My Problem Child

The problem of reality is and has been from time immemorial a central concern of philosophy. It is, however, a fundamental distinction, whether one approaches the problem of reality rationally, with the logical methods of philosophy, or if one obtrudes upon this problem emotionally, through an existential experience.

The first planned experiment was therefore so deeply moving and alarming, because everyday reality and the ego experiencing it, which I had until then considered to be the only reality, dissolved, and an unfamiliar ego experienced another, unfamiliar reality. The problem concerning the innermost self also appeared, which, itself unmoved, was able to record these external and internal transformations. Reality is inconceivable without an experiencing subject, without an ego. It is the product of the exterior world, of the sender and of a receiver, an ego in whose deepest self the emanations of the exterior world, registered by the antennae of the sense organs, become conscious. If one of the two is lacking, no reality happens, no radio music plays, the picture screen remains blank.

The entry of another reality may be explained by the fact that the brain, the seat of the receiver, becomes biochemically altered. The receiver is thereby tuned into another wavelength than that corresponding to normal, everyday reality. Since the endless variety and diversity of the universe correspond to infinitely many different wavelengths, depending on the adjustment of the receiver, many different realities, including the respective ego, can become conscious. This can be perceived as a blessed, or as a demonic transformation imbued with terror, proceeding to a loss of the trusted ego. In an auspicious case, the new ego feels blissfully united with the objects of the outer world and consequently also with its fellow beings.

This experience of deep oneness with the exterior world can even intensify to a feeling of the self being one with the universe. This condition, which under favorable conditions can be evoked, is analogous to spontaneous religious enlightenment, with the unio mystica. In both conditions, which often last only for a timeless moment, a reality is experienced that exposes a gleam of the transcendental reality, in which universe and self, sender and receiver, are one.

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A concept of reality that separates self and the world has decisively determined the evolutionary course of European intellectual history. Experience of the world as matter, as object, to which man stands opposed, has produced modern natural science and technology—creations of the Western mind that have changed the world. With their help human beings have subdued the world. Ecclesiastical Christianity, determined by the duality of creator and creation, has, however, with its nature-alienated religiosity largely obliterated the Eleusinian-Dionysian legacy of antiquity. In the Christian sphere of belief, only special blessed men have attested to a timeless, comforting reality, experienced in a spontaneous vision, an experience to which in antiquity the elite of innumerable generations had access through the initiation at Eleusis.

As a path to the perception of a deeper, comprehensive reality, in which the experiencing individual is also sheltered, meditation, in its different forms, occupies a prominent place today. The essential difference between meditation and prayer in the usual sense, which is based upon the duality of creator nad creation, is that meditation aspires to the abolishment of the I-you-barrier by a fusing of object and subject, of sender and receiver, of objective reality and self. Objective reality, the world view produced by the spirit of scientific inquiry, is the myth of our time.

Albert Hoffman – My Problem Child

Published by Diogenes

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