Addendum to the Reply to Ball

My article A Reply to Martin Ball's "Terence on DMT", published in October 2010 on the website of Reality Sandwich, was well-received by the readers of that site, who submitted over 40 comments, among which were four of mine, which are presented below.

Reality and experience

Thank y'all for your supportive comments. I certainly agree with Michael Garfield regarding the physicalist Richard Dawkins' disinclination to consider spiritual phenomena as a proper area of study for "science". As I say here a true scientist seeks to know whatever intersubjectively confirmable experience reveals to be true, so physicalists cannot be regarded as true scientists as long as they ignore or dismiss psychedelic experience.

I also agree with Michael regarding "reality" (which doesn't stop me from criticising Martin Ball's physicalist assumption that the only reality is physical reality, and his basic error in assuming that 'egos' exist). The fundamental question should not be "What is real?" but rather "What can we experience?", where "we" means a whole lot of us, not just a few people. After enough of us have experienced more or less the same thing (so we can agree as to what we are talking about) then we can sit around and discuss what it means for us, theoretically and practically.

In response to the comment: "I think that DMT experiences exist at roughly
the same ontological level of reality as dreams do, insofar as they are
creatively generated non-physical psychic and emotional experiences. ...
Are the machine elves objectively 'real'? ... Does it matter?

Are they objectively real? Does it matter?

Anyone who has had a full-on DMT experience, with entities all around them, can tell you that it's not a dream and not even like a dream. People sometimes report that it appears realer than normal reality.

>Are the machine elves objectively "real"?

First let's consider what "objectively real" means. Are electrons "objectively real" (even though we can't see them)? The answer is yes — because almost all people who are competent to consider the question (they are all physicists) have reviewed the evidence and concluded that electrons exist, have certain properties, etc. "Objective" thus means "intersubjectively verifiable" — confirmable by most people competent to study the subject. In this sense, the DMT entities are objectively real, since most people who have smoked DMT (as evidenced by 226 of the 340 reports) have seen them and they appear to them as definitely existing apart from their own minds.

>Does it matter?

Yes, insofar as it matters as to what kind of world we are living in. The root cause of all our problems — psychological, economic, social and environmental — is a sickness of the modern mind which results from the general belief (to quote Richard Tarnas in Cosmos and Psyche, p.34) that "the human self exists in an infinitesimal and peripheral island of meaning and spiritual aspiration in a vast purposeless universe signifying nothing except what the human self creates." (Tarnas's book is an attempt to show that this view is false.) This is the view of physicalism: that physical reality (electrons, photons, etc.) is the only reality. What is revealed to someone who enters the world of the DMT entities is that physicalism is false, that there is another reality full of intelligent non-physical beings. At the very least this should cause us to question whether the world we are living in is nothing more than a meaningless conglomeration of sub-atomic particles and things composed of them.

It may well be that there is a level of consciousness beyond that of the experience of the DMT world, within which the DMT entities are understood to be 'projections' of a more fundamental consciousness. Few people have ever attained that state. But only those people who already know the world of the DMT entities are qualified to talk about what might lie beyond it (though, of course, uninformed speculation will continue).

Or as Terence used to say ...

... about the world of the DMT entities, "The further you go the weirder it gets."

Thanks, Spiros, for your appreciation of my reply to Ball. As a close friend of Terence (and this friendship certainly changed my life, though I was already in mid-life, and with 20 years of psychedelic experience behind me, when I first met him) I could not let this calumny go unanswered.

Certainly the use of psychedelics raises more questions than it provides answers, but also shows us what (as a result of childhood conditioning) we probably would never have imagined or thought possible. We all (or almost all) are subject to the sickness of the modern mind that I mentioned above (the widespread belief in the intrinsic meaninglessness of the world we live in), and psychedelics obviously show us that we are capable of a far greater range of experience than the establishment dogma allows to us.

As Bob Marley sang (Redemption Song):
"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but ourselves can free our minds ..."

In response to the comment: "This whole thing could have been
side-stepped with a little more ruthless pre-publication editing."

Not so!

Ball's article is a sustained attempt to dismiss Terence McKenna's valuable contributions to psychedelic exploration as mere delusion, as "ego-projection", and as actually leading others into confusion. If the editors of RS had, in "pre-publication editing", removed everything from Ball's article which was not false and odious then there would have been nothing left except Ball's praise of himself and his own work, and the article would then not have been about "Terence on DMT" but rather about Ball himself and his "Entheological Paradigm", subjects which cannot compare with what Terence talked about in such an intriguing way that he will be listened to and read long after Ball's work is forgotten.

A copy of the Serendipity website is available on CD-ROM.  Details here.

A Reply to Martin Ball's "Terence on DMT"
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