"LSD and the Mind of the Universe"Sun 30 June 2019
Notes from Dr. Chris Bache's talk at the 2019 Intercollegiate Psychedelics Summit, summarizing some of his forthcoming book: LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven.
(Published with the author's permission. These are our notes from Bache's talk, not his own words.)
Warning: this is far-out stuff. Those allergic to intensely speculative theoretical frameworks are advised accordingly.
- Bache did 73 high-dose LSD trips over 20 years
- Bache divided his life in half:
- Daytime job – professor of religion, studying transpersonal theory
- Nighttime job – 20 years of psychedelic exploration, kept private
- Stan Grof 1976: Realms of the Human Unconscious. Grof proposes three levels of consciousness:
- Grof 1980: LSD Psychotherapy
- All of Bache's work followed Grof’s protocol:
- By himself, high-dose, inward-looking
- Made a record of the account within 24 hours
- Then do analytic work in dialogue with others
- Distinction between two forms of LSD therapy:
- Psycholytic therapy – 50-300 micrograms per session, therapeutic course of 70+ sessions
- Psychedelic therapy – high-dose (300+ micrograms), developed working with terminally ill patients, overwhelm the psychodynamic consciousness, try to trigger a near-death experience, therapeutic course of (at maximum) three experiences
- Bache wondered: what happens if you do more than three high-dose experiences?
- He did about five sessions a year for 10 years
- Always had a sitter, his wife
- High-dose LSD generates phenomena & affects that don’t usually come up; it's very demanding work
- If he were to do it again, would do it differently. He'd balance LSD sessions with more grounded psychedelics like psilocybin, and would be more gentle with himself
- Standardized set & setting. "The more you standardize set & setting, the more you stabilize the grounds for the dialogue that you’re about to have with the universe"
- There was continuity between sessions. "A deepening of the process"
- He'd use 500-600 micrograms per session (very high doses)
- He kept detailed notes. In total, 400 pages of session notes
- Bache's story is not primarily a personal story. It's primarily a cosmological story
- Insights into personal life occurred at the beginning & ending of sessions. During the peak of each experience, content was more cosmological, a "cosmological dance"
- There's a lot to learn from psychedelic cultures – peyote culture, ayahuasca culture – about what happens with years of being in deep conversation with the universe. Western culture is just getting started with this
- A lot of questions come up about the reliability & advisability of this path. His book goes into that
1. Crossing the boundary of birth & death
Crossing the perinatal plane.
- Intense fetal experiences; intense confrontations with death & meaninglessness
- A lot of this, over & over again
- Physical detox, emotional detox
- Lasted 2.5 years & 10 sessions
- Resulted in ego death – we’re proud of our egos but it’s pretty easy to kill them. "The Universe snapped mine in half like a twig"
- Every session has two phases:
- 1) detox then it peaks, peak is frightening, if you run away from the peak you can get trapped in hell for a long time...
- 2) if you go through / towards the peak, you get spun out into a transpersonal space
2. The ocean of suffering
Pain & suffering like I’ve never seen before.
- Excruciating, difficult, much worse than the perinatal level. Experiencing all the pain of the species, held in the collective unconscious
- "I have to learn how to sustain suffering of this magnitude"
- During this, Bache took a six-year break, then returned to high-dose LSD & it picked up right where he left it, back in the hell realms
3. Deep time & the soul
Simultaneous experience of my entire life, all experienced as one "now."
- Couldn’t remember it after the first time it happened. Got better recollection on return trips. "Have to train yourself to stay conscious in extremely non-ordinary states"
- "We usually speak of these as profound states of consciousness, but they are profound states of body"
- You have to prepare your body. Watch your body, watch your diet. Do yoga
- If you jump in carelessly, you’re gonna pay a price. It'll be chaotic
- The model of healing just myself, personal healing, was too narrow
- If you’re willing to open yourself up, you can help heal the entire reality
- If you’re given an opportunity to help on this magnitude, you do what you can. "I choose to help, and it wasn’t really for me. It was for children who have not yet been born"
4. Archetypal reality
A reality more real than time & space.
- It was unnerving to realize how unreal time & space felt, in comparison
- Lots of "cleansing" involved. "When you move into a deeper level of reality, you have to go through a purification process"
- Incomprehensible "platonic" experiences
- More comprehensible experiences of being an individual creature enmeshed in a world-system
- Experience of our planet & species going through the pulse of reincarnation
5. Benediction of blessings
A year of one ecstatic blessing after another.
6. Diamond luminosity
A reincarnation process going between spirit & matter, matter & spirit.
- Eventually the entirety of the spirit becomes integrated into our material universe
- A new type of human experience, a new human founded on new bases
- Bache was shown that we’re in a time of labor, socially
- The fundamental architecture of the human psyche is being changed. A crescendo of the human story – not the final crescendo (we’re in this for the long haul) but a substantial one
- “For there to be a great awakening, there has to be a great death”
- Beginning of the 21st century is a dark night of our collective soul. But it’s not an ending, it’s a trial by fire
- We are birthing the future human, which will take the form of the diamond soul
- A planet of Buddhas, a planet of Christs
- This "diamond reality" only arose 4 times during Bache's work (always during extremely high-dose sessions)
7. The “goodbye sessions”
- An overview of all of his work
- The structure of these sessions provided the narrative structure of Bache's book