A scientific proof that Salvia reveals higher aspects of reality:
My thoughts here on the 'science' side of things are about the potential
implications of the 'reality' of the psychedelic experience. And what kind
of 'scientific' investigations could be done in this area.
A student of para-psychology (doing a PhD) had been in contact with me saying
that they were interested in doing some research on Salvia. His idea was
using a Ganzfeld set-up to see if Salvia had any ESP properties.
Unfortunately (surprise-surprise) his tutor was not keen on the idea, so it
hasn't yet come to anything. But in any case, the way that Salvia presents
itself to me, my guess is that it would not be particularly suited to 'guessing
what's on the back of this card'. There seemed something about this set up
that was too much like getting it to do parlour tricks and I wasn't sure that it
Of course you could argue that saying this neatly gets me off the hook,
because I can continue with my evangelical arguments about what Salvia
facilitates and I never have to 'prove' any of it. Well, part of me
would be interested in doing the experiment, because Salvia is full of
surprises and you never know, but it just seemed to me that it was not really
what Salvia is about.
Yet I do argue that Salvia does something real so I feel I should reflect on
that and try make some supporting case.
Your example of the Necker Cube was interesting and it's got me thinking
along certain lines. The point you make about this is that "it's just
a 2D drawing". It's interesting to consider what the mind is
attempting when trying to resolve this image. Of course to argue that it's
just lines on a page arranged in a particular way, i.e. having certain lengths,
orientations and intersections relative to each other, is quite a valid point of
view. You can even make the argument that the mind is making a perceptual
error in visioning a 3-D cube.
Optical illusions are very popular in psychology, and are frequently used to
infer that we cannot simply trust our senses. But looking at this example
in particular it strikes me that the reason why the mind tends to imagine 3
dimensions when 'in fact' there are only 2 is simply because of our
experience in 3 dimensions. Now, you can either refuse to accept that
it's at all possible to satisfactorily represent a three dimensional object in
two dimensional space, or you can say, given our experience (and given the
inevitable dimensional limitation), that it is possible to somehow
suggest three dimensions via a two dimensional image.
What it would be much more difficult to do however, is suggest to a being
that existed in only two dimensions that a third dimension did actually exist.
Their experience would resolve the image into the appropriate 2-D lines of given
length and orientation and intersection and that would be it. It would be
very difficult to convince them of anything else. And this relates to why
it's difficult to communicate aspects of the psychedelic experience. It
takes us beyond our usual frame of reference. - But this does not mean the
experience is not real.
At this point a familiar argument, very popular with psychologists, is to say
that it's not so much the case that any experience is not real (i.e. any one
experience compared to any other experience). - Only that that it's
impossible to test for the reality of experienced phenomena in a wider sense.
For example, to prove the real (objective) existence of parallel universes.
Thus, in a psychological sense, dreams are taken to be real.
People do really dream, so their dreams are real in some way. This is a
fair enough point, and it is true in some sense. But it is
also true to say that there is also some general differentiation that we can
make between the waking state and the dreaming state.
Before I get on to that I think it's worth considering the significance of
dreams to the study of psychology. Freud considered them the royal road to
the understanding of the unconscious, and hence essential to the understanding
of the mind as a whole. I agree that dreams should be taken seriously, but
I think their place in psychology, the understanding of what they are (and what
they are not) is so established that it's easy to carry over this
distinction to all altered states of mind.
The psychedelic experience then, in particular by people who've never
actually had one, is frequently categorised in the same way. Yes, real
enough to the experient in some psychological sense, like dreaming, but more
than that (about the objective reality) we cannot say.
Okay, as the reader's feedback to our argument so far said, "we could
just chuck everything into a box labelled 'subjective' & be done". -
But, before we throw the baby out with the bath water, I think it is worth
seeing if we can establish (and commonly agree) some differences.
It is true to say the dream state can seem as convincing as the waking state,
- while you are dreaming, but it strikes me there is something different,
in particular in the transition between the two states.
We talk in terms of falling asleep, and we talk in terms of waking
up. This implies a distinction between levels of consciousness.
Now this (as it stands) may be a bit of an assumption, but so is the fact of the
Necker cube being 'just' a 2-D object, so, is it a reasonable one?
I think it's reasonable to think in terms of levels of consciousness.
My feeling when I wake up is that I have emerged from some state (the
dream-state). Now, I fall into the 'mistake' of taking my dreams seriously
(as if they were really happening) as often as the next person, but
though I might not feel as if I have fallen asleep when dreaming I don't
feel I have emerged from the waking state either. I maintain that
this is an important differentiation.
And, in fact, it's also something that can be applied.
Occasionally in the dream-state I remember to ask myself the question, "am
I dreaming?" - Sometimes I don't ask the question, I just realise that I'm
dreaming. Anyway, this has the effect of somehow enabling a
transcendence of the dream.
Two things can happen. I can either wake up (fully), or I can go into
'lucid dreaming'. Lucid dreaming is a merged dreaming/waking state, where
one is dreaming but aware that one is dreaming. - A fascinating
phenomenon, which, one could argue, transcends both states, - but it's
not (quite) the argument that I'm setting out here.
The point is about agreeing some differentiation and making some distinction
between levels of consciousness, rather than chucking it all into a subjective
Another argument, or parallel, that it's worth looking at before considering
the implications of the psychedelic experience, is the distinction that can be
made between a two dimensional object and a three dimensional object.
Again, we can say that a two-dimensional shape, say a square, is as real
as a three-dimensional shape, say a cube, or a pyramid. But while it may
be true that both the 2-D and the 3-D objects really exist, there is a sense in
which one transcends the other.
If we take a two-dimensional section of, say, a pyramid (having a base with
four corners), then we can obtain a square, or a triangle, or some other shape,
depending on the intersection. The higher dimensional object can contain
lower dimensional objects within it.
Generically speaking, certain objects can be seen as projections of a higher
dimensional object into a lower dimensional space.
Note that this does not work the other way round. You cannot reliably
project the lower dimensional object into higher dimensional space. You
can't reliably infer that an instance of square is a projection of a cube
(though it might be), because it could as easily be a pyramid.
Interestingly, apparently different shapes (say, a square and a triangle) can
be seen as being reconciled in higher dimensions, both existing as
projections of the same object (say, a pyramid).
I think we are now at a stage where we can venture some implications from the
psychedelic experience. I make the case that the experience is real.
I further make the case that the experience is of a higher level of
You've said, "Science relies on hypotheses that are falsifiable".
Fair enough, but here is the crux of my case for plant psychedelics, this is why
I'm staggered as to why there isn't more interest from the 'scientific'
community. It's one thing to complain that otherwise reported experiences
of 'higher dimensions' or levels of consciousness or 'higher realities' are
unreliable in terms of being testable. It's quite another to have the
means to the experience immediately at hand, and then refuse it.
I say that my hypothesis is testable. The Salvia experience reveals
not just a different aspect of reality but a higher aspect of
Anyone who is serious about falsifying what I'm saying about the nature of
the experience can take the Salvia test.
Anyone who is concerned that other people's reports are objectively
unreliable, because they are tainted by their fantasies, wishes, beliefs,
unconscious desires and such like. Anyone who argues that the experience
(is real but) is no more real than dreaming has to come up with a good
reason for not doing it themselves.
I will accept concerns such as fear. I will accept anyone who says,
"I would just rather not know".
But anyone who argues that the experience is no more real than
dreaming without going there themselves, - well, that's not a point of view that
stands up to my analysis.
My Further Response