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Diviner’s sorrow

Philosophy | Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007 | 10 years, 5 months ago

I’ve been reading a lot about Salvia Divinorum since trying it on the 31st and I’m becoming very enthusiastic to try it again. However, this is not unbridled enthusiasm. I’m still afraid, but curiosity is beginning to outweigh timidity (especially since the effects only last a few minutes). Despite my insatiable curiosity I may decide that I am not ready to delve into this aspect of my psyche.

In particular I am becoming fascinated and quite anxious about the very fabric of the universe. I’ve never really thought much about it before but I’m permitting deep thoughts to trickle into my consciousness. These thoughts are fascinating but utterly depressing.

On my way home from work yesterday I was nearly brimming with sorrow at the intangibility, ergo pointlessness of existence.

I read many experience reports and was quite interested to find that many people experienced one or more of the same… manifestations as I did. However, some people experienced enhanced realities while others were transported to wholly other dimensions.

What really struck me deep down was the consensus that the reality we perceive is just a tiny slice of what’s out there – our bodies are mere matter and matter is one all-encompassing thing, not one piece of matter per item:

At the peak of the trip I was completely merged with the surface of reality. I felt like I was one with everything, yet unable to discriminate between an individual objects or occurences.
http://www.erowid.org/experiences/exp.php?ID=16674

I don’t know where I am. But I do, because this is all there is. There is no where. This is it. But how can that be? This room is all there is? Room. What is “room”? This isn’t a room… this is existence.
http://www.erowid.org/experiences/exp.php?ID=35575

It makes sense to me that matter cannot be created nor destroyed if objects are just projections of one polydimensional surface.

The ramifications of this thought alone is what made me sad. It’s so simple, and we humans are so self-important that we, present company absolutely included, make up all kinds of stories to prove to ourselves how great we are. But we’re not. We’re no better than dust.

I abandoned traditional religion some time ago but I playfully conjured up theories in place of monotheism. For instance, I argued that if an almighty omniscient god created humanity, then humans are gods themselves because they too have the power to create, and what is godliness if not the ability to invoke one’s will on reality to create something that never was before?

This is just masturbation. We transform things that already are, like building a sand castle, and the things we build are no better or worse than we ourselves. I see these self-crafted beliefs as no more than the antithesis to the ancient religions from which most of humanity still ignorantly dangles, so they are no more credible.

Then again, I don’t necessarily believe that psychedelic experiences are THE truth and sober lucidity is false. Perhaps what humans create is not matter but something intangible. But is that even creating? Is that special? Or more self-important masturbation?

I also feel sorrow about death, which I’m beginning to realize is extremely stupid. The concept of being one with all matter is weighty indeed, but I understand that though matter is malleable it strives to return to its original shape. It will not be created nor destroyed, but it persists in a neverending state of polymorphic flux. If time is constant as we humans are doomed to perceive it, then nothing can exist unless it is changing, decaying, dying. I should be grateful for death because death means that something is happening.

I can’t believe I’d never realized that this was my existence. Why did I have to find out now? I wish I had never realized. Ever. I would have been much happier existing this way and not knowing it. It’s so meaningless, so repetitive; so, so nothing. But this is how it is. And how it always will be. I can’t change it. Oh God, I can’t change it.
http://www.erowid.org/experiences/exp.php?ID=35575

I don’t watch the news because I know from great experience that ignorance is bliss. I am unwittingly ignorant in many ways, and willingly so in many more. However, as I die a little each day I surmise how limited my sentience will be, and so I suppose I’d best divide the essential from the ancillary.

Today’s lottery winners and murder victims and stock market figures are worthless drivel to me. So is pretty much everything I do in a day and everything anyone will ever do, I suppose. This is a secret that everyone knows and everyone denies.

So what, I ask, is worthwhile?

Is it noble to seek the boundaries of human perception? Is it wise to expand my horizons only to see the borders of my ideological island like pinpointing Fiji from outside the Milky Way?

Why do I wonder? Why do I care? Why do I insist?

I don’t know. But I do.

Is that the spark of humanity? Is that what makes me special from other matter? Is that me being a narcissistic twat again?

The concept of the mobius comes to mind. There are two sides of the strip, and those sides intersect and swap somewhere. There is always paper separating the sides, yet there would be no sides without the paper.

Anyway, one day I will not be able to resist the siren of curiosity. I’ll report back. Maybe by peeking through the crack I may taste that which is beyond matter.

Enough for one day.

mobius_chess.jpg
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11 Comments

  1. Life may be ultimately pointless and we could all be shells waiting to die but that doesn’t make life meaningless. All it means is you have to change your values. I realize that I am one of over 6 billion people and my life is insignificant and meaningless in the grand scheme but that doesn’t mean there is no point to living. Instead of seeking some higher being one needs to focus on the present self satisfaction and goals. A higher purpose is for those that are not content with their own existence or lives.
    Yes it may be repetitive, yes we will die and it will all be for nothing, but that doesn’t mean that there was no reason to do it in the first place. We are thrust into this world involuntarily and are forced to live out our lives in pursuit of some ends. Personal beliefs are what define those ends. Even if you discover that those ends are meaningless still doesn’t matter because you can do it anyways. Ultimately everything is meaningless in the grand scheme. That is a fact, but if you accept it then you can move on to things that mean something at the moment. Such as a great dinner or gaining some knowledge to help you later. I guess what we do every day is supposed to serve to make the next day easier, all the way until we die. Make the purpose of your life to make your next day easier or your girlfriend’s day better.

    Thats my 2 cents and it probably doesn’t do much to help but I felt the urge to comment.

    Comment by andrew — January 27, 2007 @ 1:41 pm

  2. I love how you’ve chosen to phrase some ideas here. I am 100% in agreement with you that the best way to live one’s life involves, as you say, acceptance and concentration on immediacy. It’s true that ignorance is bliss, but I think that’s incidental – acceptance is bliss, and being ignorant just means that there’s less data to consider for acceptance.

    Thanks very much for writing, Andrew. Coming home to my girlfriend every day cheered me up from this funk a long time ago, but your words really help put things in perspective. I truly appreciate it.

    Comment by brian — January 29, 2007 @ 7:08 pm

  3. Well sir I have done Salvia 3 times before and I tell you I have never really had a pleasent trip, except for my very first one where I didn’t get that high and I just rolled around in really nice blankets. The other times I have an extreme unpleasant feeling and I feel like everyone is going one way and I am staying in my own place not moving being left behind. Everything around me stopped for 45 seconds while I was on it, no one seemed good to me and I felt extremely depressed. My thoughts started going backwards and they would stop before they would start leaving me feeling very sick. It was a really really odd experience. I’d probably do it again, PROBABLY. But I’d need a trip sitter so I didn’t jump off my balcony.

    While at a music festival I talked to one dude who has done a fairly large amount of Salvia and the first thing he told me is that everyone does it completely wrong. Salvia is meant to be chewed, and you have to chew it for a good thirty minutes and it gives you a half-hour to 45 minute trip. He said he met a beautiful goddess who he named, and she held the world above her. She gave him the world and he tried to hold it and it broke in his hands. She picked it up and put it back together again. He said it was inspiring and insanely beautiful, what with viewing a goddess and all.

    Apparently you can smoke fruit in a hooka too. Apples, watermelon. Need a hooka with coles though, lighter wont light it. I also think smoking salvia in a hooka with friends would be an insane way to take it. It’s a wonder why it’s not illegal, but it isn’t!

    Comment by Cody — January 4, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

  4. I hear ya, Cody! It’s been just over a year since my girlfriend (now wife) and I tried it for the first time and we haven’t touched the mostly-full packet since. My wife asked whether I’d try it again this past New Years Eve but I was reluctant.

    Your comment about chewing instead of smoking is interesting. I’m not sure that can be done with the extract we have since it’s just a bunch of tiny flakes of dry leaves.. wouldn’t one have to chew the fresh leaves? Also, though the effects would doubtlessly be lessened, I’m not sure I’d enjoy experiencing it for a full 45 minutes.

    It’s also very interesting to hear that this person hallucinated a goddess. This is a quite common experience for many Salvia psychonauts. That particular anecdote is quite beautiful and symbolic.

    Thanks for writing!

    p.s., I think I’ll keep on chewing my apples, or, as a stretch, baking them in pies.

    Comment by brian — January 4, 2008 @ 3:43 pm

  5. Well he said it was totally different. Apparently it tastes disgusting and it’s something you have to get over when you try this. He said it’s worth it in his opinion; he recommended it rather over smoking. Your extract should work fine as far as I know. If you wanted you could just chew a little bit instead of a lot for your first time to see how well you take to it. if I ever try this myself i’ll let you know lol.

    I stumbled on your blog about the wow perdiciment. I agree, it’s pricey and I found it fairly boring but the engine is extremely light and efficient and the game design is fantastic. I am not playing past my 2 week trial.

    Comment by Cody — January 5, 2008 @ 12:09 am

  6. I’ll do some research on chewing and definitely consider this mode of administration!

    As for WoW, you’re certainly not missing out. Grind grind grind. I’m not totally against the pay-per-month model but the game had better be genuinely captivating. A friend convinced me last year to buy and subscribe to WoW for 3 months but I stopped playing after 6 weeks and cancelled my account early. Snore.

    P.s., Radiogrounds is a cool site! Looking for a DJ?

    Comment by brian — January 5, 2008 @ 9:49 am

  7. We most certainly are, feel free to check out the forums, chat and all that sorts. Any one that wants to join the community and help out is welcome.

    Comment by Cody — January 5, 2008 @ 6:10 pm

  8. I have smoked the awesome salvia plant many times and have had many experiences. It is great. It can open up thoughts that you have never dreamed to even think.

    Comment by salvia — March 24, 2008 @ 3:41 am

  9. I’m reading this post and the comments again, over 3 years later. Andrew’s comments nearly bring tears to my eyes, they are so beautiful and profound.

    I still have the very same 3/4-full baggie from that fateful new year’s eve. Maybe I’m finally ready to reopen my investigations. This line of research seems important.

    Comment by brian — April 15, 2010 @ 12:09 am

  10. Came here through your comment on my vinyl rips blog and very soon thereafter became enamored with your style of writing, particularly your phrasing. Sifted through the topics that interest me, landed on this post and felt compelled to comment. Very well written, of course, and many of the chords struck are ones that I recognize from my own experiential score. I like the comparison to dust, and agree that we’re no more important than any other aspect of existence, though we’re so beautifully adept at pretending otherwise, and yet I sense –and I may be wrong here, I would love to be wrong– an emphasis on the perspective that this realization renders us worthless and meaningless. And while it does in a sense, I think it helpful to keep in mind and hold equally valid the opposite perspective: it also renders us, and every constituent of existence, as so worthwhile, so full of worth and meaning, that we [i]have[/i] to be, and have to be ourselves, just as we are, now and at every moment of our lives, both within ourselves and in relation to one another. The other side of the strip. So, I would agree that we’re meaningless in the sense that we have no more meaning than anything else, and even within our realms of pretension, have only so much meaning as we attribute to ourselves, but in the same breath I keep coming back to the notion that our being is our meaning, that we live out our meaning, and serve the purpose of our being here through every thing we do, be it through conscious or un/sub-conscious action. That said, I wouldn’t advocate cleaving to this perspective any more than that of being ultimately worthless, and admit that it is fraught with its own pitfalls –as a species we certainly don’t have any problems believing in our worth, and could generally use a little sobering up in that regard– but to strike a balance between the two has led to what seems a healthy outlook in my experience. On the one hand you have a guard against inflating your self-worth, and on the other you have one against wallowing in the self-pity of your pointlessness. Admittedly, this outlook also stems from my perception of existence as such a precisely orchestrating interplay of motion, that everything is not only inter-related, but inter-dependant to the point that we each need each other, and all things, to be the way they are in order to be as we are. Even so, I also think it useful to keep in mind that these are just two angles, and as you imply with your reference to the realms psychedelics can open up, even a lifetime’s worth of visions amounts to an exceedingly small sliver of the pie.

    I also like your theory of human’s having godliness in view of our ability to create, a theme that often comes up for recurring treatments in my own work (poetry): we are not just creatures, we are also creators, or vessels through which the creative/destructive principle dabbles. And like you, I tend to view creation not as a bringing ‘into’ being, but as bringing ‘about’ of a form of being, playing a hand in a particular transformation.

    And then, what I really want to thank you for, is your words on motion (If time…dying), for it enabled me to further develop some of my own thoughts on how a thing can only be a thing if in motion, if changing, if vibrating, and how inertia is being’s alone, although all movements run through its veins so to speak.

    And an appreciative nod for your statement of acceptance being bliss as ignorance is bliss, though without the aversion to the input of information.

    Lastly, a sympathetic smile at the beauty of Andrew’s expression, especially the part about investing in our actions the purpose of making the next day easier, and the next, until we don’t wake up. Takes me back to one of my early spiritual realizations: Why bother caring at all? Well, if I’m able to love, and if it makes me feel good, seems to make others feel good, and does little harm, why not?

    Being able, and seeing the good it can do, that’s all the compulsion I needed.

    And when I fail to be the selfless lover, when the demon of desire makes of me a self-serving beast, at least I can strive to make the beast one of gratitude who genuinely revels in the pleasures of which he partakes, and in my moments as an artist, one of beauty who makes of those pleasures something that other beasts may enjoy in turn.

    Comment by Tykal — May 25, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

  11. I’m SO happy I wrote these posts! These reader replies are real life-changers.

    I should probably give an update here to say that I chalk this experience up to lessons-learned. I wrote this in a deep state of sombre contemplation and have moved on to live and write about much happier circumstances. Now I’m married to my best friend and life couldn’t possibly be any sweeter, even if I still don’t know the answer to what it is I’m doing here on Earth.

    Thanks very much to you, Tykal, for writing and bringing this post back to my attention. Reading your comment, I think the real lesson to be learned is that we all have 100 billion experiences and sensations in our lives, and we all are invariably faced with unanswerable questions. Ultimately knowing the answers to those questions isn’t what’s most important – it’s the pursuit of the answer. With the passage of time I can look back on myself to when I asked these questions 3 years ago and smile, knowing that I live in even better circumstances today than I ever have, trying all the while to nurture my childlike inquisitiveness which is responsible for posing ridiculous what-ifs all the time.

    Comment by Brian — May 31, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

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