Last week, I talked about an altered state I had. This week, I'm going to give you some tips on achieving different states and perspectives which are both legal and cheap; for the most part, they are free.
Often, we are told to walk a mile in your enemy's shoes1 - in other words, try and see things from their point of view. Every five year old has heard this more times than s/he cares to remember, but it is totally useless to tell that to kids. Truly seeing another's point of view is something that only a very few extraordinary souls, such as Christ and Buddha, can accomplish. The rest of us inevitably project our own feelings and prejudices onto the other person's mind and so get a distorted image. This distorted image is seen
through a cloudy window, since we know nothing of a person's secret thoughts, and their almost totally buried memories, both of which can strongly influence actions in ways we cannot see; sometimes, even the person whose eyes we are trying to use does not really know their reasons. To continue the window analogy, getting a new window is an occupation that takes many lifetimes and living as a whole lot of different people, as well as a lot of soul searching and consciousness exploring. However, to help, I have prepared a selection of things you can do that will not allow you to see into the minds of others, but will allow you to see the world differently.
First up is something simple: look at the world upside-down. Literally. Lie on your back on your bed and hang your head over the end. Looks different, eh? Suddenly, hanging lamps become expertly designed statues. People walk on the ceiling. There is no furniture, but quite a lot of decoration on the roof. Reality does not exist; all we have is perspective.
After a few times doing this, try using a chair in place of a bed. The effect is much the same, though it makes TV a fair bit more interesting - and, let's face it, most of the crap on TV nowadays can only be enjoyed if you are concentrating on something else. Don't do this for too long, or the blood will rush to your head and may cause a headache, or even brain damage. Both of these lead to greater altered states, but a headache is rather unpleasant and you cannot control brain damage. Pain and lack of control are detrimental to altered states.
OK, now we've seen the world differently, let's try something a bit more profound. This involves directly confusing your brain, but is quite safe. Spin around really fast. The fluid in your cochleas will go all sloshy and your brain will have great difficulty in determining up from down and maintaining balance. Blood and ATP will be diverted to correcting this, leaving the rest of the brain to wander on its merry way. Do it right and you will soon be tripping in more ways than one. Dizziness may seem like a minor altered state, but there are entire Hindu and Buddhist monasteries devoted to this.
Try falling in love; it makes colours brighter, sounds more pleasant, and things in general are nicer to touch. Again, this may not see like such a big deal but, as anyone who has ever been in love knows, love rules all and drags the entire brain and mind into submission - an altered state if I ever saw one. In fact, love is such a powerful altered state that it can be passed on in small amounts by interacting with people. Also, let's not forget that most of the major religions are based on this very altered state.
If you can't find love, or are already in love, try sex. An orgasm triggers an intense altered state, so intense and abysmal2 that the French refer to it as 'little death3'. If you are in love, then the
altered state attained by doing it with your loved one gives you the greatest altered state possible, and no chemicals involved4. Hinduism was founded on a combination of love and sex, which is how it has survived for so long despite Christian missionaries and Muslim oppression.
Right, now let's get back to perspectives. Here are a couple of exercises I saw on the Disinformation website. Firstly, take a book and a card. Tarot cards are best, though trading cards, collectible cards, or ordinary playing cards work just as well. The important thing is that you have a book and a card which have nothing to do with each other5. Look long and hard at them, and make two lists: one of similarities and one of differences. Now switch them around and convinve yourself that the differences are in fact similarities and vice versa. If you can pull it off, this works
quite startlingly well.
Now look in a mirror. See yourself. Now convince yourself that the person you see is a total stranger that you have just met (surprisingly easy). What do you see? Who is this person? What are they like? What impressions do you form upon seeing them for the first time? Again, this leads to a very weird altered state.
Finally, two ideas from comic book writer Grant Morrison. Look around your room. Take in every detail, as if everything in there is a message from the great beyond. Why are those particular CDs on top of your computer? Why are the wires coming out the back laid out just so? Ponder these mysteries and observe your changed mind.
Lastly, go for a walk. Nothing major, just around the block or to the end of the road and back a few times. Try to form coded messages from the Great Beyond™ from everything you percieve - the flight patterns of birds, car license plates, the sound of the wind, etc.
Basically, it's a bigger version of the last exercise.
Next week I'll talk about using chemicals to soup up the process.
Until we meet again, my friend, this is Hussassan, signing off.
not better than sex.5So if your book is The Lord of the Rings, do not use an LOTR tarot deck.