Opening the door to the universe

If you start thinking, “What happens when awareness witnesses the wholeness of existence?” – if you start thinking, you are moving inside the mind in a circle, in a vicious circle, you may find some answer, but that answer is not the truth.
Osho

I’ve done something this week I’ve always wanted to do but never actually had the nerve to try. I went to Amsterdam with my beau and we both tried magic mushrooms. My truffles were something called “Dolphin’s delight” and I managed to have a trip like no other. Colours and sounds and feeling one with everything.

How did it start?
About 6PM I ate some crisps and thoroughly chewed those absolutely vile tasting truffles. I started experiencing a bit of blurry vision and I had to fixate my eyes on my surroundings as I felt like the materials from the hotel room curtains was “breathing”.

I picked up a picture book of Amsterdam today and I started browsing through the glossy pages, looking at the images, feeling incredibly relaxed.

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Pretty soon, I started noticing some golden patterns, very similar to Aztec designs, spinning extremely slowly like an overlay over the actual image. They were really pretty but I couldn’t focus on them as I would lose them. Do you know how you have to cross your eyes in order to see those 3D images that pop up from a page? This was pretty similar.

I was fascinated. I touched them and I could see my hand and the moving pretty Aztec letters and writing under my fingers.
I turned the pages to see if it would happen anywhere else? And it only seemed to appear on blue skies.

At one point I closed my eyes and I settled down under the lamp and I could feel myself sink into the chair.

I was in darkness and I started experiencing a feeling of euphoria combined with a feeling of weightlessness. I felt disembodied and split apart. I was no longer a human being, I was a voice (I was talking) and then I was a hand. But the hand was not mine, just something that existed separate from me and it was only real because it was still touching the corners of the book I was holding.

And then the fun began. Bright purple colours, rainbows, moving geometrical foxes started running up a mountain scope. I was so in awe of the bursts of colour that I think I started crying. (I’m pretty sure I was crying)

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My eyes were still closed and I started watching those light brown foxes jump in orderly rows up a mountain. I felt myself rising with them and while I know I was anchored in a hotel room in Amsterdam, I no longer had any feeling of my body.

You are just a ripple in the river, arisen in a certain moment and dissolved back again, but not for a single moment separate from the river. This whole existence is nothing but a vast ocean in which all kinds of ripples, tidal waves, arise and disappear, and the ocean remains. Osho

I saw myself as sound travelling, as a river flowing, merging below, as air floating like a balloon up to the stratosphere where I “saw” stars and the vastness of space. The space was black and I didn’t like it very much. I stared though at the earth below and I started feeling small.
Here I was, a measly human, in front of a universe that is billions and billions of years old, bigger than my mind can comprehend and while I will be on this Earth like a speck of dust in the wind, I am not big enough to matter in the scheme of things.
I felt extremely small and I felt myself shrinking to the size of a dot and I remember crying. My boi stopped me from going too far down the sad route and there was an idea planted that grew and grew. I was small but I did exist. Even as an atom, I was there. (yep, I know, I sound far gone by now)

You have to go beyond thinking, beyond questioning.
Just be silent and you will know.
You are not, only the universe is.
Osho

I repeated to myself “I exist, you exist, we are one” and that feeling of euphoria and happiness returned. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such strong emotions before. And I have been to my mother’s funeral.

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I went “back” down and I looked at villages, at blue water, at mountain scapes, at small people and I was feeling like a massive bird (pterodactyl) flying above it all.
Throughout this, I was talking to my boi, telling him what I was seeing and noticing that sounds when they exited my mouth created so many colours. Purple for love, green for laughter, pink and blue for the questions.

Made me wonder whether I was experiencing synesthesia.

Synesthesia is a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.
The colors triggered by certain sounds, and any other synesthetic visual experiences, are referred to as photisms.

On my way down from the high I had a really honest and open discussion about thoughts and wants and fears with my boi there and I feel that this sort of openness and directness without social inhibition of any sorts was amazing.

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The Conclusion
I can’t recommend “magic mushrooms” enough. I can see why the shamans did it and it does wonders for your spirit. It’s now been a few days and I feel great. Happy. Open. I have a strong bond with my boi and I received a perspective that I did not have when I went to Amsterdam. I feel changed.

“Life begins where fear ends.”

I did have some interesting research sessions afterwards trying to figure out why I experienced such strong visuals even with my eyes closed and check this out:

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Think drug-induced hallucinations, and the whirly, spirally, tunnel-vision-like patterns of psychedelic imagery immediately spring to mind. But it’s not just hallucinogenic drugs like LSD, cannabis or mescaline that conjure up these geometric structures. People have reported seeing them in near-death experiences, as a result of disorders like epilepsy and schizophrenia, following sensory deprivation, or even just after applying pressure to the eyeballs. So common are these geometric hallucinations, that in the last century scientists began asking themselves if they couldn’t tell us something fundamental about how our brains are wired up. And it seems that they can.

  1. Mescaline was well-known for inducing striking visual hallucination
  2. In humans and mammals the first area of the visual cortex to process visual information is known as V1
  3. Like the rest of the brain, V1 has a complex, crinkly, folded-up structure, but there’s a surprisingly straight-forward way of translating what we see in our visual field to neural activity in V1. “If you imagine unfolding [V1],” says Bressloff, “You can think of it as neural tissue a few millimetres thick with various layers of neurons. To a first approximation, the neurons through the depth of the cortex behave in a similar way, so if you compress those neurons together, you can think of V1 as a two-dimensional sheet.”
  4. The alternating regions of light and dark that make up a geometric hallucination are caused by alternating regions of high and low neural activity in V1 — regions where the neurons are firing very rapidly and regions where they are not firing rapidly.
  5. your eyes don’t stop receiving information and sending it to the brain when they are closed there is just less because of the lack of light so the random stimulation is there just like when your eyes are open but is a little different because there is not as much light.
  6. Random stimulation of the rods and cones in your retina caused by antagonizing your 5HTA2 receptors will create pretty lights and images
  7. I suppose it is the brain that has to interprets this stimulation, and thereby the imagination could influence the visions – also, the visions are random unless one consciously intervenes.
  8. Seeing as Psilocybin/psilocin contain Dimethyltryptamine; I would asume it’s the same imagination that makes you dream at night and near death experiences.
  9. It turns out that hallucinations comprising spirals, circles, and rays that emanate from the centre correspond to stripes of neural activity in V1 that are inclined at given angles. Lattices like honeycombs or chequer-boards correspond to hexagonal activity patterns in V1. This in itself might not have appeared particularly exciting, but there was a precedent: stripes and hexagons are exactly what scientists had seen when modelling other instances of pattern formation, for example convection in fluids, or, more strikingly, the emergence of spots and stripes in animal coats. The mathematics that drives this pattern formation was well known, and it now suggested a mechanism for modelling the workings of the visual cortex too.
  10. A phosphene is a phenomenon characterized by the experience of seeing light without light actually entering the eye. Phosphenes can be directly induced by mechanical, electrical, or magnetic stimulation of the retina or visual cortex as well as by random firing of cells in the visual system. Phosphenes have also been reported by meditators (commonly called nimitta), people who go for long periods without visual stimulation (also known as the prisoner’s cinema), or those who are using psychedelic drugs.
  11. Closed-eye hallucinations and closed-eye visualizations (CEV) are a distinct class of hallucination. These types of hallucinations generally only occur when one’s eyes are closed or when one is in a darkened room. They can be a form of phosphene. Some people report closed-eye hallucinations under the influence of psychedelics.
  12. Visual noise: For a person who tries to actively observe this closed-eye perception on a regular basis, there comes a point where if they look at a flat-shaded object with their eyes wide open, and try to actively look for this visual noise, they will become aware of it and see the random pointillistic disorganized motion as if it were a translucent overlay on top of what is actually being seen by their open eyes. (Remember the Aztec prints I saw?)
    Closed eye hallucinations

 

Other reads:
The Zen Manifesto: Freedom from Oneself, Chapter Seven

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