their findings for the press. In March, 1967, a report of possible correlation between LSD use and chromosome breakage was reported in Science. Although other scientists immediately challenged the report as ambiguous and although even its authors said their material was inconclusive, the press announced within twenty-four hours that LSD caused chromosome breakage. Later, The Saturday Evening Post published a story entitled, “The Hidden Evils of LSD” and illustrated it with uncaptioned pictures of horribly deformed babies. One page heading proclaimed, ‘If you take LSD your children may be born malformed or retarded.’ Similar horror stories appeared in other general-circulation magazines.
“Meanwhile, other scientists were publishing conflicting reports. Chromosome breakage is not yet clearly attributable to LSD for several reasons. (1) It can be caused by temperature changes, changes in oxygen pressure, some viruses or antibiotics, calcium and magnesium deficiencies, chloroform, mercury compounds, or morphine. In one experiment aspirin was demonstrated to cause chromosome breakage at the same rate as LSD. (2) Most experiments have involved chromosomes in laboratory preparations rather than in a living organism. Living organisms can often render substances harmless that are shown to cause damage in a test tube. (3) In the few cases in which badly deformed infants were born to women using LSD, the mothers also had been taking other drugs, including marijuana, barbituates, and amphetamines. LSD is rarely the only potent drug an individual takes. (4) Some researchers used doses of LSD many times larger than human beings would ingest at a single time. (5) All six abnormal infants reported in the literature were born to women ingesting illicit LSD, which may be contaminated or adulterated in comparison to laboratory LSD. (6) LSD ingested during the first trimester of pregnancy would probably act directly on the growing fetus, as other drugs are known to act, rather than via the chromosomes.
“In June, 1971, Science, the journal whose article first triggered the controversy published a contradictory paper surveying ninety-two reports that had appeared in the intervening years. Norman Dishotsky, Wendell Lipscomb, W. D. Loughman, and Robert Mogar concluded:
‘From our own work and from a review of the literature, we believe that pure LSD ingested in moderate doses does not damage chromosomes in vivo, does not cause detectable genetic damage, and is not a teratogen or a carcinogen in man. Within these bounds, therefore, we suggest that, other than during pregnancy, there is not present contraindication to the continued controlled experimental use of pure LSD.’ ”5
In an experiment on the genetic effects of LSD using laboratory animals, the researchers found that when extrapolated to human organisms, approximately 800 micrograms of LSD per kilogram of body weight was “the threshhold for dominant lethal mutation. An interval of three months between LSD use and conception is recommended in order to decrease the risk of damage to genetic material.”6
On the psychological effects of psychedelics:
“In those already unstable or inherently susceptible to psychosis, a bad trip (on LSD) can be one-way. In addition to the risk of permanent mental illness, there’s an immortality syndrome that sometimes results in unintentional suicide by LSD users and schizophrenics.”7
“The most systematic survey of the incidence of serious adverse reactions to hallucinogens covered nearly 5,000 cases in which LSD was administered on more than 25,000 occasions. Psychotic reactions lasting more than 48 hours were observed in fewer than two-tenths of one per cent of the cases. The rate of attempted suicides was slightly over a tenth of one percent, and these involved psychiatric patients with histories of instability. Among those who took the drug simply as subjects in experiments there were no attempted suicides and the psychotic reactions occurred in fewer than a tenth of one percent of the cases.
“Recent reports do indicate that the incidence of bad reactions has been increasing, perhaps because more individuals have been taking the hallucinogens in settings that emphasize sensation-seeking or even deliberate social delinquency. Since under such circumstances there is usually no one in attendance who knows how to avert dangerous developments, a person in this situation may find himself facing an extremely frightening hallucination with no one present who can help him to recognize where the hallucination ends and reality begins.”8
“LSD and peyote are potent psycho-chemicals that alter and expand the human consciousness. Even the briefest summation of the psychological effects of these drugs would have to include the following: Changes in visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, and kinesthetic perception; changes in experiencing time and space; changes in the rate and content of thought; body image changes; hallucinations; vivid images — eidetic images — seen with the eyes closed; greatly heightened awareness of color; abrupt and frequent mood and affect changes; heightened sugestibility; enhanced recall or memory; depersonalization and ego dissolution; dual, multiple, and fragmentized consciousness; seeming awareness of internal organs and processes of the body; upsurge of unconscious materials; enhanced awareness of linguistic nuances; increased sensitivity to nonverbal cues; sense of capacity to communicate much better by nonverbal means, sometimes including the telepathic; feelings of empathy; regression and ‘primitivization’; apparently heightened capacity for concentration; magnification of character traits and psychodynamic processes; an apparent nakedness of psychodynamic processes that makes evident the interaction of ideation, emotion, and perception with one another and with inferred unconscious processes; concern with philosophical, cosmological, and religious questions; and, in general, apprehension of a world that has slipped the chains of normal categorical ordering, leading to an intensified interest in self and world and also to a range of responses moving from extremes of anxiety to extremes of pleasure. These are not the only effects of the psychedelic drugs, but the listing should suffice to convey some idea of the potency of the drugs and the range of the experiences they afford.”9
“The consciousness-expanding drugs . . . enable one to sense, think and feel more.
Looking at a thing one sees more of its color, more of its detail, more of its form.
Touching a thing, one touches more. Hearing a sound, one hears more. Tasting, one tastes more. Moving, one is more aware of movement. Smelling, one smells more.
The mind is able to contain, at any given moment, more. Within consciousness, more simultaneous mental processes operate without any one of them interfering with the awareness of the others. Awareness has more levels, is many-dimensioned. Awareness is of more shades of meaning contained in words and ideas.
One feels, or responds emotionally with more intensity, more depth, more comprehensiveness.
There is more of time, or within any clock-measured unit of time, vastly more occurs than can under normal conditions.
There is more empathy, more unity with people and things.
There is more insight into oneself, more self-knowledge.
There are more alternatives when a particular problem is considered, more choices available when a particular decision is to be made. There are more ways of ‘looking at’ a thing, an idea or a person . . . ”10
If you are already familiar with this information and consider yourself secure in your awareness of your own mind, then you may have already experimented with psychedelics. Whether or not you have had psychedelic experiences, you will be able to rationalize fears of them if you wish; if not in terms of the unknown qualities each new experience might present, then in terms of illegality. We all have the right to fear what we wish.
Psychedelics offer us a change in perceptual realm that quite often leads to insights about our regular perceptual realm. For instance, many people experience a greater abstract value in perception. They experience details and perceptual combinations that they normally overlook and consequently break what they see as a monotony in their everyday perceptions. Psychedelics often affect people in a manner that they can relate to their most intimate experiences. Hence they are likely to be regarded by them with an attachment characteristic of worship or religious attitude. Many psychedelic experiences are characterized by resolution of past (present in the persons’ consciousness at the time) negative experience. This situation is typified by human identification with miracles. If any of us were presented with a miracle-cure for all our problems, we would certainly become attached to it. In many cases, the miracle-cure is the existence of the concept of God in the mind of the person requiring the cure.
Religious attachment to psychedelic drugs comes in many forms, each dependent entirely upon the needs of the personality involved. The pleasure-seeker would see the sensuality he had longed for. The scientist would see expanded mental functions allowing him to solve problems with greater ease. The disciple would see a greater identification with his master. The common factor is completion. After an individual overcomes his fear of psychedelics, the newness of the psychedelic consciousness may cause him to see the drug as a messiah to rid his life of negativity.
The following lends support to this idea:
I will define the term “telepathic bit” by an example: H is a perceptual being that perceives white light only. When white light is not being presented to H he is in a state of complete amnesia. He only recognizes white light and to him nothing else exists. He cannot conceptualize anything because if he tries to conceptualize he is not perceiving the light and is, therefore, in a state of amnesia or unconsciousness. H lives in a dark room with a strobe light constantly flashing, but all he sees is one continuous white light because he has amnesia from the moment the light stops until it starts again. Each separate flash of light is a telepathic bit. H does not know that these bits exist because he can only see the light as a continuity.
To human beings perception is a continuity. There are, however, telepathic bits which make up this perception. By their very nature, we cannot perceive telepathic bits. This does not mean that we cannot understand what they are and how they function. We must only realize that whenever we think about them, our thinking process is made of them. Otherwise, we will be deceived by thinking we know something which cannot be known.
If you concentrate on understanding what a telepathic bit is, you will find that your state of consciousness will noticeably change. I believe that you will find this altered state seems to give you more available mental and physical energy. This is because it is a point at which perception is more closely controlled by the will than usual. Psychedelic drugs bring about the same state, only to a more intense degree, by direct interference with the chemicals in the brain which make up the state. Because this state allows one to have a more direct willful control over one’s perception, one is inclined to have feelings of attachment with it. Religious attachment to psychedelic experiences (including the individual’s relationship to the chemical form) is shown quite often in experimental settings. Stanislov Grof (Maryland Psychiatric Research Center) describes experiences of “group consciousness,” “cosmic unity,” and experience of the “Universal Mind” as an observer in LSD psychotherapy sessions. Members of the Native American Indian Church view peyote (source of mescaline) as a sacrament. The attachment in these cases is characterized by Timothy Leary ’s statement to Richard Alpert (Baba Ram Dass) after a psilocybin experience, “I learned more in six or seven hours of this experience than I had learned in all my years as a psychologist.”11
However, after one achieves more direct willful control over one’s perceptions the newness or sense of achievement becomes lost in the directness of willful control. If we could perceive anything we wanted to, we would probably be apt to change that relationship between will and perception after realizing it so we wouldn’t lose the newness of our perceptions.
The desire for psychedelic perceptions is determined by a sense of perceptual relativity. Since we are encompassed by this sense, it is easier to illustrate it with a simple example. If one becomes motivated to smell the air in a room full of roses, upon entering the room one would notice the smell of roses. After remaining in the room for a while, however, one’s awareness of the smell would be diminished. Upon leaving the room, one would notice the smell of the air outside the room. The quality which permits one to notice something is perceptual relativity (telepathic bits have no quality of perceptual relativity and so we are not aware of them). If the smell of roses is perceptually different from the smell of air, then each of these perceptions possesses the quality of perceptual relativity in each other’s frame of reference. However, if we make the smell of roses and the smell of air together a frame of reference, then the smells lose their perceptual relativity to each other and we can detect neither of them (this would be the case if we focused on the sensations being emitted inside our nose, the sensations which make up both the smell of roses and the smell of air).
When one is experiencing psychedelic perceptions, the psychedelic perceptions usually maintain their sense of perceptual relativity. This sense is what motivates us to have the experience. If we haven’t been in a room full of roses for quite some time, the scent of roses possesses the quality of perceptual relativity and we are motivated to perceive it. Likewise, if we haven’t been in a state of psychedelic perceptions for a while, the perceptions maintain their relativity and we have desire to experience them. However, in a case where we had been experiencing psychedelic perceptions continuously for, say, several months, the psychedelic perceptions would lose their perceptual relativity and we would probably consider our everyday consciousness as a perceptual high. After a long while of everyday consciousness, the everyday perceptions lose their relativity and we seek new perceptions.
Telepathic bits never possess the quality of perceptual relativity. By trying to perceive them, all we can notice are things which do possess perceptual relativity because the effort is one of surveying every perception one can detect and we can only detect perceptions with perceptual relativity. Thus, by trying to perceive telepathic bits, we increase our perceptual relativity by increasing conscious control over the perceptions as a whole by a chemical means.
Greater conscious control over the perceptions can also be accomplished by hypnosis, the basic technique of which is to consciously and continuously reinforce the will using one’s own inner voice or the voice of another while being careful to bypass one’s fears. Hypnosis, then, also increases perceptual relativity in the same manner as psychedelic drugs.
Here we have three different approaches to increasing perceptual relativity, all which result in a state of mind in which the individual would claim great benefits. The resulting benefits are verified by mediators who meditate on a paradox (trying to perceive telepathic bits is a paradox), research in psychedelic drugs, and cases in which hypnosis is used. The alleged benefits are present only when perceptual relativity is increased. If perceptual relativity were not increased, the benefits would go unnoticed. For instance, the sun is appreciated much more on a cold day than it is on a hot day. The cold environment increases the relativity of the perception of the sun.
In summation, psychedelic drugs increase an individual’s conscious control over his perceptions by direct interference with brain chemistry. This causes his perceptual relativity to be increased, which causes him to claim that the state is beneficial, thus identifying the state and its initiator, the drug, with the attitude one would have toward a messiah.
The experimental stage follows the stage in which the experience is revered with a religious attitude. In the religious attitude stage, the subject is experiencing increased perceptual relativity but is not aware of such a point of view and consequently maintains his attachment to the object. As the perceptual relativity decreases, the subject releases his hold on the object and upon doing so enters the experimental stage. In the experimental stage, the subject oscillates between having a (religious-attitude type) hold on the object and being unaware of the object as he learns to recognize the fluctuations in his own perceptual relativity that permit him to hold or release the object. In the final stage, the subject realizes that the object’s desirability is determined by the perceptual relativity that it possesses and he becomes aware of the perceptual relativity as an intrinsic part of the object.
Early man moved into controlling fire as the relativity of his perceptions shifted from his environment to fear, to worship, to experiment, and finally to awareness of his needs.
Historically speaking, modern man has become involved in the same movement in regard to psychedelic drugs. Since we do not yet fully understand the subtler aspects of mind and body, such as the mechanisms of telepathy and the relationships between thought and matter, we are yet in the experimental stage. However, as in many other endeavors of man, our technology has preceded our knowledge and psychedelics have been applied by individuals to themselves and in psychotherapy. In light of the delicate balance between body and mind and in reverence of the natural movement I find it necessary to caution the reader that many illicit drugs obtained in chemical form are impure and contain substances which have been shown to be harmful. To the naturalists, I would pass on this advice from the author of Herbal Highs:
“One man’s treat can be another man’s poison. So if any readers decide to experiment with psychedelic herbs it is best that they proceed with caution. Persons in poor health — especially those with diabetes, epilepsy, heart, liver, or blood pressure problems — are advised not to use these or any other psychedelic substances without consulting their physician. Neither should one go cheerfully about the countryside and garden munching or toking on all the pretty flowers in hopes of finding a new high. Many common plants such as water hemlock and oleander are deadly poisons. . . . There is no telling where and when any of these herbs may be outlawed.”12
There is also some question as to the effect of psychedelics on the subtler bodies.
“If the astral body has once or twice been forcibly moved out of alignment by recourse to more drastic methods like psychedelic drugs or some other xenophenia-inducing agent, the door to the outer dimensions that is normally shut tight during one’s waking hours may be loosened or, worse still, remain permanently ajar, creating a ‘leak’ from outside. Symptoms of such a state may include headaches, dizziness, loss of memory, hypochondria, fainting spells, paralysis, ‘voices,’ hallucinations and nightmares.” 13
But there is much hope if not evidence of psychedelics being able to enhance our perception in the long run. Humphrey Osmond (Director, Bureau of Research in Neurology and Psychiatry, Princeton, N.J.), sees it like this:
“If we are aware that these young people not only seek enlightenment but also communion and sharing of experiential worlds, we ought to be able to give a vigorous push in the right direction to parapsychological research in the psychedelic context. The timing for this operation is just right; it would be foolish to let it go unnoticed.”
Whether you are an acid head, an occasional tripper, a frustrated parent, or just interested in psychedelics, you are part of an important movement in consciousness. Whatever your point of view, allow yourself the advantage of seeing the other side. It is only out of our loving concern for each other that the psychedelic movement remains.
Perceptual relativity is a fundamental aspect of personality. It is best understood with the following model:
Given: A set of points corresponding to all possible perceptions,
A set of points corresponding to unrealized consciousness, i.e. potential consciousness or consciousness without perception,
A set of points corresponding to realized consciousness, or awareness, in which each point is the union of a possible perception point and an unrealized consciousness point.
Perceptual relativity is the relationship between an awareness point and all other possible perception points.
A personality is a set of awareness points and a set of possible perception points. The relationship between these sets of points is the perceptual relativity which identifies the personality. All personalities are identical in all respects except for their perceptual relativity.
A person’s concept of his own identity is analagous to his perceptual relativity.
Each personality has a perceptual relativity to every other personality. If the same awareness point is contained in any two personalities, then, in reference to that awareness point, the two personalities are identical, and the perceptual relativity of one personality to the other at that awareness point is non-existent.
If the perceptual relativity of an awareness point is non-existent, then the awareness point includes all possible perception points.
Any awareness point that has a non-existent perceptual relativity from one personality to another is an “object” to each personality relative to the other.
Perceptual relativity can be more simply defined as the difference between subject and object. (I hesitate to use the definition as many assume that there is no difference between subject and object. This lack of difference occurs only when the subject is aware of it; it is an awarness point in which the subject, as a personality, and the union of the subject and object, as a personality, are one).
In practical terms, perceptual relativity is the quality about something that enables one to be aware of it.
Personality can be in the moment (likened to telepathic bits) or encompassing a period of time. Personality in the moment contains greater (more possibilities of) perceptual relativity than personality encompassing a period of time. Seth affirms this with, “The point of power is in the present” in The Nature of Personal Reality.
Perceptual relativity increases with essential change in perception and decreases with essentially static perception. One confusing item, however, is that changed and static perception cannot be measured by the amount of consecutive moments of time one is aware of perceptions. Whether a perception has the quality of changed or static is more closely related to the amount and precedence of nerve impulses present during the perception. For instance, one’s perception of peace of mind does not become static as quickly as one’s perception of a hot coal in the hand. This is true, at least, for human entities. However, it can be generally stated that for very small increments of time, perceptual relativity decreases with time after a perception is introduced.
The greater the perceptual relativity of a perception, the more aware the individual will be of it.
To be concerned with an effectual viewpoint, we must first acknowledge its value. Otherwise, our conscious focus may readily drift to causal or “all-one” states in which we might question the existence of effects.
Our entire thinking structure is composed of ideas and ideas see themselves as ideas. So, if we have an idea that something is an effect which has been brought about by another idea which is a cause, we have ideas only, which we express in terms of causes and effects. In other words, we are composed only of the totality of what we are and this totality can only see itself as a totality. Even if we express it in terms of forces, energies, and thoughts all we have is the totality. But the totality may assume any given form in any given moment.
Abstraction implies selection of what is regarded as the most important. If we are interested in cause and effect relationships, our abstract thinking will bring these relationships into focus. If we are not interested in them, our abstraction will select something else and we will simply not be aware of causes and effects. In such a state, we would likely claim that causes and effects, rather than existing independently, exist only as part of a greater whole.
Is thinking alone sufficient?
Are we permitted to think of effects?
Are we required to think of effects?
It’s all in your point of view.