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[Psychedelic Thinking and the Dawn of Homo Cyber — continued]

 

What is at stake right now

     Which brings us back to the 50 million cultural creatives in the U.S. today and why they are so important. It should be the mission of all psychedelic thinkers to rally cultural creatives and encourage them to become prototypes of Homo cyber. By definition, cultural creatives are open to new ways of thinking and large numbers of them have already experienced what it means to be in entheospace. They should all be encouraged to return once again to that mystical dimension. Simply by entering into entheospace we become deconditioned from our culture. This decoupling from automatic responses to our culture is absolutely essential if we are to create new cultures. Of course, this is also why existing power structures are so fearful of substances and techniques that launch our minds into entheospace. To the existing order, any change from the status quo is a potential threat.

     Fortunately, it doesn’t take that many people to move the consciousness of society to a higher plane. In ancient Greece, a mere 15% of the free citizens were participants in the mysterious rites of Eleusis, which provided the cognitive foundation of their society. I have read estimates that 80 million Americans  have used substances our current power structure has declared to be illegal. Although not all of these substances have psychedelic properties, it would be an interesting historical coincidence if one-half of these illegal substance users have used a psychedelic substance at least once. If that is the case, then approximately 15% of the U.S. population have now experienced a taste of the rites of Eleusis, for they have ventured into the marvelous realm of entheospace at least one time. What is needed is for the more advanced explorers of entheospace, the psychedelic thinkers, to contact those who were once familiar with this territory and encourage them to return to the world of psychedelic thinking and help us begin the difficult work of saving the biosphere and all the life it sustains.

     As I look at our culture today, I see a society that is littered with souls who once held high ideals and wanted desperately to make this world a better place. Some of these people are former 1960s activists, some are socially conscious conservatives. They come from all walks of life and exist in all levels of our society. These time bombs of idealism can be found on our factory floors and in our boardrooms. They include farm workers and white collar workers. No matter where we look, we can expect that one in every four persons we see has changed their personal worldview to that of a cultural creative. Many of these people are at least passingly familiar with the power of psychedelic thinking. It is now up to us, the psychedelic thinkers who are consciously evolving into a new species, to be the ones who undertake the work of arousing the rest of our species from sleep.

     I would like to point out that it was only a small fraction of the number of people who are in this room today that signed the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Think of it, there were only 56 signatures on the Declaration of Independence, yet the combined spirit of those 56 people had a profound effect on the entire world. I think it is fair to say that our Founding Fathers were psychedelic thinkers. Seeing as how both Washington and Jefferson grew hemp on their farms, I suspect they, too, were familiar with entheospace.

     With millions of people who have tried psychedelics at least once, we have a unique situation in our country, one that may have never occurred in a human culture before. As a result of the popularity of LSD during the 1960s, when it was still legal, millions of young people used it at least once. From what I know of entheospace, seldom do you return from it to this world with quite the same point of view you had before you left. Often a memory from a voyage into entheospace will return years later when sparked by a scent or sound or word. In addition to the millions of people who tried psychedelics during the 1960s are the millions of others who at one point in time believed their lives held a higher purpose than mere success at a job. Many of these people are now cultural creatives, and they are slowly coming awake. In a way, they bring to mind the medieval mummers in Ireland.

     During the Middle Ages, the power elite in Irish villages converted the then current folk plays into morality tales with which they brainwashed the masses into subservience. These players, the mummers, always wore masks while performing, and their performances took place in the homes of the persons to whom a particular play’s message was directed. Although the audience knew that the players were their shopkeepers and town officials, they did not know the actual identity of persons playing specific roles.

     Today I see almost a mirror image of the ancient mummers in our society. Instead of the power elite donning masks and entering the homes of the citizens to enact their morality plays, today’s mummer is a citizen who puts on a mask and goes into the dens of the power elite. The only thing that prevents this situation from being a true mirror image of the ancient mummers is that the modern mummer has forgotten that they are the ones who should be writing the lines they deliver. Instead, we have a situation where 50 million mummers are evenly distributed throughout the land but who are still speaking lines given to them by those in power. One mission of Homo cyber should be to teach these modern mummers that they must write their own lines.

     Earlier, I discussed the fact that we are now in a period of double exponential technological growth. Both technological change and the rate of change are growing exponentially. This means that in just 100 years, sentient beings on this planet will be living in a world that is as different from our world today as ours is from that of a caveman. Such a tremendous amount of technological change in so short a time may well approach a technological singularity.(7) The promise of such rapidly accelerating technological change should bring with it hope for an idyllic future for humankind, and in many ways it does. But there is a dark cloud on the horizon, one which casts a shadow over this exciting future. This cloud is the cloud of war. [NOTE: This speech was delivered in May 2001, less than four months before the infamies of September 11th and the now-perpetual state of war in the US capital.]

     The other day I was walking on a beach just south of a large Marine base where they were conducting military exercises. In the distance I could hear the dull thud of bombs and other ordnance exploding. What struck me was the fact that none of the people who were also enjoying the beach that day seemed to notice the sounds of the explosions. Perhaps they didn’t realize what they were hearing. Had any of them ever been in a battle, they would have realized that they were hearing the sounds of war. And you hear the sounds of war only when the front lines are very near.

     As a child growing up in the 1950s, I lived in constant fear of the outbreak of World War III. In school, we conducted “duck and cover” drills where we would hide under our desks and await that blinding white flash that was sure to come. In those years, our schools also taught us that if America lost the next world war, we would end up living in a Soviet gulag. Now, almost fifty years later, I realize that while the threat of a world war was real, we were being misled as to who the enemy was. Today I find myself living in an American gulag.

     With 100 million fewer people than live in the nations that make up the European Union, our country has six times more citizens locked in jails than they do. We are incarcerating over 1,600,000 people each year for drug-related offenses, over one-half of whom are arrested for merely possessing marijuana. That the War on Drugs is totally insane is born out by the following facts:

     Each year in the United States

  • over 400,000 people die from tobacco-related illnesses
  • over 150,000 people die from alcohol-related illnesses (this does not count driving-related deaths)
  • over 100,000 people die from prescription drugs

     Tobacco, alcohol, and prescription drugs are, of course, all legal.

     And yet, in the same time frame, the number of deaths from cocaine, crack, and heroin combined was only 8,000. What is even more revealing is that there has not been a single marijuana-related death in this country in the last 50 years! What is wrong with this picture? Arresting 1.6 million citizens each year for using substances that are orders of magnitude more safe than their legal alternatives looks very gulag-like to me.

     As Josh Wickerham recently wrote:

      The war on drugs is not a war on substances; it's a war on states of mind. Entheogens(8) are not illegal because a loving government is concerned that you're going to hurt yourself by smoking pot or tripping in your bedroom. Entheogens are illegal because they make you question authority. They break down socially constructed fables and cleanse the doors of perception. They make you question the wrongs of society in a fundamental way, making you dangerous. You're like Neo in The Matrix when all of the illusions of reality have been irrevocably stripped away.(9)

     Although it began in the United States, the War on Drugs has now become World War III. What makes this world war so different from the previous ones is that instead of pitting nation against nation, this time we see the nations of the world pitted against their own citizens. Recent polls show that a substantial majority of Americans believe the War on Drugs is a total failure, yet our drug warriors continue spending more and more money each year in the insane belief that eventually they will see different results. Just who are these people who want to continue waging this war, and what are their true objectives?

     One thing we know for sure is that the War on Drugs is not about public safety. If it was, we would see an expansion of the war to include the really dangerous substances, like cigarettes and alcohol. What the drug warriors are actually trying to do is to take away the freedom of specific classes of people. Take a look at the statistics and you will find that of the last 800,000 people arrested for possession of marijuana, over one-half of them were Hispanic. Seven times more African-Americans are put in jail than are Caucasians arrested for the same drug possession offence. It is time to come to terms with the fact that the War on Drugs is still the race war it was when it began. However, the war has now spread into the homes of white America as well.

     Ask any DEA agent today what his biggest problem is and he will most likely tell you that it is the use of MDMA by affluent white children at raves. As any honest scientist or doctor will tell you, there are no serious medical consequences that follow from intelligent use of MDMA. Yet our corporate owned and controlled media, including Trojan horse outfits like MTV, are trying to convince people that MDMA causes holes to develop in human brains. As you already know, these reports are worse than mere misstatements. They are bald-faced lies. Thankfully there are websites, such as Erowid and the MAPS site, where you can go to learn the truth about MDMA.(10)

     What is it about this substance that has the power elite so concerned? Maybe it is nothing more than intellectual laziness, for it is much easier to believe the lies of government shills who make a good living from their bogus science than it is to dig up the facts for yourself. Our leaders, however, may also recall the secret research the government did on MDMA during the cold war. In these studies, over 800 compounds were tested as chemical and psychological warfare agents. When they got to MDMA they quickly discounted it for the reason that using MDMA turned their test subjects into pacifists. No wonder our government is afraid of it! After all, how can a military empire survive if its citizens are pacifists?

     As World War III now enters its final phase, we see that Gaia has not only enlisted Greens, New Agers, and the cultural creatives on her side, she has also begun to evolve a new meta-human species to take up her cause. Interestingly, the new species Homo cyber is making its appearance just as human history is about to enter what Jean Houston calls “jump time.”(11)

     Few people will deny that we are now living in a period of unusually rapid change. At times our news programs take on a surreal sheen, and fiction is hard pressed to be as interesting as fact. This is the environment into which we are delivering Homo cyber. In her book, Jump Time, Jean Houston has this to say about the age in which we are now living:

     We are heirs to an extraordinary speeding up of the evolutionary process. We jump to new professions, partners, lifestyles, and religions seemingly at will. Nothing, it seems, is impossible for us. Nature, through us, seems to be entering a new epoch―not so much biological evolution but conscious evolution. We have become conscious of our capacity to direct the next phase not only of our personal lives but of the world’s destiny as well.(12)

     I believe that it is of Homo cyber Dr. Houston is speaking, for only beings with the power to gather and process vast amounts of information will be in a position to shape a future in which some semblance of human life can survive. A benign symbiosis of living matter with machines that gather and process information is perhaps the inevitable result of the continuing evolution of consciousness as it penetrates ever more deeply into matter. I am confident that evolution places a high value on wisdom and intelligence, and that higher forms of consciousness will ceaselessly continue to evolve.

     Many signs point to a major shift in consciousness taking place in the not too distant future. Over a thousand years ago, the Mayans prophesied a major alteration in human consciousness that would take place in the year 2012.(13) The Native American Hopi also saw significance in the year 2012, although their prophecies for that year are much more dire than are those of the Mayan. This is the same year in which Terence McKenna’s Timewave Theory forecast the end of time as we know it. On the scientific front we have Vernor Vinge, who has predicted that we will experience a technological singularity sometime before 2030. The singularity Vinge foresees is the creation of machine intelligence that exceeds the cognitive abilities of humans.

     In my book, The Spirit of the Internet: Speculations on the Evolution of Global Consciousness, I expand on Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of the noosphere, and speculate on the possibility that the Internet is, in fact, the mechanical infrastructure of this membrane of thought encircling the Earth. When I look to the near future, I see billions of people carrying around wireless devices that are constantly connected to the Internet. Think about it for a moment, billions of people are going to have continuous access to unimaginably vast amounts of information. Already there are serious researchers discussing the implications of creating a global brain that is part massive database, part robotic information-processing agents, and part human. This is no longer the realm of science fiction, this is serious science. And make no mistake about it, the final battles in the war over freedom of thought are going to be fought in cyberspace.

     It is no secret that some of our best minds are working overtime on the development of what can be called digital drugs. This new generation of virtual reality devices will be able to launch you into entheospace just as effectively as does LSD today. The commercial availability of these devices will most likely signal the beginning of the last battle in the War on Drugs. Finally, we will be able to reframe the issue into what it is really all about, the right to control our own state of consciousness. The Alchemind Society calls this “cognitive liberty” and defines it as “. . . the right of each individual to think independently, to use the full spectrum of his or her mind, and to engage in multiple modes of thought and alternative states of consciousness.”(14) When the first government hearings are held in an attempt to ban these new silicon-based cognitive tools, the power elite are going to be forced to confront the fact that it is human thought they want to control. It is not the substances that mainstream culture fears, it is the psychedelic thinking these substances promote that is under attack.

     The reason I am optimistic that Homo cyber will ultimately become the dominant branch of the human species is that Homo cyber possesses a weapon of unequalled power, psychedelic thinking. We have reached a point in the evolution of life on Earth at which the human species has firmly established itself at the top of the food chain. Unfortunately, our species is not intelligent enough to live sustainably and without warring among ourselves. Into this evolutionary chaos we now see the genesis of a new contender for the top of the food chain. This time, however, consciousness itself has taken a role in the processes of evolution. This time, the evolutionary jump that is about to take place on this planet is going to bring with it a quantum change in consciousness itself. The changes we are about to witness will be more than revolutionary. They are going to be evolutionary.

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