Author of the Month

Ayahuasca and the concept of reality. Ethnographic, theoretical, and experiential considerations. (cont.)
By Luis Eduardo Luna, Ph.D., F.L.S.

The belief in spirits is nearly universal across ages. Shall we just dismiss, in the name of advanced rational thinking, the existence of other intelligent realms right here under our noses, only were we able to attune ourselves to these other realities? Roberts (2006) proposes the idea that that our minds function in many mindbody states. Consequently he rejects what he calls the “singlestate fallacy”: the erroneous assumption that all worthwhile thinking, behaving, and emotions occur only in our ordinary, awake mindbody state. Could it be then that there are mental state-bound realities, only manifested under appropriate circumstances? Traditional societies usually consider the cosmos as multi-layered, normally depicted by anthropologists as worlds above and below middle plain, this reality. Could it also be conceived as multidimensional from within, depending on the state of consciousness? Is not this perhaps the reason why ideas, events and imagery during our dreams (as well as often in the hypnagogic state previous to falling asleep) lose all their meaning immediately after waking, even though apparently our other self, the one in the dream, found no contradiction? Dreams and visions are equated in many cultures. Perhaps visions are a form of conscious dreams. According to Winkelman (2010) the physiological properties of ASC (altered states of consciousness) indicate that the visionary experiences are produced by the information capacities of the lower brain systems, and tap into the dream capacity, an ancient mammalian adaptation for integrating information in the pre-language symbolic capacity represented in the visual system

Neurons alone aren't sufficiently complex to explain all brain phenomena and provide a computational model for thought. Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff (Penrose 1996) propose that consciousness emerges from biophysical processes acting at the subcellular level involving cytoskeletal structures. Consciousness is attributed to quantum computation in cytoskeletal proteins organized into a network of microtubules within the brain’s neurons. Ede Frecska (2005) proposes the existence of a dual foundation of knowledge. The first one would be the ordinary, perceptual-cognitive-symbolic, which is neuroaxonally based, is electrochemical (based on local effects), and relies on sensory perception, cognitive processing, and symbolic (visual, verbal, logical) language. It performs modeling, with an implicit split subject-object: it peaks in Western scientific thinking. The second one is the direct-intuitive-non local, its medium being a subneural network, such as the microtubular network, which connects the whole body, from head to toe, and based on nonlocal correlations, so small (measured in nanometers) that they are close to quantum physical measures. The cytoskeletal matrix, with 10,000,000 more units than neurons and may be immense enough to contain holographic information about the whole universe via non-local interaction. It is ineffable, experienced directly, without subject-object split, perhaps the realm from where shamans and mystics, the masters of nonlocality, after rigorous training and symbolic death, get their information and powers when in altered states of consciousness. This direct-intuitive-non local knowledge is perhaps “The Forgotten Knowledge” in western civilization, deemed nonexistent by academic Western science.

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