"All the world's a stage we pass through." - R. Ayana

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

LSD & ESP: Scientists Study Psychic Phenomena and Psychedelic Drugs

LSD & ESP: Scientists Study Psychic Phenomena and Psychedelic Drugs



By David Jay Brown


Research suggests that psychedelic drugs might enhance telepathic, precognitive, and psychokinetic abilities.


http://o3.aolcdn.com/dims-shared/dims3/PATCH/resize/273x203/http://hss-prod.hss.aol.com/hss/storage/patch/bf18e37b8ad2342901fee5b2e886e3e4Few people are aware that there have been numerous, carefully-controlled scientific experiments with telepathy, psychokinesis, remote viewing, and other types of psychic phenomena, which have consistently produced compelling, statistically-significant results that conventional science is at a loss to explain. 

Even most scientists, are currently unaware of the vast abundance of compelling scientific evidence for psychic phenomena, which has resulted from over a century of parapsychological research. 

Hundreds of carefully-controlled studies--in which psi researchers continuously redesigned experiments to address the comments from their critics--have produced results that demonstrate small, but statistically significant effects for psi phenomena, such as telepathy, precognition, and psychokinesis. 

According to psychologist Dean Radin, a meta-analysis of this research demonstrates that the positive results from these studies are significant with odds in the order of many billions to one. 

Princeton University, the Stanford Research Institute, Duke University, the Institute of Noetic Science, the U.S. and Russian governments, and many other respectable institutions, have spent years researching these mysterious phenomena, and conventional science is at a loss to explain the results. 

This research--which was originally published in numerous peer-reviewed scientific journals over the past century--is summarized Radin’s remarkable book The Conscious Universe.

Just as fascinating as the research into psychic phenomena is the controversy that surrounds it. 

In my own experience researching the possibility of telepathy in animals, and other unexplained phenomena with British biologist Rupert Sheldrake, I discovered that many people are eager to share personal anecdotes about psychic events in their life--such as remarkable coincidences, uncanny premonitions, precognitive dreams, and seemingly telepathic communications.

In these cases, the scientific studies simply confirm life experiences. 

However, many scientists that I’ve spoken with haven’t reviewed the evidence, and remain doubtful that there is any reality to psychic phenomenon, because the mechanism isn’t understood yet.

Nonetheless, surveys conducted by British biologist Rupert Sheldrake and myself reveal that around 78% of the population has had unexplainable “psychic” experiences, and the scientific evidence supports the validity of these experiences.

It’s also interesting to note that many people have reported experiencing meaningful psychic experiences with psychedelic drugs--not to mention a wide range of paranormal events and synchronicities, which seem extremely difficult to explain by means of conventional reasoning.

A questionnaire study conducted by psychologist Charles Tart of 150 experienced marijuana users found that 76% believed in extrasensory perception (ESP), with frequent reports of experiences while intoxicated that were interpreted as psychic. 

Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, and psychologist Stanley Krippner, have collected numerous anecdotes about psychic phenomena that were reported by people under the influence of psychedelic drugs, and several small scientific studies have looked at how LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline might effect telepathy and remote viewing. 

For example, according to psychologist Jean Millay, in 1997, students at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands did research to establish whether or not the use of psilocybin could influence remote viewing. 

This was a small experiment, with only 12 test-subjects, but the results of the study indicated that those subjects who were under the influence of psilocybin achieved a success rate of 58.3 percent, which was statistically significant. 

A new edition of the 1964 book ESP Experiments With LSD-25 and Psilocybin: A Methodological Approach, by Roberto Cavanna and Emilio Servadio was republished in 2010, with a new preface by Charles Tart. 

In the introduction Tart states that, “this study remains as important today as when it was first published, and will hopefully guide a new generation of researchers to finding the knowledge we need!”

A great review article by Krippner and psychologist David Luke, that summarizes all of the psychedelic research into psychic phenomena, can be found in the Spring, 2011 MAPS Bulletin that I edited about psychedelics and the mind/body connection. (This article can be found here: www.maps.org/news-letters/v21n1/v21n1-59to60.pdf)

When I conducted the California-based research for Rupert Sheldrake’s book about unexplained phenomena in science, The Sense of Being Stared At,  one of the experiments that I ran involved testing blindfolded subjects to see if they could sense being stared at from behind. 


A particular subject that I worked with reported an unusually high number of correct trials while under the influence of MDMA. 

I’d love to run a whole study to see if MDMA-sensitized subjects are more aware of when they’re being stared at.

It is especially common for people to report experiences with telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, remote viewing, and psychokinesis while using ayahuasca, the potent hallucinogenic jungle juice from the Amazon. 

In fact, when the chemical structure of an important psychoactive component of ayahuasca was first discovered, now called “harmaline,” one of of the original suggestions for its name was “telepathine,” due to the psychedelic brew’s common association with telepathy.

There have only been several studies with ayahuasca which demonstrate health benefits, but this is an area that is just crying out to be explored carefully and in depth. 

Future studies with ayahuasca could examine its potential and accuracy as a catalyst for psychic phenomena. 

All of the traditional studies that have been done with psychic phenomena, which generated positive results, could be redone with subjects dosed with different psychedelic drugs or hallucinogenic plants to see if test scores can be measurably improved.

Increasing our psychic abilities may open up the human mind to new, unimagined possibilities--and if you think that harnessing telepathic and clairvoyant abilities is pretty wild, then hold on tight to your hat when my next column appears. 

To learn more about scientific research into psychic phenomena with psychedelics, see Krippner and Luke’s excellent article “Psi-chedelic Science: An Approach to Understanding Exceptional Human Experiences”: www.maps.org/news-letters/v21n1/v21n1-59to60.pdf )

Also see Stanislav Grof’s extraordinary book When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Realities.

To learn more about scientific research into psychic phenomena see:

www.sheldrake.org and www.deanradin.com

From Santa Cruz Patch @ http://santacruz.patch.com/articles/lsd-esp-scientists-study-psychic-phenomena-and-psychedelic-drugs

Drugs and the Meaning of Life


By Sam Harris / Source: SamHarris.org

Everything we do is for the purpose of altering consciousness.

We form friendships so that we can feel certain emotions, like love, and avoid others, like loneliness. We eat specific foods to enjoy their fleeting presence on our tongues. We read for the pleasure of thinking another person's thoughts.
Every waking moment -- and even in our dreams -- we struggle to direct the flow of sensation, emotion, and cognition toward states of consciousness that we value.

Drugs are another means toward this end. Some are illegal; some are stigmatized; some are dangerous -- though, perversely, these sets only partially intersect.

There are drugs of extraordinary power and utility, like psilocybin (the active compound in "magic mushrooms") and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), which pose no apparent risk of addiction and are physically well-tolerated, and yet one can still be sent to prison for their use -- while drugs like tobacco and alcohol, which have ruined countless lives, are enjoyed ad libitum in almost every society on earth.

There are other points on this continuum -- 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or "Ecstasy") has remarkable therapeutic potential, but it is also susceptible to abuse, and it appears to be neurotoxic.

One of the great responsibilities we have as a society is to educate ourselves, along with the next generation, about which substances are worth ingesting, and for what purpose, and which are not. The problem, however, is that we refer to all biologically active compounds by a single term -- "drugs" -- and this makes it nearly impossible to have an intelligent discussion about the psychological, medical, ethical, and legal issues surrounding their use.

photoThe poverty of our language has been only slightly eased by the introduction of terms like "psychedelics" to differentiate certain visionary compounds, which can produce extraordinary states of ecstasy and insight, from "narcotics" and other classic agents of stupefaction and abuse.

Drug abuse and addiction are real problems, of course -- the remedy for which is education and medical treatment, not incarceration. In fact, the worst drugs of abuse in the United States now appear to be prescription painkillers, like oxycodone. Should these medicines be made illegal? Of course not. People need to be informed about them, and addicts need treatment. And all drugs—including alcohol, cigarettes, and aspirin—must be kept out of the hands of children.

I discuss issues of drug policy in some detail in my first book, The End of Faith (pp. 158-164), and my thinking on the subject has not changed. The "war on drugs" has been well lost, and should never have been waged. While it isn't explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution, I can think of no political right more fundamental than the right to peacefully steward the contents of one's own consciousness. The fact that we pointlessly ruin the lives of nonviolent drug users by incarcerating them, at enormous expense, constitutes one of the great moral failures of our time. (And the fact that we make room for them in our prisons by paroling murderers and rapists makes one wonder whether civilization isn't simply doomed.)

I have a daughter who will one day take drugs. Of course, I will do everything in my power to see that she chooses her drugs wisely, but a life without drugs is neither foreseeable, nor, I think, desirable. Someday, I hope she enjoys a morning cup of tea or coffee as much as I do. If my daughter drinks alcohol as an adult, as she probably will, I will encourage her to do it safely. If she chooses to smoke marijuana, I will urge moderation.  Tobacco should be shunned, of course, and I will do everything within the bounds of decent parenting to steer her away from it.

Needless to say, if I knew my daughter would eventually develop a fondness for methamphetamine or crack cocaine, I might never sleep again. But if she does not try a psychedelic like psilocybin or LSD at least once in her adult life, I will worry that she may have missed one of the most important rites of passage a human being can experience.

This is not to say that everyone should take psychedelics. As I will make clear below, these drugs pose certain dangers. Undoubtedly, there are people who cannot afford to give the anchor of sanity even the slightest tug. It has been many years since I have taken psychedelics, in fact, and my abstinence is borne of a healthy respect for the risks involved. However, there was a period in my early 20's when I found drugs like psilocybin and LSD to be indispensable tools of insight, and some of the most important hours of my life were spent under their influence. I think it quite possible that I might never have discovered that there was an inner landscape of mind worth exploring without having first pressed this pharmacological advantage.

While human beings have ingested plant-based psychedelics for millennia,
scientific research on these compounds did not begin until the 1950's. By 1965, a thousand studies had been published, primarily on psilocybin and LSD, many of which attested to the usefulness of psychedelics in the treatment of clinical depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), alcohol addiction, and the pain and anxiety associated with terminal cancer. Within a few years, however, this entire field of research was abolished in an effort to stem the spread of these drugs among the general public. After a hiatus that lasted an entire generation, scientific research on the pharmacology and therapeutic value of psychedelics has quietly resumed.

The psychedelics include chemicals like psilocybin, LSD, DMT, and mescaline—all of which powerfully alter cognition, perception, and mood. Most seem to exert their influence through the serotonin system in the brain, primarily by binding to 5-HT2A receptors (though several have affinity for other receptors as well), leading to increased neuronal activity in prefrontal cortex (PFC). While the PFC in turn modulates subcortical dopamine production, the effect of psychedelics appears to take place largely outside dopamine pathways (which might explain why these drugs are not habit forming).

The mere existence of psychedelics would seem to establish the material basis of mental and spiritual life beyond any doubt—for the introduction of these substances into the brain is the obvious cause of any numinous apocalypse that follows. It is possible, however, if not actually plausible, to seize this datum from the other end and argue, and Aldous Huxley did in his classic essay, The Doors of Perception, that the primary function of the brain could be eliminative: its purpose could be to prevent some vast, transpersonal dimension of mind from flooding consciousness, thereby allowing apes like ourselves to make their way in the world without being dazzled at every step by visionary phenomena irrelevant to their survival. Huxley thought that if the brain were a kind of "reducing valve" for "Mind at Large," this would explain the efficacy of psychedelics: They could simply be a material means of opening the tap.

Unfortunately, Huxley was operating under the erroneous assumption that psychedelics decrease brain activity. However, modern techniques of neuroimaging have shown that these drugs tend to increase activity in many regions of the cortex (and in subcortical structures as well). Still, the action of these drugs does not rule out dualism, or the existence of realms of mind beyond the brain—but then nothing does. This is one of the problems with views of this kind: They appear to be unfalsifiable.

Of course, the brain does filter an extraordinary amount of information from consciousness. And, like many who have taken these drugs, I can attest that psychedelics certainly throw open the gates. Needless to say, positing the existence of a "Mind at Large" is more tempting in some states of consciousness than in others. And the question of which view of reality we should privilege is, at times, worth considering. But these drugs can also produce mental states that are best viewed in clinical terms as forms of psychosis. As a general matter, I believe we should be very slow to make conclusions about the nature of the cosmos based upon inner experience — no matter how profound these experiences seem.

However, there is no question that the mind is vaster and more fluid than our ordinary, waking consciousness suggests. Consequently, it is impossible to communicate the profundity (or seeming profundity) of psychedelic states to those who have never had such experiences themselves. It is, in fact, difficult to remind oneself of the power of these states once they have passed.

Many people wonder about the difference between meditation (and other contemplative practices) and psychedelics. Are these drugs a form of cheating, or are they the one, indispensable vehicle for authentic awakening? They are neither.

Many people don't realize that all psychoactive drugs modulate the existing neurochemistry of the brain—either by mimicking specific neurotransmitters or by causing the neurotransmitters themselves to be more active. There is nothing that one can experience on a drug that is not, at some level, an expression of the brain's potential. Hence, whatever one has experienced after ingesting a drug like LSD is likely to have been experienced, by someone, somewhere, without it.

However, it cannot be denied that psychedelics are a uniquely potent means of altering consciousness. If a person learns to meditate, pray, chant, do yoga, etc., there is no guarantee that anything will happen. Depending on his aptitude, interest, etc., boredom could be the only reward for his efforts. If, however, a person ingests 100 micrograms of LSD, what will happen next will depend on a variety of factors, but there is absolutely no question that something will happen.

And boredom is simply not in the cards. Within the hour, the significance of his existence will bear down upon our hero like an avalanche. As Terence McKenna never tired of pointing out, this guarantee of profound effect, for better or worse, is what separates psychedelics from every other method of spiritual inquiry. It is, however, a difference that brings with it certain liabilities.

Ingesting a powerful dose of a psychedelic drug is like strapping oneself to a rocket without a guidance system. One might wind up somewhere worth going—and, depending on the compound and one's "set and setting," certain trajectories are more likely than others. But however methodically one prepares for the voyage, one can still be hurled into states of mind so painful and confusing as to be indistinguishable from psychosis. Hence, the terms "psychotomimetic" and "psychotogenic" that are occasionally applied to these drugs.

photo I have visited both extremes on the psychedelic continuum. The positive experiences were more sublime than I could have ever imagined or than I can now faithfully recall. These chemicals disclose layers of beauty that art is powerless to capture and for which the beauty of Nature herself is a mere simulacrum. It is one thing to be awestruck by the sight of a giant redwood and to be amazed at the details of its history and underlying biology. It is quite another to spend an apparent eternity in egoless communion with it. Positive psychedelic experiences often reveal how wondrously at ease in the universe a human being can be—and for most of us, normal waking consciousness does not offer so much as a glimmer of these deeper possibilities.

People generally come away from such experiences with a sense that our conventional states of consciousness obscure and truncate insights and emotions that are sacred. If the patriarchs and matriarchs of the world's religions experienced such states of mind, many of their claims about the nature of reality can make subjective sense. The beautific vision does not tell you anything about the birth of the cosmos—but it does reveal how utterly transfigured a mind can be by a full collision with the present moment.

But as the peaks are high, the valleys are deep. My "bad trips" were, without question, the most harrowing hours I have ever suffered—and they make the notion of hell, as a metaphor if not a destination, seem perfectly apt. If nothing else, these excruciating experiences can become a source of compassion. I think it would be impossible to have any sense of what it is like to suffer from mental illness without having briefly touched its shores.

At both ends of the continuum time dilates in ways that cannot be described—apart from saying that these experiences can seem eternal. I have had sessions, both positive and negative, in which any knowledge that I had ingested a drug had been extinguished, and all memories of my past along with it. Full immersion in the present moment, to this degree, is synonymous with the feeling that one has always been, and will always be, in precisely this condition.

Depending on the character of one's experience at that point, notions of salvation and damnation do not seem hyperbolic. In my experience, Blake's line about beholding "eternity in an hour" neither promises, nor threatens, too much.

In the beginning, my experiences with psilocybin and LSD were so positive that I could not believe a bad trip was possible. Notions of "set and setting," admittedly vague, seemed sufficient to account for this. My mental set was exactly as it needed to be—I was a spiritually serious investigator of my own mind—and my setting was generally one of either natural beauty or secure solitude.

I cannot account for why my adventures with psychedelics were uniformly pleasant until they weren't—but when the doors to hell finally opened, they appear to have been left permanently ajar. Thereafter, whether or not a trip was good in the aggregate, it generally entailed some harrowing detour on the path to sublimity. Have you ever traveled, beyond all mere metaphors, to the Mountain of Shame and stayed for a thousand years? I do not recommend it.

On my first trip to Nepal, I took a rowboat out on Phewa Lake in Pokhara, which offers a stunning view of the Annapurna range. It was early morning, and I was alone. As the sun rose over the water, I ingested 400 micrograms of LSD. I was 20 years old and had taken the drug at least ten times previously. What could go wrong?

Everything, as it turns out. Well, not everything—I didn't drown. And I have a vague memory of drifting ashore and of being surrounded by a group of Nepali soldiers. After watching me for a while, as I ogled them over the gunwale like a lunatic, they seemed on the verge of deciding what to do with me. Some polite words of Esperanto, and a few, mad oar strokes, and I was off shore and into oblivion. So I suppose that could have ended differently.

But soon there was no lake or mountains or boat—and if I had fallen into the water I am pretty sure there would have been no one to swim. For the next several hours my mind became the perfect instrument of self-torture. All that remained was a continuous shattering and terror for which I have no words.

These encounters take something out of you. Even if drugs like LSD are biologically safe, the potential for extremely unpleasant and destabilizing experiences presents its own risks. I believe I was positively affected for weeks and months by my good trips, and negatively affected by the bad ones. Given these roulette-like odds, one can only recommend these experiences with caution.

While meditation can open the mind to a similar range of conscious states, they are reached far less haphazardly. If LSD is like being strapped to rocket, learning to meditate is like gently raising a sail. Yes, it is possible, even with guidance, to wind up someplace terrifying—and there are people who probably shouldn't spend long periods in intensive practice. But the general effect of meditation training is of settling ever more fully into one's own skin, and suffering less, rather than more there.

As I discussed in The End of Faith, I view most psychedelic experiences as potentially misleading. Psychedelics do not guarantee wisdom. They merely guarantee more content. And visionary experiences, considered in their totality, appear to me to be ethically neutral. Therefore, it seems that psychedelic ecstasy must be steered toward our personal and collective well-being by some other principle. As Daniel Pinchbeck pointed out in his highly entertaining book, Breaking Open the Head, the fact that both the Mayans and the Aztecs used psychedelics, while being enthusiastic practitioners of human sacrifice, makes any idealistic link between plant-based shamanism and an enlightened society seem terribly naive.

As I will discuss in future essays, the form of transcendence that appears to link directly to ethical behavior and human well-being is the transcendence of egoity in the midst of ordinary waking consciousness. It is by ceasing to cling to the contents of consciousness—to our thoughts, moods, desires, etc.—that we make progress. Such a project does not, in principle, require that we experience more contents. The freedom from self that is both the goal and foundation of "spiritual" life is coincident with normal perception and cognition—though, admittedly, this can be difficult to realize.

The power of psychedelics, however, is that they often reveal, in the span of a few hours, depths of awe and understanding that can otherwise elude us for a lifetime. As is often the case, William James said it about as well as words permit:

One conclusion was forced upon my mind at that time, and my impression of its truth has ever since remained unshaken. It is that our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which probably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation. No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded. How to regard them is the question,—for they are so discontinuous with ordinary consciousness. Yet they may determine attitudes though they cannot furnish formulas, and open a region though they fail to give a map. At any rate, they forbid a premature closing of our accounts with reality. (The Varieties of Religious Experience)


From Mind Power News @ http://www.mindpowernews.com/DrugsMeaningOfLife.htm

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  1. We are conditioned to look at the world as if we are physical beings; spiritual experiences become outliers filled with mystery: how did life arise from the dust; consciousness from the brain; or spirit from the heavens? Are we separate creatures forever disconnected from each other?

    Listen to Philip Mereton's interview with psychic medium Anthon St. Maarten, author of the new book, Divine Living: The Essential Guide to Your True Destiny, which explores the consequences for all of us if we are actually spiritual beings on a physical journey.

    Listen online or download for free at: http://webtalkradio.net/2012/07/09/conversations-beyond-science-and-religion-spiritual-beings-having-a-physical-experience/

  2. wow. amazing. i am saving this and will read it again. i disagree with the notion of "ancients being civilised is naive because of human sacrifice", look where we are now, bombing our own buildings and people and sending thoughts of anger all over and so on. Life forms after us (or parallel to us for that matter) may say, well look they had science but distorted it, they had sustenance but exploited it, and had freedom but could not keep it, had LSD but abused it or did not see it's intent upon us clearly.....
    anyway saved and hope to hear more~!

  3. you idiots are really clueless ,honestly I am disgusted with your lack of common sense, too much acid.. wake up. psychedelics are for morons and brainwashed self centered procrastinating lazy useless assclowns. through releasing such huge amounts of 'feel good' natural crystals aka endorphins into both east and west hemispheres of the human brain medical examiners are finding that these hemispheres are attaching one side to the other much more in people using psychedelics which is in effect morphing human brains into reptile brains much more self centered greedy vain and scared look around ring any bells yes you are morphing into a reptile and you are oblivious. dearmusicyouvechanged.com lots of info there

  4. Thanks for this review against the conservative and fascist war on drugs! Peace


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