X-Message-Number: 25318
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2004 14:35:23 +0100
From: Eivind Berge <>
Subject: Expanding the mind with LSD and mushrooms

John de Rivaz wrote (#25295):

"I would suspect that these substances work by **contracting** the facilities
within the brain to produce their effects. You can see a pretty image by
looking down a kaleidoscope, but it doesn't expand your view of the world..."

Pretty images are merely part of the lightest, aesthetic level of
psychedelic experience. At this stage the world is beautiful and
novel, which may be viewed as a "contracting" of your facility of
habituation, if you wish (which may itself lead to new insights and is
at the very least a lot of fun), but that is not what I think Basie
meant by expanding your mind. What may follow at higher dosages is so
far beyond simply pretty sensual experiences that words cannot
describe it--and it does expand your mind, at least subjectively,
phenomenologically (and subjectively is all that counts, right? How
well you can operate machinery does not directly relate to the content
of your mind; a machine can do that). I have had a mystical experience
on LSD--total ego-dissolution, cosmic consciousness, and if that is
not expanding your mind then I don't know what is. Such experiences
may not do good things for the kind of valuation of personal identity
that is valued here on Cryonet, however. I used to be a functional
atheist and materialist, regarding philosophies such as Buddhism as
deathist crap, but now I am not so sure. I am still interested in
cryonics and immortalism, but somehow the importance of preserving
this personal, egoistic identity of mine seems slightly less
overwhelming. There is a conflict between my ideology of atheistic
sensualism and what I have glimpsed that reality might be like, and I
don't quite know what to make of it yet; perhaps I am turning into
some kind of mystic, which is weird. But one thing I am sure of is
that it has expanded my mind.  "A sadder and wiser man" is how I feel
after LSD, like the wedding-guest.

A little skepticism might be in order. How can you be so sure that
your normal sober state is the optimal state of consciousness? How can
you be so sure that the primary constituent of reality is matter
rather than consciousness? How can you be so sure that consciousness
is not something that descends from the gods, so to speak, as
traditional people tend to believe, rather than emerges from evolution
of matter. As is evident any day on Cryonet, scientific materialism is
hardly closer to explaining the hard problems of consciousness, and has
just as bizarre implications. Perhaps Plato's allegory of the cave is
right, after all, and we have reason to believe that he too derived
his outlook from drug experiences (his initiation into the Eleusinian

John may be right that it could hurt cryonics to be associated with talk
about illegal drugs (though I strongly believe the war on drugs is a
war on personal freedom that cryonicists should oppose for their own
good whether they like drugs or not); however, when making claims that
biased and uninformed, expect to stir up responses. I would like to
see a reference, other than drug-war propaganda or urban legend, that
supports the claim that LSD or psylocibin  may produce "slight but
permanent and cumulative damaging changes" or can be said to
constitute "abusing your brain" in any reasonable sense, other than
ideological. And we are talking about using these substances for
recreation and to expand your mind, here, as well as sacramental use,
not about addiction or compulsive behavior, which is hardly possible
with these drugs anyway. John seems to regard any illegal chemical
altering of your state of consciousness as "substance abuse" and
thinks he can make sweeping statements about all chemicals that may
have this effect. A little experience will tell you that it is not so

Eivind Berge

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