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Psychedelics, Consciousness and Reality [ONLINE]
December 9, 2020 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
by The Psychedelic Society (UK)
Can psychedelic experiences provide insight into the nature of consciousness and reality?
Throughout human history, psychedelic substances have impacted how we think about consciousness and the nature of reality. This class of substances can produce profound visionary experiences but also mystical experiences, characterised by profound changes in perspective rather than visionary content. These experiences typically point to contradictory conclusions, particularly with regards to how consciousness relates to the material world.
Drawing on recent developments in neuroscientific and artificial intelligence research, I will argue that modern neuroscience offers a perspective that validates the common insights produced by mystical experiences while suggesting that the content of visionary experiences should not be taken as literally true. By understanding visionary experience as reflecting the deep programming of our minds, such experiences are in no way stripped of their meaning but are instead seen as revealing archetypal truths that exist within us, as opposed to existing outside of us. Such an understanding can provide profound grounding during and following psychedelic experiences, when otherwise one might be left disoriented when it comes to the nature of reality.
Dr James Cooke is a neuroscientist, writer & speaker, focusing on consciousness, meditation, psychedelic states, science and spirituality. He completed his MSc and PhD in Neuroscience at Oxford University, and now has research positions at University College London and Trinity College Dublin where he investigates how our perceptual systems structure the continuous sensory input our brain receives into a conscious experience of separate perceptual objects. James is passionate about exploring the relationship between science and spirituality, which he does via his writing (frequently for http://RealitySandwich.com), YouTube channel (http://YouTube.com/DrJamesCooke) and podcast (Living Mirrors with Dr. James Cooke). He splits his time between London and the mountains of Portugal where he is building a retreat centre, The Surrender Homestead, @TheSurrenderHomestead on Instagram. Find him @DrJamesCooke on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, or at http://DrJamesCooke.com