There are so many articles on psychedelics coming out these days it’s sort of nuts but I’ve gotta be honest, most of them are regurgitating roughly exact same shit. For the last year or so I’ve been re-blogging some of the better ones and providing pretty much the same redundant commentary. This stuff is really way more religion than it is medicine or psychology or anything boring like that. Finally, holy shit, an academic wrote a piece expressing this exact sentiment and I strongly encourage everyone to bite my shtick, really I do.
What this guy doesn’t get at though is that maybe, just maybe, the people that based their spiritual practices around this stuff for millennia might possibly know more about the way the multiverse works than idiot white people who started taking acid when they were finally convinced it fit into the parameters of their monotheism inspired science. Maybe this whole concept of a spirit realm that shamans insist upon might have some legitimate merit. It certainly does conveniently explain dreams, which to this day modern academia can’t account for entirely. Great piece. Maybe the one other thing I’d add is that schizophrenia is also expressed quite differently dependent on cultural imprinting. Are these things connected? Duh. The set of a psychedelic experience is so very much different depending on your cosmological ideology and precluding power of suggestion. Anyway, I’m done here, you should read this. (From Aeon):
“In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re in the middle of a psychedelic renaissance. Research into the healing potential of psychedelics has re-started at prestigious universities such as Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and Imperial College London, and is making rock stars out of the scientists carrying it out. Their findings are being reported with joy and exultation by mainstream media – on CNN, the BBC, even the Daily Mail. Respectable publishers such as Penguin are behind psychedelics bestsellers such as Michael Pollan’s book How To Change Your Mind (2018), which was reviewed enthusiastically across the political spectrum. Silicon Valley billionaires are putting their blockchain millions into funding psychedelics research, and corporates are preparing for a juicy new market. The counterculture has gone mainstream. Turn on, tune in, sell out.
The renaissance involves the resurrection of many ideas from the first ‘summer of love’ in 1967, in particular, the mystical theory of psychedelics. This idea was introduced by Aldous Huxley in his classic The Doors of Perception (1954). Having studied mystical experiences for more than a decade without really having one, Huxley took mescaline, and felt that he’d finally been let in to the mystics’ club. Other 1960s gurus such as Alan Watts, Ram Dass and Huston Smith were also convinced that psychedelics led to genuine mystical experiences, and would be a catalyst for Western culture’s spiritual awakening.
The mystical theory of psychedelics has five key tenets. The first is that psychedelics lead to a mystical experience of unitive, non-dual consciousness, in which all is one, you are united with It, God, the Tao, Brahman, etc. This experience is timeless, ineffable, joyful and noetic (you know that it is true).
Second, that the psychedelic experience is the same as the experience of mystics, found in all religions. Different religions use different terms for ultimate reality, but all mystics are really having the same non-dual experience. This is the theory of the ‘perennial philosophy’, promoted by Huxley and other perennialists. It’s known in religious studies as the ‘universal core of religious experience’ theory.
Third, that the mystical experience previously occurred mainly to ascetics such as St Teresa of Ávila, and was somewhat rare and unpredictable, therefore scientists dismissed it as ‘ego-regression’, ‘psychosis’ and so forth. But now psychedelics have revealed a predictable and replicable route to mystical experiences, so scientists can study them in the lab. They can measure them using brain-scans, or questionnaires such as the Hood Mysticism Scale, developed by the American psychologist Ralph Hood, which measures to what extent a person’s experience maps onto the ‘universal core’.
Fourth, that this scientific research will create an empirical spirituality or ‘neuro-theology’. It will prove, or at least make more credible, the transcendent insights of the mystics.
And finally, that this will change the world. Humanity will join a new scientific religion of mystical experience, beyond differences of language, nation, culture, religion, class, gender or ethnicity. We will all become liberal environmental progressives. We will all overcome our fear of death. After four centuries of materialism, Western culture will be re-enchanted, but in a predictable, rational and replicable way. Homo sapiens will be upgraded.”