In the twentieth century, many efforts were made to expand the mind, often through substances. For example, in the 1960s there was the conviction that marijuana was a means given by the gods to protect mankind from rigidity, from crystallization of the mind. It was seen by many as a means to break out of the self-limiting awareness of current social living habits. The awareness that the mind would be limited again by habituation to that means was rejected for the time being.
In our century, the idea that you need certain ingredients to expand the mind and spirit through the use of various substances has resulted in the use of, for example, ayahuasca1, a drink that derives its power from two South American plants.
Mind expansion may arise as a desire to imagine and experience the dimensions of the total electromagnetic spectrum. People can normally only see a minuscule part of that spectrum. The spectrum as a whole is about ten trillion times larger than that of visible light.
And the reality that includes the spirit would equally exist in an enlarged mental spectrum. The awareness of the One, who pervades everything and is everything, would also encompass the total mental spectrum, wouldn’t it?
But there is another reason for the desire for mind expansion, namely, the distressing experience of oppression due to a feeling of social confinement and feeling locked up, the experience of absolute boundaries that are socially and economically set by the pervading order. The need for expansion therefore arises because of a threatening sense of suffocation, which is due to this climate of middle class small minds and accepted norms of pleasure, convenience and gain.
A new faith is seen as the best thing to alleviate this desire and this need, namely the faith in data, the faith in new information. The belief is that the almost infinite sea of data will enrich and expand our consciousness to spiritual proportions; that an ocean of information-based consciousness will arise that will connect us to the One, so that distress and small minds will be a thing of the past. This prevailing data belief carries the hope that technology and artificial intelligence will move us algorithmically into a world of the spirit that is broad enough to allow us to cosmically breathe in a completely new era of consciousness.
At the same time, this new data-mind-expansion paradigm also holds that it is able to reorganize the current destructive business model that now wreaks havoc on the earth, on nature and on people, from the chaos of over-information into an efficiently operating non-harmful environmentally conscious, living universal remedy.
The author Yuval Noah Harari rightly asks in his book Homo Deus 2 whether we really want to join the data faith as a mind-expanding device when it asks us to assume that our organisms are merely algorithms, and that life processes are just data processing.
And he asks us the final question:
What is more valuable: intelligence or consciousness?
So much of the population has chosen to participate in the tech social media giant, Facebook, and for them this results in a permanent bond to the data that they themselves generate out of vanity, but which are no longer their own. This suggests that in the end they have chosen the easy comforts of, enjoyment of, and gain from, a virtual reality.
We like to forget that every mind-expanding agent, whether it is a physical substance or a mental digital, makes us dependent on authorities outside of us.
We then forget that there is an indwelling spirit-expanding mediator, without digital dependence and without the use of external substances. Gnosis can make us aware of this mediator. Mind expansion can then mean clearing up ignorance by an expanded direct knowledge. This inner mediator gives us spiritual space and openness, because where there is that Spirit, there is freedom.
Reference: This article first appeared in Pentagram 2018 number 3
- 1. Ayahuasca is made from two plants: the Psychotria viridis and the climber Banisteriopsis caapi. The Psychotica viridis contains as active material DMT. The Banisteriopsis takes care that DMT is not destroyed and is remains active for a longer period. Source: Jellinek clinic.
- 2. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Yuval Noah Harari, 2016