17 May
2018
Posted in: Books
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But Not the Only Way

After reading this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine adaptation of Michael Pollan’s new book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence…I immediately went online and bought the book.

Not because I have any interest in taking psychedelic drugs or undergoing psychedelic therapy or doing anything else “psychedelic” (well, maybe wearing an old tie-dyed T-shirt). But I feel compelled to read Pollan’s book because his description of the altered states of consciousness he experienced while under the influence of psilocybin — and their lasting effect — is so resonant with some of my own experiences in meditation that…well…it kind of blows my mind!

I hesitate to excerpt the Times article (rather luridly titled: My Adventures with the Trip Doctors) because I think it require a full reading. But I will quote a part of what struck me the most:

Losing myself in the music became a kind of rehearsal for losing myself, period… I became identical to the music, a word that doesn’t begin to describe the power of what these unearthly vibrations were, or explain how they somehow lifted up and carried me beyond the reach of all suffering and regret

The sovereign ego, with all its armaments and fears, its backward-looking resentments and forward-looking worries, was simply no more, and there was no one left to mourn its passing. And yet something had succeeded it: this bare, disembodied awareness, which gazed upon the scene of the self’s dissolution with benign indifference. I was present to reality but as something other than my usual self. And although there was no self left to feel, exactly, there was a feeling tone, and that was calm, unburdened, content. There was life after the death of the ego.”

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