Waking From Sleep: The Causes of Higher States of Consciousness (cont.)
By Steve Taylor
HD versus ILE states
As sources of awakening experiences, both homeostasis disruption (HD) and an
intensification of life-energy are equally valid, but there are some reasons why the latter are preferable. ILE (intensification of life-energy) states don’t have the same physical and psychological risks as HD states. Drug experiences (and other HD states) produce a powerful blast which immobilises the ego, and if this blast is regularly repeated the ego structure may dissolve, and never be able to re-form itself. These are the effects suffered by the so-called ‘acid casualties’ of the 1960s, such as the musicians Syd Barrett, Peter Green and Brian Wilson.
In a sense, HD experiences are only really a shortcut too. It's as if we've just stumbled on a defect in the mechanisms of consciousness, a kind of legal clause which gives us a quick and easy way of escaping ordinary consciousness, and are exploiting it. You could compare it to schoolchildren tricking their teacher into leaving the room so they can enjoy a few minutes of freedom while she's away – but the teacher always comes back again, of course, and then everything goes back to normal. On the other hand, ILE states can bring about permanent change in a positive way. They can change the structure of the psyche without damaging it, and gradually create a new state of being, so that wakefulness becomes not just a temporary experience, but a permanent state.
This isn’t to demean the importance of higher states of consciousness induced by drugs or other HD states. They can come as a bolt out of the blue, breaking through the familiar, taken-for-granted world and making us aware that higher realms of reality do exist. For some people, their first experiences of psychedelics might have the same effect as experiencing flashes of normal complete vision would have on a man who's been partially blind all his life without realising it.
The powerful transcendent reality they’ve been exposed to may also bring about a change in their personality, at least over the following months, and perhaps even years. It might make them more humble, less materialistic or egotistical, and give them a sense of security or hope, making them aware that the world is more meaningful and harmonious than they had believed.