Symbiotic Existential

Cosmology

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Chris King

CC BY-NC-ND  doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.32891.23846
Part 1: Overview
Update 5-8-2021 6-2024

 

dhushara.com

 

Contents Summary - Contents in Full

 

The Core, Dedication

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology:

            Scientific OverviewDiscovery and Philosophy

Biocrisis, Resplendence and Planetary Reflowering

Psychedelics in the Brain and Mind, A Moksha EpiphanyThe Devil's Keyboard

Fractal, Panpsychic and Symbiotic Cosmologies, Cosmological Symbiosis

Quantum Reality and the Conscious Brain

The Cosmological Problem of Consciousness in the Quantum Universe

The Physical Viewpoint, The Neuroscience Perspective

The Evolutionary Landscape of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

Evolutionary Origins of Conscious Experience

Science, Religion and Gene Culture Co-evolution

Animistic, Eastern and Western Traditions and Entheogenic Use

Natty Dread and Planetary Redemption

Yeshua’s Tragic Mission, Revelation and Cosmic Annihilation

Ecocrisis, Sexual Reunion and the Entheogenic Traditions

Song cycleVideo 

Communique to the World To save the diversity of life from mass extinction

The Vision Quest to Discover Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

The Great I AM, Cosmic Consciousness, Conscious Life and the Core Model of Physics

The Evolution of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

Resplendence

A Moksha Epiphany

   Epilogue   

            Referencess

 Appendix: Primal Foundations of Subjectivity, Varieties of Panpsychic Philosophy

 

 

Consciousness is eternal, life is immortal.

Incarnate existence is Paradise on the Cosmic equator

in space-time the living consummation of all worlds.

But mortally coiled! As transient as the winds of fate!

 

 

 

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology – Contents in Full

 

The Core, Dedication

A Scientific Overview

Biogenic

Panpsychic

Symbiotic

Discovery and Philosophy

The Existential Condition and the Physical Universe

Turning Copernicus Inside Out

Discovering Life, the Universe and Everything

The Central Enigma: What IS the Conscious Mind?, Glossary

Biocrisis and Resplendence: Planetary Reflowering

The Full Scope: Climate Crisis, Mass Extinction. Population and Nuclear Holocaust

Psychedelics in the Brain and Mind

Therapy and Quantum Change: The Results from Scientific Studies

The Devil's Keyboard

Biocosmology, Panpsychism and Symbiotic Cosmology

Fractal Biocosmology

Darwinian Cosmological Panpsychism

Cosmological Symbiosis

Symbiosis and its Cosmological Significance

Quantum Reality and the Conscious Brain

The Cosmological Problem of Consciousness, The Central Thesis, The Primal Axiom

The Physical Viewpoint, Quantum Transactions

The Neuroscience Perspective, Field Theories of Consciousness

Conscious Mind, Resonant Brain

Cartesian Theatres and Virtual Machines

Global Neuronal Workspace, Epiphenomenalism & Free Will

Consciousness and Surviving in the Wild

Consciousness as Integrated Information

Is Consciousness just Free Energy on Markov Landscapes?

Can Teleological Thermodynamics Solve the Hard Problem?, Quasi-particle Materialism

Panpsychism and its Critics

The Crack between Subjective Consciousness and Objective Brain Function

A Cosmological Comparison with ChalmersConscious Mind

Minimalist Physicalism and Scale Free Consciousness

Defence of the real world from the Case Against Reality

Consciousness and the Quantum: Putting it all Back Together

How the Mind and Brain Influence One Another

The Diverse States of Subjective Consciousness

Consciousness as a Quantum Climax

TOEs, Space-time, Timelessness and Conscious Agency

Psychedelics and the Fermi Paradox

Life After Death

The Evolutionary Landscape of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

Evolutionary Origins of Neuronal Excitability, Neurotransmitters, Brains and Conscious Experience

The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, Deep and dreaming sleep

The Evolving Human Genotype: Developmental Evolution and Viral Symbiosis

The Evolving Human Phenotype: Sexual and Brain Evolution, the Heritage of Sexual Love and Patriarchal Dominion

Gene Culture Coevolution

The Emergence of Language

Niche Construction, Habitat Destruction and the Anthropocene

Democratic Capitalism, Commerce and Company Law

Science, Religion and Gene-Culture Coevolution, The Spiritual Brain, Religion v Nature, Creationism

The Noosphere, Symbiosis and the Omega Point

Animism, Religion, Sacrament and Cosmology

Is Polyphasic Consciousness Necessary for Global Survival?

The Grim Ecological Reckoning of History

Anthropological Assumptions and Coexistential Realities

Shipibo: Split Creations and World Trees

Meso-American Animism and the Huichol

The Kami of Japanese Shinto

Maori Maatauranga

Pygmy Cultures and Animistic Forest Symbiosis

San Bushmen as Founding Animists

The Key to Our Future Buried in the Past

Entasis and Ecstasis: Complementarity between Shamanistic and Meditative Approaches to Illumination

Eastern Spiritual Cosmologies and Psychotropic Use

Psychedelic Agents in Indigenous American Cultures

Natty Dread and Planetary Redemption

The Scope of the Crisis

A Cross-Cultural Perspective

Forcing the Kingdom of God

The Messiah of Light and Dark

The Dionysian Heritage

The Women of Galilee and the Daughters of Jerusalem

Whom do Men say that I Am?

Descent into Hades and Harrowing Hell

Balaam the Lame: Talmudic Entries

Soma and Sangre: No Redemption without Blood

The False Dawn of the Prophesied Kingdom

Transcending the Bacchae: Revelation and Cosmic Annihilation

The Human Messianic Tradition

Ecocrisis, Sexual Reunion and the Tree of Life

Biocrisis and the Patriarchal Imperative

The Origins and Redemption of Religion in the Weltanshauung

A Millennial World Vigil for the Tree of Life

Redemption of Soma and Sangre in the Sap and the Dew

Maria Sabinas Holy Table and Gordon Wassons Pentecost

The Man in the Buckskin Suit

Santo Daime and the Union Vegetale

The Society of Friends and Non-sacramental Mystical Experience

The Vision Quest to Discover Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

The Three Faces of Cosmology

Taking the Planetary Pulse

Planetary Reflowering

Scepticism, Belief and Consciousness

Psychedelics The Edge of Chaos Climax of Consciousness

Discovering Cosmological Symbiosis

A Visionary Journey

The Great I AM, Cosmic Consciousness, Conscious Life and the Core Model of Physics

Evolution of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

Crisis and Resplendence

Communique on Preserving the Diversity of Life on Earth for our Survival as a Species

Affirmations: How to Reflower the Diversity of Life for our own Survival

Entheogenic Conclusion

A Moksha Epiphany

Epilogue

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology is Pandora's Pithos Reopened and Shekhinah's Sparks Returning

The Weltanshauung of Immortality

Paradoxical Asymmetric Complementarity, The Natural Face of Samadhi vs Male Spiritual Purity, Clarifying Cosmic Karma

Empiricism, the Scientific Method, Spirituality and the Subjective Pursuit of Knowledge

The Manifestation Test

References

Appendix Primal Foundations of Subjectivity, Varieties of Panpsychic Philosophy

 

 


The Core Nexus of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

For Elinor, Albert, Isaac and Everyone

 

The Nature of this Communication

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology is three works in one: The key cosmological discovery, the vision quest to unveil it, and a fully-referenced research report. Since its inception in June 2021, in my entheogenic moksha on sacred mushrooms, it has recorded the entire ensuing discovery process, transparently in real time, as it has been realised and communicated, so that the reader can map out and follow a similar trajectory should they desire, or decide to do so. It is designed, not to be accessibly facile, but to provide the full discovery account, as a Rosetta Stone, translating all aspects of the existential cosmos in which we consciously exist, consisting of both the physical universe and the abyss of our conscious experience.

 

Saving the Diversity of Life from Mass Extinction

The central purpose of symbiotic existential cosmology is not just to reveal the cosmology of the universe in which we consciously exist, but to save the diversity of life on Earth from a human-induced mass extinction (Leakey & Lewin 1995, Kolbert 2014, Dawson 2016).

It thus seeks to directly address our primary existential threats as a living species, healing climate crisis, habitat destruction, species extinction, eradicating nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction.

 

It unveils a living cosmology which shows humanity that our central and sacred purpose in existence is protecting and unfolding the immortal diversity of conscious life in the universe. In this sense, it is the therapeutic remedy of both our existential dilemmas, one scientific in terms of our place in the universe and the other spiritual, in the sense of our immortal redemption, invoking the epoch of long-term future goodness, fulfilling both the messianic and fertility quests in immanent transcendence over both. This approach is necessary to transform the spiritual zeitgeist in the scientific age.

 

Existential Reality and Subjective Conscious Volition over the Universe

The reality of our existence is that, subjective consciousness is primary although the universe is necessary. The way we experience reality is that we are subjectively conscious and 100% of our experience of the world and of our dreams and reflections arises from subjective consciousness. All our experience of the physical world is inferred from our conscious sensory experiences of it, although we come to realise it is necessary for our biological survival. Furthermore we are able, through our subjective experiences, to choose to act wilfully and intentionally upon the physical universe to survive.

 

This means that, to develop an existentially meaningful and correct description of the cosmos, involves first accepting this generative relationship, in interactive social recognition, by first affirming to one another that we as subjective conscious sentient beings have efficacy of volition over the physical universe. Once we have agreed this interpersonally, we can explore by scientific experiment, how this interactive subjective-objective process occurs in the physical universe in our brains, genes and molecular interactions. Thus existential cosmology is animistic in the sense that it is derived as an affirmation between live conscious agents, just as in criminal and corporate law of intent, and in how compacts and contracts of trust are negotiated. If we try to reverse the generative existential order and explain existential reality from the physics and its assumed biological causalities, we end up stuck with the hard problem of consciousness, that no purely objective physical process can explain subjectivity itself, or intentional volition, leading to sterile impasse.

 

Symbiosis and Enlightenment

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology is a profoundly evolutionary cosmology, in which the evolutionary unfolding of life’s diversity  ensures the biosphere as a whole retains climax stability of unfolding at the edge of chaos, over cosmological time scales. Of the three words in the title “Symbiotic Existential Cosmology”, the first word, symbiosis, is the key and only qualifying adjective describing existential cosmology. Symbiosis is the ultimate expression of physical, biological and conscious interrelationship of becoming, in which conscious life in the universe comes to co-existential climax. It is thus natural complexity expressed in full conscious enlightenment fully integrated with life as a whole.

 

The Conscious Universe

Symbiotic existential cosmology transcends both materialistic and theistic world views:

(a) It transcends scientific cosmology because it completes the scientific description of nature by fully incorporating subjective consciousness and the efficacy of volitional will to affect the physical universe.

(b) It transcends religious cosmogony by transferring cosmological agency directly back to humanity and natural life, verified by conscious affirmation of our volitional agency, rather than dependence on supplicant beliefs.

 

It has three core cosmological principles, biogenic, panpsychic and symbiotic. Life exists in the universe because the laws of nature arising from cosmic symmetry-breaking are fractal, giving rise to living systems as an interactive climax. It is consistent with empirical neuroscience but says that subjectively conscious physical volition is real, and this implies some matter our brains have physically efficacious subjectivity and hence all matter, has primitive subjectivity because brains obey the same laws and forces as other normal matter. Primitive subjectivity thus occurs in quanta and butterfly effect systems which amplify quanta, like storms, and in bacteria and archaea. But a discrete emergent transition occurred in the eucaryote endosymbiosis between archaea and bacteria, when full attentive consciousness arose in the first single-celled amoebo-flagellates, forming societies communicating by neurotransmitter molecules such as serotonin. This form of quantum sentience evolved into our conscious brains, as societies of 1010 tightly coupled amoeboid cells communicating by the same processes.

 

Humanity and the Biosphere

Humans evolved to be an environmentally destructive dominant species, because of our evolving Machiavellian social intelligence, after a long period of increasingly rich evolution to climax diversity following the Tertiary-Cretaceous extinction. This shaped our minds to be strongly egotistical to succeed against one-another. In the gatherer-hunter phase, this tendency was moderated by two factors: (1) the mating mindastute female reproductive choice for smart resourceful entertaining and protective males who can engage fulfilling sex to demonstrate genuine indicators of fitness and sensitivity and (2) original virtue  – the evolution of verifiable trust through long-term personal judgment of good character. However, with the growth of large urban societies,  this became overthrown by the imposition of patriarchal domination of woman and nature. Humanity is thus still a dominant species wrecking the biosphere through egotistical tragedy of the commons. Moreover gene-culture coevolution, with the emergence of language, religion, commerce and science hasn't resolved this, because cultural evolution is even more rapid than genetic evolution and has produced no stabilising factors. Only a cosmology in which gene-culture-biosphere co-evolution is complete can resolve this.

 

Complementary Conscious Cosmology

If we start with the physical  brain and try to understand subjectivity, we end up with the hard problem of consciousnessthe explanatory gap, that no brain process manifests the subjective aspect of conscious experience, that is universal to our awareness of ourselves and the world around us. This appears to be an irreducible problem objective properties and processes sim-ply cannot of themselves manifest conscious subjectivity. Once we reverse the logic, we discover that matter has a subjective complement. So the brain as a whole has subjectivity. But then it's a physical property, not just a biological product of complexity, so its universal, or more accurately cosmological.

 

This means all quanta have to have subjectivity and volition. But thats exactly what we see when we examine quanta:

(1) Quantum Subjectivity: Any wave function in the wild is a history and future of real or potential entanglements, forming a type of consciousnessof the quantums world, past, present and future i.e. a global representation of the entire relationship.

(2) Quantum Volition: For a single quantum measurement the outcome is uncertain because the particle can end anywhere within the non-zero wave function without causal conflict. The only constraint is that, on repeated independent identically distributed measurements, the probability of where a particle ends up is defined by the power of the wave function at that point. But probabilities don't determine any individual path, so each quantum has free will to end up anywhere and clearly uncertainty makes a choice.

 

Primitive Cosmological Subjectivity: This form of subjectivity is co-eval with the nascent universe. Because it's subjective, we can't see its manifestations directly but they help explain why the world looks semi-classical because quantum systems can then also act as observers. So we end up with a dynamic quantum universe in a partial state of collapse of its wave functions with new superpositions emerging all the time. This means quantum and unstable quantum sensitive phenomena can exhibit this subjectivity and free wille.g.  in tornadoes, hurricanes, biogenesis and simpler prokaryote life forms.

 

Discrete Conscious Emergence: The eucaryote endo-symbiosis, in which a species of archaea incorporated respiring bacteria to become our mitochondria, resulted in a completely new phenomenon attentive sentient consciousness when the cell membrane became freed from respiratory electron transport, enabling it to become a sensitively dependent sentient excitation at the edge of chaos involving quantum sentience of photons, vibrations and electric fields, with neurotransmitters also enabling social signalling. This emergent aspect of consciousness as we know it, occurred in a discrete topological transformation of the nature of the cell, and in turn, it utilises primitive subjectivity to manifest consciousness in a vastly more coordinated form in all eucaryotes and in our personal experience.

 

Organismic Consciousness: Complex mammalian brains, including our own, consist of intimately coupled societies of amoebo-flagellate cells communicating via the same membrane excitability and social signalling molecules they used to ensure the survival of the collective single-celled organism. The brain thus acts as an integrally coupled form of cellular consciousness through edge of chaos phase coupled neurodynamics forming a contextual boundary condition, shaping primitive subjectivity to evoke the environmental context essential to the organism's survival and procreation. Primitive subjectivity is thus shaped into the conscious experiences we have through the constraints imposed by the brain as filter rather than as a deterministic physical process. This replaces the idea of physical causality in the brain, in a causally closed universe that directs subjective consciousness as a mere internal brain model, with a causally open quantum uncertain universe, in which the the brain state provides the environmental boundary conditions through which conscious experience can anticipate existential crises and has efficacy of intentional volition over our physical circumstances in conscious intuition and decision-making.

 

Biospheric Symbiosis

Notwithstanding that the diversity of life is a matter of tooth and claw, it is still symbiotic within the biosphere as a whole. As organismic evolution diversifies into plants animals, predators and prey and parasites and hosts, in which there are also climax symbiotic relationships cellular and viral, the genetic symbiosis of the two sexes, and major instances such as mycorrhizal symbiosis between plants and fungi, life is biospherically symbiotic, because natural selection occurs in biospheric feedback and all species depend on the biosphere for survival, so it's a case of survival of the fittest biospheric symbionts, not just species dominance. We can see this in the way predation acts to avoid the herbivores becoming extinct by eating out their plant species, in boom and bust, leading to famine, complemented by the way insect predation favours plant diversity. Instead of going to hell in a basket towards a human extinction, as we are now as a dominant species violating biospheric symbiosis, by regaining symbiosis over evolutionary time scales, humanity inherits its true cosmological meaning and purpose to protect life immortal, to ensure our own evolutionary survival, regaining the perennially immortal future of our 3.5 billion year tenure in the universe.

 

Moksha

When the brain is cycling in a state of sensory withdrawal in neutralin deep meditative and/or entheogenic states, subjectivity can approach a cosmological form in its own right in which the organismic boundary filters defining our conscious awareness become relaxed which we experience as moksha,  asymptotically approaching ultimate reality, described in the Upanishads as Brahman, or cosmic consciousness. Our individual conscious experiences in organismic consciousness are thus forms of cosmic consciousness encapsulated by the contextual filters applied by the brain, in which we become climax manifest forms of subjective consciousness interacting through physical volition.

 

Cosmological Symbiosis

Enter the biospheric response. The same climax period gave rise to plant and fungal species 'salting' the Earth with variants of neurotransmitter molecules which tweak key pathways modulating human perception, mood and survival. In particular, the serotonin analogues called psychedelics – “psyche-revealing”  – paradoxically cause (1) a sensory flood, in which the brain begins to develop an internal model of its own processing and (2) quantum change experiences, resulting in ego loss and the experience of "ultimate reality” referred to as “divinity”, leading to alleviation of mortal angst in terminal illness and a deep sense of integration with life and nature in the healthy. Hence these are critical to planetary survival, along with other forms of nature meditation and conservation activism.

 

This means that the physical universe and subjective consciousness are two complementary aspects of cosmological reality, just like the wave and particle aspects of quanta. Mind can't alone make matter and matter can't alone make mind they are complementary manifestations, like Shiva and Shakti, that make cosmology as we know it possible.

 

The inclusion of subjectivity opens up the spectres of panpsychism, animism and the mystical/religious quest in the physical universe, because these are all cosmological views, in which consciousness and intentional will is generative and fundamental. However this is a coming of age, in which we as, biota, the living conscious agents of the universe have become the modus operandi, manifesting cosmic consciousness, who thereby must needs accept personal responsibility for our guardianship of all life and our long-term tenure as a/the formative keystone living species in the biosphere, rather than invoking preconceived notions of a creator deity and eternal imaginary heavens and hells to force us into moral compliance, when we know all such notions are simply cultural products of our adolescence.

 

This is the Weltanshauung of Immortality, which flips the Copernican principle of science, because the privileged view of the universe is conscious life in paradise on the cosmic equator in space-time, not the mechanistic Sun-centred cosmos or the flat earth with firmaments of Theistic fame. It also flips religion inside out because the sacred purpose of existence is to protect the diversity of life throughout our generations forever, so that conscious life can flower to the point where the universe becomes fully conscious of its own existence through the living biota that form its interactive climax.

  

Astronomer’s paradise: Atacama Desert, Chile Nicholas Buer/Corbis

 

 


 

Dedication

 

The accompanying articles, generated out of a single quantum change experience on psychedelic mushrooms, breaking a seven year fast, contain the fabled key to life, the universe and everything – the symbiotic cosmology of perennial conscious existence.

 

All of us go through life wondering what it’s all about, why we are here, and what the meaning and purpose of conscious existence actually is. This is the question always lurking in the backs of our minds, driving our mortal anxiety, from which we try to escape, in futile diversions of power, fame and entertainment until our last moments on our death beds, realising all these things were distractions to avoid the inevitable.

 

Our current world views are suspended between three contradictory and equally devastating scenarios.

 

1: The materialistic scientific view regards us as merely a collection of atoms and molecules held together by physical, chemical and biological processes. That we are simply our brains and that our decisions are based on our genes and material circumstances over which we have negligible control, because our subjective conscious experiences are simply a model of reality generated by the computational brain, and that free will and personal autonomy are effectively illusions. That there is really no rhyme or reason to existence, and that life is simply an accidental by-product of a universe driven by blind and overwhelming  forces, which will eventually annihilate the solar system and all life within it, whether we live a good life, or exploit the others around us and the life of the planet, to our own selfish advantage.

 

2: The theistic religious view claims the universe is a moral test by God; that we do have free will, but are all accursed as sinners by the original sin of Eve, for hearkening unto the serpent. That we endemically fail to heed God’s will and that a Day of Judgment will ensue, when the Lord returns to consign us, either to eternal life in Heaven, or a diabolical fate in Hell Fire, forsaking the late planet Earth and the diversity of God’s creation in the process. Complementing this is a view of humanity having dominion over nature, to exploit living systems as we see fit, compounded by business-as-usual attitudes, which seek to assimilate all resources and sources of profitability before others take advantage, leading to planetary Armageddon. Likewise Eastern traditions lead to the degradation of the Kali yuga , Samvartakalpa or Eon of dissolution – the decline from enlightenment into ignorance.

 

3: The living planetary view: Both materialistic science and theistic religious views are incorrect and dangerously destructive. We are all becoming acutely aware that neither of these scenarios are viable, that the planet is in a worsening state of crisis induced by human misadventure, exploiting the non-renewable resources and living diversity of the planet, resulting in a climate and habitat crisis, causing a mass extinction of the diversity of evolving life, which risks making the world a literal Hell on Earth for future generations, if not precipitating the extinction of our species, risking serious damage to the health and economic viability of ongoing human life.

 

We now unite 1 and 2 with 3, as overviewed in three introductions: 1, 2, 3. These together show how our conscious autonomy and volitional will can be retrieved, how our lives can be fulfilled, what the actual meaning and purpose of life actually is and how the generations of humanity can come to fulfil ourselves in the flowering of conscious existence on evolutionary and cosmological time scales, returning the Earth to the paradisiacal verdancy it harbours in abundance, before it is irretrievably damaged  for millions of years to come.

 

1: –> 3: The scientific sections 1, 2 & 3 elucidate the symbiotic cosmology of the sentient conscious universe, in which conscious life is the climax manifestation. The meaning and purpose of life is then manifest in the immortal flowering of conscious living existence over evolutionary time scales, realising Heaven on Earth, through our integration with the conscious mind-at-large of the universe. The core cosmology has three principles:

 

(1) Biogenic: Conscious life is the complexity climax of the cosmological structural pathway.

(2) Panpsychic: Subjective conscious volition over the physical universe means that the subjective mind is universal.

(3) Symbiotic: Life reaches immortal complexity climax through symbiosis, not dominance of one cultural species.

 

All eucaryote higher organisms are an endosymbiosis between complementary bacterial and archaeal life forms. Survival under natural selection is how all species maintain perennial symbiosis with the biosphere. Symbiosis is essential for human survival. Symbiosis with entheogenic species, expands spiritual approaches to consciousness, realising the consummation of conscious existence, at the edge of chaos as visionary sexual organisms. Through psychic symbiosis, we can achieve moksha, which in the Eastern traditions signals the escape from the cycle of birth and death, and in the monotheistic traditions constitutes the mystical God-consciousness that has inspired all the founding religious visionaries from Yeshua, through Buddha, to countless shamans and sadhus who have known and appreciated the same secret oracle of existence. Realising cosmological symbiosis.

 

2: –> 3: Natty Dread and the evolution of religion, section shows the monotheistic eschatological world view leads to an Armageddon destruction of the diversity of life and why Christianity has been, since Yeshua’s death, acting in contradiction to his actual vision, perpetuating a false religion based on the dying Son of God, whose flesh and blood we must eat, reappearing as avenging Lord in the Revelation – impeding a paradigm shift from unfulfilled apocalypse to the planetary resplendence of the Tree of Life  –  evolving Paradise on Earth, the abundant heritage that is our creative destiny, as guardians of the flowering of conscious existence in the universe at large.

 

           
Ganges 1976  ◊ Ucayali 1999  ◊ Gethsemane Epiphany 2000  ◊  Aotearoa 2017


Symbiotic Existential Cosmology – A Scientific Overview

 http://dx.doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.32891.23846/1
CC BY-NC 4.0  Chris King [3] 27-9-21

 

To Erwin Schrödinger for the unitary singularity of the conscious mind,

and Charles Darwin for the evolutionary diversity of free will.

 

Abstract:

 

This overview summarises the quantum and cosmological physics, evolutionary biology and neuroscience involved in the work  “Symbiotic Existential Cosmology” King (2021), conceived during a quantum change experience on psychedelic mushrooms.

 

Symbiotic existential cosmology retains the core features of physical quantum cosmology, while augmenting it to  restore the role of conscious purposive life in a biodiverse universe into its correct position in the scheme of quantum cosmology.  It is thus the actual cosmology of the universe in which we consciously exist, inverting the Copernican principle that conscious life does not have a privileged view of the universe. Its symbiotic basis forms a central protection  for the future of the diversity of life on Earth.

 

It advances an interlocking set of three cosmological descriptions with incontrovertible evidence, significant consequences and cosmological conclusions:

 

 

(a)   Biogenic: Life exists cosmologically as a fractal consequence of the symmetry-breaking of the forces of nature reaching interactive climax. This gives a correct portrayal of the cosmological structural pathway leading from cosmic symmetry breaking to the fractal structure of living matter:

 

Incontrovertible evidence: Life exists on Earth because the four core forces of nature are non-linear, leading to 100+ chemical elements and fractal molecular structures, from atoms through molecules, molecular complexes such as the ribosome, cell organelles, such as the membrane, cells, tissues, organs, organisms and biospheres, also supported by detailed research in biogenesis (King 2020).

Consequences: Life exists in the epoch of paradise on the cosmic equator in space-time, as the climax manifestation of the structural interaction pathway after first generation stars have made the chemical elements and multicellular evolution has passed the threshold of symbiosis between archaea and bacteria, to eucaryotes and conscious multi-celled animals.

Conclusions: Life has a key cosmological role, enabling the universe to manifest itself, through the subjective consciousness emergent in the biota.

 

 

(b)  Panpsychic: Subjectively conscious volitional will has efficacy over the physical universe (the ability to produce a desired or intended result). This forms a minimal augmentation of quantum cosmology to include conscious volition acting on the physical universe:

 

Incontrovertible evidence: Live conscious human beings experience volitional intent and its consequences in human decision-making acts and behaviour affecting the physical world. A veridical affirmation of this between conscious human beings leads directly to the conclusion that at least some states of matter, (our brains) are complemented by a subjective aspect having a physical effect (the conscious volitional mind).

Consequences: Affirmation of human subjectively conscious physical agency and legal responsibility. Occam's razor is reversed, eliminating pure materialism, as inconsistent with conscious physical volition. The physical universe and hence the brain, is not causally closed due to quantum uncertainty, enabling subjective consciousness to seamlessly participate in volition during the uncertain instabilities of coherent processing without resulting in neurodynamic causal conflict.

Conclusions: Because brains are normal matter, obeying the four core quantum forces of nature, even if they display additional properties such as quasi-particle states, the subjective aspect of reality is a property of physics, complementary to the universe as a whole, extending wave-particle complementarity. Primitive subjectivity thus exists in quanta, unstable edge of chaos quantum systems, biogenesis and prokaryotes. States of conscious sentient volition then arise in eucaryotes in a discrete transition.

 

 

(c)  Symbiotic: The planetary biosphere survives and achieves climax diversity through ecosystemic symbiosis, upon which human survival is dependent. This details how edge of chaos quantum dynamics results in organismic, biospheric and psychic symbiosis as a biodiverse consummative climax:

 

Incontrovertible evidence: Humans and all eucaryotes are multiply symbiotic organisms by (i) mitochondrial endosymbiosis between the root archaeal and bacterial lineages, (ii) sexually antagonistic genetic coevolution, (iii) nuclear-transposable element genetic symbiosis, (iv) symbiosis involving natural selection of predators and prey, parasites and hosts, in biospheric sustainable evolutionary feedback and (v) human symbiosis with our co-dependent food, and medicinal co-species, which we are currently violating in a mass extinction of biodiversity.

Consequences: First person visionary experience in psychic symbiosis with our psychedelic co-species.

Conclusion: The universe becomes able to manifest, know and realise itself consciously, in cosmological symbiosis, through entheogenic experiences complemented by meditative practices.

 

(d) Survival Necessity: Biospheric symbiosis is essential for human survival. Homo sapiens can survive on evolutionary time-scales only by being evolutionarily successful as a biospheric symbiont. Currently it is not. This is the motivating necessity to act, imbued by the mushroom experience, which is itself a product of biospheric evolution of substances conducive to psychic symbiosis, and is manifestly true as a principle of long-term survival of both humanity as a species and the diversity of life in the biosphere.

 

Introduction:

 

The Symbiotic Cosmology of Perennial Conscious Existence solves (a) the hard problem of consciousness – how and why we have subjective conscious experiences, (b) the problem of volitional will – how conscious intentionality can have real effect in the physical world and (c) the central enigma of existential cosmology – the cosmological role of life and conscious experience in the universe.

 

In pure materialistic physical cosmology, consciousness is a passive epiphenomenon of material brain function, as a biological computational mechanism. Volitional will is thus an illusion in a putatively causally-closed objective universe. In theistic cosmology, people possess free will, but the universe is created by God as a moral test of “sin” with divine punishments, in which the ‘real’ life is in eternal Heaven or diabolical Hell, discarding the “late planet Earth”. Eastern traditions likewise invoke moral karma and an almost unachievable goal of subjective enlightenment, leading to the need for reincarnation, as primary realities over nature and suffering descent into the Kali Yuga.

 

Although we are fully aware of the existence of the physical universe and are obliged to accept the laws of nature and their impacts on our biological bodies and lives to survive, the entirety of our access to the world comes sine qua non through our subjective conscious experience, both consensually in our shared everyday experiences of the physical world around us and individually through dreams, memories, reflections and visions. Moreover absolutely critical is the fact that subjectively conscious agency is expressed in conscious volitional will affecting the world around us through our actions, via our physical brain. To be valid, cosmology must successfully explain both the objective and subjective aspects of experiential reality.

 

Symbiotic existential cosmology makes a minimal augmentation to the standard model of quantum cosmology to fully incorporate subjective decision-making to form a concise, complete and consistent description of existential reality, consistent with quantum reality, biological evolution and neuroscience.  Because it is centrally based on a universe in which the structural interaction pathway leads to edge of chaos climax , it has very significant implications for the biodiverse future of planet Earth in a time of climate and biodiversity crisis involving am immanent human-caused mass extinction of life (Leakey & Lewin 1995, Kolbert 2014, 2021), which could seriously compromise or even extinguish the future of the human species.

 

It also has very significant implications for society as whole because it supplants both a purely materialistic scientific cosmology and the monotheistic, religious model, in favour of a fully biodiverse cosmology critical to planetary survival. Its validity is established veridically by conscious observers, by Occam’s razor, to be the only class of cosmology consistent with subjective decision-making autonomy

 

The cosmology has three interlocking components: (1) biogenic (2) panpsychic and (3) symbiotic.

 

1. Fractal Biocosmology: This constitutes an indisputable empirical fact of cosmological evolution.

 

Fig 1: Top row: The cosmological energy pathway runs from the inflationary phase, to the cosmic web, galaxies and black holes, gaseous nebulae, stars and planets to an eventual big rip, crunch or heat death. Lower rows: By contrast the structural pathway to complete interaction of the four forces of nature induced by cosmic symmetry-breaking involves quarks, hadrons, atomic nuclei, fractal molecules, molecular complexes, organelles, cells, tissues, organs such as the brain, organisms and biospheres.

 

 

While the energetic pathway of the cosmological process leads to galaxies, stars and solar systems driven by the most powerful of the four forces, leading eventually to a big crunch, cosmic bounce or expanding heat death, the structural interaction pathway of the four quantum forces together in full integration on the negentropic planetary surface, leads to fractal molecular structures, organelles, cells, multicellular tissues and organs such as the brain, organisms and the evolving biosphere. This sequence is the pathway to quantum complexity induced by the cosmic symmetry breaking of the forces of nature, complementing the energy pathway – in paradise on the cosmic equator (fig 2 right).

 

Research has also revealed natural pathways to biogenesis, fully discussed in King (2020). Fig 2 illustrates three features of this research ongoing worldwide, illustrating the diversity of organics found in primitive syntheses and carbonaceous chondrites whose elementary components are also evidenced in the HCN and HCHO clouds in fig 1, the lost city vents which demonstrate a far-from equilibrium process on the ocean floor capable of supporting molecular biogenesis and concentrating the ingredients 1000 fold to biological concentrations and an example one-pot reaction producing a complementary suite of nucleosides.

 

Fig 2: (King 2020) Components of the link from organics in the universe to the origin of life on Earth. Left: Murchison carbonaceous chondrite (inset), major amino acids and sugar components, the sheer diversity of organic products. Centre left: Lost city vents formed by a chemical garden reaction between basic olivine and acidic sea water with dissolved CO2 . Resulting H2 and CO can drive the formation of organics including C1-4 hydrocarbons. Organics can be concentrated to biological levels (lower). Centre right: A one-pot synthesis leading to both ribo-pyrimidine nucleosides (U, C) and deoxyribo-purine nucleosides (A, I) (Xu et al. 2020). Far right: While the cosmological energy pathway leads from α to Ω  the heat death or big rip, crunch or bounce, the structural interaction pathway leads from α to Ω, partly because of anthropic constraints on the time for first generation stars to form the chemical elements plus the time for the evolution of life on Earth (Carter 1974, Barrow & Tipler 1988, Lemley 2000).

This means that life is a central cosmological phenomenon and not irrelevant to physical cosmology.

 

2. Darwinian Panpsychic Cosmology is a minimal revision of physical cosmology consistent with quantum mechanics, in which the subjective aspect of reality is complementary to the universe as a whole.

 

Fig 3: Overview of classification of graduated subjective aspects of existential cosmology.

 

In this picture (a) all wave-particle quanta, (b) highly unstable quantum processes, including edge of chaos, self-organised criticality, and biogenesis (c) prokaryote archaean and bacterial excitable cells, (d) eucaryote cells with signalling membranes capable of sentience (e) living organisms with excitable neurodynamics and (f) evolution, where each mutation is a quantum instance, all inherit subjective aspects and (g) the universe does also through the biota as the most complex physical manifestations of the four forces acting together with conscious edge of chaos coherence [5]. In philosophical terms, primitive phenomenal consciousness (a) – (c) is universally panpsychic but the transitive structure of sentient consciousness (d) – (e) is emergent. This form of panpsychism involves only root subjectivity, with brain dynamics as a boundary condition, moulding how this is shaped as a whole as the subjective stream of consious experience, so it does not require the detailed analysis of how subjective qualia that arise in pan-protopsychist theories are composed.

 

It is named after Charles Darwin because it is an evolutionary classification pivoting on the eucaryote endosymbiosis, which is consistent with Darwin’s own view of free will:

 

"To see a puppy playing [one] cannot doubt that they have free-will"  and if "all animals, then an oyster has and a polype.” (Darwin)

 

It is the only class of cosmology in which subjective experience and volitional will are fully included and correctly represented. Once we accept subjective autonomy and volitional will into the description, the fact that subjective mind interacts with the objective brain to realise decisions means that the subjective mind acts upon the physics of the universe. But the brain also obeys the core model of the four quantum forces of physics, so subjectivity becomes a feature of the universe as a whole. Thus personal conscious autonomy implies panpsychism. This implies the complementary subjective aspect – the mind at large – is a single entity, complementary to the universe in the multiple encapsulations we experience as organismic consciousness having volitional will to affect the world around us, consistent with a Tantric – mind complementing matter – origin.

 

There is obviously only one alternative, namely the unification of minds or consciousnesses.
Their multiplicity is only apparent, in truth there is only one mind. ... 
I should say: The overall number of minds is just one” (Erwin Schrödinger).

 

In a single quantum, panpsychism arises from the wave function implicitly encoding the well of quantum entanglement of the quantum’s past and future under special relativistic quantum mechanics and quantum will is the uncertain idiosyncrasy of a single quantum instance, as illustrated by Schrödinger’s cat being both alive and dead until the experimenter opens the box and finds either a live or a dead cat. 

 

Fig 4: (1) Schrödinger cat experiment. (2) Feynman description of quantum field theory (QFT) involves all possible interactions of particles via a wave-theoretic propagator function, in which the force field is mediated by all conceivable virtual particles appearing and disappearing within uncertainty. This is also special relativistic, so involves both past and future information, so that as shown below electron deflection, if time reversed becomes electron-positron creation and annihilation. (3) Quantum stadium illustrates suppression of chaos in closed quantum systems. Top: Experimental realisation of scarring of the wave function around wave eigenfunctions, biasing the probabilities around unstable classical repelling orbits. Mid: Cellular automata simulation (King 2013). Bottom: Classical ergodic chaotic trajectory. (4) While the classical kicked top (above) shows similar regions of chaos to (3) in the(top), the quantum kicked top (middle and bottom) shows chaos inducing entanglement with nuclear spin (Chaudhury et al. 2012). Entanglement between the electron and nuclear spins is quantified (bottom) by the linear entropy, of the electron reduced density operator. (5) Experiment confirming the existence of surreal Bohmian trajectories (Mahler et al. 2016). Conceptual diagram of the result of reading out the which-way measurement (WWM) in a double-slit apparatus in the near field (A) and in the midfield (B). Colour indicates the slit of origin of a Bohmian trajectory, and vertical position indicates the result of the WWM. This surreal behaviour is the flip side of the demonstrated nonlocality,  due to the entanglement of the photons, which, in Bohmian mechanics, makes their evolution inseparable even when the photons themselves are separated. Because entanglement is necessary for the delayed measurement scenario, this nonlocal behaviour is to be expected and is the reason for the surreal trajectories.

 

Because quanta may be also able to act under certain circumstances as interactive "observers", the universe is also potentially able to collapse its own wave functions, with human observer collapse just being a special case acting on unstable brain states. The multiverse thus becomes a real universe with an ongoing history, as we perceive it. This picture is one in which new branches are being created in the wave function through quantum superposition, while others are being collapsed by conscious measurement, resulting in dynamic evolution of the cosmic wave function. Special relativity, the most "classical" part of quantum reality, is implicitly retrocausal as well as causal, as in Feynman diagrams, so quantum reality is implicitly anticipatory, involving transactional collapse across relativistic space-time in which a network of potential transactions become one or a set of real emitter-absorber interactions.

 

In the pilot wave interpretation (Bohm 1952), the wave guides the particle, which is in an arbitrary but definite extant position, however it does nt describe particle creation and annihilation in the Feynman picture. In standard quantum mechanics the position of the particle is uncertain and the amplitude of the wave function determines the probability of the particle being in any position. In the SEC description, uncertainty is not irreducible randomness but is a measure of deep quantum entanglement, complemented by the subjective aspect.  This determines the position in the pilot wave model and defines “collapse” of the wave function in standard quantum mechanics and is consistent with both.

 

Fig 4 illustrates two experiments pertinent to this point of view. While closed quantum systems whose classical variants, such as the stadium billiard, are chaotic with ergodic unstable orbits, the quantum version shows suppression of chaos in the wave function probability distribution clumping around unstable periodic orbits. However when the quantum system is able to interact with other modes, as in the kicked top, the chaotic regime results in entanglement with additional factors, in this case nuclear spin, showing that quantum chaos induces entanglement. This shows us that all forms of decoherence due to interaction with other wave-particles at non-zero temperatures simply generate further forms of quantum entanglement.

 

In the second experiment, surrealistic Bohmian trajectories under weak quantum measurement, where the delay to the retrodictive (time backwards) observation is varied, show that there is no inconsistency between the Bohm interpretation and standard QM because the surreal orbits in Bohm’s interpretation correspond to entangled states in QM. This provides a basis for the SEC interpretation to be consistent with both.

 

Coherently unstable edge-of-chaos quantum systems, biogenesis and the dynamics of excitable archaea and bacteria inherit coherent forms of quantum panpsychism in a primitive form of subjectivity, prior to attentive consciousness, coherent with the description of Hunt & Schooler J (2019).  Many natural phenomena, take the form of edge-of-chaos processes, such as wind, waterfalls, thunder and lightning storms, from turbulent mountain summits to the ocean, which from the point of view of symbiotic panpsychism are strong candidates for primitive coherent subjectivity, consistent with animistic views.

 

These systems and the ensuing ones in single-celled eucaryotes and multicelled animals all inherit the capacity to avoid approach to the classical, macroscopic limit as they are processes which are not IID systems generated by independent and identically distributed measurements (Gallego & Dakić (2021). Similarly, in the approach of stochastic electrodynamics (SED) (de la Peña et al. 2020), in which the stochastic aspect corresponds to the effects of the collapse process towards the classical limit [6], consciousness has been proposed to be is represented by the zero point field (ZPF) (Keppler 2018, 2021), the equivalent of the quantum vacuum in quantum field theories and the quantum dissipative theory (Freeman & Vitiello 2016).

 

Subjective consciousness is emergent in a single discrete transition, occurring as a result of eucaryote endosymbiosis, when respiratory energy was sequestered in the mitochondria (Wan & Jékely 2021) , and the excitable cell membrane became available for signalling and perception of quantum modes, including vision (photons), hearing (phonons), smell (chemical orbital perturbations) and touch (physical torsion). This became preserved and elaborated by evolution because it anticipated threats to survival, in an excitable organism lacking a computational nervous system.

 

This process is illustrated in detail in fig 5, where the free-living excavate Naegleria gruberi, regarded as a candidate organism close to the eucaryote root, demonstrates the presence of excitability, adaptive behavioural modes, including amoeboid and flagellate habits, key signalling processes including G-protein-linked receptors, kinases and second messengers characteristic of higher animal nervous systems, cryptic sexuality, actin and microtubule activity. 

 

This process takes another quantum leap at the interface between social single-celled social eucaryotes and multicellularity, where membrane excitability, neurotransmitters, action potentials and synaptic genes arose in single celled eucaryotes in parallel by the time of the transition from choanoflagellates to metazoa, with the action potential arising as a response to existential crisis, shared by flagellar eucaryotes spanning all branches of the eucaryote tree along with synaptic genes involved in membrane binding in colony formation in choanoflagellates and related protists (Burkhardt & Sprecher 2017). Each of these cells can release transmitters that act on receptors in nearby cells to produce movements of the whole colony. A similar response in sponges causes release of GABA and nitric oxide (NO), (Kristan 2016).

 

Fig 5 (a) Life cycle and (b) complement of signalling systems found in Naegleria gruberi (Fritz-Laylin et al. 2010), a free-living single celled bikont amoebo-flagellate, belonging to the excavata, which include some of the most primitive eucaryotes such as Giardia and Trichomonads. Nevertheless it is capable of both oxidative respiration and anaerobic metabolism and can switch between amoeboid and flagellated modes of behaviour, regenerating complete centrioles and flagellae de novo (Fritz-Laylin & Cande 2010). The Naegleria genome sequence contains actin and microtubule cytoskeletons, mitotic and meiotic machinery, suggesting cryptic sex, several transcription factors and a rich repertoire of signalling molecules, including G-protein coupled receptors, histidine kinases and second messengers including cAMP. One strain analysed is a composite of two distinct haplotypes, indicating hybridization. Although sexual mating has not been observed in Naegleria, the heterozygosity found in its genome is typical of a sexual organism, with perhaps infrequent matings. Additionally, identification of the core RNAi machinery indicates that Naegleria may use this mechanism. (c) Individual foraging behaviour of Dictyostellium discoideum with bacterium about to be eaten. (d) Motile worm stage involving coordinated excitable organismic behaviour of around 1000 amoebae together to find a good location to form a fruiting body. Right Dictyostellium discoideum fruiting body. Inset: Sexual synctium with multiple nuclei, pink (Bloomfield et al. 2019). The two modes of activity show this organism has both an individual mode of sentient behaviour and an organismic mode in which activity results in coordinated excitable motion, for the collective benefit of the society of individuals to the sacrifice of the non-sporulating individual’s forming the fruiting body stalk. These forms of sentient behaviour arose in single-celled eucaryotes a good billion years before computationally capable brains evolved in metazoa.

 

The major neurotransmitters, such as serotonin arose as social signalling molecules in single celled excitable eucaryotes tuned for collective survival of the social organism, rather than individual cellular survival.  Serotonin, in particular has both a developmental and a signalling role, conserved all the way from cellular slime moulds to humans. In myxamoebic  Dictylostellium, serotonin and MAOa form the organiser of aggregated fruiting buds and in humans serotonin is involved in organismic brain development, from the neural groove all the way to ascending 5HT1b serotonin pathways, providing the signals that determine the correct five layers of the cortex for neuronal migration (Lauder 1993, Witteveen 2013). The brain has evolved as a closely-coupled society of amoebae communicating by the same social signalling molecules we find in single celled eucaryotes, such as serotonin, glutamate and GABA the latter two of which are cosmologically abundant, as noted in fig 2.

 

In multicellular animals, subjective consciousness was retained because of its anticipatory capacity to avoid primary risks of death by anticipating predatory attacks and became seamlessly incorporated into edge-of-chaos nervous system processing, in which brains effectively became closely coupled societies of excitable cells communicating by the same social signalling molecules found in single celled eucaryotes. This enables subjective consciousness to be modulated by the physical forms of brain processing invoking the subjective model of reality and the the differing quantum sense modes such as visual (photonic) and auditory (phononic) and olfactory (orbital), thus resolving the forms of qualia as a product of the seamless integration of the subjective aspect modulated by neurodynamical processes, with volition intervening in uncertain unstable dynamical states at the edge of chaos.

 

Objective and Subjective Empiricism Empiricism has two complementary modes verified empirical observation as in objective natural science and affirmed empirical experience between conscious individuals. Both can be analysed by statistical methods.The physical universe is easily interrogated on most fractal scales thanks to Galileo's telescope, the microscope and their technological variations. This makes objective validation facile. The subjective realm can only be interrogated subjectively as a whole and we don't even know one another are actually conscious. So we have two direct avenues and several indirect ones. We can interrogate (1) ordinary human subjective states of organismic consciousness and (2) wild states of moksha claimed by experiencers to be cosmic consciousness. Our conscious volitional will is also evident (3) in our capacity to put conscious intent into physical decision-making activity, and we can exchange recognition of this with one another as a foundational veridical transaction affirming this vivacious volition in ourselves and one another. We also use "theory of mind" to impute that other humans are conscious and by extrapolation other mammals. We can also sense the awareness of more diverse species, for example in crickets singing in the long grass and coordinated flashing of fireflies. Darwin said free will goes down to the "polypes" and the symbiotic cosmology says attentive consciousness goes to the eucaryote endosymbiosis. When we watch individual Dictyostellium amoebae they act purposefully just like our neutrophil phagocytes 1, 2 and have individual EEG-like excitations. Pivotally they make a transition point because they have two excitation modes, one individual and the other coherently organismic at the motile worm stage, so they demonstrate that subjectivity is a function of the coherent physical phenomenon encapsulating the process.

 

Although it is very difficult for us to see or understand the “consciousness” in single-celled species, they do have purposive behaviour and the active excitable behaviour of single-celled eucaryotes and their biological homology with our own brain excitations and synaptic neurotransmitters indicates the same physical processes are operating.

 

Fig 6:  (Centre) The pivotal role of subjective consciousness lies in avoiding lethal attack in prey and starvation in predators, leading to a Red Queen race between conscious organisms similar to the peacock’s tail effects of sexual selection. Getting to the water hole either in the savannah or jungle are dependent on immediate intuition of the environmental milieu and are notoriously intractable computationally because the prevailing circumstances of the occasion are undetermined. Left and right: Courtship (peacock spider carefully seducing a female to avoid being eaten) and parenting behaviour (cichlid fish holding offspring to transport to a safer location) across the range of higher animals is also indicative of conscious intent. Although, like birds, these fish can be fooled by cuckoo catfish their careful strategic behaviour to ferry offspring to safer sites shows purposive volitional intentionality.


This means that the foundations of subjective consciousness are cosmological and that the universe is conscious as a whole, manifest in and through the biota. This solves the hard problem, because the subjective aspect is integral to coherent excitable brain processes. The easy objective problems of consciousness thus do not solve the hard problem, which is neither confined to neuroscience, nor philosophy, but requires a cosmological paradigm shift.

 

Uncertainty and mind: The action of mind on brain necessarily arises from modulating the uncertain aspect of quantum indeterminacy in edge of chaos brain processing. This enables volitional will to intervene in the brain without disrupting the partial causal closure of the universe in brain processing in the quantum uncertain universe. In this sense, classical causality is replaced by quantum "consciousness". It provides plenty of room to affect the computationally-intractable uncertain outcomes in evolutionary survival, using both subjective anticipation inherited from single celled eucaryotes a billion years before neural systems evolved and historical experience generated by cognitive processes, subjective experience and memory.

Anticipation is used, rather than prediction, which has a more objective classical implication of declaring, rather than subjectively conceiving. Anticipation: late 14c., "foreshadowing," from Latin anticipationem (nominative anticipatio) "preconception, preconceived notion," noun of action from past-participle stem of anticipare "take (care of) ahead of time," literally "taking into possession beforehand". Prediction: "act of predicting; a prophecy, a declaration concerning future events," 1560s, from French prédiction and directly from Medieval Latin predictionem (nominative predictio), from Latin praedictio "a foretelling," noun of action from past-participle stem of praedicere "assert, proclaim, declare publicly".

Darwinian panpsychism thus has similarity to Tononi et al.’s (2015) integrated information theory (IIT) by widening the scope of subjectivity to all systems having coherent forms of quantum instability, along with attentive consciousness in all eucaryotes. However it differs from IIT in that it is not seeking simply an abstract formulation of consciousness as an integrated informational system, which on its own has no subjective aspect, but uses dynamical criteria of coherent instability that interface smoothly with quantum reality, introducing a genuine subjective aspect. It also has similarities to  Graziano’s (2016, 2017, Webb & Graziano 2015) attention schema theory (AST), particularly in regard to the key role of conscious attention being to anticipate threats to survival. It naturally acknowledges the strength of Graziano’s argument that a model of attention itself as a form of self-consciousness is central to this process, but as a vehicle to anticipative conscious volition, not a mechanistic contrivance that fools us into thinking we have conscious volition when it exists in AST only as an AI capable algorithm.

 

Fig 7 illustrates some of the neurophysiological processes perceived to underlie conscious processing. Walter Freeman’s model of olfaction consists of an electroencephalogram (EEG) dynamic oscillating via excitatory glutamate and inhibitory GABA neurons entering higher energy chaos as the animal sniffs. This then falls into one or another attracting basin, as the energy engaged by attention is reduced, thus identifying the odour. In the case of a new stimulus, learning alters the potential energy landscape to produce a new attractor. This type of process, involving an edge of chaos transition to a more ordered state, can be generalised to decision-making situations where the global brain dynamic has an instability between possible outcomes, in which a transition from higher energy chaos leads to the decision/solution.  Because edge of chaos dynamics invoke the butterfly effect, this raises the spectre of an unstable global state becoming sensitive to instabilities on descending scales of neural assembly to a single neuron and potentially the quantum level of the ion channel in a neuron crossing its sigmoidal threshold. The concept of stochastic resonance has also been demonstrated to promote such hand-shaking fractal scale transitions in the energetics. This is simply a descriptive overview of possible processes involved, in the face of the failure of promissory materialistic neuroscience (Popper & Eccles 1984) to demonstrate physical causal closure of brain function, so Occam’s razor cuts in a direction which avoids conflict with empirical experience of conscious volitional efficacy over the physical universe.

 

 

Fig 7: (1) Edge of chaos transitions model of olfaction (Freeman 1991). (2) Joachim Keppler's (2018) view of conscious neural processing uses the framework of stochastic electrodynamics (SED), a branch of physics that affords a look behind the uncertainty of quantum field theory (QFT), to derive an explanation of the neural correlates of consciousness, based on the notion that all conceivable shades of phenomenal awareness are woven into the frequency spectrum of a universal background field, called zero-point field (ZPF), implying that the fundamental mechanism underlying conscious systems rests upon the access to information available in the ZPF. This gives an effective interface description of how dynamical brain states correspond to subjective conscious experiences, but like the other dynamical descriptions, does not solve the hard problem itself of why the zero point field becomes subjective. (3) Stochastic resonance as a hand-shaking process between the ion channel and whole brain states (Liljenström & Svedin 2005). (4) Illustration of micro-electrode recordings of local wave phase precession (LFP) enabling correct spatial and temporal encoding via discrete action potentials in the hippocampus (Qasim et al. 2021).

 

This is complemented by a second process earlier noted by Karl Pribram (1975, 1993), in which centrally attended (conscious) processes are distinguished from background noise of peripheral processing by the phase coherence of their excitations rising and falling together. Decoherent oscillations are relegated to the periphery of attention while coherent excitations are central. This is again consistent with competing peripheral excitations vying for central attention in an evolutionary process of natural selection favoured by several neuroscience ideas. This process of phase coherence has striking similarities to quantum uncertainty, where a measurement of energy requires a non zero time interval defined by Planck’s constant h to count the wave beats against a reference wave. This model became clearer experimentally, in that the discrete action potentials of single neurons were found to be statistically modulated by the phase precession of the overall voltage wave associated with the EEG (Qasim et al. 2021), thus bringing in a discrete cellular response to the continuous local wave potential, also characteristic of quantum phenomena in the probability interpretation of the particle’s position within the wave.

Joachim Keppler (2018, 2021) presents an analysis drawing conscious experiences into the orbit of quantum field theory, based on the conception that the universe is imbued with an all-pervasive electromagnetic background field, the zero-point field (ZPF), which, in its original form, is a homogeneous, isotropic, scale-invariant and maximally disordered ocean of energy with completely uncorrelated field modes and a unique power spectral density. This is basically a simplification of the uncertainty associated with the quantum vacuum in depictions such as the Feynman approach to quantum electrodynamics (fig 4). This does not of itself solve the hard problem of subjectivity, because it is a purely physical model but does provide a basis to discuss the brain dynamics accompanying conscious states in terms of two hypotheses concerning the ZPF/

 

Although Symbiotic Existential Cosmology doesn't directly utilise any particular quantum interpretation as its basis, it is broadly consistent with both the ZPF description involving a quantum interface between brain dynamics and subjective consciousness, and with the dissipative quantum model of brain dynamics (Freeman & Vitielo 2007, Sabbadini & Vitielo 2019). It demonstrates the kind of boundary conditions in brain dynamics likely to correspond to subjective states and thus provides a good insight into the stochastic uncertainties of brain dynamics of conscious states that would correspond to the subjective aspect, and it even claims to envelop all possible modes of qualitative subjectivity in the features of the ZPF underlying uncertainty, But it would remain to be established that the ZPF can accomodate all the qualitative variations spanning the senses of sight, sound and smell, which may rather correspond to the external quantum nature of these senses. Also the ZPF as a physical manifestation does not itself solve the hard problem as such.

  

This picture is consistent overall with neural processing being a causally incomplete dynamical system, interfacing with quantum reality at points of environmental, and dynamical instability amid tipping points, making it possible for the subjective aspect associated with conscious volition to interact with the physical brain by forms of internal quantum measurement, without disrupting the extent to which neurodynamical processing is causally determined by the brain.

 3. Symbiotic Cosmology arises because symbiotic systems achieve optimal complexity and evolutionary persistence and diversification.

  

Fig 8: Multiple forms of symbiosis involve the symbiosis between Asgard archaea and proteobacteria to form the eucaryotes (top centre), sexual complementarity, where two of more strains enter into a prisoners’ dilemma of sexually-antagonistic co-evolution promoted by symmetry-breaking between ovum and sperms and their differing reproductive investments (top left), Cell–virus/TE symbiosis in which 52% of the human genome consists of transposable element (TE) sequences, biospheric symbiosis in which natural and sexual selection under mutational variation leads to the survival of the fittest biospheric symbionts, whether parasite, host, predators or prey and psychic symbiosis in which plant and fungal species modify the experiential brain dynamics in humans and other species. Human TE evolutionary history, including LINEs (yellow), SINES (light and dark blue), retrovirus-like LTR (long-terminal repeat) elements (green/cyan) and DNA transposons (red). This history extends back over the entire mammalian evolutionary epoch, with around 8% and 4.5% divergence respectively every 25 million years, indicating the very ancient basis of this relationship, which extends 105 million years to the eutherian radiation (International Human Genome Consortium 2001).

  

This climax of biological evolution arises in eucaryotes as a result of:

 

(a) The eucaryote endosymbiosis between the two founding branches of life, archaea and bacteria, resulting in a complexity catastrophe leading to cell organelles and informational excitable membranes communicating through social signalling molecules, with fundamental energy processes sequestered internally in the mitochondria. This results in cellular sentience through interaction with external quantum modes forming the senses.

(b) At the same time asymmetric sexuality evolved as a genetic symbiosis between complementary strains, enabling indexed recombination of large genomes.

(c)  In parallel, cell-virus/TE symbiosis occupying up to 46% of the human genome, although some members are astill actively reproducing in the germ line they have also given rise to modular gene expression. In terms of the selfish gene (Dawkins 1976), transposable elements not withstanding, organism genomes are one huge genetic symbiosis, through organismic survival  and selection.

(a) Direct and indirect interspecies symbiosis in the biosphere, such a predators avoiding boom and bust in herbivores.

 

Organismic symbiosis is then realised in biospheric symbiosis of each species within the biosphere as a whole, in which natural and sexual selection is a measure of survival of the most successfully symbiotic species within the biosphere, whether parasites, prey, predators or hosts.

 

Ultimately, society and culture are also examples of symbiotic survival, however human emergence has been fraught with species-focused selection, leading to egotistical consciousness, tribal and civil warfare, as well as sexual wars of dominance between the male and female sexes, in which patriarchy has compromised the sexual prisoners’ dilemma, inhibiting female reproductive choice essential for XY-based evolution and breaching human equilibrium with the biosphere, in exponentiating devastation of the natural habitats of the planet, climate crisis and resource crisis. The prosocial effects of psilocybe species have also been proposed to have played a role in the emergence of human culture (Rodríguez Arce & Winkelman 2021). The natural correction to this scenario comes from the complex sensitivity of conscious existence not being the exclusive dominant possession of a single species Homo sapiens, but is achieved in psychic symbiosis.

 

A critical feature of the cosmology is that it was discovered by a mathematician with a research interest in biocosmology, neurodynamics and chaotic quantum processes, as a result of an experience on psychedelic mushrooms, which brings us to the final stage of psychic and cosmological symbiosis.

 

Fig 9: (a) Reductions in alpha (8-15 Hz) and delta (1-4 Hz) MEG power for psilocybin (Muthukumaraswamy et al. 2013), consistent with greater signal desynchronisation on psilocybin. (b) BOLD Variance time courses (obtained over a 1 min. sliding window) for the psilocybin and the placebo infusion (Tagliazucchi et al. 2014) showing greater variance on psilocybin. (c) Increased functional connectivity between the default mode network (DMN0 and r-fronto-parietal cortex after psilocybin (Carhart-Harris et al. 2013), consistent with the “unconstrained mind” (Lifshitz et al. 2018). (d) Decreased low frequency power (LF) and power spectrum scaling exponent α  after psilocybin infusion (Tagliazucchi et al. 2014). (e) Persistence homological scaffolds for placebo (left) and psilocybin (right) showing greater inter-connective persistence on psilocybin (Petri et al). (f) Reduced BOLD activity after psilocybin in areas related to the DMN (f) A recording during the 12 minutes after intravenous administration of psilocybin 2mg (~15 mg orally), which shows reduced activity in medial frontal cortex  (mPFC), posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and other areas (Carhart-Harris et al 2012). (g) Two indicators of beneficial spiritual and social effects of psilocybin at 6-months after the experience Griffiths et al. (2018).

 

Psychic symbiosis. The end result of this process is that biospheric evolution has led to certain species, such as several cacti, mushroom species, and a variety of plant species producing neurotransmitter analogues which act as paradoxical agonists, currently having the umbrella name of classic psychedelics. These send the dynamical processes evoking subjective consciousness, perceptual processes and particularly the default mode and associated networks supporting individual ego dynamics for organismic survival, in organismic consciousness into a deeper form of primary consciousness, in which these dynamics revert more closely back towards collective survival, or even deeper into a form of abstract consciousness, which the experiencer identifies with “ultimate reality”, expressed by Aldous Huxley as the mind at large, associated with the merging of personal identity with the compassionate totality of existence. Individual consciousness is then an encapsulation of the mind at large filtered through the coherent brain activations associated with organismic consciousness.  Thus while more elementary levels of subjectivity are not perceivable to human observers, organismic and primary consciousness are, making the cosmology verifiable. Multiple papers by the Johns Hopkins team (Griffiths et al. 2006, 2007, 2011, 2018) and others, attest to a building statistical validation.

 

This type of deep psychedelic experience [7] has deep parallels with the mystical states of moksha, satori, epiphany, immanence and enlightenment spanning both Eastern and Western spiritual and religious traditions and planet-wide traditions of shamanism. In reductionistic science, where consciousness is regarded merely as an epiphenomenon, this is regarded as hallucination, or psychosis, of no external significance. In religious traditions it is regarded as either negative possession or positive emanation of holy spirit. In the Upanishads it is accepted as the ultimate reality in the union of Brahman with the atman, or inner self, in the manifestation of cosmic consciousness.

 

Moksha is an almost unattainable objective for most people, leading to wishful reincarnation, where enlightenment is delayed to a future lifetime. Symbiotic cosmology is also the realisation of the tantric origin of Shakti-Shiva as mind and world, and of the Yin/Yang of the Tao. The key that psychedelics provide is that, among their diverse phenomena, there is a portal called the nierika by the Huichol, which leads to a state of deep cosmic consciousness sometimes described as the “spirit world”. It is also reflected in Yeshua’s saying:

 

It is I who am the All. From me did the All come forth, and unto me did the All extend”.

 

The common elements of peak psychedelic experience are of a consistently mystical quality, established in recent scientific research, invoking the experiencing of “ultimate reality” and the consistently transformative effect on peoples lives suggest they do have a common aetiology, consistent with cosmic consciousness and that this process is real. This provides evidential data, in the form of veridical reports having statistical significance in the same way that objective scientific measurements do. This places psychedelics as the subjective complement of the LHC in physics.

 

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology provides a completely different solution from both a purely materialistic cosmology, in which the universe is described as a causal process, in which consciousness life is passive, meaningless and irrelevant; and a theistic cosmology in which life on Earth is a disposable moral trial created by a non-evidential external third party called God for a future life of eternal bliss or hellish punishment. Neither do Eastern cosmologies, dependent on notions of moral karma and endless reincarnation in a world of illusion, respect the material, genetic and ecological manifestations of natural embodied  life. All these traditional cosmologies devalue the role of the evolving diversity of perennial conscious life in the universe, leaving us with a wasteland of apocalypse and Armageddon. Symbiotic cosmology invokes immortal paradise, so long as Earth shall live and beyond Earth to the stars, if we can learn to survive in evolutionary time. It is the real cosmology of the living universe while religious and materialistic cosmologies are tragic fallacies of the imagination.

 

Cosmological symbiosis: In symbiotic cosmology the purpose of the cosmological process is so that the universe can reach edge of chaos climax and manifest, experience and know itself, through the structural cosmological pathway leading to fractal complexity, life and consciousness, in which the biota, and Homo sapiens as a climax species, comes to experience forms of awareness, realising and manifesting cosmological self-consciousness.

 

This is a scientific cosmology, which imparts an even greater responsibility and urgency on humanity than religious cosmologies – to act as conscious guardians of the biosphere, to cherish and protect the living universe as sentient cosmological manifestations of it. This also has profound spiritually fulfilling implication, in which conscious beings become both immanent and transcendent guardians of the diversity of conscious life – i.e. becoming as Gods in terms of Genesis, regaining the mythical Tree of Life hidden since the foundation of the world:

 

Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of

the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:22).

 

This in turn imparts to us a “galvanising” responsibility, as cosmological manifestations of sentience to use our lives fruitfully to preserve and ensure the passage of the generations of conscious life in overflowing abundance. To protect the planet from mass extinctions, while experiencing the full deep abyss of conscious awareness, so that the evolving manifestation of consciousness is able to unfold. We are the agents of transformation and the decisions we make will shape the universe around us, making a paradisiacal, purgatorial or hellish history as we speak. Our lives are then truly connected to the immortal web, through intimate conscious identification with the flow of life as a whole, solving the dilemma of organismic mortality in the physical world. This again is why psychedelics are therapeutic for people in depression and terminal illness (Carhart-Harris R et al. 2016, 2017, Griffiths R. et al. 2016 ) and why they are also conducive to increased nature-relatedness (Lyons & Carhart-Harris 2018).

  

Symbiosis and Human Survival: Put very simply, a biosphere cannot survive in evolutionary time if there is a dominant species whose emergence remains tribal in basis. But that is the natural condition for any emerging dominant species like Homo sapiens. So the fully evolved expression is not species dominance, but biospheric symbiosis. So called classic psychedelics provide a core pathway to achieve this, because their affects on ego, particularly in a state of meditative withdrawal, or trance fixation, can undergo a transition to the ‘abstract’ state of consciousness that Aldous Huxley denoted “the mind at large”. Cosmological symbiosis is consistent with a fully technological civilisation, in which science and vision can both flourish, because it engenders a symbiotic civilisation, which can survive on cosmological time scales. A dominant species-driven technological civilisation is not sustainable because it is self-destructive through biospheric exploitation and collapse and sheer short-term instability. Religious cultures are likewise prone to self-destruct through lethal theistic misadventure.

 

Fig 10: Physical cosmology and the cosmology of mental states illustrated by lead ion collisions in the LHC and “Curandero” Luke Brown's illustration of psychedelic experience. Natural psychedelics in traditional use.

 

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Symbiotic Existential Cosmology – Discovery and Philosophy

 

Contents:

 

The Existential Condition and the Physical Universe

Turning Copernicus Inside Out

Discovering Life, the Universe and Everything

The Central Enigma: What IS the Conscious Mind?

 

Fig 11: Cosmology is a paradoxical complement of two manifestations – quantum reality and subjective consciousness.

The classical world around us arises from consciousness collapsing the overlapping parallel worlds of quantum reality,

to evoke the historical process via our intentional will.  We are thus personally responsible for the fate of existence.

 

The Existential Condition and the Physical Universe

 

The human existential condition consists of a complementary paradox. To survive in the world at large, we have to accept the external reality of the physical universe, that we bleed if cut and may become unconscious or die if hit on the head, but we gain our entire knowledge of the very existence of the physical universe through our conscious experiences, which are entirely subjective and are complemented by other experiences in dreams and visions which also sometimes have the genuine reality value we describe as veridical [8]. The universe is thus in a fundamental sense a description of our consensual subjective experiences of it, experienced from birth to death, entirely and only through the relentless unfolding spectre of subjective conscious existence.  Thus although we scientifically associate subjective consciousness with integrated dynamical brain states, the physical universe manifests through conscious experience. Materialists attempt to defer this by saying that this is just the way it appears to a biological organism imprisoned in their own internal model of reality, which will seem like this, but is only a feature of their subjectively confined point of view. This is incorrect because it then leads to the hard problem of consciousness and the failure to recognise volition.

 

We are thus subjectively conscious beings possessing volitional will over a physical universe we know only through our conscious experience of it, and our creation myths and scientific descriptions attempt to make sense of our predicament. The universe in turn becomes manifest only through its conscious sentient beings, the biota, so the meaning of existence is created through our journey of discovery as conscious agents transforming the universe by our insights and actions. We thus in turn inherit a foundational responsibility for our actions cosmologically.

 

When we confine our discourse to dealing with the properties of external physical reality, we end up with what has become the exceedingly complex scientific description of the natural universe. This appears on macroscopic scales to be a giant causal mechanism made of atoms and molecules, leading to our complex brains and the way brain processing leads to the decisions we make in the physical world. This in turn leads to the notion that our subjective conscious minds are just an internal model of reality created by the computational brain to sum up the outstanding features of the world around us and that our personal sense of volition and subjective agency the experienced ability to make decisions affecting the world around us – is a delusion, because it is the causal processes in our brains that did this, not our conscious volition.

 

The trouble with this point of view is the hard problem of consciousness – the fact that there is no conceivable way any physically objective brain process or a set of easier functional problems about integrative properties of brain function can explain something as intrinsically subjective as conscious experience. As Jerry Fodor said: “Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious. This is the dilemma that the easy problems of consciousness cannot be contrived into an objective structural description that solves the hard problem. At best, we end up with pure informational models identifying human consciousness with integrated biological forms of artificial computational intelligence.

 

Fig 12: Constructing our description of reality based on the external physical world since Copernicus carries incredible explanatory power because nature is complex and provides a detailed physical and biological description, but in terms of subjective experience and conscious existence, relying exclusively on the external objective details paints us into a corner where we cannot solve the hard problem of consciousness, because the external objective description is categorically incapable of modelling or manifesting intrinsic subjectivity.

 

There is also a fatal flaw in the dependence of physical neuroscience on classical notions of casual closure as a mechanism. The discovery of quantum reality at the beginning of the 20th century has shown us that the universe is not causally closed and that quantum uncertainty and its spooky features of quantum entanglement can intervene throughout. The reason for the incredible technological success of science is thus not the assumption of macroscopic causality at all, but the fact that the quantum particles come in two kinds. The integral spin particles, like photons, called bosons, can all cohere together, as in a laser and thus make forces and radiation, but the half-integer spin particles called fermions, like protons and electrons, which can only congregate in pairs of complementary spin, form matter, inducing a universal fractal complexity, via the non-linearity of the electromagnetic force. Given the quantum universe and the fact that brain processes are highly uncertain, given changing contexts and unstable tipping points at the edge of chaos, objective science has no real basis to claim the brain is causally closed and thus falsely conclude that we therefore have no agency to apply our subjective and consciousness to affect the physical world around us.

 

So what if we reverse the cosmological argument and begin with the foundations of conscious existence, in the form of subjective consciousness affecting the physical world around us through our veridical experience of our conscious intent – our volitional will affecting the world around us, as we witness in everything we do behaviourally in the world? By veridical, I mean we are telling the actual truth about our conscious experience and our consciously experienced volitional intent to make decisions and execute physical actions.  I use the term veridical because when we do anything physical we have an unswerving conscious impression that we have genuinely intended something and executed a physical action whose consequences we are responsible for as active agents. We are consciously aware that we are intending a physical action we are undertaking. This is the veridical perception of our intention that materialistic neuroscience is denying when the conscious mind is treated as an epiphenomenon  having no physical affect.

Organismic perception of the real world is described as “veridical perception” [9], because it is designed to give an accurate portrayal of the world, realer than the incoming sensory data, in our case in binocular 3-D, with size preservation, conducive to an accurate detailed view, ensuring evolutionary survival in the wild. The key aspect of consciousness us that we are aware that we are aware. Materialistic neuroscience denies that our perception of our volition is veridical, contradicting the fact that this is as necessary to survival as our veridical perception of the world.

 

Existential cosmology has the opposite effect from reducing consciousness to mere information, by contrast imbuing at least some forms of matter, such as brains, with an extra complementary subjective aspect that we witness and execute as conscious experience and volitional intent. Although this is counter-intuitive to pure materialism, it is a vastly more plausible and realistic approach than denying human agency by a fatal reductio ad absurdum of existence. Rather than ghosting us as walking AI machines lacking free will, it introduces profoundly exciting new properties into the physical universe, explaining conscious existence in the material realm!

 

Enter existential cosmology, which starts from the conscious level as we all do, and develops our cosmological world view as a transaction between subjectively conscious live human beings, to discover and deduce the cosmological conditions of the world around us as living conscious agents affecting the natural world. This leads to a very different conclusion from materialistic physical cosmology, although it is entirely consistent with both quantum cosmology and empirical neuroscience – while materialism denies conscious volition, veridical experience implies matter has psyche.

 

Fig 13: A: Objective physical verification proceeds by two agents or groups recording consistent outcomes from independent empirical experiments or one group verifying the theoretical prediction of another.  B: Subjective conscious veridical affirmation: Two conscious agents confirm a common truth through affirmation by empirical experience. e.g. in sworn testimony, political agreements and entrusted relationships. C: Belief through prescriptive faith in religious doctrine involves conviction of a doctrinal truth without actual knowledge or experiential or objective evidence of the proposal or phenomenon.  Symbiotic existential cosmology utilises A objectively and B subjectively. It also encompasses visionary experiences consistent with C but only if they satisfy B, alleviating the explanatory gap of “soul” being equated with belief (Freeman 2008).

 

Existential cosmology is thus verified as a conscious transaction of volitional agency between live human beings, in a veridical affirmation:  As you read this passage, you are becoming consciously aware that I have, as a live human being, consciously and intentionally committed this communication to physical electronic form, thus affirming that my subjective conscious volition has had a physical effect on the universe.

 

Normally this would be a mutual affirmation between two conscious agents in one another’s presence of their  veridical efficacy over the world. It is almost absurd to have to make this claim explicitly because it Is assumed in all our interactions! Some less materialistic people may wonder why this needs to be stated, but the scientific era has brought it into question and it is pivotal to establishing the conscious volitional paradigm.

 

By consciously comprehending the truth of your self-evident affirmation of my volition above on receipt of this, you are empirically, by your own experience confirming the core thesis of existential cosmology, which asserts that subjective conscious volition is physically realisable. This also implies that  at least some physical matter, including the brain, has a complementary subjective aspect, but the brain is ordinary matter subject to the four core quantum forces, so this means the physical universe has a complementary subjective aspect, from which the evolutionary implications of Darwinian panpsychism  and Symbiotic cosmology as a whole follow. Existential cosmology is thus a subjectively verifiable discovery, in the creative commons, which can be affirmed empirically by experience [10].

 

By veridically affirming the author’s volitional agency and noting this fact physically, you are also affirming your own volitional agency over the physical world. Therefore, on receipt of this communication, we each become consciously responsible and fully accountable for the discovery's consequences, as conscious human beings whose volition affects the world. This is not a moral responsibility but a responsibility, as a conscious agent, to the veridical truth of what you have experienced and its implications about your own volition upon the world as a conscious human being.

 

No unverifiable claim that awareness of volition is correlation, not causation, and my physical brain wrote this passage, or developed the entire cosmology on its own, without my conscious volition affecting the physical universe, and at the same time fooled my conscious experience into believing I had done it consciously, as a passive epiphenomenon will suffice as an avoidance of your duty of care as a conscious human being, to affirm its experienced veridical truth.

 

You are free to transmit this work to others in intact form, to critique it, or to communicate a critical flaw to the author, but you cannot escape the duty of care to be honest about the veridical truth of the transaction and its thesis and to communicate it honestly to others. In a sense this is not asking anything more from the reader than the simple cognisance that I have subjectively applied my conscious volitional will to commit this consciously discovered thesis to physical form, as all live consciously active human beings do every day, by their actions. However the responsibilities are acute and pivotal to the capacity of the cosmology to ensure human survival over evolutionary time scales.

 

The process of mutual affirmation also has significantt social implications because it leads to a social paradigm where decisions are made by autonomous mutual agreement, rather than hierarchical structures and institutions. It leads to new social models of fractal ecosystemic democracy, or lateral democracies by mutual consent such as holacracy and sociocracy.

 

Fig 14: The social evolution of

sociocracy models of society.

 

Symbiotic existential cosmology, as explained in the scientific overview, consists of three interlocking realities:

(1) Biogenic: Life exists cosmologically as a fractal consequence of the symmetry-breaking of the forces of nature reaching interactive climax.

(2) Panpsychic: Subjectively conscious volitional will has efficacy [11] over the physical universe.

(3) Symbiotic: The planetary biosphere survives and evolves through ecosystemic symbiosis, upon which human survival is dependent. Biospheric symbiosis is thus essential for human survival.

 

The cosmology arose as a result of an experience on psychedelic mushrooms, but the significance of the cosmology itself extends far beyond entheogenic visions. It is in fact the actual cosmology of the universe in which we consciously exist. It is fully consistent with both quantum cosmology and with empirical neuroscience, and it has truly extraordinary implications that are in no way dependent on psychedelics themselves:

 

1.  It restores human conscious volitional agency, currently denied by materialistic neuroscience and morally bound by religious belief, and returns ethical and legal responsibility for our actions back to the human species, and does it in the cosmological context, revealing the key role of life in the universe, as shown at  in fig 15, thus imbuing humanity with a clear responsibility to protect and unfold conscious life over evolutionary time scales.

2.  It has the direct capacity to save the biosphere and humanity from mass extinction. Its symbiotic implications form a central remedy to avoid a climate and biodiversity crisis which could cause a mass extinction of the diversity of life, setting humanity back 50 million years and very likely causing the extinction of Homo sapiens, due to a failure to live symbiotically with the biosphere upon which we co-depend for our survival.

3.  It realises the existential quest of human meaning and purpose in the universe, as a cosmological climax phenomenon, enabling the physical universe to manifest and know itself, while giving each and every one of us the capacity to experience states of cosmological symbiosis in reunion with the conscious universe as a whole.

4.  It transcends both materialistic and theistic world views:

(a) It transcends scientific cosmology because it completes the scientific description of nature by fully incorporating subjective consciousness and the ability of volitional will to affect the physical universe.

(b) It transcends religious cosmology by transferring cosmological agency directly back to humanity and natural life verified by conscious affirmation of our volitional agency, rather than dependence on supplicant beliefs.

 

Symbiotic existential cosmology can be empirically verified in five principal ways:

 

1. The key role of life in the universe is incontrovertibly manifest in the biosphere as a climax edge-of-chaos dynamical system resulting from the four non-linear quantum forces of nature, mid way through the universe in space-time.

2. Existential cosmology as an interaction between subjective consciousness and physical reality, is verified through affirmation by empirical experience between conscious human volitional agents, in the same manner that legal transactions, such as sworn evidence, fiduciary duties of care and terms of trust  are veridically affirmed. This is necessary for applying Occam's razor to eliminate materialistic cosmologies failing the volitional efficacy test fundamental to human decision-making autonomy and personal responsibility for our actions upon the world.

3. The extent of subjective volitional consciousness across the evolutionary tree can be verified through empirical observation of volitional purposiveness in eucaryotes.

4. Organismic and biospheric symbiosis are irrevocably manifest properties of all eucaryote species and the biosphere as a whole as a climax system. Psychic symbiosis has become a cultural practice of diverse human societies.

5. Cosmological symbiosis is verified by statistical evaluation of quantum change experiences of “ultimate reality”, in psychedelic and meditational states, as demonstrated in studies by the Johns Hopkins team and others.

 

Turning Copernicus Inside Out

 

The current human weltanshauung, since an exilic writer wrote the sabbatical Genesis 1, started out as a flat Earth with beaten domes (firmaments) in which the plants were created before the sun and moon. Until Copernicus, this was an anthropocentric view of God's creation. Copernicus then flipped it to the heliocentric objective universe, causing our thinking to turn inside out and become obsessed with describing everything, including our most subjective realities, in objective mechanical terms, until quantum reality intervened.

 


Fig 15: ’Elhoistic Flat Earth Sabbatical Eden and Copernican Classical Heliocentrism, in Symbiotic Existential Cosmology become
Conscious Paradise on the Cosmic Equator Σ
 in Space-time, between the big-bang origin α  and the final crunch, or heat death Ω.

 

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology doubly inverts the Copernican principle: That humanity does not have a privileged view of the universe. SEC does a double flip on this as well. Firstly the universe is NOT heliocentric. The structural interaction pathway goes through two cycles. Firstly younger hotter stars generate the chemical elements from hydrogen and helium and supernova them into galactic gas clouds which are then swept up into smaller longer lived sun-like stars with solar accretion discs, where a second long period of biogenesis and then biological evolution ensues. Thus we end up at picture three on the right, paradise on the cosmic equator in space time. We are not 4.5 billion years old but our stuff is much older, say 10 billion out of the universe's 13 billion year lifetime, so the cosmic equator is now about half way through in space-time, with a good 5 billion to go before we red giant. But there is the second flip. Due to the eucaryote endosymbiosis between archaea and bacteria, life became complex conscious organismic life and the cosmic equator has become conscious flipping the privileged view of the universe right back to consciousness itself, so we are nearly back to square one, the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2 and 3, except that we are in dire straights from human misadventure!  That's precisely what the Brahmanic quantum change experience I had on mushrooms was saying! What a hell of a fix! So we really do need to act to avoid the extinction!

 

This in turn resulted in the rise of classical materialism defined by Newton’s laws of motion, after watching the apple fall under gravity, despite Newton himself being a devout Arian Christian who used scripture to predict the apocalypse.

 

This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the

counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. ... This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all;

and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called "Lord God" παντοκρατωρ [pantokratōr], or "Universal Ruler". ...

The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, [and] absolutely perfect (Issac Newton).

 

Nevertheless the classically causal Newtonian world view, and Pierre Simon Laplace’s view of mathematical determinism “that if the current state of the world were known with precision, it could be computed for any time in the future or the past”, came to define the universe as a classical mechanism in the ensuing waves of scientific discovery in classical physics, chemistry and molecular biology, climaxing with the decoding of the human genome. By contrast with Newton, it is said that when Napoleon asked Laplace, who was called the weathercockfor his political survival skills, why he had never even mentioned its Creator in his work, he answered bluntly, Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là – “I had no need of that hypothesis”.

 

This classical causal view has extended to a view in neuroscience that our subjective conscious experiences, which are the sole avenue we have to experience the physical universe are simply an internal model of reality generated by the brain, viewed as a causally closed physical mechanism preventing volitional will having any efficacy. This view still pertains, despite the discovery of quantum reality at the beginning of the 20th century, in which causality is overshadowed by quantum uncertainty and its effects, on the basis that these do not apply to a warm wet brain. Howecer, this claim is empirically unprovable and is likely to remain so. The end result is that the central arena of our subjective experience and our volitional agency over the physical world have been treated by neuroscience as null and void, leaving neuroscience with no way to elucidate how the objective brain can generate something intrinsically subjective by any causal mechanism conceivable – otherwise called “the hard problem of consciousness”. This leaves our conscious existence in an orphan status and our sense of agency and living meaning and purpose in the universe non existent.

 

Fig 16. Symbiotic Existential Cosmology stands centrally between two degenerate descriptions of nature, fully confirming the autonomy of human conscious volitional will to affect the universe and for human beings to have full responsibility over our physical actions. Patriarchal religious cosmogony, left invokes free-will but binds it to eternal punishment by a super-conscious agent. Physical materialism, right lacks any conscious human agency, regarding subjective conscious experience as simply an internal model of reality generated by the physical brain as a passive epiphenomenon, lacking any capacity of conscious volitional will to affect the physical universe. Physical Materialism and Patriarchal theism are both fated to lead to a mass extinction of the diversity of life and eventual human extinction, due to apocalyptic destruction in favour of an imagined Heaven/Hell bifurcation on the religious side and, on the materialist side, the complete failure to accept conscious life has a cosmological role in the universe which humans, as conscious volitional agents affecting the world have become responsible for, by our impact on Earth's climate, habitats and biodiversity. Only by affirming symbiotic existential cosmology does the human species have a consistent cosmological basis and a good chance of long-term survival in the biosphere over evolutionary time scales.

 

In figure 16, symbiotic existential cosmology occupies the central place between theistic cosmology, dominated by a superconscious agent creating the universe, and physical materialism in which the universe is described as a giant causal mechanism, although it has been more recently been found to be also subject to quantum uncertainty on  the scale of wave-particles and their ensuing “spooky” properties in quantum entanglement. Both the theistic and pure materialistic descriptions are degenerate in complementary ways.

 

Symbiotic existential cosmology corrects this fatal flaw in the scientific model elegantly, by starting from our conscious ability to apply volitional will to affect the universe and making a minimal augmentation of quantum cosmology to include the subjective aspect. This immediately inverts the Copernican principle, because it deduces that subjective consciousness in the advanced biota and hence humanity is the climax phenomenon of the biogenic interactive pathway, giving us not only a privileged view but the central experiential view of the universe, as a manifestation of a consciously purposive cosmos. Copernicus is turned inside out because the world outside regains its complement, the mind-at-large inside, through which the universe can perceive and manifest itself.

 

Symbiotic cosmology is absolutely pivotal to the human species regaining volitional autonomy and the ability to take responsibility of ensuring our species learns to respect our symbiotic relationship with the biosphere essential for our long-term survival. Without this, the prospect of a mass extinction event setting us back 50 million years and possibly causing our own extinction is almost inevitable.

 

Pure physically materialistic cosmology leads to a meaningless universe, in which life is an ineffectual by product, the brain is a biochemical machine, consciousness is a functionless epiphenomenon, volitional will is a delusion, and society is reduced to abstract information systems, with no ethical reason to preserve conscious life, or the diversity of natural life, predisposing to biospheric collapse, ultimately subject to AI catastrophe due to a failure to distinguish conscious life from mere information.

 

Fig 17: Physical materialists who, by their expressed position, are religiously unaffiliated, count only a diminishing 16% diminishing to 12.5% of the world population by 2060 (Pew Research 2017). This means that unproven assumptions that life lacks conscious volition and is just a causal computational mechanism in the brain have no credible chance of success in advancing the scientific description of nature to the human population at large in the coming century.

 

Patriarchal theistic cosmology by contrast, discards the late planet Earth in envy of Heaven and fear of Hell, in an apocalyptic tumult of life’s destruction, and of the universe itself, as God’s disposable creation, or in the Eastern mind-sky view a degenerating Kali [12] yuga again leading to human extinction. Figure 17 shows that, despite the incredible nature of theistic cosmology in the natural universe, far more people adhere to a religious view than are unaffiliated, partly because it does provide a realistic although moralistic view of human consciousness and free-will. This means that the scientific world view and particularly materialistic neuroscience, in the absence of an acceptance of the central place of conscious existence and volitional will has no hope of gaining widespread acceptance this century.

 

SSymbiotic existential cosmology, is an entirely novel cosmic perspective on reality that transcends both these corrupt descriptions and thus seeks to remedy our existential angst (the feeling of deep anxiety or dread, about the human condition and the state of the world in general). The unfolding diversity of conscious life is central to the cosmic process, also realising the visionary core of spiritual traditions through first-person transcendent consciousness, superseding both naive belief in a creator deity, for which no conceivable evidence actually exists and a physical universe lacking meaning, purpose, and awareness of its own existence.

 

The world is a construction of our sensations, perceptions, memories. It is convenient to regard it as existing objectively on its own. But it certainly does not become manifest by its mere existence” … “The reason why our sentient, percipient and thinking ego is met nowhere within our scientific world picture can easily be indicated in seven words: Because it is itself that world picture

(Erwin Schrödinger 1944).

 

Diversity and Foundations of Existential Cosmologies

 

Existential cosmology is derived from the fundamental paradox that although we know we are dependent upon the physical universe for our biological survival, we access reality at large entirely through empirical experience of our subjective sensory perceptions of it. This means that, to fully describe the natural cosmos, we have to do so through validating the role of subjective consciousness as a cosmological principle. As noted in fig 16, Symbiotic Existential Cosmology stands mid-way between two theoretical extremes.

 

(a)  Universe Dominant: Physical Materialism

Such cosmologies fail because no objective account, based on the form, or complexity, of brain structures and processes can of themselves manifest subjectivity, so can't solve the hard problem of consciousness extended to volition. They result in a purely mechanistic causal description complemented by probability measures in quantum phenomena, in which there is no explanation for subjective consciousness except as a higher level internal model of "reality" constructed by the physical brain, unable to distinguish living conscious sentient organisms from mechanical processes such as AI, as well as lacking any ethical or moral direction, except as reinforcement, to reduce intra-social competition to enhance inter-social dominance. A living and a dead reality have no real distinction because conscious organisms are just physical structures.

 

(b) Mind Dominant: Monotheistic, Vedantic and Buddhist Pure Mind Theories

These fail for complementary reasons, because all "aggregates" of purely subjective phenomena remain subjective. Cosmic consciousness creating the physical universe is inconsistent with the clearly emergent properties of the known universe, in which conscious biota come late in the process. (1) The emergence of the universe from the cosmic origin is a multi-stage processes in a symmetry-breaking, giving rise to the forces of nature, the evolution galaxies stars and planets and the genesis and the evolution of life reaching climax in conscious organisms as a late comer. (2) From this viewpoint, full consciousness is emergent in higher organisms, meaning that for any form of cosmological subjectivity to be consistent, it has to be primally vestigial at the cosmic origin.

 

The idea of a fully developed cosmic consciousness generating the objective physical universe by "aggregation" from a conscious field (Chopra) subjective super-mind (Aurobindo), or a supernatural deity creating a flawed material universe by proclamation (Genesis 1:3), in each of which, the free-will to defect against divine order then dooms the future, is unsustainable. Both share an origin in an omniscient, omnipotent deity, via Indra and proto-Aryan cosmology, emergent in both Judaism and Zoroastrianism. It is a tragic flaw of the transition from mystical insight to patriarchal doctrine. In Monotheism this leads to creationism in the guise of "intelligent design".

 

These cosmologies share three fatal features:

(1) Counterfactual Contradiction. The category error of pure physicalism that results in the hard problem of consciousness extended to volition applies in converse too. If no combination of objective entities can, as a result of this, become subjective, neither can any "aggregate” of pure subjective consciousness become objective physical reality.

(2) Turtles all the way down! The entire notion of the cosmic mind making matter is a mystification because it leads to regress – replacing something we are trying to explain by something we cannot explain, potentially ad infinitum. The physical universe becomes a flawed appendage of a perfect deity or mind, which has itself no natural explanation, further confounding the cosmology rather than unveiling it, undermining our conscious sentient ability to transform the universe as living creative agents and our personal responsibility for our intentional actions.

(3) Moral Unsustainability. The universe becomes a moral causality that has no cosmological  meaning in nature, whose diversity thrives on both cooperation and defection. The cosmology is degenerate and unsustainable, running down hill to the Eschaton, Frashokereti, Kali-Yuga or Samvartakalpa.

 

A key aim of religious cosmologies is the supreme rule of a “divine” order, which runs into conflict with cosmological principles of the diversity of life thriving through existing at the edge of chaos, where the chaotic phase frees nature from the oppressive rule of order becoming locked into fatal attractors. It remains to be established that the notion of religious “good” being associated with “divine” order, is a feasible, or desirable, cosmological outcome.

 

The Visionary Numinous and Spirituality

History shows religious traditions take their origin from visionary, shamanic and mystical experiences shared by emergent human culture, for the very reason that the subjective view of reality is primary and universal and the physical world view is derived from the primally subjective world view. Thus the primitive visionary state has evolved through shamanic and meditative practices to doctrinal religions, which serve completely separate purposes of enabling larger urban societies by imposing moral imperatives and exerting patriarchal control over female reproductive choice, through punishment, militarism and social conservatism.

 

In this process, absolute notions such as eternal life are asserted without any real understanding of the consequences, such as how can eternal life evolve, change and be actually alive in any real sense, and the notions of eternal individual souls which are etherial “divine” versions of our personae, which again have manifest problems of the historical accumulation of an unbounded number of coexistent beings throughout history, all solved by mythopoetic and magical means. By contrast quantum reality occurs within space-time, while relativity occurs in various space-time manifolds responding to gravity, which can be viewed eternally, as illustrated in fig 15c. Out of religious belief has emerged the notion of spirituality, which is a softer form of doctrinal religion, whose reality status remains apocryphal, based on the same or similar notions, such as a divine individual soul and eternal life.

 

(c) Neutral Monism, Dual-aspect and Mind-Brain Identity Theories

These attempt to bridge the subject-object explanatory gap and have the common feature of trying to explain subjectivity as a complementary perspective on what is still conceived as a closed physical causal process executed by the brain, which, because of its system architecture and dynamics represents a self-organising form of physical agency for which the subjective perspective is the "inner" view of these same physical processes (Vimal 2021). Hence these tend to be passive epiphenomenal accounts, in which the subjective aspect is the systems view of a causal physical process. Bijective duality prohibits interaction between subjective and objective aspects, so there is no explanation of subjective intentionality, or will, i.e. no subjective conscious volition over the physical brain or the universe through intentional behaviour, but it can invoke panpsychism and the combinations problem. However some forms of neutral monism (Stubenberg 2018) assert that mental and physical are aspects of a common underlying reality (Atmanspacher 2018). Spinoza claimed this to be God, which he identified as "the only real substance" (Vacariu 2015).

 

(d) Interactive Asymmetric Complementarity

A different kind of cosmology arises from accepting the fundamentally asymmetric relationship between a subdividable analysable physical universe and a holistic integrated stream of subjective experience and allowing them to mutually interact. Descartes' use of the pineal gland as the site of the Cartesian theatre was rejected as a hypothesis of volition, through minuscule movements of the gland activating the muscles, as these were perceived to require physical processes, not mental ones which did not operate in space. Due to Cartesian interactionism the vey concept of mind became regarded by Ryle (1949) as a category error, due to the categorical incompatibility of a dualistically separate mind and universe, preventing them from being able to interact upon one another, reducing mind to orphan status.

  

Rather than denying any possibility of a there being a relationship between such fundamentally different categories of existence, one shared and objectively verifiable and the other private to the individual alone as everything they experience, or denying the reality of the subjective mind itself, interactive asymmetric complementarity asserts that it is because these categories are so different, asymmetric and complementary that the existential cosmos can become manifest through their interaction. For this to be self-consistent, there has to be a complementary interactive portal, through which the two aspects can affect one another, that is categorically consistent in each complementary domain.

 

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology solves this paradox, both through the biological features of the quantum universe and the nature of subjective conscious intentionality, but it does so confluent with empirical neuroscience and biophysics, without depending on any hypothetical exceptional quantum process that could later come to unravel the thesis, such as Hameroff-Penrose’s ORCH.The physical side of the portal consists of the active brain state entering into self-organised criticality, where quantum uncertainty comes into play, causing the physical system to have an outcome not fully determined by the physical context. In turn, this enables subjective experience to make an autonomous personal intuitive hunch decision, based on intentional will, to intervene in the uncertain physical process to favour one of the permitted outcomes. Because intentional volition is restricted to uncertain states, no causal conflict occurs between the uncertain physical contextual process and the mentally derived wilful intention that could arise, if autonomous volition – free will – extended to physically determinate states. Thus intentional subjectivity plays exactly the role we know is pivotal in tipping the balance of immediate uncertain environmental crises, such as a tiger strike, to ensure another round of survival against the odds in the environmentally uncertain vagaries of natural fate. This direct conscious intuitive awareness is shared by all eucaryote organisms with edge of chaos excitable membranes and remains consistent with empirical neuroscience and biophysics, while being fully interactive.

 

The key redemptive feature of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology for human survival in the biosphere is that it seeks to protect the symbiotic diversity of life in immortal perpetuity in paradise on the cosmic equator, as the climax manifestation of cosmological becoming, thus sacralising life itself as the bearer of conscious existence, over divine religious and spiritual attributes, such as deity. This is a foundation insight. NO religious or scientific cosmology does this to the same degree and it is essential for our survival as a species.

 

However, this opens up all the features of the pandora’s box of psychedelic moksha, visionary and mystical experience, including mental powers, siddhis, and potential psychic phenomena as such, without invoking animal spirits, immortal souls, deity, doctrine or spirituality, focusing instead on the vision quest itself as the process of empirical investigation of subjective experience by mutual affirmation, complementing the verified empirical observations pivotal to the physical and natural sciences. It is confluent with notions such as Brahman as experienceable ultimate reality, the nierika portal of the Huichol peyote hunt and all direct intuitive mystical experiences. It can accept the notion of Ishvara/Ishvari as ‘Elhoistic archetypal personae of the vision quest complementary to abstract Brahman as ultimate reality, without invoking moral deity or religious belief. It is open to investigating all forms of putative psychic phenomena as part of the affirmation process of the vision quest that is particularly associated with uncertain physical states displaying phenomena like synchronicity, but doesn’t seek to reify religious notions, or psychic phenomena by trying to “prove” their absolute existence and refutes all forms of religious doctrine as contrary to the empirical nature of the autonomous subjective discovery process.

 

(e) Dark Noosphere Theories

Some theories try to assert a variety of other notions, such as that gravitation, rather than the quantum forces, somehow forms a substrate for conscious subjectivity, leading to concepts like a dark matter (Werbos 2019, Davis 2019), or dark energy (Bogomolov 2020, 2022), noosphere, in which an occult collective 'informational' consciousness might operate. However (a) Conventional gravity already has a clear role, along with the quantum forces in generating conscious life, through the negentropic planetary-solar interface; (b) The only confirmed evidence we have for dark matter comes from the rotation of galaxies under conventional gravity and putative dark matter particles like axions remain hypothetical and fall within the regime of quantum wave-particles and (c) There is a lack of affirmed empirical evidence for an occult noosphere, unlike visionary experience itself, which has a long and extensive empirical basis.

 

 

 


Left: Conversation with Deepak Chopra                Right: The Efficacy of Subjective Conscious Physical Volition

 

Discovering Life, the Universe and Everything

 

I have experienced every type of hallucinogenic agent known to science and communed with sacred mushrooms for half a century and have faithfully kept my visionary covenant with them both before and since since the key event I now describe. Last June, after a seven-year break, due to nearly being blinded by acute closed angle glaucoma, exacerbated by dilating my pupils on psychedelics, recently cured by total lens replacement, I took another plunge, using a mild dose suitable for a healthy 76 year old, in an activity-enhancing mushroom lemon tea. At the peak, I sank into deep meditation, framing the ultimate question: What is the answer to life, the universe and everything? I fell deep down into the entheogenic abyss, which opened out into the moksha epiphany of being, of transfiguring intensity, utterly compassionate of the mortal coil. This comes by many names, the mind-at-large to Aldous Huxley, Brahman-atman to the Upanishads, and the All in Yeshuas words, in the Gospel of Thomas. I emerged, galvanised and invigorated by a seemingly impossible task literally saving the diversity of conscious life of the entire universe, not to neglect, in passing, the lost sheep of Israel!  Here’s how it can be done!

 

As a researcher in quantum chaos and neuroscience, I struggled to reassemble the scattered shards of my physical worldview. Over weeks, this metamorphosed into The Symbiotic Cosmology of Perennial Conscious Existence”, a creative commons monograph on Research Gate – augmenting physical cosmology with its universal complement in conscious existence, in three interlocking components, biogenic, panpsychic and symbiotic.

 

Fig 18: Pupil dilated by psilocybin.

 

This cosmology is fully consistent with quantum physics and neuroscience but resolves the three central paradoxes of conscious existence: (1) The hard problem of consciousness (why subjective experience exists); (2) the physical efficacy of conscious volitional will (can our subjective experience of purposive intent, that we depend on to do anything, actually affect the world around us) and (3) the cosmological role of conscious life in the universe.

 

This discovery is of critical importance for humanity’s survival, although it may seem paradoxical, given its source, because the diversity of conscious life becomes the consummating climax of cosmic evolution in an all-encompassing biological, psychic and cosmological symbiosis.  And this comes with the same urgent galvanising responsibility, amid an acute planetary crisis of climate, habitat and biodiversity, to save the diversity of life from an impending human-caused mass extinction, which could well precipitate our own demise, through failing to live symbiotically within the biosphere on which we depend. Species need to not just survive, but survive in sufficient genetic diversity, to prosper and evolve. Humanity’s survival over evolutionary time scales as a fit species, in the biosphere, requires returning half the Earth’s natural habitats to the several million species with which we co-depend. As noted on the cover, it also requires ending the mutually assured destruction of the nuclear arsenal which leaves the Earth on a hair trigger instability of accidental annihilation.

 

The discovery is also about hard real world reality, because it gives us back conscious volitional autonomy over the world – our integral sense of personal “agency” that materialistic science stole from us in the Copernican revolution, enshrined in Newton’s laws of motion, now relentlessly entangled in the teeming uncertainty of the quantum universe. Making our scientific description consistent with our conscious autonomy also makes it consistent with civil and criminal law, in which intent, as intelligent volition, is pivotal to accountability for our actions. Incorporating conscious volition into cosmology also gives empirical science back its ethical and existential validity over prescriptive religious belief, in the true pursuit of knowledge. 

 

The key role of life in the universe is clearly expressed in the first component – fractal biogenic cosmology. We know by our very existence that life is capable of emerging and existing in the physical universe, but there is an underlying reason. The four forces of nature, emergent from cosmological symmetry-breaking, give rise to interactive chain reactions which compound quarks, into baryons, atomic nuclei and fractal molecular structures, because of non-linearities associated with nuclear and chemical bonding. While the energetics of biology is dwarfed to insignificance by the strongest cosmological forces, resulting in galaxies, black holes and stars, the quantum structural pathway to full interaction of the four forces leads to atoms, fractal biomolecules, organelles, cells, tissues and the conscious brain – paradise on the cosmic equator in space-time, once a first generation of stars have made the chemical elements and evolution has had time to result in conscious organisms.

 

Living in the quantum universe, we have no idea whether complex unstable phenomena, such as  brain processes, are causally closed. We cant assume mechanism rules when uncertainty enters into the equation and processes at the edge of chaos can amplify it. This applies particularly to unstable brain processes, which are assumed, without real evidence, to be causally closed. Pure materialism, particularly  in neuroscience, has become an unscientific doctrinal “publish or perish” belief system, having little more evidential credibility than religious fundamentalism.

Conscious experience is our sole avenue to know and understand the physical universe. Although we have to respect the fundamental nature of physical existence, to survive in the world, the totality of our knowledge of the physical reality of the world around us is established exclusively through our subjective consciousness, as a consensual experience of conscious participants, complementing our individual dreams and visions.

 

Since we all believe and act on the basis that  we have autonomous conscious volition, we need to determine what type of cosmology is consistent with conscious decision-making in the universe we inhabit. It must be one in which the subjective conscious mind can affect the objective physical brain, so by Occam’s razor, we eliminate all cosmologies which fail this veridical test, and out the window goes pure materialism! The brain may have some low energy quantum physics going on to support conscious processing, but it is just some ordinary organic matter that clearly obeys the four quantum forces colour, weak, electromagnetic and gravity, so we immediately have a situation where, in at least some forms of matter – (a) physical causality is not closed and (b) the physics has a complementary subjective aspect. Conscious volitional autonomy thus implies natural panpsychism!

 

This is already a panpsychic cosmology, because subjectivity has become a fundamental property of nature. This is why the hard problem is cosmological, not just a neuroscience problem and this is not a form of dualism! Just as the wave and particle aspects of physics are complementary rather than distinct, so are the physical universe and subjective mind. Gilbert Ryle’s Cartesian “ghost in the machine” thus does not apply!

 

In the second component, Darwinian panpsychism – which I coined from Charles Darwin’s comment that free will could run all the way from the “puppy” to the “polypes”, the subjective aspect becomes complementary to the universe as a whole, encapsulated in the many and various forms we experience as organismic consciousness, echoing Erwin Schrödinger’s statement: “The number of minds in the universe is one”.

 

The quantum universe is a causal process punctuated by quantum uncertainty. To enable subjective consciousness to influence brain function without disrupting causal closure, means subjective consciousness applies to situations where uncertainty is key – for example at unstable global tipping points in brain dynamics, where ion channel thresholds are crossed at the quantum level in a way the brain becomes sensitive to, through edge of chaos dynamics and stochastic resonance. This is precisely what is required to make sometimes split-second intuitive decisions, in exactly the situations where consciousness is key – avoiding uncertain threats to our survival, through environmental crises that can be irreducibly intractable to compute.

 

What then is quantum subjectivity? Each particle is “latently conscious” – probabilistically moulded by its wave function, expressing its entangled quantum history and future under special relativity. Each single quantum instance is also a single idiosyncratic event, in which the particle is randomly expressed within the wave function amplitude. This idiosyncrasy corresponds to its free will. Unstable quantum processes, including edge-of-chaos, biogenesis and excitable prokaryote cells, likewise inherit this latent complementary subjective aspect.

 

What about the emergence of consciousness? In the eucaryote endosymbiosis, when an archaean species engulfed respiring bacteria to form our energetic mitochondria, there was a discrete transition to cellular sentience, because the cell membrane became freed from energy transduction and became available for sensitivity to quantum “sense” modes and social signalling, with coordinated excitability functioning as a consciousorganiser using the same cellular processes and receptors as in neurons. Subjective consciousness thus predates nervous system computation by a good billion years. Informational models of consciousness, such as IIT integrated information theory and AST attention schema theory, thus incorrectly have the cart before the horse. The ensuing story, from the amoeba to humanity, is bridged by the social amoeba Dictyostellium, which has both individual cellular and coordinated organismic modes. The brain later evolves as a massively parallel organ, processing experience, operating as a tightly-coupled society of social amoebae communicating seamlessly with pre-existing sentient consciousness via a coordinated form of organismic edge-of-chaos excitability, using the same social signalling molecules that evolved in single celled species.

 

Existential cosmology is empirically verifiable. Objective empiricism has become technologically facile, on all scales, from the quantum to the universe. By contrast, subjective empiricism comes from subjective experiential reports of both everyday mental states and deeper transformative experiences, as well as volitional will evident in behaviour. All three are well established and as old as human culture, complemented by our awareness of purposive sentient activity in animal behaviour, indicating volition down as far as founding single celled eucaryotes. The success of psychedelics in alleviating depressive and terminal illness and documented genuine spiritual experiences, described as either religious, or of “ultimate reality” by the subject, attests to their validity and statistical significance as empirical scientific findings.

 

The third component is symbiosis  – genetic, cellular, organismic, biospheric, psychic and cosmological. Complex life evolved through a complementary endosymbiosis between the two prokaryote kingdoms – archaea and bacteria. Eucaryote endosymbiosis is necessary for complex life to exist, demonstrating that symbiosis, as an edge-of-chaos climax, transcends living systems lacking such complementation. Sexuality, foundational to eucaryotes, is also a form of genetic symbiosis, in which two or more strains are locked into a symbiotic role, asymmetric in sperm-ovum fertilisation in animals, also called sexually antagonistic co-evolution, due to differing male and female reproductive strategies, as in the human sex wars of patriarchal domination. The human genome is also in functional genetic symbiosis, with 46% being endogenous viral and transposable elements which, although selfish, have become key to coordinated gene regulation and evolution. Symbiosis is also biospheric. Life is not just a competitive capitalistic struggle of tooth and claw, but survival of  the most effective biospheric symbionts, in which predator, prey, parasite and host, moderate boom and bust dynamics, in edge-of-chaos biodiversity climax.

 

Founding gatherer-hunter cultures responsible for human emergence, from the San Bushmen to the Pygmies of the Congo have achieved biospheric symbiosis through an animistic [13] view of nature as interconnected relationships, in which animals and natural forces are conceived as having agency and personhood. Panpsychist existential cosmology shares these symbiotic features of animism which also underlies the later emergence of religious systems. Both materialistic science, and its technological development and religions asserting dominion over nature and a direct prisoners' dilemma tragedy of the commons (Hardin 1968) have brought about the impending human-induced mass extinction of life, so the interconnectedness with nature of the animistic/panpsychic world view becomes pivotal to our future survival, as a cultural expression of symbiosis between natural diversity and human culture.

 

Symbiosis is also psychic and cosmological. The natural correction to human induced mass extinction of life due to our tribally-based species dominance is conscious existence reaching edge-of-chaos climax, in which planetary guardianship is not the exclusive possession of a single dominant species Homo sapiens, but is achieved in psychic symbiosis with entheogenic species, which have evolved in such a way as to return egotistical consciousness to the primary consciousness noted in research studies. By opening the doors of perception to the deeper cosmic reality subjective consciousness contains, psychedelics manifest psyche, thus constituting the subjective complement to the LHC in cosmological physics, also enabling the universe to come alive and know itself in us, in cosmological symbiosis. It remains categorically unclear that the universe is able to manifest its existence in the absence our conscious experience of it. 

 

The lesson from the prisoners’ dilemma and evolutionary game theory is that, to advance this theory in adequate time to mitigate and alleviate a mass extinction of life, I cant afford to adopt a simple polite cooperative stance. Human motivation is not going to simply accept a veridical theory of symbiotic existence that comes out of deep left field.  This is going to take a lionesses claws to succeed in time to have any chance of a soft landing for the diversity of life on our planet. I will thus try to be firm but fair, but invoking tit-for-tat as a fall-back response, in the face of consistent defection, against protecting the diversity of life from mass extinction.

 

The Central Enigma: What IS the Conscious Mind?

 

To understand the nature of consciousness, we have to address the fact that the term consciousness is enigmatic and multifaceted, in a way which brings to mind the apocryphal tale of the 100 eskimo words for snow. Both ‘mind’ and ‘consciousness’ present a varied array of associated words and concepts, which we need to clarify, to even begin to close in on the central enigma, which the terms present to us.  

 

Mind conjures up a plethora of concepts from the entire realm of conscious experience "what comes to mind", through the rational mind of thought and language based reasoning, minding i.e. emotional caring, or "do you mind?" i.e object, mindfulness or focused concentration, to absent-, clear- or small- mindedness to the in attentive or mindless blunders many of us make, despite ourselves.

 

Consciousness is the active process of attending to and engaging subjective experience either internally, or through the physical senses. It can mean everything from subjective consciousness, the root capacity to have subjective experiences at all, through awake alertness, as opposed to the slumber, or coma, the state of being conscious as opposed to unconsciousness, through the fuzzy boundary between sub-conscious, pre-conscious, or un-conscious processing that accompanies conscious attention and cognition, to the restrictive idea of self-consciousness, as knowing that you know that you know. A conscious state is one which has a higher-order accompanying thought which is about the state in question.

 

Volition is the efficacy of intentional conscious states to affect the physical universe through subjective decision making (in the brain) and active behaviour (in the world). 

 

Wikipedia has the following introductory descriptions, chosen because they are a product of a social process of consensual agreement as to their meaning and content:

 

Mind collectively refers to the aspects of intellect and consciousness manifested as combinations of thought, perception, memory, emotion, will and imagination; mind is the stream of consciousness. It includes all of the brain's conscious processes. This denotation sometimes includes, in certain contexts, the working of the human unconscious or the conscious thoughts of animals. "Mind" is often used to refer especially to the thought processes of reason.”

 

Consciousness has been defined loosely as a constellation of attributes of mind such as subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, and the ability to perceive a relationship between oneself and one's environment. It has been defined from a more biological and causal perspective as the act of autonomously modulating attentional and computational effort, usually with the goal of obtaining, retaining, or maximizing specific parameters (food, a safe environment, family, mates). Consciousness may involve thoughts, sensations, perceptions, moods, emotions, dreams, and an awareness of self, although not necessarily any particular one or combination of these.”

 

The etymologies of consciousness and mind are very different, as noted in the glossary below. Conscious, dating from 1600 harks back to Latin com "with," + scire "to know” – originally to cut or divide as in incise. By contrast mind as "that which feels, wills, and thinks; the intellect,” dates to the 1100s and reflects proto-Germanic muns “thought," and  minne "loving memory”.

 

Although these contain a constellation of meanings, in which mind is sometimes focused on the attributes of reasoned, or even language-based thought, and consciousness is sometimes given the more restrictive meaning of self-awareness, or a more general meaning of simply being aware, both contain a central arena of subjectivity and sentience, that typifies the living condition and accompanies us all our lives from birth to death and is the subjective experiential basis though which we perceive and understand the physical world around us, while conceding that the boundaries between consciousness and the sub- or unconscious may be fuzzy, both in varied brain states, from waking thought to sleep and coma, and in complex autonomous processes, which go on below the level of immediate awareness, during activities like driving a car.

 

The central enigma we are exploring is not self-consciousness, but subjective consciousness – the capacity of a conscious sentient being to have a subjective experience of the existential condition, both of the everyday world, and of dream, memory and reflection, hallucination, psychedelic reverie, and other forms of internal subjective experience, not directly correlated with the immediate events of the physical world.

  

Etymological Glossary (Etymonine)

 

The subjective includes consciousness, sentience, mind, emotion, illumination and volition. In my definition (see 2 below), subjective is "existing in the conscious mind" (the mind as "the thinking subject”). I see mind as the organ of thought and cognition. Con-scious (Latin “with knowing”) is the active word that defines subjective consciousness.

 

subjective (adj.) c. 1500, (1) “characteristic of one who is submissive or obedient," from Late Latin subiectivus "of the subject, subjective," from subiectus "lying under, below, near bordering on," figuratively "subjected, subdued"(see subject (n.)). (2) In early Modern English as "existing, real;" more restricted meaning "existing in the mind" (the mind as "the thinking subject") is from 1707, popularized by Kant and his contemporaries; thus, (3) in art and literature, "personal, idiosyncratic" (1767).

 

conscious (adj.) c. 1600, "knowing, privy to" (poetic), from Latin conscius "knowing, aware," from conscire "be (mutually) aware," from assimilated form of com "with," or "thoroughly" (see con-) + scire "to know" (see science). The Latin word probably is a loan-translation of Greek syneidos. The sense of "knowing or perceiving within oneself, sensible inwardly, aware" is from 1630s, perhaps a shortening of conscious to oneself (1620s). Also compare the Latin sense evolution in conscience and sentience. From 1650s as "aware (of a fact)." Sense of "active and awake, endowed with active mental faculties" is from 1837. *skei- Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to cut, split," extension of root *sek- "to cut." as in scission, schism, incise.

 

consciousness (n.) 1630s, "internal knowledge," from conscious + -ness. Meaning "state of being aware of what passes in one's own mind" is from 1670s; meaning "state of being aware" of anything is from 1746. Consciousness-raising is attested from 1968.

 

conscience (n.) c. 1200, "faculty of knowing what is right," originally especially to Christian ethics, later "awareness that the acts for which one feels responsible do or do not conform to one's ideal of right," later (late 14c.) more generally, "sense of fairness or justice, moral sense." This is from Old French conscience "conscience, innermost thoughts, desires, intentions; feelings" (12c.) and directly from Latin conscientia "a joint knowledge of something, a knowing of a thing together with another person; consciousness, knowledge;"

 

experience (n.) late 14c., "observation as the source of knowledge; actual observation; an event which has affected one," from Old French esperience "experiment, proof, experience" (13c.), from Latin experientia "a trial, proof, experiment; knowledge gained by repeated trials," from experientem (nominative experiens) "experienced, enterprising, active, industrious," present participle of experiri "to try, test," from ex "out of" (see ex-) + peritus "experienced, tested," from PIE *per-yo-, suffixed form of root *per- (3) "to try, risk." Meaning "state of having done something and gotten handy at it" is from late 15c.

 

sentient (adj.) 1630s, "capable of feeling, having the power of or characterized by the exercise of sense-perception," from Latin sentientem (nominative sentiens) "feeling," present participle of sentire "to feel" (see sense (n.)). Related: Sentiently.

 

sentience (n.) 1817, "faculty of sense; sentient character or state, feeling, consciousness, susceptibility to sensation;" 1817, "faculty of sense; sentient character or state, feeling, consciousness, susceptibility to sensation;" see sentient + -ence. Related: Sentiency (1796).

 

mind (n.) "that which feels, wills, and thinks; the intellect," late 12c., mynd, from Old English gemynd "memory, remembrance; state of being remembered; thought, purpose; conscious mind, intellect, intention," Proto-Germanic *ga-mundiz (source also of Gothic muns "thought," munan "to think;" Old Norse minni "mind;" German Minne (archaic) "love," originally "memory, loving memory"), from suffixed form of PIE root *men- (1) "to think," with derivatives referring to qualities of mind or states of thought. Meaning "mental faculty, the thinking process" is from c. 1300. Sense of "intention, purpose" is from c. 1300. From late 14c. as "frame of mind. mental disposition," also "way of thinking, opinion." "Memory," one of the oldest senses, now is almost obsolete except in old expressions such as bear in mind (late 14c.), call to mind (early 15c.), keep in mind (late 15c.). Mind's eye "mental view or vision, remembrance" is from early 15c. To pay no mind "disregard" is recorded by 1910, American English dialect. To make up (one's) mind "determine, come to a definite conclusion" is by 1784. To have a mind "be inclined or disposed" (to do something) is by 1540s; to have half a mind to "to have one's mind half made up to (do something)" is recorded from 1726. Out of (one's) mind "mad, insane" is from late 14c.; out of mind "forgotten" is from c. 1300; phrase time out of mind "time beyond people's memory" is attested from early 15c. 

 

existence (n.) late 14c., "reality," from Old French existence, from Medieval Latin existentia/exsistentia, from existentem/exsistentem (nominative existens/exsistens) "existent," present participle of Latin existere/exsistere "stand forth, come out, emerge; appear, be visible, come to light; arise, be produced; turn into," and, as a secondary meaning, "exist, be;" from ex "forth" (see ex-) + sistere "cause to stand," from PIE *si-st-, reduplicated form of root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm.”

 

essence (n.) late 14c., essencia (respelled late 15c. on French model), from Latin essentia "being, essence," abstract noun formed (to translate Greek ousia "being, essence") from essent-, present participle stem of esse "to be," from PIE root *es- "to be.” Originally "substance of the Trinity;" the general sense of "basic element of anything" is first recorded in English 1650s, though this is the underlying notion of the first English use of essential. Meaning "ingredient which gives something its particular character" is from c. 1600, especially of distilled oils from plants (1650s), hence "fragrance, perfume" (17c.). In 19c. U.S., essence-peddler could mean "medical salesman" and “skunk."

 

emotion (n.) 1570s, "a (social) moving, stirring, agitation," from French émotion (16c.), from Old French emouvoir "stir up" (12c.), from Latin emovere "move out, remove, agitate," from assimilated form of ex "out" (see ex-) + movere "to move" (from PIE root *meue- "to push away"). Sense of "strong feeling" is first recorded 1650s; extended to any feeling by 1808.

 

illumination (n.) late 14c., "spiritual enlightenment," from Late Latin illuminationem (nominative illuminatio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin illuminare "to throw into light, make bright, light up;" figuratively, in rhetoric, "to set off, illustrate," from assimilated form of in- "in, into" (from PIE root *en "in") + lumen (genitive luminis) "light," from suffixed form of PIE root *leuk- "light, brightness." Meaning "action of lighting" in English is from 1560s; sense of "intellectual enlightenment" is from 1630s.

 

enlightenment (n.) 1660s, "action of enlightening," from enlighten + -ment. Used only in figurative sense, of spiritual enlightenment, etc. Attested from 1865 as a translation of German Aufklärung, a name for the spirit of independent thought and rationalistic system of 18c. Continental philosophers.

 

enlighten (v.) 14c., "to remove the dimness or blindness" (usually figurative, from one's eyes or heart); see en- (1) + lighten (v.2). From 1660s as "supply with intellectual light." Literal senses are later and less common in English: "put light in" is from 1580s; "shed light upon" is from 1610s.

 

objective (adj.) 1610s, originally in the philosophical sense of "considered in relation to its object" (opposite of subjective), formed on pattern of Medieval Latin objectivus, from objectum "object" (see object (n.)) + -ive. Meaning "impersonal, unbiased" is first found 1855, influenced by German objektiv.

 

physical (adj.) early 15c., phisical, "medicinal" (opposed to surgical), from Medieval Latin physicalis "of nature, natural," from Latin physica "study of nature" (see physic). The meaning "pertaining to matter, of or pertaining to what is perceived by the senses" is from 1590s; the meaning "having to do with the body, corporeal, pertaining to the material part or structure of an organized being" (as opposed to mental or moral) is attested from 1780. The sense of "characterized by bodily attributes or activities, being or inclined to be bodily aggressive or violent" is attested from 1970.

 

science (n.) mid-14c., "state or fact of knowing; what is known, knowledge (of something) acquired by study; information;" also "assurance of knowledge, certitude, certainty," from Old French science "knowledge, learning, application; corpus of human knowledge" (12c.), from Latin scientia "knowledge, a knowing; expertness," from sciens (genitive scientis) "intelligent, skilled," present participle of scire "to know."

 

nature (n.)late 13c., "restorative powers of the body, bodily processes; powers of growth;" from Old French nature "nature, being, principle of life; character, essence," from Latin natura "course of things; natural character, constitution, quality; the universe," literally "birth," from natus "born," past participle of nasci "to be born," from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget."By mid-14c. as "the forces or processes of the material world; that which produces living things and maintains order." From late 14c. as "creation, the universe;" also "heredity, birth, hereditary circumstance; essential qualities, inherent constitution, innate disposition" (as in human nature); also "nature personified, Mother Nature." Nature and nurture have been paired and contrasted since Shakespeare's “Tempest."

 

natural (adj.) c. 1300, naturel, "of one's inborn character; hereditary, innate, by birth or as if by birth;" early 14c. "of the world of nature (especially as opposed to man)," from Old French naturel "of nature, conforming to nature; by birth," and directly from Latin naturalis "by birth, according to nature," from natura "nature" (see nature). Of events, features, etc., "existing in nature as a result of natural forces" (that is, not caused by accident, human agency, or divine intervention), late 14c.

 

resplendence (n.) "vivid brightness, brilliance, splendor," early 15c., from Late Latin resplendentia, abstract noun from present-participle stem of Latin resplendens "brilliant, radiant".

 

religion (n.) c. 1200, religioun, "state of life bound by monastic vows," also "action or conduct indicating a belief in a divine power and reverence for and desire to please it," from Anglo-French religiun (11c.), Old French religion, relegion "piety, devotion; religious community," and directly from Latin religionem (nominative religio) "respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods; conscientiousness, sense of right, moral obligation; fear of the gods; divine service, religious observance; a religion, a faith, a mode of worship, cult; sanctity, holiness," in Late Latin "monastic life" (5c.). This noun of action was derived by Cicero from relegere "go through again" (in reading or in thought), from re- "again" (see re-) + legere "read" (see lecture (n.)). However, popular etymology among the later ancients (Servius, Lactantius, Augustine) and the interpretation of many modern writers connects it with religare "to bind fast" (see rely), via the notion of "place an obligation on," or "bond between humans and gods.

 

sacramental (adj.) "of, pertaining to, or constituting a sacrament," late 14c., from Old French sacramentaland directly from Late Latin sacramentalis, from sacramentum (see sacrament). As a noun, "religious practice or object," mid-15c.

 

sacrament (n.) late Old English, in Christian use, "an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace," especially "a sacrament of the Church, one of the religious ceremonies enjoined by Christ or the Church," and later specifically "the sacrament of the Eucharist" (c. 1300), from Old French sacrament "consecration; mystery" (12c., Modern French sacrement) and directly from Latin sacramentum, "a solemn oath" (source also of Spanish sacramento, German Sakrament, etc.), from sacrare "to consecrate" (see sacred).

 

duality (n.) "twofold nature, state of being two or divided in two," late 14c., from Late Latin dualitas, from Latin dualis "that contains two; the dual number, duality," from duo "two" (from PIE root *dwo- “two”). An instance of opposition or contrast between two concepts or two aspects of something. In mathematics, a duality translates concepts, theorems, or structures in a one-to-one fashion.

 

complementarity (n.) "a complementary relation or situation," 1908, a term in physics, from complementary + -ity.

 

complementary (adj.) 1620s, from complement (n.) + -ary. Sense of "forming a complement, mutually completing each other's deficiencies," is attested by 1794.

 

complement (n.) late 14c., "means of completing; that which completes; what is needed to complete or fill up," from Old French compliement "accomplishment, fulfillment" (14c., Modern French complément), from Latin complementum "that which fills up or completes," from complere "fill up," from com-, here probably as an intensive prefix (see com-), + plere "to fill" (from PIE root *pele- (1) "to fill”).

 

interactive (adj.) "acting upon or influencing each other," 1832, from interact (v.), probably on model of active.

 

supersensible Beyond the range of what is perceptible by the senses; not belonging to the experienceable physical world.

 

astral (adj.)c. 1600, "pertaining to the stars," from Late Latin astralis, from Latin astrum "star," from Greek astron "a star" (from PIE root *ster- (2) "star"). The meaning "pertaining to supersensible substances" is from 1690s, popularized late 19c. in Theosophy.

 

will (v.1) Old English *willanwyllan "to wish, desire; be willing; be used to; be about to" (past tense wolde), from Proto-Germanic *willjan (source also of Old Saxon willian, Old Norse vilja, Old Frisian willa, Dutch willen, Old High German wellan, German wollen, Gothic wiljan "to will, wish, desire," Gothic waljan "to choose").

The Germanic words are from PIE root *wel- (2) "to wish, will" (source also of Sanskrit vrnoti "chooses, prefers," varyah "to be chosen, eligible, excellent," varanam "choosing;" Avestan verenav- "to wish, will, choose;" Greek elpis "hope;" Latin volovelle "to wish, will, desire;"

 

free will (n.) the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one's own discretion.

 

volition (n.) 1610s, from French volition (16c.), from Medieval Latin volitionem (nominative volitio) "will, volition," noun of action from Latin stem (as in volo "I wish") of velle "to wish," from PIE root *wel- (2) "to wish, will" (see will (v.)). Related: Volitional.

 

truth (n.) Old English triewð (West Saxon), treowð (Mercian) "faith, faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty; veracity, quality of being true; pledge, covenant," from Proto-Germanic treuwaz "having or characterized by good faith," from PIE *drew-o-, a suffixed form of the root *deru- "be firm, solid, steadfast." Sense of "something that is true" is first recorded mid-14c. Meaning "accuracy, correctness" is from 1560s. English and most other IE languages do not have a primary verb for "speak the truth," as a contrast to lie (v.).

 

void (adj.) c. 1300, "unoccupied, vacant," from Anglo-French and Old French voide, viude "empty, vast, wide, hollow, waste, uncultivated, fallow," as a noun, "opening, hole; loss," from Latin vocivos "unoccupied, vacant," related to vacare "be empty," from PIE *wak-, extended form of root *eue- "to leave, abandon, give out."

 

fertility (n.) mid-15c., fertilite, from Old French fertilité, from Latin fertilitatem (nominative fertilitas) "fruitfulness, fertility," from fertilis "fruitful, productive"

 

fecundity (n.) early 15c., from Latin fecunditatem (nominative fecunditas) "fruitfulness, fertility," from fecundus "fruitful, fertile" (see fecund).  The ability to produce an abundance of offspring or new growth; fertility. "multiply mated females show increased fecundity”

 

virility (n.) "period of manhood," 1580s, from French virilité, from Latin virilitatem (nominative virilitas) "manhood," from virilis "of a man, manly, worthy of a man," from vir "a man, a hero," from PIE root *wi-ro- "man." Meaning "power of procreation, capacity for sexual intercourse" is from 1590s; sense of "manly strength" is recorded from c. 1600.

 

eternal (adj.) late 14c., from Old French eternel "eternal," or directly from Late Latin aeternalis, from Latin aeternus "of an age, lasting, enduring, permanent, everlasting, endless," contraction of aeviternus "of great age," from aevum "age" (from PIE root *aiw- "vital force, life; long life, eternity”).

immortal (adj.) late 14c., "deathless," from Latin immortalis "deathless, undying" (of gods), "imperishable, endless" (of fame, love, work, etc.), from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + mortalis "mortal" (from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm," also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death). 

 

 

 

10 Biocrisis and Resplendence: Fermi Extinction and Planetary Reflowering

 

Planet Earth is heading into multiple serious human-caused self-extinction scenarios – habitat destruction planet wide, climate crisis that may become irreversible, mass extinction of biodiversity, exponential population instability, cumulative risk of nuclear holocaust, generalised AI takeover due to materialist physicalism failing to recognise we are NOT just machines, excessive brittle dependence on technology to feed ourselves, failure to protect our food species, failure to protect the genetic diversity of the planet, the failure of collective leadership and decision-making processes to address or protect human viability in a tragedy of the commons. If this doesn't actually cause our extinction as a species, it will certainly destroy our blue-green paradise and make human culture perilous to unliveable. There is no technofix for this. We should be envisaging another 500 million years of sanctuary to discover the ultimate mysteries of existence. No utopian pretence will save us. These are the hard facts of life we are failing to address.

 

Protecting the biospheric diversity of life is critical for our own survival, as is avoiding climate crisis and unravelling the ever-present risk of nuclear Armageddon. The rape of Gaia – "Mother Earth" by the patriarchal imperatives of dominion over nature and business-as-usual competitive exploitation is a suicidal insanity running through our cultural mind set, which humanity currently lacks the collective insight to alleviate. Intervention in the common good is urgently necessary. This is precisely what I experienced in being galvanised to write this work after a quantum change experience on sacred mushrooms, following a seven year karmic drought due to acute closed angle glaucoma, risking blindness if my pupils became dilated. For the "mind at large" to awaken even for a moment and become acutely aware of the carnage wrought upon the planet through the relentless exploitative impact of a single species Homo sapiens, it is obvious that, by its very compassion for the mortal coil, it will impart to the beholder an urgent tenacity to protect the living planet.

 

The Full Scope: Climate Crisis, Mass Extinction. Population and Nuclear Holocaust

 

Fig 19: (1) World population is predicted to continue to rise through to 2100 (Gerland et al. 2014), with the majority of the increase in sub-Saharan Africa (inset). This will increase the world population to 10 billion, with immense pressure on the African continent's carrying capacity and pressure of migration on all continents. (2) Predicted long term effects of climate change (Burke et al. 2018) could lead to a catastrophic cumulative heating over millennia, taking the planet back to the previous Eocene peak hot period 50 million years ago, placing many of the plant and animal species on which we depend well out of their evolved climate zone, potentially leading to human extinction because of our continuing dependence on highly evolved plant and animal species (Burke et al. 2018). (3) Threatened species by group (Guardian). (4) This situation is unsustainable and leads directly to mass extinctions of biodiversity, which would take up to 50 million years to be addressed by subsequent evolution, as exemplified by previous mass extinctions. (5) Species losses of a variety of animal and plant phyla. The incipient sixth mass extinction that started in the Late Pleistocene has already put over a quarter of mammal species under acute risk of extinction (Leakey & Lewin 1995, Kolbert 2014, 2021, Davis et al. 2018, Dawson 2016). Detailed calculations of mammalian species indicate a time frame of millions of years to recover from the current mass extinctions, by evolving new life forms, but those lost will never be recovered. Insects are also suffering catastrophic population decline due to habitat destruction. (7) Protected areas are manifestly insufficient to protect biological and genetic diversity. International agreement is urgently needed to extend these areas. (8) Scorched-earth clear felling for palm oil plantations has felled a third of Borneo's forest almost overnight. Such wholesale habitat destruction is even worse than burning the rainforest because all living diversity is eradicated in favour of one monoclonal species. (8) Coral bleaching shows how climate change can lead to wholesale mass extinction of species in some of the most intense oceanic biodiversity hotspots, leading to a barren ocean.

 

The global biomass of biodiversity

 

Human intrusion into all available habitats causing wholesale natural habitat destruction means that the biomass of livestock is over 14 times that of all wild mammals and the biomass of humans is over 8.5 times that of all wild mammals. Bar-On et al. (2018) assemble the overall biomass composition of the biosphere, establishing a census of the ≈550 gigatons of carbon (Gt C) of biomass distributed among all of the kingdoms of life. We show that terrestrial biomass is about two orders of magnitude higher than marine biomass and estimate a total of ≈6 Gt C of marine biota, doubling the previous estimated quantity. The global marine biomass pyramid contains more consumers than producers. Finally, we highlight that the mass of humans is an order of magnitude higher than that of all wild mammals combined and report the historical impact of humanity on the global biomass of prominent taxa, including mammals, fish, and plants.

 

Fig 19b: The biomass of humans plus livestock as of 2018 is 22.5 times that of all wild mammals. Graphical representation of the global biomass distribution by taxa. (A) Absolute biomasses of different taxa are represented with the area of each cell being proportional to that taxa global biomass.  (B) Absolute biomass of different animal taxa. Related groups such as vertebrates are located next to each other.

 

The global biomass of wild mammals

 

A study by scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science (Greenspoon et al. (2023) concludes that wild land mammals alive today have a total mass of 22m tonnes. Humanity now weighs in at a total of around 390m tonnes. Domesticated species, such as sheep and cattle, in addition to other hangers-on such as urban rodents, add a further 630m tonnes. Thus as of 2023 wild land mammals represent only 22/(390+630)=0.02 or 2%. So the figure has risen to 46 times from 2018. The team led by Ron Milo has updated the biomass of world mammals. Biomass as a metric allows us to compare species with very different body sizes, and can serve as an indicator of wild mammal presence, trends, and impacts, on a global scale. Here, we compiled estimates of the total abundance (i.e., the number of individuals) of several hundred mammal species from the available data, and used these to build a model that infers the total biomass of terrestrial mammal species for which the global abundance is unknown. We present a total wet biomass of ≈20 million tonnes (Mt) for all terrestrial wild mammals (95% CI 13-38 Mt), i.e., ≈3 kg per person on earth.

 

Fig 19c: Left Top: The global mammalian biomass distribution is dominated by humans and domesticated mammals, including livestock and pets. Bottom: enlarged view of the biomass of wild terrestrial (Left, grouped by order) and marine mammals (Right, grouped by family, or few families). Top right: The relative number of species, individuals, and total biomass of each taxonomic order of wild land mammals. The relative biomass contribution of each order is also indicated by the animal silhouette sizes and corresponding percentages.  Lower right: The estimated total biomass is noted for each continent, together with the name of the top mass contributor and its relative biomass contribution to the said continent.

 

The universe as we know it has been in existence for some 13 billion years, but for over around a quarter of this cosmic lifetime, around 3.6 billion years, life and its diversity and complexity has continued to evolve to the point of human emergence amid climax diversity, which has taken around 66 million years to recover from the mass extinction caused by the Chicxulub asteroid that extinguished the dinosaurs. Our impact is rapidly becoming worse and setting us for a warming taking us back 50 million and yet we remain unable to give the priority to correct it due to our own folly. More troubling, it runs the risk of a Permian type extinction, the most catastrophic mass extinction of multicellular life ever, which like our own climate crisis, was caused by extreme global warming.

 

 

 

Fig 20: (a) The five mass extinctions dominated by the Permian, in which up to 95% of marine fauna expired. ( b) The Permian was not caused by an incoming asteroid but a huge peak in atmospheric CO2, precipitated by massive eruptions which resulted in the Siberian Traps. The eruptions continued for roughly two million years and spanned the PermianTriassic boundary, around 251.9 million years ago. (b, c) Historic temperatures and atmospheric CO2 since the Cambrian, 500 million years ago both show a massive peak at the boundary (marked * in (c) and (d)) (Mulhern 2021). This resulted in the oceans becoming depleted in oxygen, making them oceans uninhabitable particularly to more temperate species, likely exacerbated by lethal H2S contamination. (e) A 1.5-foot slab of rock from southern China shows the Permian-Triassic boundary. The bottom section is pre-extinction limestone. The upper section is microbial limestone deposited after the extinction. Three species that became extinct. (f) A fossilised spiralling shark tooth from Helicoprion, an extinct Permian shark species. (g) Diademaproetus, one of the trilobites that were plentiful in the world’s oceans but went extinct at the end of the Permian. (h) Paramblypterus, a species of fish that became extinct during the Permian.

 

During the end-Permian (P-T) extinction, 95 percent of all species on Earth became extinct, compared to only 75 percent during the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) extinction, when a large asteroid impact, possibly exacerbated by ensuing volcanic activity, caused the dinosaurs to disappear. The impact of Homo sapiens on our planet is a striking example of how life can evolve to evoke existential crisis on a planetary scale, threatening both a mass extinction of living diversity by habitat destruction, runaway global heating from fossil fuel consumption and a possible nuclear holocaust, but there are others. Severe global heating can lead to the oceans becoming anoxic, resulting in oceanic bacteria using sulphate to poison the oceans and atmosphere with hydrogen sulphide.

 

We are used to the idea of the Gaia Hypothesis – that life is an integral part of a self-correcting global biochemical and geochemical process that keeps Earth conducive and habitable for life provided critical tipping points are not transgressed, to push this system beyond a point of no return. But what happens if things go too far? There is a known counterpoint to Gaia, and that is the Medea Hypothesis (Ward 2008) that under certain circumstances, living systems can also precipitate biochemical and geochemical feedback process that can bring about the mass extinction of life, like a mother killing her children.

 

Fig 20a: Levels of CO2 over the last 50 mya (compare fig 19(2)) compared with
global mean surface temperature, inset and colour bands (Hönisch et al. 2023).

 

The central cause of the Permian extinction is temperature-dependent hypoxia (Penn et al. 2018):

 

The conventional wisdom in the paleontological community has been that the Permian extinction was especially severe in tropical waters.Yet the model shows the hardest hit were organisms most sensitive to oxygen found far from the tropics. Many species that lived in the tropics also went extinct in the model, but it predicts that high-latitude species, especially those with high oxygen demands, were nearly completely wiped out ( study co-author Jonathan Payne).

 

Since tropical organismsmetabolisms were already adapted to fairly warm, lower-oxygen conditions, they could move away from the tropics and find the same conditions somewhere else,Deutsch said. But if an organism was adapted for a cold, oxygen-rich environment, then those conditions ceased to exist in the shallow oceans (study co-author Curtis Deutsch).

 

The huge igneous layers of the Siberian Traps (about 7 million km2 (3 million sq mi) of basaltic rock, with a volume of around 4 million km3 (1 million cu mi)) were formed by flood basalt volcanism from mantle plume, as in Iceland and Hawaii which rose until it impacted against the bottom of the Earth's crust pouring from great cracks in the land itself. As the magma rushed out into the air from its deep Earth origin, it carried enormous volumes of volcanic gas into the atmosphere, including hydrogen sulphide, methane and particularly carbon dioxide. If flood basalts are combined on a global scale with the more explosive volcanism that in addition, throws great quantities of ash and volcanic dust into the atmosphere, one might expect major effects on animals and plants.

 

Although the global heating caused by the erupted CO2 would not necessarily be enough on its own to cause a mass extinction of this scale, it could have set off a diabolical series of events that led to mass extinction. The Warner the tropical oceans the more the animal oxygen consumption. Normally, the deep ocean gets its oxygen from the atmosphere at the poles. Cold water there soaks up oxygen from the air and because cold water is dense, it sinks and slowly moves equator-ward, taking oxygen with it. The warmer the water, the less oxygen can dissolve and the slower the water sinks and moves toward the equator. The resulting atmospheric warming would in turn, warm surface ocean water enough to cause oceanic oxygen starvation by disrupting this conveyor belt flow, thus bringing less oxygen into the deep oceans. Once the oxygen is gone, the oceans become the realm of oceanic bacteria that obtain their oxygen stripping oxygen from sulphur oxide compounds such as sulphate, producing hydrogen sulphide, which kills aerobic organisms, as well as destroying the ozone layer protecting terrestrial plants. Methane produced in the ample swamps of this time period then has little to destroy it, so the atmosphere becomes laden with hydrogen sulphide, methane and ultra-violet radiation (Ward 2007, 2008). This scenario has been applied both to the Permian and succeeding Triassic-Jurassic (T-J) extinction (Kump, Pavlov & Arthur 2005, Richoz et al. (2012).

 

CO2 levels are determined by the imbalance between carbon sequestration (burial in sediments, capture by plants), and carbon emissions (decomposition and volcanic activity). Imbalances in this system created a downward trend in CO2 levels, leading to a glaciation period around 300 million years ago. This was followed by a period of intense volcanic activity, doubling CO2 concentration to about 1000 ppm. Levels then dropped until they reached todays concentrations during the [peak Eocene to] Oligocene era, 33 to 23 million years ago, when temperatures were still 4 to 6 degrees C higher than today. It can be said that history was shaped by CO2 levels, and the types of climates they would allow. Looking back at the 2 extra degrees of warmth last time CO2 levels were this high (Pliocene era, 3 million years ago), should be enough of a call to action, considering the damage two more degrees would cause today. (Mulhern 2021). 

 

Under a business-as-usual emissions scenarios, by 2100 warming in the upper ocean will have approached 20 percent of warming in the late Permian, and by the year 2300 it will reach between 35 and 50 percent. This study (Penn et al. 2018) highlights the potential for a mass extinction arising from a similar mechanism under anthropogenic climate change (Justin Penn).

 

Global strategies to Halt the Dual Crises of Biodiversity loss and Climate Change

 

These are often formulated separately, even though they are interdependent and risk failure if pursued in isolation. The Global Safety Net maps (Dinerstein et al. 2022) show how expanded nature conservation addresses both overarching threats. We identify 50% of the terrestrial realm that, if conserved, would reverse further biodiversity loss, prevent CO2 emissions from land conversion, and enhance natural carbon removal. This framework shows that, beyond the 15.1% land area currently protected, 35.3% of land area is needed to conserve additional sites of particular importance for biodiversity and stabilize the climate. Fifty ecoregions and 20 countries contribute disproportionately to proposed targets. Indigenous lands overlap extensively with the Global Safety Net. Conserving the Global Safety Net could support public health by reducing the potential for zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 from emerging in the future.

 


Fig 20b: (Top) Areas of the terrestrial realm where increased conservation action is needed to protect biodiversity and store carbon. Numbers in parentheses show the percentage of total land area of Earth contributed by each set of layers. (Bottom) Interdependence of carbon and biodiversity. Currently unprotected high-carbon areas with median total carbon >215 MT/ha overlap extensively (92.0%) with areas selected under target 1, highlighting the importance of these lands for biodiversity conservation and climate stabilization. Other areas important for biodiversity but of lower carbon value, i.e., <215 MT/ha, are also shown. Additional CSAs, including tier 1 and tier 2 CSAs, are also selected to bridge the gap for adequate carbon storage beyond areas identified in target 1 (Dinerstein et al. 2022).

 

The minimum land area requiring conservation attention to safeguard biodiversity

 

Fig 21: Minimum land area for conserving terrestrial biodiversity. Components include PAs (light blue), KBAs (purple), and ecologically intact areas (dark blue). Where they overlap, PAs are shown above KBAs, which are shown above ecologically intact areas. New conservation priorities are in green. The Venn diagram shows the proportional overlap between features.

 

Ambitious conservation efforts are needed to stop the global biodiversity crisis (Allan et al. 2022). We estimate the minimum land area to secure important biodiversity areas, ecologically intact areas, and optimal locations for representation of species ranges and ecoregions. At least 64 million square kilometers (44% of terrestrial area) would require conservation attention (ranging from protected areas to land-use policies) to meet this goal.

 

Fig 22: Gap analyses of species and ecoregion coverage within areas above. (A) Percentage of the distribution of each species (in different taxonomic groups; freshwater includes crabs, shrimp, and crayfish) and ecoregion area that overlaps. Boxplots show the median and 25th and 75th percentiles. (B) Percentage of species and ecoregions with an adequate proportion of their distribution overlapping existing conservation areas to meet specific coverage targets for species or ecoregions (orange).

 

More than 1.8 billion people live on these lands, so responses that promote autonomy, self-determination, equity, and sustainable management for safeguarding biodiversity are essential. Spatially explicit land-use scenarios suggest that 1.3 million square kilometers of this land is at risk of being converted for intensive human land uses by 2030, which requires immediate attention. However, a sevenfold difference exists between the amount of habitat converted in optimistic and pessimistic land-use scenarios, highlighting an opportunity to avert this crisis. Appropriate targets in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to encourage conservation of the identified land would contribute substantially to safeguarding biodiversity.

 

Fig 23: National-level land area for conservation and projected habitat loss. Estimated proportion of each country requiring effective conservation attention to safeguard biodiversity that is projected to suffer habitat conversion by 2030 (orange) and 2050 (red) or that is projected not to be converted (blue), according to SSP3 (a worst-case scenario). Gray areas are outside the land identified for conservation. We excluded 85 countries with a land area <10,000 km2  from the figure.

 

 

.

 


Fig 24: Evolutionary tree of life (King
2021c), with entheogenic molecules. Preserving the diversity of life and of conscious life in evolutionary time scales
is the prime responsibility of our sentient incarnation. Background: Amazon burning.

 

Fig 25:  Scenario maps Half Earth Project show (1) protected areas, (2) protected+community, (3) human pressures (4) biodiversity priority, (5) biodiversity richness and (6) biodiversity rarity. These show the difficulty of planning for a half-Earth scenario because some countries have high value habitats which urgently need conserving while others lack any significant protected areas. Furthermore protected areas are not identical with the biodiversity priorities. Habitats involving priority species and rare species are quite distinct from areas with the greatest richness (Rinnan & Jetz 2020). This means that protecting half Earth is going to require massive funding of some developing countries and wide scale consent and economic motivation on the part of developed countries  to resolve these questions. The science is critical to make the process as effective as possible but this is also going to take a huge change in the human world view to upgrade its urgency sufficiently.

 

If you look at the Amazon Basin it looks as though there is little overlap between biodiversity richness and human pressure, but we know that's not true because the Amazon is being ravaged by fire, mining and agriculture. Moreover The priorities for biodiversity also lie, prominently lie along the Andes, with high overlap with human impact.

 

Turn now to Africa and you will see a big conflict between human pressure and biodiversity priorities in the North East Congo and south to the Cape of Good Hope.  This means that stopping a serious mass extinction is going to have to involve a new kind of global planning and financing to compensate affected parties and to ensure consistent standards of protection and mitigation. Predictions of biodiversity at 2100 remain contradictory depending on how the driving factors interact (Sala et al. 2000). Wilderness areas halve the extinction risk of terrestrial biodiversity (Di Marco 2019).

 

Fig 26: Top left: Predicted loss of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I haplotypes for nine montane aquatic insect species in Europe under business as usual IPCC 2080 CO2 emission scenario (Bálint et al. 2011).  Top right: Comparison of recent and distant past extinction rates with rates at which species are committed to extinctionduring the 21st century (Pereira et al. 2010). Bottom left: Map of expected change in biodiversity for the year 2100 under antagonistic interaction between drivers such as climate and habitat loss when the total biodiversity change equals the change resulting from the driver that is expected to have the largest effect and is calculated as the maximum of the effects of all the drivers (Sala et al. 2000).  All of the key tropical rainforest would be seriously affected. Bottom right: Estimated recent and future global biodiversity trends resulting from land-use change, with and without coordinated efforts to reverse trends (Leclère et al. 2020).  Habitat effects on their own contribute up to 20% loss in diversity (grey) unless adequate measures are taken (ochre). Mean extinction probability across studies making predictions of the future effects of climate change suggest a mean extinction probability of 10% across taxa and regions, whereas empirical evidence gave a mean probability of 14% (MacLean et al. 2011).


Davis et al. (2018) note that the incipient sixth mass extinction that started in the Late Pleistocene has already erased over 300 mammal species and, with them, more than 2.5 billion y of unique evolutionary history. At the global scale, this lost phylogenetic diversity (PD) can only be restored with time as lineages evolve and create new evolutionary history. Given the increasing rate of extinctions however, can mammals evolve fast enough to recover their lost PD on a human time scale? We use a birthdeath tree framework to show that even if extinction rates slow to pre-anthropogenic background levels, recovery of lost PD will likely take millions of years.

 

This is going to take a paradigm shift in world views to get anywhere in time. It needs to convey an urgency and a sense of cosmological meaning to support the undertaking both scientifically and religiously to actually get there. There has to be some sheer inspiration and conviction to do this.

 


Fig 27: Left: Summary of major environmental-change categories expressed as a percentage change relative to the baseline given in the text. Red indicates the percentage of the category that is damaged, lost, or otherwise affected, whereas blue indicates the percentage that is intact, remaining, or otherwise unaffected (Bradshaw et al. 2021). Right: Loss of evolutionary history is variable across mammalian orders. The heights of the bars show the amount of unique evolutionary history attributable to each mammal order at a preanthropogenic baseline (130,000 y ago). The right-hand y axis shows this same value as a percentage of global mammal PD at this baseline. The heights of the colored bars show the contribution to global PD projected to remain after 50 y of status quo conservation. Warm colors represent proportional contributions that are high for an order
s SR; cool colors show the reverse. The orders Didelphimorpha to Microbiotheria are shown at standard (A) and enlarged (B) scales (Davis et al. 2018).

 

Human impact is causing a mass extinction of biodiversity on a time scale that is almost as acute in terms of the adaption of life as the Dinosaur extinction and is rapidly approaching a series of tipping points that could throw the entire planet into a far less hospitable state, not just for the diversity of life but for our own survival. As the Earth heats due to CO2 and methane emissions, the albedo [73] of the white, light-reflecting poles shrinks, so that it absorbs more light increasing the heating. Destabilising the methane hydrates on the ocean floor can lead to a world-wide eruption of CH4 which is 20 times more active in solar heating than CO2. At the same time the entire forested areas of the planet that fix carbon are being replaced by pasture and agriculture, compounded by massive fires both lit intentionally to clear forest and arising naturally from lightning strikes due to increased heat and the drying out of forest areas.

 

 
Fig 27b: Statistical early-warning signals that the Amazon monsoon is approaching a critical transition in response to deforestation and could continue to fail due to deforestation, resulting in cumulative desiccation. Large parts of southwestern Amazonia show a simultaneous increase in variance and autocorrelation. Regions with high autocorrelation correspond well with the main atmospheric moisture transport routes and the aerial river across the Amazon to the subtropics (Bochow & Boers 2023).

 

As I was completing this work on on Boxing Day 2021, E O Wilson regarded as Darwin’s heir passed away. Here are three statements he made about Biodiversity in interview about his book “The Meaning of Human Existence”:

 

We are by instinct related closely to the survival of our distant ancestors by a driving need to strike nature as hard as we could, and to draw as much as we could from it. And we havent lost that at all. And now we come to a higher-level recognition that we struck too hard, and too far, and we are threatening the world that we first entered so aggressively and successfully in Africa. And we somehow have got to pull back our instincts to exploit and subordinate and convert to our immediate welfare—because if we take too much more of the Earths biodiversity we render the biosphere unstable. And we could, in the worst of circumstances, reach a tipping point in which the whole thing collapses—and we with it.

 

The living world the biosphere is a razor thin layer of organisms that have evolved over billions of years to create close to exactly the right combination of species and their interactions to maintain the conditions that they live in. Our minds and our bodies are particularly well designed by natural selection to live in those exact conditions and if we change it in any significant way, we die quickly, and so we should keep in mind that, when we destroy the living world by allowing species to go extinct, you're weakening the biosphere and eventually, you may reach a tipping point in which the whole thing starts to unravel, and when that happens pfuttt the end of everything.

 

Part of our problem is that we're a species that is narcissistic. We're intensely social and intensely interested in other people and that's how we keep our groups united and well coordinated. The result is that we're geniuses at social intelligence and really stupid when it comes to understanding how to manage the environment. We are a  badly adapted species right now. We have created civilisations in which we lead and live on parts of the planet on our own. And we haven't gotten over our emphasis on forming groups and having groups compete with each other. IT's easy for us to think that the world was made for us and we don't really need to know about the 8 million or so species on this planet, even when we're told that keeping them intact and making sure they continue to live is probably necessary for our long-term existence.

 



Fig 28: (Left) Phylogenetic distribution of hidden mammalian diversity estimated from consensus of delimitation results. Each silhouette represents a mammalian order with its shadow reflecting the ratio of predicted species to recognised species. Striped silhouettes represent orders with conflicting delimitation results that were not included in the predictive analysis (Parsons et al. 2022). The uncertainties may be much larger in other groups e.g. arthropods. (Right) Mutilation of the animal tree of life: (1) Monotypic genera (2) Endangered genera (Ceballos & Erlich 2023)

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us a world which cannot realistically modify business as usual exploitation to address the human impact on the biosphere that precipitated the pandemic through trafficking and exploitation of wild animals. This inability risks a  potentially irreversible planetary tipping point. The fact that we can even temporarily be stopped in our tracks by a mere virus underscores the vulnerability of the human population to misadventure and the fragility of technological civilisation. By comparison with dealing with a pandemic, the cumulative problems of human impact are far more deleterious to both future quality of life and to the worlds economic viability, and could result in the mortality of billions of people. The problems are made all the more intractable because action requires international cooperation to transform our energy and consumption economies, but this is mired by national and political interests and resolute will can be unravelled all too easily by a single populist defector in a position of power, disrupting the capacity of the world to act cogently and scientifically.

 

Underlying the climate crisis is a much more serious and potentially devastating one for humanitys future quality of life, economic future and survival as a species, and that is the mass extinction (Leakey & Lewin 1996) of biodiversity, driven both by whiplash climate change and wholesale habitat destruction further exacerbated by deforestation and the burning of both the tropical rainforests and temperate forests of Earth, as well as the conversion of vast wilderness areas to monoculture. Whole geographical regions of the planet, both at cooler poles where temperatures changes are magnified and in the hotter drier tropics are likely to devastate their plant and animal diversity. The issues of biocrisis (King 2006-2020) and mass extinction are more serious than climate change or human induced pandemics and require a combined strategy of mitigation of habitat destruction, replanting of wilderness areas, conversion of food production and consumption to less polluting and carbon-intensive practices and collecting as much genetic diversity as possible in gene banks to conserve plant, bacterial, and fungal diversity. The fate of insects and other small multi-celled animals is also highly important for overall planetary fertility, as exemplified from honey bees to humming birds.

 

(a) Half Earth The biosphere needs immediate protection from human impact over a full half its surface and restoration by a clear dedicated program (Wilson 2016, Le Page 2018, Baillie & Zhang 2018, Dinerstein et al. 2019, Lambert 2020, Convention on Biological Diversity), and assisting diversity to replenish in the wilderness is essential for the long-term robustness of the biosphere’s diversity and of human species over evolutionary time scales. Although we are stripping the biosphere, we are very small on the face of the planet and dependent on stable food supplies. Planetary changes crossing tipping points, would have a much more serious long term impact on the viability of human species, let alone the economy, than by adopting the precautionary principle. Climate change remains a serious long term risk to biodiversity and the human population. Changes in the ocean level, once initiated will continue for up to 1000 years due to changes in the planetary albedo as the white polar caps melt. They could render vast land areas uninhabitable to humans and for food production reducing the economic carrying capacity of the planet for human life for millennia to come, with increasing destertification in some areas and flooding in others all impacting on biodiversity. Pollution, from estrogenic chemicals to ocean plastics, also needs urgent containment.

 

Fig 29: Left: Current state of world nuclear weapon stockpiles. Right: Tsar bomba 50 megatons video. Black rose video.

 

(b) Nuclear Holocaust  We remain in a situation of mutually-assured destruction due to a massive overkill of nuclear destructive power, which could also lead to a human and biodiversity genocide. This remains a key challenge and a dark comment on the patriarchal male-combat winner-take-all death-risking reproductive strategy, extrapolated to utopian proportions, which urgently needs to be addressed for the safety of the human species and the biosphere. This is human maleficence being appropriated to create a hair-trigger potential for mass destruction, rather than using this technology to avoid astronomical threats to biospheric survival. All sides are drawn into a Faustian pact, in which no one can agree to unwind the false security that the unilateral exercise of nuclear deterrent continues to have, leading to inexorable cumulative long-term risks of species extinction by accidental or malicious global holocaust.

 

The Federation of American Scientists notes: “Despite progress in reducing Cold War nuclear arsenals, the worlds combined inventory of nuclear warheads remains at a very high level: roughly 13,100 warheads as of early-2021. Of these, nearly 9,600 are in the military stockpiles (the rest are awaiting dismantlement), of which some 3,800 warheads are deployed with operational forces, of which up to 2,000 US, Russian, British and French warheads are on high alert, ready for use on short notice. … All the nuclear weapon states continue to modernise their remaining nuclear forces, adding new types, increasing the role they serve, and appear committed to retaining nuclear weapons for the indefinite future”.

 

(c) Population and Patriarchy Population also remains a critical issue.  As of 2023, the issues arising from rapid population decline in developed countries and increasing risks of global conflicts over extreme inequalities and disruptive migration are becoming as serious as the spectre of overpopulation in a boom and bust dilemma. The most recent predictions are for an earlier peak reaching 9 or 10 billion people (Watts 2023) rather than unrestrained growth through to 2100 (Gerland et al. 2014), however the implications for wilderness areas, both in increasingly heavily populated sub-Saharan Africa and the Congo Basin and in the impacts of agri-development in the Amazon, combined with major climatic shifts in viable habitats and productive areas are serious threats. Since the total mass of domestic animals is nearly twice that of humans, a shift away from avid meat consumption, particularly of methane generating beef, is essential.

 

Fig 30: Predicting population: (1) UN 2023 fertility rates by country indicate population growth in Sub-Saharan Africa leading to overpopulation with an accelerating trend towards potentially precipitous decline in developed countries. with unsustainably low fertility rates and ageing populations, confirmed by (2) Percentage of people over 65 in 2022 shows populations becoming critically aged due to longer lifespans and lower reproduction rates. (3) Overall population growth rates by country counting all factor, including births, deaths, and migration. (4) Current population densities showing extreme variations in densities between Bangladesh at 1331 and Australia at 3.4. (5) Predicted population densities modelled to be consistent with Watts (2023). In the business-as-usual case, it foresees existing policies being enough to limit global population growth to below 9 billion in 2046 and then decline to 7.3 billion in 2100. (6) Predicted population densities in 2083 consistent with the previous more severe population predictions of Gerland et al. (2014) illustrated in fig 19(1). Both models show a rise in population density in sub-Saharan Africa to peaks of 9.6 bn circa 2058 in (5) and 12.2 bn circa 2083 in (6), moderated by population declines in Asia, Europe, the US and Brazil. Heat maps are non-linear, reducing the apparent effects due to the extremes of density between countries. For example the densities for Nigeria in (4), (5) and (6) are 225, 420 and 717 million respectively, reflecting the more severe 2014 prediction.

 

This existential cosmology presents a perspective in which consciousness is not just a human faculty but is shared widely by the biota, conveying at its heart, a reverence for the continuity and sacredness of conscious life. Patriarchal religions and cultures claim to represent the sanctity of life, but have abused it, both by suppressing female reproductive choice to ensure male paternity certainty and by encouraging unrestrained reproduction of their adherents as a means to social and world dominance, accompanied by dire penalties, from stoning for adultery, through enforced female veiling, chaperoning by male relatives, female genital mutilation, limitations on female education, careers and freedom of the female race to associate, and choose their/our own futures and sexual partners.

 

As noted in Sexual Paradox: Complementarity, Reproductive Conflict and Human Emergence (Fielder & King 2017) this frustrates the evolutionary process towards higher intelligence we have experienced in our XY-chromosomal evolutionary emergence.

 

Inevitably, whatever the scenario modelled in fig 30, the data confirms that Muslim countries together have a current birth rate of 3.20 versus a worldwide rate of 2.26, , and consequently the Muslim countries’ share of the world population will rise from 21% to 27% in 2058, based independently on the growth rate projections, above, consistent with Pew Research (2017).

 

Christianity and Islam together comprise a majority of the world population with religious believers constituting 84.5% of people. Heaven and Hell cosmology, discarding the living planet and natural diversity, in favour of a reliance on the after life, is in frank contradiction to, and conflict with, ensuring a sustainable and  immortal Paradise on Earth. This is not just a crime against nature, it is a crime against humanity and reality itself.

 

Fig 30b: Recent and future population growth of world religions (Pew Research 2017, Wikipedia).

 

Therefore the main thrust of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology is to change the religious weltanshauung, to that of the living immortality of life as a whole because transforming the religious paradigm is precisely the point of highest remedial capacity.

 

Both contraception and abortion have been opposed as violating the patriarchal God’s invocation to go forth and multiply, playing a central role in driving the population explosion and hence planetary destabilisation. Muslim and secondly Christian birth rates are the highest on the planet. Abortion is opposed as a heinous sin, but the sanctity of life is not just for a single offspring but the viability of our species in a finite enclosed biosphere. Therefore upholding the sanctity of life depends on respecting the ability of the females of the species, who bear responsibility for the ongoing immortal continuity of human life, to make reproductive choices and choices whether to sustain a pregnancy in terms of their bodies, and their future responsibilities, as mothers of children they need to support. At the same time, beginnings of a severe downturn in reproduction rates insufficient to maintain the population are in some developed countries turning into a flood that is also going to cause a population bust and seriously ageing populations, so both rampant opposition to abortion and the employment and career pressures on women in developed countries need to be removed, so that  human population dynamics can become culturally and biologically sustainable.

 

 

The Fermi Paradox and Human Extinction

 

The Fermi paradox is the discrepancy between the lack of conclusive evidence of advanced extraterrestrial life and the apparently high likelihood of its existence.  Enrico Fermi's name is associated with it because of a casual conversation in the summer of 1950 with fellow physicists Edward Teller, Herbert York, and Emil Konopinski. While walking to lunch, the men discussed recent UFO reports and the possibility of faster-than-light travel. The conversation moved on to other topics, until during lunch Fermi blurted out, "But where is everybody?"

 


Fig 30b: (Left) The night lighting of Earth shows planetary evidence of human civilisation visible from space.  (Right) JWT galaxy survey shows many early-forming disc-like galaxies similar to the milky way, indicating that the circumstances for life are as favourable as in our own galaxy, but we have no evidence of life elsewhere in the universe other than life on Earth.

 

The following are some of the facts and hypotheses that together serve to highlight the apparent contradiction:

 

1.    There are billions of stars in the Milky Way similar to the Sun.
With high probability, some of these stars have Earth-like planets in a circumstellar habitable zone.

2.    Many of these stars, and hence their planets, are much older than the Sun. If Earth-like planets are typical, some may have developed intelligent life long ago.

3.    Some of these civilisations may have developed interstellar travel, a step humans are investigating now.

4.    Even at the slow pace of currently envisioned interstellar travel, the Milky Way galaxy could be completely traversed in a few million years.

5.    Since many of the Sun-like stars are billions of years older than the Sun, the Earth should have already been visited by extraterrestrial civilisations, or at least their probes.

6.    However, there is no convincing evidence that this has happened.

 

The Drake equation is an attempt to find a systematic means to evaluate the numerous probabilities involved in the existence of alien life where   is the number of technologically advanced civilisations in the Milky Way galaxy:  where  is the rate of formation of stars in the galaxy;  is  the fraction of those stars with planetary systems;  is  the number of planets, per solar system, with an environment suitable for organic life;  is  the fraction of those suitable planets whereon organic life actually appears;  is the fraction of habitable planets whereon intelligent life actually appears;  is the fraction of civilisations that reach the technological level whereby detectable signals may be dispatched; and  is the length of time that those civilisations dispatch their signals. However, the fundamental problem is that the last four terms are unknown, rendering statistical estimates impossible.

 

Theories for the lack of evidence of other life in the universe, fall into three major categories:

 

(1) Extreme rarity: Technological civilisations are extremely rare because extraterrestrial life or intelligence is rare or non-existent elsewhere, due to the extreme rarity of aboigenesis, eucayogrnesis and conscious intelligent organisms, or due to periodic extinction, by natural events, eliminating advanced civilisations as most vulnerable.

(2) Self-destructive culture: It is the nature of intelligent life to destroy itself, or to destroy others.

(3) Cosmic anonymity: Other life forms may prefer to remain undetected, have only colonised small parts of galaxies or be unable to assimilate the resources to display evidence of their existence on galactic scales.

 

The last point may be pivotal. Organismic life, despite its sentient complexity, is the last, lowest energy cumulative interaction of the symmetry-broken forces of nature and the very idea of a biological organism commanding control of energy sufficient to advertise itself across galaxies may be simply a product of human technological hubris and the failure of the out humility to recognise that biological life is a very small player in the cosmic energy equation, although the most complex and conscious phenomenon in the universe.

 

Nevertheless, we need to heed the warning that, in the absence of knowing there is life elsewhere in the universe, we need above all to respect the sanctity of life on Earth and protect it from a human-caused mass extinction of biodiversity. As Brian Cox on the BBC ahead of COP26 warned, Earth’s demise could rid galaxy of meaning  Brian notes on the BBC that ‘Unique events that led to civilisation mean its demise could ‘eliminate meaning in the galaxy for ever’.

 

The “Great Filter”, Hanson (1996), represents the variety natural phenomena that would make it unlikely for life to evolve from inanimate matter to an advanced civilisation. The most commonly agreed-upon low probability event is abiogenesis: a gradual process of increasing complexity of the first self-replicating molecules by a randomly occurring chemical process. Other proposed great filters are the emergence of eukaryotic cells or of meiosis or some of the steps involved in the evolution of a brain capable of complex logical deductions.

 

1.    A planet capable of harbouring life must form in a star’s habitable zone.

2.    Replicative life must develop on that planet, able to reproduce, using such molecules as DNA and RNA.

3.    Simple (prokaryotic) single-celled life must evolve

4.    Simple cells (prokaryotes (archaea and bacteria) must evolve into more complex cells (e.g. eukaryotes).

5.    Sexual reproduction, which greatly increases genetic diversity, must take hold.

6.    Multicellular organisms must develop.

7.    Complex organisms capable of using tools must evolve.

8.    Those organisms must create advanced technology needed for space colonisation.

9.    The spacefaring species must go on to colonise other worlds and star systems, while avoiding destroying itself.

 

Ward & Brownlee (2000) in their “Rare Earth” hypothesis state a series of worst case scenarios that may have made life on Earth vanishingly improbable and hence also explain why life elsewhere in the universe might not exist. They invoke a number of astronomical worst case claims that make Earth’s history exceptional and pivotally cite both abiogenesis – the prebiotic origin of life; and eucayrogenesis – the origin of complex nucleated eucaryote cells as roadblocks, suggesting that nearly all planets might proceed no further than bacterial life.

 

The processes invoking abiogenesis are a frontier area of scientific discovery hat remains to be fully resolved. Organics form a major component of galactic gas clouds such as the Orion Nebula, in which planetary star formation is occurring. Carbonaceous chondrites show presence of biological precursors such as amino acids and nucleotide bases and key steps in the biogenic pathway to replication have been elucidated.

 

However the endosymbiosis that gave rise to eucaryotes from species of archaea incorporating respiring bacteria in their cell interiors is a natural symbiotic interaction between the two primal cellular life forms that evolved on the planet. Kasting (2001) has refuted these claims of eucaryote improbability:

 

One point upon which virtually all molecular biologists agree is that the eukaryotic lineage is very ancient. ... The first unambiguously eukaryotic cells (identified by their large size and distinctive morphology) in the fossil record date back to only about 2.1 Gya, whereas molecular evidence for eukaryotes goes back to at least 2.7 Gya (Brocks et al. 1999). The paper also demonstrates that the 2.5-Gya Snowball Earth event (which probably occurred closer to 2.3 Gya) could not have triggered the origin of eukaryotes, as suggested. Eukaryotes appear to have evolved long before this putative catastrophe. So there is no reason to suppose that their appearance required an unusual climatic event.

 

Furthermore Brocks et al. (2022) note that:

 

Eukaryotic life appears to have flourished surprisingly late in the history of our planet. This view is based on the low diversity of diagnostic eukaryotic fossils in marine sediments of mid-Proterozoic age (around 1,600 to 800 million years ago) and an absence of steranes, the molecular fossils of eukaryotic membrane sterols. This scarcity of eukaryotic remains is difficult to reconcile with molecular clocks that suggest that the last eukaryotic common ancestor (LECA) had already emerged between around 1,200 and more than 1,800 million years ago. The protosteroids reveal an ecologically prominent 'protosterol biota' that was widespread and abundant in aquatic environments from at least 1,640 to around 800 million years ago and that probably comprised ancient protosterol-producing bacteria and deep-branching stem-group eukaryotes. Modern eukaryotes started to appear in the Tonian period (1,000 to 720 million years ago), fuelled by the proliferation of red algae (rhodophytes) by around 800 million years ago. This 'Tonian transformation' emerges as one of the most profound ecological turning points in the Earth's history.

 

This brings us to the intervention of destructive cycles, both natural and astronomical, and human self-destruct cycles induced by the sheer instability of rapidly evolving technological civilisations and their tendency towards exploitation and internal conflict.

 

Firstly, we know both the lighter elements of life on Earth along with the heavier elements are produced in cataclysmic events, including supernovae and neutron star collisions, which are themselves potential threats to existing life on nearby planets through intense radiation and black-hole formation. We also know that astronomical collisions are part of the chaotic many-body gravitational dynamics of the universe, resulting in huge collisions such as that which resulted in the Earth-Moon system from a putative collision between Earth and another early planet and which inundated the Earth with asteroid and cometary strikes in the early Hadean era.

 

Secondly, we know e.g. from fig 19(4) that there have been five great mass extinctions of the diversity of existing life in Earth’s geological history, confirming both astronomical impacts and massive atmosphere and ocean changing volcanism have all-but wiped life off the face of the planet.

 

Fig 30c:  (1, 2) Dynamical instabilities between population growth, resource demand and global temperature lead to collapse of society unless resource change sufficiently addresses impacts far enough in advance (Frank et al. 2018, Billings 2018). (3) Civilisation leads to burnout unless such resource awakening occurs effectively enough to reorient energy demands before blowout. (4) Growing urban populations can suffer multiple singularity crises requiring homeostatic reorientation , resulting in a bi-modal distribution of failed planetary burnouts and some homeostatic cultures surviving crises Wong & Bartlett 2022).

 

This brings us to the emergence of human culture and energy and habitat exploitation, resulting in rapid population growth in the wake of agriculture and animal husbandry, and ensuing human niche construction of urban cultures at the expense of both non-renewable energy resources and the planetary habitats sustaining the biosphere of Earth.

 

Homo sapiens can survive as a living species only in biospheric cooperation with the other species in the biosphere, particularly but not restricted to the species we rely on for food and medicine. We need the full robustness of the genetic and biological diversity of the biosphere to ensure the planet is in a robust enough condition to last over evolutionary time scales.

 

Just as the current investment cycle depends on the futures triple witching hour, not our long-term welfare, not only is our predictable investment horizon less than six months, but we currently lack full confidence of human survival of even a month at a stretch.

 

 (a) Nuclear Holocaust: We have a significant continuing chance at any time of al all-out nuclear war due to the sheer instability of massive first strike options and the hair trigger decision-making processes that would be set in motion in the event of a nuclear alert. As I write, the war continues in Ukraine, in which specific threats of the use of nuclear weapons have been made. We also know that, even in peace time, we have come very close to accidental hair-trigger mistaken launches. The logic of mutually-assured destruction does not protect us from nuclear war, but coverts the situation into a form of global Russian roulette where any mistake could lead to complete Fermi annihilation:

 

Fig 30d: Stanislav Petrov

 

On 26 September 1983, three weeks after the Soviet military had shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, Petrov was the duty officer at the command centre for the Oko nuclear early-warning system when the system reported that a missile had been launched from the United States, followed by up to five more. Petrov judged the reports to be a false alarm. His subsequent decision to disobey orders, against Soviet military protocol, is credited with having prevented an erroneous retaliatory nuclear attack on the United States and its NATO allies that could have resulted in a large-scale nuclear war which could have wiped out half of the population of the countries involved.

 

On January 25 1995, the Norwegian rocket incident occurred, when a team of scientists launched a four-stage sounding rocket to study the aurora borealis. The rocket eventually reached an altitude of 1,453 kilometres (903 mi), resembling a US Navy submarine-launched Trident missile. Fearing a high-altitude nuclear attack that could blind Russian radar, Russian nuclear forces went on high alert, and the "nuclear briefcase" was taken to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who then had to decide whether to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike against the United States. Russian observers determined that there was no nuclear attack and no retaliation was ordered.

 


Fig 30: Greta Thunberg submerged by rising oceans. The older generation stealing the future of their offspring and all future generations.

 

(b) Climate Crisis: We are continuing to fail to meet the targets required to avoid Earth’s climate moving out of the temperature zone of the last million years and into an acutely accelerated warming that could take us back to the Eocene 50 million years ago (fig 19(2)) with a commensurate massive rise in ocean levels and unstoppable ecocrisis, in which major species can no longer survive in their existing habitats. Rather than making a rapid transition to renewable energy, we are supplementing oil and coal exploitation in a short-term economic vicious cycle, and instead we imagine utopian solutions, from massive scale carbon recapture, to geoengineering antarctic glaciers to imede the rising oceans and mining the moon. These are all desperate technological Fermi extinction scenarios.

 

Fig 30f: Borneo deforestation

 

(c) Wild Habitat exploitation: Wherever humanity reaches, particularly by road, the biodiverse wilderness is ruthlessly exploited for beef farms, for agricultural land and for palm oil plantations, and later for urban development This leads to the most pervasive form of biosphere destruction short of an astronomical impact, by systematic human conversion of the entire land surface area to human production and habitation. Again a Fermi extinction scenario.

 

Fig 30g: Giraffes die en mass during climate driven drought in Africa. An orangutan confronts a bulldozer deforesting land in Borneo for palm oil plantations. Over 100,000 have died as a result of this activity.

 

(d) Biodiversity crisis and Mass Extinction: Underlying the combined effects of climate crisis and habitat appropriation is the fact that the Anthropocene, defining Earth's most recent geologic time period as being human-influenced, or anthropogenic, based on overwhelming global evidence that atmospheric, geologic, hydrologic, biospheric and other earth system processes are now altered by humans. This is occurring in a climate of opinion where there is little understanding that human survival depends on a robust evolving biosphere. Our economic targets are so short that we can’t even comprehend of a sustainable future 5 years out, let alone a thousand years hence or the tens of millions of years of stable climate and evolving diversity we need to envisage if we are talking about the survival of humanity as a living species. Biodiversity itself while concerned words are expressed about the wonders of nature are far out on the back burner of economic urgency, despite the increasing vulnerability of monoclonal food species to epidemic disease and genetic attrition. This is clearly on its own our most serious cause of long-term Fermi extinction.

 

Fig 30h: Fig 30h: Technological utopias involve concepts like interstellar travel in "generation ships" where species and genetic diversity is minimal leaving the "late" planet Earth to an uncertain fate. Dystopias revolve around purely urban "civilisations" in which artificial intelligence dominates and there is no biosphere to support organismic life. None of these scenarios have stability over evolutionary time scales.

 

(e) AI takeover: At the same time our fixation with physical technologies and materialistic notions of cognition and intelligence makes it harder and harder for human beings to distinguish themselves from biological machines which can be superseded by generalised artificial intelligence, and robotic processes, leading to realistic concerns of humanity becoming dependent on AI and losing the autonomous agency to control our own fate as a species.

 

(f) Sheer cultural and technological instability Rather than existing in a living world of conscious agents, including other humans, animal predators and in our animistic origins in the gatherer hunter epoch, storms and floods as our existential survival threats, we have surrounded ourselves so completely by machines, and computational devices, that we have reduced the natural world around us to a potentially dystopian mechanism, in which critical infrastructure, from energy supplies to the very food production and supply and transport lanes we depend on in urban societies to survive are automated beyond our control. Even without a malicious AI takeover, we become a brittle, unstable techno-culture with so many avenues of short term instability, that survival prospects become no more viable than a casual breakdown on the technological highway, from which there is no escape and no return.

 

Humanity tends to envision future utopias which are purely technological and lack any form of stability over evolutionary time scales, when above all, we need to stop biosphere exploitation and engage sustainable enhancement of the diverse living species our food and medicinal supply and our climatic and biospheric survival depends on. We tend to treat other organisms as "dumb animals" driven by instincts, and see human intellectual achievements as superior and transformative towards a purely technological future, but this absolutely lacks any concept of the stability of life over evolutionary time scales. We see ourselves as moving beyond the evolutionary process, in forms of cultural, intellectual and technological innovation, but these remain tragically unstable on any cosmological time scale. The reality is that evolutionary diversification is the underlying creative process, from which new life forms emerge, and there is no guarantee that humanity will remain the dominant intellectual species, because of it's ill-fated evolutionary dominance. Thus species, from founding primates, to rodents, actually carry more future evolutionary potential than patriarchally dominant Homo sapiens, which is unstably prone to a self-destructive boom and bust "death wish".

 

Fig 30i: (above) Food supply chain adaption during the covid 19 pandemic (Marusak et al. 2021) (below) Comparing Adaptive Capacity in Simplifying and Diversifying Farming Systems (Petersen-Rockney et al. (2021).

 

On the wider front, we remain politically and strategically stymied by tribal politics amid the endless exponential growth of GDP economics, which is transparently unsustainable, and a complete inability as a world culture to address the key existential threats to our own survival on Earth as a species as our top existential priorities. We all know this and across the planet, people feel a sense of uncertainty about the future and whether the world is going to be a viable place in future for their children to survive, yet because of the global power structures and the way political decisions are made, we all feel too helpless to do anything decisive about it and bury our heads in the fog of delusion.

 

Humanity has evolved through Machiavellian intelligence to dominate and capitalistically, or militarily exploit one another. For males and male reproductive strategies to collectively dominate the entire female sex and control other living organisms as a dominant patriarchal species, turning to technology as a replacement for living systems is biospheric misadventure. To allow the males of a species, whose investment is principally in fertilisation, rather than the long-term female investment in sustainable child rearing, is committing evolutionary suicide because males risk death to compete for reproductive opportunities and their sole reproductive influence leads to boom and bust instability. We are politically and socially maladjusted to making constructive decisions for the welfare of humanity as a whole, let alone the other species with whom we co-exist and inter-depend. We are completely unaccustomed to living within our means and survive economically on the delusion that endless exponential growth is the solution to the world's problems. Our global decision-making is driven by authoritarian leadership of a tribal nature, in which populism is rife and Western society is a WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic) minority aberration (Henrich 2020), to the global rule.

 

Closing the Circle: Doughnut Economies

 

A revolutionary female-inspired economic antidote to the paradigm of the GDP and exponentiating growth imperatives, comes from Kate Raworth (2012), in her discussion paper "A safe and just space for humanity" , forming an interactive template for regenerating a fair, sustainable social dynamics in the closing circle of the natural planetary ecosystem and environment, originally prepared under the auspices of Oxfam in the run-up to Rio+20. This is built on "A safe operating space for humanity" in which Johan Rockström et al. (2009) propose numerical boundaries for seven parameters: climate change, ozone depletion, ocean acidification, biodiversity, freshwater use, the global nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, and change in land use. The authors argue that we must stay within all of these boundaries in order to avoid catastrophic environmental change.

 

Fig 31: (Left) Beyond the boundary: The inner green shading represents the proposed safe operating space for nine planetary systems. The red wedges represent an estimate of the current position for each variable. The boundaries in three systems (rate of biodiversity loss, climate change and human interference with the nitrogen cycle), have already been exceeded. (Right) The Doughnut Economics model forming a closing circle balancing the outer limits of the sustainable biosphere with the inner shortfalls of human society spanning health, education, energy, food gender equality and social equity.

 

In Kate Raworth’s words [74]:

 

The goal of the doughnut is to meet the needs of all people within the means of the planet. Sometimes when I present the idea of Doughnut Economics, people say. "Is this capitalism? Or is this communism? Or is it socialism?" And you think 'Really Are these the only choices we have?' The -isms of the last century? Can we not come up with some ideas of our own and create new names for them and see new patterns?

 

Governments in every country are almost addicted to citing GDP figures as if this was proof of success and yet it's so clearly not. Because we have climate breakdown and Covid lockdown and financial meltdown, we have to pursue something far richer to move from this pursuit of endless growth, which we can now see is hitting us with crisis after crisis, moving too a goal of thriving. And the doughnut is possible to turn not into a single number, but into a dashboard. We can hold policy makers to account and say every year you need to talk about how you are making progress on these different dimensions of the Doughnut.

 

The outside of the doughnut is created by leading Earth system scientists just a decade ago. These are the nine life-supporting systems of planet Earth. To have a stable climate, healthy oceans, recharging fresh water. And they drew these and called them the planetary boundaries.  But I thought if we go to the centre of the circle where we use hardly any of the Earth's resources, that's not thriving, that is actually death and destitution for billions of people. We need to convert Earth's lands for food, for water, for housing for energy. So I drew this inner circle and so just as there is an outer limit of humanity's pressure on the planet so too there must be an inner limit. o the hold in the middle is a place where people are left falling short on the essentials of life. It's where people don't have the food, water, energy, healthcare, housing, education, political voice that every person has a claim to meeting. We want to leave nobody in this hole. Get everybody into the green ring of the Doughnut itself.

 

And I think smart policy makers realised that they don't need a solution to financial crisis and a different one to climate crisis and a different one to health emergencies. They need a paradigm that no longer pushes for endless growth, but instead focuses on thriving, on resilience and on well-being within communities.

 

We began with downscaling in rich cities, in high-income nations because they are the ones that have the greatest obligation to transform, to come back within the planetary boundaries. But I believe the framework that we've created can absolutely be adapted and used in low income countries and cities.

 

Since 2012, there have been initiatives to downscale the Doughnut Economy, so it can apply to individual countries and cities, starting with developed economies where there is an impending need to face these realities, with projects in Amsterdam and “Regenerate Costa Rica” and the spinoff DASH project where researchers have applied the Doughnut to the needs of 150 countries.

 

In short: (1) Give half the Earth back to re-wilding the wilderness, so there is enough species diversity for the biosphere to evolve. (2) Transition immediately to renewable energy. (3) Decentralise the food supply chains to protect humanity.      (4) Ensure the genetic diversity of our food and medicinal species. (5) Eliminate nukes and consider how best to avoid a massive asteroid Earth strike and protection from a nearby supernova. (6) Teach people how to live in symbiotic urban culture. (7) Use technology for the benefit of life as a whole, not for humanity alone, or an artificial intelligence takeover (Werthner 2022). (8) Celebrate the perennial wonder of existence throughout our generations forever Amen.

 

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the 'Universe,a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself,

his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion

to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty” (Einstein)

 

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology is written to fully sacralise nature and the diversity of life as the supreme spiritual meaning of existence, in a universe whose climax is conscious life immortal unfolding in ever deepening illumination.

 

Karen Armstrong (2022) in “Sacred Nature” notes the urgency of this reflecting Kate Raworth's statement above:

 

Today that link between nature and humanity has become even more poignant, as we consider the damage we have inflicted on our environment. We cannot delight in nature any more without knowing that we face the urgent task of saving it from human destruction. 

 

In the dynamic of concentric circles, of “The Great Learning” (Bloom 1999), the extension of each circle signifies a moment when we are compelled to transcend ourselves and our obsession with “me” and “mine.” The Chinese rituals of family life were painstakingly contrived to make this expansion of sympathy habitual. But to that we should add a new circle, which transcends our focus on humanity. When finally we realise that our very existence depends upon nature, it will be time to surrender our anthropocentrism and include the entire cosmos in our ultimate concern. The Confucian scholar Tu Weiming (1998) argues that we must go beyond the secular humanism that formed the anthropocentric ethos of the Enlightenment. We should develop an anthropocosmic mentality that unites the individual with the community and preserves the harmony between the human species and the non-human world.

 

 

Psychedelics and World Reflowering

 

This is the reason Symbiotic Existential Cosmology was written and why psychedelics have a key role in saving humanity from an apocalyptic extinction, or a slow decline back to an oblivion of dark ages from which culture cannot recover.

 

Fig 30g: Arbol de Ruben

 

The nascent reality connecting psychedelics and the Fermi paradox is that evolution climaxing to the emergence of a dominant cultural species like Homo, involves a narrowing of the experiential filters of conscious experience in the brain to promote species dominance, which then becomes a critical flaw, in a breakdown of coexistence into predatory exploitation, precipitating a mass extinction of the diversity of life through habitat destruction and the depletion of resources, in a non-renewable energy consumption and population burst, causing severe climatic change and disrupting planetary habitats on a global scale. This is the Fermi apocalypse catastrophe we are witnessing. 

 

The natural antidote to the destructive Fermi apocalypse is that the kind of climax driven by a dominant cultural species also occurs at peak biodiversity, after a long period of fecund prosperity, in our case since the Tertiary-Cretaceous extinction, and this results in a ‘salting’ of the biosphere with biomolecules which can modulate the neuronal activity of a dominant species in such a way as to carry its conscious neurodynamics closer to the climax edge of experiential chaos than its own evolutionary species selection became adapted for, thus opening the mind of humanity to the totality of existence that lies at the source of all spiritual experience of transcendence but in a way that is fully entangled with the diversity of life as a biospheric sacrament. This is then a way the fullness of evolutionary climax comes to reestablish the symbiotic biosphere, because changing the consciousness of the dominant species liberates it from its evolutionary constraints. Because any dominant cultural species seeks to understand what the hell it is doing in the universe, this becomes a catalyst for its own self-discovery.

 

Fig 31c: (Top) DMT-bearing plants are widespread. Phalaris arudinacia, Psychotria viridis and Acacia phlebophylla. (Bottom) Mescalin-bearing cacti Lophophora williamsii and Trichocereus pachanoi have no close taxonomic relationship nor overlapping locale, suggesting a similar defence to insect predation.

 

This is not a magic process of divine psychedelic intervention. Of the three classic psychedelics, dimethyl-tryptamine (DMT) and its related compounds such as 5MeO-DMT are widespread across species. DMT is an endogenous compound found in both animals (Saavedra and Axelrod, 1972; Christian et al., 1977) and a wide variety of plants around the globe spanning both moncot grasses and dicot lowering plants. Major plant genera containing DMT include Phalaris, Delosperma, Acacia, Desmodium, Mimosa, Virola, and Psychotria. It has even been proposed that it plays an endogenous role neurologically in human beings. Phalaris grass species for example are known to contain the alkaloids DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, and 5-OH-DMT (bufotenin), which also occurs in toads, but also toxic gramine.

 

The occurrence of mescaline is less widespread, confined to two unrelated cactus genera, the peyote cactus Lophophora williamsii and several Trichocereus species, including T. pachanoi, the  San Pedro cactus. This suggests that mescaline and the wider variety of bitter alkaloids in peyote have arisen through a response to insect predation.

 

The status of psilocin appears to be similar to mescaline and is even more intriguing. The incidence of psilocin activity is not taxonomic with the evolutionary tree, but is scattered across diverse genera of Agricales. The active species share both dung and a rotting wood habits and do not have a mycorrhizal symbiotic relationship with plant roots, as related non-active species do, indicating their activity is an adaptive  response to competition with insect varieties which also exploit these habitats. Reynolds et al. (2018) have established that a complex of five genes appears to have been horizontally transferred together from the wood decomposing species to the dung species. The phylogenies of PS genes suggest they originally served roles in the wood-decay niche among fungi, and more recently emerged through both vertical and horizontal transfer in dung-decay fungi, possibly in association with the rise of grasslands and megafauna in the Eocene at 50 mya. . Horizontal transfer and retention of PS clusters are evidence of selection on the PS pathway in the recipient lineage. This suggests that the genes form a complex that can be transferred together by a transposable element which confers resistance to predation. The lead author Jason  Slot notes: ”The psilocybin probably doesn't just poison predators or taste bad. These mushrooms are altering the insects' 'mind' – if they have minds – to meet their own needs.” Serotonin shares  psychodynamic survival function across all Bilateria, spanning arthropods and vertebrates, so it has been suggested that their role has been to deter insect consumption, possibly via a non-lethal psychoactive appetite suppressant based on the known olfactory role of 5HT2a receptors in fruit flies (Huser et al. 2017, Tierney 2018, Vleugels et al. 2015), although the spread of P. cubensis is also associated with Brahman cattle.

 


Fig 31d: Analysis of horizontal transfer of psilocin synthesis genes between fungi.

 

But this explanation reveals the other good half of the Fermi paradox. A dominant species which discovers its psychic species and learns to use their paradoxically disturbing properties, and begins to protect and even cherish its biosphere as sacred and integral to the evolving cosmic “design”, for the lack of a better word, and thus, instead of proudly announcing its dominant existence to all comers, or failing one of the many triple witching hours of its own cultural, political, economic and environmental instabilities, instead settles into discovering the abyss of its own conscious experience as a convergent symbiosis with the conscious universe as a whole.

 

This is what I term cosmological symbiosis, thereby settling into a much more cerebral perennially immortal existence, complemented by the use of renewable technology and adroit strategies to protect the biosphere from astronomical crises, such as massive impacts and nearby supernovae, by careful use of its solar system habitats to avoid putting all its eggs in one basket and to remain concealed in the universe at large, to avoid predatory exploitation from without. This is Fermi paradise on the cosmic equator in space-time.

 

Critical to addressing our existential threats to survival is the ability of subjective conscious volition to have efficacy over the physical universe. The history of neuroscience and consciousness research has been plagued by the notion of epiphenomenalism, in which the conscious mind is given the "ghost in the machine" status of an internal model of reality constructed by the physical brain, while subjective conscious volition over the physical universe is disregarded entirely as an impossible option to accept, because of the devotion of physical science to purely mechanistic principles, particularly  those expressed in physical behaviour.  This is why Symbiotic Existential Cosmology has a core empirical principle that subjective consciousness has efficacy of volition over the physical universe, which we can each affirm at once through simple physical affirmation, as is central in the law on both criminal and corporate intent..

 

The failure to accept this foundation feeds into our entire existential dilemma, because we then accept the abandonment of personal responsibility for our fates in all the existential threats facing our species. We have drifted into accepting the notion of nuclear deterrence, as tacit acceptance of the necessity for ever refined and more automated forms of nuclear weapons, when this just perpetuates humanity's genocidal tendencies, as the Mayor of Hiroshima lamented after the G7 summit. We accept climate crisis as a fact of economic existence, whatever the ultimate costs to the diversity of life, and human welfare and futures. We are ruthlessly exploiting all the wild habitats of the planet, leaving no room for life as a whole to flourish. We are now in the process of reinventing ourselves as biological forms of artificial intelligence, reducing our intentionality and creative insights to mere computational processes, and homeostatic mechanisms. All this is leaning towards Fermi extinction by cultural instability. That is why I am acting to heal the apocalypse of life and doing it now.

 

Self-mechanisation constitutes a complete abandonment of our essential being, and our sense of personal responsibility for our fates, both because existential issues seem too huge and all-embracing to address, but also because we have abandoned our very notion of being intentional beings able to alter our destiny for the future of life as a whole, in the pursuit of a degenerate mechanistic identity. At the centre of the cyclone is not consciousness, but the ability of subjective consciousness to change the physical world around us, through conscious volition, as clearly expressed in our intentional physical behaviour, so that we and our offspring and all the sentient living creatures we are surrounded by, can continue our struggle for illumination and transcendence together. Pure materialism seeks to deny subjective conscious autonomy as a key way to prove the rule of mechanism, by deconstructing volition as brain based purely physical neural outputs, when consciousness itself is too elusive to attack. This is root misadventure.

 

Over the last few weeks Christine and I have spent a lot of time watching David Attenborough narrating the last few years of his documentary programs and what was utterly striking was the unrelenting conscious volitional will and sheer determination of seemingly dumb animals, and the plants and fungi, to struggle, not just for their own survival, but the flowering of life in each species, caring with utter resourcefulness for their offspring and for the evolving future of life, through the web of their interactions, as plant and fungal producers, herbivores, and carnivores, amid the tooth and claw of predators and prey, and parasites and hosts, to form the climax network of living diversity.

 

What is gobsmacking – outstanding in its sheer intensity, is that all these supposedly dumb organisms are intentionally creating and perpetuating life around us under extreme stresses of near starvation, food searches over hundreds of kilometres for their young, new born offspring having to depart without food, to fly or swim in one stretch, half-way across the planet to seasonal feeding grounds with mothers struggling to avoid all their offspring being consumed by predators along the way. All these species have the will to live and to perpetuate life as a sine qua non, except we ourselves, who can't even accept we have any ability to do so because our mechanistically computational physical brains made us do it! Hence it is key to know that subjective conscious volition has efficacy over the physical universe.

 

I summoned this “gnosis”, without fear or favour, when I made my millennial vigil  to the Amazon and Jerusalem. I knew the odds and knew I was on the side of life against monotheistic doctrine, of dominion over nature and woman alike, as a catcher in the rye, passing right through the monotheistic throng, carrying the entheogenic sacramental holy grail of the Western religious tradition in my blood. I knew I was facing three major world religions with vested interests and violent tendencies. I didn't try to confront or argue fine points of law, and sought simply to to find common ground with liberal rabbis of both sexes, and perform a quick passage, as Jesus did, after preaching in the synagogue at Nazareth and passing cleanly through the crowds seeking to throw him off the cliffs for blasphemy. So I held simple rites of passage – to unfold the promised epoch of the Tree of Life, throw open the Gates of Mercy and celebrate the Hieros Gamos of woman and man, in the Song of Songs, fulfilled in my subsequent pilgrimage to pay my respects to Kali in Varanasi, completing my academic sabbatical. These are the three core principles of natural redemption that heal the apocalyptic tradition in a true unveiling of the immortal abundance of life.

 

Crisis and Resplendence

Communique on Preserving the Diversity of Life on Earth for our Survival as a Species

Affirmations: How to Reflower the Diversity of Life for our own Survival

 


William Blake – The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

 

5 Psychedelics in the Brain and Mind

 

While the brain is an electro-chemical organ, whose excitations are pulses and waves of electrical excitation, communication between neurons is predominantly chemical, via synaptic bulbs which release neurotransmitter molecules that bind to receptor proteins in the membrane of the target neuron that are either ionotropic and open ion channels, causing an electrical voltage, or metabotropic, activating proteins which alter the way the target neuron behaves.

 

There is widespread agreement that all neurotransmitters, like dopamine, can act as neuromodulators under certain conditions. Which role a molecule is playing in given circumstances tends to be defined by its function and activity. In general, neurotransmitters are released from one neuron into the synaptic space that connects it to another neuron; within milliseconds, they cause the gates of ionotropic receptor proteins to open and allow ions and other charged molecules to flood into a neuron, changing its internal voltage. Once the voltage passes a threshold value, the neuron fires an electrical signal to other neurons.

 

In contrast, neuromodulators are often released en masse at sites all over the cortex to seep through brain fluid and reach many more neurons. Binding to metabotropic receptors, whose protein cascades can affect both the nucleus and modulate neighbouring receptors, they act over seconds and minutes to make it more or less likely that the neuron will fire an electrical signal. They can alter the strength of connections between neurons, turn up the “volume” of certain neurons compared to others, and even affect which genes get turned on or off. These changes happen to individual neurons, but when a whole network is blanketed with neuromodulator molecules landing on the receptors of thousands or millions of neurons, due to major ascending pathways such as those of serotonin, nor-epinephrine, dopamine and acetyl-choline the molecules can “wash” into the intercellular fluid creating neurosystem-wide effects which influence every neural function, from sleep-wake cycles to attention and learning.

 

Fig 32: Left: Serotonin 5HT2a receptors are widely distributed across the cortex (Stein 2007). Centre: Ascending serotonin and nor-epinephrine pathways from basal brain centres fan out across layers of the cortex, modulating modes of sleep, wakefulness, mood, vigilance and drive. Right: 5HT2a receptors line pyramidal cells traversing the cortical layers.

 

Eve Marder, recognised for her pioneering studies on neuromodulators notes: By washing through the brain, neuromodulators allow you to govern the excitability of a large region of the brain more or less in the same way or at the same time. You’re basically creating either a local brain wash or more extended brain wash that is changing the state of a lot of networks simultaneously.

 

 

The primary excitatory neurotransmitter is the amino acid glutamate and the primary inhibitory one is gamma-amino-butyric acid or GABA, modulated by alcohol and sedatives. Their mutual interaction generates waves of excitation and inhibition identified with brain activity in the electroencephalogram.

 

Fig 33: Metabotropic and ionotropic actions of

neurotransmission and neuromodulation.

 

Other neurotransmitter molecules including serotonin (5-hydroxy-tryptamine derived from the amino acid tryptophan), nor-epinephrine and dopamine (derived from tyrosine) have a modal modulating effect on brain activity mostly through slower-acting metabotropic receptors. Serotonin and nor-epinephrine pathways regulate modes of organismic behaviour, including sleep and mood in serotonin, vigilance in nor-epinephrine, and reward seeking in dopamine. The level of neurotransmitters in the synaptic junction is also regulated by transporter proteins which mop up unused neurotransmitters after the event, to avoid the brain being flooded with effects that are now over.

 

Each of the classical neurotransmitters have both ionotropic and metabotropic receptors as targets with the exception of mono-amines, where only the serotonin 5HT3 receptor is ionotropic and differs structurally and functionally from all other metabotropic receptors which are hepta-helical G-protein-linked and all have a common evolutionary tree universal to life, fig 115.  Postsynaptic 5-HT3 receptors mediate fast excitatory synaptic transmission in neocortical interneurons, amygdala, and hippocampus. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors are ionotropic. At the neuromuscular junction they are the primary receptor in muscle controlling muscular contraction.  Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors are metabotroic and modulate alertness. Glutamate has both ionotropic NMDA and AMPA receptors and metabotropic mGLu receptors. GABA A recptors are ionotropic while B are metabotropic. The 5-HT3, nicotinic and GABA A receptors all consist of five subunits arranged around a central ion conducting pore.

 

The term “psychedelic” has been eloquently (and compellingly) defined by Grinspoon and Bakalar (1979) to indicate “A drug which, without causing physical addiction, craving, major physiological disturbances, delirium, disorientation, or amnesia, more or less reliably produces thought, mood, and perceptual changes otherwise rarely experienced except in dreams, contemplative and religious exaltation, flashes of vivid involuntary memory, and acute psychosis.” The classic psychedelics, including psilocin, mescalin, dimethyl-tryptamine and LSD all have a common action on serotonin receptors in the brain. By interrupting psychedelic action with an inhibitor, Franz Vollenweider et al. (1998) established that the principal action of psychedelics was at the serotonin 2HT2a receptor, widely distributed in the cortex, fig 34(a), and densely expressed in layer 5 pyramidal neurons. Their detailed interaction with the spectrum of brain receptors can be seen in fig 34(h) and the close relationship between psilocin (4-hydroxy-dimethyl-tryptamine) and serotonin (5-hydroxy tryptamine) in fig 34(l).

 

Serotonin has multiple modal behavioural roles in the brain as a regulator of sleep and mood. The class of anti-depressants called  SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, increase the levels of serotonin by inhibiting its reuptake by transporter proteins. Entactogens such as MDMA, or ecstasy, go further and reverse the transporter, so as to dump an acute dose of serotonin, leading to the entactogenic high, accompanied by pleasurable and affectionate interpersonal contact. Both these agents can subsequently lead to serotonin depletion, the “Tuesday blues” or longer term withdrawal effects in antidepressants, but neither induce the psychedelic state. By contrast psychedelics have little physical dependence potential, because the acute effects rapidly wane if they are repeatedly dosed, until after a refractory period of days.

 

Fig 33b: Full psychedeic agonist psychedelic 25CN-NBOH — 5HT2a coupling
involving differential G q and -arrestin engagement (Kim et al. 2020).

 

Outlines of an understanding of how psychedelics act have required protracted investigation and are still under exploration. Psychedelics are agonists that turn on serotonin receptors, rather than blocking their action, just as is serotonin itself, but the way psychedelics do this seems to involve a distinct protein cascade. As shown in fig 34(b), while all serotonin agonists active the protein c-fos, psychedelics also active the developmental protein early growth response 2 or  egr-2. Fig 34(c) shows this is confirmed in vivo in mice. There has also been found from multiple researchers to be interactions between 5HT2a and metabotropic glutamate MgluR2 receptors, fig 34(d) involving psychedelics, which may explain how psychedelics, in addition to causing a standard serotonergic effect, also have the bizarre sensory and existential effects they are renowned for, by modulating excitatory glutamate activity. Kim et al. (2020) have further explored the relation between psychedelics and the G q subunit of the heterotrimeric G-protein responsible for psychedelic activation and its deactivation by -arrestin.

 

When we come to studying the effects on the brain in electrical and metabolic brain studies, the results are complex. There are two principal ways of studying brain activity, one is to place electrodes, or superconducting magnets on the scalp and record the electrical activity in electro- and magneto-encephalograms (EEG and MEG) and the other is to use metabolic measures using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), or positron emission tomography (PET) requiring a radio-active tracer. fMRI BOLD uses blood oxygen level dependent imaging and PET can sample for glucose.

Fig 34: (a) Left healthy person's excitatory 5HT2a receptors are widespread across the cortex. Mentally "at-risk" patient right shows lower activation (Hurlemann et al 2008). (b) In vitro and (c) in vivo investigation of protein activations caused by 5HT2a has shown a consistent differential activation of egr-2 (early growth response 2) transcription factor in psychedelics, as opposed to universal activation of c-fos (Nichols & Sanders-Bush 2002, González-Maeso & Sealfon 2003, González-Maeso et al 2007). (d) Serotonin agonism also appears to be linked to a pairing of 5HT2a with an adjacent glutamate mGluR2 metabotropic (G-protein-linked) receptor where egr-2 is blocked by an mGluR2 agonist (Bockaert et al, Fribourg et al, Kondo & Sawa, Uslaner et al, Gewirtz & Marek, Delille et al). (e) Persistence homological scaffolds for placebo (left) and psilocybin (right) showing greater inter-connective persistence (Petri et al). (f) PET study of 15-20 mg psilocybin taken orally over a 48 minute period 90 minutes after consumption, which shows frontal activation by comparison with a resting state (Vollenweider et al 1997).  (g) Reduction in amygdala activity in patients with treatment-resistant depression. Stabilisation of the DMN also occurred. Half of patients ceased to be depressed and experienced changes in their brain activity that lasted about five weeks (Carhart-Harris R et al. 2017). (h) Heat map of normalised receptor interactions (Ray 2010). Activity dark blue=0 to red=4 (orange for 2a and 2c, black no data). (i) LSD increases global functional connectivity of higher-level integrative cortical and sub-cortical regions (Tagliazucchi et al. 2016). (j) A recording during the 12 minutes after intravenous administration of psilocybin 2mg (~15 mg orally), which shows reduced activity in medial frontal cortex  (mPFC), posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and other areas (Carhart-Harris et al 2012a, Lee & Roth). (k) PET study of 5HT2a sites where psilocybin acts, with red and yellow having highest density (Hasler & Quednow).  (l) Comparative electric fields of serotonin and psilocin. (m) Increases in activity associated with autobiographical memories on psilocybin. (n) Greater late phase activations during autobiographical recollection under psilocybin than placebo (Carhart-Harris et al. 2012b). (o) Changes in fMRI whole cerebral blood flow (CBF) on LSD, resting state functional connectivity (RSFC) increased between V1 and a large number of cortical and subcortical brain regions, but decreased between the parahippocampal  (PH) and the retrosplenial cortex (RSC) and PCC, although increased between the PH and dorsal mPFC and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (Carhart-Harris et al  2016a). (p) Reductions in alpha (8-15 Hz) and delta (1-4 Hz) MEG power with ego-dissolution on LSD attributed to cortical desynchronisation (Ibid). (q) Corresponding decreases in MEG for psilocybin (Muthukumaraswamy et al. 2013). (r) Source localisation of one of several networks with reduced power, again associated with desynchronisation (Ibid). (s) fMRI BOLD Variance time courses into the four regions of peak statistical significance for psilocybin and placebo. (t) Statistical significance for decreased low frequency power (LFP) and power spectrum scaling exponent α after psilocybin infusion. Statistical significance of increased power point rate (PPR) and decreased point process interval (PPI) after psilocybin infusion (Tagliazucchi et al. 2014). (u) Distinct receptor phosphorylation barcodes in psychedelics. (Vandermoere & Marin 2014). (v) Increased functional connectivity after psilocybin between the DMN and (i) r-fronto-parietal, (ii) DAN dorsal attention network, (iii) SAL salience network, (iv) TPN task positive network, (v) thalamus to TPN (Carhart-Harris et al. 2013), consistent with the “unconstrained mind” (Lifshitz et al. 2018).

 

While one might expect that something causing visions, or even hallucinations, might result in enhanced brain excitation, some aspects of the psychedelic state, such as ego loss might also arise from a reduction in activity. Early scans of subjects on psilocybin, fig 34(f) indeed showed increases, as has a later study on LSD when the visual areas are examined, fig 34(o), but the scientific community was surprised when a team led by Robin Carhart-Harris and David Nutt, fig 34(j), found that there was a significant and unexpected reduction in activity. At the time, Franz Vollenweider commented: “We have completed a number of similar studies and we always saw an activation of these same areas. We gave the drug orally and waited an hour, but they administered it intravenously just before the scans, so one explanation is that the effects were not that strong.”  Carhart-Harris et al. injected psilocybin and waited only a short period before the scans began. Psilocybin is a pro-drug, which is converted to psilocin, the active ingredient. The former is converted to the latter both by stomach acids and in the liver by alkaline phosphatase (Dinis-Oliveira 2017).

 

 

 Fig 35: LEFT (Above) MEG complexity measures are greater for waking consciousness than sedative-induced anaesthesia, but greater still for psychedelics. Increased complexity and correlations of measures. For all three there is reliably higher spontaneous signal diversity, than placebo even when controlling for spectral changes (Schartner et al. 2017).  Below left: Structural-functional similarity calculated as the Spearman correlation between vectorised structural and functional connectivity matrices. Below right: Brain networks of significant functional connectivity differences (r values) between placebo and LSD. LSD makes globally segregated brain sub-states more complex and more decoupled from structural constraints, as well as reducing functional connectivity of the anterior medial PFC, which is thought to subserve processes of reality monitoring (Luppi et al. 2021). RIGHT: Upper Left: Simulation of Lempel-Ziv complexity against Lyapunov exponent measured for a deterministic system. Lower left: The same measure in terms of the experimental K-statistic . Right: LSD, propofol anaesthesia and seizures normalised to the conscious state show that LSD enhances complexity, and brings the conscious brain state closer to criticality (Toker et al. 2022).

 

However Robin Carhart-Harris subsequently associated these results with a reduction in the activity of the default mode network (DFM). This was discovered a few years earlier from a pattern of apparent reductions in activity in certain areas during specific tasks that showed up as increased activity when resting (Raichle et al. 2001, Raichle & Snyder 2007). The DFM is thought to have a  critical survival role in formulating responses to actual or incipient crises, making active use of the brain during down times from activity to be better prepared. In fact there are many resting state networks and the fundamental idea is that the brain has two complementary modes of activity which can occur together, a passive role responding to incoming environmental or sensory priorities and an active role generating activity beneficial to the organism’s survival, with both of these processes superimposing during activities, so one or the other appears more prominent. Areas noted in these studies as having reductions were the medial frontal cortex  (mPFC), posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), parahippocampal  (PH) and the retrosplenial cortex (RSC). The PCC in particular is characterised in measuring how much you are “caught up” in your feelings and responses, as opposed to just having them. Carhart-Harris et al. (2013) also investigated (v) the connection between the DMN and other networks such as the saliency (SAL) and dorsal attention (DAN) networks and found psilocybin increased functional connectivity between several areas which normally have orthogonal non-interactive relationships confirming the increased functional connectivity of diverse regions under psychedelics.

 

Carhart-Harris cites the results as evidence of a reduction in default mode network activity consistent with silencing the internal dialogue and ego loss (Pollen 2018). A second researcher Justin Brewer has also found a similar reduction in people meditating (Brewer et al. 2011). This has led to the idea that stopping the internal dialogue of the default mode can result in ego dissolution, because the distinctions between self and other become blurred and the role of the ego as the strategic basis of the default mode network means that silencing it could induce a state of union, in which self and universe become one. Functional imaging has linked the precuneus, an integral component of the default mode network to the processes involved in self-consciousness, such as reflective self-awareness, that involve rating one's own personality traits compared to those judged of other people (Cavanna & Trimble 2006). This thesis supports the notion that both psychedelics and meditation can induce states of ego loss, but the effects of psychedelics are very profound and striking and experientially different from a meditative state of controlled repose, so quietening the resting state networks is a necessary gateway to both, but is not sufficient to explain the vast experiential territory of the psychedelic conscious state.

 

Carhart-Harris, Fortier, & Millière (2017) note the collapse of duality: The DMN is usually associated with mind-wandering, self-reflection and introspection while the Task Positive Network (TPN) is associated with the orientation of the mind towards the external world. Elaborating on this distinction, you notice that these two networks are anti-correlated in order to guarantee the functionally important distinction between the internal world and the external one. Now, with your colleagues, you have shown that the DMN/TPN anti-correlation is significantly decreased after psilocybin intake. You have proposed that the diminution of the orthogonality between the DMN and the TPN was a very plausible explanation as to why psychedelic experiences are characterized by a "collapse of dualities" and by the "disturbance in one's sense of self, and particularly one's sense of existing apart from one's environment" (Carhart-Harris et al., 2014, 16).

 

Millière R et al. (2018) express it this way: “even forms of putative totalself-loss involving the radical disruption of both narrative and multisensory aspects of self-consciousness are best thought of as a family of states which can differ from a phenomenological perspective with respect to variables that are not directly related to self-consciousness. Indeed, strong forms of drug-induced ego dissolution may involve a very vivid and rich sensory phenomenology, perhaps as a result of decreased sensory gating, while available evidence on some selflessstates induced by meditation suggests that their phenomenal content is very sparse (e.g., in states of so-called pure consciousnessachieved in Samadhi practice).

 

Carhart-Harris also compared the degree of reduction with subjects’ personal reports of the experience during the session and found that the reduction was greater in subjects who reported evidence of ego or subject-world dissolution such as “I existed only as an idea, or concept”, or “I didn't know where I ended and my surroundings began”, suggesting the effect is genuine. The result is also consistent with heightened activity in other brain areas, particularly those involved in the subjective effects of visions and synesthesia [30], which would tend to affect sensory areas rather than associative or frontal areas.

 

Subsequent studies, both on psilocybin and LSD using MEG fig 34(p, q), give further insights into this situation. The psilocybin study was again by injection but the listed subjective responses showed marked effect differences between subject and placebo, indicative of the psychedelic state. In both studies there was found to be a reduction in oscillatory power, which in the LSD study was strongly associated with ego loss.

 


Fig 36: Subjective responses within 15 mins of exiting the scanner (
Muthukumaraswamy et al.2013).
Right: Increased global integration in the brain after psilocybin therapy for depression, but not for escitalopram (Daws 2022).

 

This reduction in overall power is consistent with increased desynchronisation in the signals, as in wave superposition of decoherent signals, which rise and fall at different instants are more likely to cancel one another, resulting in lower net oscillatory power.  This is consistent with diverse interacting signals arising from the stimulatory effects of the psychedelic on usually less associated areas, resulting in more information arising to the conscious level which would normally be filtered out, disrupting the usual flow of attention identifying and streamlining the ordered thought process. The psilocybin study also attempted to identify the source localisation of the resting state networks using independent component analysis (ICA) which determined up to seven, rather than just one, as illustrated in fig 34(r).

 

Evidence corroborating this interpretation came from a further ingenious experiment from another team led by Carhart-Harris, to analyse “homological scaffolds” of brain activity under psychedelics.  Fig 34(e) shows the result, in which there is a far richer network of homological scaffolds in play under psilocybin (right) with the “doors of perception” thrown open than in the normal mental state (left). This technique takes filtered correlations between the time series of the fMRI voxels, forms linkage graphs between each correlated series and then applies algebraic topology using the cliques of three or more to determine and weight the connections. Their evolution over time is also used to show that, while most of the population of psychedelic scaffolds have shorter duration than the fewer number in the placebo state, some psychedelic ones last significantly longer. This is also supported fig 34(s, t), by increased fMRI variance in the hippocampus and anterior cingulate and changes in power spectrum and other measures (Tagliazucchi et al. 2014). A further study (Lord et al. 2019) has explored recurrent BOLD phase-locking patterns (PL states). A similar result 5(i) shows LSD increases global functional connectivity of higher-level integrative cortical and sub-cortical regions (Tagliazucchi et al. 2016).

 

McNamara (2022) notes how psychedelics may alter the balance between intra and interconnectivity to induce mystical experiences:

 

Tagliazucchi et al. (2016) utilized fMRI to investigate global and local brain connectivity changes from the resting state following intravenous injection of LSD versus placebo to fifteen healthy volunteers. They found that the DMN, salience and FPN or fronto-parietal executive function network and the thalamus showed increased global connectivity under the drug but decreased within-network integrity. The increase in global connectivity observed under LSD correlated with subjective reports of ego dissolution. The authors suggested that increased cross talk between DMN, salience and FPN, when these individual networks are not functioning normally, could blur boundaries between self and world in such a way as to lead to ego dissolution and mystical experiences.

 


Fig 36b: (1) The principal cortical gradient of the transmodal association cortex pole (or
“TOP”) of the human brain, expressed in a variety of measures, forming a hierarchical gradient down to primary sensory areas (Huntenburg et al. 2018). (2) Vatansever et al. (2017) used task-based fMRI to illustrate how the default mode network (DMN) and the fronto-parietal network (FPN), work collectively in cognition to guide complex behaviour. These demonstrate that the FPN is active after a rule change — the acquisition phase”—suggesting its involvement in encoding the contingencies upon which the decision is based. Later, the application phase” — when the individual understands the rule, activity within the FPN is reduced, and activity within the DMN increases (Margulies & Smallwood 2017). (3) Vidaurre et al. (2017) show that ongoing states are hierarchically organised, forming temporal groupings referred to as “metastates.” These reflect a dissociation between states anchored by regions of the cortex concerned with constrained neural processing (such as the sensorimotor systems), from those anchored by transmodal regions of the cortex. Spending time in states anchored in transmodal cortex, including those dominated by the DMN, predict better executive control and higher intelligence. (4) Subregions of the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) within the white ellipse) and how each is functionally connected with (echoes) different whole brain intrinsic connectivity networks (shown by colour) (Braga & Leech 2015). The motor cortex has similar subdivisions sampling sensory and cognitive data (Gordon et al. 2023). (5) Timmermann et al. (2023) show increased global functional connectivity (GFC) under DMT, with corresponding decreased resting state between-network segregation in FPN, DMN, salience (SAL) and limbic (LIM). (6) Timmermann et al. (2023) show a compressed principal gradient under DMT consistent with dysregulation of the separation between abstract associate areas and sensory processing.

 

In a 2023 study to explore the changes induced by the psychedelic DMT on fundamental neurodynamic networks, including the default mode (DMN) and fronto-parietal (FPN), a them led by Robin Carhart-Harris has performed the first experiment combining combining concurrent fMRI and EEG investigations. 5MeO-DMT has similar short-acting effects with a stronger emphasis on ego annihilation rather than visual effects, possibly to do with its enhanced 5HT1a receptor activity over 5HT2a (Reckweg et al. 2022) encapsulated in "god-molecule" as opposed to "spirit molecule".

 

At dosages consistent with the study, they note:

 

DMT, induces a deeply immersive and radically altered state of consciousness. DMT is thus a useful research tool for probing the neural correlates of conscious experience. Here, fMRI results revealed robust increases in global functional connectivity (GFC), network disintegration and desegregation, and a compression of the principal cortical gradient under DMT. The present findings advance on previous work by confirming a predominant action of DMT and likely other 5-HT2AR agonist psychedelics on the brains transmodal association pole, i.e., the neurodevelopmentally and evolutionarily recent cortex that is associated with species-specific psychological advancements, and high expression of 5-HT2A receptors.

 

The transmodal association cortex pole (or “TOP”) of the human brain sits at the upper end of a hierarchical gradient of cortical organisation, while unimodal sensory areas sit at the lower end. The TOP is linked to abstract semantic representations, longer temporal windows of information processing, and is relatively more detached from sensory input, while also appearing later in primate cortical expansion and development. These findings suggest that the subjective effects of psychedelics depend on the dysregulation of the association cortices. Evidence from neuroimaging studies also suggests that this cortical dysregulation may result in the disinhibition of lower, evolutionarily and developmentally earliersystems such as the limbic system. This also throws light on aspects of the role of the DMN, not just in the resting state, or phenomena of ego loss, but in active situations, in which the FPN plays a role in cogitative planning of solutions, while the DMN takes over once these strategies are established and have become familiar. It is also consistent with the phenomena of a sensory flood, as lower level sensory and perceptual networks become more globally interactive with higher abstract networks involving our entire conception of reality.

 

 

Fig 36c: (1) Increases in spatial entropy under acute psilocybin and LSD infuence, compared with 5HT2A receptor density. Spatil entropy is a measure of activity desynchronisation and signal novelty. (2) Psilocybin massively disrupted functional connectivity (FC) in cortex and subcortex, acutely causing more than threefold greater change than methylphenidate. (3) These FC changes were driven by brain desynchronization across spatial scales (areal, global), which dissolved network distinctions by reducing correlations within and anticorrelations between networks. Psilocybin-driven FC changes were strongest in the default mode network, which is connected to the anterior hippocampus and is thought to create our sense of space, time and self. Individual differences in FC changes were strongly linked to the subjective psychedelic experience. Illustrated here in reductions in both within-network integration and between-network segregation. (4) Psilocybin-driven FC changes were strongest in the default mode network, which is connected to the anterior hippocampus and is thought to create our sense of space, time and self. Individual differences in FC changes were strongly linked to the subjective psychedelic experience. This is illustrated in the relationship between FC changes and mystical experience measured by the 30-item Mystical Experience Questionnaire, MEQ30. (5) Performing a perceptual task reduced psilocybin- driven FC changes. (6) Persistent reduction of hippocampal-default mode network connectivity may represent a neuroanatomical and mechanistic correlate of the pro-plasticity and therapeutic effects of psychedelics (Siegel et al. (2024).  

Video of acute and persistent changes

 

Siegel et al. (2024) report how they carried out a randomised control trial with seven healthy participants who agreed to take psilocybin in the name of science. It was also a requirement that they had taken a psychedelic at some point in their life, partly because they were taking a high dose, equivalent to 5g of magic mushrooms, and they were getting into a big, loud, banging, claustrophobic magnet [while] on psilocybin,said Siegel. The participants were randomly assigned either a 25mg dose of psilocybin, or a 40mg of methylphenidate the generic form of Ritalin but were kept in the dark about which they had been given. One to two weeks later the participants were given the drug they did not initially receive. They underwent MRI scans before, during, between and after being given each drug, while after six to 12 months four of the participants returned to receive another dose of psilocybin and scans. Participants made, on average, 18 MRI visits each. Siegel added while the research process was demanding We didnt have trouble finding participants. The results reveal taking psilocybin but not methylphenidate was associated with a loss of synchrony in what is known as the default mode network. This is an interconnected group of brain regions that is active when the mind is wandering and the brain isnt working on a particular task. Crucially, says Siegel, this network is involved in creating a sense of self, as well as showing links to the perception of space and time. The interpretation is that [that disruption is] what creates this very out of the ordinary experience [when taking psilocybin]”. While participantsbrain scans largely returned to normal the day after taking psilocybin, the study noted a reduction in communication between the default mode network and the anterior hippocampus a part of the brain critical for memory and perceptions of space and time lasted for three weeks after the dose. Siegel said the finding may help explain reports of an increase in flexibility in how people view themselves and their relationship to their environment after taking psilocybin. This plasticity is thought to underpin psychedelic-based interventions for conditions such as treatment-resistant depression by making the brain more open to therapy.

 

Deco et al. (2018) have in a similar vein, combined multimodal imaging (dMRI, fMRI, and PET) in a causal whole- brain model to explain the functional effects of 5-HT2a receptors with LSD in healthy humans. The model identifies the mechanisms for non-linear interactions between the neuronal and neurotransmitter systems. The model identified the causative mechanisms for the non-linear interactions between the neuronal and neurotransmitter system, which are uniquely linked to (1) the underlying anatomical connectivity, (2) the modulation by the specific brain-wide distribution of neurotransmitter receptor density, and (3) the non-linear interactions between the two.

 

Barrett et al. (2020) found that psilocybin significantly decreased both the amplitude of low frequency fluctuations as well as the variance of BOLD signal in the left and right claustrum. Psilocybin also significantly decreased functional connectivity of the right claustrum with auditory and default mode networks (DMN), increased right claustrum connectivity with the fronto-parietal task control network (FPTC), and decreased left claustrum connectivity with the FPTC. DMN integrity was associated with right-claustrum connectivity with the DMN, while FPTC integrity and modularity were associated with right claustrum and left claustrum connectivity with the FPTC, respectively. This suggests a major role for altered claustrum signalling in psilocybin's effects.

 

A theoretical idea advanced to explain salient features of the brain dynamics in psychedelic experiences is the notion of increased entropy. Carhart-Harris et al. (2014) note that “There is an emerging view in cognitive neuroscience that the brain self-organizes under normal conditions into transiently stable spatiotemporal configurations that this instability is maximal at a point where the global system is critically poised in a transition zone between order and chaos”. The paper then goes on to identify metastabilityof a brain network in terms of the variance in the networks intrinsic synchrony over time and to claim the psychedelic state has higher entropy than the normal waking mental state. While the dynamical details of this have been criticised (Papo 2016), they do serve to have conceptual explanatory power. Papo's critique incorrectly pivots on metastability and the argument is squarely refuted by Toker et al. (2022). Edge-of-chaos dynamics and transitions from chaos to order in critically poised sensitive states are essential to a dynamical model of the brain to avoid the dynamics becoming locked into sub-optimal ordered states, by using the butterfly effect and its “ergodic” ability to fully permeate the space of possibilities.

 

A second model, extending the entropy idea is that psychedelics may act to “flatten the potential energy landscape” between attracting brain states (Carhart-Harris & Friston 2019), which has received some tentative support in an LSD study (Singleton et al. 2021).  The 2019 paper notes “We call this formulation ‘relaxed beliefs under psychedelics’ (REBUS) and the anarchic brain, founded on the principle that — via their entropic effect on spontaneous cortical activity— psychedelics work to relax the precision of high-level priors or beliefs, thereby liberating bottom-up information flow, particularly via intrinsic sources such as the limbic system.” 

 

A distinction is then made between two modes of cognition, primary consciousnessa mode of thinking the mind regresses to under certain conditions, e.g., in response to severe stress, psychedelic drugs and in REM sleep”, including magical thinking, “a style of cognition in which supernatural interpretations of phenomena are made”  and secondary consciousnessthe consciousness of mature adult humans”. The article then takes the view that “the mind has evolved (via secondary consciousness upheld by the ego) to process the environment as precisely as possible by finessing its representations of the world, so that surprise and uncertainty (i.e., entropy) are minimized. It then argues “that secondary consciousness actually depends on the human brain having developed/evolved a degree of sub-criticality in its functionality, i.e., an extended ability to suppress entropy and thus organize and constrain cognition. It is argued that this entropy-suppressing function of the human brain serves to promote realism, foresight, careful reflection and an ability to recognize and overcome wishful and paranoid fantasies. Equally however, it could be seen as exerting a limiting or narrowing influence on consciousness. This leads to the conclusion that “that the underlying neurodynamics of primary states are more entropicthan secondary states i.e., primary states exhibit more pronounced characteristics of criticality and perhaps supercriticality than normal waking consciousness — implying that the latter is slightly sub-critical, if not perfectly critical.

 

Fig 37: Left: REBUS model of lowered potential energy landscapes causing increased upwelling on psychedelics. Right: CTSC model of thalamic filtering. The filter function of the thalamus, under the control of the CSTC feedback loops, is postulated to protect the cortex from exteroceptive sensory information overload, as well as from internal over-arousal. The model predicts that sensory overload of the cortex may result from thalamic gating deficits, which may be caused by ketamine e.g. by blockade of NMDA-mediated glutamatergic (Glu) cortico-striatal  neurotransmission, or excessive stimulation of 5-HT2 receptors—e.g., by psilocybin. James et al. (2022) have also applied Keppler's (2018) zero point field model of consciousness to ayahuasca and DMT.

 

This leads to a discussion of the role the default mode network is claimed to have (Gattuso J et al. 2023) maintaining the ego through the internal dialogue, leading to forms of mental illness involving the oppression of over-weaning order, such as depression, where repetitious rounds of internal dialogue occur, reinforcing a pessimistic existential outlook. It is also an ongoing feature of the fear of inevitable death that plagues human society.

 

As noted, there are some major issues with simply using entropy as a measure of criticality (Papo 2016). Highly entropic systems can be products either of chaotic criticality, or noisy randomness and entropy is itself not a measure of either complexity or criticality. That said, the general theme of balancing novelty with uncertainty is characteristic of brain dynamics, much of which has characteristics of pink, or 1/f noise displayed by edge-of-chaos dynamics, and human creations such as musical compositions, which ideally balance history and novelty.

 

A third notion is the corticostriatothalamocortical (CSTC) model which involves circuits between the cortex and the thalamus that mediate control of sensory information flow to the cortex and awareness and attention (Vollenweider and Geyer, 2001). This model highlights 5-HT2a receptor activation on circuits between the thalamus and cortex to explain the subjective effects of psychedelics (Geyer and Vollenweider, 2008). In this view, psychedelics impede sensory gating functions of the thalamus, allowing increased sensory and interoceptive information flow from thalamus to cortical regions. This reduction in sensory gating is proposed to lead to sensory overload of the cortex that results in both the observed perceptual effects and cognitive changes.

 

McNamara (2022) in discussion each of these three models notes that none provided a full explanation for the intricate all-revealing nature of psychedelic experiences:

 

The REBUS model (Carhart-Harris & Friston, 2019) largely relies on the Free Energy Principle (Friston, 2010), which claims that brains seek to reduce uncertainty and do this largely via simulation of expected states or processes. As discussed in previous chapters of this book these simulations of expected events occur at all levels of the neural hierarchy with the topmost node in the hierarchy, the PFC, presumably playing a crucial role in enabling these predictive simulations and processing error messages when simulations do not match up with what actually occurs. The REBUS theory proposes psychedelics disrupt these predictive simulations and error processing essentially by down regulating prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex “top-down” control of the DMN and by disrupting intrinsic DMN circuits themselves. The precision weighting of prior beliefs is disrupted thus allowing prior expectancies and beliefs to undergo reevaluation. The relaxation of top-down priors allows bottom-up information to exert more influence on brain function, and this is what underlies the experiences induced by psychedelics. But can a simple increase in impulses or information coming from the bottom (e.g., distal sensory receptors), or even a reduction in filtering information coming from the distal sensory receptors result in the kinds of experiences people undergo on psychedelics? Would not the information simply be a barrage and blur of inchoate sensory experiences unless some kind of higher cortical cognitive processing was intact at the top of the hierarchy during a psychedelic experience? Instead, people report highly structured sensory experiences and indeed full-blown cognitive apperceptions of intricately structured worlds.

 

The CSTC model is similar in some respects to the REBUS model in that it implicitly adopts the idea that psychedelic experiences basically involve a removal of top-down inhibitory effects or a removal of the filtering functions of executive control networks in the cortex. This model (Vollenweider & Kometer, 2010) proposes that psychedelics disrupt the gating functions of the thalamus, so all kinds of information gets into the system, flooding the brain/mind and causing ego dissolution and other psychedelic effects. The loss of gating functions of the thalamus allow increased sensory and interoceptive information to flow from thalamus to cortical regions. While LSD, as noted earlier, does appear to increase thalamus to cortex connectivity, we can ask again whether this information overload is enough to account for the structured experiences we see?

 

The claustro-cortical circuit model argues that the claustrum is key to psychedelic drug effects (Nichols, 2016). The claustrum exhibits a large number of 5HT2A receptors and is intensively interconnected with a large number of cortical regions. Therefore, when you perturb the claustrum you demodulate a very large number of cortical networks. Psilocybin alters connectivity between the claustrum and both the default mode and fronto-parietal attention networks in the human brain, but it is not clear exactly how alteration of claustrum activity then alters other brain networks in such a way as to account for the structured experiences we see in psychedelic states.

 

Fig 37b: (Top-left) claustrum model of psychedelic effects (Doss et al. 2022). (Lower left) reduction in amygdala activity under enhanced positive mood on psilocybin (Kraehenmann et al. 2015). (Right) increases in cortical and thalamic activation over placebo  induced by psilocybin (red) and decreases (blue) (Gaddis et al. 2022).

 

A key characteristic of some neural nets using an energy landscape to reach and optimum is to run the simulation at a higher temperature of random fluctuations at first to avoid the system getting stuck in an “alpine lake”, gradually lowering the temperature to reach a quasi-optimal minimum, in a process called annealing. This is a similar process to using a transition from chaos to order to enter a quasi-optimal strange attractor. The idea is that the higher energy landscape is a way the brain filters the doors of perception, by impeding upwelling stimuli using top-down control and that when the landscape is flattened using psychedelics, new information can flood into conscious awareness.

 

A core basis of this argument is valid that the brain has evolved to streamline conscious existence for survival, by filtering out uncertainty to enable rapid and decisive decision-making, ensuring organismic survival, consonant with Aldous Huxley’s (1954) notion in “The Doors of Perception “that everyday reality imposes a filter and that psychedelics, by reducing the filter can enable individual consciousness to perceive the “mind at large”.

 

Summarising the research to date, Drew (2022)  has the following overview:

 

Studies of functional connectivity have shown that the brain contains various discrete networks. Most scientists think there are about seven or eight discrete networks, including an attention or salience network, with others related to vision, hearing, sensorimotor pro­cessing and executive control. When a person is at ease, activity is seen across a collection of areas called the default mode network (DMN).

 

In many studies, the researchers have tried to identify specific connectional changes that correlated well with the self-­reported intensity of the trip, or with some particular aspect of it, such as a sense of ego dissolution. These indicate that psy­chedelics lead to “more connections between networks, and less connectivity within net­works,”.  Brain areas that usually have strong functional connec­tions — and operate in a network that has a fairly circumscribed function — become less connected, suggesting that the drugs disrupt those networks’ normal outputs. And brain areas whose activity is normally only weakly correlated become more connected. Most findings are consistent with the brain’s sen­sory areas having more influence on overall brain activity after psychedelics were taken.

 

Another idea that Carhart-­Harris’s paper on the entropic brain considered was that psychedelics dissolve a person’s sense of self by weakening connections within the DMN — an idea that gained traction far beyond the research community. Both hypotheses have been influential, but they have their critics.

 

“We don’t know how large the contribution of the default mode network is, because there are ten other brain networks that are also altered,” Katrin Preller says. Similarly, several researchers consider entropy to be too nonspecific.

 

In 2019, Carhart-­Harris proposed the REBUS model and the anarchic brain (where REBUS stands for ‘relaxed beliefs under psychedelics’), building on Karl Friston;s diea of the brain as a prediction machine that constantly forms models of what it expects to perceive in the world, then tests whether incoming sensory data confirm these models. REBUS proposes that psychedelics weaken the con­straints that a person’s pre­existing beliefs place on their perception of the world and of themselves. Under the influence of psychedelics, sensory inputs and recalled memories are freer to influence the brain and conscious experience.

 

Girn et al. (2022) found that LSD and psilocybin compress the usual hierarchy of connectivity between sensory and association networks. “These sensory areas — and their bare, concrete processing of the external world — become less separate from the processes conceivably related to our abstract thinking and beliefs,” Girn says. “It doesn’t fully validate the REBUS model, but it’s consistent.

 

From research began in the 1990s in humans and animal models, Vollenweider  proposed the CSTC or thalamic gating model. The thalamus is a brain area that processes and filters sensory information en route to the cortex, regulated by the cortex through axons that express the 5­HT2A receptor. Psychedelics seem to inter­fere with the thalamus’s filtering operation, resulting in more sensory signals reaching the cortex. This is proposed to be central to the psychological effects of psychedelics.

 

In addition to these theories, Doss et al. (2022)  claim that fMRI findings suggest a central role for the claustrum, a small subcortical region rich in 5­HT2A receptors. Like the thalamus, the claus­trum exists in a loop with the cortex.

 

At its core, the entropic brain hypothesis proposes that the quality of any conscious state depends on the system's entropy measured via key parameters of brain function.

 

Cieri et al. (2021) note: According to the free energy principle (FEP; Friston et al., 2006) the brain is an open, adaptive, complex system far from equilibrium and as with any adaptive self-organizing biological system in nonequilibrium steady-state with the environment, it must reduce its free energy to resist a natural tendency to disorder (Ashby, 1947; Friston, 2010).  They further explain that the neural complexity and brain entropy (BEN) of spontaneous neural activity decreases during states of reduced consciousness. This evidence has been showed in primary consciousness states, such as psychedelic states, under the name of the entropic brain hypothesis, by contrast with physiological and pathological ageing, where BEN is reduced.

 

However the free energy principle is inadequate because consciousness existence is not just homeostatic, in terms of autopoiesis. Conscious volition is creative and isn't just homeostatic. But the theory is consistent with Huxleys view of the doors of perception being opened to the mind at largethrough psychedelics, so it does have explanatory value.

 

Fig 38a: (Left) Psychedelics act on a diverse array of principal binding targets and downstream signalling mechanisms that are not limited to the serotonin 2A receptor or β-arr2. Instead, mechanistic convergence occurs at the level of DNA transcription (Nardou et al. 2023). (Right) signal entropy represented by Lempel-Ziv Complexity eyes closed, with music, eyes open and watching TV.

 

What feels like enlightenment from the inside looks like disorder from without. The idea here is that the brain processes impose a filter on the cosmic mind so that it can only behave in a way that serves the immediate survival interests of the organism, which makes it virtually impossible for a human to reach moksha. Then psychedelics paradoxically opening the filters causes ultimate reality at large to flood in. But this doesn't mean that the psychedelic experience is just a load of entropic junk a kind of false vision. Its not this because the combination of sensory overload and self-annihilation allows the brain dynamic to run free of organismic constraints and respond to the underlying dynamic, closer to a disengaged cosmic phenomenon. From the outside, when we don't know the significance, yes this does look like forms of entropy relative to the organismic constraints.

 

Mediano et al. (2024) note that the strongest increases in brain entropy which measures (understood as neural signal diversity), and this effect has been associated with both acute and long-term psychological outcomes, such as personality changes accentuated in the closed eye condition of sensory withdrawal. Furthermore, brain entropy changes are consistently associated with subjective ratings of the psychedelic experience, but this relationship is disrupted when participants are viewing a video—potentially due to a "competition" between external stimuli and endogenous LSD-induced imagery.

 

The emerging picture is that, despite using wide varieties of techniques which are often not directly comparable, there is some support for all of these models, which illustrates how pervasive the psychedelic state is on the generation of conscious experience and serves to underline what a comprehensive transformation of our world view the psychedelic state actually entails, based on the wide distribution of 5HT2a receptors.

 

As novel studies continue to emerge further findings continue to emerge. Kraehenmann et al. (2015) demonstrate reduction of amygdala activity during enhanced positive mood on psilocybin emphasising the positive aspects of the experience. Gaddis et al. (2022) showing significant psilocybin-induced alterations in spatial organisation of intra-thalamic components. Increased auditory-sensorimotor–thalamic connectivity is also shared between LSD, MDMA and stimulants (Avram et al. 2022). Barnett et al. (2020) have noted decreased directed functional connectivity in the psychedelic state, while Jobst et al. (2021) noted increased sensitivity to strong perturbations in a whole-brain model of LSD and Olsen et al. (2022 noted) time-varying functional connectivity, associated with plasma psilocin and subjective effects. Moliner et al. (2023) show that LSD and psilocin directly bind to TrkB the BDNF receptor promoting neural plasticity, with affinities 1,000-fold higher than those for other antidepressants. Nardou et al. (2023) have also found that in young mice, psychedelics reopen the social reward learning critical period leading to long-term pro-social behaviour noting that reorganization of the extracellular matrix is a common downstream mechanism underlying psychedelic drug-mediated critical period reopening.

 

There are also scientific hints that psychedelics, such as DMT, which it is also believed occurs naturally in the brain has neurogenerative effects. Ly et al. (2018) report that, like ketamine, serotonergic psychedelics are capable of robustly increasing neuritogenesis and/or spinogenesis both in vitro and in vivo Calder & Hasler (2023) reinforce this with details of dendritogenesis and neural plasticity.

 


Fig 38: (1) Changes in neuronal structure, spinogenesis and the involvement of the 5-HT2a receptor in neural plasticity. (2) The involvement of DMT in neurogenesis. Neurospheres were cultured for 7 days in the presence of DMT. (3) Live-cell images of rat embryonic cortical neurons (DIV6) expressing Myc–5-HT2AR–CFP, b2AR-ECFP, or ECFP. Signals from the fluorescent protein and fluorescent plasma membrane marker in cyan and white (Vargas et al. 2023). Widefield images of rat embryonic cortical neurons (DIV6) that were administered compounds DMT, psilocin and psilocybin with (+) and without (−) electroporation, which creates temporary openings in the plasma membrane, which enables highly charged molecules to pass through and access the intracellular space. The membrane-permeable 5HT2a agonists DMT and psilocin were able to promote dendritogenesis regardless (Lower) Timeline showing the earliest and latest observations of various changes in neuroplasticity following treatment with a single dose of the serotonergic psychedelics LSD, psilocybin/psilocin, DMT, or DOI. One dot represents one study and time point. Human studies are shown in yellow; animal and in vitro studies are shown in purple. BDNF = brain-derived neurotrophic factor, IEGs = immediate early genes. Based on data for synaptic density, it is assumed that rates of dendritogenesis and synaptogenesis also increase at 6 h post-treatment (Calder & Hasler 2023). 5MeO-DMT has been found to have similar effects (Lima da Cruz et al. 2018).

 

These changes are accompanied by increased synapse number and function. DMT treatment has also been found to activate the subgranular neurogenic niche regulating the proliferation of neural stem cells, the migration of neuroblasts, and promoting the generation of new neurons in the hippocampus, therefore enhancing adult neurogenesis and improving spatial learning and memory tasks (Morales-Garcia et al. 2020). Increased hippocampal neurogenesis also occured in mice treated with 0.1 mg/Kg, who also extinguished cued fear conditioning significantly more rapidly (Catlow et al. 2013). Similar plas1city changes have been aaributed to all classic psychedelics (Ly e al. 2018, 2021, Sotille et al. 2022). Vargas et al. (2023) further show fig 38(3) that this is common to classic psychedelics and involves intra-neuronal 5HT2a receptors also consistent with the metabotropic findings of fig 34 (b, c, d and u).

 

6 Therapy and Quantum Change: The Results from Scientific Studies

 

The theme of ego-dissolution and the DMN is also discussed with Robin Carhart-Harris at length in Michael Pollen’s (2018) work. It provides a general perspective in which to understand the basis of some of the outstanding claims about the mental states psychedelics induce. As noted, psychedelics have been found to share characteristics both with meditative states and religious contemplation, in which experimenters have found a reduction in the activity of the DFM. Silencing of the internal dialogue in ego dissolution also involves extensive sensory-existential changes in which the boundary between self and other/world becomes blurred. It is important to understand that dissolving of the DMN in the acute psilocybin phase is naturally followed by a reintegration to an active and more functional DMN than in depressive illness. Carhart-Harris extends this blurring to explaining the magical thinking that frequently leads people experiencing deep insights under psychedelics to describe them as veridically true – revealed truths rather than just a personal opinion. He suggests that one explanation of this is that relative judgment that something is just a personal opinion requires separation of subjectivity to carry weight, but in the state of union no such distinction exists.

 

This raises a fundamental question. Are the insights real or illusory? This is the same question that plagues the status volitional will. Reductionistic materialists attempt to finesse this position by claiming we are simply the product of our circumstances and the causality of brain processes and that the notion of ‘free-will” is just an illusion resulting from evolution requiring us to invest in the notion as a rationale to proceed on the basis of an organismic personal autonomy that doesn’t actually exist. Subjective consciousness then becomes an epiphenomenon, having no causal effect on the material world.

 

However, most people and the law act on the conviction that we are intentional beings who have consequences on the world around us and that we are accountable for our actions. Premeditation is in criminal law the defining foundation of conscious intent that determines the severity of a crime. We thus need to assess deep psychedelic experiences by the same token. Reports from very astute and trustworthy individuals consistently declare that a genuine veridical experience has taken place, having the nature of truth of the same status as both swearing legal evidence and a replicable observation of the physical world.

 

Aldous Huxley [31] wrote in The Doors of Perception: “Each person is at each moment capable of remembering all that has ever happened to him and of perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe. The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by this mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that very small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful. According to such a theory, each one of us is potentially Mind at Large” …  “In the final stage of egolessness there is an 'obscure knowledge' that All is in all — that All is actually each. This is as near, I take it, as a finite mind can ever come to 'perceiving everything that is happening everywhere in the universe.

 

Fig 38b: Huxley’s reducing valve (Swanson 2018). The word psychedelic means psyche revealing, where psyche means the human mind, soul, or spirit and dēlos means clear, manifest’.  Thus, Osmond’s (1957) proposed name-change— psychedelic—was intended to capture the spirit of filtration theory, by inhibiting certain brain processes which normally maintain their own inhibitory constraints on our perceptions, emotions, thoughts, and sense of self.

 

Huxley is highly critical of the limiting nature of the doors of perception’s usual filter: “To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funnelled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet. To formulate and express the contents of this reduced awareness, man has invented and endlessly elaborated those symbol-systems and implicit philosophies which we call languages. Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he or she has been born — the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to he accumulated records of other people's experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it be-devils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things.”

 

This criticism has become even more urgent and critical in a time of planetary climate and ecocrisis, when this reduced tribal awareness driven by ego-consciousness is causing dire risk of a mass extinction of the diversity of life and potentially the extinction of the human species.  To a reader not familiar with these states, it is hard to give credibility to the notion that a person under the influence of an agent originally labelled as an hallucinogenthat is known to have both transcendent and potentially diabolically dysphoric dimensions as Huxley emphasised in Heaven and Hell(1956) can also have experiences with the long-lasting therapeutic relief or mystical insight, let alone be literally and veridically true.

 

However this is precisely what a number of studies, where precisely these insights under psychedelics have been repeatedly shown to have long lasting insights and benefits, both in severe depression and in people suffering a terminal condition and in normal people experiencing mystical states  (Carhart-Harris t al. 2016b, Griffiths et al. 2006, 2008, 2011, 2016, 2021). Studies are also exploring psilocybin use in bipolar disorder (Aaronson et al 2023, Gard et al. 2021, Monaco K 2023, Morton et al. 2023, Yaden et al. 2023). 

 

Fig 39: (a) Assessments of improvement in depression, anxiety and quality of life up to 6 months after psilocybin study in subjects facing life-threatening cancer (Griffiths  et al. 2016) (b) Improvements in subjects with treatment-resistant depression after psilocybin study (Carhart-Harris et al. 2016b), compared with Ketamine (Zarate et al. 2012).  (c) Assessments 2 & 14 months after the psilocybin study Griffiths et al. (2006, 2008). The largest study of its kind (Goodwin et al. 2022) has confirmed these findings for a one-dose treatment for a treatment-resistant episode of major depression.

 

The titles of these research papers “Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance, Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later”, and “Psilocybin produces substantial and sustained decreases in depression and anxiety in patients with life-threatening cancer” indelibly attest to the genuine long-term effects that these experiences induced.

 

The most striking finding from this 14-month follow-up evaluation of the effects of psilocybin ... administered to hallucinogen-naïve volunteers is that a large proportion of volunteers rate their "psilocybin experience" as among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant of their lives. Fifty-eight percent and 67% of volunteers, respectively, rated the experience as being among the five most personally meaningful experiences of their lives, and the five most spiritually significant experiences of their lives; 11% and 17%, respectively, indicated that it was the single most meaningful experience, and the single most spiritually significant experience. Furthermore, 64% of the volunteers also indicated that the psilocybin experience increased their sense of well-being or life satisfaction moderately or very much, and no volunteer rated the experience as having decreased well-being or life satisfaction.

 

McNamara (2022) who has become prominent as a researcher into the neurological basis of religious experience strongly confirms the significance of these findings for mystical and religious experience:

 

It is now very well established that psychedelics reliably produce mystical-like experiences. The first well-documented experimental study to investigate the effects of a serotoninergic psychedelic on mystical experience was the so-called Good Friday experiment conducted by Walter Pahnke at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel in 1962. The study involved administration of either 30 mg psilocybin (n = 10) or 200 mg nicotinic acid (n = 10) to seminary students during the Good Friday religious service (Pahnke, 1967). After the experience, and at a six-month follow-up, participants were assessed for mystical experiences based on the model of mystical experience developed by Stace (1960). The Stace dimensions of mystical experience include sense of unity, sacredness, positive mood, transcendence of time and space, noetic quality, ineffability, paradoxicality, transiency and persisting positive changes in attitudes and behaviors. Four of the participants in the psilocybin conditions reported most or all of these dimensions while none in the control group did. Doblin (1991) tracked down sixteen of the original twenty participants twenty-five years later and confirmed that many of the positive benefits linked to the psychedelic experience remained!

 

In a now landmark psychedelic study (Griffiths et al., 2006) using the MEQ, the mean percentage of endorsed items was 78 percent immediately after psilocybin and 33 percent after the control substance methylphenidate. Follow-up some fourteen months later did not substantially change these numbers. In addition, the appearance and intensity of mystical experiences appears to be dose dependent (Barrett et al., 2015; Griffiths et al., 2011): volunteers received 5, 10, 20 and 30 mg/70 kg of psilocybin in separate sessions with at least one month between each session and a placebo session randomly placed within the sequence. The mean percentage of maximum total possible score on the MEQ30 on session days was 23 percent, 47 percent, 52 percent, 70 percent and 77 percent after placebo and 5, 10, 20 and 30 mg/70 kg psilocybin. This score for 30 mg/70 kg at fourteen months was 81 percent. Hierarchical regression analysis demonstrated that MEQ30 scores significantly predicted various clinical, health and spiritual well-being outcomes.

 

When the people who have them (1) describe the experiences as mystical, religious and spiritual, (2) when these experiences are associated with benign to excellent clinical outcomes, (3) when the phenomenology of the experiences are substantially similar and (4) when the mystical experiences are dose-dependent, I think we can conclude that these experiences are psychedelically induced and genuine religious mystical experiences.

 

Ketamine has similarly shown promise in treatment-resistant depression, though effects do not last as long as those observed with psilocybin. A possible mechanism has been found in the disassembly of perineuronal nets restraining new synapse formation in established learned memories (Venturino  et al. 2021). Other evidence suggests a potentially shared mechanism wherein both ketamine and SPs may engender rapid neuroplastic effects in a glutamatergic activity-dependent manner (Kadriu et al. 2021). The notion Craddock that ketamine and psychedelics share an interaction with microtubules affecting consciousness does not at this point have evidential support.

 

Fig 40: Selected results from Griffiths et al. (2018). All at 6-months after, except for the top-left rating of psilocybin effect.

 

A later study (Griffiths et al. 2018) combined the use of psilocybin with meditation and other spiritual practices, echoing the way in which movements such as the Native American Church and the Union Vegetale provide a spiritually conducive context to engender positive outcomes, designed to tap into quantum change experiences – sudden, distinctive, benevolent, and often profoundly meaningful experiences that are said to result in personal transformations that affect a broad range of personal emotions, cognitions and behaviours (Miller, 2004; Miller and Cde Baca, 2001). The discussion notes that: “The study showed robust interactive positive effects of psilocybin dose and added support for spiritual practices on a wide range of longitudinal measures at 6 months including interpersonal closeness, gratitude, life meaning/purpose, forgiveness, death transcendence, daily spiritual experiences, religious faith and coping, and rating of participants by community observers. Analyses suggest that the determinants of these effects were the intensity of the psilocybin occasioned mystical experience and the rates of engagement with meditation and other spiritual practices. Most broadly, as a model system for studying so-called quantum change experiences, which have been described for centuries but which have eluded rigorous prospective experimental analysis, further investigation of psilocybin-occasioned experiences may have broad implications for the development of drug and non-drug interventions in both therapeutic and nontherapeutic applications in order to engender enduring positive trait-level changes in attitudes and behavior and in healthy psychological functioning”.

 

Miller (2004) notes: “The person typically experiences mystical quantum change passively, not a product of personal will or control, and has a difficult time expressing the experience in words. They usually are intensely positive, joyful experiences, and often the person senses the presence of an awe-inspiring transcendent Other. Often there is a noetic element of revelation, a sudden knowing of a new truth. An experience of unity is common; for example, an ineffable oneness with all of humankind, with nature, or the universe. In these respects, the mystical type of quantum change is similar to common reports of near-death experiences (Lorimer 1990). At the most mystical level, quantum changers seemed to become more alike, as if they had in some way glimpsed the same truth. They often voiced the experience of being interconnected with and part of all of humanity and creation. Those who had experienced themselves in the presence of a transcendent Other gave strikingly similar descriptions. They felt awe but rarely fear, for in its presence they had experienced unspeakable love and acceptance. The insightful type of quantum change lacks most of the mystical components save one: the noetic element of sudden realization or knowing with great and sudden force, and in the moment of seeing, the person recognizes them for authentic truth (or Truth). Their effect tends to be a reorganization of ones perceptions of self and reality and a cathartic, ecstatic, sense of relief and release. They knew instantly they had passed through a one-way door through which there was no return. They were changed, freed right then, and knew it immediately. Often, characteristics that had been valued least became most important [spirituality and generosity] , and those that had ranked as highest priorities [such as status and possessions]  fell to the bottom”.

 

A further study (Griffiths et al. 2019) compared “God-encounter experiences” under classic psychedelics and naturally.  While “the Non-Drug Group was most likely to choose "God" as the best descriptor of that which was encountered while the psychedelic groups were most likely to choose "Ultimate Reality." Most participants reported vivid memories of the encounter experience, which frequently involved communication with something having the attributes of being conscious, benevolent, intelligent, sacred, eternal, and all-knowing. … These experiences were rated as among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant lifetime experiences, with moderate to strong persisting positive changes in life satisfaction, purpose, and meaning attributed to these experiences.  A long-term increase in mindfulness is also noted (Madsen et al. 2020).

 

Having these mystical experiences, the patient is able to overcome their depression or reframe that depression and return to a more baseline mental being. It really seems to restore … the wellness and balance in the life of the patient. It's quite magical. We don't know yet, but I strongly suspect that you cannot separate the two [effects therapeutic and psychedelic]. Hallucinating is an essential part of the way these drugs work. Chris Koch chief scientist of the Allen Institute's MindScope Program.”

 

Bill Richards [32] notes that mystical experience isnt something vague, but a specific form of human consciousness. When its expressed through questionnaires you can find evidence of  six categories, which [are]: unity; transcendence of time and space; intuitive knowledge (what William James called the noetic quality); a sense of sacredness or awesomeness; deeply felt positive mood, such as joy, peace, love, purity; and claims of ineffability and what we call paradoxicality — that its very hard to put these experiences into words and when people try to express it they keep contradicting themselves, thats the paradoxicality: 'I died but Ive never been so alive, the ultimate reality was one but it was many, it was beyond time but it included time’ — ultimately the Buddhist claim of the nothingness that contains all reality. And it seems contradictory, but mystics would say the problem isnt in the experience; its in our ability to express the experience within language, at this point in the development of language. And that the answer, the truth is always "both and" rather than "either or”.’

 

As a warning to unsupported experiences in a bad setting, a survey by Griffithsgroup of extreme, challenging experiences (Barrett et al. 2016, Carbonaro et al. 2016), 1993 individuals (mean age 30 yrs; 78% male) completed an online survey about their single most psychologically difficult, or challenging experience (worst bad trip) after consuming psilocybin mushrooms. 39% rated it among the top five most challenging experiences of his/her lifetime. 11% put self or others at risk of physical harm; factors increasing the likelihood of risk included estimated dose, duration and difficulty of the experience, and absence of physical comfort and social support. 2.6% behaved in a physically aggressive or violent manner and 2.7% received medical help. Of those whose experience occurred >1 year before, 7.6% sought treatment for enduring psychological symptoms. Three cases appeared associated with onset of enduring psychotic symptoms and three cases with attempted suicide. Intriguingly, the degree of difficulty was positively associated with enduring increases in well-being. Despite difficulties, 84% endorsed benefiting from the experience and the researchers noted that the incidence of risky behaviour or enduring psychological distress is extremely low when psilocybin is given in laboratory studies to screened, prepared, and supported participants.

 

It is extremely significant that facing the fear of immanent death, possibly in pain and debilitation, which is the most real and terrifying crisis any conscious mortal being can face, can be redeemed on an ongoing, not just a transient basis, by a psychedelic experience. This attests to these experiences not being illusory but evidential to the conscious mind as the antidote to the mortal dilemma. This is precisely what “moksha”, the primary goal of all Eastern spirituality, seeks to attain through a lifetime of renunciation and devoted meditation. It also stands as highly evidential that in their signature work “The Psychedelic Experience”, Leary, Alpert and Metzner  (1964) presented a guide for readers to navigate the psychedelic state, framed as a modern representation of the Bardo Thodol or Tibetan Book of the Dead – “The Great Liberation upon Hearing in the Intermediate State” – (ma Kazi Dawa-Samdup Eng trans 1927), the Tibetan Buddhist manual for successfully negotiating death and rebirth.

 

Michael Pollen notes a conversation with Roland Griffiths, in which, despite being a world renowned academic researcher leading the field, he has to pick his words very carefully: "The first time I raised [Bob] Jesse’s idea of the betterment of well people with Roland Griffiths, he seemed to squirm a bit in his chair and then chose his words with care 'Culturally right now that is a dangerous idea to promote’ ". However Roland later commented "We're all dealing with death – this is far too valuable to limit to sick people", afterwards carefully amending it to "This will be far too valuable to limit to sick people".

 

A Psychedelics Pioneer Takes the Ultimate Trip

Marchese (2023) NYT

 

As the founding director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, Dr. Roland Griffiths has been a pioneer in investigating the ways in which psychedelics can help treat depression, addiction and, in patients with a life-threatening cancer diagnosis, psychological distress. He has also looked at how the use of psychedelics can produce transformative and long-lasting feelings of human interconnectedness and unity.  Griffiths, who is 76, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic colon cancer, in all likelihood terminal, that has brought forth transcendently positive feelings about existence that he calls the great mystery of consciousness. “We all know that we’re terminal,” says Griffiths, “So I believe that in principle we shouldn’t need this cancer diagnosis to awaken. I’m excited to communicate, to shake the bars and tell people, ‘Come on, let’s wake up!’ ”

 

In spite of the diagnosis, life has been more beautiful, more wonderful than ever. When I first got that diagnosis, because I work out regularly, I watch my diet, I sleep well, this came out of left field. There was this period in which it felt like I was going to wake up and say, “Boy, that was a bummer, a bad dream.” But soon I started to contemplate the different psychological states that would be naturally forthcoming: depression, anxiety, denial, anger, or adopting some belief system of religious outcomes, which as a scientist I was not cut out to do. I went through those, exploring what life would be like if I inhabited those reactions, and I quickly concluded that that was not a wise way to live. I have a long-term Vipassana meditation practice and the focus there is on the nature of mind, of consciousness, and one comes to see that thoughts, emotions, are transient. That practice — and some experience with psychedelics — was incredibly useful because what I recognized is that the best way to be with this diagnosis was to practice gratitude for the preciousness of our lives. Grasping for the cure wasn’t useful.

 

After getting the diagnosis, I had no immediate interest in psychedelics. I felt in many respects that I was having a very psychedelic-like experience. There was this awakening, this aliveness, and I hesitated to take a psychedelic because I wondered whether it was going to disrupt that. Then a question arose: Is there something I’m avoiding by not taking a psychedelic? Am I defending against some dark, fearful thing I’m in denial about? Am I papering it over with this story of how great I’m doing and actually I’m scared to death? I thought, Well, this would be an interesting stress test. So I did a session with LSD. First, asking myself, “Is there something I am not dealing with?” The answer came back: “No, the joy you’re experiencing is great. This is how it should be.” Then I asked a question directly of the cancer: “What are you doing here? I got nothing back. Then I wanted to humanize it, and I said: “I really respect you. I talk about you as a blessing. I have had this astonishing sense of well-being and gratitude, despite everything that’s happening, and so I want to thank you. This process, is it going to kill me?” The answer was, “Yes, you will die, but everything is absolutely perfect; there’s meaning and purpose to this that goes beyond your understanding, but how you’re managing that is exactly how you should manage it.” So then I said: “OK, there’s purpose and meaning. I’m not ungrateful for the opportunity, but how about giving me more time?” [Laughs.] I got no response to that. But that’s OK.

 

Our first study was in cancer patients. Ironically enough, these were cancer patients who were depressed and anxious because of a life-threatening diagnosis. The findings of that study were profound: A single treatment of psilocybin produced large and enduring decreases in depression and anxiety. I’ve had some limited experience with psychedelics since then. We’ve now treated hundreds of participants with psychedelics and before sessions, one of the key things that we teach them is that upon taking a psychedelic, there’s going to be an explosion of interior experiences. What we ask them to do is be with those experiences — be interested and curious. You don’t have to figure anything out. You’re going to have guides, and we’re going to create this safety container around you. But here’s the trick: These are not necessarily feel-good experiences. People can have experiences in which they feel like they come to this beautiful understanding of who they are and what the world is, but people can also have frightening experiences. The preparation we give for these experiences is to stay with them, be curious and recognize the ephemeral nature of them. If you do that, you’re going to find that they change. The metaphor we use is, imagine that you’re confronted with the most frightening demon you can imagine. It’s made by you, for you, to scare you. I’ll say: “There’s nothing in consciousness that can hurt you. So what you want to do is be deeply curious and, if anything, approach it.” If your natural tendency is to run, it can chase you for the entire session. But if you can see it as an appearance of mind, then you go, “Oh, that’s scary, but yeah, I’m going to investigate that.”

 

Griffiths in one of the psilocybin treatment rooms. 

 

The approach that you’re describing is pretty far from the typical mind-set of many doctors, who are working within a framework of curing, fixing, prevention. So if the ultimate goal is to help more otherwise healthy people get safe access to the potential benefits of using psychedelics, which of course would need to be used in a safe setting and supervised by trained experts, wouldn’t that require a radical rethinking by medical practitioners about what helping people even means? 

 

Yes, it will. One of the inspirations for the endowment is that it’s not aimed at patient populations. Right now, there’s money pouring into this area, but that’s all going to be patient-related — there’s a pathway to medical approval. I do have concerns that we don’t replicate the mistakes that occurred in the 1960s, which over-promoted psychedelics’ use culturewide. They’re so powerful that if misaligned with cultural institutions, they can result in cultural kickback. In the 1960s they became aligned with the antiwar movement and radicalized-youth movement that was terrifying to existing political structures and institutions, and as a consequence, legislation was put up against them, funding dried up. We need to proceed cautiously. It’s going to be critically important not to threaten existing cultural institutions. So I’ve been a proponent of medicalization, because with medicalization, we already have regulatory structures in place. It goes through F.D.A. approval; they’re going to set standards to maximize safety by specifying who should be eligible to receive, who is authorized to prescribe, and under what conditions treatment should occur. So I’m cautious, but that’s why I’ll have the endowment in perpetuity. If we look at the long range, this could be critical to the survival of our species.

 

It is Griffiths’s belief that humanity has developed — and is developing — technologies that could threaten its ongoing survival. He also believes that psychedelic experiences can provide the basis for moral and ethical principles that would lessen the likelihood that humanity will drive itself off a cliff. Because there’s something about the nature of these experiences under these certain conditions that produce remarkable experiences of interconnectedness of all things. At the deepest level, if we recognize we’re all in this together, then we have the kernel of what I suspect is most religious traditions and impulses and that is realizing that the Golden Rule makes a lot of sense. After we spoke, Griffiths mailed me a medallion embossed with an image of mushrooms and inscribed with the phrase “May you remain aware of awareness.”

 

I’ve noticed that often when you discuss human consciousness and our awareness of the preciousness of life, you talk about those things as an awe-inspiring “mystery.” What do you get out of putting it in those terms? Because consciousness may be a mystery now, but I’ve read theories that are convincing, to a layperson like me, that thoughts come from emotions and our emotions are one of the body’s mechanisms of maintaining homeostasis. Or as far as the awareness that life is precious, I could easily imagine that biophilia has evolutionary advantages. So I don’t see why these states of being have to be understood as mysteries. Does it diminish them to see them as explainable? 

 

I can easily inhabit an evolutionary account that explains how we have come to be who we are — with the exception of the question of interiority! Why would evolution waste its precious energy on our having interior experiences at all? I don’t get that. To me, it’s a very precious mystery, and that mystery, if you want to put it in religious terms, is God. It’s the unknowable. It’s unfathomable. I don’t believe in God as conceptualized within different religious traditions, but the mystery thing is something that strikes me as undeniable. I want everyone to appreciate the joy and wonder of every single moment of their lives. We should be astonished that we are here when we look around at the exquisite wonder and beauty of everything. I think everyone has a sense of that already. It’s leaning into that more fully. There is a reason every day to celebrate that we’re alive, that we have another day to explore whatever this gift is of being conscious, of being aware, of being aware that we are aware. That’s the deep mystery that I keep talking about. That’s to be celebrated!

 

On the question of authenticity of the psychedelic experience, opinions vary.  David Nichols (2011), the Perdue pharmacologist who founded the Hefter Institute to support psychedelic research (Nichols, Roseman & Timmermann 2018) and synthesised the psilocybin for Griffith's experiments said "If it gives them peace, if it helps people to die peacefully with their friends and their family at their side, I don't care if it's real or illusion". But Roland Griffiths acknowledges "authenticity is a scientific question not yet answered – all we have to go by is the phenomenology” – i.e. the quality of personal reports. In response to Michael's "staunchly materialist" world view Roland replied "Okay then, but what about the miracle that we are conscious? Just think about that for a second, that we are aware and that we are aware that we are aware! How unlikely is that?

 

Primary consciousness associated with reduction of the internal dialogue and ego-dissolution is not just a question of flawed magical thinking that the mind regresses to, but is shared by psychedelics, meditation and deep religious contemplation, all of which in varying ways seek to calm the internal dialogue, attributed to inhibition of the DMN.

 

Michael  Pollen cites a number of themes relating to this, including the undifferentiated inclusive mentality of the child mind advanced by Alison Gopnik  who co-hosted a talk with Robin Carhart-Harris (2016), echoing sayings of Yeshua and Don Jose Matsuwa. Gopnik refers to a wider nuanced “lantern awareness” which becomes a starker “spotlight awareness” of the Cartesian theatre in adulthood, which as we age, becomes more and more locked into habitual routines that have been found successful in the past. It also applies to releasing the inability of the ordered mind to think outside the box and to be creative, as opposed to conservative and analytic consciousness, which is strongly history-based, rather than novelty-based.

 

McNamara (2022) notes the significance of “entity” experiences under psychedelics, particularly DMT which involve the perceived relationship with other visionary agents, which may take diverse forms from fairies, through monsters, thieranthropes (human-animal sprits), aliens, angels, deities and demons and serpents and their parallel with other forms of religious and mystical visionary experience, several of which are illustrated in figs: 168, 195, 203, 246 & 247:

 

Supernatural agent (SA) encounters are often a part of religious experiences. Existing reviews (Davis et al., 2020, Griffiths et al., 2019) report that on average greater than 80 percent of people who have taken a psychedelic at moderate to high dosage report encounters with nonnatural or supernatural entities. Survey results from the Davis et al. and Griffiths et al. studies revealed that people who had taken an agent with DMT described the SA encounters they experienced as being just as real as encounters with people when off psychedelics.  The most commonly endorsed labels for the SAs they encountered when on DMT were “being” (60 percent), “guide” (43 percent), “spirit” (39 percent), “alien” (39 percent) and “helper” (34 percent). Virtually all respondents reported having had an emotional response to the experience including joy (65 percent), trust (63 percent), surprise (61 percent), love (59 percent), kindness (56 percent), friendship (48 percent) and fear (41 percent). The SA was considered to be a conscious being (96 percent), intelligent (96 percent), benevolent (78 percent), sacred (70 percent) and had agency in the world (54 percent). Most respondents believed that the SA was absolutely real, not hallucinated, with 72 percent believing that the entity continued to exist after their encounter.

 

These experiences can vary from ecstatic to stressful encounters such as with the “angel of death” but the encounter can result in beneficial experience:

 

In the Davis et al. (2020) survey study more than two-thirds of respondents (69 percent) endorsed receiving a message, task, mission, purpose or insight into personal issues from the entity encounter. All this speaks to the potential therapeutic benefits of such insights. The individual is receiving highly meaningful information from an awe inspiring source, so the information is taken to heart in a way that could impact therapeutic potential.

 

These can take the form of a near-death like experience as in my encounter with “Brahman” both as ultimate reality and as an ever-compassionate “entity” in the experience which precipitated this cosmology.

 

Shannon (2002 p13) notes the multi-modal nature of psychedelic experience extending beyond the superficial senses:

 

Ayahuasca induces powerful visions as well as hallucinations in all other perceptual modalities. Pronounced non-perceptual cognitive effects are also manifest. These include personal insights, intellectual ideations, affective reactions, and profound spiritual and mystical experiences. Moreover, Ayahuasca introduces those who partake of it to what are experienced as other realities. Those who consume the brew may feel that they are gaining access to new sources of knowledge and that the mysteries and ultimate truths of the universe are being revealed to them. All this is often coupled with what drinkers describe as an encounter with the Divine.

 

But there are also outstanding differences between psychedelic experiences and meditative and contemplative ones, which are essential to understand and are pivotal to the central enigma of existential cosmology. Mediation seeks to achieve enlightenment by careful top down control, mediated by equanimity, rejection of grasping desires, one-pointed concentration and compassionate emotion. Religious contemplation seeks repose in prayer and devotion. Thus the person involved finds a degree subjective fulfilment, amid acceptance of a spiritual or religious doctrine they are already committed to.  Although these experiences of ego dissolution may induce positive outcomes for the individual, they also tend to confirm established beliefs, rather than open the floodgates to new ideas challenging one’s preconceived assumptions. By contrast, psychedelics are liable to induce insights of a novel and existentially challenging nature, such as the somewhat baffling notion of “the mind at large” as a spontaneous discovery.

 

Psychedelics provide a complex cyclonic perturbation of existential and sentient consciousness, not a simple “enlightenment pill”.  Bill Richards notes: ’The relation of the drug to the experience is not like taking an aspirin to get rid of your headache. What the psychedelic substance … they all seem to be skeleton keys that open up the mind, that give you an opportunity to explore, but where you go and what happens depends on who you are, kind of who you are, your maturity, your life history, your capacity to be able to choose to trust unconditionally, your feeling of safety, your courage. So much more is involved than just taking the drug.’

 

What we are dealing with in psychedelics is a whole constellation of mental states, depending on the circumstances and mind set of the person involved. They can take on visionary aspects of traditional notions such as soul theft and sorcery and invoke complex detailed visions from which the word ‘trip’ arises, including specific socio-cultural motifs such as snakes and animistic visionary deities. Some of these can be hilarious, others frightening. Some can be profound, others frivolous or meaningless. Some can lead to messianic delusions and others to creative art, musical composition and scientific discoveries. Albert Hoffman has stated that Karry Mullis, who invented the polymerase chain reaction that is now identified to be the core of molecular biology techniques and essential for Covid-19 testing, told him he credited its discovery to his use of LSD in his student days where he synthesised LSD. It was reported that he was actually coming down from a trip when the idea struck him. We are dealing with an agent invoking as many diverse features as existence can provide. The critical issue underlying this retinal carnival of experiences is how it can reveal underlying experiential knowledge difficult or impossible to gain through any other route.

 

Their political liberalism and nature-relatedness dimensions have been confirmed (Nour et al. 2017, Lyons & Carhart-Harris 2018).  Nearly nine hundred participants provided information about their naturalistic psychedelic, cocaine, and alcohol use, and answered questions relating to personality traits of openness and conscientiousness, nature relatedness, – “I am not separate from nature but part of nature” – and political attitudes. Participants also rated the degree of ego dissolution experienced during their most intenserecalled psychedelic experience. Analysis revealed that lifetime psychedelic use (but not lifetime cocaine use or weekly alcohol consumption) positively predicted liberal political views, openness and nature relatedness, and negatively predicted authoritarian political views, after accounting for potential confounding variables. Ego dissolution correlated significantly with these effects.

 

Psychedelics clearly have political and revolutionary implications that can lay siege to traditional cultural values. It is admitted that the initial wave of repression of psychedelics was political in nature in response to a social movement rejecting the core tenets of a consumer society polarised between materialistic exploitation and religious and sexual conservatism. Fifty three years later, we find ourselves only moderately emerging from a period of repression lasting half a century, still tightly regulated, so as to be applicable only to scientific studies, largely on pathological conditions of depression and terminal illness, or direct scientific inquiry but not for the betterment of sane and healthy people. There is a deep parallel between the Catholic repression of gnostic elements in the Inquisition that arose ultimately from cross fertilisation of ideas during the Crusades, and of the witch hunts against older spiritual beliefs centred around the ancient European Goddess whose practices Christianity replaced and the reaction to the social values emerging from psychedelics in the 1960s.

 

The same repressive end result as the middle ages Christian repressions of dissent occurred when LSD become popularised and suddenly, because it had not yet become illegal, huge quantities of very pure acid flooded into rock culture, by devoted underground chemists not seeking financial rewards but for the “common good”, celebrated by the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” citing Leary’s Bardo Thodol, and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, while on the East Coast of the US, Timothy Leary was pronouncing “turn on, tune in and drop out” and on the West Coast, the Grateful Dead, playing “Dark Star” on acid, the Electric Kool-aid Acid tests and the Merry Pranksters, were blowing young peoples minds, while the infectious ethic of free love was shredding conventional sexual morality.  This blew the cover on just how seriously the political and revolutionary implications of psychedelics were laying siege to traditional cultural and particularly commercialistic political and religious values.

 

In a commentary confluent with Symbiotic Existential Cosmology's gradations of primal subjectivity, Leary said:

 

There are as many levels of consciousness as there are anatomical structures in your body for receiving and decoding energy. The five most important levels of consciousness are sleep, symbol, sense, cellular awareness, and molecular consciousness (Timothy Leary 1966 Turn on, Tune in and Drop Out)

 

Despite the fact that many of these events passed safely without incident, that LSD didn’t split peoples chromosomes, that groups of people hadn’t stared at the sun until they went blind, by the mid-1960s the backlash against the use of LSD and its perceived corrosive effects on the values of the Western middle class resulted in governmental action to restrict the availability of psychedelics by making any use of them illegal. Both LSD and psilocybin were declared "Schedule One" substances. The governors of Nevada and California signed bills into law on May 30, 1966 and the rest of the world followed shortly after, fulfilling the dark ending of Huxley’s (1962) allegory in “Island”, in which the people of Pala consume yellow mushrooms which they call “moksha” to induce visionary states, but are in the end subjected to a military takeover by a neighbouring conservative religious culture. The picture hardened with the case of Charles Manson. The prosecution contended that, while Manson never directly ordered the murders, his ideology constituted an overt act of conspiracy.

 

However that didn’t stop consumption of psychedelics, which have remained an underground transformative staple at music festivals, forming the entheogenic [33] counterpoint to MDMA’s entactogenic love-in experience in the rave party scene. Entheogen (see Ott 1993) is a term that, by its own meaning infers that deity emerges from the sacrament rather than vice versa, confirming the overwhelming impression from this class of agents that they have transcendent dimensions. Stanislav Groff coined the term “holotropic” [34], to cover wholeness seeking in all its forms from experiencing the totality as in the mind at large to peri-natal experiences of a physical rebirth struggle.

 

But repressive legislation of the war on drugs has still had a mind-numbingly counter-productive effect. People are incarcerated for long periods for simple possession of psychedelics. For four decades they were effectively eliminated from scientific knowledge, or assessment. Society as a whole has had almost no opportunity to figure out what role these profoundly transformative agents have in world culture, despite the fact that the natural entheogens have been used for millennia for spiritual and therapeutic purposes in every culture that has consumed them. This means that the role of entheogens has until subtly in the 21st century, been suppressed entirely by the very world societies that have claimed to be the pillar of scientific enlightenment. At the same time, while psychedelics continue to be used devotedly by an underground network of devoted psychonauts, they tend to be trivialised as mere entertainment. Their potential impact on society’s, and the planet’s future, remains occluded as an illegal recreational playground of no confirmed value, or significance.

 

Currently natural psychedelics are used scientifically in research, and particularly into therapy for pathological conditions of depression and terminal illness. They also continue to be used in some settings for religious and spiritual purposes such as Santo Daime, the Union Vegetale and the Native American Church, much as they have for centuries. Finally they are used  recreationally as an illegal but sometimes tolerated fringe activity, partly because they are easy to cultivate and almost impossible to eradicate. All of these uses create a gloss on the phenomenon which clouds its full potential. Recreational use tends to trivialise it and reduce it to the pursuit of pleasure. Spiritual and religious use tends to reinforce existing attitudes, from Christian doctrine to tribal sorcery and witchcraft.

 

Demonstrating just how complex the discourse on sacred mushrooms are, Andy Letcher in “Mad Thoughts on Mushrooms” (2007) cites three dominant discourses in a Foucauldian sense: (1) Psychotic where hallucinogens are perceived to induce psychosis, (2) Therapeutic, where they are seen to have therapeutic value when confined to the clinic, and (3) Prohibitionary when they escape the clinic and should be suppressed by the full force of the law. In this view the pendulum swung firstly from (1) –> (2) –> (3) and is now swinging back towards (2) while still remaining a discourse of containment and marginalisation on the part of academics, out of realistic fear of a regulatory backlash.

 

Running counter to these three dominant discourses are four resistive discourses: (4) Recreational ,in which breaking the bounds is advocated both for the pleasure these experiences brain and for the pleasure of transgression against the imposed restrictive order;  (5) Psychedelic, for their ability to reveal or make manifest the hidden dimensions of the self; (6) Entheogenic, stemming ultimately from Gordon Wasson's religious experiences on mushrooms in a group conference in which Carl Ruck coined the term, meaning  generating God within,” or “becoming God within, and finally; (7) Panpsychic / Animistic, that is, they evoke, not theophany but animaphany. Here, mushrooms are not regarded as altering, consciousness but as adjusting what it is possible to perceive, and therefore the spirits and beings occasioned by mushrooms are neither hallucinations nor some aspect of the self, but beneficent discarnate entities with whom the practitioner attempts to forge relationships. They thus tend to evoke states of consciousness in which the consciousness of animals and plants, to other, e.g. spirit entities, or the mind at large, are experienced.

 

David Luke (2020) also lists a diverse collection of anomalous experiences spanning the transpersonal and psychedelic including (a) synesthesia, (b) extra-dimensional percepts, (c) out-of-body experiences, (d) near death experiences, (e) entity encounters including (mythological beings, chimeras, extraterrestrials, angels and celestial beings, semi-divine beings such as Jesus or Buddha, demons, monsters and beings of death), (f) interspecies communication, (g) possession, and (h) telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance and psychokinesis. DMT is particularly prone to spirit images, as illustrated in “Ayahuasca Visions” (Luna & Amaringo 1991). Shaun Smith (2015) notes the contrasting neurotheological view of theistic phenomena being explained through neurobiology with the theoneurological view of Robert Strassman (2001,2014) in which God or deity is able to alter neurobiology through "the spirit molecule" DMT. Not all of the examples cited by Luke are psychedelic induced and several of the psychedelic examples  echo in greater intensity and embellishment those in dreaming and hypnagogic imagery, in which the subject finds themselves immersed in perceived situations and encounters with entities that evaporate with arousal. These can be considered as visions at the periphery of the nierika portal.

 

At an extreme, we have Terrence McKenna's far-fetched statement identifying mushroom spores, rather than the cosmological consciousness and visions they evoke, as galactic entities of enlightenment spread across the universe:

 

I am old, older than thought in your species, which is itself fifty times older than your history. Though I have been on earth for ages, I am from the stars. My home is no one planet, for many worlds scattered through the shining disc of the galaxy have conditions which allow my spores an opportunity for life.(McKenna 1993 210).

 

There is a fine line between this kind of statement, which most people will find unbelievable fantasy, and a much more widely held, meaningful and validating discourse that the mushroom experience can evoke a universal consciousness that may inform in meaningful, or even urgent ways, the ensuing direction a person’s life needs to take.

 

Yaden et al. (2021) call for epistemic humility [35] regarding psychedelics and the hard problem: “We conclude by calling for epistemic humility regarding the potential for psychedelic research to aid in explaining the hard problem of consciousness while pointing to ways in which psychedelics may advance the study of many specific aspects of consciousness.” Epistemic humility is applying a rule that we can’t assess reality in itself – the very core of the psychedelic experience of “ultimate reality” unless we do so with the filters of the doors of perception slammed shut!

How they can say this, while holding the purse strings of the dominant therapeutic discourse, is extremely  troubling.

 

Their reasoning is not really about psychedelics but about the confounding nature of the hard problem: “The hard problem of consciousness is currently not scientifically answered, and it is not clear that a scientific answer is even possible, which is why it is called “a hard problem.” They then note that the hard problem is often described in terms of the explanatory gap” (Levine, 1983), noting: “This phrase may be an understatement there is far more than a gap, but rather a yawning chasm between our current scientific understanding and the prospect of explaining the hard problem of consciousness.” This is the chasm of the psychedelic experience in which materialistic science fails the test because it can’t explain conscious volitional will either. To use the term scientific in this way is a contradiction to the meaning of science [36] as a word which embraces knowledge more generally than physical investigation.

 

Although psychedelics may not of themselves automatically solve the hard problem, the psychedelic experience cited in this article has led to the cosmological description in this article, which does provide a concise solution to the hard problem. The problem is not with psychedelics, but the assumptions of materialism and physicalism of the current dominant fashion in scientific exploration of brain states. This is confirmed by their statement that: “it is not clear that a scientific answer is even possible”. This highlights what the author sees as a dangerous development in psychedelic research, where the agent most startlingly evoking subjective changes to experience is being filtered through a materialistic filter by the very academics acting as the mediators of therapeutic use and research into these agents. This looks to be an example of the dominant discourse in therapeutic use being applied by the mediators of the research to undermine both the psychedelic and entheogenic resistive discourses and the validity of psychedelics outside the laboratory as agents of cosmological investigation.

 

At the opposite extreme, Bernardo Kastrup (2013), proposes analytical idealism as an alternative, the notion that reality is essentially mental and inseparable from mind:

 

The scientific method allows us to study and model the observable patterns and regularities of nature But our ability to model the patterns and regularities of reality tells us little about the underlying nature of things.

 

Mind is the medium of everything that you have ever known, seen, or felt; everything that has ever meant anything to you. Whatever has never fallen within the embrace of your mind, might as well have never existed as far as you are concerned. Your entire life and universe your parents and the people you love, your first day at school, your first kiss, every time you were sick, the obnoxious boss at work, your dreams and aspirations, your successes, your disappointments, your worldview, etc. are and have always been phenomena of your mind, existing within its boundaries.

 

Kastrup (2016, Kastrup & Kelley 2018), has  taken the position that  psychedelics are precisely what the term indicates –  mind manifesting, and sought to contend that psychedelics manifest the  idealist principle and that the commentary on the emerging psychedelic research, even by the papers' authors is biased to justify  a materialist interpretation of the results. Kastrup cites the research of Carhart-Harris and others showing reductions in activity to be evidence for the basis of "mind-expansion" not being physical in origin, particularly when accompanied by mystical peak experiences and that accompanying research such as the homological scaffolds indicating are of marginal value added to ensure a physicalist interpretation of psychedelic brain states, when the reality of reduced activity indicates they are mind states per se. David Nutt (2023) argues that we dont need to adopt an untestable metaphysical worldview to explain the subjective richness of psychedelic experiences.

 

The position of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology agrees that conscious experience is primary, but acknowledges that psychedelics are chemical neurotransmitter analogues means that the brain is critically involved in the psychedelic state and that the universe is necessary for the psychedelic state to occur and for our biological survival as well, and that a reduction in default mode activity is consistent with peak experiences, and increasing decoherence of activity correlates both with a reduction in coherent power and with increasing inter-connectivity between brain regions.

 

Symbiotic cosmology does not conform to the philosophical classification in Yaden et al. (2021) into 3 broad categories: materialist, dualistic, and monistic. Symbiotic Existential Cosmology is a form of interactive complementary aspect monism with is implicitly panpsychic so it is not materialist, but neither is it simple dualism or monism. It is a description based on complementarity extending the  wave-particle complementarity of quantum physics to a cosmological subject-object complementarity in which the two complements cannot be separated in a dualism, just as wave and particle aspects are alternate manifestations of a single quantum identity which cannot be separated, yet it is not monistic because it is a complementarity, not simply a monistic theory of a cosmic mind alone.

 

Yaden et al. (2021) attempt to justify their conclusion by citing four authors, (Blackmore, 2013; Letheby, 2015; Bayne and Carter, 2018; Johnson, 2020). A viewing of Susan Blackmore’s 2020 Tucson talk however makes clear that she considers the debate whether psychedelics reveal new discoveries or merely cause distortions of the psyche will only be revealed by the new wave of psychedelic research which I support. Bayne and Carter do not treat the hard problem as such, but critique the idea of layers of consciousness and the simplistic notion that psychedelics per se invoke a "higher" form of consciousness, or even that what psychedelics do reveal can be classified in terms of one-dimensional layers, with which this article again agrees. In fact the notion of the nierika advanced in this article is more like a cyclonic vortex having a multitude of divergent experiential features, some illusory and some informative, with the centre of the cyclone providing a portal to deeper forms of experience which may have abstract or cosmological value. This is not a linear indexed description and the subjective process of entering such states requires going “deeper into the abyss” of unconstrained consciousness rather than any simplistic view of “higher" conscious states.

 

Link Swanson (2018) provides a comprehensive review of theories of the psychedelic state, from the first discovery of mescalin, through the psychotomimetic era of researchers experiencing its effects, but using their experiences to treat the experience as a form of reduced control shared by psychopathic states, to  filter theories of Huxley and others and then on to more recent theories as outlined above, as well as ones we shall explore in the brain consciousness section such as integrated information theory and  Friston's free energy principle:

He notes that Friston's theory can also be interpreted in terms of psychedelics:

 

In one model of global brain function based on the free-energy principle (Friston, 2010), activity in deep-layer projection neurons encodes top-down inferences about the world. Speculatively, if deep-layer pyramidal cells were to become hyperexcitable during the psychedelic state, information processing would be biased in the direction of inference—such that implicit models of the world become spontaneously manifest—intruding into consciousness without prior invitation from sensory data. This could explain many of the subjective effects of psychedelics (Muthukumaraswamy et al., 2013).

 

Summing up he sees common threads in these perspectives, in a view that's sees psychedelic research as an "acid test" of grand unified theories of brain function:

The four key features identified in filtration and psychoanalytic accounts from the late 19th and early 20th century continue to operate in 21st-century cognitive neuroscience: (1) psychedelic drugs produce their characteristic diversity of effects because they perturb adaptive mechanisms which normally constrain perception, emotion, cognition, and self-reference, (2) these adaptive mechanisms can develop pathologies rooted in either too much or too little constraint (3) psychedelic effects appear to share elements with psychotic symptoms because both involve weakened constraints (4) psychedelic drugs are therapeutically useful precisely because they offer a way to temporarily inhibit these adaptive constraints.

 

Psychedelic drugs offer a unique way to iteratively develop and test such big-picture explanatory frameworks: these molecules can be used to probe the links between neurochemistry and neural computation across multiple layers of neuroanatomy and phenomenology. Meeting the challenge of predicting and explaining psychedelic drug effects is the ultimate acid test for any unified theory of brain function.

 

Letheby invokes three descriptions of psychedelic experience: (1) Yes – by inducing mystical states of consciousness, psychedelics afford direct knowledge of supernatural, transcendent dimensions of reality (the entheogenic resistive discourse). (2) No – since materialism or physicalism is true, there are no transcendent realities, and psychedelics just cause compelling hallucinations or delusions (the dominant hallucinogenic and psychotomimetic discourse). (3) Neither – a third view that psychedelics can afford genuine epistemic benefits, even if materialism is true and there is no transcendent reality. Rather than helping us learn new factual information, psychedelics then allow us to understand or appreciate already-known (or otherwise knowable) facts in deep, vivid, affectively and motivationally significant ways. This is again taking a position with implicit dependence on a materialistic viewpoint, while conceding psychedelics may reveal epistemic benefits, so it is confining its own conclusion by its founding assumption of materialism. The symbiotic cosmology is again neither simply an old view, nor is it materialistic. It has resemblances to Upanishadic thought dating back to 700 BC, but it is not a monist theory and is based extensively on detailed investigation of quantum reality, chaotic systems, evolutionary origins of membrane excitability and neuroscience in a novel cosmological description induced by a mushroom experience.

 

Matt Johnson (2020) , who is both a cited reference and also a co-author of Yaden et al., takes issue with the very concept of consciousness itself as “sloppy”, noting that “one might question whether the different concepts associated with consciousness should even be identified under a singular construct.” This has some validity, for example the subjectivity of consciousness is distinct from its features of coherent attentiveness and from the distinct nature of specific qualia and with notions of self-consciousness and the cognitive mind of thoughts and verbal processes. But consciousness is all these things in a coherent concept, integral to our existential condition, so sloppy is derogatory and unscientific. Consciousness is our most enduring and all-encompassing arena of experience. It is not sloppy! It is fundamental and essential!

 

In dealing with the hard problem, Matt says "Explaining the existence of experience itself, which is the hard problemof consciousness, is at present something that appears outside of the realm of empirical science. Some philosophers and scientists have disputed the existence of this hard problem, but I do not think the problem should be dismissed.

 

But empiric [37] means “experience”, as does experiment, and there is abundant evidence coming also out of the Johns Hopkins team attesting to experiments confirming experiential observations of quantum change involving “ultimate reality(Griffiths et al. 2018, 2019). These represent statistical evidence, just as the moksha epiphany does. The claims about consciousness and the experiments on mystical states are thus presenting mutually-contradictory academic reasoning. A critique is made of psychedelic states as having no evidential value based on a preamble assessment that the hard problem is empirically unscientific. This contradicts the definition of empirical, whose root lies in subjective accounts, by invalidating veridical reporting. The legal system depends centrally on veridical evidence.  It is integral to interrogating the subjective condition sine qua non. So the materialist assumption is empirically counterproductive.

 

In summing up Johnson states: “I suggest that psychedelic science has, to date, not provided substantial advancement in our understanding of any of these concepts [easy or hard] purported to relate to consciousness”.  This is a very pessimistic and confounding view for research in psychedelic science that is showing real promise of cultural benefit. Given a priori assumption of the hard problem’s quasi-unscientific status, it is hard to see how substantial advancement could ever occur on either the role of psychedelics as an informant of the nature of reality, or the status of the hard problem itself. This again underlines the fallacy of academic reasoning that is subservient to the materialistic hypothesis to the extent that no other type of cosmology can be entertained and no empirical result can be gained except by objective means. But biogenic/panpsychic cosmology is biologically precise and seamlessly consistent with multiple steps of the evolutionary pathway so it is a meticulous natural description, consistent with quantum and dynamical physics and with neuroscience. Therefore such reasoning is integral to the scientific discourse.

 

This error of empiricism applies critically to analysis of the symbiotic cosmology because the principal evidence for it has to come veridically from first person reports. We can’t directly see the consciousness of others, so it is impossible to see the consciousness in simpler life forms or physical processes directly. One can rightly conclude that panpsychic cosmology is the only class of cosmology in which conscious volitional intent is real, so by the veridical test of validity Occam's razor cuts for panpsychism as a necessity.  This is because volitional will implies the conscious mind affect the physical brain and hence the physics of the universe. Therefore mind is a complementary aspect of the physical universe. To a materialist this appears to be adding something that is unnecessary but from the veridical perspective it is essential, because materialist cosmology does not admit conscious volitional will. The inescapable solution is quantum panpsychism.

 

The problem for mechanists is that intervening states of consciousness are largely inaccessible. But organismic consciousness is evident in humans and mammals generally and is accessible also in other forms in deeply unbounded mental states of meditation or psychedelic transcendence, in which organismic consciousness is asymptotically convergent to an unbounded abstract state identifiable to the subject with the mind at large. Thus the two accessible avenues for scientific discovery are the organismic state and the mind at large. This is why the role of psychedelics becomes sine qua non optimal. If you take them out of the equation, you really have only sparse states of meditative vigil and the dreaming state. Thus to discount the importance of psychedelics is futile and counterproductive.

 

Yaden et al. nevertheless do concede the potentiality of psychedelics to address the hard problem: “The scientific study of psychedelics and consciousness, in all of its meanings, is still nascent. While we cannot, at present, see any clear scientific traction resulting from the intersection of psychedelics and the hard problem of consciousness, we are open to the possibility of being proven wrong.” This article now of full book length monograph articulates a strategic response.

 

Moreover several researchers state that the subjective experience of psychedelics, not just their physiological or neurochemical attributes are potentially pivotal in their beneficial effects. Yaden and Griffiths (2020) conclude that:

 

Based on the results from experimental studies of moderate to high dose psychedelics we believe that the case for subjective effects playing a major role in enduring beneficial effects is compelling. Across a number of studies, when the intensity of the subjective psychedelic effect is controlled, certain subjective effects predict desirable outcomes. Underlying neurobiological mechanisms are likely necessary but not sufficient to confer full and enduring beneficial effects.

 

Johnson (2022) in reviewing Chris Letheby’s “Philosophy of Psychedelics” (2021) concurs with both this viewpoint and the central role of a “natrualism” that leads to a more supernatural worldview that is not just a comforting delusion:

 

Letheby argues based on the evidence that subjective experience does play a causal role in long-term benefit. This is supported by studies showing that the mystical-type nature of the experience can predict how therapeutic or otherwise positive the sessions will be in the long term, providing information in some cases that is above and beyond the predictive value of the dose itself or the participants’ ratings of drug intensity. Letheby posits that the subjective experience causes lasting therapeutic benefit independent of whether the session involved or left patients with supernatural ideation.

 

Letheby argues, successfully in my opinion, that the core mechanism of psychedelic therapy benefit is not the provision of a comforting delusion, for example, one in which people shift to a more supernatural worldview. He argues instead that “naturalism” is the lens through which the key mechanisms of psychedelic therapy can be understood by combining empirical evidence across multiple disciplines through scientific reasoning. … Letheby believes that changes in self-representation are the missing link connecting mystical experiences to therapeutic outcomes

 

Safron & Johnson (2022) examining both present trends and future possibilities, note the relationship between psychedelics and natural dreaming states:

 

While we agree that some psychedelic experiences may be understood as a transient form of psychosis, we would add that the same thing can be said about dreaming.  … Intriguingly, while the mechanisms of action for both classic and non-classic psychedelics vary, there appear to be multiple pathways for inducing states in involving greater tendencies for imagining novel scenarios under states of more vivid and intense conscious experience, potentially contributing to the phenomenology of a “waking dream.” While a detailed exploration is beyond the scope of the present discussion, partially overlapping effects from classic psychedelics, anticholinergic drugs (e.g. tropanes), kappa- receptor agonists (e.g. Salvia divinorum), and NMDA-receptor antagonists (e.g. dextromethorphan, or ketamine) suggest that anything that disrupts global integration processes while maintaining (potentially elevated) consciousness has the potential to induce profoundly altered states, and potentially altered traits.

 

They conclude the following about the future of psychedelics as a discovery process in the context of formative quantum change experiences:

 

While we must continue to seek the most powerful and encompassing models we can find, we must also avoid the temptation of assuming that a single account will be adequate for explaining the diverse range of effects associated with different psychedelics under different sets and settings. Some may suggest that the mystic nature of psychedelic experiences reveal the truth of a perennial religion, and perhaps even the veracity of metaphysical principles that some would consider to be supernatural (Timmermann et al. 2021). Others might conclude that egoless experiences reveal that selves were illusions all along (Millière et al., 2018; Milliere and Metzinger, 2020), so pointing to the veracity of some schools of Buddhist thought.

 

In particular Timmermann et al. (2021) cite a move away from physical materialism:

 

Results revealed signifcant shifts away from ‘physicalist’ or ‘materialist’ views, and towards panpsychism and fatalism, post use. With the exception of fatalism, these changes endured for at least 6 months, and were positively correlated with the extent of past psychedelic-use and improved mental-health outcomes. Path modelling suggested that the belief-shifts were moderated by impressionability at baseline and mediated by perceived emotional synchrony with others during the psychedelic experience.

 

On the other hand, Millière et al. (2018) cite a diversity of selfless states in both psychedelic and meditative experiences:

 

We suggest that there are important phenomenological differences even between conscious states described as experiences of self-loss. As a result, we propose that self-consciousness may be best construed as a multidimensional construct, and that “self-loss,” far from being an unequivocal phenomenon, can take several forms. Indeed, various aspects of self-consciousness, including narrative aspects linked to autobiographical memory, self-related thoughts and mental time travel, and embodied aspects rooted in multisensory processes, may be differently affected by psychedelics and meditation practices.

 

Milliere and Metzinger, (2020) go further and address the foundational question of the link between subjective consciousness and self-awareness in states of ego-dissolution:

 

Let us call the general claim that some basic form of self-consciousness or sense of self is ubiquitous to all conscious experiences, the Ubiquity Thesis.

 

For example, the subjective effects of certain psychoactive drugs, and particularly those of classic psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, or 5-MeO-DMT, present a special interest for the assessment of the Ubiquity Claim. Indeed, these drugs are known to have dramatic effects on self-consciousness, and some reports even suggest that they might temporarily suppress any form of self-consciousness – a phenomenon known as ‘drug-induced ego dissolution’ in the scientific literature (Nour & Carhart-Harris, 2017).

 

In his article “Being for no-one: psychedelic experience and minimal subjectivity”, Chris Letheby (2020) asks whether reports of drug-induced ego dissolution provide us with solid evidence against so-called “subjectivity theories of consciousness”, according to which phenomenal consciousness constitutively involves a minimal form of self-awareness or “subjectivity”. Letheby argues that the alternative notion that putatively selfless states of consciousness associated with depersonalization might not in fact be phenomenally conscious at all, does not work well for reports of selfless states of consciousness induced by classic psychedelic drugs, particularly potent and fast-acting psychedelics such as DMT and 5-MeO-DMT, because there is little doubt that the relevant states are phenomenally conscious.

 

Miguel Sebastián (2020) argues that given a proper understanding of a minimal form of self-awareness that he labels “Perspectival First-Person Awareness” (or PFP-awareness), it becomes apparent that even putatively selfless states of consciousness do not entirely lack self-awareness. PFP-awareness is anchored in a non-conceptual, identification-free self-attribution that defines the ultimate origin of the first-person perspective of conscious experience. … He concentrates on the phenomenology of states induced by psychedelic drugs, meditation and dreams, as they have been claimed to present the biggest threat to the Ubiquity Thesis. First, he argues that although there are good reasons to think that some forms of self-awareness that typically accompany our ordinary experience can be compromised in altered states of consciousness, this does not mean PFP-awareness is absent in these states.

 

Fig 40b: The PEMM Tristinction (Sjöstedt-Hughes 2023).

 

Sjöstedt-Hughes (2023) sees psychedelic states as trisecting with both metaphysics and mystical states, noting that psychedelic-induced metaphysical experiences should be integrated and evaluated with recourse to metaphysics in which one sees the potential bridge between reason-based philosophy and practical therapy — with psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy there is the potential and mutually beneficial fusion of philosophy with practical science.

 

Thus we see overall that paradoxically, the psychedelic experience, although being regarded as a highly exotic mental state, also has foundational insights about the universality of both subjective consciousness and self-consciousness.

 

The thesis in this monograph takes a form of a scientific investigation that sets up a verifiable framework to present a cosmology, consisting of interlocking biogenic, panpsychic and symbiotic aspects, scientifically accounting for the flowering of conscious life in the universe, that has components of discourse (2) that they are therapeutic, (5) that they reveal the self, (6) that they induce moksha and (7) in that this is not a theistic description of reality, but one in which consciousness as we know it is widespread in all eucaryote organisms, and in the mind at large through them, so that the animistic actually has a valid cosmological basis.

 

The Indigenous Psychedelic Dimension

 

Kerowen Cornelius (2023) reviewing the ethical implications of the scientific explosion of interest in psychedelics as therapeutic tools, for indigenous communities, who have a long history of sacred and medicinal use, cites Yulia Celidwen’s efforts to form a consortium to address these concerns:

 

Over thousands of years, Indigenous communities have cultivated relationships with and accumulated knowledge on psychedelics such as psilocybin mushrooms, the Amazonian botanical brew ayahuasca, and the West African shrub iboga. More recently, psychedelics have exploded onto the stage of Western science. Clinical trials of these substances in the past 15 years have produced remarkable results in the treatment of depression, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and end-of-life anxiety. Media buzz has generated a rush to legalize their therapeutic use, catapulting the global psychedelic drugs market from $3.8 billion in 2020 to an estimated $11.82 billion by 2029. But both Native and non-Native critics say the industry is ignoring the emotional, cultural, and ecological harms it is causing the Indigenous peoples who originated psychedelic medicine.

 

Fig 40c: Indigenous models of consciousness exemplified by animistic individual consciousness as the embodiment of global consciousness and its nested types (Lorencova & Trnka 2023).

 

Many Indigenous Nations are concerned they are being excluded from psychedelic spaces that extract their knowledge, threaten what they see as their intellectual property, and detach their medicines from their spiritual contexts, the paper finds. In addition, international demand is driving people to unsustainably harvest iboga, the plants used to make ayahuasca, and the hallucinogenic cactus peyote. Meanwhile, burgeoning retreat centers that offer psychedelic therapy often charge thousands of dollars for experiences that culturally appropriate Indigenous traditions yet share few benefits with these often impoverished communities.

 

Celidwen et al. (2023) in Lancet notes:

 

The resurgence of Western psychedelic research and practice has led to increasing concerns from many Indigenous Nations regarding cultural appropriation, lack of recognition of the sacred cultural positioning of these medicines, exclusionary practices in research and praxis, and patenting of traditional medicines. Indigenous voices and lead- ership have been notably absent from the Western psychedelic field currently widely represented by Westerners. An Indigenous-led globally represented group of practitioners, activists, scholars, lawyers, and human rights defenders came together with the purpose of formulating a set of ethical guidelines concerning traditional Indigenous medicines current use in Western psychedelic research and practice.

 

A global Indigenous consensus process of knowledge-gathering was engaged which identified eight interconnected ethical principles, including: Reverence, Respect, Responsibility, Relevance, Regulation, Reparation, Restoration, and Reconciliation. A summary of the work is presented here with suggested ethical actions for moving forward within Western psychedelic research and practice spaces.

 

The first and foremost of these is reverence for nature and the diversity of life.

 

Reverence for Mother Nature

 

Traditional Indigenous medicine is an ethical, ecosystem-protective, and holistic system of medicine that interconnects humans and the environment. A sense of reverence for the planet guides all relationships, as well as a commitment to preserve all life. Traditional Indigenous medicine from a systems and relational perspective prompts insight for compassionate living and awareness of collective care to sustain the well-being of the medicines themselves as well as all future generations.

 

Concrete problem

 

Western psychedelic research and practice has its roots within traditional Indigenous medicines systems yet have turned ‘kincentric’ approaches (treating all relationships, including medicines, as kin) to anthropocentric approaches (human-centric). This anthropocentric approach fails to adequately reference or acknowledge Indigenous paradigms in Western procedures, thus expropriating Indigenous knowledges while separating the medicines from the context of their original environments.

 

Reverence-governed actions

 

The explicit acknowledgement of Indigenous Peoples and their traditional medicines and practice as the root of Western psychedelic research and practice; Western psychedelic research and practice references Indigenous concepts of reverence as guided by local Indigenous scholars and communities; the Western psychedelic research and practice community takes action to support Indigenous Nations protection of the at-risk land and natural environments where these traditional Indigenous medicines originate; support Indigenous Peoples in their fulfillment of the right to life and of the right to live in peace on ancestral lands.

 

Four later sections in this work – Psychedelic Agents in Indigenous American Cultures , Shipibo: Split Creations and World Trees, Meso-American Animism and the Huichol and Redemption of Soma and Sangre in the Sap and the Dew, deal in detail with indigenous use as a pivotal heritage of psychedelic knowledge.

 

A Moksha Epiphany

 

My entire life has been shaped by psychedelic experience. When I first took LSD in the heady times of 1968, I immediately realised that the universe was the generator of sentient life as a climax manifestation. This became a life long quest, as a biocosmologist, to establish how and why life exists in the universe. I realised that traditional religions defining life as a preparation for Judgment in Heaven or Hell were corrupt cosmologies in conflict with nature, and while Eastern paths invoked meditative approaches to enlightenment, the fact that, by the traditions’ own admission this could take lifetimes in rounds of reincarnation, also appeared to contradict realisable illumination.

 

But the reductionist scientific view also lacked any basis for conscious existence, as expressed by Bertrand Russel who has himself espoused Russelian monism –  a form of panpsychism:

 

Such in outline, but even more purposeless, more devoid of meaning is the world which science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That man is the product of causes that had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave, that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspirations, all the noon-day brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins - all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy that rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built. ... Brief and powerless is man's life, on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark …" (Bertrand Russell)

 

Francis Crick in “The Astonishing Hypothesis” put it this way:

 

"The astonishing hypothesis is that '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 behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll's Alice might have phrased it: 'You're nothing but a pack of neurons!' "      

 

This is reinforced by Sam Harris (2012) in a radio discussion in which he puts the case against free-will:

 

"You feel like you are a thinker of thoughts - the author of intentions - you feel like you are a subject and commensurate with that feeling is the sense that you are in a position to do what it is you do, to decide to lift my left or right hand and deliberate between the two and I can have reasons for one or the other and I'm in the driver's seat - I really am - and that's where everyone is starting. The problem with that is that objectively we know that everything you are consciously aware of - all your thoughts and your intentions and your impulses and your intentions to resist those impulses - whatever's coming up for you - but we know that's all preceded by events in your nervous system of which you're not aware and which you didn't create and the state of your brain in this moment in every sense is the product of variables that you are not responsible for - you didn't pick your parents, you didn't pick your genes, you didn't pick the environment in which your genome was going to be expressed, you didn't pick the way your interaction with other people and the world sculpted the microstructure of your brain so as to give you the brain you have - you didn't pick the number of receptors you have of every type at each synapse, you didn't pick all the charges that are currently in place in your brain at this moment - you haven't created your neuronal physiology and yet your neuronal physiology is going to give rise to every next thought and intention that shows up for you.

 

What makes this invalid is that, as can be seen in detail in the physics and neuroscience sections, the uncertainty of the quantum universe renders the classical notion of Laplacian determinism defunct, and it is precisely the loop hole of quantum uncertainty and entanglement coupled with edge of chaos self organised criticality that makes the subjective experience of volitional will possible in the physical universe.

 

Towards the end of my first academic sabbatical in 1976, having wandered as a sadhu in India and taken Tibetan Buddhist initiations, I took peyote with the Native American Church and also sacred mushrooms. Much later I made two trips to the Peruvian Amazon to take ayahuasca. During this entire time, my entheogenic experiences were telling me that I needed to act on this knowledge received to protect the living planet from a human-induced mass extinction.

 

As a child I had had a dream that I was standing in a parched jungle and all the animals were looking at me with heavy sorrow and disapproving recognition that I was a human that had reduced the earthly paradise to a scorched semi-desert. I had to run from this disapproval and found myself beside an endless queue of people waiting to find work in a dark factory surrounded by smoking chimneys. The dream left a permanent impression on me, long before the climate crisis became recognised. I have also had other formative precognitive dreams evidentially verified before the event.

 

In the late seventies and eighties held mushroom veladas in the moonlight on our wilderness land‘Elohim: Living on the Open Road gives a good expression of the psychic mood. During a mushroom velada in the 1980s, I had an epiphany that if the world hadn’t successfully resolved the world’s climate and biodiversity crises by the millennium in 2000, I would make a journey to the Amazon and  Jerusalem to make a spiritual vigil to Earth’s natural Eden of tooth and claw and to Jerusalem as the religious nexus point, to pronounce the heiros gamos in the reunion of woman and man under the banner of the immortal evolutionary tree of life, as a spiritual paradigm shift to restoring perennial sustainability of the biosphere. This duly took place as detailed later.

 

Having travelled widely and risked my life many times in far-flung corners of the Earth, I am now in my late seventies. I hadn’t partaken of the psychic sacraments for seven years, because of the fact that acute closed angle glaucoma was liable to make me go blind overnight, due to psychedelics causing my pupils to dilate. Finally, having had the lenses of both eyes replaced with cataract surgery, I resigned myself to break the fast of the mushroom sacrament to return to the source of my life-long inspiration, before I left it so late that I might end up in a terminal condition before circumstances forced me into a last desperate encounter.  I took only 1.5 g dried weight, prepared as in the previous section, with some cannabis butter beforehand, to test a level that an elderly person who had not had the experience before could sustain without undue discomfort, given some caring support.

 

This is consistent with research fig 40g, which shows a non-linear saturation curve of the 5HT2a receptor with increasing plasma psilocin levels, consistent with a moderate dose of psilocin being able to induce significant effects, with little of the collateral fallout I have sometimes experienced on an heroic dose.

 

The resulting quantum change experience is detailed in fig 40d, from what I wrote down on my descent the same evening, reawakening my sense of life direction, creative insight and transformative urgency, just as my life has been spent on an unending expedition into the unknown, sailing down a great fjord, with the tacking and gybing, often taken at veladas, to re-envisage the pointers on my journey of incarnation.

 

It has many of the key peak hallmarks often described in near death experiences, except here with more emphasis on the letting-go of ego-death and meditative sensory withdrawal, as noted by neuroscientist Chris Koch (2020):

 

“Similar mystical experiences [to NDEs] are commonly reported when ingesting psychoactive substances from a class of hallucinogens linked to the neurotransmitter serotonin, including psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms), LSD, DMT (aka the Spirit Molecule), and 5-MeO-DMT (aka the God Molecule), consumed as part of religious, spiritual or recreational practices”.

 

Rather than representing an hallucinatory drug-induced delusion, such states represent conscious experience taken closer to the edge of brain dynamic chaos than normally occurs in the more controlled meditative and contemplative traditions of religious spirituality and mysticism. By contrast with the mind-sky visions of the meditative traditions, deep entheogenic experience brings out a more symbiotic cosmic consciousness integrated with life as a whole rather than simply seeking divine grace. This is critical for human survival because the failure to incorporate the sacred transcendence and immanence of nature severely limits the capacity of the traditions to protect human survival and the diversity of life itself. Likewise, by comparison with life-transforming NDEs, the entheogenic brain is in an augmented, rather than diminished function and condition, facilitating a vast and sometimes overloading experience of ultimate reality in fully fledged form, as noted in Griffiths et al. (2019) in psychedelic studies.

 

I have a technique which is to alternate between focussed mindfulness with eyes open and annihilation meditation with eyes closed were I completely let go and cast myself on the flow. And down I went into the epiphany of being a kind of jewelled seventh heaven where everything is illuminated and everything is illuminating.  This took the form of an NDE that I was meeting Brahman – the I was also HE and that because he was immortal or eternal consciousness,  He was, ever-so-gently and compassionately, telepathically making me aware that, because I was a mortal being incarnate right in the centre of the cyclone of the  existential crisis of mortal biological life, in physical form, that I had the duty and responsibility to ensure saving the diversity of life on planet Earth, before I passed away, and throughout the universe, because without organismic consciousness, cosmic consciousness could not become manifest, so Brahman was as vulnerable as I was.

 


Fig 40d: “A moksha epiphany”. Written during the evening, after the experience had receded. "I am not your master. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring which I have measured out.” (Gospel of Thomas 13).

 

Dissolving the distinction between self and other is pivotal to this process. The internal model of reality supported by the conscious mind has an envelope of characteristics, ranging from our sensory experiences of the external world, to internal somatosensory, emotional and other representations of self and our ongoing thought processes. Thus subjective consciousness in the ego state is dynamically polarised between representations of subjective self and objective world. When these distinctions are released, the distinction between individual and universal consciousness can also become dissolved, leading to transcendence. Entheogens provide a visionary realisation of this deeper, primary consciousness, giving it experiential reality, by opening the doors of perception to the mind at large.

 

What is truly extraordinary about this process is that releasing the ego state, even transiently over several hours, can result in long-term integrative changes in the psyche, consistent with adaptive long-term neural potentiation, showing that the underlying processes of universal consciousness are not extinguished, but merely suppressed by the evolutionary shaping of the ego, thus attesting to the reality of the entire phenomenon.

 

Three weeks after this quantum change experience, having feverishly worked day and night to achieve it, in completing the first full draft of this article, and the co-conceived complementary one Natty Dread and Planetary Resplendence on transforming the Christian sacramental apocalyptic tradition based on the dying Saviour, into the immortal paradigm of the evolutionary Tree of Life of the living planet through the living sacraments..

 

Two months after the event, with this monograph approaching full shape, I repeated the undertaking, with 1.75 g, again converted to psilocin under lemon juice as a tea, 40 mins after home made cannabis butter, to allow the latter to absorb in advance in the small bowel as an oily substance. Then another two months later I took 1.92 g, reaching a full-on intense psychedelic peak.

 

What these experiences  have demonstrated to me is the ability of the psilocin acid-treatment to produce a pure, clean visionary source consciousness, unparalleled in everyday experience, dream states and any form of controlled meditation, without which humanitys understanding of the full dimensions of the psyche would be pitiful and presumptuous. Taken in the late afternoon, these more powerful experiences, that had me reeling at the peak, were sharper and shorter than ingesting mushrooms predominantly containing the pro-drug psilocybin. The tea is pure dissolved entheogen and induces in the body a pure clean state, in which food is sumptuous and the inner quality of experience is abundantly overflowing for the astute participant to enter and explore the depths of immanent and transcendent consciousness. By midnight these left me able to sleep easily and wake fully refreshed, invigorated and whole, at the age of 76, confirming their fertile symbiotic relationship with my essential being, in the long, tortuous  journey of incarnate existence. I have, in opening this confessional account and completing this cosmological description, traversed the long journey that began with the shock of my first experiences with LSD in London in 1968.

 

Since then other events have intervened, adding further complexions to the situation. I joined two expert groups on consciousness research which profoundly expanded the cosmology into a full cultural-evolutionary account of how human culture got ourselves into existential crisis, giving the cosmology overarching scope and veracity. In July 2022 , I contracted Omicron Covid-19 and rapidly went down hill with pneumonia and had to get an emergency exemption to get Paxlovid, the new Pfizer anti-viral. I nearly succumbed the next night but it stopped the severest phase in its tracks. Compounding this, my back packed up due partly to a series of accidental injuries, but now exacerbated by osteoporosis, so that I had only 40% of the bone mass of someone my age with thoracic vertebrae multiply fractured like broken glass, leaving me unsure if I could walk across the street, or even step off the curb without snapping in two. Meanwhile the monograph continued to grow and expand ints dimensions until now, three years later almost to the day, I have finally come full circle to undertake the plunge again, lest I become so lost in rational thought, that  I become hostage to my incarnation. So here goes once more with feeling, into the breech of illuminated annihilation.

 

A Psychedelic Hair of the Dog that Bit Me

 

3 June 2024 I have noted that mushrooms are natural products of a living organism. Their potency can vary enormously even in the same strain depending on how they are grown. The strain I have, which was originally rescued from a jar of sugary water in liquid culture that had been kept by another aficionado, and then spawned multiple rounds of spore-producing mushrooms, is particularly potent, staining deep blue on touching and requiring rapid drying at below 100oC to maintain the potency and then sealing in a dark airtight jar. Thus it was that after a three year fast after my encounter with the presence of Brahman, advising me to save life throughout the universe so that eternal cosmic consciousness could survive, that I found a space on a quiet Sunday to take the moksha sacrament once again, to avoid becoming a ring wraith to my own incarnation.

 

As I have explained above, there is a way of taking mushrooms that is closer to the Eucharist of a mere wafer of bread and a sip on wine than any hard on the stomach psychedelic road like peyote or ayahuasca can be. You grind dried mushrooms in a mortar and pestle and pour fresh squeezed lemon juice over the powdered fruit, wait20 minutes and add hot water to make a tea, straining out the mushroom dust in a tea strainer so there is only liquid. This converts psilocybin to the active ingredient psilocin that is more acute and avoids hints of nausea. This results in an elegant light warm lemonade with meaty fragrances of the mushroom that are exquisitely appealing, that I drank at 4 pm.

 

Generally a full dose of dried mushrooms is 5g but being 79 I carefully weighed up 1.6g, trying to balance the need to take the full plunge into the abyss with the feelings of impending doom that can also strike on too high a sacramental dose. I am also a sadhu so I took 0.5g of cannabis butter 40 mins beforehand, about 3/4 of an evening stone. This combination can also be challenging.

 

Now there is a thing I know from having ventured into the psychedelic trance state for more than half a century. There is a crack between the worlds with half-closed eyes that that is central to entheogenic shamanism and some yogis experience and many Buddhist images depict.

 

The Buddha is focused neither on the far nor on the near, but on the middle distance,

neither thinking nor not thinking, neither focused nor unfocused,

intermediate, present, trans-dual, transcendent.

 

This crack between the worlds is evident in the persona of Quetzalcoatal, in the Plumed Serpent:

 

I am lord of two ways. I am master of up and down.

I am as a man who is a new man, with new limbs and life,

and the light of the Morning Star in his eyes.

I am Quetzalcoatl lord of both ways,

star between day and the dark.

 

The contrast between the dark side of the night and the light side of the day, has parallels with the Meso-American tonal and the nagual. In Nahuatl the word tonalli is used to refer both to a day and to the animal associated with that day. Where the tonal is the day spirit itself, the nagual is the witching familiar spirit of the day – the nighttime aspect of the tonalli. In rural Mexico, nagual is sometimes synonymous with brujo ("wizard") –  one who is able to shapeshift into an animal at night. Quetzalcoatl is both a compassionate God of knowledge and a serpent power animal.

 

I recalled in the Brahman experience alternating between mindful focussed meditation with eyes open and annihilation meditation sinking into the abyss with eyes closed. This time it was on the knife edge between. It started out harmlessly enough, with focussing on the folds in the Chinese lantern light in front of me trying to detect whether the effects were starting to kick in, but before I knew it I had already fallen right over the edge.

 

With one’s eyes half closed, you end up falling outside the inside out.  It’s a focal point where lateral experience explodes out of the corners of one’s eyes with indirect vision of the rolling kaleidoscopes in stark detail in the middle distance. A little too open and it becomes a super-radiant waking state, a little too closed and wild dream like visions ensue, beyond rhyme or reason. Poised at the centre of the cyclone, my incarnation became fragmented like the near death experience of watching oneself below getting cardiac resuscitation or in the moment before a violent collision on the highway when everything appears to stand still. It was as if I was lying there and all the components of my incarnation, my persona and my identity had come adrift and were hovering around my “lifeless” body caught eternally in the frozen moment. Keeping the meditative focus is like trying to balance a tall broom in unstable equilibrium upside down in the palm of one’s hand.