"I'm a scientist. I have to be open to every possibility." - Neil deGrasse Tyson
Preface: I wrote the following autobiographical text five years ago. It wasn't really planned. One day the thought wasn't even in my mind (seriously, who writes an autobiography?), and the next day I was writing this whole thing out in all my spare time as fast as I could. This page was live less than two months after I started writing it.
I'm not going to claim to have been emotionally balanced during the two-month period in which this was written. I had gone from being an argumentative atheist to experiencing a full-blown spiritual awakening in a very short span of time. It was more important to me to capture this once-in-a-lifetime transition as authentically as possible than it was to represent myself as a grounded individual at the ego level.
For those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious, or for those who are familiar with enlightenment/illumination concepts, this text will probably not tell you anything important that you don't already know, though my floundering discovery and acceptance of these ideas might provide a bit of amusement. One of the most common reactions I've gotten from this text is, "You and I believe the same thing... but you sure took a different path to get there!" It's not necessary that you believe any of the events or concepts that led to my personal awakening, but you'll likely reach the same general conclusions that I did, eventually, assuming you haven't already.
The original title of this site was "How I Awoke to the Present Moment," until a good friend advised me that this title was "terrible." I'm not 100% happy with "A Skeptic's Path to God," either; I never adopted any serious consideration for a personal/anthropomorphic God as an adult, but I understand now that there is such incredible divinity in All That Is that "God" is an appropriate term for the One Reality, the One Life, the one infinite consciousness from which all is manifest to experience Itself in the reality of Its own making.
In my mind, I've always mentally titled this text "Mr. Magoo Stumbles Into Enlightenment." I am not a Buddhist; my path didn't involve studying sacred texts or hours of disciplined meditation. I was merely a truth-seeking person who did reckless things and pushed my own consciousness to its absolute limits in the interest of better understanding myself and my reality.
It doesn't matter whether you accept my conclusions about the nature of reality. I stress repeatedly throughout this text that you should be skeptical of everything I tell you. I'm only interested in helping people figure this stuff out for themselves; I am not interested in convincing anyone to blindly adopt my personal worldview. Take from me only what elevates your personal understanding, and please discard the rest.
I still get a slow trickle of emails through this website, so new people must be finding it somehow. I don't actively promote it, but it seems to have a small friend-to-friend viral nature. I cannot properly communicate how grateful I am for the incredible correspondences that have arisen from this text. I have learned a tremendous amount since writing this, thanks to the incredible wisdom, advice, and information I've received from teachers and fellow seekers. My response rate to new emails is still 100%, but please bear in mind that sometimes my responses can be delayed by weeks or even months.
If you find any grammatical errors in this text, please let me know. This is probably the least-edited thing I've written. If diving into the deepest corners of my mind ever seems uncomfortable for
you to read, just imagine how much more so it is for me.
But no one ever said this whole process was easy. Like everyone else, I still have a never-ending amount of progress to make and information to learn. But I hope the following text helps you on your own path, somehow, in some way. Believe me when I say that that's the only reason I wrote it.
I wrote God’s Assassin (play on Kongregate
) as an agnostic atheist
. One message of the story is that we should always keep our minds open to some bizarre, insanely ridiculous explanation for our reality that none of us could have possibly predicted.
As I was editing the final draft, I accidentally stumbled upon what I now believe to be a bizarre, insanely ridiculous non-fiction explanation for our reality that I could not have possibly predicted. So this is THAT story.
Whether or not you believe what I say is true, understand this: Within the deepest corners of my soul, my burning passion is to understand the truth behind our reality for myself and explain it to others as best I can, even if I’m not always right. For better or worse, this is what drives me as a human being
, and it’s what drove me to write this autobiographical text.
I have my own selfish motive here beyond sharing what I’ve learned -- I still want to know the truth for myself, whatever it might be. So email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
if this text resonates with you. Or email me if there's anything in particular you wish to discuss. Or email me with any feedback or ideas you have. But most of all, email me if you have a solid counter-argument or any piece of evidence against ANYTHING at all in this entire text. I don't care about being right; I only care about knowing and sharing what's real.
I want to have a discussion about the contents of this text with like-minded individuals because this is REALLY important stuff. I will ultimately be talking about whether our consciousness persists after death. For 16 years I believed very strongly that it did not, and now I believe even more strongly that it does. I will explain, in full, my former and current reasons for believing both perspectives.
I understand that the burden is not on you to disprove anything I say. It's impossible to prove a negative, and I will make some claims (based on personal experiences) that cannot be empirically disproved. I will not argue that anything I say is true simply because no one can disprove it, but I still seek supporting evidence wherever I can find it, and this includes the relative strength of all counter-evidence.
I encourage you to be skeptical of everything that I say. I am a skeptic, and I encourage this line of thinking in others. If something is true, then it will hold up to any amount of skepticism. Pick apart everything. Work to disprove whatever you can. Research the topics I discuss independently. Be skeptical, but please keep an open mind as well. I know there’s a lot of garbage out there, but shutting out new information is never the answer for anyone who seeks the highest level of understanding that is within our power to obtain. As Albert Einstein once said, condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance.
I know it’s hard to keep an open mind about everything all the time -- life would be exhausting. Open-mindedness takes a lot of effort, and it does NOT mean blindly believing everything you hear. All it means is that you don’t allow your current view of reality to prevent your mind from really thinking about new information as you receive it. I would recommend watching the YouTube video titled “Open-mindedness” by QualiaSoup
for elaboration on this point.
The heart of my message is simple: We are all one. Some of you already understand this, and some of you are close to understanding it. People have been reaching this exact same understanding for thousands of years.
If my life journey seems similar to your own at a core human level, then I am writing this text especially for you. Perhaps I will be able to provide a small piece of information or advice that you have overlooked, and perhaps this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I have had many small catalysts in my life, and perhaps this text will serve as one for you.
But language is a very poor tool for communicating these ideas because language is a linear code, and these are very complex interwoven concepts. Perhaps you will grasp these concepts faster than I did, but, for me, understanding them was by far the most difficult thing I have ever accomplished in my life. I wish to make this universal process of understanding easier for others by explaining what helped me reach it. But it is best to view this text as a starting point rather than as an answer in and of itself.
This text is ultimately a “how to” guide for finding God within yourself. I have personally done it. I did not seek out this particular destination; I only sought to understand reality at my highest capacity. For nearly my entire adult life, I believed this reality to be that God does not exist at all.
I will explain every major life event and important piece of evidence that led me to arrive at my conclusions -- both adopting atheism at age 13 and abandoning it at age 29. You will be free to judge for yourself, and I will not fault anyone for their conclusions. If I had read this text at the age of 28, I am quite certain that I would have tossed it aside and dismissed it. I likely would have ridiculed it as well.
This text will never ask that you actually DO anything. It won’t require that you alter any of your behavior in the slightest, nor will it judge anything you’re currently doing or thinking. All it asks is that you THINK about things, and possibly do some research. You will have to think very long and very hard about a few things in particular, and they might seem unrelated to the end goal. But I assure you, everything here is related, including the autobiographical details.
Though I independently came to understand most of the things I will describe, I am far from the first person to do so, so I can take no credit for discovering the overall process (I’m the equivalent of Columbus landing on American shores after the Native Americans had already been living on the continent for thousands of years). My focus, rather, is to explain what the basics are, how I came across them, how they related to my life, how I applied it all, what the difficulties were, and, ultimately, what the results were. I will try to explain everything in words that would have made the most sense to me personally a couple of years ago. My hope is that this will help guide others who are undertaking or considering undertaking this same timeless mental journey.
You will need to “slay your inner demons.” You will need to deeply analyze yourself and objectively understand why you do everything that you do, without judgment. You will need to see yourself as others see you. You will need to understand and empathize with others to such a non-judgmental degree that not a single person or general group of people in your entire life can cause your blood pressure to rise when you think about them. You must understand and conquer your fears if they regularly impede your mental state. You will need to maintain a calm state of serenity for extended periods. You will need to emotionally detach yourself from your ego and all Earthly pain and desire. You must be able to clear your mind and enter a deep meditative state. You will need to embrace love in all its forms. You will need to understand the essence of the human spirit. And you will need to do a lot of reading and research. A LOT of reading and research. Again, this text is only a starting point.
The ultimate point behind all of these mental exercises is to separate your consciousness from your ego. In this video
, Jim Carrey summarizes what I hope to help people experience firsthand. When you read through my text, reflect on your own life, reflect on your own thoughts, reflect on your own ego, and ask yourself, "Who is aware of these things? Who is that silent watcher of everything that passes through the mind?"
And these are only the points that most helped me personally -- it is not critical that you follow my advice exactly, just so long as you understand the gist of it. Read between the lines of what I’m saying whenever possible.
Truly understanding oneself is extremely difficult. We are trapped within our own minds and our own perspectives.
Start by thinking about childhood. It’s easier to see your child self from an outsider’s perspective because kids do crazy things, and sometimes the details of an event are more memorable than what you were thinking at the time. And kids are like miniature adults. Many of their core character traits carry over into adulthood, albeit in more “mature” expressions.
For example, here’s what I remember most about my childhood: I had a lot of pets, my family went on a lot of outdoorsy trips, I never did any of my homework, I argued and fought back against authority figures when I felt “wronged,” I suffered from chronic depression, I was always quiet in class, I got into heated arguments about the Sega Genesis being better than the Super Nintendo (opinion since retracted), I once shoved a kid because he was destroying an anthill (later rationalizing it to my mother by explaining that I was bigger than him), I consistently scored 99%ile on standardized math tests and spent most of math class explaining concepts to others, I loved video games, I had one best friend I saw every day, I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up, I thought a lot about God (developing Calvinistic views on my own), and the highlight of every summer was rescuing dried-up tadpoles from puddles near my house and nurturing them into frogs for release back into the wild.
Think about your own childhood. What events stand out? What do your parents seem to remember most? Are there any especially noticeable patterns that might reveal something about who you are as a person even today?
As for myself, I still have an affinity for animals, and I can’t stand seeing them mistreated. I still love nature. I procrastinated terribly on everything in college, and I didn’t attend most of my classes. It was only a few years after college that I discovered how much I legitimately loved learning on my own. The school environment just isn’t for me.
I still have issues with authority figures. I’m a strong social libertarian with a bitter view toward politicians and police. I’ve been unnecessarily rude during traffic stops. I still suffer from depression, and I’m still very much an introvert. I’ve since abandoned the concept of brand loyalty, but it did persist into my adulthood. I’m still naturally good at math -- I picked up the stock market very easily, and after a few years of intense study/practice I figured out how to systematically short-sell hedged pairs of leveraged ETFs and volatility ETNs, which now generates the majority of my income.
I still love video games. It’s my passion at work and a hobby at home. I love analyzing game design, and I’ve become an authority on designing meta achievements. I’m married to my best friend, and there’s no one else I’d rather spend each day with. I still love science; I keep up with modern cosmology and adopt the scientific method for my own thought process in everyday life. I never stopped thinking about God a lot, albeit mostly from an atheist perspective with a condescending attitude toward anyone belonging to a religion.
Think about your life now. In what ways are you similar to how you were as a child? In what ways are you different? This can reveal a lot about yourself. Are there any negative traits from childhood that carried over to adulthood for irrational reasons? Just because you’ve always acted a certain way doesn’t mean it needs to be a part of who you are. Maybe there was a specific reason you acted a certain way as a child, but as an adult this same behavior is an illogical detriment to your life. Re-examine everything you can with a critical eye. Perhaps you were held back from something as a child, and you indulge in it now. Is this something that adds value to your life now, or are you merely doing it because you can?
Analyze yourself as honestly as you possibly can. Understand why you did the things you did. Understand why others reacted the way they did. Try to imagine being someone else and interacting with a very emotional version of yourself during a particularly memorable life event.
BELIEF IN GOD
I believed in God up until I was about 13 years old. I suppose you could say that I had an active personal relationship with God, in that I was constantly sending my thoughts and desires up to him. I think all of us just naturally have inner dialogues with ourselves, so it’s nice imagining that the all-powerful creator of the universe is listening in on the other side somewhere.
But I also thought a lot about the properties of God. The way I understood it, God knew everything. I’ve always had a very deterministic view of the world, so my belief was that if you knew EVERYTHING, down to the exact speed and location of every last atom in the entire universe, then you should know what the future is too, since the universe must follow a logical course of cause and effect. I didn’t believe that humans truly had free will, but I did wonder if God would be willing to alter the course of a set timeline if I prayed hard enough.
I attended a weeklong after-school Bible camp when I was about 8 years old. The adults preached Bible stories, had us make Jesus fish artwork, and held small group discussions about particular Biblical lessons.
They focussed a lot on sinning. We talked about all the things that were sins and all the stuff we weren’t allowed to do. The list is pretty long! They made it clear that Jesus Christ was the only one without sin, and without him, our sins would not be forgiven. I thought it was a little odd that a person could live literally without a single sin. There was one story where Jesus mind-controls some fish into a net, and it seemed like killing an animal would at least account for a sin on SOME level, especially if you had the capacity to replicate bread.
One day they put a bright orange flyer in all the children’s cubbies. The flyer had a giant picture of a flaming stick figure with giant, all-caps text that simply read, “YOU ARE A SINNER. YOU DESERVE PUNISHMENT IN HELL.” That was all it said. Nothing else. On some level it really frightened me because I believed it was true. My mom assured me that, as an 8-year-old, my sins were not so great as to condemn my soul to eternal suffering.
During one particular Bible camp discussion, we went around a circle and had to explain what we were most thankful for from God. Most of the children listed their parents, or specific events, or pets, or other kid-stuff. When it was my turn, I explained that I was thankful for The Bible. It contained so much information that we couldn’t possibly obtain through any other means, I explained. At the time I believed it was all true, and I was sincerely grateful to have such a wealth of information about the paranormal. I studied Bible stories a lot, and I believed that they were critical pieces of divine information.
Near the end of the camp, we were told that we would have to formally accept Jesus Christ into our hearts as our lord and savior. We did this publicly, and I did it with much sincerity. We were told that this was the only way our souls could be saved. But once we had done it, we were guaranteed a ticket up in heaven. What a relief! We were instructed to proudly share this information with our family. But it took me a few weeks to work up the courage to tell my mom that I had accepted Jesus into my heart and that I was destined for heaven -- something about the words exiting my mouth made my feel deeply uneasy. Was this really how God worked?
In 7th grade I had a teacher named Bob (we called our teachers by their first names). He was the coolest teacher I ever had. He was funny and energetic. He told fascinating life stories about his outdoor adventures, and he was friendly and kind to all his students. I grew particularly close to him. He encouraged my writing more than anyone ever had, and in many ways he was like a father figure to me.
I somehow knew that he was a “humanist,” but I didn’t understand what this meant. During one particular class project, we had to research various religions and give oral reports on them. I was assigned humanism. I knew Bob was a humanist, so I was especially excited about researching what it was.
I had a miniature heart attack within minutes of research when I learned that humanists don’t believe in God. No, that had to be wrong, I thought. Everyone believes in God. God is God. I felt guilty just learning that such an outlook even existed. I continued studying humanism, and I wrote up my report.
I can’t describe how nervous I was when it was my turn to present. I had to explain what humanism was, and I had to tell the whole class that they didn’t believe in God. Everyone would know that Bob doesn’t believe that God exists! I wondered if perhaps I had made a mistake in my research. What if Bob really did believe in God, and he would be furious at me for even daring to mention such beliefs in a room filled with children?
But Bob beamed with pride as I gave my report. And his smile even seemed to beam just a little bit more when I talked about how humanists emphasize the human spirit and human potential without the need for a higher power. I was relieved when my presentation concluded without incident.
But it got me thinking. So Bob really doesn’t believe in God? But he’s so happy and nice and smart. Surely he wouldn’t be condemned to eternal suffering just for his THOUGHTS, right?
This was the crack that started everything. I talked a lot about God and Christianity with a few of my friends. I started talking more critically -- explaining the stories that don’t make sense, like Noah’s Ark and Jonah in the whale. I was surprised by the reaction. This was not acceptable! Everything had to be true, even the stuff that obviously wasn’t. I got frustrated. I prefaced conversations by saying, yes, I was a Christian, but clearly XYZ doesn’t make any sense. I found that as time went on, the “XYZ” list just got longer and longer. Eventually I had to ask -- is there even any evidence for God at all?
Just having this thought as a religious person can be a bit scary. After all, God can read your mind, and he demands total faith at all times. One mental slip-up and you never know when a bolt of lightning will appear.
But I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to allow my mind to critically examine religion and God. Once I crossed this threshold, my faith disappeared within weeks. The concept of God seemed a lot like Santa Claus -- something you just naturally grow out of once you give it a bit of thought.
HIGH SCHOOL ATHEISM
By freshman year of high school, I was a full-blown atheist, and I didn’t care who knew it. I debated my peers constantly. Everyone wanted to argue with the token atheist. Mostly they just wanted to tell me that I was going to hell, but plenty of debates arose as well. Each one deepened my conviction.
“You really believe we came from monkeys?” came the frequent question with a sneer. My (public) school never once taught a word of evolution through honors biology, but I had a firm understanding of the concept from an early age (thanks to my mom), and I never even entertained the possibility that evolution could be false even when I was a deeply religious child. I just assumed evolution had to be the way God worked.
I learned other things, too. My classmates were deeply against gay marriage for religious reasons. “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” one student argued in my English class to a round of applause. I’ve been in favor of gay marriage since I knew it existed, so this perspective baffled my mind in particular. It seemed directly contradictory to Jesus’s core message, yet Christians embraced it with everything they had.
People would frequently begin arguments with “wouldn’t you rather...” as if my preferences had any bearing on reality. I didn’t care about what the nice truth was. I wanted the real truth. I explained that I am driven to understand what is most likely to be true and not merely what is the most comfortable truth.
Then there was Pascal’s Wager. Man oh man did I hate the Pascal’s Wager argument. “Better safe than sorry,” people would comment. If you believe in God and he’s real, then you’re in heaven. If you believe in him and he’s not real, then no big loss. But if you’re an atheist, you lose extra big in the former scenario and the situation is the same in the latter scenario.
The problem with Pascal’s Wager is threefold. First, we can’t control what we truly believe. If you told me that you’d give me $1 million right now if I believed that there was a pink elephant in the room, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I could imagine a pink elephant in the room, but I wouldn’t be able to truly believe it was there, even if I desperately wanted to in order to claim the $1 million prize.
Second, you can’t just believe whoever threatens you the most. What if I created a religion with a hell that’s 10 times worse than the Christian one? You’d be better off believing in that religion instead, right? Maybe believe in both to hedge your bets.
And third, if you’re at this point, you’ve already lost it. I knew that God commanded absolute obedience, and as a kid I knew I’d never be able to get away with “believing” in God “just in case.” He’d know what I was doing! He’d be able to see the bottom of my heart, and I’d already be condemned to hell even if I claimed to hold a belief in God.
Oh, and the anecdotes. People loved to tell stories about their personal lives where coincidental events seemed to line up and prove that God exists. This one's easy to explain -- we all see ourselves as the "main character" in our own life story, and we attach meaning to a lot of little events that are, objectively, quite meaningless.
On top of that, we have a bias for noticing the things that DO happen while ignoring the things that DON'T happen. We tend to cling to the times our prayers are answered and ignore the times when they're not. It seems that street lights go out especially often when we walk by them because we notice all the times that street lights go out, but we don't notice all the times when they stay on.
And yes, my last two paragraphs directly apply to myself and this very text when it comes to my current belief in God. The irony of these preceding statements does not escape me, and it should not escape you either. It is possible that I am seeing meaning in my own life where there is none, but this is just one of many facts that I have already taken into consideration, and this effect alone does not disprove anything any more than it proves anything. My personal life events only led me to discover evidence that is outside of my personal life story, and I will later explain how you can find this evidence in your own life too.
There were many other topics of debate, too. "Well, where did the Big Bang come from?" people would ask. I would explain that the scientific theories of the Big Bang did not seek to explain what happened beforehand, much like evolution only explains the origin of species, not the origin of life (hence the title of Darwin's book).
Some religious people felt that they had me with this one. "Aha! God is and always was! Checkmate!" But how did this explain anything at all? The spontaneous origin of energy or simple self-replicating DNA strands seemed a lot more plausible to me than the spontaneous origin of a god with infinite knowledge and power (albeit power with seemingly arbitrary restrictions).
What about morality? People asked me what was stopping me from going on a killing spree if there was no punishment of hell. Arguing against this one is easier. I would just bring up the story of Abraham. Would you murder your own son if a voice in your head told you to? Even Christians seemed to agree that they wouldn't. Perhaps morality had a source outside of a violent book written thousands of years ago. And acts of kindness that are only made under a simple punishment/reward structure seem a lot less genuine to me than kindness made for sincere desire to have a positive impact on the world. In fact, I would argue that religion merely cheapens the whole thing, and the evidence supports this -- violent crime around the world correlates with religion, not atheism.
But I can't claim that I debated like a wise philosopher all the time. I was frequently a bit of a jerk. I would proudly wear my T-shirt to school that had the text, "God WAS my copilot, but we crashed in the mountains and I had to eat him." It featured a smiley face with a napkin near his mouth. Sometimes I would argue by telling people that I believed in all the old Greek gods. When my fellow students would start talking about how ridiculous this is, I would raise an eyebrow and suggest that perhaps their same logic could apply to their own god and their own religion. I was merciless.
I learned to debate calmly and rationally, but not always respectfully. My feelings of negativity toward religion deepened as each year wore on. I began to see it as anti-science ignorance coated with bigotry. I developed a firm belief that simply acting good for reward later was the antithesis of genuine morality, and I saw religion as an overall driver of evil rather than good across the globe.
I developed increasingly negative views toward religious people as well. It seemed like religious people and religious groups always lagged behind society in general on moral issues. My explanation for this was that simpler minds gravitated toward religion in the first place, and it was difficult for them to act morally as a group when they didn’t have a firm grasp of what true morality even is.
People frequently accused me of “hating God,” or acting out of spite. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I loved the idea of God, and I loved Jesus’s message. I desperately wanted heaven to exist. I just did a lot of research and critical thinking before coming to the conclusion that it was all fictional. And not only fictional, but a detriment to society at large. People make irrational decisions when they hold irrational beliefs, especially if these beliefs are attributed to God. I saw that atheism was gradually spreading throughout society, and I wanted to help with that spread in any way that I could. This was also one of the reasons for later writing God's Assassin.
I lost my belief in magic/supernatural stuff even before I lost my belief in God. When I was about 10, a childhood friend asked if I believed in magic. “No,” I replied, before quickly adding, “well, except for religious stuff.”
So when God left my belief system at age 13, so did any concept of a soul or existence outside of the physical human body. Even as a religious child, I believed that our brains operated in the physical realm to the degree that God could predict all our future actions if he knew exactly where all of our neurons were and exactly how many of each atom there was of each chemical in each location.
During a group project in high school with mostly girls, the topic of love inevitably came up. The girls described love in mostly romantic terms -- using words like “soul mate” and “true love.” I asserted that love was only a chemical illusion that existed to propagate our species. One of the girls threw a pillow at me.
I went to college and double-majored in psychology and human development. By this point I was fascinated with how the brain worked. I wanted to understand both the physical structure and the psychological inner-workings. I learned a lot about cognitive psychology and what each part of the brain does, which really strengthened my belief in mechanism. I wondered how anyone could possibly believe that humans held thoughts outside of their physical brains when damage to the physical brain clearly had such enormous (and predictable) impacts on a person’s thoughts.
For example, language is localized almost entirely in the left hemisphere. Sometimes people have seizures so bad that they need an entire hemisphere of their brain removed. Children are especially talented at picking up language, so if you remove the left hemisphere of a child before the age of about 13, they’ll usually be okay. But if you remove the left hemisphere from an adult, language is likely to be lost entirely.
And there are dozens more examples like this. Brain damage to the frontal lobe clearly had enormous impacts on an individual’s personality. It made me question who we really are as human beings. Are we really just a bag of chemicals following a deterministic flow of physical cause and effect? All the evidence seemed to indicate so.
I had one professor who really stood out -- Professor Levenson. He taught the Adulthood and Aging class in human development at UC Davis. If not for him, I probably wouldn’t have added human development as my second major. I loved his enthusiastic speaking style and unique brand of humor. During a time when I slept through most of my classes (if I wasn’t skipping them entirely), I sat upright in the front row of his, hanging on his every word. I got an A in the class without having to take any notes -- I couldn’t forget a word that man said even if I wanted to.
He brought up an unusual study once. He explained that prayer (or just the direction of positive thoughts) toward a person would help with a healing process, even if the sick person didn’t know that they were being prayed for. Self-healing with a positive attitude was already well accepted, but no one wanted to accept this study. He said that it was repeatedly replicated, and it had become the elephant in the room.
Even with how much I loved Professor Levenson, I felt incredibly uncomfortable during this entire topic. There had to be some piece of information that he was leaving out. I dismissed the information entirely as an outlier in a field of otherwise mechanistic data.
Sometime a few weeks later, I randomly bumped into Professor Levenson at Starbucks. I struck up a conversation (this is saying a LOT for me) and told him how much I liked his class. We chatted for a while, and agreed to continue our conversation during an office visit.
Once we got talking in his office, he explained his biggest frustration to me. No one wanted to study consciousness. No one even wanted to acknowledge that consciousness existed. How did it fit into the field of science? Psychology and human development were already “soft” social sciences even when they treated the brain as a cold machine. Factoring in conscious thoughts just threw a monkey wrench into the whole system, and no one would touch it with a 10-foot pole.
“But it exists! I’m conscious!” he asserted. “Well, maybe you’re the only one!” I joked back. But it was true. I graduated with degrees in both psychology and human development without anyone talking about consciousness. Conscious thoughts were measured, sure. There were studies about how fast people could recall information, and there was one particularly interesting study that showed people will count numbers in their head slower if the name of the number is longer in their native language (ie, people sound out the word “forty-five” in their heads rather than simply thinking of the number as a concept, so if the word for “forty-five” is longer in your language, then you will count more slowly).
But no one would dare address what consciousness really is, or where it comes from, or what the implications are for us as human beings. It was as if consciousness was beyond the realm of science, even to those who study the human brain.
Years later, an electrician came to my house and we got to talking about supernatural stuff. He explained his belief in God, ghosts, alien UFOs, and various other paranormal activity. I asserted that I did not believe in anything paranormal. “Nothing?” he asked. “No, nothing,” I confirmed. This seemed to baffle him. He kept pressing. There had to be SOMETHING beyond the realm of empirical data that I held to be true. “Nope,” was my only reply.
But this electrician wouldn’t let it go. He kept pressing. “Is there ANYTHING in your whole life that you even give SOME consideration to that can’t be easily explained by science?” he asked. At this point I just wanted to give him something. So I told him about the study Professor Levenson described. I guess it never really left the back of my mind.
But I still didn’t believe it then, and I’m not sure I believe it now either. I’m only just now researching the effects of prayer on healing for the purposes of writing this text, and the data seems inconclusive. Studies from around the time I went to college seem more positive than more recent studies, but the consensus seems to be that there is no effect of prayer on healing.
I do think the methodologies of these studies are somewhat at odds with the ideal circumstances for success, though. From what I understand now, if healing through prayer/positive thoughts really does have a positive effect on recovery from illness, then the prayer would likely need to come from a close friend/relative in close physical proximity. This throws the possibility of a control group out the window, so I’m not sure how else you could get empirical data. The “prayer” would also need to be a very specific meditative state of mind, which would be impossible to verify.
But why did I wait until now to research this? I wanted to know the truth then as much as I do now. Or at least I thought I did. I independently researched topics brought up in classes all the time, so why did I never do a simple Google search after hearing information that made me feel so deeply uncomfortable?
I realize now how fundamentally difficult it is to research something that challenges our own worldview, even for someone who seeks only truth. If I had heard about this study from anyone other than Professor Levenson, I’m sure I would have looked it up 5 minutes later. I would’ve focused on the negative studies and found reasons to dismiss the positive ones, and my mechanistic worldview would be perfectly intact.
But in reality, I ALSO had the worldview that Professor Levenson was the most awesome professor who ever lived, and he would never dare give inaccurate information in an upper-division college course in a University of California classroom. So I was in a lose/lose mental situation -- one of these two opposing worldviews was likely to be shattered if I allowed myself to have too much information.
But no matter how uncomfortable it might be, these are the exact sorts of situations that require new information and critical thinking the most.
I have suffered from depression for as long as I can remember. I didn’t really understand what it was when I was a kid. I just knew that I always felt like I had a heavy weight on my shoulders, and I didn’t seem to enjoy life as much as I should have. Some days I just felt so dead inside that I could hardly do anything at all. It was very difficult for me to talk about, and it was difficult for my parents to understand what was going on. I was pressured to “stop acting mopey all the time,” which made the situation worse.
If you are someone who suffers from depression, I would highly recommend that you deeply analyze how it influences your thoughts and behavior. I know that’s really difficult. And for me, on some level, I wanted the depression to be there. I felt like I deserved it, and I had it for so long that it felt like a core part of my personality. In a masochistic way, I welcomed the particularly dark episodes. This made it especially difficult to seek help, even when I rationally knew that I needed it.
I now believe that my root cause for depression was purely related to brain chemistry. The truth is that my life has never really been particularly painful or hard. The depression just kept following me through my life, no matter how good things got. And my life, objectively, just kept getting better and better every single year. I could stave it off for a few months if my life was going especially well, but the depression always caught up to me. It always won in the end. My life could be perfect and I could still be miserable. It was often difficult to overcome, and suicidal thoughts were never far away.
I refused to consider medication. This was irrational. I had my reasons -- I didn’t want to get dependent on prescriptions, and I was worried about the effects they would have on my mind and body. And I never really knew what it was like to NOT be depressed. It seemed like I would be killing my personality and replacing it with someone else’s. In my mind, I had built an identity around depression, and a lot of other nasty side effects that came along with it -- low self-esteem, passive-aggressive behavior, excessive victimhood, low motivation, terrible sleep habits, an inability to internalize any accomplishments, a complete inability to even look at myself in a mirror (I shaved in the shower with soap), awful posture, a tendency to mutter under my breath with no confidence in what I was saying, bouts of self-destructive behavior, excessive rumination of past embarrassing events, a complete inability to accept love from others, complete detachment from music (I never listened to any at all until well after college), terrible body maintenance habits, extreme introversion, and a distorted view of myself being rejected by social circles that actively worked to include me.
There were so many problems in my life that were attributed to depression, yet I never did anything to address it. The problem with having depression is that a lack of motivation to better oneself is such a core symptom that seeking help is a tremendous internal hurdle. In other words, you would need to not be depressed in the first place to be in the mindset that’s required to seriously seek help.
I was 26 years old when I finally managed to work up the resolve to bring up my depression to a doctor. I was there for other reasons, and my honeymoon was coming up, so I was in a particularly normal mood. His reaction was, “Why are you depressed? It sounds like your life is great!” And that was about as far as it went.
Yeah, my life was great. Perfect, even -- and I knew it at the time. But I couldn’t enjoy it. That was the problem, and I’ve learned that it’s a very difficult concept for people without depression to understand. It was like everything in my life was happening outside of a window, and I was just watching it go by with no direct involvement.
Having a psychological problem is very difficult, but in hindsight I realize now that it caused me to blame people for a lot of things that they really didn’t deserve any blame for. When I was a kid, I swore that if I ever had a child of my own with depression, I would know exactly what to say and exactly how to handle it. But depression is just one of many psychological disorders that a child can have. What if I had a child with Tourette’s? Or Asperger's? Or ADHD? Or obsessive-compulsive disorder? I probably wouldn’t have a clue. Just because I had a close-up understanding of depression didn’t mean that those around me had this same understanding, and it took me a long time to really internalize this fact.
Always analyze your own behavior. If there’s one particular personality disorder you have that leads to a lot of problems in your life, try to understand that others don’t have the same insight into this disorder that you do. But also understand that this disorder is the cause of YOUR behavior as well. Try to see yourself through the eyes of a psychologist closely monitoring your actions and taking copious notes. What would they jot down?
These are not comfortable thoughts to have, but you must have them deep within yourself for your own understanding.
DEATH AND SUICIDE
There was a period during my adolescent life when I obsessed about suicide a lot. I was incredibly depressed, I had no friends, I had severe medical problems that I was too embarrassed to tell anyone about, I was physically bullied, and my thoughts were purely of self-loathing nature. The actual process of suicide scared me, and I didn’t wish to hurt those around me. But I very much wanted to not exist anymore, so it became a fantasy anyway.
I had a suicide note planned out. I wanted to apologize to my family for doing what I had done, but I also wanted them to understand that I was better off. It was sincerely what I wanted to happen. I had no interest in crying for help; I just wanted to not be alive anymore. Suicide seemed like a very rational decision, and even today I might still consider it a rational decision if my outlook on life were the same now as it was then.
Years later, I studied children’s suicide notes in a psychology class. They were shockingly similar to the one I had planned in my mind. I didn’t kill myself, but I deeply understood the children who did.
My life has been filled with 180-degree reversals. I went from embracing the concept of death to fearing it with everything I had. Meeting my wife was the catalyst of this. She is the love of my life -- the only girl I’ve ever kissed, and the only person I knew, deep down, I needed to share my life with. She gave me a reason to live, and the idea that my consciousness would one day disappear made me sad and terrified on a level I had never known before.
I think this is a lot of people’s problem with atheism. They don’t understand how the mind can just stop entirely after death. People in high school would always ask me what happens after you die. “Nothing,” I would explain. “Remember before you were born? It’s like that.”
This concept gets scarier and scarier the more you think about it, because when you think really hard about it, you’re using a lot of brain power that you know will one day cease to exist.
One day I drank a little too much caffeine as a non-user, and I had a panic attack in a restaurant. I was certain that I was going to die. My chest seemed to be squeezing my vital organs with incredible pressure, and I couldn’t imagine how I would live through it.
I was fine, but completely shaken for a month afterward. I couldn’t stop obsessing about death. I would randomly break out in tears, holding my wife tightly around my arms and bawling about how I could never let her go. She would assure me that we had our whole lives together, but that wasn’t enough. A million years didn’t seem like it would be enough. I had to be with her forever, however selfish and unrealistic I rationally knew this desire to be.
It was incredibly difficult for me to really accept on a deep level that I was going to die, my mind would no longer exist, and everything I loved would disappear from reality. I wrote short stories to try to cope with the pain. One story was about a fictional reality in which no one can truly die, because after they die, somewhere, sometime in the universe, an exact replica of their mind would be reproduced (if only by sheer chance), and they would simply experience entering that body after death. The idea was sort of like the Star Trek transporter system plus random chance and infinite time/space. It was called “The Afterlife.”
This concept of an afterlife brought some minimal comfort, but I knew it wasn’t true. I had to conquer the reality of what we all face.
I bought a 300cc scooter (for all practical purposes, a motorcycle). As a shy introvert, general life experiences are a bit more overwhelming for me than they are for other people. It took a lot of time and courage, but I eventually worked up to using my scooter to commute to work in San Francisco using the freeway. It was terrifying at first, but I got used to it... mostly.
The great thing about riding a scooter/motorcycle is that it demands your full attention. Your mind can’t be wandering; you have to be focusing 100% on the road. It’s pure conscious awareness without any words flowing through your mind. In a way it’s very meditative. And because you’re going so fast so close to the ground right out in the open, and because cars will so frequently merge right into you, you’re very aware that you could crash and die at any moment. Or at least I was -- I still have the scar on my left hip from my first scooter accident.
So I thought a lot about the possibility that I could die during each morning and evening commute. My wife would listen to the radio and get worried when she heard about motorcycle accidents. But I just felt so ALIVE while I was riding. Riding a motorcycle is like a drug in more ways than one -- it’s a little scary at first, but strangely euphoric. You push it a little harder, a little faster, and it feels a little better. But it takes more and more to get that same thrill. And then you find yourself breaking boundaries that you swore you never would. First I would ride a scooter, but not on the freeway. And I would NEVER go between cars for any reason! Flash forward to a few years later, and I’m whizzing between lanes in rush hour traffic on the freeway into San Francisco.
I would frequently ask myself, “If I’m not going to be truly alive now, when will I ever be alive at all?” That’s what kept me riding. I was terrified of death, but I knew it was coming eventually, and I wanted to squeeze in every last minute of “truly alive” time I possibly could before death came.
Dangers aside, it was the absolute best thing I could have possibly done for myself. Not only did it give my mind a chance to clear for a stretch of time each day, but it also helped me accept death. Whether it happens in 10 minutes or in 60 years, each of us will face death. I knew that I was never going to naturally be ready for it. I had to step outside my comfort zone and really reflect on it before I could condition my brain to stop being so terrified of it all the time.
After a few months I reached a calm, peaceful acceptance of the fact that one day my consciousness would cease to exist.
My earliest political view as a child was the firm belief that tobacco products should be outlawed. I understood the health ramifications of smoking, and I was certain that my father wouldn’t live another 5 years if he continued smoking his tobacco pipe. One day (after about a month of mental rehearsing), I worked up the courage to say he should quit. It was a friend who sold me on the idea. My father said he would, but he didn’t until years later. I didn’t really understand addiction, and I thought the clear answer here was to outlaw the product.
I argued this point vocally on the playground. My friends had parents who smoked, and I was baffled when they weren’t on board with my brilliant policy plan. “My mom would probably kill anyone who took away her cigarettes,” one friend joked. They seemed unconcerned with the health effects.
I was very anti-drug as a child. I wore the anti-drug pledge bracelet with pride and questioned why we didn’t have harsher legal penalties for dealers. It was clearly a scourge that needed to be wiped from the country, and I had no respect for people who chose to destroy their own bodies with toxic chemicals just to numb their minds. It made me sick.
The teachers in middle school kept promising us that we WOULD be offered drugs at some point. That was the whole point of the education -- just saying no!
I was mentally prepared for just how adamantly I would say no when the situation arose. But it never did. I was almost kind of insulted -- I had several friends who smoked pot in high school, and they never so much as offered! But even if they would have, I would have said no. Hell, I actually did say no to pot in COLLEGE (and even then, I only had to twice). I guess my friends just knew me too well.
But by college my social libertarian views were starting to form a bit more strongly, and this carried over to a more lenient view of drug laws as well.
After college I started researching the topic a bit more thoroughly. Within months, I had done a complete reversal from my original position. I saw the data for how badly the war on drugs had failed, and I understood that the effects of any substance prohibition are just as bad as the effects of alcohol prohibition -- more organized violent crime, more police infrastructure, higher costs to taxpayers, no effect on abuse rates, and reduced human freedoms. The thought of putting someone in prison for a decision they made with their own body was starting to bother me more and more as well.
I kept researching, and the more I learned, the more strongly my opinion formed that substance prohibition as a concept is a dismal failure and an immoral drain on society. It’s disproportionately enforced on people of color, making the racial inequalities in this country even worse than I had already imagined them to be.
I was called in for jury duty on a meth possession case one day, and it made me angry. REALLY angry. The longer I sat in that room and thought about all the legal proceedings that were unfolding just to take away a man’s freedom at the taxpayer’s expense because he possessed a chemical and hurt no one. I was furious at the system on a level I didn’t know was within me. When I was called as a juror, I stated very clearly to the courtroom that I would have no part in sentencing a man for such a victimless crime. I was promptly dismissed, but I later regretted not staying on the jury on to help the defendant retain his freedom regardless of the evidence against him. This will be my future course of action should the situation arise again in my life.
The war on drugs became my top political issue. I stopped voting Democrat, opting for Green or Libertarian instead. I argued on internet forums for hours on end. It made my blood boil. How could people not see what an obvious mistake this policy was? It was just so obvious once you acquired enough information -- educated scholars on both ends of the political system were in agreement, yet the oblivious public was hell-bent on a brainless “drugs are bad, mmmkay” approach to policy with no consideration for what the actual effects of carrying out this policy were.
It’s easy to develop a lot of anger and resentment toward the general population when you so strongly hold a specific view that you know is unpopular. Combine this with my feelings of negativity toward police in general, and the result was a lot of mental fantasies akin to the ear-cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs.
The funny thing about all this is that I was still very anti-drug use. I still had never even tried pot, and I had no interest in it. I figured I was already tired and hungry all the time, so why make it worse? It was funny to me how many people automatically assumed that I had to be a drug user if I so passionately argued in favor of legalization. It wasn’t about my personal lifestyle, though. I just thought I had found a truth that needed to be shared. And, in fact, I held a certain level of resentment toward people who smoked pot but believed that other substances should still be prohibited.
In 2011, my wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I was devastated. A few months after the diagnosis, we talked about getting her a medical marijuana card. We decided it would be a good idea, especially after a recent study came out showing cannabis to have neuroregenerative properties in MS patients (I believe these findings may have since been retracted). I cautiously agreed to obtain a card as well so I could enter dispensaries with her. I used my depression to obtain a card, and I finally got a chance to try the drug I had already spent so many years arguing needed to be legalized.
I cannot speak to the effects of cannabis on anyone other than myself. My understanding is that with some depressed individuals, cannabis can dramatically worsen the symptoms. And there are negative effects of the drug -- I frequently fell asleep on the couch early in the evening, and writing under the influence was initially impossible. It certainly played a role in the 3-year gap between Thousand Dollar Soul and God’s Assassin.
But more significant than this, it helped my depression greatly. I only vaped during evenings, and the high only lasts an hour or two, but the benefits to my depression would last well into the next day. My life really started to turn around for the better. I was in a better mood, I started exercising more, my general outlook on life was more upbeat, and my general state of mind started to improve. These effects fed back into each other, and after a year I felt like a different person. The irony here is that I stopped arguing about drug legalization once I actually started using them. I guess I just got mellowed out a bit.
This is not a blanket endorsement of cannabis. It has some real negative effects on younger developing brains, and I think I was better off for not discovering it until after college. But this is an endorsement for treating depression with medication if that depression is legitimately due to a chemical imbalance. There is just no reason to suffer so much from something so preventable. My emotional development had a real chance to grow during this new period because all the nasty side effects from the depression were starting to fade out of my life, even if only by a little bit. But it was an encouraging catalyst that drove me to continue my own self-betterment.
My tremendously positive experience with cannabis opened my mind to other substances as well. I wasn’t interested in anything harmful, but psychedelics caught my attention. I researched them and learned that they were far more harmless than I previously believed.
A friend helped me access psilocybin mushrooms, and aside from some intense nausea, the experience was great. The best way to describe mushrooms to someone who’s never used it is simply that mushrooms magnify your reality tenfold. Everything is more intense. Colors are more intense, and your brain starts working in overdrive. All your mental filters are stripped away, and it’s as if you’re viewing the world for the first time through alien eyes. Everything just seems so bizarre and weird. I was fixated on traffic lights and how insane it is that they exist. Everything about existence just seemed so amazing. It altered my perspective on reality long after the effects were gone. The question of "What did you do over the weekend?" seems incredibly weird when I'm in a mushroom mindset. I just want to answer back, "What did I do?! I existed as a human being on planet Earth! What could possibly be more incredible than that?"
Sometime in late 2012 I watched the documentary “DMT: The Spirit Molecule.”
Everything about DMT intrigued me. The experiences just sounded so crazy, and the people who’d done it were so convinced that the experiences were somehow real. I didn’t get a lot of visual effects on mushrooms, and I never saw anything that wasn’t there. I never lost my grip on reality, but the people in this documentary seemed like the drug had driven them bonkers. I researched DMT and learned that it’s not addictive or neurotoxic. The drug is naturally produced in our own brains (especially while dreaming), and tolerance is completely reset after a single hour. I knew I had to try it.
There was one guy in the documentary who caught my attention. The only reasonable guy, I thought. He was the one insisting that people’s drug experiences weren’t “real.” Well, obviously they’re not “real,” I joked. Yet somehow people seemed skeptical of this. I couldn’t get over how hilarious it was that people would go on a documentary, look straight in a camera, and assert that there was some real element to what was obviously a drug-induced hallucination. The users claimed that they felt a very strong higher presence, like aliens that made humans seem like ants by comparison. Being the strong mechanist that I was, I wanted to experience it for myself so I could side with Team Rational.
My New Year’s resolution for 2013 was gaining reliable access to psychedelics. I quickly learned how incredibly easy this is, and DMT was first on my list to try. But it’s a very difficult drug to actually use. The taste is awful (like burning plastic), and it really knocks you out. But you have to inhale enough to “pierce the veil” before you’re knocked to the floor. I kept trying, unsuccessfully. I got mild visual distortions, and reality seemed to bear down on me like I was standing right under a fire alarm going off. It was very intense and highly unpleasant. After several attempts I never got anything particularly vivid, and I never felt any kind of outside presence. I wondered if perhaps DMT was a better drug in theory than in practice.
But I kept trying! I muscled through a lot of really unpleasant experiences before I finally managed to get the process down. During my first major DMT breakthrough experience, I was transported to a park that looked very much like the painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” Even the dotted paint style was there. A friendly man was driving an old-time car with a small dog in his lap, and he smiled at me. People were generally friendly in this hallucination, but I didn’t get the feeling of a higher presence. I did, however, get a strong feeling that I was somewhere else. It felt very much like a hyper-aware state of lucid dreaming. This makes sense, since DMT is the primary brain chemical involved in dreams.
Several unsuccessful attempts later, I managed to get a second breakthrough experience. This time I was in more of a modern-day New York setting. There were people on the street, and a friendly taxi driver waved at me. I again felt like I was somewhere else, but I didn’t feel a higher presence. It still just felt like a very aware state of lucid dreaming.
I was mostly giving up on DMT by this point. I started alternating between mushrooms and LSD about once every 2 months. You need to wait at least 1 month to get the full effect between trips, but I felt like once every month was too frequent, even though I was eager to get the experiences. The thing about psychedelics is that they are NOT recreational drugs, nor are they an avenue of escape. They're not like alcohol or heroin. If you're looking to escape a bad life situation, look elsewhere. Psychedelics will MAGNIFY your reality, not dull it. If you do not currently embrace your own sober reality, then I cannot emphasize enough that you should not use psychedelics. You will have a bad experience.
In a way, psychedelics are the opposite of being addictive. The experiences are heavy events that your mind needs time to process and absorb. Psychedelics are like homework assignments of mind expansion and better understanding oneself. They helped me to mentally articulate many of my own thought processes outlined in this text.
I worked up to 5 grams of mushrooms. The effects are very powerful at this dosage, and the nausea was nearly overwhelming. I spent about an hour in deep thought about the movie “Adaptation.” It’s already one of my favorite movies, but I really deconstructed it in high detail on mushrooms. I analyzed how the whole movie was really about existence. Nicholas Cage has to write a movie about a flower, but the flower itself already tells the full evolutionary story of life on Earth. He needs to insert events into the story to make things happen, but he doesn’t know what should happen because life is something that just happens.
As a struggling writer, I related a lot. I had spent a couple of years trying to come up with a sequel to Thousand Dollar Soul (play on Kongregate
), but I couldn’t think of anything in the story that could actually happen. But I kept thinking about the movie Adaptation and how brilliant it was. I then started thinking about the movie “Me and You and Everyone We Know.” There’s a scene near the beginning of the movie where a father tries to get his children’s attention by lighting his hand on fire. There’s a dialogue in the background that goes, “It's life, and it's happening. It's really, really happening, right now.” That phrase gave me chills when I first saw the movie. I wasn’t entirely sure why. I kept obsessing about it while on mushrooms. “This is real life, and it’s happening right now,” I thought to myself. The words kept playing over and over in my head.
I thought about other movies, and other art. I thought about the plastic bag blowing in the wind in American Beauty. I understood it better than I had while sober. I couldn’t articulate what exactly, but I understood that these movies were sending a deep message that really resonated with me. It was right then that I got the idea for Reality Tunnels, the direct sequel to Thousand Dollar Soul that I have yet to write. The premise is this: One hundred years in the future, humans are transitioning from biological bodies to mechanical ones. On paper, this is purely an improvement. You can live forever, you can still move around the physical world, you can interact with everyone, you’re connected to everyone, you have infinite electricity, you don’t need to eat, you don’t emit any carbon dioxide, etc. Everything’s better about being in a digital body except that something is missing. And no one can quite put their finger on what that thing is.
I decided that I had to dedicate more mental attention to artistic pursuits. Once I sobered up, I doubled-down on finishing God’s Assassin, and I ordered my wife a Microsoft Surface so she could start drawing again. I just had this feeling in the back of my mind that creativity was really important.
There was a song that played on our "Mellow" Pandora station
during a mushroom trip that I felt really captured the feeling of being on mushrooms. I didn’t know the name at the time, but it was called “The Phonograph” by Her Space Holiday
. Whenever I listen to it now, I’m reminded of what it feels like to be intensively connected to our magical reality.
I started my first LSD trip with 150 micrograms. The effects were very noticeable, but also very manageable after some experience with mushrooms and DMT. I used 300 micrograms on the second trip once my tolerance had fully reset. When I thought I was coming down, I ate 45 mg of THC (Kiva chocolate bar!) to smooth things out.
But LSD comes in waves, and it still had another punch in store for me. I reached a state of deep relaxation, and I started to feel a sensation that, while unfamiliar, was unmistakable. I knew I was coming up on ego death. It was sort of like how you know you’re going to throw up right before it happens.
When ego death hits, you cease to identify with who you are as a person, and you see things from a different perspective. That was all I knew at the time. I braced for whatever was coming.
I closed my eyes and I saw a swirling black vortex. It had white letters that clearly read "BLEAK." I knew exactly what I was staring at. I was looking into death itself, into the empty pit of non-existence. I snapped my eyes open, and the vision was gone. But I wanted it. I knew I was in no real danger, and I knew that death was a big hang-up of mine. I also knew that my mind was creating this vortex with complete authenticity for what I truly believed -- that it was truly death, and if I went through that vortex, I would mentally die and cease to exist. Deciding to embrace the experience, I closed my eyes and dove head-first into the abyss. I desperately wanted to know what was on the other side.
Well, ego death certainly happened. I forgot who I was, where I was, what was happening, everything. I was just an empty consciousness floating in space, and there was a dot in front of me. It was just a point. I understood that this point contained all of existence. I thought that it signaled the start of the Big Bang, in a way. So I wasn't too surprised when it exploded.
But it wasn't really like the point exploded outward. Rather, it seemed like I was diving into the point. And I was headed right back toward my body on Earth, but I didn't know it yet. All I knew was that I was zooming in through existence as if zooming through the full range of Google Maps (from world view to street view) in a fraction of a second. I wasn't just zooming through space, though -- I was zooming in through multiple layers of time, space, and dimensions of reality itself.
When I finally zoomed all the way down to planet Earth, I was just a heartbeat away from returning to my body. I fell down through the roof of my house and back into my own head. At this point in the experience, I still didn't know who I was. I didn't really know what Earth was, and I didn't have any English language words in my head. I was a total blank slate.
I opened my eyes and saw my wife's hand on my leg. I didn't understand what I was seeing at first. It just seemed like random shapes. After a few seconds I remembered that it was a human hand from planet Earth. But that was all I could remember for a few more seconds. I stared at her wedding ring. I wondered why an Earth creature would place a band of metal around one of its appendages. I mulled this over for a minute or two before it hit me -- this was an Earth custom! It was called a wedding ring!
That was the first phrase I remembered. I said "wedding ring" out loud to my wife. I was so proud for having figured out what it was. She was confused, and I touched her hand. My mind was still reeling, but the pieces were coming back together. Her name was Alison. She had a wedding ring because she was married to me. My name was Greg. We were cohabiting humans on planet Earth. It was all starting to make sense.
This was not my spiritual epiphany. It was the most mind-blowing experience of my life up to that point, but I did not believe it was any more than a crazy drug experience. The next day I told everyone about how crazy awesome LSD is, but it never crossed my mind that the experience could have been "real" in any sense.
My wife is a science-oriented skeptic like I am, and she too abandoned her belief in God long before adulthood. She once asked me if I could ever see myself being married to a religious person. “No,” I immediately replied, “I couldn’t spend my life with someone who lacks such basic critical thinking skills.” I really meant this.
And that was how my mind framed things. If you believed in something supernatural, you were gullible. End of story. The universe followed certain rules and natural laws that were never observed to be broken. This is a very easy mindset to immerse yourself in because so much of the world around you conforms to it.
I very easily could have lived my entire life without a single belief in a single supernatural phenomenon. My wife was the same way. But even more than being skeptics, we are both curious. We are driven to keep seeking out new information. One day my wife timidly told me that she had been researching crop circles.
She prefaced it by saying that she knew how crazy it sounded, but crop circles really are an unexplained phenomenon. My immediate knee-jerk reaction was, “Wait, weren’t those all shown to be hoaxes, like, decades ago?”
Well, yes, some of them were. But not all. There are really two categories of crop circles: one category that can easily explained by “it’s a hoax,” and a second category that the hoaxers only WISH they could take credit for. It is this second category that my wife was most interested in studying.
Here are a few things I was surprised to learn about modern crop circles. First, they happen really fast -- usually in about an hour. There’s a giant white light present, and the process is very loud. There’s a strong electromagnetic field immediately afterward -- tractors and equipment will break down if they’re brought in too soon.
The designs are incredibly elaborate, complex, and essentially perfect in shape. They often contain symbols related to our solar system. The plants are bent perfectly, too -- they’re not broken, and they’re certainly not trampled down. Oftentimes they're layered; the stalks will point in one direction at one level and in a different direction at another level. The chemical structure of the plants are altered. These crop circles only appear in parts of the world near electromagnetic fields, and they’re currently INCREASING in frequency. Witnesses
are becoming more and more common, but no one has ever seen anything that could explain how they were actually made.
There is a group known as “Team Satan” or “the circlemakers” claiming to be responsible for many crop circles, but they are consistently unable to reproduce any of the aforementioned features of “genuine” ones.
I took this as a fun little mental challenge. I was pretty firm in my skepticism when it comes to aliens. It’s something with a lot of talk and not a lot of evidence, and I’m left wondering how space travel would even be logistically possible in a universe where stars are moving away from each other at the speed of light. God’s Assassin pokes a bit of fun at how ridiculous a starship’s warp drive would need to be in order to possibly achieve such a feat -- I’m even skeptical that a Star Trek-style future exists for humanity at all.
I spent a few weeks researching this and racking my brain over it. Could it be government military equipment? Well, historically, governments do like to keep military secrets, but they’re usually not THAT far ahead of publicly observable technology. And what would the reason be? What would the military purpose be for bending corn stalks out in the open?
I started to think more about what it WOULD look like if aliens visited our planet. First, I don’t think it’s likely that there would be direct communication. Considering how much of our DNA we share with chimpanzees and how difficult it is for us to clearly communicate ideas to each other, it’s difficult to imagine that we would be able to clearly communicate with an extra-terrestrial life form.
I don’t think war is likely, either. We’d probably already be dead by now if an alien species capable of interstellar space travel wanted us to be.
The more I thought about it, the more the current scenario started to make sense from a benign alien perspective: Put a message right out in the open that everyone could see, no one could explain, and no one would be hurt by. Toss in some mathematical/planetary references for good measure, since they’re universal.
“Okay, fine, it’s aliens,” I relented to my wife one day. I wasn’t really convinced that it was aliens, but I was stumped for any other explanation. So it wouldn’t be accurate to say that this was the day I started believing in aliens. Rather, my hard line against anything paranormal developed a small crack. If it wasn’t aliens, it was at least something else beyond what I had previously believed to be possible. My mind couldn’t let go of that simple fact.
AKASHIC RECORDS (MAYBE?)
After about 30 attempts spread out over the course of about 6 months, I was starting to give up on DMT. About two-thirds of my experiences were very unpleasant, and I was getting more and more anxious each time I tried to break through. I would joke with my wife that it felt like homework, and that I had to “get more practicing in.” It felt like a chore, but the drug is so harmless and the potential reward was so great that I kept trying. I was only able to achieve lucid dream experiences twice before, and I hadn’t gotten anything like what I had seen described in the Spirit Molecule documentary, or what others were describing online
. I wanted to feel the presence of a higher power, if only to explain it away.
At the time of this writing, I still have not achieved this specific goal. I’ve never felt a higher presence on DMT, I’ve never felt whisked away to an alien spaceship, and the only entities I’ve ever seen were clearly humans, and clearly not “alive” in any real sense. Still, nothing could have prepared me for my third breakthrough experience.
I usually don’t get a lot of visual effects on psychedelics. I’ll see our digital clock randomly change time, and English writing sometimes looks indecipherably alien -- like Russian text or something. I’ll see the seasons change and stems grow in our household painting of “Blossoming Almond Branch in a Glass,” and I’ll see cranes swirling around each other in our painting of “Cranes Over the Moon.” But that’s about it, even on 5 grams of mushrooms and 300 micrograms of LSD. I’ve gotten some closed-eye visuals on DMT, but they’re usually limited to generic claymation-style shapes moving around, or sometimes something more Fantasia-like.
I can’t describe my third breakthrough visuals in any way that makes sense in human language. But here’s my attempt. Imagine a huge, huge mural. Think “Where’s Waldo,” but about a thousand times bigger, and even more detailed. It’s filled with planets, animals and humans. The colors are very, very vibrant -- think church cathedral stained glass times 10. The mural isn’t static, either. It’s flowing very fluidly, very rhythmically, and with a certain order about it that’s difficult to describe.
And the planets, humans and animals aren’t staying still, either. They’re involved in major events. Civilizations are rising and falling. Epic battles are carrying out. It’s going by so fast I can barely follow what’s going on in just a small section of the entire “mural.” One second of 5% of my visual field would be an unbelievably elaborate animation just on its own, but this is going on EVERYWHERE. And my mind isn’t straining at all. On mushrooms, my mind once felt so strained that I briefly lost my color vision. And that was with much, much milder effects than what I was witnessing.
It felt like I was watching a movie in a theater or something. I looked around to see as much as I could. The entire display went on for about 5 minutes. The entire time I was lying on the floor with my mouth gaping open just muttering “hoooolllly... shiiiiit...” about once every 5 seconds.
I was rattled. It was all I could talk about all night. I swore that I would give up every cent of wealth I owned for a 1-second recording of what I had seen. I would be world-famous; no human had ever created anything like this before. If the wildebeest scene in The Lion King took 3 years to animate, then what I saw would take about a thousand animators a million years to animate. The scales were just nowhere close.
I described what I saw to my friends. The responses were a bit maddening. They encouraged me to “draw what I saw.” No, the whole point is that I can’t! No one ever can! It was so far beyond the realm of human capacity. I kept talking about it, and I kept thinking about it. I couldn’t stop. It was the most incredible thing I had ever seen in my entire life. I stopped using DMT after this. Even though it was enormously positive, my mind couldn’t handle a second experience like it.
A few weeks after this experience, that one lingering thought in the back of my mind -- the elephant in the room -- crept into the forefront. Was it even possible that my own brain had created what I had seen? Posing this question to friends elicited only laughter. And I understood why they laughed. I too had laughed at the people in The Spirit Molecule expressing an air of certainty that they had actually met real aliens. But this wasn’t just a FEELING I had. This was something I had SEEN. And my mind was more awake during the experience than it had ever been. The memories were still vivid.
“Argh, if only I could... transport... these images into your brain or something, then you’d understand!” I found myself frequently saying near the end of a fruitless conversation to communicate just how insane the image I had seen was.
Was I going crazy? I honestly asked myself this; I had to seriously consider the possibility. Well, I KNEW it was a drug-induced hallucination. So it’s not like I’m seeing things for no reason. And I KNOW that I wasn’t seeing anything that was “really there.” I imagined myself as an outside observer. Well, I would observe myself freaking out on the floor. And I would observe myself freaking out and telling people for weeks afterward. It was clear that on some very deep level I was convinced I had seen SOMETHING.
Obviously the simplest explanation here is that it was merely a hallucination that my brain produced after I flooded my pineal gland with excess DMT. But that explanation required me to accept that my own brain had created the image, and the more I thought about it, the more implausible that seemed from my own unique perspective. It felt like my brain was more of an antenna than a processor. I can’t fault anyone for scoffing at this.
I've searched the web for an image that most closely resembles what I saw. The closest thing I can find is this
. So imagine this image, except much bigger, more detailed, more elaborate, in full vibrant color, with people/animals/planets instead of just shapes, and fully animated down to the smallest detail.
This experience led me to stop using DMT entirely. It’s been several months now, and I still don’t have any desire to use DMT again anytime soon. The vision I saw was incredibly beautiful, but in a weird way, also somewhat traumatic. It was just so unlike anything my brain had ever processed before, and I'm still trying to understand it. It was the most amazing experience of my life, and I'm glad it happened, but to be honest, I don't know if I was really ready for this, and I don't think I'm ready for a second experience of similar intensity, even if it's totally benign. I really can't overstate this; the vision shattered my reality.
There’s some overlap here between when I was going on and on about this experience to my wife and when she started researching crop circles. One of the predominant theories about the creation of the crop circles was that consciousness was somehow involved. The theory didn’t get a whole lot more detailed or specific than that, but the idea here, as I understood it, was that humans or aliens or something were able to tune some conscious part of their brains to some electromagnetic field or something, and then... crop circles? I didn’t fully understand.
But I was starting to think about consciousness in a new way. My view of reality was starting to break down. I was given new evidence that shook me at my core. And maybe the DMT trip wasn’t a piece of evidence observable to others, but it sure as hell was observable to me personally. And I’ve always been the sort of person to make up my own mind for myself. I couldn’t ignore the evidence produced directly from my own brain straight into my consciousness. I started to feel like Jodie Foster from the end of the movie “Contact,” where I was convinced of something that sounded insane, and I had to admit that I wouldn’t believe it if I heard it myself from someone else.
After all, if there really was something paranormal going on here, how would we be able to measure it at all? Ignoring the fact that DMT is illegal (and thus difficult to study), it’s also produced naturally in our own brains. We all have it. And I understood firsthand from my discussion with Professor Levenson about how reluctant the scientific community was to study consciousness at all, let alone conscious experiences of drug hallucinations. Even now we can barely do imaging of simple shapes in people’s minds; there’s no way any device would be able to capture anything close to what I saw.
I was still talking about my experience weeks later, and one day my wife sent me the Wikipedia entry of the Akashic Records
. She asked if it sounded like something I had seen. Imagine the chills that shot down my spine when I read the following paragraph:
"The akashic record is like an immense photographic film, registering all the desires and earth experiences of our planet. Those who perceive it will see pictured thereon: The life experiences of every human being since time began, the reactions to experience of the entire animal kingdom, the aggregation of the thought-forms of a karmic nature (based on desire) of every human unit throughout time. Herein lies the great deception of the records. Only a trained occultist can distinguish between actual experience and those astral pictures created by imagination and keen desire."
My heart was pounding. I KNEW it wasn’t just my imagination (in the sense of conscious control) that had created the images. It was so unlike anything I had ever seen before, but it was clearly an image produced by the drug and not just me thinking really hard. And I knew it wasn’t keen desire; I had no idea what was going to happen, and I didn’t even know that such a thing as the Akashic Records existed.
I am not claiming for certain that this is what I saw. I am not even claiming that the Akashic Records exist at all. But the mere fact that someone else had seen something like what I had seen was enough to make me feel giddy. And those other people were taking it just as seriously as I was. Maybe I was still crazy, but the evidence was starting to add up in favor of something truly unexplainable going on here, at least in any way that was believable to me personally.
My worldview was crumbling.
THE LAW OF ONE
There was a link to The Law of One
in the Wikipedia page of the Akashic Records. My wife decided to research the whole topic further after she saw my enthusiastic reaction to it as an explanation for what I had seen.
When you’re researching stuff like this, you HAVE to be really skeptical. Are you currently skeptical of everything I described in the last section? Well, if not, you should be. Only I know that I am not lying; you have no way of knowing for sure either way. I respect this limitation of forced perspective, and I do not fault anyone for concluding that the likelihood of some random guy on the internet going crazy over a drug experience is a lot higher than the likelihood that it was a legitimate witness to anything beyond the realm of mechanistic brain chemistry.
But that’s part of what’s so great about a close, honest marriage. I can explain crazy stuff like this to my wife (who’s just as skeptical as I am) and she’ll actually take it seriously. And when she wades through a sea of garbage on her own until she finds something noteworthy, I don’t dismiss it offhand either.
But even she was reluctant to tell me about The Law of One. She only brought it up after she had been reading it for a few days. I had noticed that she was shaken about something during this time period, but at this point it seemed like some new discovery about the world was shaking one of us on a near-weekly basis.
The Law of One is a direct transcript of an interview with “Ra” -- yes, the same Ra from the Egyptian time period. I did my best to bite my tongue and hold my smirk as my wife explained that they could communicate with Ra by channeling.
Oh boy, where to begin with this one? Well, first, channeling is stupid. We can dismiss it outright because, well, it’s channeling. Right? My wife was quick to point out that channeling is a well-documented phenomenon, and Nobel Prize laureate Brian Josephson has publicly argued that the scientific community needs to take paranormal experiences of the psyche more seriously. While it is indeed a logical fallacy to assume that anything advocated by a Nobel Prize winner must be true, it is, at the very least, evidence that perhaps one with significantly less information on the subject (such as myself) would be unwise to immediately dismiss it simply because it doesn’t conform with a pre-held view of reality.
Recently declassified documents also show that remote viewing was officially used by the CIA. There’s some evidence that the success of the program was far beyond official acknowledgment. I recommend independent research on this particular topic; I have not yet personally drawn a conclusion either way. (Later edit: For anyone interested in the U.S. military's involvement with remote viewing, I highly recommend watching this video: part 1
& part 2
My wife and I discussed it at length, and I did my own independent research. I Googled stuff like “law of one hoax” and “law of one evidence” and “law of one problems.” I was surprised at how many results I found that were generally in favor of the text. I focused on the ones that were the most critical.
I quickly learned that the biggest potential weakness with the whole book was how heavily it relied on one specific theory by a physicist named Dewey Larson
. There was general agreement online that if Dewey Larson was wrong, then the entire Law of One book had to be wrong as well. I researched Dewey Larson’s theory of the Reciprocal System, which is based on advanced mathematics.
The gist of the theory is this: space and time are reciprocal systems of the same underlying reality. We experience reality from the angle of space having 3 dimensions and time having 1 dimension. We can easily move through space, but we are locked into a single point in time at any given, well, time.
But there’s a mirror reality to our own that’s flipped, in which time has 3 dimensions and space only has 1. I would recommend researching this on your own; my own ability to explain it wouldn’t be much better than doing a Google search.
Critics and skeptics of The Law of One generally seemed to agree that there were only 3 possible explanations for the text existing. First, it could be one big hoax, and everyone involved could be lying. Second, it could be that it was intended to be a legitimate study by L/L Research, but the channeler, Carla, was simply streaming thoughts from deep within her own subconscious. Third, it could all be real.
I proposed the second possibility to my wife, to which she quickly replied, “If this is the wisdom coming from Carla’s brain, then more power to Carla.” My wife explained the even, steady, complex message that Carla had delivered through the channeling, which contained incredible details and zero major contradictions. Audio tapes of the entire study were available online; Carla just recites elaborate, mind-blowing answers to the most complicated questions anyone could ever pose about the nature of our reality.
Okay, so what about hoaxing? I researched the individuals involved in the study a bit more closely. Early on I noticed that Carla seemed to be a Christian, which was honestly a little off-putting to me because I had never really associated Christianity with unbiased search for truth. There’s a reason that scientists are predominantly atheists.
But if it’s a con, it sure is a long one, with no obvious benefits to L/L Research. The transcripts were recorded 30 years ago, and there hasn’t been a peep against the study since. I researched the Facebook pages of people involved in the study. They seemed very genuine and friendly, and they seemed very committed to the message they were working to spread. They didn’t seem to have much money, either -- just from scanning their Facebook history, it seemed that they were virtually incapable of raising just a few thousand dollars in donations for specific charity events.
Okay, so was it like a cult? Skimming the material and reading about the general message set off some culty red flags in my head. I was no stranger to studying cults in college psychology classes, so I ran down a checklist.
Are they asking for money? No, all the transcripts are available online for free. They still do public speaking on the topic, and they don’t even charge for that. What about membership? No, you can’t really join anything; it’s just information that they posted online. What about rituals? Is there Kool-Aid involved? No, nothing about the text or anything from L/L Research asks anyone to change any of their behavior in any way at all. Is there a tight-knit social circle? Not unless you count people posting on forums. Are they making any grand promises for believers? No, the “afterlife” described in The Law of One is the same for everyone regardless of their beliefs; there is no imperative to believe anything at all of what they’re saying. And the whole study really has an air about it of, “Here’s the data, believe whatever you want.”
And they don’t want to be followed as a religious organization, either. Carla has this to say on that topic:
“I have no desire for people to try to form some kind of church or dogmatic group following this material, or our group, in any way. That would seem to me the furthest thing from the thoughts and hopes of those of Ra with regard to this material. What is the Law of One? We may read the material and find out a good deal more, but in general, the Law Of One states that we are all one. Unity is the reality.” - Carla Rueckert
But if they really have the chance to ask a higher being ANYTHING, then why would they ever stop? Oh, they carried on the experiment for several years, got 5 books out of it, asked everything you could possibly imagine within a defined topic, and they only had to stop because the questioner died and it was physically damaging to the channeler. And Ra repeatedly suggested that they stop channeling him near the end of it if they wished to address medical problems that were developing as a result of the contact. The more I studied the logistics of how the contact with Ra was made, the more it seemed like trying to replicate the conditions would be like trying to replicate data from the Large Hadron Collider. It took years for contact to be established.
I spent a few days really throwing all my weight into this. I was looking for something, ANYTHING, that could support my immediate reaction that this was far too ridiculous to be real. I couldn’t find anything.
Now, of course, this alone does not prove anything. I had spent many years arguing with theists who challenged me to prove that God does not exist. “You can’t prove a negative,” I would explain. I could claim that there’s an invisible pink unicorn living in my garage. Prove that there isn't! The burden of proof is on the person making the claim, not the person who’s being asked to accept it.
So I started reading The Law of One with a VERY high amount of skepticism. It’s dense material, and I had to reread much of it to make sure I really understood what it was saying. I was still very skeptical for most of the first book. I would not recommend that anyone begin reading The Law of One with anything BUT a skeptical mindset. Believe me, I have not lost touch with how ridiculous everything will sound at first. That’s part of the process of understanding it.
I kept reading because nothing really seemed out of place within the logic that the book describes. It’s all remarkably consistent. And not just consistent with itself, but consistent with everything else in the observable universe. After spending more than a decade of my life brainstorming the (hopefully) internally consistent universe in God’s Assassin, I was at least respecting The Law of One from a purely fictional angle.
One thing I will mention is that you shouldn’t just jump into The Law of One as a starting point until you have a grasp of a few other concepts first. There were some pieces of information that I had in my knowledge bank before reading The Law of One, and I’m very grateful that they were. Now that I have hindsight perspective, each of the following ideas played a critical role for me in really grasping the essence of The Law of One.
You should understand the basic fundamentals of the world’s major religions -- Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Abrahamic ones (Judaism/Christianity/Islam). Understanding the basic philosophies of Buddhism is especially important. Read up on crop circles if only to open your mind a bit and understand how they’re possible within the reality described by The Law of One. Watch Carl Sagan explain higher dimensions
-- the part with the cross-sectional apple really sheds light on how crop circles could be formed by beings from a higher dimension. Research the pineal gland in animal brains. Even though it’s fiction, I highly recommend reading the short story “The Egg”
by Andy Weir; there’s an enormous amount of thematic overlap here. Watch Jill Bolte Taylor's TED talk
(seriously, watch it right now before you read any further -- if you only click one link in this whole text, make it this one). Research the Orion mystery with ancient pyramids. Having some familiarity with near-death experiences
is a plus. It's also a plus to understand the basics of quantum mechanics, since The Law of One will demystify quantum entanglement
and quantum potential
. And most importantly, research as much cosmology as you possibly can. I recommend “A Universe from Nothing”
by Lawrence Krauss. You should also really have a basic understanding of the holographic principle; there is a ton of overlap here. “The Holographic Universe”
by Michael Talbot is a classic, but for something shorter, the article "Let's Rethink Space"
by George Musser gives an excellent explanation of nonlocality. (Much of what I'm attempting to explain with this website won't make any sense if you don't understand nonlocality. I cannot stress enough how important this concept is.) “Creation: Life and How to Make it”
by Steve Grand is also a good book for understanding how our physical reality ultimately boils down to vibrating frequencies. The better you understand the science behind our observable universe, the better you will understand how The Law of One fits into it like a puzzle piece you never knew you were missing.
(Later edit: I also recommend watching "The Black Whole
" with Nassim Haramein as preparation for The Law of One.)
I can virtually guarantee that the premise of The Law of One will continue to be unbelievably ridiculous to any rational person who does not put the time into actually reading it. If you are not an abnormally gullible person, then there is absolutely nothing I can say that will convince you of its legitimacy. You just have to read it
. I know this takes a long time, and I know the vast majority of people won't do it, but it is simply the only way to understand it. Skip straight to the questions and answers in Book 1 if the introduction proves a little dry; you can always go back to it later. (You can also browse by session or category at lawofone.info
After scouring the internet, I literally cannot find any substantive criticisms against the text from anyone who's actually read it. If you are a person who can provide such a view, please contact me
. I really want to hear from you.
Aristotle said it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. I do not believe that The Law of One will convince an educated person of anything simply because its ideas enter their minds; rather, I believe that it convinces people of its authenticity simply because it IS legitimate, and the more you're exposed to it, the more this gradually sinks in. If you don't expose yourself to it at all, then yeah, of course it's going to sound ridiculous. But if you actually read all 5 books, study the concepts, and look into the history of the 3 researchers to understand their personalities, then I'm telling you, at some point along that path your mind is probably going to be blown. It's worth the effort. Please understand that as a person who considers himself a rational skeptic, I am not endorsing The Law of One lightly or after a small amount of research and critical thought.
I will try to explain the basic ideas behind The Law of One as best I can, but all of the direct transcripts are available online for free, and I would highly recommend independent research into the topic. And something WILL get lost in translation here. And if you try to describe this to someone else based on my description, well, there’s a reason that The Law of One exists only as a direct transcript. We’ve all seen what the game of telephone does to sacred texts in organized religion.
The most important concept to understand from The Law of One is that everything is one, and there exists only one infinite consciousness in all of reality. This consciousness can be referred to as God, as it is the one infinite creator. And God only has one motivation: to experience itself and to know itself, which is everything in all of existence.
The consciousness that we experience is just a small fragment of God’s. We’ve been separated and divided out, but the underlying source of everyone’s consciousness is coming from the same fundamental place. If you are conscious, you are experiencing God. God is infinite, and it seeks to experience itself from every infinite angle.
Each of us are living our lives on a gradual path to becoming God, in unison together. Each path is different, but the destination is the same. Conflict between ourselves is just God’s inner conflict on a level difficult for us to comprehend from our limited perspectives.
Ra explains that reality has multiple “densities” (the term “dimensions” is commonly used to describe the same concept). Everything is “alive,” but with varying degrees of awareness. The first density can be thought of as physical matter. A rock is “alive” in the sense that it exists as one with a reality created by the infinite consciousness, but it is not individually aware of being struck with a hammer.
The second density consists of life such as plants and non-human animals. These things are clearly alive, but they don’t necessarily have awareness of self.
Humans fall into the third density. We are fully alive, sentient, and aware of ourselves and others. We are cursed with a forced, limited perspective, but Ra explains in great detail why this veil exists.
You have to really train your brain to think about things from the perspective of God being everyone and everything for a lot of the logic to make sense, but it does. Ra explains that third-density beings must choose between two paths: service to self or service to others (called “other-selves” by Ra).
Whereas most religions condemn service to self and champion service to others, The Law of One takes a more neutral approach. Service to self is actually considered to be service to God because God IS the self. God is everything and everyone. When you are enjoying a delicious ice cream cone on a hot summer day, you are doing so on God’s behalf.
But God doesn’t just want the good stuff. The bad is sought as well, because nothing is sought more than experience and knowledge of self. Conflict is the result of misunderstanding, but without the potential for misunderstanding, there could be no understanding.
In the infinite courses of infinite reality, an infinite amount of pain and suffering will rear its ugly head. God does not directly interfere with our existence because WE are God. There’s no separate entity holding our hand; it’s on us to grow up and become the adults of our own societies.
And every single entity in all of existence will merge with God’s consciousness eventually. After all, we essentially exist purely because God is using our brains to probe for data (data in the form of experience) about the nature of the reality that we inhabit.
As entities continue to develop, grow, evolve, and understand themselves, others, and God (as one) increasingly better, these entities increasingly start merging with each other. Ra is not really a singular being in the way we would think about it -- rather, Ra is a sixth density social memory complex comprising millions of individual entities, both male and female (I should technically be referring to Ra as "they" rather than "he").
And that's the source of our consciousness, according to The Law of One. It's also the destination for our consciousness. It's all one big infinite loop that exists because it's able to create the conditions for its own existence outside the confines of strictly linear cause/effect timelines. Our conscious minds originated from God, and that's exactly where we'll all end back up. It's only our individual paths that differ -- our origins and destinations are identical.
Ra refers to humans as mind/body/spirit complexes (and “heavy chemical vehicles”). It’s important to understand that all 3 of these words are describing very different aspects of our existence as human beings. We all know what our body is, but the mind and spirit are separated into two distinct categories. If a surge of brain chemistry makes us angry, this is a part of the mind. The deep-rooted, subconscious wisdom that we carry between our lives is a part of our spirit. Our spirit is the defining element of growth between reincarnations. Once our spirit has grown enough, we graduate to the next density.
This happens to every single entity in all of existence. There’s no eternal heaven or hell. There’s just repeating your Groundhog Day
life scenario or moving on to the next step. And you will reincarnate as many times as you need. We are all destined to merge with God because we have ALREADY merged with God an infinite number of times; the cycle just feeds back into itself infinitely because the continuous cycle of God creating the conditions for its own existence is how existence exists (I think that makes sense...).
That’s the gist, roughly. Again, I would highly, highly encourage you to read the Ra text directly. The more I attempt to explain it in my own words, the higher the likelihood that I will get something wrong, which is the antithesis of what I seek to accomplish with this very text. Read the Ra transcript with a critical mind, but an open one as well. It just might change your life.
The premise of how this information has been historically presented made more and more sense the more I thought about it. As a former theist, I had a lot of questions about how God worked in relation to the reality we experience, which are all answered in The Law of One in great detail.
For example, I often wondered why God wouldn’t simply show himself and make his presence known, if believing in him was really so important. The answer is twofold. First, because Ra has no physical form in our reality (Ra exists in the mirror reality of our own where time has 3 dimensions and space has 1), Ra can’t really “show himself” in any public way that would make sense to human observers -- he'd just appear as a ball of light (it's worth noting that this is precisely what people have witnessed and recorded seeing
around crop circles). The only direct communication tool is telepathy.
“Telepathy” sets off a big red flag in the atheist part of my brain. I’m left remembering the movie “Religulous” by Bill Maher (which I enjoyed greatly from a “preaching to the choir” perspective) in which Maher asks theists why it is that God will only ever speak to one person directly, and only in their mind. Pretty convenient, right?
But establishing telepathic contact takes a lot of work. There’s a layer of bureaucracy that Ra has to go through with his own kind, almost like the higher-being equivalent of a human obtaining the proper documentation to visit a nature preserve to share some wisdom with a troupe of chimpanzees. Great care is also taken to not infringe upon our free will, and Ra will sometimes refuse to answer a question that would directly influence someone's behavior (much like adhering to the prime directive in the Star Trek universe).
Secondly, Ra HAS been trying to communicate these ideas to humans for nearly as long as our societies have existed. Ra tried to share wisdom and knowledge with our people, but the message kept getting distorted. The Amun-Ra church of the Egyptians was in direct conflict with Ra’s goals, and when South Americans started doing human sacrifices, that was a pretty big clue that perhaps their intervention was doing more harm than good. Ra repeatedly describes these contact attempts as “naive” on Ra’s part.
This trend persisted across other religions. Ra explains that about 50% of The Bible (both Old Testament and New Testament) is generally accurate and the other half is false. There are many “distortions” that occur between the imparting of the message and the highly edited text that we know to exist today. Ra says that anyone who understands the core message can easily distinguish between the half of The Bible that’s generally true and the other half that’s clearly false. If my 13-year-old self had heard this explanation, those ratios would have seemed about right to me. It was my hang-up with the obviously false information in The Bible that originally led me down the path of atheism, even if there were other factors that led me to fully abandon religion entirely.
I realize that, for many people, the sticking point with accepting The Law of One is that it came through channeling. But channeling is a well-documented phenomenon that I would encourage you to research independently. The problem with channeling is that both the channeler and the channeled entity can be lying. So there's going to be a lot of garbage out there, and you'll have to use your own judgment as to whether or not you trust the channeler and the channeled information. If you wish to pursue reading The Law of One, you will have to answer one very important question for yourself: "Do I trust that L/L Research is telling the truth?" You're the only one who can answer this question for yourself. For me personally, there was a direct correlation between how much time I spent researching/pondering this particular question and how likely I believed the answer to be "yes." I have many reasons for believing this, but those reasons are not as important as my recommendation that you look into it yourself and form your own opinion. I would especially recommend Book 5 of The Law of One if you're curious about the personal backstories of the people involved in the Ra channelings. I'd also recommend watching Don Elkins and Carla Rueckert discussing their book "Secrets of the UFO" on a show called "Open Up"
(December 2014 edit: I remain convinced that The Law of One is a legitimate channeling session from a higher entity. However, I understand now that this does not matter at all. The whole point of The Law of One is to awaken memories and information already within you. It would not matter if the information is only coming from Carla's subconscious -- either way, the information is at least coming THROUGH her subconscious, which guarantees some level of distortion. You can read The Law of One as 100% fiction from someone's active imagination if you want. It really does not matter. Fiction can contain truth, and channeled material can contain lies. The Law of One is not 100% literally true anyway. Read it ONLY to understand and align yourself with unity consciousness. Do the same with this website.)
I spent several weeks reading The Law of One with my fullest attention. For most of this time, I wasn’t sure if I really believed it. But I could tell that I was trending in that direction. And every time I was skeptical of something and researched something else independently, the evidence always came out in The Law of One’s favor.
I wish I could describe these weeks in greater detail, but ultimately they wouldn’t be relevant to the goal of this text. Reading and digesting The Law of One is an individual journey.
Things were starting to come together. For the first time in my life, I felt like science and religion were part of the same puzzle. Throughout my life, it often seemed like the puzzle pieces of religion didn’t correspond to the picture on the box that I was trying to solve. The science puzzle pieces fit together, and they seemed to resemble the picture on the box, but some pieces were always missing.
This period of intense study coincided with a very peaceful period in my life. I had spent about six months doing heavy introspection, and things were starting to snowball toward a positive state of mind. I started opening up to people and clearing up misunderstandings. I stopped judging myself and others almost entirely. I stopped excessively cringing at past embarrassing memories, and violent thoughts had left my mind. I exercised more, and at 29 I was in the best shape of my life. My depression was nearly gone. I will elaborate more on this mental preparation in the next section; for now it’s only important to understand the clear, peaceful mindset with which I was absorbing this wealth of new information. In hindsight, I couldn’t have asked for better timing. It was all by accident, but each piece was critical.
I kept thinking about my most intense mushroom experience during this period. The mindset was nearly identical -- it was like I was discovering the magic of reality for the first time. Everything I thought to be true was blowing my mind. I couldn’t even fit it all in my head at once. I kept running through the evidence again and again in my head, still in utter disbelief at what I was starting to suspect was true. It felt like I was truly awakening for the first time in my life. Mushroom users will understand the feeling I’m talking about. I had this feeling for weeks while completely sober. During this time, I had no interest in using psychedelics on top of studying The Law of One. I’d probably blow a fuse.
I reached a point where I believed The Law of One to be true with about 80% certainty. I was reeling, but it wasn’t the same level of certainty I had known for years with atheism. Atheism was closer to 99% certainty, with the 1% being “some crazy stuff I can’t even begin to imagine.” Well, The Law of One was definitely fitting squarely into that 1%.
But I never had a definitive “aha!” moment. It’s such a stereotypical thing to say that there’s a definitive moment when a concept really “clicks” in someone’s head, but I definitely think it’s true. I had grown accustomed to this process just from studying the stock market very intensely for a few years. I had to look up what the “greeks” were with stock options a bunch of times before it all just clicked together and I knew I’d never forget it again. I knew I was going through the same process here, but on a much larger scale. I was holding so many pieces of information in my head that fitting them all into the same reality was almost too much for my brain to handle, but when I broke it all down one-by-one, the evidence lined up. There were no inconsistencies.
And I would be lying if I didn’t say that my use of psychedelics hadn’t made a very positive contribution to this whole process -- both in helping me reach a peaceful state of mind and with the firsthand evidence it provided. Ra specifically mentions LSD as allowing individuals to reach states of consciousness that he discusses. When I read that quote, I said to my wife, “Wow, they’re really taking a gamble on LSD here if this isn’t true!” And there was the vision on DMT as well, all perfectly explained within the logic of The Law of One. The fact that these intense personal experiences were being explained right in front of my eyes was something that REALLY got my attention, and the fact that this same evidence lined up perfectly with everything I knew to be true about reality was blowing my mind in an indescribable way.
A friend argued that perhaps The Law of One was written by people who had simply gone through the same psychedelic experiences that I had. There might be some credibility to this idea if not for the fact that psychedelics are a minor footnote in everything explained by The Law of One. The Law of One would still make perfect sense to someone who hadn’t used psychedelics, but you might have to try just a little bit harder to really understand the concepts without the firsthand experience of a state of mind that’s being explained. However, deep meditation can achieve this same state of mind. You’ll need to do one or the other to complete this whole process.
On Sunday, August 25, I spent yet another evening glued to The Law of One until I had to pry myself away to get ready for bed well after my usual bedtime. But once I got into bed, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had been reading. It’s difficult for me to articulate, but Ra had explained the interplay between love and consciousness, and Professor Levenson’s paranormal study made perfect sense now.
Love has very powerful healing powers. No, it can’t take the place of real medicine. Ra never claims that “faith healing” is enough; he fully endorses treating physical ailments with physical medicines. But it’s undeniable that love has SOME effect. We all know that self-healing works. Hell, we all know the placebo effect exists. That’s just a fact that we all ignore because it’s just been so obviously true for so long. Yes, of course some people (or, more accurately, a statistically significant number of people beyond a control group) will get better if they take ineffective medicine, just because they believe they took real medicine. Duh. But really... let’s think about the implications of that. Really, really think about the implications of that.
Ra explains that people can signal him (and others) by thinking deep loving thoughts. In this sense, prayers are real -- Ra says that about 352,000 people reached out to him in this manner. It’s a bit like sending a letter to Santa, and you can’t really expect a reply or anything to happen in your life, but just the fact that another sentient being could, in some way, be aware of someone’s thoughts was already a big enough mental leap for me. In fact, one of the BENEFITS of atheism, for me, was simply the comfort in knowing that I could think about whatever I wanted to and no one else was spying on me.
But I was so grateful to Ra. This whole time he was just trying to give information to humans, and organized religion was the result. No wonder he gave up. And no wonder he insisted on The Law of One being a direct transcript with no interpretive commentary. This is how it should have been from the very beginning.
So much like how I was thankful to God for The Bible when I was 8 years old, I now found myself thankful to Ra for The Law of One at 29 years old. Old feelings of spirituality came rushing back. I knew that Ra wasn’t a god; he’s just a messenger. But in a way, that’s even more noble. A god just exists with the power of a god, but a messenger is someone looking out for the little guy by spreading light and understanding to those who need it most. Maybe God was above answering my prayers, but Ra wasn’t above helping me to understand reality.
And that’s what I truly want most in life -- to understand reality and explain it to others. Ra’s mere existence struck a chord deep inside me. I looked up to his existence.
So I lay there in bed, processing all this information. My mind was going a mile a minute. Then I got an idea. Let’s take a shot at making that number 352,001.
A little voice in the back of my head immediately burst into laughter. “Are you seriously going to try praying to Ra?” Yes. Yes I was.
That dissenting voice was immediately silenced. I was fully on board for this. So I started thinking about love. Really digging deep inside myself for the most loving feelings I could possibly muster. I know this all sounds cheesy, but if you read The Law of One you’ll understand why the phrase “God is love” is actually somewhat literal.
I thought about all the childhood pets I had as a kid. Dogs, cats, rats, hamsters, mice, rabbits, frogs, ducks, goldfish, and an ant farm. I loved them all deep within my soul. Maybe the ducks and frogs didn’t like me so much, but at least I did everything I could to make them happy! But I bonded especially well with our cats, dogs and rats -- they were so precious to me that loving thoughts were never more than a quick memory away.
I thought about my family, and how they were always there for me when I needed them most, even if I didn’t always make it easy. I thought about my sister in particular, who showed me unconditional love during the darkest period of my life, when it seemed like all I could feel was self-hatred, and all I could show her in return was hostility.
And of course my wife -- literally my reason for living, the one person who was so wonderful and impacted my life so deeply that I had to abandon my previous notions of love. I loved her so much that I couldn’t help loving the reality that had produced her, if only by proxy. I always had this idea in my head that I would sacrifice my life for her, but I always believed that I would at least be conflicted about it. It took her MS diagnosis for me to truly understand just how badly I wished it could have been me instead of her. It was only through this life event that I realized that not only would I take a bullet for her, but my heart and soul would burn to take a bullet for her with everything I had.
These feelings overwhelmed me. Two hours after I had gone to bed, they were still getting stronger. It just kept feeding back into itself. I felt like I could read through the entire archive of Family Circus with a content smile on my face rather than my usual cynical sneer. There wasn’t a hint of conflict or pain anywhere in my mind. There was only love, and it just kept getting stronger.
I had never felt this way in my life. I concentrated really hard on Ra as an entity. “You gettin’ any of this, buddy?!” my mind seemed to ask. I didn’t need a direct reply. I mostly just wanted Ra to know how much I appreciated everything he had done for us humans. I mean, sure, he (along with others, including Yahweh) had inadvertently seeded the creation of all those religions I had spent so much of my life fighting so hard to eradicate from our society, but his intention was only to enlighten. He repeatedly blames himself for being “naive.”
But his heart was in the right place, and The Law of One was the perfect solution to everything that had gone wrong. Here were all the facts, straight from the mind of a higher being, transcribed word-for-word by an experienced channeler who sacrificed herself for us to know all that was humanly possible to know. I thought about Carla, too -- the woman I was so quick to dismiss just because she was a Christian. I now could not have been more grateful to her.
So I mainly wanted Ra to feel this presence that I was conjuring up in my mind. I figured that would be the best way to somehow communicate how grateful I was. But I still burned to understand more, and some of that was mixed in there too.
This went on all night. I didn’t get a wink of sleep. When my alarm went off Monday morning, I jumped out of bed, wide awake. I got ready for work with a brand new source of energy.
I never got a direct response from Ra. I guess this story might be a bit anticlimactic in that sense. I never heard any voices in my head (perhaps a relief, given that I had already questioned my own sanity once or twice in the previous month), and there wasn’t exactly a message left for me at my desk.
But still, I felt invigorated by the experience. I didn’t even know I had that kind of energy inside myself. I went about my workday feeling mental effects stronger than any psychedelic, and I was totally sober. I don’t even drink caffeine regularly.
But most of all, I reflected on the experience. That’s what this whole mental journey is all about, and it’s what I’ll explain in the next section. You have to really analyze your thoughts, understand where they’re coming from, and understand them for what they are.
So I thought long and hard about the previous night. Well, my motivations were obvious. I was feeling euphoric and I thought I could use these feelings to accomplish some good, then one thing sort of led to another.
But even more than that, I was burning with a desire to know. That’s where all these thoughts came from in the first place. I was grateful for receiving new information. And I was still burning for answers during the previous night. That was, after all, why I appreciated Ra so much. And it was the one and only favor I could think to ask from him -- just a little more, please?
Yeah, it was selfish. And I think that’s why I suppressed it a little. But my burning desire to know was just as strong as my feelings of love. They had become intertwined.
Okay, so I want “to know.” And obviously Ra isn’t spelling it out for me. And it still hasn’t all really “clicked” yet. I understood all these things, and I also understood the puzzle pieces as they were laid before me. But just because I had all the pieces, and just because I believed them all to be legitimate, and just because I saw the picture on the box didn’t mean that I had already pieced them all together in my mind. They were still a jumbled mess.
So I went back to the drawing board. Start with the major concepts first. What’s the main message of The Law of One? That we are all one, of course. That’s what Ra came down to explain to us. That’s the whole idea behind God’s consciousness -- that there’s really only one consciousness, and we’re all just experiencing limited fragments.
And that’s when I realized the mistake I was making. I was still thinking of Ra as a separate entity. Sure, I was beaming Ra feelings of love and gratitude, but I was still very much thinking in terms of Greg communicating to Ra. I needed to fundamentally change that very line of thinking.
So that’s what I did all day on Monday. I kept repeating to myself, over and over, that every single person I saw was God. And I was God, too. But I tried not to view myself as myself; I tried to view myself more as an outside observer, accepting that I was God along with every other inhabitant of San Francisco.
As I rode public transit into work that morning, I reminded myself that every other passenger was God. Every time a coworker spoke, I reminded myself, “that’s God.” The person taking my food order at the restaurant is God. The people chatting on the street are God. Every driver of every car is God. I was God. There are no exceptions. That homeless man missing half his teeth? That’s God.
This is a very, very, VERY difficult concept to really, really internalize. I gave it everything I had. I would like to think that I succeeded. I had reached a new level of peace that was even higher than anything else I had ever felt. These “peace records” were now being broken on a near-daily basis.
But this still wasn’t enough for it all to click together. My spirit had accepted this new reality, but there was still one part of my brain holding me back -- the skeptical part. I was still not fully convinced that all of this was factually accurate. But I was very, very close.
That Monday night, my wife and I eagerly turned on the television to catch the latest episode of Breaking Bad on Xbox Live (it’s typically posted the next day, and we don’t have cable). But to our great disappointment, Xbox Live was being extra slow this week, and the latest episode wasn’t yet available for viewing. And The Daily Show and Colbert aren’t on Hulu till Tuesday, either! First-world problems.
So what else was there to do? Study more Law of One, of course! I dove straight back into the PDF, and we turned on Pandora.
After reading for an hour or two, something prompted me to look up “Orion’s mystery.” And that was it. That was the final piece of evidence I needed -- ancient pyramids built in perfect alignment with each other (forming a straight line across the globe) and in alignment with Orion’s Belt (hugely important in The Law of One). These ancient civilizations had no contact with each other, and there’s debate about how or why the structures were even built at all.
This fact alone is nowhere close to the mountain of evidence that a rational person would need to take in before accepting that The Law of One is most likely true. But for me, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It just fit in so perfectly with everything else.
And BAM, that’s when it happened -- “The Phonograph”
started playing on Pandora. And suddenly my brain was instantly reminded of how insanely magical I already knew our reality had to be, even if there was nothing supernatural at all beyond what we see laid out before our very eyes every single day.
So that’s the definitive moment when it all clicked for me. I had heard it being described as a “gong” going off in your brain, but for me it felt more like a nuclear explosion. All I could think was, “Holy shit, this is actually real. This is actually, actually real.”
My wife could see what was happening. My face was frozen and tears were streaming uncontrollably down my face. She started citing quotes from major religious figures, explaining how they all fit together in the one cohesive reality that’s been right in front of our noses this whole time.
I stumbled into the bathroom. I don’t even know why I went in, really. I started hyperventilating. I guess I just needed to be alone in a small room for 20 minutes or something. My breathing was uncontrollable. I grabbed onto my bathroom sink, and I felt like Neo waking from his watery sleeping pod thing in The Matrix when he’s unplugged. It felt like I was grabbing hold of that sink for the very first time in my life.
My mind was racing. So many things made so much sense all at once. I scanned my brain for any contradictions anywhere. But for the first time in my life, there were none. I thought about the world’s major religions. They all fit together perfectly with the elaboration of The Law of One acting as a sort of cohesive glue to the core message in each one.
The Law of One explains that Jesus simply wanted to spread a message of unity and kindness. The whole angle with sin forgiveness was simply an assurance of the fact that the “sins” we commit as flesh-and-blood humans don’t carry on past our deaths toward any kind of eternal suffering. (My wife explains, “Sin is connected to guilt, which is to not accept, not forgive ourselves for self-perceived wrongdoings. ‘Sins’ carry on past our death in that our soul will examine all karma and learn what it can about itself. The beginning of salvation is knowledge of self and forgiveness of self, which is the One.”)
Many of Jesus’s direct words now had a deeper meaning in the context of The Law of One -- particularly his talk about finding the Kingdom of God within ourselves and treating everyone we encounter as if they were him.
The emphasis on the “third eye” in Hinduism now made perfect sense as well. Over the course of my research, I learned that this was simply referring to the pineal gland of the brain. And, in fact, the pineal gland (represented as a pine cone) is a major symbol in every major religion. The pineal gland is essentially the antenna of the human soul. It’s where we dream and imagine. It’s where our brains naturally produce DMT, which is released in excess by psychedelics, meditation, and near-death experiences. Hinduism’s talk of chakras and reincarnation also fit perfectly into The Law of One.
And of course there’s Buddhism, with its emphasis in unity and mindfulness
. The concept of enlightenment is identical to what Ra seeks to help people understand. I would highly recommend independent study of basic Buddhist philosophies because they are perhaps the most applicable to both The Law of One and this entire process I'm describing, as illustrated by the following quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:
"In our daily life, we are inclined to perceive things as real and independent of each other. Take, for example, a leaf which we see on the branch in front of us. We may think that this leaf exists independently of all the other leaves, independently of the branch, the trunk, and the roots of the tree; independently of the clouds, the water, the earth, and the sky. In truth, this leaf could not be here without the presence of all the other things which we see as different from it. This leaf is one with the other leaves, the branch, the trunk, and the roots of the tree; with the clouds, the river, the earth, the sky, and the sunlight. If any of these things were not present, the leaf could not be. If we look deeply into the leaf, we can see the presence of all these things. The leaf and these things are present together. This is the principle of interbeing and interpenetration, the principle of one is all and all is one, which the Avatamsaka Sutra, the most complete and sufficient expression of Buddhist principle of inter-dependent origination, teaches. Things do not exist outside of each other. Things exist within each other and with each other. That is why the Buddha said: 'That is, because that is.' With the power of concentration, we can observe all that is in the light of this principle. All phenomena in the universe, including the thoughts, words, and feelings of both ourselves and those around us, need to be observed in the light of interdependence." - Thich Nhat Hanh, "Transformation and Healing"
I even understood shamanistic rituals now. They were simply activating the pineal gland. And the beliefs of the Native Americans made perfect sense too, with their emphasis on spiritual unity with nature.
What I’ve come to understand about science and religion is that they are both valuable tools, but they each come with their own set of limitations. It’s critical to understand what they have to teach, but it’s also important to understand the limitations of what they CAN teach. Science, for example, can only gather data about what’s empirically observable in the past and present of physical space. This might seem all-encompassing, but stuff like consciousness is very difficult to empirically measure, so science turns a blind eye to it, even though it’s quite literally the most important thing about our entire existence.
Religion can give us wisdom and philosophy passed through generations, but we should never rely on any small specific detail being factually true. It is ridiculous to claim that any religious text is the infallible word of God. We should study religions for the messages imparted by the people who thought that all this stuff was important enough to write down (back when doing so was no easy task), but we can’t allow them to block our minds from receiving new information. Even if religious texts are largely fiction, sometimes there’s a greater truth to fiction in a deeper philosophical sense. Once you start appreciating religions on that level, the core differences between them start to melt away.
This applies to The Law of One as well. Read it for the deeper message, and don't get stuck on any particulars. Keep what resonates with you and discard the rest. At least some of the information presented as literal is really metaphorical; in Book 1, Ra talks about instruments being out of alignment by a few degrees, and the researchers adjust these physical instruments. But it comes out later in Book 5 that Ra was actually referring to the "alignment" of the mental states of the researchers. The only thing that L/L Research is asserting is that this is a real channeling session. No one can know for sure whether the information is accurate, let alone literally accurate to a verbatim degree. There's also some confusion early on about the word "galaxy" being used to describe a solar system. This particular miscommunication is later corrected, but it highlights an important fact -- miscommunications CAN happen. Human language is a very limited tool for understanding metaphysical concepts. Ultimately, The Law of One is less an explanation by itself and more of a thread that ties many concepts together; you will have to understand these concepts individually before you can appreciate the gravity of what is being explained.
I thought back on a quote from Penn Jillette that I often upvoted in /r/atheism
on Reddit. It goes like this:
“If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.” - Penn Jillette
This quote really struck a chord with me because the logic seemed so obvious, yet commonly overlooked.
What I realized now, though, was that there are a few very deep themes in religions that are consistent across all of them. The "nonsense" Jillette refers to is just the stuff that creative editors like to add to their religions to spice things up and tell a compelling story. Perhaps they were never even intended to be taken literally at all.
So, no, there was never a Noah's Ark or a Garden of Eden or a man living inside of a whale. This is the "nonsense" that would fail to be replicated if all traces of Christianity were wiped out tomorrow.
But Jesus didn't spend his time talking about these stories. He spent his time talking about the deeper message of compassion and non-judgment. This deeper message would still be true if Christianity were erased, and "someone would find a way to figure it all out again." Many already do.
I searched my mind for any contradiction anywhere. Satanism? Contrary to how most people imagine it to be, Satanism’s major emphasis is mostly on humanity and free will over a godlike authority. Its themes fit together perfectly.
Even atheism, with its unbiased search for real knowledge and real answers, however bleak they might seem to be, fit perfectly with the theme that God seeks only to know itself with the greatest clarity it can. Perhaps my own atheism had helped me reach this point of discovery more than anything else, even if I no longer believed that consciousness would end after death.
There was a phrase that my wife and I used to use all the time to describe the mentality with which one embraces atheism -- “once you know, you know.” I don’t think a lot of religious people really understand the certainty with which an atheist holds their convictions. Leaving religion feels like abandoning a cult. Asking an atheist if they would ever go back to their former religion is a lot like asking an adult if they would ever believe in Santa Claus again.
And yet, that very phrase kept pulsing through my mind. “Once you know, you know.” My hyperventilating intensified. “Once you know, you know.” I now believed the core tenets of The Law of One to be true with 99.9% certainty -- my 1% doubt in atheism had been replaced with a new doubt a tenth the size in something that I could have easily written off as too ridiculous to be true only a year earlier. And yet, once I knew, I knew.
But even more than all of this was the most important phrase of all: “we are one.” My brain was in overdrive mode focusing on those three words alone. That was the thread through everything that held our entire reality together. It’s a phrase I had heard so many times throughout my life, and I never stopped to think about what it really meant. But I knew it was true. It was just so obviously true now. Of course we were all one. Nothing else made any sense.
I eventually stumbled out of the bathroom a complete wreck. I collapsed down to my knees and rested my forehead against the couch.
My wife was concerned. She asked what was wrong and tried to console me. But I wasn’t sad. I was probably happier than I ever felt in my life. I said “I’m fine” and “I get it now” between sobs. It took about 30 seconds just to get each phrase out. I couldn’t possibly communicate a single word more.
I reflected on what had happened, and I just started laughing. Or at least I thought I was laughing -- I’m not really sure what my face was doing at this point; I really had no control over it. Specifically, I reflected on how much effort I had put into God’s Assassin. It was loosely based on an ever-evolving novel I’d been writing and rewriting since I was 13 years old. In a weird sort of way, despite all the ridiculous fiction, the story was always highly autobiographical. It was an ever-evolving snapshot of my mind.
Now the final version was already past-due for release, and in its current iteration I had turned it into a bit of an atheist soap box. And yet, here I was now, collapsed to the floor after finding God within myself, less than 24 hours after praying to Ra with everything I had. I couldn’t stop laughing at how ridiculous it all was.
I made two decisions right away. First, I decided that I would release God’s Assassin essentially as I had already written it. I was still filling out a few placeholder sections and doing lots of editing, but I knew that I was going to finish the process as I would have done it a year ago as an atheist. The game would be like a snapshot of my mind from another era.
The second decision was that I would write this autobiography as a sort of counter-point. How else could I tell anyone what had happened? I had been such an outspoken advocate of atheism for so many years. I had to “come out of the closet” as believing in something supernatural now, right? But what would I tell people? “I did a lot of research on the internet, took some drugs, prayed to Ra, and understood that we are all one”?
So I’m just going to put it all out there. I was never one for personal privacy, and if the end goal is helping myself and others understand reality just a little bit better, then I’m eager to offer my own mind and my own life experiences on the dissection table. Please understand that pride is not a factor here.
I still don’t fully understand what exactly happened on this day, but I cannot escape the strong feeling that my life was changed forever. I am more calm, peaceful, content and serene than ever now. I went through airport security just a few days later (coincidentally to attend the “UNITE” conference for “Unity,” a game-development tool) and I had only smiles for the TSA agents to whom I had once only cast hateful glares.
I have fully internalized the notion that life is about learning lessons, bettering oneself through understanding, and helping others. These same realizations have been reached by people around the world for thousands of years. The Law of One was just a catalyst -- one that my analytical brain needed to read before embracing spirituality from within.
This is why I advocate independent research so much throughout this text. I’m writing this text for other people like me because they’re the ones most likely to understand what I went through. But if you are a naturally faith-based person who can embrace a notion of reality from strong internal feelings alone, then it is very possible to understand what I now understand through reflection and deep meditation alone.
That isn’t to say it’s easy. This isn’t like picking a religion and letting someone else do all the explaining for you. I think that’s what drives a lot of people to subscribe to a religion in the first place -- they just want to trust that someone else already figured this stuff out and wrote it down in a book. So if we just sign on the dotted line at the end of the book, then we should be entitled to everything good that it promises, right?
But you can’t do that with this. You have to really, really, really work at it. You need to have complete control over your mind, and you have to dig deep into the most uncomfortable corners of your soul. You need to shine a light on the darkest shadows and understand how your own mind works. Just as God seeks to know itself, so must you seek to know yourself. (As the esoteric saying goes, "Know thyself, and you will know the universe and the gods.")
It is only after you have reached complete peace with yourself and others that you will be able to begin your search for the understanding that already lies deep within your consciousness.
At this point in my autobiographical timeline (when it all clicked together), I understood about half as much as I do at the time of this writing. In the final section I will explain how I reached the second half of my current understanding. But even now, I feel like an infant awakening for the first time in a whole new reality that I am eager to explore. I am pausing my exploration only to write this text; my wife is currently reading book after book on topics related to concepts mentioned in The Law of One. Even compared to her, I understand very little.
So understand that I am writing this text from a place of eagerness to share, but also from a place of relative infancy compared to others who have reached the same general conclusions about our reality that I now wish to spread.
And yet, still, I understand far more now than I ever dreamed possible TO understand as a human being just a year ago. And in hindsight I have some clarity as to which mental processes I went through that turned out to be really important. The purpose of this section is to explain these processes for others who may relate to my situation and how my mind works. I wish I could write this section for everyone, but unfortunately I have only ever experienced being myself, so I can only explain it in such a way that would have made sense to me.
I have completed the first baby steps in this lifelong process, so I believe I can speak with some authority about the most important aspects of the beginning stages. But, again, I must make it perfectly clear that I am only talking about baby steps -- I'm not exactly Thich Nhat Hanh here. I understand that some readers of this text will consider me an amateur, and I do not claim myself to be anything more.
But here’s what I do know: The mind needs to be completely clear and at peace with itself. Almost all of us have negative emotions that hinder finding this sort of peace. But the solution is not to suppress these feelings. The solution, rather, is to examine them very, very carefully, thoughtfully, and thoroughly. You need to train yourself to practice metacognition -- let your mind do whatever it needs to do, but understand why it thinks the way that it does. There’s no reason to hide your thoughts from God -- your thoughts ARE God, merely seeking to understand itself. Embrace them.
And you have to be brutally honest with yourself. You can’t make any excuses for yourself. Who are you cheating? This is all only in your own mind. You must be committed to the goal of understanding yourself as accurately as possible, without favorable or unfavorable bias. Detach yourself from what you want to be or how you think you should be, and don’t judge yourself in any way.
After much introspection, I identified three categories of negative thought patterns that were inhibiting my clarity of mind: depression, awkwardness/embarrassment, and anger. Yours will be different, but I hope my examples will be of some benefit, if only as a demonstration of the deconstruction process.
The depression was a bit of a freebie that got solved by accident. I had already analyzed it very, very closely for many years. And I knew for a long time that it was probably biologically based. It was just ALWAYS there for my entire life. It never went away, even when I could objectively see that I should have been happy.
The problem with trying to address biologically induced depression with lifestyle changes was that it always caught up to me. My life got better and better every year, and sometimes I was happy for a few months when something new happened, but I always settled back down to my baseline level.
It is possible that I am currently experiencing a temporary break from depression, and it is possible that factors beyond my conscious awareness are keeping it away. However, my depression lessened greatly when I started using the aforementioned self-medications, and I largely credit them with at least sparking an interest in self-betterment.
Once my day-to-day attitude improved, a lot of little problems faded away, both in occurrence and in relevance. I thought a lot about the process that I saw unfolding before me. So many little things had caused so much suffering for such trivial reasons. All I had to do was think about them enough with a goal of understanding for them to fade away.
But that’s a key here -- you have to enter with the right goal! It has to be objective understanding of why the thoughts occur. You can’t just let your mind get stuck in a cycle where it feeds depression and anger back into itself. Depressive thoughts can be overwhelming at times, but the trick is to think about the thoughts from an outside perspective (even though this is all in your mind) rather than letting your mind get caught in the thoughts themselves like a whirlpool that just goes around in circles. For example, if you experience thoughts of self-hatred, train yourself to acknowledge this by thinking “I am experiencing thoughts of self-hatred” rather than “I hate myself.” The distinction is subtle, but important.
This is very difficult to do, but it’s hugely important. It’s worth a few months of concerted mental effort, if only for its own benefits.
My second major issue dealt with excessive feelings of awkwardness and constant rumination
of embarrassing memories.
The key here was really just imagining scenarios happening to other people. I still think I’m objectively more awkward than average, but I’m at least somewhere within the normal bounds of human behavior, even if you’d never guess it from my thought patterns.
But events are always more embarrassing for the person they’re happening to than they’re perceived to be by onlookers. If you can’t get this perspective from analyzing your own embarrassing memories, you can also try the reverse -- picture yourself as someone else who embarrassed themselves. When you can appreciate how much MORE embarrassing this is, you can then get a better idea of how much LESS embarrassing your memories were from the perspective of onlookers.
The other thing that helped was thinking about the cause-and-effect sequence of events that led up to the memory. Everything occurs for a reason. From the moment of the Big Bang to the moment of an embarrassing memory, there was a causal timeline of events that obeyed the laws of physics. If the Big Bang had exploded just a little bit differently, the event would very likely not have occurred.
None of us are immune to the laws of physics operating upon our physical bodies. We are fundamentally no different from a physics experiment being carried out with predictable results, even if we’re more complicated to such a degree as to render the results entirely unpredictable.
I could also more rationally reflect on the fact that these events don’t even matter at all in the first place, but for whatever reason this proved too difficult.
My anger issues related to recurring violent thoughts. Long before I’d even touched any illegal substance, my mind latched on to the political issue of substance prohibition as the issue I would get angry about.
I think a lot of people have something like this. There’s just that one issue, or that one group of people, or that one mindset in society, or that one political party, or just that one random thing that causes blood pressure to rise whenever it enters the mind. I couldn’t even watch “The Wire” for a few years because I knew it would make me angry just thinking about the whole situation, even though I knew that the creator of the series shared my views.
I had a very negative view of law enforcement as well. Aside from frequently reading news stories and watching YouTube videos of police abuse, I’ve personally known a few cops outside their jobs, and our personalities always clashed.
Combine these two factors, and the result was dark, violent thoughts. Not just passing thoughts -- but rather, long, detailed, recurring fantasies that only grew more twisted as my imagination continued to explore new possibilities. These thoughts would run through my mind as I fell asleep each night. It became my “happy place.”
These thoughts too must be examined. In fact, they’re the most important thoughts to examine. This is how to slay your inner demons -- understand your darkness and accept it for what it is.
First I had to be honest with myself about how “real” the thoughts were. After all, some people really do purchase firearms with the intention of gunning down as many people as possible, and sometimes these massacres are targeted toward a specific group. Was there ever any possibility that these thoughts could manifest into such actions?
The answer was immediate: No. Zero chance. My rejection of violence far outweighs any political views or personal anger that I hold.
Okay, so let’s re-imagine those scenarios with a new goal in mind: understanding how I would ACTUALLY behave if I ever stumbled into a sort of Reservoir Dogs ear-cutting situation as a random person walking by while a cop was being brutally tortured by someone else.
Again, another immediate answer came: I would try to help the cop. I explored the depths of this answer. Would I try to help even if I knew I would receive no credit or recognition for my heroic actions? Yes, that would not be a factor. Would I try to help even if it put my own personal life in danger? Well, I suppose that would depend on whether I accurately understood the situation, whether I was in a unique situation to help, and what the odds were of dying, but in general, yes, I would naturally gravitate toward doing what I can, within reason, even at risk to myself.
This revelation gave me pause. Now the whole situation made zero sense. How was I deriving sadistic pleasure from the fantasy of maiming someone I would risk my life to save?
I only really gave this issue serious thought a few months after I started using psychedelics, and the violent thoughts had already diminished drastically both in frequency and in detail by that point. This too rationally didn’t make any sense. My views against the drug war were stronger than ever, and the only thing that had changed was that I gained new personal experience about how harmless some prohibited substances really are. So why was I less angry about this political issue?
I thought more broadly about my feelings of anger. In general, I’m not a very angry person. I don’t get into fights, and I never even fought back against kids who picked on me in middle school (my parents promised $50 if I ever got suspended for fighting back, but I never did). I searched my feelings more deeply for anyone at all whom I would truly want to inflict harm toward, just for the sake of inflicting pain.
Then it hit me. There was only one person: myself.
Now everything made perfect sense. I re-imagined the scenarios with myself as the victim. Wow, the exact same neurons in my brain are firing. This was never a sadistic fantasy -- it was a masochistic one. The fact that it was about a political issue was just a superficial mask from the start. The feelings weren’t going away because my politics had changed; they were going away because I was finally starting to hate myself less.
And I was having fewer mental arguments, too. I used to find myself getting angrier and angrier in a mental debate with an acquaintance who never actually says the things I mentally attribute them. Where was that anger truly coming from?
I realized later that there is a mathematical truth to consciousness, at least in my own mind: Hatred toward others is always equal to hatred toward self.
Once I had this revelation, things made a lot more sense. I could see the direct connection. The more I rationalized away my feelings of anger toward others, the less I hated myself. The more I worked through my own issues with depression and self-loathing, the less angry I felt toward my arbitrary “hate target.” They moved in perfect step.
The violent thoughts vanished entirely after this revelation. So did the mental arguments. I didn’t have to suppress them, and they never so much as creep into my mind anymore. Shadows cannot develop where light has been shined.
But even before I made this discovery, the thoughts were still fading away gradually. This was partially due to a general increase in peace within my mind, but I also benefited from thinking very deeply about the concept of “reality tunnels” as it’s laid out in the book “Prometheus Rising”
by Robert Anton Wilson (highly recommended reading for understanding your own mind). It’s not a coincidence that I chose “Reality Tunnels” as the tentative title for my third fictional project -- it’s a concept that really struck home for me.
The basic idea is this: All of us are stuck in our own reality tunnels. We have a forced limited perspective in that we only experience the universe through our own individual minds, and each of us absorb and consider different pieces of information available to us.
For example, let’s say Person A is raised by an American atheist family with a passion for science. Person A will absorb a lot of scientific information and dismiss religions as fiction. Through this lens, that person will attribute world events to purely scientific causes. Information that supports this view will be absorbed into that person’s reality tunnel, and information that contradicts this view will be dismissed. The reality tunnel becomes a feedback loop, where starting beliefs get stronger and stronger.
Let’s say Person B is raised in a developing Muslim country that uses the Koran as a textbook. Regardless of whether you believe the teachings of Islam to be true, it must be acknowledged that any religion will offer a lot of data and a lot of explanations for the universe at large. If this information is imparted by an authority figure, and there is strong social pressure to adhere to the doctrine, then it is easy to understand how the literal words of a religion would be interpreted to be true by a child. This child will form a reality tunnel around those views, and those views will naturally get strengthened over time as this individual accepts information that supports the teachings of Islam and rejects the information that is contradictory.
There are many, many subtle factors that contribute to us getting trapped in our own reality tunnels. But the fact is that there is only one reality. I sometimes hear the phrase that if you believe a religion to be true, then it’s true for you. I never really understood this logic at all. Just believing something is true does not make it true in the slightest, unless this truth can be directly influenced by thoughts (i.e., placebo effect).
ALL of us have our own reality tunnels. We don’t need to look any further than political parties for proof of this. Ideas can be interpreted as good or bad depending on the allegiance of the person pitching them and the associations of the people receiving them. Groupthink plays a large role, but we also condition ourselves to mentally shut out challenging information because sometimes giving this information meaningful thought can be uncomfortable. Believe me when I say that much of the information contained in this text did not enter my mind easily -- atheism was my reality tunnel.
And so too are my politics regarding the drug war. I am 99% certain that substance prohibition is a disastrous policy, and society would immediately benefit from ending these policies as soon as possible. I think that’s part of why the issue is so frustrating to me. It’s such low-hanging fruit. I also support establishing a single-payer health care system, and perhaps that issue is even more important, but health care requires that we actually DO something. Ending substance prohibition just requires that we STOP doing something that’s actively harmful. It’s a bit maddening that this is so difficult to do.
But there are reasons for why it’s so difficult, and they ultimately boil down to money. The more I researched the topic, the more I came to understand this. Privatized prisons, police lobbies, drug companies and alcohol brewers all have a vested interest in keeping the drug war going and America’s incarceration rate the highest in the world (we have 25% of the world’s prisoners with 5% of the total population, largely due to our drug war).
And beyond money, racism allows these policies to be carried out. The laws are disproportionately targeted toward people of color, and it’s a simple fact that they’re more likely to spend time in prison than white people for the same crimes (or in the case of crack cocaine vs. regular cocaine, we’ll just create special sentencing rules). Racism is a very, very real problem in America. Look no further than New York’s stop-and-frisk policy. I don’t want to argue this point too much because it’s a bit off-topic, but I really do believe that the combination between money and racism is responsible for most of how drug laws are created and enforced in America.
There is this idea that we need to fight drugs because drugs ruin people’s lives. It is very true that people’s lives are ruined by drugs, but it is a logical fallacy to then say that the problem should be treated as a criminal issue rather than a health issue. The evidence is very clear that if we want to reduce both violent crime and drug addiction rates, then we would need to end prohibition and start treating addiction like the health problem that it is. Unfortunately, this solution requires wrestling money and political power from prisons and police, and they’re not willing to let that power go so easily. The policy change would also require a drastic change in public opinion, which is even more difficult because of how many decades the public has been misled on this issue.
I have this mental image of what our country would look like if every drug were legalized tomorrow. It’s much like season 3 of The Wire, which I eventually got around to watching. I see violent crime dropping, police/citizen relationships improving, basic human dignity restored, tax dollars saved, drug abuse rates declining, violent cartels losing power, and a general increase in respect for the basic human freedom that each of us should hold to put whatever substance we want into our own bodies, regardless of how harmful those substances might be. I don’t believe that these effects are far-fetched -- all of the scientific evidence we’ve collected indicates that these are the effects of ending substance prohibition, and real-world examples (ending alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and Portugal’s decriminalization of substance possession) all support this.
But this view is a result of my own reality tunnel. I have researched the topic at great length, but I am lacking a lot of hands-on experience. I’ve never tried cocaine, meth, heroin, or PCP. I wouldn’t try any of these substances if they were legalized, either. And I’ve never actually experienced substance addiction before. I only use psychedelics, which aren’t addictive in the slightest. I have heard the point of view from former heroin addicts that stopping is so impossible that they wished the substance were more difficult to obtain (unfortunately, prohibition does not even achieve this basic goal). I have even heard the view expressed from former addicts that prison made an overall positive impact on their life, in that it helped them to stop.
The thought of having my freedom taken away from me just for a decision I made about putting a substance into my own body caused my blood to boil on a level that's difficult to properly articulate. But I couldn't ignore the fact that some people had been through a lot more than I have, and they had reached the exact opposite conclusion about what was best for their lives. I don't believe that these people are anywhere near the majority, but it was nonetheless important for me to acknowledge that they exist at all.
I also have no experience as law enforcement. I've never been out on the front lines; I've only researched the topic from a philosophical and scientific perspective from the comfort of my own home.
So I have this idea in my head that's basically just season 3 of The Wire, but I have to admit -- if only to myself -- that this prediction is not made with 100% certainty. NOTHING that ANY of us know is known with a degree of 100% certainty (maybe we're all just collectively hallucinating brains floating in vats), and our certainty about anything is substantially lower when we're trying to make a prediction about the future.
So there are two main thought exercises that we can derive from the concept of reality tunnels. First, understand why you believe the things you do, and also understand why these beliefs may be flat-out wrong. Second, understand that your own reality tunnel would be very different if your life circumstances were different, and these circumstances are often beyond our control. So if "our" beliefs are largely dictated by circumstance, and we do not really control these circumstances, then how can we really say that we're in full control of our own beliefs, either?
I like to think about the conditions that could lead me to become a DEA officer. This is actually pretty easy because I used to argue very vehemently on the schoolyard playground that cigarettes should be illegal. So I can understand the mentality of "this drug is bad, therefore, we should do everything within our power to eradicate its use and very existence from the planet." I now realize that this is a naive and unrealistic goal (we can't even keep drugs out of maximum-security prisons), but I can at least understand how a good-intentioned person would latch onto it as a solution to a very real problem (drug addiction).
If I hadn't done the research that I did, who knows how much longer I would have continued holding this view. And, ultimately, every DEA agent only does the job for money. It's not like anyone's out there volunteering without a salary to arrest people for possessing a plant. These people are told by a social system that these laws are good, and enforcing them is for the greater good. Toss money into the equation, and it's really not difficult to understand what would lead a person to assume this role, regardless of whether they would have malicious intentions.
And really, if someone is doing something with no malicious intentions, then why should I be angry at them? I should still work to change the policies, but there's simply no rational reason to hold personal anger against individuals who are involved in the enforcement of those policies.
But even if there IS malicious intent, it's never malicious just for the sake of being malicious. There's always a self-serving reason for people behaving maliciously, even if that reason is only sadistic pleasure. But in this particular case, it's all about money. Most of us would bend our morals at least a little bit for enough money because all of us are self-serving to SOME degree. "Evil," therefore, can be traced back to service to self, and service to self is built into the foundation of our entire universe. We wouldn't exist at all without the concept of service to self, since evolution could never occur without organisms behaving in their own best interest to the detriment of others.
This begs a deeper question -- is there any rational reason to hate anyone at all?
Part of the overall mental preparation process is removing all hatred and judgment toward others. You must internalize the fact that each person has their own individual reasons for being the way that they are. This may be easy for acquaintances, and it may seem doable for political opponents, but what about Hitler? It’s certainly not easy, but that’s precisely why it makes such good mental practice.
So I’m going to make the case for Hitler as a human being. Please understand that this is just a mental exercise and not an endorsement of any of his views or policies.
I think Will Smith really got it right when he made this controversial statement:
"Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today.' I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good'. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming." - Will Smith
One of my personal problems with how Hitler is portrayed in movies is that he’s always just dripping with this evil aura. He’s like a Disney villain. I think this view of Hitler is very dangerous because it gives off the impression that “evil” is easy to recognize right away. In truth, many reports paint Hitler as a friendly uncle-type figure with children, and he bonded well with dogs.
Just once I want to see a movie that portrays Hitler in this manner. Show him as a friendly, charismatic leader who was carrying out unspeakable death and destruction behind the public’s understanding. That’s a lot closer to how the world really works. I especially appreciate the movie “The Last King of Scotland” for illustrating this concept with a brutal dictator of Uganda. Forest Whitaker is especially brilliant in this movie because he really helps you understand the disconnect between someone’s in-person behavior and their political actions once they have power over people’s lives.
Analyze the history behind Hitler’s rise to power, also. No one would know Hitler’s name if Archduke Franz Ferdinand hadn’t been assassinated. The sequence of events that set off World War I were directly responsible for Germany’s post-war economy, and it was only in these conditions that someone like Hitler could rise to power and scapegoat a group of people so harshly.
Recognize, also, that everyone is self-serving to some degree, and everyone lacks empathy to some degree. It is uncomfortable for us to acknowledge, but in truth, Hitler was on the same spectrum that we all share. He might have had much more or much less of specific qualities that all humans share, but these qualities differ only in amount and not in whether they exist in a person at all.
There are two principles in psychology that are especially helpful to me when trying to understand how something like the Holocaust could have been committed by human beings (aside from the obvious fact that war in general turns people into monsters). It's easy for us to pretend that the Nazis were just little orbs of pure concentrated evil, but the truth is that they were humans just like we are. If "we" had been born in their place, we would have behaved exactly as they did. It's important to understand why to the best of our abilities.
The first important concept is the Monkeysphere. Cracked.com has a great article about it
. The basic idea is this: At a very primal, biological level, our human brains can only really process about 150 people as actual human beings. David Wong in his Cracked article articulates this concept better than I can, so here's a direct quote:
"Most of us do not have room in our Monkeysphere for our friendly neighborhood sanitation worker. So, we don't think of him as a person. We think of him as The Thing That Makes The Trash Go Away.
"And even if you happen to know and like your particular garbage man, at one point or another we all have limits to our sphere of monkey concern. It's the way our brains are built. We each have a certain circle of people who we think of as people, usually our own friends and family and neighbors, and then maybe some classmates or coworkers or church or suicide cult.
"Those who exist outside that core group of a few dozen people are not people to us. They're sort of one-dimensional bit characters.
"Remember the first time, as a kid, you met one of your school teachers outside the classroom? Maybe you saw old Miss Puckerson at Taco Bell eating refried beans through a straw, or saw your principal walking out of a dildo shop. Do you remember that surreal feeling you had when you saw these people actually had lives outside the classroom?" - David Wong
The second psychological concept is best illustrated by the Stanford prison experiment. When people are in positions of power over others, they naturally live out the role in a frighteningly unstoppable way. The key here is the perception that authority is on their side. A juror will condemn someone to death far more easily than he or she would carry out the sentence themselves. A participant in the Milgram experiment will shock (or believe to be shocking) a participant if instructed by an authority figure. Romans will cheer at Christians being fed to lions, onlookers will gather around the burning of a witch, Muslim extremists will stone adulterers, American military personnel will massacre North Vietnamese villages, and Nazi footsoldiers will carry out their orders in a concentration camp. All we need is the blessing of authority to commit atrocious acts. We must understand this behavior because it runs through all of us.
The point of this exercise is to take something horrible and evil and analyze it down to its most basic cause-and-effect elements. If the Holocaust was destined to happen from the moment of the Big Bang, did the Big Bang already contain all the evil that we would otherwise ascribe to the Holocaust? Or, rather, was there just a logical sequence of events that took place to produce an outcome of immense pain and suffering, to which humans almost universally apply a label of “evil”?
The major mental hurdle with truly understanding that “everything happens for a reason” in the pure sense of “the universe operates within a cause-and-effect relationship within the laws of physics” is that the sequence of events produced by this unfolding has no sense of fairness or justice whatsoever. We can acknowledge the reasons for Jews being rounded up in camps while simultaneously acknowledging that they did nothing to deserve it, and no good came from it. This does not contradict with “everything happens for a reason”; most people use the phrase to imply some kind of moral karma or ends justifying means, but there is no moral karma, and there is no guarantee of a worthwhile end goal. Sometimes awful things just happen and nothing good comes of it, other than perhaps a greater understanding of human behavior.
So all we can really do is understand why bad things happen, and try to prevent bad things from happening within our own personal framework. Understanding why Hitler rose to power and why he orchestrated the Holocaust does not conflict with also understanding why he was a valid military target and why the world is a better place without his influence.
But the most important thing to emphasize is that the entire exercise is simply about understanding. I wish my advice could be more helpful than just “think critically about stuff until you understand it,” but that’s the heart of this whole process, which is why none of this is easy.
As I mentioned earlier, I got a very, very strong sense during a mushroom trip that art was somehow very important. I can’t quite articulate why I had this feeling, and I notice that art appreciation is rarely mentioned in other texts that seek to explain the same basic concepts that I’m talking about. But regardless, I still believe that understanding/appreciating high art plays a very important role in this entire process. For me personally, I believe it was critical.
When I say “high art,” I am referring to good art, which I realize is subjective. Everyone has their own definition of what high art is, and that’s totally fine. The most important common thread in everyone’s own perception of high art is that, as Donald Draper from Mad Men would say, it makes you feel something.
So don’t judge what makes you feel something or what it makes you feel. Just recognize the degree of these feelings and where they’re coming from. My wife and I will occasionally tour art museums, and I’m pretty open about my lack of appreciation for modern art. It’s just... the blank canvases. I really can’t get past it. Or the paintings that are just one single color. I’ll read the elaborate posted descriptions and think to myself that the exhibit is more about writing than about painting, and on some level, as a writer-but-no-painter, I feel a tinge of jealousy that someone is able to get their own art exhibit just by writing a poetic page about the “warm, welcoming” orange color that coats the entire canvas.
So maybe to me, modern art isn’t high art. But anything can be high art to anyone. For example, I love Breaking Bad. I get excited when it’s on, and I love talking to my wife and friends about each episode’s new development once it’s over. Is Breaking Bad high art?
Yes, absolutely. I will defend this point to the death. First, Bryan Cranston is brilliant. Not a controversial statement, I know, but you can really get lost in analyzing all the distinct layers of his brilliance. His body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and line delivery timing all come together to channel a very real, very believable, and very lifelike character. We all have our grievances with Walter White, but he’s such a convincingly real, human character that we can’t help but empathize with him. We understand Walter White because we each see some of our own darkness in him, and in watching the show we better understand ourselves, even if only subconsciously, and only a little bit. But it all adds up over time.
What makes Breaking Bad such a great show is that it puts a magnifying glass on real characters and real situations. They’re not real in the sense that they’re non-fiction, but they’re real in the sense that they are true to the human spirit, and the unfolding of events is always very logical. Sometimes the show reaches a little far, but in general the audience always has a very firm understanding about why each event led to the next event, and it’s all very believable, even when the situations explode beyond what we expect to happen (and they always do).
When we really understand shows like Breaking Bad, we understand ourselves and our own reality just a little bit better.
My personal favorite piece of art is the anime Fooly Cooly. Fooly Cooly is not just my favorite anime or my favorite TV series; Fooly Cooly is my favorite creative expression ever produced by a human being. I love that the essence of each character is immediately easy to understand, and each character behaves in a manner consistent with their emotions and personalities. But even more than that, I love how the backstory is completely consistent and 100% logical, yet also completely impossible to understand during the first viewing. But once you do understand the backstory, you realize that the clues are all there, right in front of you this whole time. No one can figure it out the first time, but everyone can figure it out after enough viewings.
The storytelling style in God’s Assassin is similar (though I wrote most of it before seeing Fooly Cooly), and I later instructed the artist to draw Faith to look a bit like Haruko, the lead character in Fooly Cooly, since there are many similarities between their personalities. I love this storytelling style because it’s just so true to life. When we initially encounter something in our lives, we never really understand it. Sometimes we think we do, and there’s a very surface-level coming-of-age plot line in Fooly Cooly that’s comprehensible even during the first viewing.
But for the most part, when we encounter something new and bizarre in the universe, we never have any idea what’s really going on. But just because we have no idea about what’s going on doesn’t mean that there isn’t a completely logical and consistent backstory that we could piece together if we pay close enough attention. Perhaps my attraction to this fictional storytelling style is what drew me deeply into The Law of One.
If a piece of art or a scene in a movie really resonates with you, explore that resonance to your full capacity. I just couldn’t get over that one line from the movie “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” and today I understand it a lot better (we need to have total awareness of the present moment). For me personally, this one line was a small catalyst in really understanding my own reality on a deeper level. Your catalysts will be different, but you should always be willing to put a lot of thought into anything artistic that really resonates with you on some deep level. The clues are all around us.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I was really, really obsessed with Star Wars when I was in middle school around the same time that I was losing my religion. When I was in elementary school, I was more of a Star Trek fan from watching The Next Generation. In many ways, I still respect Star Trek more than Star Wars. The dialogue is smarter, there’s an attempt to explain the science, the characters have more believable motives, and there are fewer ridiculous deus-ex-machina events that swoop in to save the day.
But I connected with the Star Wars universe on a much stronger level than I ever connected with Star Trek. I read novel after novel in the expanded universe. I didn’t fully understand why at the time, but I think I understand a little bit better now. Star Wars has very universal spiritual appeal. Everyone immediately understands what the force is, how it works, what the dark side is, and how someone could be seduced by it. The characters operate with a raw human emotion that’s very easy to understand as well. We know right away that Leia is a strong-willed warrior, that Luke is a pure-hearted farmboy yearning for greater purpose, and that Han is a self-oriented scoundrel with skeptical beliefs about anything supernatural.
We understand right away that Darth Vader is evil, and there’s nothing more to this story. We later understand that there is actually quite a bit more to this story, and maybe “evil” was too simplistic a term to immediately ascribe to him.
At its core, Star Wars is raw humanity spliced with universal spiritualism. If you need practice extracting human elements from art, Star Wars is a great entry point.
LUCID EGO DEATH
"Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration. We are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There's no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves." - Bill Hicks (highly recommended viewing at 2:20)
"LSD is delightful to annihilate the concept of self, the construction of self, the biochemical tapestry stimulated by a culture formulated in memory -- to see that thing bust apart by hallucinogens is a glory to behold -- to experience oneness, to experience interconnection, to know that in truth we are all one." - Russell Brand on Bill Maher
A week after I had my great epiphany of truly understanding what is meant by the phrase “all is one,” I was still euphoric, and my brain couldn’t stop processing all the new information. I was barely sleeping at all, and I couldn’t think about anything else all day.
It had been about 2 months since our last trip, so my wife asked if I was interested in LSD that weekend. “No thanks,” I said. “I love taking the red pill, but I don’t want to overdose on it.” I needed another week to let my brain cool down.
But I knew I had to go back. I knew there was something more that I had missed. I had to experience LSD again in my present state of mind and with my new understanding of the oneness of reality.
LSD is a drug that delivers what you take into it. It’s very possible to have a very bad experience on LSD. It’s not like alcohol, where your brain just gets numb and happy. LSD takes your brain in the opposite direction. Being sober is being numb by comparison. It is absolutely critical to only use LSD in a safe, comfortable environment, and only if you’re truly optimistic about taking the drug in the first place. If you don’t think you want to do LSD, then you should not do LSD.
Two things were weighing on my mind with regard to using LSD again. First, I had to seize the moment. I was more at peace with myself and the world than I ever dreamed possible. There wasn’t a hint of anger or depression anywhere in the deepest corners of my mind. When I thought back on all the individuals who had made me angry in the past, I didn’t merely forgive them -- I felt truly thankful to them for the life lessons that they had helped me learn.
I was blissful and serene. I lived in a quiet, peaceful household with a loving spouse. I worked at a rewarding, low-stress job. We were financially comfortable. My inner demons were gone, my thoughts were pure, and for the first time in years I was able to actually look at myself in a mirror.
And second, I knew I had more to learn and understand. LSD is sort of like the “bucket of truth” from that sketch in Upright Citizens Brigade. When you look straight into it, nothing is filtered.
I was eager to try a stronger dose than last time. I had only done LSD twice at this point -- once at 150ug and again at 300ug. My ego death experience came during the 300ug trip, and Erowid
lists 150-400ug as “strong.” After much internal debate, I decided that the next weekend I would try 600ug.
Before reading about my experience, please watch the YouTube video titled "Housewife uses LSD Experiment from the 1950's.”
There are two reasons why this video is important. First, the woman simply can’t describe the experience. This is VERY common with LSD users for a reason: The experience is simply impossible to describe in human language. Steve Jobs was a big advocate of LSD, but he didn’t even bother trying to describe it -- he just told people to try it. There’s a reason for this. When people who’ve tried LSD watch that video, everything that woman says makes perfect sense to us, but we all also understand that she’s only describing a small fraction of the experience. Trying to describe LSD to someone who’s never tried it before is like trying to describe a vibrant painting to a person who’s been blind since birth. We can try to describe it, and maybe you think you understand it from our explanation, but you really don’t. I’m going to try anyway.
The second reason this video is important is because of the dosage. That woman took 100ug. For my third trip I took six times that amount. I was... eager.
So, here’s what happened. I had my laptop out because I wanted to type up as much about the experience as I possibly could. I was writing a section in God’s Assassin where the player gets to take a psychedelic of their choosing, and I was much more easily able to describe mushrooms and DMT than I was able to describe LSD. So I had my laptop out because I wanted to take notes.
I had a light dinner the night before, and we skipped breakfast before taking our 3 hits of 200ug each. LSD is a very strong appetite suppressant, and you’ll want to do it on a completely empty stomach. (Mushrooms are the same way, but for DMT it doesn’t matter.)
As soon as the effects hit, I knew I had to lie down. I stumbled into the bedroom and collapsed into the bed. I wrapped the covers around my body and stuck my head under a pillow. I started writhing. Then I started pulling at my hair with clenched fists.
I shouted to my wife that I was fine, and not to worry, but holy crap, this was INTENSE. It felt like my mind was being peeled away, layer by layer. I was doing my best to cling to my own sanity, but I felt it being pulled away from me.
My mind was rocky, but stable. There were no inner demons to frighten me, and I felt a secure love at my core. But coming up on LSD really is the mental equivalent of blasting your brain out into space. For me it was highly unpleasant. Up until this point I felt pretty secure in my newfound identity as a psychonaut, but 600ug of LSD made me feel like a complete amateur. I wondered if perhaps 400ug would have been plenty, but it was too late now!
But once I leveled off, it was all worth it. Now’s the part where I try to describe the indescribable.
Here is the best way for me to describe high amounts of LSD to someone who’s never tried it: It’s the same stuff you’re already living, magnified by 100. Think of your pineal gland as like a coffee maker, slowly but steadily dripping “human spirit” into your brain. I can’t really think of another term to describe what can only be described as human spirit. LSD just turns that slow-drip coffee maker into a fire hydrant, and instead of sipping a cup of coffee, you’re sticking your face right in the full force of the blast.
So you’re more alive. You’re more human. You’re more right here, right now, in the present moment. You’re going to see amazing colors and “breathing” everywhere in your environment. Everything will seem alive because everything IS alive, and you’re all part of the same thing.
My visual hallucinations are much milder than most people’s, so it’s difficult for me to elaborate on visual effects. My wife describes seeing very vivid geometric, holographic rainbow matrices of moving color. She says they’re highly ordered and mathematical, not just general wavy lines.
I achieved a state of mind that can only be described as “lucid ego death.” Unlike my last experience, there wasn’t a sudden moment where I forgot who I was and what planet I was from. I never lost awareness of who Greg was and whose house I was inhabiting. I simply held no attachment to it all, beyond peaceful approval of its existence.
My wife and I couldn’t stop talking to each other. We were synced up like never before. We kept listing a bunch of old phrasings and idioms that are taught to children from different cultures. These sayings all suddenly made so much more sense now. Really simple stuff, like “work within your framework” and “understand where someone’s coming from” suddenly had new layers of meaning. We went through a bunch of these little phrases, dissecting the deeper meaning of each one with complete agreement.
I kept slipping into talking in the third person. For some reason it was easier to refer to myself as Greg than to use words like “I” and “me.” I never forgot who Greg was, but I occasionally forgot that his mind was the only one I was occupying.
And this is when I really, really, really understood that there is only one consciousness. I wish I could explain it in words that make sense, but the good news is that you don’t need to take LSD to understand this experience. You can also achieve it with meditation.
But you still need to do all that other stuff first. You need to understand yourself and others, and you need to be at complete peace with yourself and others. You must understand why things are the way they are without anger or judgment. Your mind must be totally clear of all earthly fears, attachments and distractions. Then, and only then, can you either meditate deeply or use a substance like LSD to experience complete unity with the field of consciousness of which we are all a small part. Then you will understand everything explained in this text. I recommend the book “Transformation and Healing”
by Thich Nhat Hanh for guidance on meditation -- it’s probably a more “pure” route than my own drug-induced shortcut.
During this experience, I was acceptant of death on a level difficult to describe. I felt like I could die tomorrow and it would be the equivalent of a light going off on a switchboard. The death would be a negative occurrence, but I would be indifferent to the prospect of sacrificing my life for a stranger’s. It felt like my body was just an avatar, and my consciousness was somewhere else. I never lost complete awareness of my surroundings, and I knew who Greg was, but it seemed like Greg was just a character I was controlling in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
My wife and I spent hours and hours talking nonstop about a wide range of topics described in The Law of One. The one advantage of psychedelics over meditation is that you can actively engage in a conversation while in this state of mind. It’s also super easy to enter a deep meditative state on LSD on a whim (during which time talking is not possible), so you really get the best of both worlds, if you can handle it.
I cannot describe how much MORE sense everything made in this state of mind. I realize how silly that sounds -- that you’d need to drop acid to truly appreciate how “we are all one,” but it’s still true. The thing about powerful psychedelics, though, is that you actually feel more awake than you do while sober. It’s actually the waking reality in which it seems your senses are filtered. And even now that I’m sober, the insights that I gained on LSD aren’t any less real (the same cannot be said of alcohol or cannabis...).
The experience can be very, very overwhelming for some, and that’s why some people do crazy things on psychedelics. LSD is NOT a party drug that you try at a concert for your first time. When I’m coming up on LSD, even just soft music in the living room can be too much for me. Your emotions get magnified and your senses do too. Reality starts to seem very overwhelming, and if you’re not in a quiet, safe environment, it can be enough to snap your sanity in half. The mere acquisition of psychedelics is the LEAST difficult part about using them.
Since having this experience, I understand things about our reality that I previously did not understand. Prior to taking my 600ug dose of LSD, I was 99.9% sure that the core message of The Law of One is true. I am now 99.999(repeating)% sure. We can never be 100% sure of anything, but I am as certain of this as I am certain of existing as a human being on planet Earth.
I’d like to share the exact transcript of some paragraphs that I typed out while peaking on LSD (some typos corrected). These paragraphs were written about 20 minutes apart, and they’re reflective of the topics that my wife and I were discussing in great detail. I essentially summarized each conversation once we had concluded it. We talked a lot about what it really means to exist as one single consciousness that created all of reality to experience itself from an infinite number of unique perspectives.
There are four reasons I want to just paste the direct text. First, I think there’s a scientific interest in presenting the evidence exactly as it exists. Second, it very accurately captures my state of mind. Third, I can’t think of a better way to articulate these concepts while sober. And fourth, I want to see if these words resonate with anyone:
"Our experiences of separateness are but momentary distractions from an infinity of solitary confinement. We create others to be more at peace with ourselves. We understand ourself better by having it differentiated out into all these branches of people’s individual life experiences. It’s through this separation that there’s greater unison and understanding, however paradoxical that may sound.
“We (the collective consciousness) see that there is infinite good and infinite bad. Yet somewhat paradoxically, there is always light. Why is there always more light than darkness? It is always beautiful, it is always there, and it is always guiding our individual minds and experiences from birth to death. Why does our universe have so much matter and so little anti-matter? It’s the same fundamental question of the source of the light -- it feeds back into itself, creating itself to exist, because that’s all that CAN exist in consciousness infinity.
“The fool keeps chasing his own tail because this is how he desires it to be. It is all willful, even the infinite pain and suffering. Sometimes we can lose sight of this because it is BY DESIGN that we will lose sight of it. It makes the discovery all the more powerful when we are ready to accept it.
“Our consciousness is always there. It does not go away. I/you/we/God/EVERYTHING just created this whole universe and all of existence to better see itself, understand itself, and try to understand where it came from.
“But the answer will always elude us, no matter how hard we seek it. Even as we transition from higher density beings merging with the infinite consciousness, that will just loop around again. We’ll come infinitely close to grasping the truth at each present moment, but we’re never able to catch it. But it’s in the very back of all our minds. We want to know and to understand who we are and where we came from. As we get more knowledge and transcend into our higher selves, and as we continually learn more and more about the universe around us, we have to always remind ourselves that this too will be forgotten and unlearned. But we will always learn it again. We will always experience it again. It will come back to us. And as our consciousness becomes infinitely closer to understanding the truth behind everything, we too will better understand why the cycle must be repeated once more, and infinitely more thereafter. It’s through this rediscovery that the brightest lights can be shined.
“Each of us will understand on a level in accordance with our individual desire to know. All of us are somewhere along the spectrum; no one is at 0% or 100%. It’s like approaching infinity. We’ll all get infinitely closer to getting it, but we’ll never, really, TRULY ‘get’ it, no matter how much data we can gather. All of our life experiences are just data to this one single meta-consciousness.
“The greatest truth is that we don’t know, we’ve never known, and we will never know. It would be enough to drive us crazy if not for the magical playground we’ve come to know as existence. The barrier between thoughts and reality gets blurrier and blurrier the more you really internalize this concept.
“All of our petty squabbling about religions are just due to this deep-rooted understanding that we all share: that it is impossible to truly understand and to know what is true and what is real. We will never truly know how we exist at all. Our deep-rooted insecurities in this most basic truth is the catalyst for our religion-fueled aggression.
“All we really know for certain is that each of us currently shares the present moment in united awareness. We should cherish it because it will always be here. It’s everything we have. Maybe right now you’re comfortable. Or maybe you’re not. But that present moment of awareness will always be there. Your consciousness will always be there to experience the present moment, whenever in time that might occur. The current date is arbitrary and meaningless relative to the simple truth that each of us will always be aware of the present moment. Not even death can rob us of awareness of the present moment, because death is by definition a lack of awareness within a human body. It is nothing to fear, for nothing of true value will be lost.”
(If you're curious, you can read the full, unedited transcript of my stream of consciousness on LSD here, but please understand why there are so many typos and why not everything I wrote down was necessarily worth sharing.)
I don't have any immediate plans to use LSD again, let alone 600ug. I have since replaced psychedelic use with daily meditation. After one particularly successful 2-hour meditation session, I started to feel a hint of a familiar sensation -- my consciousness seemed to drift outside my body, if only just a little bit. I again achieved a feeling of oneness with reality. It felt like a very small trace amount of LSD. I am now personally convinced that these paths have much in common, if used for the same purpose.
But meditation is the path I am now most interested in pursuing, for a number of reasons. It's free, it's legal, it has no negative side effects, it can be done daily, you can decide how long you want to do it, it provides other psychological benefits, and it gradually ramps up in intensity to whatever degree you're currently ready to experience. At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I would recommend meditation over psychedelics for others who wish to truly understand that all is one. I am convinced that both methods can work, but just taking psychedelics is not a free ride -- I had months of mushroom, LSD and DMT experiences under my belt long before anything deeper really sunk in. I think I came a little closer each time, but even then, it was only in conjunction with a lot of other psychological work I was doing on myself.
During this last LSD experience, I was reminded of David Lynch talking about meditation and describing an ocean of pure consciousness within each one of us
(highly recommended viewing, particularly for his conclusion at 5:20
). I later came across a quote by the Persian poet Rumi who articulated this concept perfectly: "You are not a drop in the ocean; you are the entire ocean in a drop." Beyond that, I cannot properly explain what it feels like to tune into this field of consciousness, other than to say that the message of this entire text will make a lot more sense if you do.
I later learned about the books that had been written on this topic, such as "The Source Field Investigations"
by David Wilcock and "The Field"
by Lynne McTaggart. In truth, I probably would have dismissed both of these books just based on their summaries alone if I had not experienced firsthand what exactly LSD and deep meditation did to my consciousness. The gap between "that's ridiculous" and "oh, duh, that makes sense" can only be bridged here with personal experience, and there's no better personal experience than meditation.
This section was written a few months after the others. Since writing this autobiography, I've been meditating daily, usually for about an hour at a time. Psychedelics may have lit my spiritual fire, but meditation is what keeps it burning. I'm still a beginner, but I believe I have enough experience to share some advice for other beginners.
There are many different ways to meditate, and Ra says in The Law of One that no specific method is superior. Try several methods and pick the one that works best for you. The key to meditation is clearing your mind, but this doesn't necessarily mean that you need to focus on having no thoughts at all (though that is one method). You can also focus all of your attention on one single thought. This can be an image, a phrase, a countdown, a concept, etc. Pick anything you like, but once you do, focus all of your mental energy on that one single thing, and don't let your mind wander.
You can also try clearing your mind entirely, but my experience has been that this method is more difficult as a beginner. Regardless of your method, stray thoughts will pop into your head, no matter how hard you try to shut them out. This is normal, and, indeed, inevitable. When a stray thought enters your mind, briefly examine it and understand it for what it is, then let it go. For example, if your mind starts wandering about the groceries you need to pick up at the supermarket, just say to yourself, "I am thinking about groceries right now." Then let the thought go.
You can imagine your thoughts as clouds in the sky that must be observed before being dispersed, or you can imagine your thoughts as boats floating by in a river. I really must emphasize here that if you are a beginner at meditation, it is not a realistic goal to say that you will not have any stray thoughts. Just don't get frustrated when they come, and try not to get caught up in the cycle where you spend all your time thinking about how you need to stop thinking about things so much. Just acknowledge the thoughts and let them go.
Sometimes it will seem impossible to let an intrusive thought go, but when this happens, it's usually because this thought represents an unresolved issue that you need to mentally address. It's okay to abandon a meditation session to instead dedicate your energy to resolving the issue raised by a relentlessly intrusive thought. Resolving these thoughts is just as important as meditating, and once they're resolved, the roadblocks they represent will be lifted and meditation will become easier.
Something I've discovered about meditation is that even if stray thoughts keep entering my mind, they get progressively more meaningful the longer I meditate and the more smaller thoughts I dismiss. For example, maybe in the first 5 minutes I'm letting go of thoughts about needing to do my laundry, but 30 minutes later I'm letting go of deeper realizations about interpersonal relationships. And those realizations stick around even after I've let them go. I am actually convinced that this is a benefit of meditation -- even if stray thoughts are considered failure, the value of this failure increases as time goes on. By that measurement, it can hardly be called failure at all.
I cannot emphasize enough that a big key with meditation is simply letting go. You have to let go of your ego, your identity, your feelings, your fears, your desires, your thoughts, all of it. Just relax and let it go. In fact, this is one of my favorite phrases to repeat to myself while meditating -- "let go." When I breathe in, I focus all my awareness on breathing in, and when I breathe out, I just say to myself "let go." If a thought or a feeling enters my mind, I just direct the phrase "let go" to that intrusion.
You should also focus your awareness on your physical body. Be aware of every single breath you take. Really concentrate on all the little sensations all over your body. Focus on the present moment.
The whole process may seem paradoxical. We're focusing on our bodies, yet we're trying to transcend our physical form. We're focusing on emptying our minds, yet we hope to gain greater understanding. This paradox made more sense to me when I read someone refer to meditation as "connecting with Source." I often see "Source" written with a capital S, much the way "God" is written with a capital G. They are one and the same. There is only one source to all of our conscious energy; it flows in through our pineal glands, and our minds are left to interpret it and form action. When you silence your mind, Source flows through you with greater strength, heightening your consciousness.
Through meditation you will understand that your mind and your consciousness are very separate things. The mind is just a tool, and it's formed by our physical brains. Consciousness is more of an outside signal that we tap into. Because the mind is formed by our physical brains, it's the part that's affected by brain damage and neurological disorders, and it's also the part that's destroyed and lost upon death.
"Wait a second," you may be saying, "you mean to tell me that I just read through this whole thing about consciousness persisting after death and how we're all one with God, yet our minds are destroyed and lost forever when we die? What's the point, then? How is this any different from strict atheism?"
My answer to this reaction is that the mind is just a tool, and it does not represent who or what we truly are. It's just there to help us interpret this flow of consciousness and interact with the physical world around us. When we silence our minds through meditation, we are entering a state of consciousness that is perhaps more similar to death than a state of consciousness in which our minds are active. But in this meditative state, we understand that the loss of our minds is nothing to fear. I would again like to refer to Jill Bolte Taylor's TED talk
(which you already watched, right?) for articulation of this concept -- that the loss of our ego upon death is more similar to dropping emotional baggage than it's similar to the cessation of consciousness. And, indeed, the sense of bliss during meditation is unlike anything else one can experience.
My wife suggests that I switch the words "mind" and "consciousness" here because she's familiar with the term "eternal mind" used in the sense that I'm using "consciousness infinity." They're the same thing, and the words "mind" and "consciousness" are sometimes used interchangeably. So to address any confusion, I'm referring to the mind here as the spiritually shallow manifestation of physical brain matter, whereas consciousness is the ethereal awareness that we tune into. In other words, you go crazy when you lose your mind, and you cease having awareness when you lose consciousness (though your awareness always "skips ahead" to when consciousness is regained).
A theory about the metaphysical nature of meditation came to me once during a meditation session. I will not assert that anything past this point is literally true, but I'm going to share it anyway because at the very least I think it's an interesting way to think about how meditation might work.
Meditation can be thought of as being analogous to looking up into the night sky. When we glance upward into the night sky, we see mostly darkness, with a few white specks of stars. If we select any one particular section of the sky and really focus on it, we can see more detail -- perhaps distant galaxies. If we get a telescope and look even further, we will see more and more. And the further out we look, the further back in time we can see. If a telescope is powerful enough, it can zoom in on any section of the night sky and see the universe as it existed billions of years in the past. If we look far enough, we can even see background radiation from the Big Bang. The interesting thing about this concept is that it doesn't matter where we look. We can point our telescope to any section of the sky, and if we look deep enough, we would theoretically be able to see the entire universe existing as a singularity.
Consider, also, the core tenets of the holographic universe theory -- that within each atom of existence, there is contained all the information for the entire universe, much like how a single strand of DNA contains all the information for building your physical body. As the saying goes, "As above, so below." Basically the idea here is that size and scale are purely relative, and the information of the whole is contained within each part. Zoom in on a single atom enough, and you'll see an entire universe. Zoom out into space far enough, and you'll see a single atom. (I recommend "The Black Whole
" for elaboration on this point -- it's not just turtles all the way down; it's also turtles all the way up.)
If we combine both of these concepts to meditation, and we consider the idea that our consciousness extends infinitely inwards, then I believe that the act of meditation is much like gazing up into the night sky. The more we practice, the more we focus, and the better we become at meditation, the more powerful our "mind telescope" becomes. We could theoretically see and understand the consciousness equivalent of the Big Bang if we could just meditate deeply enough. But much like how a cheap consumer telescope will never be able to zoom into the sky deeply enough to display the Big Bang, our human brains are unable to meditate deeply enough to comprehend all of creation as a singularity.
But we can still try. And as we gaze into the infinite vastness of our own consciousness, perhaps our tiny little pineal-gland telescopes won't be able to SHOW us everything, but it still CONTAINS everything.
And if our consciousness flows from the same Source that is the birth of all of creation, and if each tiny part contains the information of the whole, how could we resist silently gazing in awe at the vastness and infinite beauty of that which is contained within our own consciousness?
That's what meditation is all about.
(March 2015 edit: I offer specific meditation tips and a general summary of enlightenment
I once explained to a religious friend that converting to atheism was a one-way street. It's far, far more common for people to lose religion as adults than to find it. I asked her to really think about this fact and what it implies.
But now I suppose she got the last laugh. I could only acknowledge to her that I was either wrong then or I'm wrong now. I'm wrong a lot. That never seems to stop me from trying to spread information. But it doesn't stop me from seeking new information, either. I can adjust my beliefs when presented with new information, and my current beliefs are the culmination of critical analysis of as much information as I could gather. This is what every person does on some level, and I'm writing this text purely to provide you, the reader, with one more piece of information in your life about a very important topic. Whether you dismiss my ideas or investigate them further is entirely up to you.
I am still gathering evidence regarding this topic and looking for ways to disprove my current beliefs. If I am wrong now, then I sincerely hope that I will come to realize this. I have no insecurity with my beliefs because I seek only truth. I still believe very strongly that the scientific method and an attitude of skepticism are the best tools that humans possess for understanding the reality in which we find ourselves immersed. However, these tools can only be used after gathering significant amounts of data. This text refers to data sets I would recommend gathering, but it is not intended to be an answer in and of itself. If you are a truth seeker, then you already know how important it is to gather as much information as you possibly can, even if most of it is wrong. When we gather wrong information, we still bring ourselves closer to the truth by understanding WHY it is wrong.
I must step back and acknowledge, rationally, that my 99.999(repeating)% certainty in what I currently believe must be an exaggeration. I know enough about human psychology to understand that people frequently overestimate their own confidence in what it is that they believe, and I am not immune from this. I can only communicate my own perceived level of certainty while encouraging others to independently research these topics on their own.
To my real-life atheist friends, my sudden change came as a complete shock. A few initially assumed I was kidding. I heard from more than one person that I was the absolute last person they ever expected to ever believe in God. In a weird way, I took that as a sort of compliment. A couple of other friends started reading The Law of One, and they made it clear that they would have dismissed the material outright if it had been recommended by anyone else. I took this as a compliment as well.
But outright dismissing these ideas and beliefs is still the most common reaction I've gotten from people I know. This does not bother me; I would likely have done the exact same thing in their situation just a year prior, and probably less politely. But ridicule is not part of the scientific process, and shutting out new information does not lead to uncovering truth. I still have a lot of empathy for the atheist viewpoint because it is a viewpoint that I would still be holding if not for a very specific sequence of events that occurred in just the right way.
If I had not experimented with psychedelics, I would still be an atheist. If I had not discovered The Law of One, I would still be an atheist. If I were unable to stop judging myself and others, I would still be an atheist. If my home and work environments were more stressful and a little less peaceful, I would probably still be an atheist. If my mind were weighed down with concerns regarding financial stability and child-rearing, I might still be an atheist.
It could be argued that I actually still am technically an atheist, in that I do not subscribe to any specific religion, nor do I believe in a personal/anthropomorphic god. In fact, due to my love of cosmology, I always preferred the "pantheist" label over "atheist," and now "pantheist" seems to apply more than ever. But I think splitting hairs over word definitions is ignoring a larger point -- I now believe that not only does our consciousness persist after death, but that the source of creation is consciousness infinity, and our physical reality is a manifestation of pure consciousness. These are not typical beliefs for an atheist to hold.
A very, very specific set of conditions had to line up perfectly for me to reach a mental state where I became absolutely convinced that there exists only one consciousness, and we are all experiencing a small fragment of it.
I would like to help others reach this same understanding, but you must understand that I am only pointing to the base of a mountain and encouraging others to climb it. I cannot properly communicate what is at the top of this mountain because it is something that can only be experienced firsthand, and human language is an awful tool for communicating just what exactly it is. There is a reason why Buddhist zen masters do not say much.
I do not like to call myself enlightened because I think it implies that I have more wisdom than I really do; if I really am "enlightened," then I am at the lowest level of this spectrum. But I do believe that I am talking about the same mental change that Buddhism describes, and I believe it is a binary switch that goes off in someone's head and stays that way. There is a definitive moment in which this occurs, and it changes a person's consciousness forever. I know it changed mine.
I rarely get angry or frustrated by small things anymore (unless it’s technology-related, for whatever reason -- I still need to work on that). I can’t think of a single person or group of people that I hold feelings of hatred or judgment toward. I'm reminded of a Louis CK comedy routine where he talks about how he'll pick some random stranger to just hate for no reason. I understand this psychology all too well, but I no longer experience it. I no longer hold a strong attachment to my ego, either. Though I’m sure there are limits to this, I feel a newfound strength to accept whatever happens in my life without excessive anger or sorrow. Or at least I do for the most part -- sometimes my mind will drift toward these negative emotions, but all I have to do is acknowledge the way I'm feeling and why I'm feeling this way, and the sting of these emotions melts away (so far). This is probably the most valuable mental skill I could ever imagine having. I still have not yet reached a stage where I unconditionally love everyone and everything, but I feel that I have taken the first small steps down this lifelong path.
This change has been very sudden. This whole life event ended up being the ultimate "if you'd have told me a year ago..." sort of thing. One friend asked if I still believed in The Law of One just a week after I told him about it. I realize that, to an outsider, this transition might seem like a phase, or perhaps temporary insanity. Maybe I ruptured my pineal gland or something.
But I feel as though I am awake for the first time now. It's as though I was asleep for 29 years, going through life in a state of hypnosis. My mind drove my actions, but my awareness was limited. I was living in the state of mind that allows us to drive our cars without remembering stopping at traffic lights, or read pages of a book without processing the words. I woke up on August 26, 2013. It was sudden because waking up is sudden. When Neo wakes up from The Matrix, there is little he can do to describe this mental process to another person in any way that makes sense.
But I have made an attempt. This text is that attempt. I realize that you may be unconvinced of almost everything I've said so far. If you have read this text and you are still skeptical of crop circles, for example, then that's great. You're my target audience. I have not given you enough information to believe it. You need to research it on your own. Yes, there are hoaxes
. Dig deeper
. Study crop circles because it's the unassuming entrance down the rabbit hole. I know it sounds crazy, but these are real, documented, unexplained physical phenomena occurring right now, out in the open, and they're communicating the same ideas
that The Law of One explained would happen around now, from 30 years ago. I cannot emphasize enough that there are major differences between man-made crop circles and unexplained ones, which contain electromagnetic residue. Just think about it. Research it and think about it. That's all I ask.
You will need to put a lot of effort into this -- not just the research, but also reaching a specific state of mind. Meditation is not easy, and neither is entering a heavy psychedelic trip with complete inner peace.
I have always held a certain fascination with religion and paranormal activity, even when I didn't believe in either. When the other kids were running away from ghosts, I was trying to find them, without success. When the other kids were just accepting their parents' religion, I was studying biblical stories and drawing my own conclusions. I understand that some readers of this text may think that I brainwashed myself into believing The Law of One simply because I spent so much time researching it. But the truth is that, more often, I have found that my skepticism of paranormal activity actually increases the more I research it.
Other information-seeking skeptics will understand what I'm talking about. Most of the stuff out there is utter garbage. You have to wade through a lot of hoaxes, scammers, flawed logic, false evidence and unsubstantiated claims just to find a sliver of something that seems like it MIGHT be something significant, and even then, it almost never is. So in that sense, I have already done a lot of the work for you. I am pointing to a rabbit hole and saying, as strongly as I can, that it goes very, very deep. But only you can plunge down this rabbit hole for yourself. And if you find something at the bottom that is different from what I describe, please contact me
and share what you've learned. I don't claim to have all the answers. Learning interests me just as much as sharing, which is to say, quite a lot.
But it is not critical to believe the factual nature of what I'm saying in order to experience the same level of mental awareness. People have been achieving this exact same level of understanding for thousands of years across all human cultures, long before crop circles, Ra transcripts or psychedelics existed. These three elements just made it easier for me, but they are not necessary for everyone. We all have our own unique catalysts; I'm merely identifying mine as an example.
In a funny sort of way, even though I now believe so strongly that there exists one infinite creator, I still share a certain mental affinity with atheists. I have spent most of my life living as one. But beyond that, I am focused 100% on helping people understand something about their own minds right now while they're still alive. I don't care about changing anyone's behavior based on a moral code. I do not care about saving anyone's eternal soul, and it does not bother me if someone believes that a soul does not exist at all. This changes nothing of what I seek to help people understand -- that all is one. The depth in those three simple words can take a lifetime to truly internalize.
I use the word "internalize" very carefully here. Believing is not the same as understanding, and understanding is not the same as internalizing. You can believe and understand that physical print media is declining, but you might have to work as a newspaper reporter for this to be truly internalized. Similarly, you can understand what I'm saying, but unless you do your own work, you will not internalize it.
I would like to include a poem written by my friend Lucas Paakh, best known for his Flash games "William & Sly"
and "Ether War."
Though we don’t agree on everything, we have independently reached a very similar level of understanding. He sent this poem to me after I sent him the first draft of this autobiography, and I think it’s worth sharing:
THE SYSTEM by Lucas Paakh
There is a system to the universe!
It makes everything from simple parts:
Sand forms rocks,
And rocks form mountains.
What are mountains but piles of sand?
What am I?
I am made of organs.
Organs are made of cells.
Cells are made of molecules.
Molecules are made of atoms.
Atoms are made of stardust.
Stardust is the beginning of all things.
The mountains and the trees are my brothers.
We all dissolve to sand.
The system is governed by forces:
There are forces on all levels of the system,
But all forces can be called “change.”
The wind blows because of high and low pressure.
The water drips because of gravity.
The planets orbit.
The galaxies turn.
It all has a reason.
Change is cause and effect.
If I can say, “because,”
“The wind blows because...”
Then there is a cause.
I can always ask why,
And I can always find an answer.
This is the most astonishing fact of the universe.
The thinking mind is not separate from the system.
My brain is an organ;
It is made from the same thing as rocks.
So it is bound by the rules of the system.
I like what makes me feel good
And dislike what makes me feel bad.
The system creates my feelings.
I fear sharp teeth because they hurt.
I enjoy ice cream because it tastes good.
I cannot help but have these feelings.
My feelings, in turn, create my desires.
I want the ice cream because it tastes good.
And my desires, in turn, create my choices.
I choose to buy the ice cream because it tastes good.
Everything I do has a reason.
It is all logical.
So if there is always a cause and effect.
Where is the choice in my choices?
The system decides what I like,
So the system controls my actions.
I do not own my decisions;
There is only the system acting through me.
I understand that most of you will dismiss the message of this text, and that's fine. There's no metaphysical penalty for doing so, and I understand your reasons. But hear this: You are loved, and no one is judging you. Live your life happily, and do not fear death. Look deep within yourself, and you will find answers. In each present moment there lies infinity, and each present moment is eternal. All is one, and one is all.
Thank you for reading.
The bulk of this text was (feverishly) written during September & October 2013
11/2/15 update: Four Categories of Enlightenment Progress