Breaking Open the Head, by Daniel Pinchbech

by Derwood Hunsdale-Talbot on July 24, 2009

breaking-open-the-headWhether you think of them as killjoys or enlighteners, scientists continue to reveal entirely natural causes for many phenomena we previously believed were possible only through supernatural means.

And they apparently don’t know when to quit.

Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the helical structure of DNA has said this human consciousness: “You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” (If it wasn’t for the Nobel Prize, it’s a wonder if this guy would have ever been invited to parties.)

He’s talking about an entirely materialistic explanation of who you are and, more important, who you (literally) think you are.

Did that just blow your mind?

If so, then you’ll be very interested in new studies that draw remarkable similarities between the effects of mind-altering chemicals such as psilocybin and religious epiphanies, brought on through “natural” revelation or meditation. And how pariah drugs such as DMT and LSD are slowly finding their way back into research, and showing evidence of medical efficacy in the treatment of some mental illnesses.

Unfortunately, if that’s your trip, you may be disappointed in Breaking Open the Head. It pays some seemingly obligatory attention to modern scientific inquiries into the effects of psychedelics. The author purports to be on a quest that is at least somewhat grounded in the modern world, as he seeks the wisdom that may be the exclusive possession of the deep-forest shaman. And while it’s clear that Mr. Pinchbeck is sincere in this quest, it seems equally clear he also just likes to get high.

At least for those somewhat familiar with the history of psychedelics, through the writings of people such as a href=””>Aldous Huxley, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of new insight and very little in potentially life-changing revelations brought back from worlds of altered consciousness. Instead, we more commonly get snippets of “have you ever really looked at your hand, man?” speculation.

This, for example: “Could it be, as biologists strive to see all mentation, simply a physical action of the brain? What if, instead, everything that we create takes on, in some perpendicular dimension, a psychic reality and sentient awareness of its own?”

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