Psychedelics, Consciousness and Reality
Date: Dec 09, 2020
Can psychedelic experiences provide insight into the nature of consciousness and reality?
Throughout human history, psychedelic substances have impacted how we think about consciousness and the nature of reality. This class of substances can produce profound visionary experiences but also mystical experiences, characterised by profound changes in perspective rather than visionary content. These experiences typically point to contradictory conclusions, particularly with regards to how consciousness relates to the material world.
Drawing on recent developments in neuroscientific and artificial intelligence research, I will argue that modern neuroscience offers a perspective that validates the common insights produced by mystical experiences while suggesting that the content of visionary experiences should not be taken as literally true. By understanding visionary experience as reflecting the deep programming of our minds, such experiences are in no way stripped of their meaning but are instead seen as revealing archetypal truths that exist within us, as opposed to existing outside of us. Such an understanding can provide profound grounding during and following psychedelic experiences, when otherwise one might be left disoriented when it comes to the nature of reality.