This is for closure. --In December of 2013, I induced a powerful state of being that I call the ASC (altered state of consciousness), in this state my ego was absorbed into my soul, and transmogrified into a grandiose state of being. As it stood I was no longer ‘James’, I was the Tathagata. For all intents and purposes I was the Buddha, this is something that I firmly ‘saw’ and believed. Visions of transmigration (in terms of rebirth), ‘knowing’ or ‘encompassing’ the world, these things were granted to me. I had the thought of Great Compassion: ‘I will bring everyone with me.’ Moreover after the realization that I was not in fact the next Buddha faded, I began to get deeper into Tantric Buddhism (Vajrayana a la Chogyam Trungpa). Here I touched interesting states of being, mostly affective, I experienced ‘Tantra’ at its core. I had the heat experiences of tummo, I ‘rediscovered’ the tenets of Madhyamaka (basically discovered them on my own), I dived in and out of the Earth, having become one I became many, crossing my legs I soared through the air like a bird, to me ‘in seeing, just the seen’ was reality, to me: ‘form is not me, not mine etc’ all that was real. In essence I somehow had transmogrified my being into something, totally impersonal, such that I had no sense of ‘being’ or ‘soul’, I was deeply immersed in it, like a fish, and thus could not tell it apart. So it was here that I was granted visions of being the Tathagata. --Of course, none of that is true. --Now of course, I am not the Tathagata. Moreover I’m not some powerful Tantric yogin, as I would’ve probably previously had you believe. Rather I’m just some kid. Well a 21 year old Computer Science student, here to warn you about the dangers of the altered states of consciousness. *cue rock music* --How it began. --Physical reality is real, actually. Even though some people would have you believe otherwise. In May of 2013, after several years of believing I was damned to hell, and just recently having talked to a Christian friend of mine, I was spontaneously liberated from my fear of hell. As it stood I was ‘saved’ from hell, it was a Christian rebirth moment, a baptism by the water and the Spirit, a dying through Christ and being reborn with him. This was the first state of altered-ness that I experienced. Prior to that I was more or less a normal kid, who probably had weird interests and social habits, but psychologically I was normal. I did experience this pain in my chest that I called angst (read: depression) and some anxiety, but hey, who doesn’t?
Anyways after battering myself like an idiot beats a dead horse I finally broke through to this altered portal of mysticism. In most genuine traditions of mysticism, there is a defined breakthrough experience that is required before the yogin can be considered a genuine yogin. In Tantra this is called the abhisekha. In Buddhism, stream entry. In Taoism, no clue. In Zen, satori. Anywhozzles I babbled along like this in this state for a couple of months, all the while being extremely sexually frustrated at college, when suddenly it dawned on me: I’ve been neglecting my practice! Yes, that’s right James. To get laid you need to practice more spirituality! *hand on face* Anyways, I ramped up my practice again, reading some Zen crap and suddenly I was flitting in and out of jhana (a deep Buddhist absorption) and voila! I was the Tathagata. From then on I experienced nearly going to ‘hell’, the rediscovery of Madhyamaka, the Deathless, the extinguishing of the aggregates, Nibbana, the experience of raw existential power (iddhi) and many other very very Buddhist things. Most of the original Pali Canon insights I resonate with very well and have experienced. It’s all BS and a massive hallucination though, and is not good for functioning in school, having a social life, or getting laid, so I don’t recommend it. --More fun in the sun! --Prior to achieving this mystical portal I was actually a relatively average kid, although, one who fucked up quite a few things in his life. Here’s that story. So I don’t know if you believe in existential death, but young James definitely did, and when he found himself hurtling towards it at the age of 15, he was fucking scared. But he got a hold of himself and coasted, and boy did he coast on that roller coaster! It started when I began having this nervous breakdown-y feeling in High School. I felt like ‘my time was up’, that I was going to die, that I was heading towards some kind of death. So I began acting strangely, telling fellow students that I was going to murder people at the school and writing strange essays. Not so long after the counselors caught wind of this and asked me if this was true.
I responded in the affirmative, because, it was true. So I was promptly suspended and ask to seek psychiatric evaluation as to whether or not I was ‘safe’, to have at the school. The first evaluation was A ok, but after the physician spoke with the school, she changed her mind. The second evaluation was actually also A ok, but, my Dad got mad in an argument with the administration, and I was forced to leave the school. Round about this time I was shipped over to Philadelphia to live with my cousins to finish High School. I remember all the time complaining about my depression and anxiety, but really it was the time of my life, at least that’s how I remember it. Eventually my cousins had enough of my suicide attempts and so I live with my Mom and finished the school year. Finally my whole family moved to California. --Death. --Round about this time, I ‘died’. As I quite suspected would happen, and so I began a mutist for two years, I didn’t speak to anyone, I had no friends, I was afraid of lying so I put question marks in front of everything and after everything on written documents. Without going into too much detail, I had found a community called the DhO that had gotten me interested in ‘enlightenment’, or at least their version of it. Though I was interested in it, to escape my mutism and fear of ‘hell’, I did not practice any of their techniques nor subscribe to their doctrines, rather I merely perused their material daily. Finally I began to have odd cognitive experiences, the first of which was a ‘Zen’ like experience that left me believing I was a Zen master, even though I actually knew I wasn’t. After this I miraculously became extroverted and began documenting my tentative forays into my psychonautics, eventually I was learning pick-up (a la Neil Strauss and Mystery) and doing NLP on my brainzzz. I had discovered a method of feeling good all the time that I called the sixth circuit, this was from Timothy Leary. Later out of interest in the other circuits, and to get laid and be cool, I did a ton of drugs that caused me to hallucinate and I was suspend from my University! Shocker! And so I returned to Hong Kong to live with my family, where I began to practice Tantric Buddhism and Early Buddhism to little effect. Until May. And that’s chronologically the whole story (kind of)! --So what is an altered state of consciousness?
--Currently I am not in one right now, so I can’t really tell you. I live in the actual, physical world. However my memories of them recount the ‘reality’ of religions, basically in altered states of consciousness, the actual, physical world is not real. Rather what you ‘feel’ is real, you don’t think in ASCs either, you intuit. Your ‘feelings’, which are ordinarily ‘you’, are transmogrified into a grandiose state of ‘Being’, which is impersonal, (kind of), and here all manner of religious and spiritual phenomena are ‘real’. The elements bend to your will, your enemies go to hell, you have sex with dakinis, whatever. It’s all ‘real’. But not real. A sort of tunnel vision (a la Robert Anton Wilson) occurs, one’s reality is so focused on one’s internal feelings, that they become the reality, and what’s left is nothing. Nothing else is real, but ‘you’, ‘you’re reality’. So to speak. --My warning. --I really can’t do anything for you other than to warn you that the search for spirituality in altered states of consciousness is useless. Spirituality is useless overall. Most spiritual quests stem from the search for an ‘alternate path’, none of which exists. It is possible to be totally without problems. A spiritualist doesn’t believe that’s possible. For a spiritualist there is no happiness in materiality, or the physical world, the physical world sucks, hence he seeks to transcend it. But for me, being ‘here’, is liberation. Being alive is fun! It is possible to be totally without problems, and, alive. It is possible to be totally without problems and happy with school, life, your wife, your kids, and your job. That is what I’m saying. --Interesting, but unhelpful.
--Such altered states of consciousness are ultimately very interesting, and… altered! They are however, pragmatically speaking, not so useful. Such states, or circuits, ultimately do allow access to a lot of the poetic and mythological universe, where almost 100% of religion is born. Ultimately what happens in that sphere stays inside that sphere, and does nothing to solve the human condition. It is in another words, a grand escape. --A structure of the mind. --The mind is incredibly structured, and most of these circuits, are not in fact just experiences, but… you know… actual things. And while a personal end to suffering can be found within these finite (vertically speaking) states of consciousness, they do nothing for the world overall. The Buddha rediscovered the phenomenon known as jhana, which had only four distinct levels, contrary to popular belief these experiences are not totally compounded, rather these deep layers are accessed or ‘lit’, so to speak. When a person is jhana, all manner of charismatic phenomena is applicable to him, the laws of physics do not seem to apply, moreover; deities, supernormal powers and so on and so forth seem to carry a distinct reality. This seems to be the nexus of the Buddhist religion. The Buddhist religion is jhana, it is dhyana. This easily explains the phenomena of the tantric yogins, who supposedly rediscovered many other facets of the Buddhist religion, as the Buddhist religion is in fact jhana, it is no surprise to say that any authentic Buddhist religion (or rather branch off) is in fact one that practices jhana, or Samadhi. “Samadhi is the path, no Samadhi is the bad path.” - Gotama (the Buddha) --Because the Buddhist religion is charismatic phenomena… --Because the Buddhist religion is in fact charismatic phenomena… it is not so difficult to see why doctrinal problems arise for people who attempt to map, or structure or otherwise assign objective, hard, categorical linings to these phenomena. Any authentic Buddhist practitioner is someone who practices jhana, plain and simple. When people attempt to assign objective value to the malleable (and thus clay-like) nature of the mind they run into problems, because the clay can be shaped into anything!
And thus the compounded nature of the experiences, come to the fore! --Genuine, yet compounded. --Ultimately most mystical experiences are marked by a seal of genuine-ness, they are genuine, real. But at the same time they are compounded, yet not fake, they are not fake. A good example would be clay sculptures, a beautiful clay figurine is made with the effort of the human hand, but at the same time is the genuine article. A fake plastic sculpture is made in a factory, as it not the genuine article. The point is to make something real, even though it may be made. --Other facets. --Because this phenomena is so little understood scientifically, it bares to reason that it will be a while before we can successfully understand the compounding process. Although it very well might be the case that the Buddhaâ€™s ontology was accurate. --The misunderstanding of mood. --The hardcore Dharma movement subscribes to the notion of a temporal change in mood. For the hardcore Dharma movement, changes in mood dictate the existence of actual stages. In reality for most of these practitioners, their ordinary changes in mood are taken to be signifiers of progress, moreover their odd cogno-compounded experiences (thought-up experiences, thought-compounded experiences) are taken to be real phenomena. Which they are not. This does not mean however, that the hardcore Dharma movement practitioners do not hit upon real stages of the path, rather they do. However conceptually speaking they lack the intelligence necessary to distinguish between a spatial change and a temporal change. A temporal change is like the weather, a spatial change is merely the construction of something real, said real phenomena is then used to examine the characteristics of reality. Temporal changes are not dictated by stages in the path, there are no stages in the path in that sense. There is the relative and then there is absolute. There is no sort-of relative and sort-of absolute. A person who masters jhana is someone who has reached Nibbana or Parinibbana. Plain and simple.
This confusion is caused by what is called: “mind-mapping”. Mind mapping assigns temporal value to certain moods (read: vedana), but this path is necessarily proliferation. The point is to access spatial states of mind, and then realize ultimate reality by sifting out what is real and what is not. --Stages. --Buddhism later became fond of assigning stage-value to certain progressed people in the Dharma, these people are merely individuals who have let go of certain fetters. When they became hard, categorical stages, however, a certain problem arose. The fetters are to be let go of, a clinging to stages is certainly a form of doubt. --Too be continued. --8. Parinibbànasuttaü Ý Final extinction 005.08. ûFriend, it is said, `final extinction,' for what is it said, final extinction by The Blessed One?û ßHere, friend, the bhikkhu secluding the mind from sensual desires ... re ... abides in the first higher state of the mind. Friend, mastering this is final extinction said The Blessed One. http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pitaka/4Anguttara-Nikaya/Anguttara6/09-navakanipata/005samannavaggo-e.html --Morality is for aligned living. --They are not categorical imperatives, or hard, categorical “thou shalt nots”. Rather their express purpose is that they cut large chunks of suffering out of your life, and other people’s. Morality is thus a tool, and an expedient, not the goal. It is used as a tool for the end of suffering. Straightness, not crookedness.
A compiled list of thoughts about altered states of consciousness.