What if our waking consciousness is a vastly more nuanced entity, with a depth and variety of function, way beyond what our simple minds can comprehend? We are relatively young, a blip in 100,000’s of years of human evolution that will continue until our planet explodes. Our bodies age on a linear scale of deterioration, but our minds have the capacity to intuit time as a malleable entity, to see time dissolve, to bend and halt the trajectory of time, in altered states.
People that undergo traumatic brain injury or suffer from Aphasia: a loss of reading ability in the visual processing of language sometimes experience this distortion of their familiar relationship with time. I see it as a digestion process, our brains only know how to digest time in one manner, our default mode. This makes me suspicious of our machine-like, yet seemingly omnipotent, divine organ: the brain. The brain gives us access to the beauty of the universe through motor function and the 5 senses, yet it serves principally as a survival machine, turning the wheels of cognition like a Nazi soldier reloading and churning out rounds on a .50 caliber extinguishing American lives on Omaha beach.
We have this limiting conception of time as a moving clock on a wall that our society insists on. My intuition, sitting on that beach in Bali after eating mushrooms, is that our souls are an infinite, inextricably linked to a unified consciousness of humanity. It felt as if the universe was letting me in a secret, one that made me feel a love towards all living things, from plants to soil, people, animals, this urgent feeling there is a bottomless well of love in my heart that has been lost somewhere along the way.
The “high” is an unfortunate label in the sense that yes it is an elevated state of consciousness, but its allowing one to recognize the boundless love of consciousness. “Tune in, turn on, drop out” was the catch phrase for the free love movement coined in the 60s by the Harvard Professor Timothy Leary, who became the first national poster boy for LSD.
When one ingests psilocybin, the one time in my life I did, I spent what felt like 8 hours laying on a beach in Bali, Indonesia rolling around grasping handfuls of sand and reflecting on the miraculous beauty of existence. I wanted to shout and do cartwheels and let the whole world about this little known secret treasure. When I came down from it, I was astonished that I had fit that much into only 2 and a half hours. I was with my brother, and cousin. We had drunkenly stumbled upon on a shop on a corner in Kuta Beach, Bali earlier in the night, among the cluster of tourist traps and bars, along a beach that attracts hoards of inebriated Australians on their “gap year” or high school graduation trips.
The Indonesian man in the shop with the neon lighted words MAGIC MUSHROOM MILKSHAKE above our heads, blended orange soda Fanta with a small baggy of mushrooms. Mushrooms are completely legal in Indonesia and seem to be enmeshed with their culture of slow yet, pleasurable lives. Smoking marijuana in Indonesia is a crime with severe penalties and jail time. When my cousin hesitated on the last few gulps of her magic mushroom concoction, I said, “You gonna finish that?” and slurped down the rest of her drink like a toddler having his milkshake treat for the week.
We meandered across the street to a club where we danced in a club with a rainbow, flashing strobe light with the ever-good natured Aussies. My brother Joe, my cousin Tori, and I, were slowly overcome with a giggles that intensified gradually and we happily endured the laugh attacks. We started to realize that whatever effect the mushrooms had, it magnified every sense, sight, touch, hearing, by 1000. We knew immediately to go and hail a cab back to our hotel in Suma, which was 20 minutes away.
The simplest conversations became bogged down with our exhausting effort to process the pure awe and wonderment that our brains were being bombarded with. The unutterably sublime beauty of the universe became overwhelmingly apparent. Every object and person seemed to pulse with light and energy. The three of us tried to orient ourselves to what felt like a space ship in the cab, long, blurry streaks of light soared by as we drove through traffic. I said a silent prayer that this driver got us back to our hotel, in an altered state, in a completely foreign land.
“How do you feel Pete?” Joe said.
“I’m just moving second to second here. Can’t say much beyond that. I blinked in amazement at the newly enhanced sensation of rubbing my sweaty fingers together.” I said.
“I’m with you. Just trying to stay focused here.” Joe said.
We arrived back at the hotel and I was elated at the prospect of quiet time to try and digest this otherworldly experience.
“I’m so happy we’re back. That guy was probably afraid we were gonna murder him.” Joe said.
I withdrew and noticed that Joe viewed this as some synthetic recreation and nothing like what I envisioned. It was slowly being revealed to me that this is a sacred way of connecting to our creator and the earth. Shit, I shouldn’t have taken those extra gulps. Maybe its because he didn’t drink as much of the mushrooms. I always have to overdo it.
The artwork on the walls in our hotel room, before seemed trippy and weird immediately made sense, the Eastern style paintings of threaded vines and complex patterns somehow fit like a key in a lock with my altered state of consciousness. Something was being awakened in my brain that is normally nestled away or the volume became turned way up on something that seemed so natural and pure that it felt like the universe, the cosmos was speaking to me, through intuition, and showering me with love. I felt a deep sense of connection with the earth and the people close to me. Everything about it felt natural and way beyond any synthetic drug experience.
Since this experience I have read The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley. The jist of his book is that our brains are very limited in that we only experience one tiny piece of the puzzle of perception and that psychedelics have the power to turn on the rest of the brain and show us the eternal love and beauty of the universe and dissolve the barriers of ego.
This experience opened my mind to the healing power of psychedelics. This took place in December 2012. For the next year or two, I simply tried to wrap my head around the experience and digest what was not able to be articulated accurately, because words just can’t come close to describing how profound it is.
In a study by Johns Hopkins in December of 2016, conducted with terminal cancer patients, 70% of the participants reported the experience as one of the top five most spiritually significant events of their lives.
When my brother and I parted with my Uncle Tommy at the airport, who resides in Indonesia, before we got in the cab to the airport in Bali, someone who I view as a wise, world-worn traveler and fearless explorer of cultures, fluent in over 5 languages. We shook hands and hugged, “Hope to see you soon, however long that is.” I said.
“It’s only time and space, Pete.” He said. I wondered about Uncle Tommy’s psychedelic exploration. It was as if we reached this silent consensus that time is a fickle bitch, she bends, turns, distorts your perception of her, she makes 10 years ago seem like yesterday and yesterday seem a world away.
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.
-The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, Aldous Huxley