A Look at LSD and The Counter Culture Movement
Our brain is an underutilized biocomputer, containing billions of unaccessed neurons. The normal consciousness that we deal with everyday is only one drop in an ocean of intelligence. For thousands of years, man experimented with the fruits of nature with the hope of finding the key to our unconscience. These fruits were revered by man as gifts from the Gods, that allowed us to find a new spiritual and philosophic connectionwith God. But in the last 40 years there has been huge opposition to these mind-expanding tools. The once highly regarded gift from God was viewed as a menace that would be the cause of the ending of social conformity in North America during the 1960’s. Honourable judges, parents and fellow competitors. The individual right of access to his or her own brain has become a significant political, economic, and cultural issue in our society. During the 1960’s a man by the name of Timothy Leary would cause a cultural revolution that questioned the perception our society had on hallucinogen drugs. He believed that if people were educated in the use of these drugs that these drugs would be the next step for the evolution of the human mind.
Hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and psilocylin have been embedded in the roots of human evolution. Many of the early Eastern and South American cultures devoted these drugs as tools able to help clear the disorder of the mind and help in achieving a higher level of conscience thinking.Little was known of the effects to these primitive spiritual tools too much of the modern Western world, until Leary and his colleagues entered the scene in the 1960’s.
Timothy Leary was a young, prestigious Harvard professor of psychology during the 1960’s. He was very interested in how the mind worked and in the ways that it might be possible to change human behaviour. Little knowledge was known in this field, so Leary and his colleagues decided to do the research that would seem to benefit the whole of humanity. But there was a door blocking their way from learning the secrets within the mind. It would not be until the summer of 1960 that Leary and his colleagues would find the key to unlock this door.
That summer Leary and a 5 of his friends (other Harvard Psych professors) decided to goto Mexico for a trip. There they met Gerhart Braun a anthropologist-historian of the University of Mexico. After a dinner and discussion of philosophy, Braun told them that within the hot, tropical jungles of Mexico grows a power hallucinogen known to the Ancient Aztecs as Teonanacatl, or “flesh of the gods.” These magic mushrooms of Mexico had a long history surrounded by religious and ceremonial use. The Catholic Church feared this drug would encourage devilish worship in turn would tarnish the Catholic belief, and banned these “devil” drugs, so effectively that botanists denied of there very existence until they were re-discovered in the 50’s.It turned out that Braun had collected of some these mushrooms earlier that day and offered to try them with the Harvard faculty. So Leary decided to try the so-called hallucinogen. Two out the five abstained and would record the others experience on paper.
Leary wrote of what would be come his spiritual experience with psilocyin: “I began to feel strange. Like going under dental gas. Mildy nauseous. Detached. Moving away, away from the group on a terrace under the bright Mexican sky. Everything was quivering with life, even inanimate objects. I gave way to the delight, as mystics have for centuries when they peeked through the curtains and discovered that this world — so manifestly real — was actually a tiny stage set constructed by the mind. There was a sea of possibilities out there (in there?), other realties, an infinite array of programs for other futures ….”
After the 4 hour trip ended Leary and his fellow colleagues came back changed. They came back realising about higher levels of perception where one sees realities a hundred times more beautiful and meaningful than the reassuring familiar scripts of normal life. Leary believed that these psychedelic drugs exposed them to different levels of understanding and experience, use of them should be a for philosophic motivation, compelling us to confront the realities and belief systems of our society. The 4 hours spent swimming in a pool of induced hallucination, Leary learned more about the mind and brain than 11 years as a psychologist.
Leary returned back to Harvard and decided to do research on these sacred drugs. He felt that the spiritual experiences that he was given would be able benefit to the dying spiritual ways of America. After successful months with experimenting with LSD and psilocylin therapies, Leary needed to find how and this wonder drug would be able to influence people lives for the better. He and his colleagues conducted two main experiments the “prisoners to prophets” and “The Good Friday Experiment.”.The drug was administered several times in series of experiments to see if there were any change in the behaviour of the prisoners. They noticed that the prisoners began to appreciate life that even transcend the damp cold walls of there prison. The experiments didn’t stop with prisoners, Leary began administering the test for what would be called “The Good Friday Experiment” in which 25 religious who were given a mild dose of LSD. The effects were astonishing, many felt during that day the “God was around them.” The administration of this sacred drug in a religious setting to people who were religiously motivated provide a scientific demonstration that spiritual ecstasy, religious revelation, and union with God were now directly accessible.Huge obstacles were to be overcomed if these drugs were to accepted in our society.
During the 1960’s it was understood that the our industrial civilzation was at the peak of it’s power and prosperity. The drive for wealth became one of the forces governing in many peoples lives, and the race to make it ahead allowed for one to walk all over one another if it meant reaping in the rewards. This materialistic philosophy caused a lose of individual spirituality and the understanding of ones self. We were getting ahead financially but at what expense the lost of spirituality? The introduction of sacred mind-expanding drugs began to question these moral beliefs of the materialistic America and if taken would allow people to find new spiritual connections with a losing entity, God. But the Catholic Church feared as well, that this drug would turn on new levels of perception that would run up against the Judeo-Christian commitment to one God, one religion, one reality. Drugs that open the mind to multiple realities inevitably leads to a open view of our universe and may cause questions of the narrow minded Catholic belief.
In Genesis, “The Lord God planted all sorts of beautiful trees there in the garden, trees producing the choicest of fruit. At the centre of the garden he placed the Tree of Life, and the Tree of Knowledge, giving knowledge of both Good and Bad…. The Lord God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden as its gardener, to tend and care for it. But the Lord God gave the man this warning: “You may eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the Tree of Knowledge– for its fruit will open your eyes to make you aware of right and wrong, good and bad….” The mangers of consciousness for some many years has been the Vatican, they have shaped are views and pulled the wool over the world eyes for so long. The philosopher stone (LSD) could of very well been the fruit of the Original sinthat opens one mind to questioning the beliefs of the Catholic Faith, and in turn question the very nature and truth of the religion.
The 1960’s were a time of flowers, music, spirituality, war, hate, views, drugs, love, innocence, and peace. A world that seemed ready to embrace the ideas Leary and many others had of having the old reality of greed and hate fade away and incorporate a very natural new reality with individual growth as well as spiritual growth. LSD and magic mushrooms allowed for a new way to perceive this new realities. Leary did not propose the mass uprising of drug use to be a social trend , he proposed that one should learn how to effectively how to use these drugs that were gifts to us in help discovering our ones self, this may take many years (driving licence.). The message Leary taught was to “Turn On to the many levels that are brought into focus; by these drugs.” to “Tune into what you are learning.” and to “Drop Out of the old reality of thinking.”But the dream of Leary’s peaceful, spiritual world living with drugs would come crashing down.
The drug took off as a huge trend, and the real message of the drugs could do was lost. Many people began to abuse the drug. Suicide and accidentally death became rampate, and the drug once thought to saviour of human kind became its enemy. The drug began to be made for underground selling and the natural components of the drugs became lost with new man-made ingredients.
The dream Leary had for a free thinking world with mind-expanding drugs may never of been reached. But to this day many of his believes on this topic are still questioned and constantly remembered. Here was a man with a glorious educational background who was saying that these mind-expanding drugs have the potential to change our society’s way of thinking, and this went against the social norms about drugs for that time and even today’s time. I believe the failure of the counter culture movement was because there was a such rush in evolution, our world was not ready for these drugs, the constant experimentation by young people today will open the doors for these drugs on a culture that one day we will be ready for their minds to be open to borderless new horizons. Instead of running in fear of these mind-expanding drugs and creating a false images we should open our minds and “JUST SAY KNOW?”