Luminist Archives

Timothy Francis Leary  (1920 – 1996)

The Seven Tongues of God

 

 

First published in The Psychedelic Review, Number 3, 1964


The Turn-On

     Once upon a time, many years ago, on a sunny afternoon in the garden of a Cuernavaca villa, I ate seven of the so-called sacred mushrooms which had been given to me by a scientist from the University of Mexico. During the next five hours, I was whirled through an experience which could be described in many extravagant metaphors but which was, above all and without question, the deepest religious experience of my life.
     Statements about personal reactions, however passionate, are always relative to the speaker’s history and may have little general significance. Next come the questions “Why?” and “So what?”
     There are many predisposing factors — intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social — which cause one person to be ready for a dramatic mind-opening experience and which lead another to shrink back from new levels of awareness. The discovery that the human brain possesses an infinity of potentialities and can operate at unexpected space-time dimensions left me feeling exhilarated, awed, and quite convinced that I had awakened from a long ontological sleep. This sudden flash awakening is called “turning on.”


Tuning In

     A profound transcendent experience should leave in its wake a changed man and a changed life. Since my illumination of August 1960, I have devoted most of my energies to trying to understand the revelatory potentialities of the human nervous system and to making these insights available to others.
     I have repeated this biochemical and (to me) sacramental ritual several hundred times, and almost every time I have been awed by religious revelations as shattering as the first experience. During this period I have been lucky enough to collaborate in this work with several hundred scientists and scholars who joined our various research projects. In our centers at Harvard, in Mexico, and at Millbrook we have arranged transcendent experiences for several thousand persons from all walks of life, including more than 200 full-time religious professionals, about half of whom profess the Christian or Jewish faiths and about half of whom belong to Eastern religions.
     Included in this roster are several divinity college deans, divinity college presidents, university chaplains, executives of religious foundations, prominent religious editors, and several distinguished religious philosophers. In our research files and in certain denominational offices there is building up a large and quite remarkable collection of reports which will be published when the political atmosphere becomes more tolerant. At this point it is conservative to state that over 75% of these subjects report intense mystico-religious responses, and considerably more than 50% claim that they have had the deepest spiritual experience of their life.
     The interest generated by the research at Harvard led to the formation in 1962 of an informal group of ministers, theologians and religious psychologists who met once a month. In addition to arranging for spiritually oriented psychedelic sessions and discussing prepared papers, this group provided the guides for the dramatic “Good Friday” study and was the original planning nucleus of the organizations which assumed sponsorship of our research in consciousness expansion: IFIF (the International Federation for Internal Freedom), 1963, the Castalia Foundation, 1963-66, and the League for Spiritual Discovery, 1966. The generating impulse and the original leadership of our work and play came from a seminar in religious experience, and this fact may be related to the alarm which we have aroused in some secular and psychiatric circles.


The Good Friday Miracle

     The “Good Friday” study, which has been sensationalized recently in the press as “The Miracle of Marsh Chapel,” deserves further elaboration not only as an example of a serious, controlled experiment involving over 30 courageous volunteers, but also as a systematic demonstration of the religious aspects of the psychedelic revelatory experience. This study was the Ph.D. dissertation research of Walter Pahnke, at that time a graduate student in the philosophy of religion at Harvard University. Pahnke, who is, incidentally, both an M.D. and a bachelor of divinity, set out to determine whether the transcendent experience reported during psychedelic sessions was similar to the mystical experience reported by saints and famous religious mystics.
     The subjects in this study were 20 divinity students selected from a group of volunteers. The subjects were divided into five groups of four persons, and each group met before the session for orientation and preparation. To each group were assigned two guides with considerable psychedelic experience. The ten guides were professors and advanced graduate students from Boston-area colleges.
     The experiment took place in a small, private chapel at Boston University, beginning about one hour before noon on Good Friday. The dean of the chapel, Howard Thurman, who was to conduct a three-hour devotional service upstairs in the main hall of the church, visited the subjects a few minutes before the start of the service at noon and gave a brief inspirational talk.
     Two of the subjects in each group and one of the two guides were given a moderately stiff dosage (i.e., 30 mg.) of psilocybin, the chemical synthesis of the active ingredient in the “sacred mushroom” of Mexico. The remaining two subjects and the second guide received a placebo which produced noticeable somatic side effects but which was not psychedelic. The study was triple blind: neither the subjects, guides, nor experimenter knew who received psilocybin.
     A detailed description of this fascinating study can be found in Pahnke’s thesis, available from the Harvard Library. I can say, in summary, that the results clearly support the hypothesis that, with adequate preparation and in an environment which is supportive and religiously meaningful, subjects who have taken the psychedelic drug report mystical experiences significantly more than placebo controls.
     Our studies, naturalistic and experimental, thus demonstrate that if the expectation, preparation, and setting are spiritual, an intense mystical or revelatory experience can be expected in from 40 to 90 percent of subjects ingesting psychedelic drugs. These results may be attributed to the bias of our research group, which has taken the “far out” and rather dangerous position that there are experiential-spiritual as well as secular-behavioral potentialities of the nervous system. While we share and follow the epistemology of scientific psychology (objective records), our basic ontological assumptions are closer to Jung than to Freud, closer to the mystics than to the theologians, closer to Einstein and Bohr than to Newton. In order to check on this bias, let us cast a comparative glance at the work of other research groups in this field who begin from more conventional ontological bases.


LSD Can Produce a Religious High

     Oscar Janiger, a psychiatrist, and William McGlothlin, a psychologist, have reported the reactions of 194 psychedelic subjects. Of these, 73 took LSD as part of a psychotherapy program and 121 were volunteers. The religious “set” would not be expected to dominate the expectations of these subjects. The results, which are abstracted from a paper published in the Psychedelic Review, are as follows:
     Two other studies, one by Ditman et al., another by Savage et al., used the same questionnaire, allowing for inter-experiment comparison. Both Ditman and Savage are psychiatrists, but the clinical environment of the latter’s study is definitely more religious (subjects are shown religious articles during the session, etc.). Summarizing the religious items of their questionnaires:
     Here, then, we have five scientific studies by qualified investigators — the four naturalistic studies by Leary et al., Savage et al., Ditman et al. and Janiger-McGlothlin, and the triple-blind study in the Harvard dissertation mentioned earlier — yielding data which indicate that (1) if the setting is supportive but not spiritual, between 40 to 75 percent of psychedelic subjects will report intense and life-changing religious experiences and that (2) if the set and setting are supportive and spiritual, then from 40 to 90 percent of the experiences will be revelatory and mystico-religious.
     It is hard to see how these results can be disregarded by those who are concerned with spiritual growth and religious development. These data are even more interesting because the experiments took place at a time (1962) when mysticism, individual religious ecstasy (as opposed to religious behavior), was highly suspect and when the classic, direct, nonverbal means of revelation and consciousness expansion such as meditation, yoga, fasting, monastic withdrawal and sacramental foods and drugs were surrounded by an aura of fear, clandestine secrecy, active social sanction, and even imprisonment. The two hundred professional workers in religious vocations who partook of psychedelic substances (noted earlier) were responsible, respected, thoughtful, and moral individuals who were grimly aware of the controversial nature of the procedure and aware that their reputations and their jobs might be undermined (and, as a matter of fact, have been and are today being threatened for some of them). Still the results read: 75 percent spiritual revelation. It may well be that the most intense religious experience, like the finest metal, requires fire, the “heat” of police constabulatory opposition, to produce the keenest edge. When the day comes — as it surely will — that sacramental bio-chemicals like LSD will be as routinely and tamely used as organ music and incense to assist in the attainment of religious experience, it may well be that the ego-shattering effect of the drug will be diminished. Such may be one aspect of the paradoxical nature of religious experience.


What Is the Religious Experience?

     The Religious Experience: You are undoubtedly wondering about the meaning of this phrase, which has been used so freely in the preceding paragraphs. May I offer a definition?
   The religious experience is the ecstatic, incontrovertibly certain subjective discovery of answers to seven basic spiritual questions.

     There can be, of course, absolute subjective certainty in regard to secular questions: Is this the girl I love? Is Fidel Castro a wicked man? Are the Yankees the best baseball team? But issues which do not involve the seven basic questions belong to secular games, and such convictions and faiths, however deeply held, can be distinguished from the religious. Liturgical practices, rituals, dogmas, theological speculations, can be and too often are secular, i.e., completely divorced from the spiritual experience.
      What are these 7 basic spiritual questions?

      1. The Ultimate Power Question
   
What is the basic energy underlying the universe—the ultimate power that moves the galaxies and nucleus of the atom? Where and how did it all begin? What is the cosmic plan? Cosmology.
      2. The Life Question
   
What is life? Where and how did it begin? How is it evolving? Where is it going? Genesis, biology, evolution, genetics.
      3. The Human Being Question
   
Who is man? Whence did he come? What is his structure and function? Anatomy and physiology.
      4. The Awareness Question
   
How does man sense, experience, know? Epistemology, neurology.
      5. The Ego Question
   
Who am I? What is my spiritual, psychological, social place in the plan? What should I do about it? Social psychology.
      6. The Emotional Question
   
What should I feel about it? Psychiatry. Personality psychology.
      7. The Ultimate Escape Question
   
How do I get out of it? Anesthesiology (amateur or professional) . Eschatology.

     While one may disagree with the wording, I think most thoughtful people — philosophers or not — can agree on something like this list of basic issues. Do not most of the great religious statements — Eastern or monotheistic — speak directly to these questions?
     Now one important fact about these questions is that they are continually being answered and re-answered, not only by all the religions of the world but also by the data of the natural sciences. Read these questions again from the standpoint of the goals of (1) astronomy-physics, (2) biochemistry, genetics, paleontology, and evolutionary theory, (3) anatomy and physiology, (4) neurology, (5) sociology, psychology, (6) psychiatry, (7) eschatological theology and anesthesiology.
     We are all aware of the unhappy fact that both science and religion are too often diverted toward secular-game goals. Various pressures demand that laboratory and church forget these basic questions and instead provide distractions, illusory protection, narcotic comfort. Most of us dread confrontation with the answers to these basic questions, whether the answers come from objective science or religion. But if “pure” science and religion address themselves to the same basic questions, what is the distinction between the two disciplines? Science is the systematic attempt to record and measure the energy process and the sequence of energy transformations we call life. The goal is to answer the basic questions in terms of objective, observed, public data. Religion is the systematic attempt to provide answers to the same questions subjectively, in terms of direct, incontrovertible, personal experience.
     Science is a social system which evolves roles, rules, rituals, values, language, space-time locations to further the quest for these goals, to answer these questions objectively, externally. Religion is a social system which has evolved its roles, rules, rituals, values, language, space-time locations to further the pursuit of the same goals, to answer these questions subjectively through the revelatory experience. A science which fails to address itself to these spiritual goals, which accepts other purposes (however popular), becomes secular, political, and tends to oppose new data. A religion which fails to provide direct experiential answers to these spiritual questions (which fails to produce the ecstatic high) becomes secular, political, and tends to oppose the individual revelatory confrontation. The Oxford orientalist R. C. Zaehner, whose formalism is not always matched by his tolerance, has remarked that experience, when divorced from dogma, often leads to absurd and wholly irrational excesses. Like any statement of polarity, the opposite is equally true: dogma, when divorced from experience, often leads to absurd and wholly rational excesses. Those of us who have been devoting our lives to the study of consciousness have been able to collect considerable sociological data about the tendency of the rational mind to spin out its own interpretations. But I shall have more to say about the political situation in later chapters.


Religion and Science Provide Similar Answers to the Same Basic Questions

      At this point I should like to advance the hypothesis that those aspects of the psychedelic experience which subjects report to be ineffable and ecstatically religious involve a direct awareness of the energy processes which physicists and biochemists and physiologists and neurologists and psychologists and psychiatrists measure.
   
We are treading here on very tricky ground. When we read the reports of LSD subjects, we are doubly limited. First, they can only speak in the vocabulary they know, and for the most part they do not possess the lexicon and training of energy scientists. Second, we researchers find only what we are prepared to look for, and too often we think in crude psychological-jargon concepts: moods, emotions, value judgments, diagnostic categories, social pejoratives, religious clichés. Since 1962 I have talked to thousands of LSD trippers, mystics, saddhus, occultists, saints, inquiring if their hallucinations, visions, revelations, ecstasies, orgasms, hits, flashes, space-outs and freak-outs can be translated into the language not just of religion, psychiatry and psychology but also of the and biological sciences.

     1. The Ultimate-Power Question
    A. The scientific answers to this question change constantly — Newtonian laws, quantum indeterminacy, atomic structure, nuclear structure. Today the basic energy is located within the nucleus. Inside the atom a transparent sphere of emptiness, thinly populated with electrons, the substance of the atom has shrunk to a core of unbelievable smallness: enlarged 1000 million times, an atom would be about the size of a football, but its nucleus would still be hardly visible — a mere speck of dust at the center. Yet that nucleus radiates a powerful electric field which holds and controls the electrons around it.
     Incredible power and complexity operating at speeds and spatial dimensions which our conceptual minds cannot register. Infinitely small, yet pulsating outward through enormous networks of electrical forces — atom, molecule, cell, planet, star: all forms dancing to the nuclear tune.
     The cosmic design is this network of energy whirling through space-time. More than 15,000 million years ago the oldest known stars began to form. Whirling disks of gas molecules (driven, of course, by that tiny, spinning, nuclear force) — condensing clouds, further condensations — the tangled web of spinning magnetic fields clustering into stellar forms, and each stellar cluster hooked up in a magnetic dance with its planetary cluster and with every other star in the galaxy, and each galaxy whirling in synchronized relationship to the other galaxies.
     One thousand million galaxies. From 100 million to 100,000 million stars in a galaxy — that is to say, 100,000 million planetary systems per galaxy, and each planetary system slowly wheeling through the stellar cycle that allows for a brief time the possibility of life as we know it.
     Five thousand million years ago, a slow-spinning dwarf star we call the sun is the center of a field of swirling planetary material. The planet Earth is created. In 5,000 million years the sun’s supply of hydrogen will be burned up; the planets will be engulfed by a final solar explosion. Then the ashen remnants of our planetary system will spin silently through the dark infinity of space. And then is the dance over? Hardly. Our tiny solar light, which is one of 100,000 million suns in our galaxy, will scarcely be missed. And our galaxy is one of 1,000 million galaxies spinning out and up at rates which exceed the speed of light — each galaxy eventually burning up, to be replaced by new galaxies to preserve the dance equilibrium.
     Here in the always changing data of nuclear physics and astronomy is the current scientific answer to the first basic question — material enough indeed for an awesome cosmology.
    
     B. Psychedelic reports often contain phrases which seem to describe similar phenomena, subjectively experienced.
     (a) I passed in and out of a state several times where I was so relaxed that I felt open to a total flow, over and around and through my body (more than my body)… All objects were dripping, streaming, with white-hot light or electricity which flowed in the air. It was as though we were watching the world, just having come into being, cool off, its substance and form still molten and barely beginning to harden.
     (b) Body being destroyed after it became so heavy as to be unbearable. Mind wandering, ambulating throughout an ecstatically lit, indescribable landscape. How can there be so much light — layers and layers of light, light upon light? All is illumination.
     (c) I became more and more conscious of vibrations — of the vibrations in my body, the harp strings giving forth their individual tones. Gradually I felt myself becoming one with the cosmic vibration… In this dimension there were no forms, no deities or personalities — just bliss.
     (d) The dominant impression was that of entering into the marrow of existence… It was as if each of the billion atoms of experience which under normal circumstances are summarized and averaged into crude, indiscriminate, wholesale impressions was now being seen and savored for itself. The other clear sense was that of cosmic relativity. Perhaps all experience never gets summarized in any inclusive overview. Perhaps all there is, is this everlasting congeries of an infinite number of discrete points of view, each summarizing the whole from its perspective.
     (e) I could see the whole history and evolution along which man has come. I was moving into the future and saw the old cycle of peace and war, good times and bad times, starting to repeat, and I said, “The same old thing again. Oh, God! It has changed, though, it is different,” and I thought of the rise of man from animal to spiritual being. But I was still moving into the future, and I saw the whole planet destroyed and all history, evolution, and human efforts being wiped out in this one ultimate destructive act of God.
     Subjects speak of participating in and merging with pure (i.e., content-free) energy, white light; of witnessing the breakdown of macroscopic objects into vibratory patterns, visual nets, the collapse of external structure into wave patterns, the awareness that everything is a dance of particles, sensing the smallness and fragility of our system, visions of the void, of world-ending explosions, of the cyclical nature of creation and dissolution, etc. Now I need not apologize for the flimsy inadequacy of these words. We just don’t have a better experiential vocabulary. If God were to permit you a brief voyage into the divine process, let you whirl for a second into the atomic nucleus or spin you out on a light-year trip through the galaxies, how on earth would you describe what you saw when you got back, breathless, to your office? This metaphor may sound farfetched or irrelevant, but just ask someone who has taken a heavy dose of LSD.

     2. The Life Question
     A. The Scientific Answer:
  
Our planetary system began over five billion years ago and has around five billion years to go. Life as we know it dates back two billion years. In other words, the earth spun for about 60% of its existence without life. The crust slowly cooled and was eroded by incessant water flow. “Fertile mineral mud was deposited… now giving… for the first time… the possibility of harboring life.” Thunderbolts in the mud produce amino acids, the basic building blocks of life. Then begins the ceaseless production of protein molecules, incalculable in number, forever combining into new forms. The variety of proteins “exceeds all the drops of water in all the oceans of the world.” Then protoplasm. Cell. Within the cell, incredible beauty and order.

When we consider the teeming activity of a modern city it is difficult to realize that in the cells of our bodies infinitely more complicated processes are at work — ceaseless manufacture, acquisition of food, storage, communication and administration… All this takes place in superb harmony, with the cooperation of all the participants of a living system, regulated down to the smallest detail. (G. Shenk, The History of Man, New York: Chilton, 1961, pp. 56 – 57.)

     Life is the striving cycle of repetitious, reproductive energy transformations. Moving, twisting, devouring, changing. The unit of life is the cell. And the blueprint is the genetic code, the two nucleic acids — the long, intertwined, duplicating chains of DNA and the controlling regulation of RNA — “which determine the structure of the living substance.”
     And where is it going? Exactly like the old Hindu myths of cyclical rotation, the astrophysicists tell us that life is a temporary sequence which occurs at a brief mid-point in the planetary cycle. Terrestrial life began around three billion years A.B. (“after the beginning” of our solar cycle) and will run for another two billion years or so. At that time the solar furnace will burn so hot that the minor planets (including Earth) will boil, bubble and burn out. In other planetary systems the time spans are different, but the cycle is probably the same.
     There comes an intermediate stage in the temperature history of a planet which can nourish living forms, and then life merges into the final unifying fire. Data here, indeed, for an awesome cosmology.
     The flame of life which moves every living form, including the cell cluster you call your self, began, we are told, as a tiny single-celled spark in the lower Precambrian mud, then passed over in steady transformations to more complex forms. We like to speak of higher forms, but let’s not ignore or patronize the single-cell game. It’s still quite thriving, thank you. Next, your ancestral fire glowed in seaweed, algae, flagellate, sponge, coral (about one billion years ago); then fish, fern, scorpion, millipede (about 600 million years ago). Every cell in your body traces back (about 450 million years ago) to the same light life flickering in amphibian (and what a fateful and questionable decision to leave the sea — should we have done it?). Then forms, multiplying in endless diversity — reptile, insect, bird — until, one million years ago, comes the aureole glory of Australopithecus. (The fossils of the newly discovered “Homo Habilis” from East Africa are estimated to be 1,750,000 years old. — New York Times, March 18, April 3 and 4, 1964. Another estimate traces human origins back about 15 million years! — New York Times, April 12, 1964.)
     The torch of life next passes on to the hand-ax culture (around 600,000 years ago), to Pithecanthropus (can you remember watching for the charge of southern elephants and the saber-tooth tiger?), then blazing brightly in the radiance of our great-grandfather Neanderthal man (a mere 70,000 years ago), suddenly flaring up in that cerebral explosion that doubled the cortex of our grandfather Cro-Magnon man (44,000 to 10,000 years ago), and then radiating into the full flame of recent man, our older stone age, Neolithic brothers, our bronze and iron age selves.
     What next? The race, far from being culminated, has just begun:

The development of Pre-hominines Australopithecus… to the first emergence of the… Cromagnons lasted about… fifteen thousand human life-spans…. In this relatively short period in world history the hominid type submitted to a positively hurricane change of form; indeed he may be looked upon as one of the animal groups whose potentialities of unfolding with the greatest intensity have been realized. It must, however, by no means be expected that this natural flood of development will dry up with Homo sapiens recens. Man will be unable to remain man as we know him now, a modern sapiens type. He will in the courses of the next hundreds of millennia presumably change considerably physiologically and physically. (G. Shenk, The History of Man, p. 238.)

     B. The Psychedelic Correlates of these evolutionary and genetic concepts are to be found in the reports of almost every LSD tripper. The experience of being a one-celled creature tenaciously flailing, the singing, humming sound of life exfoliating; you are the DNA code spinning out multicellular aesthetic solutions. You directly and immediately experience invertibrate joy; you feel your backbone forming; gills form. You are a fish with glistening gills, the sound of ancient fetal tides murmuring the rhythm of life. You stretch and wriggle in mammalian muscular strength, loping, powerful, big muscles; you sense hair growing on your body as you leave the warm broth of water and take over the earth.
     The psychedelic experience is the Hindu-Buddha reincarnation theory experimentally confirmed in your own nervous system. You re-experience your human forebears, shuttle down the chain of DNA remembrance. It’s all there in your cellular diaries. You are all the men and women who fought and fed and met and mated — the ugly, the strong, the sly, the mean, the wise, the beautiful. Our fathers, who art protein in heaven — within; and our round-fleshed holy mothers, hallowed be thy names. Endless chain of warm-blooded, sweating, perfume-smelling, tenaciously struggling primates, each rising out of darkness to stand for one second in the sunlight and hand on the precious electrical tissue flame of life.
     What does all that evolutionary reincarnation business have to do with you or me or LSD or the religious experience? It might, it just might, have a lot to do with very current events. Many, and I am just bold enough to say most, LSD subjects say they experience early forms of racial or subhuman species evolution during their sessions. Now the easiest interpretation is the psychiatric: “Oh, yes, hallucinations. Everyone knows that LSD makes you crazy, and your delusions can take any psychotic form.” But wait; not so fast. Is it entirely inconceivable that our cortical cells or the machinery inside the cellular nucleus “remember” back along the unbroken chain of electrical transformations that connects every one of us back to that original thunderbolt in the Precambrian mud? Impossible, you say? Read a genetics text. Read and reflect about the DNA chain of complex protein molecules that took you as a unicelled organism at the moment of your conception and planned every stage of your development. Half of that genetic blueprint was handed to you intact by your mother and half by your father, and then slammed together in that incredible welding process we call conception.
     “You,” your ego, your good old American social self, have been trained to remember certain crucial secular-game landmarks: your senior prom, your wedding day. But is it not possible that others of your ten billion brain cells “remember” other critical survival crossroads, like conception, intrauterine events, birth? Events for which our language has few or no descriptive terms? Every cell in your body is the current carrier of an energy torch which traces back through millions of generation transformations. Remember that genetic code?
     You must recognize by now the difficulty of my task. I am trying to expand your consciousness, break through your macroscopic, secular set, “turn you on,” give you a faint feeling of a psychedelic moment, trying to relate two sets of processes for which we have no words — speed-of-light energy - transformation processes and the transcendent vision.

       3. The Human Being Question
       A. The Scientific Answer
   
What is the human being? Ancient riddle, usually answered from within the homocentric limits of the parochial mind. But consider this question from the perspective of an intelligence outside the “romantic fallacy” of man’s superiority. Study the question from the vantage point of an outer-space visitor, or from that of an ecstatic, objective scientist.
      Let us define man as man defines other species, by his anatomy and physiology. Man is an evolutionary form emerging from animal-mammalian-primate stock, characterized by this skeletal structure and these unique hematological, endocrine, organ systems.
      Like every living creature, man is a seed carrier, a soul bearer made in one of the forms of God. Man’s particular form is a bag of semi-hairless skin containing a miraculously complex system of life functions which he dimly understands in the language of physiology, functions of which he has no direct experience.
      Only a rare, turned-on visionary like Buckminster Fuller can appreciate the universe of the human body, the galactic scope of somatic experience.
     “Our individual brains have a quadrillion times a quadrillion atoms in fantastic coordination…. I think we are all coming out of the womb of very fundamental ignorance, mental ignorance. We talk in ways that sometimes sound very faithful to our experience but which are many times very imaginary… We think that we know quite a lot and are responsible for a lot of what is going on.
      “I say to you, whatever the last meal you ate, you haven’t the slightest idea of what you are doing with it. You aren’t consciously saying to yourself that ‘I have designed and decided now I’m going to have a million hairs, and they’re going to be such and such a shape and color.’ We don’t do any of this; it is all automated. Man is more than 99% automated, and he is only a very small fraction conscious. Whereas he tends to suggest that he is really highly responsible for what goes on… he is very successful despite his ignorance and vanity.
     “I would suggest that all of humanity is about to be born in an entirely new relationship to the universe…. We’re going to have an integrity… a good faith with the truth, whatever the truth may be. We are going to have to really pay attention.” (Buckminster Fuller, interviewed in the San Francisco Oracle, Vol. 1, No. 11.)
    
     B. The Psychedelic Correlates
  
The key phrases in this typical flash of humorous genius by Buckminster Fuller are: “faithful to our experience,” “automated… only a very small fraction conscious,” “pay attention.”
     This is classic psychedelic talk. One of the ecstatic horrors of the LSD experience is the sudden confrontation with your own body, the shattering resurrection of your body. You are capitulated into the matrix of quadrillions of cells and somatic communication systems. Cellular flow. You are swept down the tunnels and canals of your own waterworks. Visions of microscopic processes. Strange, undulating tissue patterns. Pummeled down the fantastic artistry of internal factories, recoiling with fear or shrieking in pleasure at the incessant push, struggle, drive of the biological machinery, clicking, clicking, endlessly, endlessly — at every moment engulfing you.
     Your body is the universe. The ancient wisdom of Gnostics, hermetics, Sufis, Tantric gurus, yogis, occult healers. What is without is within. Your body is the mirror of the macrocosm. The kingdom of heaven is within you. Within your body, body, body. The great psychedelic philosophies of the East — Tantra, Kundalini yoga — see the human body as the sacred temple, the seed center, the exquisitely architectured shrine of all creation.

Hoc est corpus meum

     And the systematic, disciplined awareness of body function is the basic sacramental method of these religions. Tibetan and Indian Tantra train the student to become faithful to somatic experience, to pay attention to the energies and messages of the body. Breathing, control of circulation, control of involuntary muscles and reflexes, control of digestion, control of genital erection and ejaculation, awareness of the intricate language of hormone and humor, the psychopharmacology of the body, the charkas.
     One cannot understand the rhythms and meanings of the outer world until one has mastered the dialects of the body.
     What is man? He is within His body. His body is his universe.

     4. The Awareness Question
     A. The Scientific Answer
  
Everything that man knows is mediated by the human nervous system. Everything that man knows about the external world and his place, his identity in it, comes through the sense organs.
     Neurologists and sensory physiologists have much to tell us about the incredible complexity of the sensory mechanisms. The eye responding to light, the auditory system trembling to the finest variation in air vibrations, the olfactory organs receiving and processing airborne scents, the mouth and tongue honeycombed with taste buds. Touch. Temperature. Pain. Pressure.
     I lectured once to a group of priests and nuns about the sensory experience. “I am holding in my hand,” I said, “the most sensual book ever written, illustrated, too, with the most sensual pictures you ever saw.” I was holding The Anatomy and Physiology of the Senses.
     All our beliefs and convictions about the existence of an outside world, the only threads we have that connect our lonely solipsism to other forms of life and energy and consciousness “out there” are based on data registered on our sensory radar and processed by our brains.
     Each human being is a spaceship. No, each human being is a galaxy spinning lonely in space, and the only contacts we have with other galaxies (light-years away, really) are the flimsy flickerings of our sense organs.
     And what an ontological, epistemological leap of faith it is, really, to believe in the existence of each other! You read this page, light hits your eyes, and your brain sees squiggles of black and white which are words. Do you believe that you are really reading what Timothy Leary wrote? Does this pattern of black and white lines lead you to believe in the existence of a seed-bearing, soul-carrying human being, Timothy Leary, who sat one New Year’s Day at a wood-grained desk littered with notes, clippings, books, loose tobacco, coffee cups, ashtrays, looking out a picture window at the silver-grey expanse of the Pacific Ocean, writing these lines?
     How can you be sure that Bacon wrote Shakespeare? How can you be sure that those lines were not arranged by a computer which (reacting to a Hooper-rating survey) proceeded to scan and sort quadrillions of pages of past computer writing and rearrange these lines designed to feed back exactly that level of ignorance-superstition-word magic that will comfort and please you? Do you accept your ocular data (this book) that Timothy Leary exists? If you could touch me, smell me, feel my warmth, hear my voice or my smoker’s cough, would you be more convinced that I exist?
     Common sense convinces us and Dr. Johnson that something exists out there.
     But the mystery of knowing remains. And the awesome findings of biochemical neurology do not simplify our understanding of how we know, how we become conscious.

The human brain, we are told, is composed of about ten billion nerve cells, any one of which may connect with as many as 25,000 other nerve cells. The number of interconnections which this adds up to would stagger even an astronomer — and astronomers are used to dealing with astronomical numbers. The number is far greater than all the atoms in the universe. This is why physiologists remain unimpressed by computers. A computer sophisticated enough to handle this number of interconnections would have to be big enough to cover the earth. (R. Campbell, “The Circuits of the Senses,” in a series on “The Human Body” (Part IV), Life, Vol. 54, No. 27 (June 27, 1963), pp. 64 – 76b.)

     Into this matrix floods “about 100 million sensations a second from… [the]… various senses.” And somewhere in that ten-billion-cell galaxy is a tiny solar system of connected neurons which is aware of your social self. Your “ego” is to your brain what the planet Earth is to our galaxy with its 100,000 million suns.

     B. The Psychedelic Answer to the awareness question should now be apparent. There is no answer, only a bleak choice of blind hope or insightful despair.
     On the dour side, the attentive, highly conscious person realizes that he is the almost helpless victim of the accidental or deliberate range of light-sound-pressure-chemical energies that impinge on his sensory nerve endings. At one time, when we were trustingly slumbering, a selfish, insane, power-hungry combine of exploitive conspirators suddenly moved in and systematically censored and manipulated what was to hit our eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin. A well-organized conspiracy to enslave our consciousness. A science fiction horror movie in which our captors decided exactly which energies and sensory stimuli we could encounter. Our ten-billion-cell nervous systems have been monopolized by these ruthless, selfish captors. We walk around on a fake-prop television studio set that our masters have designed — and we play the parts they assign. Using Pavlovian conditioning of reward and punishment, our grim rulers lead us unsuspectingly to do exactly what they wish.
     This grim combine which determines the scope and style of our consciousness (for its own benefit) operates through our parents (themselves blind, frightened slaves) and our educational, acculturation institutions.
     We have taken leave of our senses. We have been robbed blind. Sensory conditioning has forced us to accept a “reality” which is a comic-tragic farce illusion. We can never rid ourselves of the insanities deeply imprinted during infancy and childhood on our delicate, vulnerable nervous systems. We can never free ourselves completely.
     On the bright side, we can obtain a momentary (and even longer) release from the neurological prison. We can come to our senses, turn off the conditioning and experience afresh the hardly bearable ecstasy of direct energy exploding on our nerve endings. We can become seers, hear-oes, smelling tasters in real touch.
     The awakening of the senses is the most basic aspect of the psychedelic experience. The open eye, the naked touch, the intensification and vivification of ear and nose and taste. This is the Zen moment of satori, the nature mystic’s high, the sudden centering of consciousness on the sense organ, the real-eye-zation that this is it! I am eye! I am hear! I knose! I am in contact!
     The ability to turn on the senses, to escape the conditioned mind, to throb in harmony with the energies radiating on the sense organs, the skillful control of one’s senses, has for thousands of years been the mark of a sage, a holy man, a radiant teacher.
     Control of the senses is a basic part of every enduring religious method. Control does not mean repression or closing off. Control means the ability to turn off the mind, ignore the enticing clamor of symbolic seduction and open the senses like flowers, accepting like sunshine the gifts of those energies which man’s senses are designed to receive.

      5. The Ego Question
      A. The Scientific Answer
   
Who am I?
     Basic question, invariably and eagerly and insistently answered by social institutions. Always for their own benefit. Every religious hierarchy can tell you who you are — Catholic, Protestant, Jew or atheist. Right? And every government agrees you are an American or a Russian or a Turk. Let’s see your passport!
     And the endless, lesser, monolithic social agencies tell you who you are — occupation, recreation, political affiliation, social class, status, branch of service.
     Now comes the new secular state religion — psychology, with its up-to-date answers. The great ego-identity quest. The national personality sweepstakes. The image game.
     For the American the question, who am I? Is answered totally in terms of artificial social roles. What part do you play in which TV show? And are you good or bad? How is your Hooper rating? Are you popular? Shallow, transient, secular evasion of the physical and metaphysical identity.
     Who am I? The perspective on this question comes only when you step off the TV stage set defined by mass-media-social-psychology-adjustment-normality. I exist at every level of energy and every level of consciousness. Who am I? I’m you.
     At the atomic level I am a galaxy of nuclear-powered atoms spinning through changing patterns. I am the universe, the center and guardian temple of all energy. I am God of Light. Who am I? I’m you.
     At the cellular level I am the entire chain of life. I am the key rung of the DNA ladder, center of the evolutionary process, the current guardian of the seed, the now-eye of the two-billion-year-old uncoiling serpent. I am God of Life. I’m you.
     At the somatic level I am my body — the most intricate, intelligent, complex form of energy structure. The network of my organs and tissues is the last word in cosmic miniaturization, celestial packaging. I am the Resurrection of the Body. I’m you.
     At the sensory level I am the divine receiving station, the sacred communications satellite, a two-legged, trembling-tissue, Jodrell Bank radar telescope, dancing, grumbling, sniffing Geiger counter. I am the Darwinian wiretap, a billion sensory microphones picking up vibrations from planetary energy systems. I am the all-time, worldwide retinal ABC, eardrum RCA, International Smell and Tell, the consolidated General Foods taste laboratory. I am God of Common Sense. I’m you.
     But there’s an added feature. Each generation, I, the timeless God, atom bearer, seed carrier, return in a new, improved, Detroit-model electrical-eye, horseless, carry-all body pushed onto a new social stage set. I am an American. I was an Irish farmer. I was a Celtic minstrel. I was this one and that one. Each time carried onstage blinking, puking, bawling, bewildered by the bizarre novelty of each new drama, untutored in the language of the new script (did she say her name was Mommie?), unaware of the plot, each time having forgotten my atomic, cellular, somatic, sensory divinity, each time painfully being pushed and hauled into some ludicrous, histrionic consistency known today as my personality, known yesterday as karma.
     Thus, I am the undeniably psychological unit. A mind, a box of conditioned Pavlovian reflexes, a social robot, here adjusted, there maladjusted, sometimes good (approved of), sometimes bad (censored). The center of my psychological mandala, the mainspring of my personality, is social conditioning. Reward and punishment. What will the neighbors think? is the beginning and end of modern psychology.

     Now, who am I? I’m you. I’m Timothy What’s His Name. I am what the
Reader’s Digest likes and dislikes.

     This commitment of ego consciousness to the social game is inevitable and cannot be eliminated despite the poignant appeals to drop out. We cannot drop out of society. We can only drop out of social roles and dramas which are unloving, contracting and which distract us from the discovery of our atomic, cellular, somatic, and sensory divinity. Spiritual appeals to transcend the ego are vain. Like any other level of consciousness of energy, ego is. Karma is. All we can do is center ego consciousness and see it in proper relationship to the other “I’s.” The “social ego” is abysmally trivial when compared to the “atomic I,” the “DNA I,” but that’s the glorious humor of the cosmic hide-and-seek. That “social ego” can possess such eccentric, foolish power to camouflage the other divinities that lie beneath our skin.
     So let us pray: Almighty Ego, set I free! Almighty Ego, let my I’s see!

   B. The Psychedelic Correlates
     Modern psychology, like modern man, does not like to face the sparse, wrinkled-skin facts about human transcience. The personality chess game is blown up to compelling importance. How am I doing? Modern education, advertising, indeed the whole culture, is hooked up in a full-time hard-sell campaign to reassure the average person that he is a good Joe, a helluva guy.
     Then he takes LSD.
    Sensory chaos, somatic inundation, cellular revelation. The plastic-doll nature of social reality and social ego is glaringly obvious. In a word, ego discovers that ego is a fraudulent actor in a fake show. Rubber stamp and tinsel.
     Ego discovers that I is atomic, cellular, sensory, somatic and soon to pass on. Ego gets frightened. Panicked. Ego cries for help. Get me a psychiatrist! Help! Get me back to the nice, comforting TV stage.
     The impact of LSD is exactly this brutal answer to the question, who is ego? The LSD revelation is the clear perspective. The LSD panic is the terror that the ego is lost forever. The LSD ecstasy is the joyful discovery that ego, with its painful shams and strivings, is only a fraction of my identity.

      6. The Emotional Question
      A. The Scientific Answer
   
What should I move toward? What direction my motion? What should I feel? The emotional and feelings questions.
     Here science fails miserably to give us answers because there is little objective data, and the accepted theories of emotional behavior — the psychiatric — are naïve, inadequate, pompously trivial. The best-known theory of the emotions, the Freudian, is a hodgepodge of platitude, banality and rabbinical piety.
     All that Freud said is that modern man and society are completely dishonest. Society lies to the individual and forces him to lie to himself. Freud calls this process of self-deception the unconscious. The unconscious is the hidden. Freud (the lie detector who lied) conscientiously listed the various ways in which man prevaricates and then developed a system of humiliating cross-examination and spirit-breaking brainwashing which forces the rare “successful” patient to give up his favorite pack of lies (which he chose as being the best solution to an impossible situation) and grovelingly to accept the psychoanalyst’s system of dishonesty. Have you ever noticed how unbearably “dead” and juiceless psychoanalysts and their patients are? The only cheerful fact about psychoanalysis is that most patients don’t get cured and are stubborn enough to preserve their own amateur and original lie in favor of the psychoanalyst’s conforming lie.
     If anyone has any lingering doubt about the superstitious and barbarian state of psychiatry and psychoanalysis, reflect on this fact. Today, fifty years after Freud, the average mental hospital in the United States is a Kafkaesque, Orwellian prison camp more terrifying than Dachau because the captors claim to be healers. Two hundred years ago our treatment of the village idiot and nutty old Aunt Agatha was gently utopian compared to the intolerant savagery of the best mental hospital.
     So where do we find the scientific answer to the emotional question? Can you really bear to know?
     Emotions are the lowest form of consciousness. Emotional actions are the most contracted, narrowing, dangerous form of behavior.
     The romantic poetry and fiction of the last 200 years has quite blinded us to the fact that emotions are an active and harmful form of stupor.
     Any peasant can tell you that. Beware of emotions. Any child can tell you that. Watch out for the emotional person. He is a lurching lunatic.
     Emotions are caused by biochemical secretions in the body to serve during the state of acute emergency. An emotional person is a blind, crazed maniac. Emotions are addictive and narcotic and stupefacient.
     Do not trust anyone who comes on emotional.
     What are emotions?
     In a book entitled Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality, written when I was a psychologist, I presented classifications of emotions and detailed descriptions of their moderate and extreme manifestations. Emotions are all based on fear. Like an alcoholic or a junkie, the frightened person reaches for his favorite escape into action.
     Commanding, competing, punishing, aggressing, rebelling, complaining, abasing, submitting, placating, agreeing, fawning, flattering, giving.
     The emotional person cannot think; he cannot perform any effective game action (except in acts of physical aggression and strength). The emotional person is turned off sensually. His body is a churning robot; he has lost all connection with cellular wisdom or atomic revelation. The person in an emotional state is an inflexible robot gone berserk.
     What psychologists call love is emotional greed and self-enhancing gluttony based on fear.

   B. The Psychedelic Correlate
     The only state in which we can learn, harmonize, grow, merge, join, understand is the absence of emotion. This is called bliss or ecstasy, attained through centering the emotions.
     Moods such as sorrow and joy accompany emotions. Like a junkie who has just scored or an alcoholic with a bottle in hand, the emotional person feels good when he has scored emotionally, i.e., beaten someone up or been beaten up. Won a competitive victory. Gorged himself on person grabbing.
     Conscious love is not an emotion; it is serene merging with yourself, with other people, with other forms of energy. Love cannot exist in an emotional state.
     Only the person who has been psychotic or had a deep psychedelic trip can understand what emotions do to the human being.
     The great kick of the mystic experience, the exultant, ecstatic hit, is the sudden relief from emotional pressure.
     Did you imagine that there could be emotions in heaven? Emotions are closely tied to ego games. Check your emotions at the door to paradise.
     Why, then, are emotions built into the human repertoire if they are so painful, demanding and blinding? There is a basic survival purpose. Emotions are the emergency alarms. The organism at the point of death terror goes into a paroxysm of frantic activity. Like a fish flipping blindly out of water. Like a crazed, cornered animal.
     There are rare times when emotions are appropriate and relevant. The reflex biochemical spurt. Fight or flight. There are times when emotional bluffs, like the hair rising on a dog’s neck, are appropriate. But the sensible animal avoids situations which elicit fear and the accompanying emotion. Your wise animal prefers to relax or to play — using his senses, tuned into his delicious body-organ music, closing his eyes to drift back in cellular memory. Dogs and cats are high all the time — except when bad luck demands emotional measures.
     The emotional human being is an evolutionary drug addict continuously and recklessly shooting himself up with adrenalin and other dark ferments. The way to turn off the emotions is to turn on the senses, turn on to your body, turn on to your cellular reincarnation circus, turn on to the electric glow within and engage only in turn-on ego games.

      7. The Ultimate Escape Question
      A. The Scientific Answer
   
The question is: How does it end?
      The answer is: It doesn’t.
     Ask any scientist (no matter which level of energy he studies), and he’ll tell you. It keeps going. At the same beat. On. Off. On. Off.
     Atomic. Galaxies flash on and then off.
     Cellular. Species flare out and retract.
     Somatic. The heart beats and stops. Beats and stops. The lungs inhale and exhale.
     Sensory. Light comes in waves of particles hurtling against retinal beaches. High tide, see. Low tide, no see. The neural message dot-dashes along the nerve fibers. Light-dark. Light-dark. Sound waves pile up on the auditory membrane and fall back. Sound-silence. Sound-silence.
     There is no form of energy that does not come in the same rhythm. Yin. Yang. In. Out. The galaxy itself and every structure within it is a binary business, an oscillating dance. Start. Stop.
     The physicist, the biologist, the physiologist, the neurologist, knows all about the end of the cycle at the level of energy he studies. Every scientist knows that death is exactly symmetrical to birth at every level of energy. Even the sociologists and historians who study the human game structure know that social institutions start and stop.
     There is only one level of consciousness that cannot accept the universal on-off switch, and that is the ego. The astronomer can gaze with equanimity at nova explosions and forecast the death of the solar system, but when it comes to his own ego chessboard, there is the illusion of enduring solidity. Ego is unable to learn from the past or to predict the obvious events of the future because of its deep dread of confronting mortality. Ego focuses consciousness on the few immediately neighboring pieces of the game board because ego knows that one glance across the game board or beyond it puts the whole thing in perspective. Where it began and how it will end. Start stop. On off.
     The Buddha’s loving parents tried to make sure their son would not consider the four chess pieces that lead off the game board — sickness, age, death, and the magician-guru.
     Oriental philosophy points out that every form is an illusion. Maya. Everything at every level of energy is a shuttling series of vibrations as apparently solid as the whirring metal disk made by rotating fan blades. Ego resists this notion and touches the immediate solidity of phenomena. We dislike slowing the motion picture down because the film flickers. Annoying reminder that we view not unbroken continuity but an off-on ribbon of still pictures.
     Life is an illusion. There one second, gone the next. Now you see it, now you don’t.
     Death is equally illusory. Suicide a farce. The desire to escape is exactly as pointless as the desire to hang onto life. How can you clutch onto or escape from a relentless click-clack process that continues despite the mind’s interpretation? And despite our “feelings” about it?
     But the illusory game goes on. Ego sweats to maintain a tenacious grasp onto the ungraspable. And then, in moments of emotional despair, decides to hide, to quit. Hell is the conviction that the game won’t stop. Eternal game playing. No exit. Hell is the idea that the game switch won’t turn off. Suicide is the deluded attempt to escape from hell.
     Hell is a mistake in judgment. A bum trip idea. The ego’s stranglehold on the film projector. Ego is caught in a repetitious loop. Over and over and over. Suicide is the escape from ego. Only ego contemplates escape. Can you imagine an animal killing itself in egocentric pique?
     Ego attempts to turn itself off through anesthesia. Unconsciousness. Fast suicide or slow narcosis. Alcohol dulls the mind game and produces emotional stupor. Too much alcohol provides the anesthetic escape. Barbiturates and tranquilizers and sleeping pills are escape tickets bought by the frantic eschatological anesthesiologist.
     Have you ever talked to an articulate junkie? The appeal of heroin is the void. The warm, soft cocoon of nothingness. Surcease. Easeful death. The vacuum gamble. The game of the junkie is to nod out. To pass over the line into unconsciousness. The last thought of the junkie as he slips away is, have I gone too far this time? Overdose? Au revoir or good-bye?
     B. The Psychedelic Correlate
  
The deep psychedelic experience is a death-rebirth flip. You turn on to the ancient rhythm, and you become its beat. All right, now! Are you ready? The whole thing is about to click off.
     The successful mystic is he who goes with it. Lets it happen. Hello. Good-bye. Hello. Good-bye. Oh, my God! You again!
     The bad trip, the LSD panic, is the terrorized reluctance to go with it. Frantic grabbing for the intangible switch. Ego cries, keep it on!
     The glory of the psychedelic moment is the victory over life and death won by seeing the oscillating dance of energy and yielding to it.
     The age-old appeal of the psychedelic experience is its solution to the problem of escape. The visionary revelation answers the escape question. There is no death. Ecstatic, mirthful relief. There is nothing to avoid, nothing to escape, nothing to fear. There is just off-on, in-out, start-stop, light-dark, flash-delay.
     Death, void, oblivion, is the split-second pause. I accept the on. I accept the off.
     It is of interest that the heroin addict and the illuminated Buddha end up at the same place. The void. The junkie is a deeply religious person. The alcoholic is, too. Thus our physicians and psychiatrists have no luck in “curing” addicts. If you see an addict as a social misfit, a civic nuisance who must be rehabilitated, you completely miss the point.
     To cure the junkie and the alcoholic, you must humbly admit that he is a more deeply spiritual person than you, and you accept the cosmic validity of his search to transcend the game, and you help him see that blackout drugs are just bad methodology because you just can’t keep holding the “off” switch and that the way to reach the void is through psychedelic rather than anesthetic experience.


Drugs Are the Religion of the People — The Only Hope is Dope

      In the preceding pages I have suggested that man can become conscious of each level of energy defined by scientists.
     Metaphysics is subjective physics, the psychology of atomic-electronic activity. Metabiology is cellular biology. Metaphysiology is somatic psychology. The systematic study of internal body states. Metaneurology is sensory physiology, the systematic, introspective study of sense organs. Metapsychology is the study of conditioning by the nervous system that has been conditioned. Your ego unravels its own genesis. Metapsychiatry is the systematic production and control of endocrine states within your own body. Meta-anesthesiology is the systematic production and control of states of unconsciousness within your own body.
     Everyone must become his own Einstein, his own Darwin, his own Claude Bernard, his own Penfield, his own Pavlov, his own Freud, his own anesthesiologist.
     From the theological standpoint, everyone must discover the seven faces of God within his own body.
     This task, which at first glance may seem fantastically utopian, is actually very easy to initiate because there now exist instruments which can move consciousness to any desired level. The laboratory equipment for experimental theology, for internal science, is of course made of the stuff of consciousness itself, made of the same material as the data to be studied. The instruments of systematic religion are chemicals. Drugs. Dope.
     If you are serious about your religion, if you really wish to commit yourself to the spiritual quest, you must learn how to use psychochemicals. Drugs are the religion of the twenty-first century. Pursuing the religious life today without using psychedelic drugs is like studying astronomy with the naked eye because that’s how they did it in the first century A.D., and besides, telescopes are unnatural.


There Are Specific Drugs to Turn On Each Level of Consciousness

     Modern psychopharmacology is written and practiced by scientists who do not take drugs (and who therefore write textbooks about events they have never experienced). Current psychopharmacology is a superstitious form of black magic sponsored and supported by the federal Food and Drug Administration, a government agency about as enlightened as the Spanish Inquisition. Note that the rapidly growing enforcement branch of the FDA uses instruments unknown to Torquemeda — guns, wiretaps — in addition to the classic methods of informers and provocateurs. There is thus enormous ignorance about the science of consciousness alteration and a vigorous punitive campaign to prevent its application.
     There are specific drugs now easily available which can turn on each level of consciousness. Since Americans are more familiar with and committed to consciousness-contracting drugs, I shall list the better-known psychochemical instruments in reverse order.
     7. The Anesthetic State is produced by narcotics, barbiturates, and large doses of alcohol. Anyone can reach the void by self-administration of stupefacients. Most Americans know just how to pass out.
     6. The State of Emotional Stupor is produced by moderate doses of alcohol. Three martinis do nicely.
     5. The State of Ego Consciousness is enhanced by pep pills, energizers consumed daily by millions of Americans. Pep pills make you feel good. Make you feel active. They change nothing, but they propel you into game motion. Coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola are mild versions.
     4. The State of Sensory Awareness is produced by any psychedelic drug — LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, MDA, yagé, hashish, Sernyl, DMT — but the specific, direct trigger for turning on the senses is marijuana.
     3. The State of Somatic Awareness is attained by any psychedelic drugs stronger than marijuana, but the specific triggers for chakra consciousness are hashish and MDA.
     2. The Cellular Level of Consciousness is attained by any of the stronger psychedelics — peyote, LSD, mescaline, psilocybin.
     1. The Atomic-Electronic Level of Consciousness is produced by the most powerful psychedelics — LSD, STP, DMT.


Try Your Own Experiment

     This listing of seven levels of consciousness is based not on revelation or poetic metaphor but on the structure of modern science. We simply assume that there is a different level of consciousness for each major division of science — which, in turn, is based on the major classes of energy manifestation.
     The decision as to which drugs turn on which levels of consciousness is empirical, based on thousands of psychedelic experiences. I have personally taken drugs which trigger off each level of consciousness hundreds of times.
     But my findings can be easily checked out. Any reader can initiate experiments of his own with readily available chemicals.
     Turn on a tape recorder during your next cocktail party. Notice how rational ego-game playing deteriorates and the emotional level rises in exact proportion to the amount of booze consumed. You have moved consciousness from level 5 to level 6.
     Next, turn on your tape recorder during a pot party. Notice how the emotional level drops, serenity increases. Observe the intensified attention to sensory energy. The relaxation of game tension. You have moved consciousness from level 5 to level 4.
     If you are a diligent experimental theologian, you may wish to see if you can take the fantastic voyage down your body or down into time, using the appropriate chemical instruments. Psychedelic yoga is not a mysterious, arcane specialty reserved for Ph.D.’s and a scientific elite. Anyone who is curious about the nature of God and reality can perform the experiments. Indeed, millions of Americans have done just this in the last few years.


The Seven Religious Yogas

     The psychedelic experience, far from being new, is man’s oldest and most classic adventure into meaning. Every religion in world history was founded on the basis of some flipped-out visionary trip.
     Religion is the systematic attempt at focusing man’s consciousness. Comparative religion should concern itself less with the exoteric and academic differences and more with studying the different levels of consciousness turned on by each religion.
     We see that there are seven approaches employed by the great world religions.     Seven dialects of God:
     1. Buddhism attempts to transcend life and cellular manifestations and to strive toward the white light of the void, the unitary atomic-electronic flash beyond form.
     2. Hinduism is a vegetative jungle of reincarnation imagery. Clearly cellular. Evolutionary. Genetic.
     3. Tantra (Tibetan, Bengali) focuses on somatic energy (Kundalini) and chakra consciousness.
     4. Zen, Hasidic Judaism, Sufism, and early Christianity used methods for centering sensual energy.
     5. Protestantism and Talmudic Judaism are the classic ego religions. Logic, hard work and Main Street practicality will get you to heaven.
     6. Middle-class Catholicism and devil-oriented fundamentalist sects are based on the arousal of emotion — fear.
     7. Suicide and Death Cults


Different Sciences Study Different Basic Questions

     Each of the seven basic questions faced by man has been studied for thousands of years by thoughtful individuals and by institutions, disciplines and professions. In the last 60 years, physical and biological scientists have pretty well agreed on a systematic and unified perspective of the wide range of energy processes and structures. A remarkably efficient classification of subject matter and a civilized, tolerant division of labor have developed.
     Scientists generally agree that there are definable levels of energy and, what is most important for harmonious collaboration, agree on the relations of the different levels of energy. The physicist knows that he studies a different phenomenon than the behavioral psychologist. Electrons are different from recorded emotions. Both the physicist and the psychologist recognize that atomic processes are basic to and underlie all physiological and psychological activities. A hierarchy of sciences exists, based not on bureaucratic or political factors but on the nature of the level of energy studied. The physicist studies processes which are billions of times smaller (and larger) than those of the psychologist, processes which are billions of times faster and older than human psychological processes. Electrons were spun off the sun billions of years before man’s adrenalin glands propelled him to flight.


Each Level of Energy Requires Its Own Methods and Language

     Among human beings (members of a species best known for its competitive belligerence and murderous envy), physical and biological scientists are relatively immune to fraternal homicide. Biologists don’t war against physicists. An American biologist might war against members of another species, or another nationality or religion. An American bacteriologist might develop a germ used to destroy Vietnamese people, but he does not war against other biologists about biological issues. Indeed, American and Soviet scientists collaborate even during times of political warfare.
     The ability of scientists to communicate, teach each other, help each other in spite of racial and national differences is due to the fact that they share an effective, precise language system.
     When Johnson and Ho say, “Peace,” they use the word quite differently. When Pope Paul and a Buddhist monk say, “God,” who knows what they mean?
     When a chemist writes a formula, all chemists know what he means. And all physicists know specifically or vaguely how the chemist’s molecular formula relates to atomic processes.
     The disciplines of neurology, psychology and psychiatry, however, have not yet reached a scientific state. No satisfactory language system exists in their fields. Neurologists quarrel with psychiatrists about the causes of mental illness. Psychologists cannot tell us how man learns or forgets. Enormous priesthoods have developed in these three fields which jockey for power, funds, prestige but which fail to provide answers or even to define problems.
     The entire study of consciousness, the religious experience itself, remains in a state of medieval ignorance and superstition. There is no language for describing states of awareness. Religious scholars and theologians quarrel, not just about moral fads and ritual paraphernalia but, more basically, about the answers to the seven basic questions.
     The humanistic sciences — neurology, psychology, psychiatry, psychopharmacology and the study of consciousness (which I call religion) — require a systematic language which will allow men to distinguish which levels of energy and consciousness they deal with.
     It is rather unfortunate that Western man developed a language of physics and chemistry and a highly efficient engineering based on physical-chemical experimentation long before he developed understanding and control of his own sense organs and neurological conditioning. Thus we now have a situation where blind, irrational, technical robots (who understand neither their makeup nor the purpose of life) are in control of powerful and dangerous energies.
     A conversation with Alan Watts:
     Leary: Alan, what is the purpose of life?
     Watts: That is the question!
     Leary: What do you mean?
     Watts: The purpose of life is to ask the question, what is the purpose of life?
     The only purpose of life is the religious quest, the religious question. But you must be careful how you put the question because the level at which you ask is the level at which you will be answered.
     I have suggested seven levels of energy and consciousness which are based on the anatomy or structure of the human body and its constituent parts — neurological, somatic, cellular, molecular. The religions of the future must be based on these seven scientific questions. A science of consciousness must be based on those different levels which center on the body and the biochemicals (i.e. drugs) which alter consciousness.
     Dramatic changes in our child-rearing and educational practices, politics, communications will occur as man grasps this notion of the levels of consciousness and their alteration.


Science as Ecstatic Kick

     When we read about the current findings of the energy sciences such as those I have just reviewed, how can our reactions be other than reverent awe at the grandeur of these observations, at the staggering complexity of the design, the speed, the scope? Ecstatic humility before such power and intelligence. Indeed, what a small, secular concept — intelligence — to describe that infinitude of harmonious complexity! How impoverished our vocabulary and how narrow our imagination!
     Of course, the findings of the pure sciences do not produce the religious reaction we should expect. We are satiated with secular statistics, dazed into robot dullness by the enormity of facts which we are not educated to comprehend. Although the findings of physics, genetics, paleontology and neurology have tremendous relevance to our life, they are of less interest than a fall in the stock market or the status of the pennant race.
     The message is dimly grasped hypothetically, rationally, but never experienced, felt, known. But there can be that staggering, intellectual-game ecstasy which comes when you begin to sense the complexity of the plan. To pull back the veil and see for a second a fragment of the energy dance, the life power. How can you appreciate the divine unless you comprehend the smallest part of the fantastic design? To experience (it’s always for a moment) the answers to the seven basic spiritual questions is to me the peak of the religious-scientific quest.
     But how can our ill-prepared nervous systems grasp the message? Certainly the average man cannot master the conceptual, mathematical bead game of the physics graduate student. Must his experiential contact with the divine process come in watered-down symbols, sermons, hymns, robot rituals, religious calendar art, moral-behavior sanctions eventually secular in their aim? Fortunately the great plan has produced a happy answer and has endowed every human being with the equipment to comprehend, to know, to experience directly, incontrovertibly. It’s there in that network of ten billion cells, the number of whose interconnections “is far greater than all the atoms in the universe.”
     If you can, for the moment, throw off the grip of your learned mind, your conditioning, and experience the message contained in the ten-billion-tube computer which you carry behind your forehead, you would know the awe-ful truth. Our research suggests that even the uneducated layman can experience directly what is slowly deduced by scientists — for example, physicists, whose heavy conceptual minds lumber along at three concepts a second, attempting to fathom the speed-of-light processes which their beautiful machines record and which their beautiful symbols portray.
     But the brakes can be released. Our recent studies support the hypothesis that psychedelic foods and drugs, ingested by prepared subjects in a serious, sacred, supportive atmosphere, can put the subject into perpetual touch with other levels of energy exchanges. Remember the data — the Good Friday study, the Savage study, the 200 religious professionals, 40 to 90 percent telling us they experienced “a greater awareness of God or a higher power or an ultimate reality.”


The Language of Ecstasy

     But to what do these LSD subjects refer when they report spiritual reactions? Do they obtain specific illuminations into the seven basic questions, or are their responses simply awe and wonder at the experienced novelty? Even if the latter were the case, could it not support the religious application of the psychedelic substances and simply underline the need for more sophisticated religious language coordinated with the scientific data? But there is some evidence, phenomenological but yet haunting, that the spiritual insights accompanying the psychedelic experience might be subjective accounts of the objective findings of astronomy, physics, biochemistry and neurology.
     Now the neurological and pharmacological explanations of an LSD vision are still far from being understood. We know almost nothing about the physiology of consciousness and the body-cortex interaction. We cannot assert that LSD subjects are directly experiencing what particle physicists and biochemists measure, but the evidence about the detailed complexity of the genetic code and the astonishing design of intracellular communication should caution us against labeling experiences outside of our current tribal clichés as “psychotic” or abnormal. For 3,000 years our greatest prophets and philosophers have been telling us to look within, and today our scientific data are supporting that advice with a humiliating finality. The limits of introspective awareness may well be submicroscopic, cellular, molecular and even nuclear. We only see, after all, what we are trained and predisposed to see. One of our current research projects involves teaching subjects to recognize internal physical processes much as we train a beginning biology student to recognize events viewed through his microscope.
     No matter how parsimonious our explanations, we must accept the fact that LSD subjects do claim to experience revelations into the basic questions and do attribute life change to their visions.
     We are, of course, at the very beginning of our research into these implications. A new experiential language and perhaps even new metaphors for the great plan will develop. We have been working on this project for the past six years, writing manuals which train subjects to recognize energy processes, teaching subjects to communicate via a machine we call the experiential typewriter and with movies of microbiological processes. And we have continued to pose the questions to religious and philosophic groups: What do you think? Are these biochemical visions religious?
     Before you answer, remember that God (however you define the higher power) produced that wonderful molecule, that extraordinarily powerful organic substance we call LSD, just as surely as He created the rose, or the sun, or the complex cluster of molecules you insist on calling your “self.”


Professional Priests and Theologians
Avoid the Religious Experience

     Among the many harassing complications of our research into religious experience has been the fact that few people, even some theological professionals, have much conception of what a religious experience really is. If asked, they tend to become embarrassed, intellectual, evasive. The adored cartoonists of the Renaissance portray the ultimate power as a dove, or a flaming bush, or as a man — venerable, with a white beard, or on a cross, or as a baby, or a sage seated in full lotus position. Are these not limiting incarnations, temporary housings, of the great energy process?
     In the fall of 1962, a minister and his wife, as a part of a courageous and dedicated pursuit of illumination, took a psychedelic biochemical called dimethyltriptamine. This wondrous alkaloid (which closely approximates serotonin, the natural “lubricant” of our higher nervous system) produces an intense psychedelic effect. In twenty-five minutes (about the duration of the average sermon) you are whirled through the energy dance, the cosmic process, at the highest psychedelic speed. The twenty-five minutes are sensed as lasting for a second and for a billion-year Kalpa. After the session, the minister complained that the experience, although shattering and revelatory, was disappointing because it was “content-free” — so physical, so unfamiliar, so scientific, like being beamed through microscopic panoramas, like being oscillated through cellular functions at radar acceleration. Well, what do you expect? If God were to take you on a visit through His “workshop,” do you think you’d walk or go by bus? Do you really think it would be a stroll through a Madame Tussaud waxworks? Dear friends, the divine product is evident in every microscopic form, in every secular event. The divine product we can see. But the divine process operates in time dimensions which are far beyond our routine, secular, space-time limits. Wave vibrations, energy dance, cellular transactions. Our science describes this logically. Our brains may be capable of dealing with these processes experientially.
     So here we are. The great process has placed in our hands a key to this direct visionary world. Is it hard for us to accept that the key might be an organic molecule and not a new myth or a new word?


The Politics of Revelation

     And where do we go? There are in the United States today several million persons who have experienced what I have attempted to describe — a psychedelic, religious revelation. There are, I would estimate, several million equally thoughtful people who have heard the joyous tidings and who are waiting patiently but determinedly for the prohibition to end.
     There is, of course, the expected opposition. The classic conflict of the religious drama — always changing, always the same. The doctrine (which was originally someone’s experience) now threatened by the new experience. This time the administrators have assigned the inquisitorial role to psychiatrists, whose proprietary claims to a revealed understanding of the mind and whose antagonism to consciousness expansion are well known to you.
     The clamor over psychedelic drugs is now reaching full crescendo. You have heard rumors and you have read the press assaults and the slick-magazine attacks-by-innuendo. As sophisticated adults, you have perhaps begun to wonder: where is the evidence? As educated men with an eye for history, you are, I trust, beginning to suspect that we’ve been through this many times before.
     In the current hassle over psychedelic plants and drugs, you are witnessing a good, old-fashioned, traditional religious controversy. On one side the psychedelic visionaries, somewhat uncertain about the validity of their revelations, embarrassedly speaking in new tongues (there never is, you know, the satisfaction of a sound, right academic language for the new vision of the divine), harassed by the knowledge of their own human frailty, surrounded by the inevitable legion of eccentric would-be followers looking for a new panacea, always in grave doubt about their own motivation — hero? martyr? crank? crackpot? — always on the verge of losing their material achievements — job, reputation, long-suffering wife, conventional friends, parental approval — always under the fire of the power holders. And on the other side the establishment (the administrators, the police, the fund-granting foundations, the job givers) pronouncing their familiar lines in the drama: “Danger! Madness! Unsound! Intellectual corruption of youth! Irreparable damage! Cultism!” The issue of chemical expansion of consciousness is hard upon us. During the last few years, every avenue of propaganda has barraged you with the arguments. You can hardly escape it. You are going to be pressed for a position. Internal freedom is becoming a major religious and civil rights controversy.
     How can you decide? How can you judge? Well, it’s really quite simple. Whenever you hear anyone sounding off on internal freedom and consciousness-expanding foods and drugs — whether pro or con — check out these questions:
     1. Is your expert talking from direct experience, or simply repeating clichés? Theologians and intellectuals often deprecate “experience” in favor of fact and concept. This classic debate is falsely labeled. Most often it becomes a case of “experience” versus “inexperience.”
     2. Do his words spring from a spiritual or from a mundane point of view? Is he motivated by a dedicated quest for answers to basic questions, or is he protecting his own social-psychological position, his own game investment? Is he struggling toward sainthood, or is he maintaining his status as a hard-boiled scientist or hard-boiled cop?
     3. How would his argument sound if it were heard in a different culture (for example, in an African jungle hut, a ghat on the Ganges, or on another planet inhabited by a form of life superior to ours) or in a different time (for example, in Periclean Athens, or in a Tibetan monastery, or in a bull session led by any one of the great religious leaders — founders — messiahs)? Or how would it sound to other species of life on our planet today — to dolphins, to the consciousness of a redwood tree? In other words, try to break out of your usual tribal game set and listen with the ears of another one of God’s creatures.
     4. How would the debate sound to you if you were fatally diseased with a week to live, and thus less committed to mundane issues? Our research group receives many requests a week for consciousness-expanding experiences, and some of these come from terminal patients. 
     5. Is the point of view one which opens up or closes down? Are you being urged to explore, experience, gamble out of spiritual faith, join someone who shares your cosmic ignorance on a collaborative voyage of discovery? Or are you being pressured to close off, protect your gains, play it safe, accept the authoritative voice of someone who knows best?
     6. When we speak, we say little about the subject matter and disclose mainly the state of our own mind. Does your psychedelic expert use terms which are positive, pro-life, spiritual, inspiring, opening, based on faith in the future, faith in your potential, or does he betray a mind obsessed by danger, material concern, by imaginary terrors, administrative caution or essential distrust in your potential? Dear friends, there is nothing in life to fear; no spiritual game can be lost.
     7. If he is against what he calls “artificial methods of illumination,” ask him what constitutes the natural. Words? Rituals? Tribal customs? Alkaloids? Psychedelic vegetables?
     8. If he is against biochemical assistance, where does he draw the line? Does he use nicotine? alcohol? penicillin? vitamins? conventional sacramental substances?
     If your advisor is against LSD, what is he for? If he forbids you the psychedelic key to revelation, what does he offer you instead?

Luminist League Luminist Archives Luminist Productions Luminist Bookstore