I've decided to come back to the United States! I even have a ticket: I leave Madrid on June 2, and by some miracle arrive in New York two hours later. To make up for a notable lack of presents, I'll be throwing a party or two to say hi to everyone and feed you all food from around my travels. Details later.
But that's not what I'm here to tell you about. Look behind the cut for a possibly pot-induced intense psychic experience (no ESP, just the psyche), with long preamble:
I think that in order to understand the experience, you have to be familiar with my version of Milton Erickson's dogma of the unconscious mind and some recent events in my travels and thoughts of mine, but if you don't think so, feel free to skip to the the event itself.
Dogmas of the Unconscious Mind, of World Models, and of Dogmas:
The Unconscious Mind: Milton Erickson was a famous hypnotist and therapist, and developed an extremely powerful mode of hypnosis, therapy, and life. It is based, among other things, on a conception of how the human mind is ordered, and it goes like this:
We all have a conscious and an unconscious mind. The conscious mind generally works in a serial fashion, handling the aspects of our experience of which we are currently aware. The unconscious is the storehouse of all of our memories, has an incredible capacity to solve problems, and experiences the fullness of our sensory world. Compared to the unconscious mind, the conscious mind can handle relatively little at a time.
Although we imagine our lives to be determined by our conscious decisions, our unconscious decisions have a far larger role than we realize, and some say that the over-active conscious mind is just going along for the ride.
Models of the World: The world as we consciously experience it is only a small part of the sensory world that our bodies encounter. Most sensory data is filtered out by the unconscious mind: it registers the experiences but does not present them to our consciousness.
Specifically, we hold a model of the world within our minds, and for the most part, we only recognize those aspects of our experience which fit into our model. We do not know how different our perceived world and the actual world are, because this filtering is always happening.
Many of the personal and life problems that we encounter are a consequence of the models and filters we apply to the world. The sort of problems that people see psychotherapists about are the ones they "can't" solve: that is, the ones that are takes as necessary elements in their world model. Ericksonian hypnotists use hypnosis to engage the unconscious mind, which is not constrained by these models, in changing the conscious mind.
Dogma of the Dogmas: By calling these a dogma, I'm invoking my Dogma of Dogmas, which says that such conceptions of the nature of things are very useful, but are ultimately wrong. In other words, these are models of the way that the psyche works. In fact, every model is imperfect and warps our experience, understanding, and capacity to act, but good dogmas are ones that are useful and allow for future improvement. This becomes important later.
Recent Events and Thoughts:
On May 25, my bag was stolen, with lots of valuable stuff. This isn't the sort of thing that bothers me too much, but it did leave me filling drained.
I'm in Amsterdam, capital of the soft-drug world, and taking some advantage of it. I'm no pothead, and I haven't been high during travels before Amsterdam, but with my bag lossage (so I don't have much money) and my drained feeling, smoking seemed like a nice way to spend some evenings.
That evening, as I was smoking and musing, I went through the following train of thoughts:
My understanding and experience of the cosmos is determined by my dogmas, and could be greatly different under a different set of them. The problems of the world that seem to me intractable to me could be trivial under another world view. Furthermore, the entirety of Western civilization is playing out a particular set of deeply rooted dogmas-- such as our concepts of morality, property, and relationships-- that cause the problems we encounter in the world. Through hypnosis, it is possible to make enormous changes in the conscious mind-- perhaps even to see through the problems of the world to a straight-forward solution.
When I reached that point, I feared the consequence of such an attempt. It seems dangerous to ask one's mind to recreate itself so drastically that impossible problems are solved. Then I recognized the significance of my fear and my concept of impossibility: these are the psychological marks of a psychosis-- one so vast that it likely encompasses our whole society.
So I wanted to take the leap and allow great changes to happen to my brain... and set out to try to define exactly the task of this hypnotic work I was to engage in. For such an experiment to work, I needed to allow great latitude in the restructuring process. My basic request was for my unconscious mind to rework the framework of my conscious mind based on its greater wisdom. I could say, "I do not care how differently my mind works afterwards," but actually I had several concerns. Such as keeping some semblance of sanity.
Besides, what did I mean by wisdom, that I wanted my unconscious mind to bestow on me? Well, the capacity to do good, or virtue. But what are good and virtue? I was forced to admit that these are the most over-determined of concepts in the western framework, and if I ask for these I will be shackling myself to the very object I'm trying to leave. Eventually I left it as an unsolved problem for future consideration.
The next evening, I was smoking and musing again, and I developed a concept of the scientific basis for the unconscious mind, which goes like this:
The cortex of our brain is able to do things quickly by communicating with electric impulses, but the vast mass of the brain communicates using slower chemical processes. This is why it was originally believed that we only use a tenth of our brain-- but clearly this belief is incorrect because if it were true the rest of the brain would have atrophied.
Therefore, the unconscious mind has a vast physical incarnation. Our entire conception of ourselves and our universe is encoded in the cortex, but the unconscious mind has its own knowledge and conception of life, many times more involved. It just thinks at sub-conscious-thought speeds, and only occasionally presenting its results to the consciousness placing or causing the conscious mind to reconfigure itself. This is why the conscious mind often lags behind the unconscious in making necessary changes to its dogmas.
I wished to give more power to this greater mind within my head. And then it happened.
I don't remember why, but suddenly it seemed to me that my unconscious mind had something to tell me. I wondered if I could ask it, using an old hypnotist method, where the unconscious mind communicates answers to yes-no questions through small twitches. The moment I decided to do this, before I had even fully thought my first question: "Are you there?" I got my response, /Yes,/ through a clear twitch of my finger.
I grew hot and excited. What did my unconscious mind have for me? My heart beat fast at the possibilities. "Could this be my last night's wish?" /Yes./ "But I didn't fully figure out what to ask for." /But you did wish it, and I have prepared it./ "What exactly?" /I cannot tell you in a way that you would understand, but allow me./ The responses didn't come to me verbally-- just as sure understanding that I had about my questions the moment I wondered them.
I went slowly upstairs, very anxious. My head felt hot and active, like it was a boiling pot of water, or a thunderstorm breaking. "How great a change?" /Give me the power, and anything might happen./
I laid myself in bed, my hands resting on my chest, and began a self-hypnosis induction. I have tried self-hypnosis before, with minimal success. I was charged with excitement, and I needed to get myself calm to get into a trance, so I started with that. I mentally vocalized my unconscious mind as the hypnotist, starting with a simple experience pacing.
By the time I got to relaxation suggestions, I realized that I was already in a deep trance. I told myself to feel the tension drain out of my face, and suddenly my face was a fire of sheets of tension. I could feel every area of tension in my face acutely like tissues or static electricity enveloping my head, but also draining like water toward the bed. I told myself to feel the energy leave my head, starting from the top down, and I could feel the line move down, like slowly emerging from being under water. As the line passed, I felt the muscles rearrange, relax, and sometimes twitch violently. By the time I was done moving down my whole body, I could feel every remaining area of tension in my whole body in this electrifying way, and was twitching spontaneously all over.
Although one kind of tension was draining out, another kind had taken its place, of a kind that is common in hypnosis, which tends to immobilize the body. This was happening particular in my legs, so it felt like they were tied to the bed.
"Now I have complete control over you," said my voice of unconscious mind. /What?/, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. "There's no use trying to escape." I felt my arms tighten over my chest, like chains holding me down, and my whole body thrashed up and down in slow motion, against the invisible bonds. But I calmed myself down. This was only me, hypnotising myself. "Are you ready?" my unconscious asked. /Yes./ I responded. "Then my will be done."
I suddenly felt very hot like a turmoil of activity was occurring in my head, and every part of my brain was exerting fantastic energy. My eyes began twitching back and forth very very quickly, and I saw a tunnel before me, which I willed myself to move down. This lasted maybe 30 seconds, and then the tunnel evaporated and the rapid eye movement stopped.
/What are you doing to me?/ I asked the hypnotic voice. "You don't need to ask questions like that." /Will I remember everything that happens tonight?/ "You may not be able to understand it all, and I will make you forget the things you cannot handle." /Then please, this change, only guarantee me that I will still be a sane and good person at the end./ "Let me do my work without your interference. It's for both of us."
I heard a note of falsehood in the last statement. What was the voice trying to convince me of? /How do I know you are not some savage Id, taking this opportunity to warp me to be more like yourself?/ "I am what I am, and you are too." /Please, just let me make you add to your suggestions that this change will be 'good'./ "You cannot do that, or I will be unable to help us. Of course it will be good; it needed be said. Of course I mean the best for both of us, so let's not worry and don't require it of me."
Now I was sure he was lying. /What are you, good or evil?/ "I am neither, but I have control, so we are going to do this task, and if I make changes to your limited concept of good, and if I choose to drag you to hell and leave you there and take over your body as my own, it is not yours to stop me." I became aware of flames rising up around me. /Devil! What have I done? Am I to lose my soul, to gain the power of some immoral wisdom?/ And I knew it was true, and I thrashed in my bed-- though in slow motion-- like a body possessed.
"Wait," said the devil of an unconscious, "what are you doing putting horns on my head? You don't even believe in the devil, and I am your own mind. Don't you see that it is your own fear of your unconscious that makes me look false?" I was trapped by the logic. "Do not fear me. Love me, as I have loved you." I felt tears coming to my eyes, and I embraced him, like an older brother I never had. I could feel this other's back under my arms as they squeezed my chest.
I relaxed again, feeling the sheets of energy drain further away and descended back into a deep trance. "Good. Now let us continue." My head grew hot and filled again with activity. My eyes began to twitch furiously back and forth, and I entered another tunnel.
I remember nothing more, and woke up not being able to identify any changes, although I'm sure something very significant has taken place.