As of late I have been in a slump. Intellectually I am always on top, but intuitively I’ve been cut off. I have racked my brain trying to find a solution to my issue and haven’t really come up with a lot…..until today.
I sat down in the theater style chair in the largest lecture hall at my university for an exam that I didn’t even know about. As usual I was there a half an hour early (a habit my parents taught me, work, class, movie theater, I’m always there early) so I took out my copy of “Programming the Human Biocomputer” by John C. Lilly and dug in. I came across a page in a section about the adaptability of the general purpose computer (in reference to a human being as a general purpose computer capable of being programmed) talking about belief. Let me quote the lines that really hit me hard in the moment:
Ability to achieve certain special states of consciousness, for example, are generally programmed by basic beliefs taken on in childhood. If the biocomputer is to maintain its general purpose nature – which was presumably there in childhood – we must recapture a far greater range of phenomena than we expect that we have available.
Obviously this paragraph mentions a common understanding in the “metaphysical” world, that children are more open to the possibilities and as we get older we become more programmed into narrow ways of thinking (remember the post about definition?). I am already well aware of that point. This statement was a trigger that got my mind considering my own beliefs about Astral Projection and the like. I was raised in a very religious, southern baptist household. My parents weren’t necessarily that strict or anything, but the point is that I was raised to believe that if things like Astral Projection did exist (which there was never any reason to believe they did), they were wrong. I can’t say that deep down I actually believed this stuff. By the time I was old enough to really contemplate the religion I was born into (maybe 13 or 14), I thought it was horrendously silly and didn’t even give it a second thought. Around that time I turned to science as the seemingly obvious alternative to religion. Again, I wasn’t satisfied with the answers I found. At about 16 or 17 I began experimenting with entheogens (psilocybin, lsd, dmt, mdma, etc.) and discovered a new option and things were never the same. For a number of years I truly believed in the otherworlds of the new agers and Don Juan Matus. Then my experimentation with illicit substances turned a little darker and my perception of reality shifted. While this time period was difficult for me and those around me, I still feel that it was necessary and I learned a great deal about non-attachment and dissociation. To move myself away from the habits associated with this experience, I renewed my interest in the metaphysical, which brought me back to my roots of altered states.
These scenes from my life were flashing through my mind and I had re-experienced my adolescence in a matter of seconds. Then the vision stopped on last summer and just froze in that perception for a moment. I took that as a cue to explore the feelings and perceptions before me because there was something there that I needed. I think that something a friend said is the best way to sum up my feelings in that moment, “People who believe that the otherworlds are really there are interesting, people who think it’s all in our minds are boring.”
As I contemplated the feeling deeper I felt a sense of awe and wonder. In that moment I felt like there was an infinite world to explore, beliefs to be shattered, possibilities that I couldn’t even comprehend. I felt like a child. With a flash, I was back to my present self, sitting in this lecture hall awaiting a psychology exam. I collected myself for a moment and considered where I was in my perception. I was bland, boring, closed off from the possibilities. I started to resent my psychological training as of late. I noticed that as I immersed myself more and more into the world of mainstream psychology, the darker my nonphysical life seemed. I should clarify that even now I am thoroughly unsatisfied with state of modern psychological research. All of the exciting new realms that were being studied in the 60’s and 70’s by people like John Lilly, Timothy Leary, Robert Monroe and their contemporaries is dead. As neurology grew with advancement of technology, the study of altered states took a back seat and was taken over by pseudoscientific psychonauts like Terence McKenna and psychology turned toward psychosis as a focus. For some reason, the nature of human consciousness was no longer as important as human behavior. And, as with the rest of medical science, research became focused on the symptoms and not the causes.
I have identified the shift in my own perception that led to my current “boring” state though. I have always been a bit of a solipsist (only one’s own mind is sure to exist, anything outside one’s own specific mind is unjustified and the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist) but this perception seemed to take over my thoughts in the spring of 2010. While I feel that the experiences of mind and imagination are still infinite in scope, this perception lacks a certain mystery.
I am reminded of a Rune Stone reading I was given about a year ago. It wasn’t a full spread, just a one rune pull that was interpreted by a psychic reader that I work with. The rune stone that I pulled was Pertho and one of the primary words associated with Pertho is Choice or Decision-Making (make your choice, take charge of your destiny/mystery). As you can see, the rune itself is two ends being pulled in different directions. This is all the more relevant in light of the revelation I was having. On one side I have the logical progression that my mind has taken over the course of my life. In my present state I have really taken on the solipsist’s ideal and denied anything but what my mind “knows”. On the other side I have the magical world of my imagination. While I feel relatively secure in my logical solipsist perception, I don’t think I really believe it, something deep inside me disagrees. Yet, I’m still not embracing the old feelings that made my imagination brighter.
After my life of perception flashed before me, with the prolonged stop on what I might call my most recent “previous self” (which all took less than a minute), I turned back to my book and started reading the next page. You guessed it, BAM! another paragraph smacked me in the face.
These [beliefs] are disguises of and evasions of the ultimate dissolution of self. The maintenance of pleasure and of life are insisting on denial of death. If we stop at these beliefs, no progress in further analysis can be made. These beliefs are analysis dissolvers. They are lazy assumptions which prevent us from pushing deeper into self and avoid expending effort in this deeper direction.
Lilly was actually kind of dismissing the notions of new agers and the like (which in a way is what i’m trying to get back too, ha), but the statements were once again for a trigger inside me. I recall a podcast that I used to listen too, in which the host once said that he likes to try on new belief systems like a new suit. He wears it around for a bit and feels it out. He eventually takes it off either way, and the assimilation of the specific belief isn’t even the point. Just the act of being able to consciously choose to “believe” a new paradigm and dismiss it as quickly. That was a quality I once admired and strove to achieve, and i did for a time.
So, what conclusion have I come to? Well, I need to make a choice. When I first thought about making this choice I thought that I would have to choose between returning to my old ‘magical thinking’ or continuing forward in the hopes that my current perception will lead to something liberating (which I’m still sure it will). But after I contemplated it a bit more it occurred to me that I didn’t have to try to define myself in a particular perception, in fact that’s quite the opposite of what I consciously think (though what I unknowingly believe seems to be quite different, which tells me I need to do some inner house cleaning). I can just put on the old ‘beliefs’ to help jumpstart my connection with the intuitive otherworlds until such a time as merging that world with this other perception I have adopted recently becomes possible for me.
Tell me, does anyone else feel torn between two worlds? Do you worry about not balancing your presence between the two?