Altered States: The Psychedelic Antidote to Modern Culture, A Review of Daniel Pinchbeck’s Breaking Open the Head

“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” – René Descartes

“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” – Voltaire


THE UNIQUE THING about psychedelics is that they provide the user with direct access to subjective realms so inconceivable to “normal” waking consciousness. These altered states, emphatically, seem to catalyse a transition towards “abnormal” or “alternative” lifestyles and belief structures. Turns out that turning on, tuning in, and dropping out is decidedly incompatible with modern Western neo-libertarianism, but psychedelics might be just the tool we need to counter the ever growing threat of consumerism in Western society.

So I ask you to suspend your disbelief, at least for the duration of this article, as you imagine that everything you thought you knew about drugs was wrong. Studies in behavioural economics and cognitive science have taught us that our realities are shaped to fit our belief systems and cognitive biases, whilst the mass social experiments conducted by Edward Bernays in the wake of the First World War taught us that “public relations” (the politically correct term for propaganda) could subtly but powerfully mould the collective mind of the population to fit with the ideals of a select few individuals. Do you see the problem? Individuals are slowly but surely losing control over the one thing that can be truly be called theirs – their minds – and this process is so immersive that we need an incredibly powerful tool to undo the processes. Psychedelics are just that tool.

Daniel Pinchbeck’s Breaking Open the Head examines how certain substances, held in such high esteem throughout the world’s indigenous cultures, are not only repressed but ridiculed in contemporary Western culture.The use of psychedelics is documented to date back 75,000 years throughout indigenous shamanic cultures, where they are revered as sacred technology, awakening the mind to new levels of awareness. Shamanic use continues today in secluded pockets of the world where visionary plants are worshiped like gods; their use and the knowledge they convey constantly challenged by the encroachment of Western ideals.

Breaking Open the Head is part seeker’s memoir, part psychonaut’s field guide, and part anthropological investigation into the world’s shamanic cultures, and it makes a compelling argument for the role of psychedelic awakening in global change.

Altered States

PSYCHEDELICS HAVE CONSISTENTLY proven to be the single most powerful tool for the “deconditioning” and “reprogramming” of the psyche. The task of defining psychedelic, however, is decidedly more difficult, as the entire class of compounds seem to defy classification and categorization.

They have been called “mind manifesting” chemicals, but the term psychedelic widely refers to any psychoactive substance that alters thoughts and perception. Acting on the brain’s serotonin receptors, common hallucinogens such as LSD, psilocybin (the active agent in magic mushrooms), and mescaline (the active compound in a number of psychoactive cacti) produce changes in consciousness that are qualitatively different to “normal” waking consciousness. That is, compared to stimulants and antidepressants which exert a quantitative influence on the mind – amplifying or suppressing certain mental operations – psychedelics produce radically altered states of awareness.

In the twenty-first century, psychedelics are widely associated with electronic music festivals and club culture. For many the psychedelic experience is nothing more than an effort in recreation, devoid of spiritual significance or post-hedonic values. But an underground community of psychedelic users identify with “psychonaut” culture, the pursuit of altered states of consciousness for the exploration of the human condition, often in a spiritual or shamanic context. For the psychonaut, the psychedelic agent could more correctly be called an “entheogen”, a substance which provides access to the divine within. Indeed the psychedelic experience is often littered with themes and motifs of a spiritual nature. Commenting on the spiritual nature inherent in the psychedelic experience, Pinchbeck writes:

“The central perception, apparently, of all who penetrate deep in their explorations, is that behind the apparent multiplicity of things in the world of science and common sense there is a single reality, in speaking of which it seems appropriate to use words such as infinite and eternal.”

The mainstream vogue for psychedelic use and consciousness expansion reached its peak in in the 1950s and early ‘60s, before all forms of mind-altering chemicals were outlawed by the Reagan administration. Believing that the exploration of one’s inner reality was a threat to “free society”, the FDA began placing more and more mind-altering drugs on the schedule one list. More likely: psychedelics posed a threat to modern consumer culture and the rational materialist worldview of the west, and failed efforts in the repressive prohibition of mind expansion continue today. Reagan’s failed war on drugs has become a war on consciousness, maintaining “in the interest of society” that the individual does not possess the right to making sovereign decisions about the use and exploration of his own consciousness, that one thing which is rightly and unequivocally his.

Notable psychedelic avatars of the twentieth century were known for advocating psychedelics as tools for rapid consciousness expansion, a process through which the individual sheds his “limiting beliefs and neuroses”. This process of “psychological cleansing” is generally accompanied by thoughts about the individual’s relation to the universe and other individuals. Trippers frequently experience “ego-dissolution”, as the scientific literature now calls it – the twenty-first century equivalent of “enlightenment”, “awakening”, or “satori”, commonly described as a loss of self-awareness and a cutting through of the illusion of the self. It is not uncommon to lose all sense of having taken a drug in the first place. Pinchbeck regards psychedelics as profound tools of self-exploration, calling them “precision technology” which reveal “the interstitial process of thinking, the flickering candle sputters of emotion, the fine-tuned machinery of sense perceptions.”

But for the stigmatization of specific chemicals, it cannot be said that our society holds a general prejudice towards mind-altering chemicals and altered states of consciousness. Marijuana is now more popular and legal than ever. Alcohol and tobacco drive our economy. But psychedelics, emphatically, do not fit the underlying biases of our society. The psychedelic experience is one which indicates that there is more to reality than popular materialism would like to admit. Psychedelic use has been ruthlessly repressed over half a century, a war which constitutes possibly the biggest failure of global government policy.

The Elixir Of Life

PINCHBECK’S REIGNITED INTEREST in the study of altered states and mind-altering chemicals occurred during a period of increasing alienation from the world and himself. He recalls the feeling of playing the character “Daniel Pinchbeck”, “trapped in a half-finished novel that an incompetent author was in the sluggish, surly process of abandoning.” Falling deeper into a spiritual crisis, Pinchbeck yearned for an original relation to the universe, something that was truly his own. He became disillusioned by Western culture, a vocal critic of materialism and religion.

“We live in a world of media overload and data smog, where everything distracts us from everything else. Yet underlying this noisy assault, our culture offers us nothing transcendent. No deeper meaning, no abiding hope… Every facet of the contemporary world seemed part of a diabolical mechanism carefully designed to keep people from wondering about the real purpose of their endless frantic activity.”

What saved Pinchbeck was a yearning that, recalling his magical college experiences with psilocybin mushrooms, drew him to Iboga. He fondly recalls the soft expansion of the senses on psilocybin, a revelatory experience which succeeded in cutting through the “painful feelings of post-adolescent alienation.”

And so Pinchbeck traveled to Gabon for a psychedelic initiation with Iboga, the psychoactive chemical contained in the rootbark of a native fruit tree. He was committed to what he calls a “once in a lifetime shot to visit the Bwiti, to access their spirit world. Or any spirit world.”

“I realized that if this monotonous materialist culture was “the end of history”, as some writers proclaimed – without spiritual reality, without access to any other level of consciousness or meaning – then life for me was almost intolerable.”

Donning the traditional garb of the Bwiti, including animal pelts and traditional white face paint, and tripping to the beat of African drums and rattles, Pinchbeck was thrust into, among other visions, a review of all the forces which had shaped his life and personality. He saw how his mother’s loneliness and depression, and his own love of solitude and reading as a child, had shaped him into the person he had become.

“Through Iboga, I recognized my existing self as the product of all the psychical and psychological forces that acted upon me. Yet there seemed to be something beyond all of it, something that was “mine”, an energy projected from outside of my biological destiny. That energy was the self – and the self’s tremendous capacity for transformation.

I went back to the secret, baroque sources of childhood nightmare and fantasy – the primal fear of monsters under the bed, the cave of darkness inside the closet. I saw the desperate, desolate parts of my life and the flashes of power and invention that were also mine. Separate from myself, yet enclosed within myself, I followed the traces of the being that I was, that was given to me, as it unfolded over time.”

For the Bwiti, Iboga is a super-conscious spiritual identity that guides mankind. By enduring the gruelling Iboga ceremony, a harrowing twelve hour plus trip during which nearly all initiates will “purge” from both ends, the initiate becomes Baanzi: “the one who knows the other world, because you have seen it with your own mind.” Iboga left Pinchbeck with “an impression of contact with some other intelligence or entity existing in a realm outside of our own. I wondered if what my guide said was true, that in Bwiti, like Buddhism, there is no ultimate deity, just an endless play of forms, vast heirophanies of spirits, spinning like pinwheels across the Eternal Void.”

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IF PSYCHEDELIC DRUGS seem an odd place to search for the answer to a jaded disillusionment with western materialism, then you simply haven’t read enough on the topic. The pursuit of awakening has long been considered an antidote to Western consumer culture.

Pinchbeck introduces us to Walter Benjamin, a Jewish-German philosopher of transcendent experiences and altered states of consciousness. Benjamin is an eclectic thinker and critic of Western culture, shaped by his experience growing up as one of the West’s first psychonauts, smoking hash and tripping on mescaline. In the eyes of Benjamin, the pursuit of visionary experience is the rational and responsible intellectual quest of any adult.

And we see Benjamin’s strong influence throughout Pinchbeck’s work. Like Pinchbeck, Benjamin wondered about the influence of consumer culture and the entertainment industry on the masses, and worried about the deepening alienation of mankind from himself. Benjamin argued that the widespread immersion in mainstream popular culture was the beginning of a trance which continues to consume the masses today. By agreeing to a social system in which the acquisition of goods and services in ever increasing amounts is considered the highest ideal, society had submitted itself to its own manipulation.  Materialism had “robbed the masses of their will,” not only transforming individuals into objects of exchange but teaching them to enjoy it too. “Ecstatic contact with the cosmos” had been lost, and economic relations ruled the mindset of the people.

Benjamin was among the first to recognize the powerful deconditioning and reprogramming properties of mescaline as a potential antidote to the suffering propagated by Western materialism. Altered states were enjoyed by creative types and thinkers as a means of escaping, if only temporarily, from the oppressive capitalist structure of the era. Benjamin saw  capitalism as “a religion of destruction”, a broken system offering “not the reform of existence but its complete destruction.” Based on a blind faith in and untested dogma of materialism and rationalism, capitalism is a negative theology which idolises the destruction of the world for profit as its transcendent ideal. Now more than ever, this mindset seems so ingrained in the collective conscious of Western technocrats who has no concern for the future because of his “rational” materialist worldview. But the world is bigger than the individual, and psychedelics facilitate the expansion of the individual’s sense of self to the entire play of interactions between the organism and environment.

Although Walter Benjamin was driven to suicide by the Nazi invasion of Austria, his ideas live on in his unfinished magnum opus The Arcades Project, and are survived by the notable psychedelic thinkers of the twentieth century. The Arcades Project was described as “an experiment in the process of awakening” – not only of individuals, but of generations. Benjamin conceived of history as a process of bringing the “not-yet conscious knowledge of what has been” into awareness, and for a society caught in the monotonous waking trance of consumer culture, only the degree of humiliating sobriety brought about through psychedelic mind-expansion would do the trick. Capitalism may have begun as an awakening, of sorts, of our senses to new technological and rational prowess, but it was also the awakening into a very different trance, one which has us believing in the decimation of our planet’s resources for profit, and is terribly opposed to the idea of change.

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Psychedelics and Social Reform

ALDOUS HUXLEY WAS one of the first to catch onto Benjamin’s ideas. A masterful author of classics such as Brave New World and The Doors of Perception, Huxley recognized the incredible potential of mind-altering drugs as agents for change. “To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with survival or to a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and indirectly, by Mind at Large”, wrote Huxley, “this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone and especially to the intellectual.”

But his excitement for the liberating potential of psychedelics was matched, in part, by his fear of their use in more morally ambiguous ways. In Brave New World he envisioned the drug “soma”, an intoxicant combining euphoric, sedative, and hallucinogenic powers, used as a tool by a dystopian government to keep citizens docile, hooked, and happy. Huxley’s classic was a fictional tale, to be sure, but it didn’t go unnoticed by the authorities at large. The CIA pursued the idea of using drugs as tools of oppression, leaving a trail of failed attempts such as Project MKUltra – the CIA’s attempt at mind manipulation via LSD, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, and isolation.

As a “chemical shortcut” to “direct perception”, Huxley envisioned the widespread use of psychedelics for consciousness evolution, fearing that the modern world would continue its desperate avoidance of personal revelation. And psychedelics do indeed offer that chemical shortcut. On an encounter with ayahuasca, the incredibly potent DMT-containing brew popular in South America, author Jeremy Narby recalls a conversation with one of his visions:

“They explain that I am just a human being. I feel my mind crack, and in the fissures, I see the bottomless arrogance of my presuppositions. It is profoundly true that I am just a human being, and, most of the time, I have the impression of understanding everything, whereas here I find myself in a more powerful reality that I do not understand at all and that, in my arrogance, I did not even suspect existed.”

During his own experience with ayahuasca, Pinchbeck recounts his realization about the machine-like quality of our thoughts and experience:

“I realized that most thoughts are impersonal happenings, like self-assembling machines. Unless we train ourselves, the thoughts passing through out mind have little involvement with our will. It is strange to realise that even our own thoughts pass like scenery out the window of a bus, a bus we took by accident while trying to get somewhere else. Most of the time, thinking is an autonomous process, something that happens outside of our control. This perception of the machine-like quality of the self is something many people discover, then try to overcome, through meditation.”

Many have tried to recreate the so-called deconditioning properties of this class of compounds, turning to practices like yoga, tai chi, mindfulness meditation, or mystical self-observation exercises. Whilst I can attest to the benefits of regular practice in yoga and meditation, I am inclined to agree with Sam Harris, who points out that the psychedelic compounds are decidedly less hit-or-miss methods of divination. “If LSD is like being strapped to a rocket,” says Harris, “learning to meditate is like gently raising a sail.” Pinchbeck likens the DMT trip to “being shot from a cannon into another dimension and returning to this world in less than a minute,” one which strongly suggests that “the psyche cannot be reduced to a manifestation of our physical hardware”.

The Psychedelic Revolution

COME THE EARLY sixties, things were going well for scientific researchers in the field of psychedelics. Since the accidental inception and rediscovery of LSD in 1943, the scientific community had been experiencing a period of prosperous positive findings. Of particular interest was the therapeutic use of psychedelics for the treatment of mood disorders and alcoholism. Psychology had hit the jackpot, discovering what has been called the most promising tool for exploring the human psyche. A decade and a half of flourishing research yielded over one thousand papers detailing the influence of LSD on some forty thousand patients. This literature is a record of amazing advances in the conception of the human mind, as psychedelic researcher and psychiatrist Stanislav Grof said of these early findings:

“The experimentation with psychedelic drugs has shattered the conventional understanding of psychotherapy, the traditional models of the psyche, the image of human nature, and the even basic beliefs about the nature of reality.”

Psychedelic therapy was founded on the maxim that by ingesting these substances, the individual was able to gain a perspective on his life unlaboured by the repressed material, false concepts, ideas, and attitudes, which he has accumulated over time or been biologically predisposed to generating.

“The subject constantly works off repressed material and unreality structures, false concepts, ideas, and attitudes, which have been accumulated through his life experiences. Thus a form of psychological cleansing seems to accompany the subjective imagery…Gradually the subject comes to see and accept himself, not as an individual with ‘good’ or ‘bad’ characteristics, but as one who simply is.”

The science was, in short, verifying what archaic cultures had known for years – that psychedelic plants used in the correct context (“set and setting”), could catalyse radically beneficial changes in consciousness, used for the purposes of healing.

“Shamanism is a technology for exploring non-ordinary states of consciousness in order to accomplish specific purposes: healing, divination, and communication with the spirit realm.”

Naturally, these early researchers caught on to the paradigm shifting nature of discourse they were dealing with, and decided to keep a low profile. Whereby Western science has long been founded on the objective study of quantifiable phenomenon – an understanding of the brain and consciousness rooted in a mechanistic forest of neurons and synapses – psychedelics offer a different angle – the subjective exploration of mind through visions, dreams, and altered states of consciousness. As a matter of conscious experience the mind does not feel like the firing of neurons, and I believe that no description of the brain’s mechanisms can fully grasp at the complexities of the mind. It is all well and good to say that consciousness arises as the lawful product of unconscious information processing, but that doesn’t give us any inkling as to how it would happen. This is the “hard problem” of consciousness. Sam Harris remarks that “every chain of explanation must end somewhere – generally with a brute fact that neglects to explain itself.” With this in mind, it seems only logical that we should explore the nature of consciousness, one of the last great mysteries, with as many tools as possible. Modern science is making some astounding advances into artificial intelligence and the computational modelling of mind, but as of yet our tools are just not up to the task of understanding consciousness scientifically. It seems rational then, that the curious individual would be inclined to explore his own consciousness by any means possible, and one would expect that he would be legally entitled to do so.

And so the forerunners of the psychedelic sixties adopted an understandably cautious approach to the dissemination of psychedelics. Huxley had envisioned a covert operation which would discreetly distribute these compounds and relevant resources to influential and well-connected people business, the arts, and government. The idea was that a small group of covert operatives could shape the discourse of the ruling class through the relative privacy of learned journals and highbrow books, catalysing a change which would ripple out unto society at large.

TIMOTHY LEARY, HOWEVER, had other ideas. Having found the antidote to his own jaded midlife disillusionment in psilopsybin mushrooms, Leary founded the Psilopsybin project, documenting the effects of synthesized psilopsybin on thousands of grad students, bored housewives, and everyone in between. Although he was an advocate for the use of psychedelics in a professional and government sanctioned context, the covert approach just wasn’t Leary’s thing. Leary favoured an explosive shock and awe mass marketing approach over Huxley’s slow trickle tactics. But Harvard soon tired of Leary’s brash showmanship, scare tactics, and radical propaganda. He was once quoted saying to the media: “I would say that at present our society is so insane, that even if the risks were fifty-fifty that if you took LSD you would be permanently insane, I still think that the risk is worth taking.”

Leary envisioned LSD as a mass antidote for the disillusionment of the Western world, but his ultimate downfall was in his failure to realise the difference between a Harvard professor and a sixteen year old kid choosing to drop out of his societal role. Leary’s framework of programmed ego death, initially envisioned as a method for individuals to reclaim their individuality and cure their alienation, became more of a nihilistic exercise in cynicism. Leary’s The Psychedelic Experience, a somewhat superficial re-write of The Tibetan Book of the Dead (a book used to guide dying monks into the afterlife), simply couldn’t provide the spiritual guidance that 75,000 years of shamanic exploration had accumulated.

This isn’t to say that there is no value in the systematic deconditioning and reprogramming of the ego induced by psychedelics – there surely is, as science is once again beginning to investigate – but to do so requires the healthy reintegration into modern life. Leary had achieved the first part of the equation – liberating individuals from the trance of consensus culture – but the individual ego, freed from the well-worn grooves of society’s game machinery, now had nowhere to go.

“The 1960s pursuit of shamanic knowledge was too shallow, too uninformed, to succeed. Products of a consumer culture, the hippies and flower children tended to treat psychedelics and spirituality as new commodities.”

“By the end of the decade, hallucinatory hysteria and consensual reality merged into an indissoluble whole, and they have never separated since. It was an era of messianic fantasies, violent acts, and adolescent rages, of surges toward liberation and fizzles into madness. The thrust of it was a quest for initiation – an attempt, in Ginsberg’s words, “to resurrect a lost art of a lost knowledge of a lost consciousness.” The goal was to restore a living knowledge of the sacred to the dazed and alienated denizens of a desacralized modern world.”

And so Western society’s first foray into the world of psychedelia – one of mass social rewiring, the emergence of sexuality, spirituality, and a return to nature – was a failure. Psychedelia was repackaged as an advertising theme and used to further the dominance of the very culture that Leary had sought to destroy. “All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit”, as Hunter Thompson called them, had been abandoned to live out their lives in a mind-blown void. But their efforts were not in vain; they had left a lasting impression on the collective conscience of the west. LSD had exposed the age-old assumption that there was always someone (or something) tending the light at the end of the tunnel. Above all else, LSD had taught people to question – to question religion, to question authority, to question the nature of reality, to question their way of life.

Where Are We Now?

PSYCHEDELICS MAKE IT abundantly clear that our current form is not the final shape our civilization will take.The remaining questions, therefore, concern how to reshape our civilization into one that is sustainable, secular, and based on rational discourse, but with the humility to accept that there are things about nature of the mind and universe that we simply cannot explain. It remains difficult for scientists to approach the nature of the psychedelic experience rationally because of the limits of what we are currently capable of measuring, but we mustn’t discard thousands of years worth of shamanic knowledge and intuition simply because it cannot be quantified. Western science all too often forgets that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

By denying the legitimacy of entheogen wielding traditions, we have left ourselves the daunting but enthralling task of discovering the best way to use these compounds. We want to rediscover that “mystical impulse” which catalysed movements of personal liberation and ecological consciousness in the sixties, but at the same time we must realise that psychedelics, by their very nature, are ambiguous tools. Pioneering psychonaut Sasha Shulgin urged this point:

“Since almost all discoveries about the physical world can be used for both benign and lethal purposes, it is essential that we begin to develop a way of exploring and understanding those forces within our unconscious selves which will inevitably make those decisions.”

Terence McKenna, “the Timothy Leary of the 90s”, opted for what he called the “vertical strengthening of faith” over the universal distribution of mind-altering substances. He argued that there was more knowledge to be gained in having those who use psychedelics take them more often and in stronger doses than in their mass consumption.

A new generation of psychonauts, scientists, and politicians have since taken replaced the likes of Leary, McKenna, and Reagan.  “For those of us involved in psychedelics,” quips psychedelic researcher James Fadiman, “this is a time of unexpected changes, a time of tentative celebration.” The knee-jerk fear reaction towards psychedelics is slowly being desensitized, and many countries have begun the process of reintegrating mind-altering chemicals into their culture. Gilberto Gil, the cultural minister of Brazil, speaks of the importance of recognizing the “religious diversity that Brazilian democracy must respect” in regards to the sacramental use of ayahuasca. Psychedelics in The Netherlands, such as the magic truffle, whilst not entirely legal are easily available, and Portugal decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001. Governments worldwide are undergoing a revolution whereby they realise the nature of psychedelics as non-addictive substances (whether or not they acknowledge their therapeutic potential). They are also beginning to realise that prohibition not only increases the rates of drug use, it acts as a magnet for crime and violence.

Scientific research into the therapeutic uses of psychedelics has eagerly picked up where it left off in the sixties, and has indicated the use of psychedelics in the alleviation of – among other ailments – depression and anxiety in terminal cancer patients, cluster headaches (a condition with no known effective treatment), post-traumatic stress disorder, and heroin addiction.

Yet for all of the promising therapeutic advances in the realm of academic psychedelia, what is most fascinating about psychedelics is their ability to provide spiritual insight beyond the boundaries of Western materialism. “I understood that our entire universe is contained in the mind and the spirit”, remarked Shulgin of his first experience with mescaline, “We may choose not to find access to it, we may even deny its existence, but it is indeed there inside us, and there are chemicals that can catalyse its availability.” And indeed they do. A 2006 study conducted by John Hopkins University formulated a series of experiments to determine whether or not psychedelics were associated with spiritual experiences – the answer was, unsurprisingly, a resounding yes.

McKenna argued that “the suppression of the natural human fascination with altered states of consciousness and the present perilous situation of all life on earth are intimately and causally connected.” Pinchbeck echoes McKenna’s sentiments, arguing that psychedelics are the only tools capable of eliciting global change on the timescale that we have to play with.

“The consciousness of modern humanity and the planetary crisis mirror each other. Humanity is staring through the keyhole, the ozone hole, onto an increasingly degraded planet and its own short-sightedness. Addicted to oil as if it were crack, we are chopping down the world’s tropical forests at an astounding rate – as much as 1 or 2 percent a year. When modern civilization finishes draining its resources, when this house of cards collapses, we will see ourselves stripped down to our essence and whimper for forgiveness like third-grade bullies caught by our teachers, unable to comprehend what went wrong. Against the floods, genetic pollution, bacterial onslaughts, radioactive infernos unleashed by human stupidity or aggrieved nature, our technologies will pop like toy guns. Watch the fun as the stock markets continue to seek profit, down to the last seconds of recorded history, betting on the margin-calls of disaster relief and reinsurance agencies.”

LSD and the other psychedelics are the only escape hatch we have to access higher realms of consciousness, realms which seem to suggest with remarkable persistence, that humanity has more to learn about its place in the cosmos. These are discoveries that can only be made through the subjective experience and inner exploration of the self. If we are to create a civilisation that is stable, peaceful, and sustainable, then we have every obligation as individuals to explore the nature of our minds as deeply as possible.

What kind of world do you want to create?

What kind of world are we creating now?

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Further Reading

  • Breaking Open the Head – Daniel Pinchbeck
  • The Doors of Perception – Aldous Huxley
  • Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion – Sam Harris

 

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Published by

Jack

I am a science graduate, wannabe freelance writer and newly converted blogger. A nomad at heart, I travel as much as I can whilst treating my mind and body like some kind of twisted laboratory, often testing the mental boundaries of sanity and mental health. I write at theneocortex.wordpress.com, an exploration into the human condition and well-being through the lens of neuroscience, psychology and practical philosophy. I consider myself a humanist, albeit a highly flawed one. Peace Out.

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