November 18, 2006

DMT and the Collective Unconscious

DMT, or dimethyltryptamine, is a naturally occurring psychedelic tryptamine found all throughout nature, including the human body. This chemical is a powerful hallucinogen, chemically related to psilocybin (4-phoshporyloxy-dimethyltryptamine), the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, and the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxy-tryptamine). “DMT exists in all of our bodies and occurs throughout the plant and animal kingdoms. It is part of the normal makeup of humans and other mammals; marine animals; grasses and peas; toads and frogs; mushrooms and molds; and roots.” (Strassman, 2001, p.42) “In 1972, Nobel prize winning scientist Julius Axelrod of the U.S. National Institutes of Health reported finding DMT in human brain tissue. Additional research showed that DMT could also be found in human urine and the cerebrospinal fluid bathing the brain.” (Pinchbeck, 2003, p. 248) It is believed that dimethyltryptamine is produced in the pineal gland; a small organ centered in our brain and may also be a neurotransmitter. Unfortunately, we still do not know much about the pineal gland, and little has been proven when discussing it. There has been dialogue of the pineal gland in mythology. The pineal gland was the last endocrine gland to have its function discovered. Its location deep in the brain seemed to indicate its significance. This combination led to its being a “mystery” gland with myth, superstition, and even metaphysical theories surrounding its perceived function. “Rene Descartes called the pineal gland the “seat of the soul”, believing it is unique in the anatomy of the human brain in being a structure not duplicated on the right and left sides. The pineal gland is also associated with the sixth or third eye chakra. It is believed by some to be a dormant organ that can be awakened to enable “telepathic” communications.” (Wikipedia, 2003) “The pineal gland of evolutionary older animals, such as lizards and amphibians, is also called the ‘third’ eye. Just like the two seeing eyes, the third eye possesses a lens, cornea, and retina. It is light-sensitive and helps you regulate body temperature and skin coloration-- two basic survival functions related to environmental light.” (Pinchbeck, 2003 pg. 249)

DMT is a potent psychoactive substance that has for centuries been used by humans as a sacrament, or catalyst to receive spiritual experiences. Snuffs made from the DMT-containing plant Anadenanthera peregrina have been found in a burial site in Northern Chile that dates back to the eighth century. “In 1496, Friar Ramon Pane documented the use of a psychoactive snuff called cohoba/yopo among the Taino, who inhabited the island of Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic). It is now agreed that cohoba/yopo was almost certainly made from Anadenanthera peregrina which contains N,N-DMT, 5-methoxy-DMT, and Bufotenin.” (Erowid, 2006) The tribes of the Amazon have used a beverage called Ayahuasca for centuries and continue to this day. DMT is not active when taken orally, because it is destroyed in the digestive system by the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO). However, if an MAO-inhibiting agent is taken prior to the ingestion of the DMT, the DMT becomes orally active because it is not broken down by MAO. The Ayahuasca is a combination of two drinks. The first drink is traditionally made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, which contains beta-carbolines such as harmine and harmaline, which effectively inhibit MAO production. The second drink is brewed from Psychotria Viridis, which contains DMT. The shamans used the beverage to enter the land of the dead to assist newly-departed tribesmen in their transition into death. The shamans also used it to do spiritual combat with the shamans of enemy tribes, heal ill tribesmen, and to connect fully with the gods of nature and the beyond. It is remarkable that the shamans discovered this relationship between chemicals, since the action of MAO inhibitors was unknown to modern science until the 1950’s. On the other side of the globe, DMT has been used as a sacrament by the Aborigines in Australia, derived from several species from the genus Acacia. Incidentally, an Acacia appears on the flag of Australia. In modern times Ayahuasca is still highly revered as a religious sacrament, and used by nationally recognized religious groups in Brazil and the United States. Many people's lives at the present time are marked by improved communication, a will to go beyond ego, synchronistic flow, and a sense of transcendent oneness and identity due to the use of DMT. (Wikipedia, 2003)

In 1931, DMT was first synthesized in a lab by British chemist Richard Manske; he named it “Nigerine.” (Erowid, 2006) In 1946, it was isolated from the root bark of Mimosa hostilis by Goncalves de Lima. Its psychoactivity as a synthetic entity was first reported by Stephen Szara. DMT in its pure crystalline form became popular among the psychedelic underground in the late sixties due to the writings of Timothy Leary, William S. Burroughs, Ralph Metzner, and others. It was banned in the United States in 1971. In 1976, it was identified as a component of the healthy human brain and possibly a neurotransmitter by S.T. Christian. (Shulgin, 1997 p 248)

The modern users of DMT generally inhale the vapor or take it orally following an MAOI. When it is smoked it can produce entheogenic experiences including true hallucinations or perceived extensions of reality. “The maximal effects last for a short period of time, such as five to ten minutes. The onset after inhalation is very fast, less than forty five seconds, and maximal effects are reached within about a minute.” (Wikipedia, 2003) DMT has been described to separate the consciousness from the physical body, dissolve the ego, and allow the user to perceive other dimensions. Many users experience a state described as ultimate bliss, oneness, or transcendence, and many users report the same archetypal imagery associated with near-death experiences, such as the appearance of a fantastic white light, traveling through a tunnel at light speed, and feeling like one has merged completely with God-- mere seconds after the vapor is inhaled. Some users report contact and communication with alien or sentient beings. DMT has virtually no history of use as a “party drug.” The effects are so overwhelming and sometimes terrifying that it has never become a popular drug of abuse. It is used in a much different context than other hallucinogens, usually in a much more ritualized manner with great care taken to ensure proper set and setting. The goal is not to get intoxicated, but to have a mystical experience with deep personal meaning. Many modern users of DMT consider themselves shamans, their tribe a worldwide network of entheogenic explorers connected through the internet, telephone and mail. (Martinez, 2006)

There are new theories being constructed around DMT. It is fairly new to the scientific community and because of legal issues, there is not much research being conducted on it. Dr. Rick Strassman considers DMT to be the spirit molecule. He is one of the only researchers that has administered DMT to humans and made some propositions about its role and how indispensable it has been in our evolution and even our entire existence. “Dr. Strassman discovered that the human pineal gland becomes visible in the developing fetus at seven weeks, or forty-nine days, after conception, almost precisely the same time that the sex of the fetus is determined. He also learned that Buddhists believe the soul reincarnates forty-nine days after death. Astonished by this synchronicity, he evolved a hypothesis that the pineal gland is like a receiver that picks up the spirit--an extra dimensional vibration that exists outside of the body-- and DMT is the conductive element. When our individual life force enters our body, the moment at which we become truly human, it passes through the pineal gland and triggers the first primordial flood of DMT… As we die, the life-force leaves the body through the pineal gland, releasing another flood of this psychedelic spirit molecule.” (Pinchbeck, 2003 pg. 249) It is known that DMT occurs in a very high concentration in the brain tissue of human cadavers, while the concentration of DMT in living subjects is relatively low. For Strassman, this theory would explain the pineal gland’s unique structure and placement inside the brain. Formed from “specialized cells originating in the fetal mouth,” the pineal nearly touches visual and auditory sensory relay stations. The emotional centers of the limbic system surround it, and its position allows for instant delivery of its products directly into the cerebrospinal fluid. This reasoning further develops the idea that decomposing pineal tissues affects residual awareness of death. “DMT, released by the pineal after death, could diffuse through the ‘sensory and emotional centers’ even without a functioning circulatory system, allowing the departed soul the time to make the life review and enter the bardo domains detailed in the Tibetan Book of the Dead.” (Strassman, 2001) “The Bardo Thodol, traditionally but inaccurately called the Tibetan Book of the Dead, is a funerary text that describes the experiences of the consciousness after death during the interval known as bardo existence between death and rebirth. One can compare the descriptions of the Bardo Thodol with accounts of certain "out of the body" near-death experiences described by people who have nearly died in accidents or on the operating table - these typically contain accounts of a "white light", experienced as, somehow, a living being, and of helpful figures corresponding to that person's religious tradition.” (Wikipedia, 2003)

Another concept reflecting DMT is that a minimal flow of DMT might also catalyze the dream state during sleep. “Considering relatively common and naturally occurring, altered states of awareness in which pineal DMT may play a role is dream consciousness. The most likely time for us to dream is also the time at which melatonin levels are at their highest, that is, around 3 AM. Since melatonin itself has such mild psychological effects, it suggests a role for another pineal compound whose levels parallel those of melatonin. DMT is a likely prospect for such a substance. Unfortunately, no one has looked at 24-hour DMT rhythms in normal volunteers in an attempt to relate DMT levels to dream intensity or frequency. Meditation or prayer also may elicit deeply altered states of consciousness. Pineal DMT could underlie these mystical or spiritual experiences.” (Strassman, 2001 pg. 73) All spiritual disciplines describe relatively psychedelic accounts of the transformative experience, whose realization motivate their ritual. When comparing the beliefs of what is occurring during spiritual transcendence from mediation to the distinctiveness of a fully psychedelic DMT experience, they are exceptionally similar. Transcendental meditation is difficult for many to explain. Strassman explains mediation like a standing wave in water. “It looks as if the wave is not moving at all, while water rushes along on all sides of it. In fact, it is the rushing water that produces the wave, and those waves create a unique note, or sound. Such wave phenomena, by their production of a particular note or sound associated with their frequency, establish wide-ranging and diffuse fields of influence. Objects within those fields vibrate sympathetically, or with the same frequency; this is a phenomenon called resonance. Meditative techniques using sound, site, or the mind may generate particular wave patterns whose fields induce resonance in the brain. “Millennia of human trial and error have determined that certain "sacred" words, visual images, and mental exercises exert uniquely desired effects. Such effects may occur because of the specific fields they generate within the brain. These fields cause multiple systems to vibrate and pulse at certain frequencies. We can feel our minds and bodies resonate with these spiritual exercises. Of course, the pineal gland also is buzzing at these same frequencies. The pineal begins to "vibrate" at frequencies that weaken its multiple barriers to DMT formation: the pineal cellular shield, enzyme levels, and quantities of anti-DMT. The end result is a psychedelic surge of the pineal spirit molecule, resulting in the subjective states of mystical consciousness…” (Strassman. 2001 pg. 74)

American psychedelic pioneer and DMT guru Terence McKenna gave DMT to a Tibetan Buddhist monk, and after the experience was over, the monk told McKenna that it brought him to a place the Buddhists had seen many times through meditation, but he also stated that it was about as far as one could go into the Bardo and still return to the physical plane afterward. Jesus Christ and other biblical prophets used fasting and sleep deprivation to achieve mystical states and have the visions upon which the Bible is based. Sleep deprivation increases endogenous DMT levels, and this triggers these transcendent visions and religious experiences. Buddhists and Hindus have the same experiences through meditation, and the South American shamans use their sacred DMT-containing brews to break into the same space. The emerging networks of entheogenists within modern urban societies use DMT crystals with the same goal in mind. In this light, it seems clear that DMT is an integral part of all religion, whether or not it is acknowledged. Religions are founded by people who have had these experiences and want to share what they have learned with their fellowman. Since most people will never experience these divine moments of truth, and can therefore never truly understand the nature of the universe, religion converts this inexpressible experience into culture-based symbols, metaphors that relate these intangible things to the physical world so the common man can partially comprehend them. Saint John’s Revelation is a vivid description of the death experience. He describes his visions using the imagery available to him, in the hope of communicating the revelation to the masses. The events described in the Revelation are metaphors for the death experience. During cosmic consciousness, many possible futures are beheld. Saint John describes one possible future, one possible route of humanity’s demise that was revealed to him during his transcendence. This is simply one path in the sea of infinite possibilities. Humanity’s course is set by our collective free will. The choices we all make each day, each second, determine the fate of humanity in the physical world. Free will is absolute in this dimension, so the itinerary changes over time. We are still making a mad dash toward destruction, but the method of destruction has changed since Saint John had his vision. The death experience he describes remains the same. (Martinez, 2006) “Man’s need to expose himself to shock effects is his adjustment to the dangers threatening him. DMT is mind expansion as shock therapy, and McKenna has been responsible for its arrival: The dimethyltryptamine molecule has the unique property of releasing the structured ego into the Overself. Each person who has that experience undergoes a mini-apocalypse, a mini-entry and mapping into hyperspace. For society to focus in this direction, nothing is necessary except for this experience to become an object of general concern.” (Pinchbeck, 2003 pg. 247) Our brain expends precious energy actively transporting the drug from the blood into its inner recesses. It is as if DMT were necessary for normal brain function. Perhaps just the right amount of DMT is involved in the brain's maintenance of the correct receiving properties. That is, it keeps our brains tuned in to Channel Normal. Too much and all manner of unusual and unexpected programs appear on the mind's screen. Too little, and our view of the world dims and flattens. Many definitions of imagination refer to the divine nature of this element. To conceive of and produce something new allows us to share in some of God's creative power. Our imagination extends us by thought into places where nothing previously existed. Therefore the return of psychedelics in spirituality may be the revolution we essentially must create. Psychedelics stimulate the imagination, and thus they are logical tools to enhance creativity. “The problems facing our society and planet require the use of novel ideas as much as new and more powerful technology. It's impossible to overstate the urgent need to improve our imaginative abilities. Psychedelics may provide a powerful tool for doing so. In addition to the treatment of clinical disorders, psychedelics could be used to enhance characteristics of our normal state of being, such as creativity, problem-solving abilities, spirituality, and so on. This work may ultimately serve more people, and have greater overall impact, than strictly pathology-based therapy projects.” (Strassman, 2001 pg. 349)

Cited References

Erowid. (1996). Erowid DMT Vault. [Online]. Available: [2006, November 18].

Martinez, S. (2006). Life, Death and DMT. [Online]. Available: [2006, November 19].

Pinchbeck, D. (2003). Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism. New York: Broadway Books.

Shulgin, A. (1997). Tihkal. California: Transform Press.

Strassman, R. (2001). DMT: The Spirit Molecule. Vermont: Park Street Press.

Wikipedia. (2003). Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. [Online]. Available: [2006, November 2].


Freedom is a state of mind. Everyone has a basic goal, whether it is fortune, happiness, or contentment, we are on paths to obtain these goals. These trails will intertwine with other peoples paths as we all try to find ourselves. The decisions we make will affect others and in whole, contribute to all paths. These feelings and decisions fit into a huge design that has been predetermined, therefore making freedom only a state of mind. Fame and fortune is often the enemy of freedom because it is too easy to lose ourselves in the hunt to find or keep, while both elude us. We do have the ability to feel in control of our own life. It is necessary to continue to grow. Ultimately it is upon ourselves we rely to achieve our ends. If we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by the fear of defeat, defeat will pounce on easy prey. To grow, learn, and better ourselves as individuals are not within the power of others to negate. In our lives, we sometimes become locked into certain molds set for us; by others, by ourselves. These molds are not permanent. It is important to realize that the worst prisons are the prisons we create for ourselves, within our own minds. Before we can live in true physical freedom, we must live in true mental freedom. The obstacles of discovering ourselves and taking control of our life are important to living a complete and full life. Even though life is following a path that has been provided to make everything work, the feeling of freedom is something we must allow ourselves to live confidentially.
Pre-determinism is a comforting belief, although it leaves no room for miracles. The idea of giving control to a higher power is nice, but it also gives insight on how much fear people have when they know they are responsible for their own actions. Determinism is a theory that all events, including human decisions, are completely determined by previously existing causes. The present state of the universe is the effect of its previous state and the cause of the state that follows. If a mind could know all laws and all forces operating in nature and the respective positions and momentum of all its components, it could thereby know with certainty the future and past of every entity. If we were to step outside ourselves and attempt to see our fate laid out, there is no certainty that one could change their future from knowing it. There are potentially many levels of circumstances that could take you off track. The thought of an infinite amount of parallel dimensions for every decision that is made is a possibility. If that is true, then there is more than one of us acting in another plane differing from us by one decision we have made in our life.

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Control Dramas

According to the Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, all humans play games or control dramas to gain energy. People have an underlying energy that they carry around; we tend to compete subconsciously for this energy. Energy is scarce because humans tend to cut themselves off from a greater source of energy, such as nature. Most people feel insecure and low energy most of the time and seek to increase it by sapping it from other people. This goes on during most interactions and conversations, the whole time oblivious to the individuals. As someone manipulates or forces others to give them attention, the manipulator finds that they are more confident, but the other person is left feeling weakened and sometimes fights back. This is the cause of all conflict between people. The four basic control drama roles are: interrogator, aloof, intimidator, and the poor me.

This first role people use is the interrogator. The definition of an interrogator is someone who questions somebody thoroughly, often in an aggressive or threatening manner. The interrogator is able to absorb another’s energy by making them feel wrong. People playing this role will accuse others of lying. They tend to ask questions that are provocative or have no right answer. When an answer is given, they will distort it and twist it around. They tend to appear sarcastic, skeptical, critical and undermining.

The next control drama role is the aloof. Aloof means being uninvolved or unwilling to become involved with other people or events, often out of a sense of lofty superiority to them. The aloof will hold information to attain a feeling of dominance. Out of fear of revealing one’s self, the aloof will never answer a question directly. The aloof is secretive and hides their emotions from everyone, which makes people work to get to know them. Often, the superiority grows into a heroic pose of isolation. This is often accompanied by an artificial sense of humility because humility encourages worship. The aloof is distant, never at home, and not to interested in other people’s lives.

Another control drama is the intimidator. The intimidator will persuade or dissuade by frightening someone. They can be emotionally or verbally abusive. In this role a person will always blame someone else for the reason of blowing up at someone. One classic line an intimidator will use is “Look what you made me do.” They can often be difficult to live with, while having to tiptoe around this explosion waiting to happen. The intimidator appears to be angry, self-centered, and threatening. This is an aggressive role like the interrogator.

The last control drama role is the poor me. The poor me is someone who feels they need sympathy and feeds off of the energy of pity. This type of person always seems to dwell on the negative and looks for problems with everything. They give people a feeling of guilt for not solving their problems. The poor me will refuse to take personal responsibility for their feelings. This can even lead to competitions of who’s suffering more in life. The poor me will get attention by sighing, trembling, and crying. This role is passive like the aloof.

These roles are often developed in a human’s early stages of life. Not everyone plays these games to an excessive extent; in fact, most people do not even realize they are playing to begin with. Understanding these roles and recognizing when they are used can help someone correct this trait and possibly find a new method to obtain energy.

Creationism vs. Darwinism

Charles Darwin ranks as one of the greatest scientists in history. His theories have changed the world and how people view it. Unfortunately many of the ideas still associated with him are wrongly attributed. His ideas have caused conflict in many aspects. Although he was the founder of the evolutionary theory, he never used the word evolution to explain his theories. Charles Darwin is best known for his book The Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection. The idea of evolution was not new when Darwin published his book; Aristotle and Lucretius spoke of species not being created whole and perfect by God at the genesis of life on Earth. He established three fundamental premise’s in his book. One is that all organisms produce more offspring than can possibly survive. The next premise is that there is significant variation amongst offspring; they are not all carbon copies of one immutable type. The last premise is that at least some of the variation found in the offspring gets passed on to the next generation and to generations beyond. Charles Darwin explained descent with modification and survival through natural selection. In his travels to the Galapagos Islands, a group of volcanic islands nine hundred kilometers west of South America, he began to study the finches he found there. Since the islands are volcanic, all life must have been introduced. He decided that a flock of finches must have strayed off of the mainland and found there way to the islands, over time they developed differences in their behavior and in the shape of their beaks. The food available throughout the islands would contribute to these differences. This is an example of adaptive radiation, the development of several species from a common ancestor introduced into a new environment that presents opportunities as well as problems. Darwin used the metaphor of a tree with multiple branches from a common trunk. Natural selection is when the population becomes better adapted to survive, or successfully reproduce, in their particular environment. The environment selects the better suited individuals to survive. There are many evidences that can support the evolutionary theory. One evidence is homologous structures found in organisms. These are structures with the same embryological origin due to a shared ancestry. Another example is vestigial structures, or a structure that is reduced in size and has marginal or little use. There are molecular homologies, which are similarities in DNA and protein of related organisms. Also looking at the geographical distribution of species is a good support for the evolutionary theory. One example of this is the marsupials in Australia, there are many of them there and only one other marsupial in the world, in North America. Convergent evolution is the independent development of similar characteristics between unrelated species; this is a result of natural selection and similar ecological roles. You can see this in the sugar gliders in Australia, which are marsupials, and the flying squirrel in North America, which is a placental mammal. Both of these organisms have the skin between their limbs to help them glide. This is just one example, although there are many cases such as this. One other evidence used to support the evolutionary theory is the fossil record. Ninety percent of the fossils we have found are extinct species. The fossils confirm appearances of major groups in geologic history. The creationism theory is the literal belief in the account of creation given in the Book of Genesis. Creationism denies the theory of evolution of species. There are many levels of creationists, from the extreme creationists to the less literal believers. Creation theology is the origin belief that humans, life, the Earth, and the universe were created by a Supreme Being or deity’s supernatural intervention. Extreme creationists believe that every species that is extant today were created at the same time and there has been no modification. Creationism can be considered a religious metaphysical theory. Creation science is a pseudoscientific theory that is incompatible with the big bang theory and the evolutionary theory, although there are people that have mixed the two theories to coincide.

Identity and Personhood

Distinguishing between identity and personhood is a very complex process. There are many different angles to analyze. Many philosophers have attempted to establish a credible definition of what the soul exactly is. There are many skeptics in the world that believe we are our body, and cannot put faith in the belief of having a soul because there is no physical proof. John Perry wrote a story The First Night about a philosophy teacher on her death bed that would like to find comfort in the thought of having a soul, but is not convinced because she feels that her body is her identity, and she will die with her body. Her thinking is that her consciousness resides in the body rather than the soul that her friend arguing for throughout the story. The body theory suggests that one’s own identity is a function of nothing more than the identity of one’s body. Dualism is a theory created by Rene Descartes that argues that mind and body must be two distinct substances. Although there are good reasons for thinking the body and mind are not the same thing, there are huge problems in thinking of them as distinct. They are difficult to separate for the reason that the mind and body interact, even though they are two completely different kinds of substances. The mind and the body possibly aren’t two substances at all; maybe they are two different aspects of the same substance. Perhaps Descartes approached the question wrong, and mind and body are different, not unrelated substances. While it is easier to consider the body substance, the mind is a more difficult concept in that aspect. John Locke explains in Of Identity and Diversity that experience defines an individual. This dynamic finding was that all knowledge was founded on and derived from experience. Locke’s conclusions and arguments on personal identity were so powerful; they have become part of western thinking. He says that the identity of consciousness is not substance; this is what makes personal identity. For Locke, the idea of substance is the something, we know not what, which attempt to glue the causes of our ideas together. Memory plays a major role in Locke’s theories. He contributed the memory theory, which says that self-identity must be intimately tied to our mental characteristics and that personal identity is based on self-consciousness. He states, “I am the same as my younger self if I can recall the actions of this more youthful me.” David Hume believes that nothing is responsible for our identity through time because it is only fiction. Hume wrote Of Personal Identity, as his views differ from Locke’s. He contends that as we attempt to interpret ourselves, we encounter disconnected and distinct perceptions. As we try to make sense of these thoughts and ideas, we create our self-image. When distinguishing the mind, we must understand that the mind is not a thing—we define something as having a mind when it is capable of activity and responsibility. Identifying the mind is a foundational beginning in answering this question. In order to understand the connection the mind has with the body we must first have a good grasp of what the mind is. One belief is that the characteristic feature of the mind is that it is directed at objects other than itself, but perhaps this isn’t so much a truth about the mind rather a truth about how we view agents with the mind. When thinking of consciousness it goes back to a recognizable phrase by Descartes, “I think, therefore I am.” The mind is a piece of equipment for us to use; our physical body has certain similarities with a personal computer, although far more sophisticated and wonderful. The physical body could be considered the hardware as it requires software to tell it what to do. The software that is built into the personal computer that is the physical body is the mind which programs the computer and enables it to function effectively as a physical entity. This software contains our thoughts, words, and the imagery that enables the body to function in various ways. The self that looks, listens, feels, and responds is not the physical body, in spite of its many qualities and its multitude of functions. The mind helps us establish a perception of reality, retain memories of what we experience, and store it for instant recall when needed. Though apart from it, the mind is the center of function to the body. Unlike a man-made computer, the mind can reprogram itself to redirect life toward new goals and dispose of certain past conditioning. As we anticipate artificial intelligence, the question of what makes something conscious becomes more in attendance. A machine that is susceptible to responding to examination in a similar way as a human would, can it be considered conscious? Given that we cannot enter the mind of another human, we would have to give such a machine the same benefit of the doubt as we do other people, who we only think of as conscious on the basis of how they behave. Although, according to John Searle, a computational device simply processes information according to rules, and can therefore never have understanding. He uses his famous “Chinese Room” argument to defend this. This debate is a thought experiment. Here we are asked to imagine that someone outside the room hands in a series of written messages in Chinese which are then replied to with other Chinese expressions through a process that involves nothing more than mechanically sifting through a database of lexical items and substitution rules. Searle’s point is that there is no reason to suppose that the inside goings-on manifest any kind of linguistic intelligence, much less any sign of conscious awareness beyond the mere capacity to check things off in a purely automatic way. This analogy to how computers work refutes the idea that if a human interlocutor failed to distinguish reliably between the answers delivered by a computational device, then the case that the device has intelligence and consciousness has been made beyond any reasonable doubt. It would appear to display intelligence, if programmed with sufficient ingenuity. Naturally this can be explained that it was just churning out responses in accordance with a rule-based decision procedure, with no understanding of the meaning of the responses, just like the person in the Chinese room. One could define the mind as just a complex computational device which in the case of human beings happens to require certain carbon based neurophysiologic structures but whose workings could, in principle, be replicated by some other system of equivalent system. Artificial intelligence can be considered a life form that is created when intelligent thought is given to a machine, and could even be capable of evolution. Who’s to say it would not eventually gain a soul or essence? The thoughts, ideas, and beliefs one owns are theirs, but the mind is no more them than the physical body. Both the mind and body are tools that we use. This brings us to the soul, as a portion of what we are. People are taught at an early age that they have a soul, but were never explained what a soul is. The reason for this is that the soul is something to be believed rather than known. Physical science cannot define or discover the soul because it is non-material, nor can mental science because it is not of the mind. The soul is a spiritual concept; therefore religion does apply to the belief in the soul. A theological description of the soul is vague, for the soul is projected as a nebulous, spiritual entity that somehow embodies the person’s moral, ethical, and behavioral qualities, and can actually be in danger of being lost. Because the majority of people are completely unaware of their soul, it could be assumed that their soul is already lost, waiting to be found. The shamans identify the soul as a body of light, an inner light or form of energy within an individual. The soul is the body of light-energy and a center of life-energy. Even though the soul occupies the same spatial location as the body, it interpenetrates it. It is not in the same place, it exists on another dimensional plane. Like the mind, the soul is a non-physical aspect of the total self with a different function and purpose. The shamans consider the physical body to be an extension of the soul. One reason why the soul is not part of the conscious, everyday life is that we confined it to the uncertainty of belief rather than experiencing it as part of an ordinary reality. There are theories established that exclaim the spirit is separate from the soul, and people are not the soul, but rather the spirit which controls body, mind, and soul. The difference between the spirit and the soul is that the spirit is the original being before the manifestation of form. The objective would be to synchronize all four aspects of one’s self. Each individual spirit has the gift of freedom, or to choose. The spirit is hypothetically meant to generate its life-energies towards harmony in mutual interdependence with other beings through respecting and perfecting individuality. This perspective makes it unachievable to separate identity from essence, because the spirit directs the soul and mind to form an identity. Self-will is what disconnects a being from the rest, for it seeks self-amplification at the expense of others and by doing so generates destructive energies, which make up some characteristics of the identity. A human is a spirit with physical and mental outlets, without them the spirit could not exist on this plane of life. A spirit with a physical body through which it can experience the consequences of its own choices and actions is led through a journey of existence made by the spirit though the slower vibrations of physical reality in order to express itself through physical world experiences and so shape and create its own future, or destiny. The spirit or essence is ageless. As we get older in Earth years, we do not feel different inside. As our opinions and body changes, our identity remains the same.

The definition of identification is a person’s association with or assumption of the qualities, characteristics, or views of another person or group. It is what makes an individual definable or recognizable. Identity is the projection of an individual that is presented consciously or subconsciously. Personal identity concerns the conditions under which a person at one time is the same person at another time. The concept of identity can be referred to as the diachronic problem of personal identity, which means a process occurring over a long period of time. This contrasts with the synchronic problem, the distinction between to co-existing entities, which is the question of what constitutes personhood. Personhood can be defined metaphysically as the body and soul, the multi-faceted self. It is the nature of a being’s evolution and existence after death. The multi-faceted self is both a finite personal self and a higher self. It is the evolution of the higher powers of the soul through successive life times. The most obvious trait of an individual is the possession of a conscious mind with plans, goals, desires, hopes, and fears. These are a natural set of criteria for personhood. Also in the definition of identity, consciousness is one of the contributing words of explanation. Some philosophers believe there can be partial personhood due to mentally handicapped and comatose people. Although philosophers argue that incomplete personhood is dangerous and could lead to weakened protection for anyone not considered complete persons. Although some philosophers say that we are all incomplete or developing persons regardless of our developmental state. The personhood theory has come into perspective fairly recently. This is criteria a person must have in the personhood theory. Consciousness is the first, and the ability to steer one’s attention and action purposively, self-awareness, self-bonded to objectives and self as longitudinal thematic identity, one’s biographic identity. Kant said, “Without sensibility no object would be given to us, and without understand none would be thought. Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.” In the past, some humans did not enjoy full legal protection as persons, such as woman, children, slaves, and such, but from the late 18th century through the late 20th century being born as a member of the human species gradually became worldly grounds for an appeal for basic rights of liberty, freedom from persecution, and humanitarian care. This is one effect of the personhood theory. It would be hopeless to attempt separating the attributes of identity and the soul. It has not been clearly identified what the soul has control over and what the mind is capable of, therefore we cannot yet distinguish the two apart.

Self-identity is conceptual awareness and persistent regard that responsive beings hold with regard their own being. The components of a being’s self-concept include physical, psychological, and social qualities. They can be influenced by manner, habits, beliefs, and ideas that make up the self-image. Evaluation is important in understanding one’s self. There must be a constant self-analysis process because even though our identity is ours, it is all the time changing and adjusting to its surroundings and environment. Self-concept is learned through out our life. This is not something born to us instinctively. Through repeated perceived experiences we shape ourselves. Self-concept is formed as a social development. It is strange to see how much humanity has accomplished when the self is still such an enigma to us. This can be explained by the concept that there is nothing to compare for self-knowledge. Humans are distinguishable from animals by anatomy and physiology, but as a conscious, reflecting being, gifted with speech, we lack the criteria for self-judgment. The structure and physiology of the brain furnish no explanation of the psychic process. The psyche has an eccentric nature which cannot be reduced to anything else. It is a self-contained field of experience which is important because it includes conditions of the existence of our consciousness. Consciousness is a precondition of being. Inner focusing is a valuable tool used to counsel ourselves during our lifetime. Occasionally inconsistencies arise out of our normal experience and it becomes difficult to analyze one’s self and situation. When this takes place emotional problems may arise, or neurosis can develop. This can be dangerous because if these problems are not properly dealt with, they can extend into mental disorders. Another negative effect of inconsistencies is the issue of developing a low self-image, or self-esteem. Self-concept is an organized process. With this stability, we are able to maintain our perceptions and relate them to others to form an identity. Our basic perceptions are fairly stable, so change takes time. The system we have created to analyze ourselves shapes ways a person views oneself, others, and the world, as it also serves to direct action and take a reliable stance in life. Our perception of the world is perceived in relation to our self-identity. Individuals strive to behave in ways that are in keeping with their self-concepts, regardless of how helpful or hurtful to oneself or others. Unfortunately growth opportunities are limited in this society, so our identity is constantly defending itself from assault. Self-identity evaluation is knowing oneself.

Cloning is a rather new concept to us. The science fiction stories once created out of fear and curiosity are closing in to reality. Cloning is the use of a somatic cell from a multicellular organism to make one or more genetically identical individuals. Cloning with plants is relatively common. Scientists have recently begun to clone animals. In 1997, Scottish researchers cloned a lamb named Dolly from an adult sheep by nuclear transplantation from a differentiated cell. Dolly’s DNA was identical to the nucleus donor. In 2003, Dolly died at the age of six from complications of lung disease which is usually found in much older sheep. Her premature death, as well as her arthritic condition led to speculation that her cells were older than those of a normal sheep. Since 1997, there have been numerous mammals cloned with the goal to produce new individuals; this is known as reproductive cloning. There have been interesting results from these experiments. For example, cloned animals of the same species do not always look or behave identically. Environmental influences and random phenomena can play a significant role during development. There are many defects and abnormalities that occur during cloning due to the fact mutations occur and there is no crossing over of genetic information to correct them as in sexual reproduction. In 2004, South Korean researchers successfully completed the first steps in cloning humans. The embryo was not allowed to mature beyond a certain stage in development. Ethical issues arose with the issue of cloning. The cloned animals sometimes behaved differently than the original animal, it can be assumed that humans would also react in this manner. A cloned human would have its own thought process and develop a unique identity. With this new found identity, the clone would develop as a child would, collecting experience and memory, learning and adapting. For a new life to come into existence, the presence of a spirit and soul would be necessary. That conveys another question, when does a soul join with the body and mind? There is a theory that the world is full of souls, there are souls in the hills, the ocean, everywhere. It is unknown how they came to exist there, but perhaps they are waiting for an empty shell to inhabit and whenever life is formed, no matter how it is originated, they take the opportunity to predominate.

Reconstructing the Human Psyche: An Introduction

Throughout the human life cycle, questions arise that require deep contemplation and self-realization. Self-analysis is important when one is attempting to understand his or her role throughout life, and to help resolve difficult situations. However, in certain situations professional help may be required beyond what this exercise can do for a person. For several years, I have used transcendental meditation to release negative energy and clear my mind of obstructions that prevent me from attaining my goals. An individual can use meditation to restructure his or her current thinking method, thereby improving any undesirable behaviors. This type of therapy can be practiced alone, and is a useful tool in effectively learning life’s lessons. There are many different forms of meditation, but there is a basic design in reconstructing one’s thought process. This process results in a rebirth, or a refreshed outlook on life. Three basic steps are involved: ego-loss, transcendence, and re-entry.

The first stage in a general overview of meditation is the loss of the ego, or identity. This can be considered a shedding of old ways. One of the most important variables in this process is setting and environment. A comfortable, well-known location is an ideal setting. Some people find it easier to establish peace of mind in silence, although others prefer relaxing music to help center their attention. The object of this step is to disconnect with your physical reality and separate the mind from the body. This causes the subject to enter a state in which all his or her attention is focused on one thing, whether it be a mantra, breathing, heartbeat, the mandala, or just pure consciousness. The Buddhists and Hindus call this “The blowing out of the candle.” The chattering mind must be silenced. It is appropriate to lie down or sit in an upright position, depending only on personal preference and comfort. One method is to focus one’s attention on an item or position in the room. There are also various breathing methods that will aid in deep concentration. A common way to focus attention is to cleanse the body by imagining negative energy as a specific color and push it up from the toes to the head, and out into the atmosphere. This step is to free the mind of its ordinary patterns. If the mind has been cleared and focused, transcendence is attainable.

The second phase of reconstruction is transcendence. This is where the person has fallen into a deep state of relaxation and meditation. At this point, the mind is inattentive to distraction and open to the subconscious. This allows hidden wants and needs buried deep in the psyche to rise to the surface in the form of archetypal imagery. In today’s fast-paced society, we as humans tend to ignore our primary thoughts and fail to take the time to understand our true inner selves. A wide variety of psychological events can occur at this point, depending on the subject of the meditation. An array of emotions can overcome the person being affected. This is normal; it is most likely feelings that have been repressed. It is important that these emotions come out, because continued repression can lead to neurosis. Transcendence can be a beautiful experience. Often, in such a deep state of meditation, the individual will hear his or her innermost thoughts and sometimes even see visions that can later be interpreted to have higher meaning. At this point, it is important to avoid trying to understand what is happening, but simply to absorb as much as possible. When the mind tries to define the experience, the experience often ends. This stage is usually the longest out of the three, although time is an obscure and irrelevant concept in this state of consciousness.

Finally, the last and most important part of the process is re-entry. This step can also be considered the awakening. Heightened senses of awareness to one’s surroundings begin as they slip back into their normal mindset. The return should be taken slowly and naturally; it should be enjoyed. Now is the time to reflect on the previous experience and try to understand its meaning. Re-entry is crucial because it is the process of taking what has been learned from transcendence and integrating it into daily life. This is a moment where people have been known to change significant parts of their lives by actually visualizing the path they were on and becoming aware of all the obstacles they have created for themselves, and realizing how to remove those obstacles, whether they are internal or external. A feeling of confidence and security are often found in this stage. There is an abandonment of weakness and insecurity as the internal freedom expands over the mind. A balance of mind and body gives the person a renewed feeling of energy and can open new pathways for the resolution of the question or goal upon which the subject was meditating. These new feelings toward oneself and the world at large can be felt for weeks or even months afterwards.

This is just a general explanation of the practice of using meditation to heal the mind. Much of this process must be experienced to be completely understood. For each person these stages will vary, for the way we perceive and interpret our own experiences is subjective, although many people report similar experiences. It is wise to keep a journal to record these experiences; they can be shared with loved ones to help better understand the self and the subject’s relationships with others. Journaling also helps the subject recall the experiences and the lessons learned. Another good idea is to draw pictures of what was seen. The mind is powerful and has potential to heal itself and guide a person safely through most situations. This confrontation of the self leads to a more liberated outlook on life, as well as providing self-discipline. Applying this method of reconstruction can prevent falling into routines that can lead to monotony. To quote the great Ram Dass, “It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.”

Nature’s Balance and Humanity's Role

There is design behind everything in this world. Looking at life and the systems it has been set up on, there are levels of organization. Using tools like microscopes we can explore things down to a molecular level. Starting with subatomic particles we can observe layers of life that cannot operate without the layer before. The atoms that create molecules to make cells that contribute to tissues which ultimately make up organisms all have their place and we find order in the cycle of life. It is clear to see how every layer works as an outline for something larger. Each organism interacts continuously with its environment, which includes other organisms as well as nonliving factors. For example, the root of a tree absorbs water and minerals from the soil. The leaves take in carbon dioxide from the air. Solar energy absorbed by chlorophyll drives photosynthesis, which converts water and carbon dioxide to sugar and oxygen. The tree releases oxygen to the air, and its roots help form soil by breaking up rocks. Both organism and environment are affected by the interactions between them. The tree also interacts with other life, including soil microorganisms associated with its roots and animals that eat its leaves and fruit. It is amazing how everything on Earth is connected and plays a role to contribute into something greater and whole. Although it is unclear on what has established this design, it is obvious that life is an intricately detailed plan.

A great example of how we find a delicate design in nature is the life cycle of a blood fluke. The mature fluke lives in the blood vessels of the human intestine. The female fluke fits into a groove running in length of the larger male’s body. Once the blood fluke reproduces sexually in the human host, the fertilized eggs exit from the host through defecation. The eggs develop in water into ciliated larvae. These larvae infect snails, the intermediate hosts. Then, through asexual reproduction within a snail results in another type of motile larva, which escapes from the snail host. The larvae penetrate the skin and blood vessels of humans working in irrigated fields. Through the small percent chance that these flukes will find a snail to continue their life cycle is low, but life always finds a way. We find many cases such as this that show a delicate design and also a unified interconnection between everything.

It is amazing to witness the perfection in how everything falls together to create life. After realizing that organisms are co-dependant on their surroundings and environment to live in optimum state of mind, we begin to see how everything is important to the survival of everything else. It is an important feeling to know that we are depended on as well. It is not difficult to understand that everything has a purpose, understanding that purpose takes a life time of experience and thought. When trying to decide our role in life, the belief of a higher, supreme being must be considered. It is a possibility that our survival may be important for the survival of the Supreme Being. When a lifetime is observed as a whole, it forms a circle, from birth to death. This circle of life is an energy source. If a large amount of these forms of energy were placed together, like there is on Earth, it could create a substantial amount of life. There is a possibility that humanity as a whole contributes to the Supreme Being’s existence. As we live inside it, we are given life and have become animated. We live in the divine breath. This could potentially be a type of mutualism. As we provide energy, the Supreme Being gives us life. In this sense, we are the cells that create our place in God’s heart.

Cells are life’s fundamental unit of structure and function. The cell has a special place as the lowest level of organization that can perform all activities required for life. For example, the ability of cells to divide to form new cells is the basis for all reproduction and for the growth and repair of multicellular organisms. Our every movement and thought is based on the activities of muscle cells and nerve cells. Even a global process such as the recycling of carbon, a chemical element essential to life, is the cumulative product of cellular activities, including the photosynthesis that occurs in the chloroplasts of leaf cells. In multicellular organisms, there is a division of labor among specialized cells. A human body consists of trillions of microscopic cells of many different kinds, including muscle cells and nerve cells, which are organized into the various specialized tissues.

While we function as the cells of God, all other life on Earth, and all life in the universe could be cells as well. There is harmony in the universe when realizing that all life contributes to create something supreme and eternal. Perhaps the different species serve as different functional units. When considering life as a population of cells working for a greater good and goal, we can see the balance of nature not as having evil, but as having regulators that must maintain a balance. Although it is difficult to see the harmonious flow of things, when considering that the system must be regulated, sometimes unpleasant events must occur. For example, cells sometimes go through a process of apoptosis. Apoptosis is the changes that occur within a cell as it undergoes programmed cell death, which is brought about by signals that trigger the activation of a cascade of suicide proteins in the cell destined to die. Mammalian cells make life or death decisions by somehow integrating the signals they receive, both death signals and life signals such as growth factors. A built in cell suicide mechanism is essential to development in all animals. It is essential for normal development of the nervous system, and normal morphogenesis of hands and feet in humans. In humans, the failure of appropriate apoptosis can result in webbed fingers and toes. The main control center of cells, the DNA, has specific codes that let a cell know when their time is up. It is not an unhealthy act; it is life being regulated for the benefit of the entire system.

The cycle of life and the flow of nature appears to have an underlying balance. Natural occurrences like hurricanes and volcanoes maintain a healthy balance of the population. Disease can also be thought of as population control. Animals and plants co-exist and do not attempt to disrupt the balance of nature. With the ability to process data and rationalize, as we humans have evolved to do, could perhaps disorder the natural balance. Out of fear of our demise, we have begun to consider ways to reverse the aging process, prevent natural death, and alter our bodies to evolve more rapidly. Although we have population control factors that this world was unfamiliar to before humanity dominated Earth. Humans have created new diseases in laboratories, introduced war, extremely destructive weapons, and pollution. There is no doubt that humanity is self destructive and abusive. Earth has not felt the complete wrath we have created. One theory is that people and their souls were created out of an imbalance. The Supreme Being functions basically rotating on an axis, as one side lifts, the other falls. This balance is good and evil. If the equilibrium were to go offset, then an empty space where no good or evil occupy it would be created. The space would fill with energy, energy to prevent a black hole. Perhaps humanity was created out of this energy. If we were created out of an imbalance of harmony, we could never be perfect. This would explain the unfilled space we have inside our minds, as we all strive for a feeling of satisfaction that is unattainable. This would motivate us throughout our whole life, but never allow us to feel complete. In our transcendental death, we could merge back into a balance and find wholeness and harmony.

If humanity’s self destructive disposition was not part of the balance of nature we could be compared to cancerous cells of the body. Basically a cancer cell is a cell that has gone out of whack. Mutations that alter the genes that affect cell growth and division in somatic cells can lead to cancer. There are many factors that can result in cancer, such as environmental influences and some viruses. Certain proteins contribute to cell signaling pathways, with cancer cells, the protein’s function goes wrong. There is hope in some cases of cancer, but it spreads quickly and sometimes is not found until irreparable damage has been accumulated. The destruction humanity has caused this planet spread very fast, and could potentially be harming the greater system we are part of. Human’s abuse of the world has been compared to rapidly spreading virus. If this is so, we would ultimately be destroyed to prevent further damage.
Fate and pre-determinism is a belief that would allow humanity’s self destructive nature to be harmonious with the system. If everything has been created for a specific reason, then the objectionable traits we exhibit could also have purpose. Without the experience of destruction and injury, perhaps we could never live to our full potential. The lack of understanding consequence would impair our ability to know right and to farther evolve. The undesirable qualities we hold today may be a primitive thought process that we will overcome. We have the ability to self analyze as well as apply common sense and good nature to everything we do. Unfortunately life becomes overwhelming and our behavior becomes destructive unwillingly. It is difficult to understand a bigger plan that we are involved in simply because we are going through the process. If one could step outside of life and their self, perhaps it would be clear that there is no wrong or bad, and that everything is ultimately good. The concept that everything will result in something promising and positive might be easier seen once we transcend. With that thought, there is peace of mind waiting for us all, and with patience and faith we can live securely and confidently.