Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No Consensus to Consciousness

As we walked through the Amsterdam zoo I had some thoughts about the relation between organisms and altered states of consciousness. Each of the animals in the Zoo seemed as if it were in some kind of trance. The zoo is a zoo of consciousness forms. The reptiles are in a reptilian consciousness state, the fish are in a fishy consciousness state, the monkeys have the monkey state, the tiger the tiger state.

Each of them lives in its own world, even that curious looking amphibious creature which we met in the aquarium and looked as if it spends its whole life in a different reality. Each of these animals has a way to see the world, to experience it, to understand it, to react to it. Each one has its own view on the world, and it resides in it, knowing only that consciousness for the rest of its life. There is no consensus to consciousness.

When I was sick I had curious dreams at night. It felt like visiting other realities. This is not the first time this happens to me while I am sick, and I thought about how the influence of having different levels of fever is tantamount to consuming different amounts of psychoactive substances. Having 37.5 degrees fever might be parallel to consuming a certain amount of a psychoactive substance, but having 38 degrees is already double the impact while having 39 or 40 degrees have an impact tens of time more powerful.

A disease is also an exit from the consensus trance of consciousness. There is no consensus to consciousness.

When I left Israel and came to Amsterdam for a visit, I felt as if I am getting direct oxygen supply to my brain. Levantine aggressiveness and the different pressures of Israeli reality - all went away and suddenly I breathed with my entire lungs, literally. I realized that the different places I am in put me in different consciousness states. I realized that it is very easy to forget that these consciousness states are bound by the environment, a certain ecology, and not just who you are. A person that lived his entire life in a certain place might think that his everyday consciousness state is a "normal" consciousness state for him, the only one to which he is capable, just the same way as somebody who never tried a consciousness altering substance might spend his entire life without ever knowing that the world could be seen differently. That person who has spent his entire life in one place, surrounded by one group of people supposes that the Israeli mind-state, the Dutch mind-state, the Senegal mind-state, are the only states, the only way to see the world. But no. There is no consensus to consciousness.

There is no consensus to consciousness

It is always moving around on different terrains, while balancing between the various forces and influences that pass through it. Eating meat creates different thoughts than eating a tomato and a tomato different thoughts than seeds. Consciousness is moving between the different drugs we consume: between the coffee, the alcohol, the nicotine, the tea and all of the less legal drug we might be taking in. Between Ritalin and Prozac, ginseng and aspirin. Between different physical states of fatigue, hunger, anger or joy. Between needing sexual outlet, the trance of sexuality and that certain feeling that comes after sexual satisfaction has been achieved. There is no consensus to consciousness. It flows constantly between borders which can not be measured.

A person in love is under the influence
Dad and mom are under the influence
A horny person is under the influence
A hungry person is under the influence

We are all under one influence or another. There is no consensus to consciousness. Consciousness has only one truth: it is always in a trance. Always immersed within itself and forgetful of all other consciousness states. A trance of fun, work, fame, family, love, studies, sexuality, ravenousness. Always in a trance.

Books are the true psychedelics

Psychedelics call you to develop your awareness to your consciousness and the ways in which it is constantly being formed and changed. It presents to you a world which is made of consciousness. Psychedelics may be the most intriguing phenomenon I have encountered in my life, but there is another thing which intrigued me no less over the years and keeps intriguing me even today. Books. Language.

In spite of everything, books and ideas remain probably the most consistent influence on who I was in life, and who I am becoming. Again this makes me understand that for me, books are the true psychedelics. After reading Brothers Karamazov I plunged into months of incessant spiritual elation. After reading Journey to the end of the night I experienced months of misanthropic thoughts. Doesn't the influence of these books remind one of the influence of certain psychoactive substances?

Ideas are psychoactive, and for me reading a book involves a strange kind of intoxication, sometimes reminding me of trips really. Sometimes when I am reading a book my heart is pounding so strongly as if it is going to burst from the power of ideas. As if any radical idea which might arrive in the next paragraph might cause my heart to explode.

Ideas intoxicate, and they are probably the most dangerous substance for my consciousness. They are the ones that keep driving my consciousness forward in this world, while making this living so exciting.

The entrance of a new idea into the system is like the entrance of a new substance for the Junkie. The idea junkie experiences the new idea like an exploding bomb in the head. Things appear to gain new dimensions, new colors and characters. In the beginning any small dose of that idea is intoxicating, but the more you deal with these ideas and enter that new world, you also develop a sort of tolerance to it. Of course the thing which is better about ideas in comparison to some addictive substances which people sometime irresponsibly meddle with, is that once the tolerance has built up inside you, you do not find yourself addicted to an idea. You just move on to the next one.

And again we get back to language and its amazing role in changing our consciousness. Books are machines for changing consciousness and generations of mystics, theologians and writers have understood that over the ages and used this cover to cover medium in order to create mind transforming machines which are more elaborate than the imagination can grasp. Books are consciousness transforming machines, only not everyone who opens a book knows how to operate the machine.

Do you know this archetypical picture of a book opening and worlds flowing out of it as a cascade of energies. A book so powerful, that upon opening it, you are violently drawn into it, like into a vortex, with no turning back? This archetype appears often in popular fantasy films such as The never ending story and in The Spiderwick Chronicles. However, this is no fantasy. This is the way a book functions when the machine works as it is supposed to work. It sucks you into it, splashing consciousness forms on you without giving out any warning and changing you forever.

Again, there is no consensus to consciousness

When you open a book, you do not know what this will do for your consciousness.
When you start fasting on Yom Kippur and visit the Synagogue you don't know what this will do to your consciousness (Ask Franz Rosenzweig)
When You are watching a commercial on TV you do not know what this will do to your consciousness.
When you decide to move into nature, you do not know what this will do to your consciousness.
When you buy a new cellular phone, you do not know what this will do to your consciousness.
When you started reading this article, you didn't know what this would do to your consciousness.

There are people (some of them regularly drink coffee and smoke cigarettes) that always warn you that psychoactive substances alter consciousness – and that they might change your 'true' consciousness.

My God! Would you please explain to me how it is possible to stay one moment in one consciousness state, without it changing?

I keep going on my path
On the celestial succession of minds
I am a vagabond of ideas
A vagabond of consciousness

do not listen to those
Who try to drag me back home
I know consciousness has no home
It is moving, and I am moving with it


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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