Excerpts from the TalkingBook version of Terence McKenna's "True Hallucinations." This chapter was not included in the printed edition.
My own ideas concerning the mechanics by which the oversoul creates the UFO encounters might take the following form. Dimethyltriptamine when smoked, snuffed, or injected induces a brief and extremely intense psychedelic experience whose overwhelming sense of contact with the Other is unparalleled. For the last decade or so this extraordinary property of DMT has made it seem to many who sought a chemical basis for schizophrenia as the long sought schizotoxin. Studies have proved inconclusive however. DMT concentration has not been proven to differ significantly in schizophrenic and normal controls. Studies have established the presence of DMT in the human body, however the origin and significance of the DMT is unknown. Although it may reflect endogenous synthesis, it could also result from diet, bacterial byproducts, human laboratory error, or other sources.
Bearing in mind the bizarre power of the DMT experience, its presence and unknown role in human metabolism, add one more fact: the strange aura of suggestibility that can precede the onset of the intense hallucination phase of the DMT experience. This period of suggestibility may last 15 seconds to a minute, and is a time during which the assumptions which the experient projects concerning the unusual shift of sensory input acquires enormous power. A few moments later the power of the now numinous assumption overwhelmes the consciousness of the observer with a scenario which, while totally bizarre and outrageous, nevertheless is somehow a complete psychological fulfillment of the expectations formed in the few minutes of transition that preceded the visionary engulfment.
What I am proposing is that something like this happens during a UFO close encounter and the cause may very well be something which must be partially sought in the human organism. Imagine a person wandering alone in unfamiliar country: suddenly there's a hackle-raising sense of weirdness, then a feeling of numbness in the limbs, followed by a clearing of vision and a loud crackling sound. At this point the sense of strangeness within and without the body would trigger a fear reaction in most people. The fear reaction causes a rapid and automatic search for a culturally-validated explaination of what is going on, and an explaination will always be found. It may range from, "I am being bewitched by a demon," to "Surely it is a visitation of the Holy Mother," to "My God! It must be a UFO!" In each case the abandonment of the ego to a culturally prescribed explaination of the experience of the Other causes the experience to exfoliate, exploit and elaborate all the themes that the culture's current myth of the Other entails.
It is known that DMT binds preferentially to certain tissue when introduced into the human body. Is it not possible that we human beings are occasionally susceptible to a kind of visionary seizure? When for reasons of stress or diet these factors combine with psychodynamic factors to initiate a sudden dumping of accumulated DMT? Pheremones may play a part in this experience and isolation may be its trigger. Whatever its cause, our conditioning as individuals causes the experience to plunge us into a numinous scenario that reflects the deepest concerns and yearnings of the current culture toward the Other.
In our own time this has given rise to the hope of friendly visiting extraterrestrials. As late as 1917 the miracle at Fatima was interpreted wordwide as a manifestation of the Virgin Mary. Today it would surely be hailed as an extraterrestrial contact. If my suggestion regarding DMT were found to be correct, it would provide insight into the way in which the cultural feedback thermostat explaination of UFOs put forth by Vallee and others actually works. Those people who experience the DMT seizure and are plunged into the current myth of the Other actually return as apostles of that myth, able to clarify and refine it, and by those means to exert the tuning and control of historical development that may be the purpose of the agency behind the UFOs.
Stress, generalized as an impending sense of historical crisis, may be the factor that induces the UFO/close-contact experience. As the historical crisis deepens the number of contacts will increase until the atemporal portion of the mass psyche has effected enough individuals that there is actually a turning away from the stress-causing course of action. How well is the Superego able to play the role of God? Can it come in saucerian splendor to save the world from the flames at the end of time? Or can it only beckon and warn with visions and dire prophesy? These are questions that we might answer if we diligently explore the states of mind that DMT and psilocybin make available.
Perhaps the UFO encounters involve nothing more than an autonomous and negative psychic complex able to emerge during the situation of unusual energy dynamics induced in the psyche by psilocybin. However, a different explainatory approach merges psyche and world by involving a continuum whose modalities bisect each other with equal ease. This is the approach which grants the phenomenological existence of the constructs seen in the Stropharia trance and in UFO encounters. Indeed, the vast and dreamy world that we call imagination, or the unconscious, may merge imperceptibly into autonomously existing worlds we would call 'hyperdimensional,' indicating the paradox of their simultaneous invisibility and their here-and-nowness in the psilocybin trance with a presence which belies the term hallucination.
Ahead of us lies the future, where we can expect the ingression of the alternative dimension to intensify. It is therefore important for us to have a sense of the powers in that Other world and their shifting agencies. In a traditional society, our exploration of these matters would be firmly imbedded in the extant shamanic mythos concerning these forces. Techniques tried and true would be available to fortify our psychic constitution. Since we are members of a profane society whose relation to the unconscious is one of estrangement, we have no such consolation. No dispelling ritual or words of proven self-empowerment. By reason and intuition we must attempt to conquer the fears that attend journeys into the unknown. But reason and intuition need data with which to construct maps of reality. If we outdistance the inflow of fact we move beyond the safety zone of the conjuring rod of intuition and reason. For these reasons we move slowly and steadily. We are human factors in a multi-variable equation where the shift of unseen parameters can trigger large perturbations and resonances of unexpected types. Knowing this, and knowing how little we do know, we should be excused for this defense of caution when taking to ourselves the visions which the Stropharia brings.
Carl Jung's 'Mysterium Conjunctionis' reminds us of the reality of the situation that ensues once the psyche is hooked into making the transference to the alchemical or saucerian goal. Jung, citing Gerhart Dorn, stresses that the materialization of the stone is only a prologue to the experience of the perfected self in a state of illumination. Jung wrote, "Though we know from experience that psychic processes are related to material ones, we are not in a position to say in what this relationship consists, or how it is possible at all. Precisely because the psyche and the physical are mutually dependent it has often been conjectured that they may be identical somewhere beyond our present experience."
Of what does this relationship consist? My own hunch, and it is only a hunch, is that an explicitly spatial dimension -- of a co-dimension inclusive of our continuum -- allows a hologram of other realized forms of organization, far distant, to become visible at certain levels of quantum resonance in the synaptic field. These levels have been damped by selection in favor of more directly relevant lines of information relating to animal survival. Evolution does not reinforce selectively the ability of an organism to perceive at a distance since such an ability has no selective advantage, unless the information it conveys falls upon the receptors of an organism already sophisicated enough in its use of symbols to abstract concepts for later application in different contexts.
Thus, these quantum resonances carrying intimations of events at a distance only begin to acquire genetic reinforcement once a species has already achieved sufficient sophistication to be called conscious and mind-possessing. The use of hallucinogens can be seen as an attempt at medical engineering which amplifies, for inspection by consciousness, the quantum resonance of the other parts of the spatial continuum holographically at hand. This experience is the vision which the UFOs and psilocybin impart: visions of strange planets, life forms, perspectives and societies, machines, ruins, landscapes. The hierophanies all unfold in a nunc stans that has all space -- standing in it -- like a frozen hologram. Thus, experimentation with hallucinogens by human beings and the rise in endogenously produced hallucinogens as one advances through the primate phylogeny could both be due to a slow focusing on the phenomenon of imagination. Imagination being the deepening involvement of the species with things beheld but not actually existing in the present at hand.
The conclusion such an idea makes necessary is that it is upon the ideological content of specific visions that empirical attention should center. What are the working details of the worlds whose presence impinges on ours so strongly? What of the beings sometimes confronted, often furtively sensed, who seem to have some existence in a world of their own revealed by the psilocybin and in UFO contact? There may exist a vast communication network in the topological nature of things. A network that becomes a fact only for those species or individuals who will but have the intelligence enough to seek this vision. It will by them be found to be persistent in the nature of things. Alchemy thrives in a climate of such ideas. To validate the idea of the worth of the visions of worlds at a distance one must emerge with some idea spawned by the visionary Other but with a utility in the here and now. The wave quantification of the I Ching is the only idea of this sort that I personally have glimpsed in completeness. It took years to elaborate and its relation to the here and now is still elusive. Fragmentary themes abound: symbiosis, saucer-lens vehicles whose possessors navigate the higher topological oceans in our heads. All this could be transference and fantasy. In the classical sense of the word the experimenter with hallucinogens pursues gnosis: privileged knowledge concerning nature and vouchsafed by her in ecstacy.
The history of consciousness is the halting exploration of the once irrational images and processes met in dreams and trance. Such images become concepts and discoveries as information flows through the multiple-continuum of being seeking equilibrium, yet paradoxically carrying everywhere images of ways the flow towards entropy was locally reversed by this being or that society or phenomenon. We are immersed in a holographic ocean of places and ideas. We can understand this to whatever depth we are able. The ocean of images and the intricacy of their connections is infinite.
It is perhaps why great genius preceeds by apparent leaps. Because the revolutionary idea which inspires the genius comes upon one complete, entire by itself, from the ocean of mind. History is the story of the search for the intuitive leap that will reveal the very mechanism of that other dimension. The need for such a leap by humanity will grow as we exhaust complexity in all realms save the microphysical and the psychological. My own method has been immersion in the images and self-examination of the phenomenon of tryptamine hallucinogenesis. This means taking the Stropharia psilocybe and pondering just what this all may mean -- with confidence that as more people come to share this experience time will deepen our understanding, if not answer all questions. For psilocybin argues that hallucinogens are windows into higher dimensions. That even as a cone can yield circle, ellipse or parabola to an act of two-dimensional sectioning and yet remain intrinsically a cone, so reality is something that changes according to the angle of regarding. It argues that human beings are many forms over vast scales of time, that all life is unified at some level, and all intelligence in the universe are but facets of the mystery called humanness.
In probing the Other we shall always come back with images of ourselves. In probing ourselves we shall return with images of the Other. In the phenomenon of being itself no less than in the phenomenon of the UFO encounters we are merely privileged observers of a relationship between what is naively called the world and the transpersonal portion of the human psyche. How this relationship came to be, and what its limitations are, we cannot know until we gain access to the transpersonal and atemporal part of the psyche. Of what this consists we do not know and no hypothesis can be ruled out. My hunch is that if we could really comprehend death then we could understand the UFO. But that neither can be understood unless they are looked at in light of the question, what is humanness?
I believe that the transpersonal component of the human psyche is not distinct from matter and that therefore it can literally do anything. It is not subject to the will of any individual. It has a will and an understanding that is orders of magnitude more sophisticated than any one of the individuals who compose it as cells compose a body. It has a plan, glimpsed by individuals only as vision or religious hierophany. Nevertheless, the plan is unfolding. There will be many more UFO sightings, many more close contacts. Our belief systems are undergoing accelerated evolution via increased input from the other. Somewhere ahead of us there is a critical barrier where we will at last have enough data to obtain an integrating insight into the riddle of humanity's relation to the UFO. I believe that as this happens the childhood of our species will pass away and when this is done we will be free to use the staggering understanding that humankind and the UFO are one.