Philosophers and mystics have long contemplated the disconcerting notion that the fixed Self is an illusion. Neuroscientists now think they can prove it with some help from psilocybin, the psychoactive substance in
Researchers around the World are exploring the drug’s transformative power to help people quit smoking; lower violent crime; treat depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder; and trigger lasting spiritual epiphanies in psychologically healthy people, especially when coupled with meditation or contemplative training.
Psilocybin seems to offer some people a route to an alternate view of reality, in which they shed the limitations of their individual Consciousness and embrace a sense of interconnectedness and universality. These trips are not temporary, but have transformative psychological effects.
Even if we do not all end up on mushrooms, the studies offer insights on how we might minimize suffering and interpersonal strife and gain a sense of peace.
The greater the drug dosage, the more potent the positive psychological effect, positive changes on measures of interpersonal closeness, gratitude, life meaning/purpose, forgiveness, death transcendence, daily spiritual experiences, religious faith and coping.
Our Awareness of existence – the ability to distinguish between the Self and others – is created by the brain. Billions of neurons in your brain are working together to generate a conscious experience and not just any conscious experience, your experience of the World around you and of yourself within it.
Yet when you are unconscious, you continue to exist without perceiving your own presence. You cease to participate in reality but continue to live.
When roused back into Consciousness, you lack a narrative to explain the time away. The narrative of the story that seems to be your life is just a function of your brain’s mechanisms, not who you really are.