بخش 68کتاب: چگونه ذهنیت خود را تغییر دهید / فصل 68
- زمان مطالعه 8 دقیقه
- سطح خیلی سخت
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
WHEN I PUT MY EYESHADES back on and lay down, I was disappointed to find myself back in computer world, but something had changed, no doubt the result of the stepped-up dose. Whereas before I navigated this landscape as myself, taking in the scene from a perspective recognizable as my own, with my attitudes intact (highly critical of the music, for instance, and anxious about what demons might appear), now I watched as that familiar self began to fall apart before my eyes, gradually at first and then all at once.
“I” now turned into a sheaf of little papers, no bigger than Post-its, and they were being scattered to the wind. But the “I” taking in this seeming catastrophe had no desire to chase after the slips and pile my old self back together. No desires of any kind, in fact. Whoever I now was was fine with whatever happened. No more ego? That was okay, in fact the most natural thing in the world. And then I looked and saw myself out there again, but this time spread over the landscape like paint, or butter, thinly coating a wide expanse of the world with a substance I recognized as me.
But who was this “I” that was able to take in the scene of its own dissolution? Good question. It wasn’t me, exactly. Here, the limits of our language become a problem: in order to completely make sense of the divide that had opened up in my perspective, I would need a whole new first-person pronoun. For what was observing the scene was a vantage and mode of awareness entirely distinct from my accustomed self; in fact I hesitate to use the “I” to denote the presiding awareness, it was so different from my usual first person. Where that self had always been a subject encapsulated in this body, this one seemed unbounded by any body, even though I now had access to its perspective. That perspective was supremely indifferent, neutral on all questions of interpretation, and unperturbed even in the face of what should by all rights have been an unmitigated personal disaster. Yet the “personal” had been obliterated. Everything I once was and called me, this self six decades in the making, had been liquefied and dispersed over the scene. What had always been a thinking, feeling, perceiving subject based in here was now an object out there. I was paint!
The sovereign ego, with all its armaments and fears, its backward-looking resentments and forward-looking worries, was simply no more, and there was no one left to mourn its passing. Yet something had succeeded it: this bare disembodied awareness, which gazed upon the scene of the self’s dissolution with benign indifference. I was present to reality but as something other than my self. And although there was no self left to feel, exactly, there was a feeling tone, which was calm, unburdened, content. There was life after the death of the ego. This was big news.
When I think back on this part of the experience, I’ve occasionally wondered if this enduring awareness might have been the “Mind at Large” that Aldous Huxley described during his mescaline trip in 1953. Huxley never quite defined what he meant by the term—except to speak of “the totality of the awareness belonging to Mind at Large”—but he seems to be describing a universal, shareable form of consciousness unbounded by any single brain. Others have called it cosmic consciousness, the Oversoul, or Universal Mind. This is supposed to exist outside our brains—as a property of the universe, like light or gravity, and just as pervasive. Constitutive too. Certain individuals at certain times gain access to this awareness, allowing them to perceive reality in its perfected light, at least for a time.
Nothing in my experience led me to believe this novel form of consciousness originated outside me; it seems just as plausible, and surely more parsimonious, to assume it was a product of my brain, just like the ego it supplanted. Yet this by itself strikes me as a remarkable gift: that we can let go of so much—the desires, fears, and defenses of a lifetime!—without suffering complete annihilation. This might not come as a surprise to Buddhists, transcendentalists, or experienced meditators, but it was sure news to me, who has never felt anything but identical to my ego. Could it be there is another ground on which to plant our feet? For the first time since embarking on this project, I began to understand what the volunteers in the cancer-anxiety trials had been trying to tell me: how it was that a psychedelic journey had granted them a perspective from which the very worst life can throw at us, up to and including death, could be regarded objectively and accepted with equanimity.
• • • ACTUALLY, this understanding arrived a little later, during the last part of my psilocybin trip, when the journey took a darker turn. After spending an unknown number of hours in computer world—for time was completely lost on me—I registered the desire to check back in on reality, and to pee again. Same deal: Mary guided me to the bathroom by the elbow, geriatrically, and left me there to produce another spectacular crop of diamonds. But this time I dared to look in the mirror. What looked back at me was a human skull, but for the thinnest, palest layer of skin stretched over it, tight as a drum. The bathroom was decorated in a Mexican folk art theme, and the head/skull immediately put me in mind of the Day of the Dead. With its deep sockets and lightning bolt of vein zigzagging down its temple on one side, I recognized this ashen head/skull as my own but at the same time as my dead grandfather’s.
This was surprising, if only because Bob, my father’s father, is not someone with whom I ever felt much in common. In fact I loved him for all the ways he seemed unlike me—or anyone else I knew. Bob was a preternaturally sunny and seemingly uncomplicated man incapable of thinking ill of anyone or seeing evil in the world. (His wife, Harriet, amply compensated for his generosity of spirit.) Bob had a long career as a liquor salesman, making the weekly rounds of the nightclubs in Times Square for a company that everyone but he knew was owned by the mob. Upon reaching the age I am now, he retired to become a painter of lovely naive landscapes and abstractions in spectacular colors; I’d brought one of them with me to Mary’s room, along with a watercolor of Judith’s. Bob was a genuinely happy, angst-free man who lived to be ninety-six, his paintings becoming ever more colorful, abstract, and free toward the end.
To see him so vividly in my reflection was chilling. A few years before, visiting Bob in the nursing home in the Colorado desert where he would soon die, I’d watched what had been a fit and vigorous man (it had been his habit to stand on his head every day well into his eighties) contract into a parenthesis of skin and bones marooned in a tiny bed. The esophageal muscles required to swallow had given out, and he was tethered to a feeding tube. By then, his situation was pitiful in so many respects, but for some reason I fixed on the fact that never again would a taste of food ever cross his lips.
I splashed cold water on our joint face and made my unsteady way back to Mary.
Risking another glance at her, this time I was rewarded by the sight of a ravishing young woman, blond once again but now in the full radiance of youth. Mary was so beautiful I had to look away.
She gave me another small mushroom—gram number four—and a piece of chocolate. Before I put on my eyeshade, I attempted to conduct the rotating mask test a second time . . . and it was a complete bust, neither confirming nor disproving the hypothesis. As the mask began to rotate, gradually bringing its back side into view, the whole thing dissolved into a gray jelly that slid down the screen of my laptop before I could determine whether the melting mask I was watching was convex or concave. So much for conducting psychological experiments while tripping.
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