Taking my brain off-line
“Everybody everywhere , has his own movie going, his own scenario, and everybody is acting his movie out like mad, only most people don’t know that is what they’re trapped by, their little script.” –Tom Wolfe
You probably heard. The writer Tom Wolfe died a couple days ago. His 1968 book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, chronicled the experiences of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters who traveled the country in a colorful school bus as they hosted parties involving LSD-laced Kool-Aid.
The idea was to achieve a different consciousness, an accomplishment ACIM Lesson 136 says will eventually happen when we take our brains off-line.
While our thoughts are on-line, we make up a story. Our brains produce images exactly .17 seconds behind light so even when ‘living in the moment’ we’re .17 seconds behind. This story always involves an identity, a separate ego and a body that, by its very nature, involves suffering. At best, it doesn’t suffer, but eventually dies.
In this lesson, I learn that none of it is really true. I learn that there’s a bigger thing going on, a bigger thing whose only purpose is to give me happiness.
Michael Pollan’s new book, How to Change Your Mind: What the Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence confirms this lesson.
It details the astounding results of ongoing experiments with psychedelics at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, NYU, UCLA and another academic research institute in London.
I guess I should clarify. Experiments with psychedelics are going on pretty much everywhere, but the ones Pollan writes about are highly-controlled, completely safe research experiments that are blowing old stories out of the water, proving that once the mind goes off-line, amazing things can’t help but happen.
Test subjects, in fact, claim that time spent shutting down the judgy, egoic part of the mind is among the top 5 experiences of their life, right up there with the birth of a child.
One participant described it like this. “No sensation, no image of beauty, nothing during my time on earth has felt as pure and joyful and glorious as the height of this journey.”
So this is what the Course promises.
It’s the truth we cover up with that part of our brain that likes to make up stories. We do this, the Courses says, to hide reality, to keep the truth from being whole. These stories seem to be unconscious, beyond our control. But they’re not.
So we pretend not to remember. This lesson assures us that this joyful, glorious truth is still there despite our pitiful and futile attempts to alter it with our defenses and ridiculous complaints.
It’s not even a question of whether or not we’ll get beyond the story. To quote the Course directly, “What is unalterable cannot change.”
Some of us “wake up” just like that– Eckhart Tolle, for example, or a large percentage of the participants in the studies Pollan details in his book.
Others of us decide to stall, holding on tightly to the mistaken notion that we are nothing but our bodies.
Either way, we will all eventually reach this inviolate Truth described by one test subject like this, “From here on, love is the only consideration. It was and is the only purpose.”
Pam Grout is the author of 19 books including E-Squared, E-Cubed, Thank & Grow Rich and her new book, Art & Soul,Reloaded: A Year-Long Apprenticeship to Summon the Muses and Ignite Your Daring, Audacious, Creative Side.