from the Voyager Mind's Eye User's Guide:
A Brief Introduction to Light and
Sound by Richard Daab, President, Theta Technologies
Mind State Management: Software of the Mind
by Frank Young, Ph.D.
Applications: How to Use the Principles of Mind
State Management by Frank Young, Ph.D.
Audio Visual Stimulation & Brain Growth by
Thomas Budzynski, Ph.D.
Deep Design: Program Your Future in the Unconscious
by Thomas Budzynski, Ph.D.
Building a Happier You From Deep Inside by Thomas
The Laughing Buddha: TECHNO-SHAMANISM AND THE
DEMOCRATIZATION OF BLISS by Michael Hutchison
|The Laughing Buddha:
TECHNO-SHAMANISM AND THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF BLISS
by Michael Hutchison
WHO WANTS TO SLEEP (WHEN THERE'S A PARTY GOING ON?)
The neuroscientific breakthroughs of the last decade have established beyond
doubt that given the proper type of stimulation, the ordinary human brain
has extraordinary or exceptional powers, that what we call "normal"
consciousness is in fact a sort of sleep from which we "awaken" when we
enter peak or heightened states. And, as the neuroscientific research has
made clear, these nonordinary or "metanormal" powers are not mysterious, but
the result of clear and quantifiable changes in the patterns of neurological
activity of the brain.
We've all had the experience of shifting into a heightened or metanormal
state - call it lucidity, insight, mastery, wisdom, enlightenment, grace,
bliss, satori, creativity, learning, waking up -a state in which we know
beyond doubt that our ordinary state is a deep sleep compared to this rich
awakening. And we know too, this is how we should be all the time. After
all, sleep is a fine and restful state, but who among us would choose to
spend our entire lives in even the most comfortable bed? Most of us would
like to be in this high gear, high-efficiency state as often as possible.
In fact, it has become clear that humans are genetically programmed to seek
out these altered, awakened states. I believe, and recent evidence supports
my belief, that a key to human evolution, to our species' rapid growth in
brain size, and to our unique creative capacities, has been our instinctive
drive to experience these metanormal or exceptional realms of consciousness
and performance. From kids who spin themselves into dizzy altered states and
euphorically roll down hills, to performers, surgeons, rock climbers, chess
players or creative artists who find that the most vital and rewarding parts
of their lives occur when they're in a state of "flow," humans naturally
crave the experience of being awake.
Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, M.D., who has spent his career studying the
effects of nonordinary states of consciousness, observes that "the
transcendental impulse is the most vital and powerful force in human
beings." This human impulse to connect with the spiritual domain, Grof has
found, is so powerful that "It resembles, in its nature, sexuality, but is
much more fundamental and compelling.''
Michael Murphy, founder of Esalen Institute, and author of The Future of the
Body, a massive compilation of examples of exceptional human performance,
has classified exceptional or peak performance into a dozen different
realms, among which are:
Extraordinary perceptions of things outside ourselves, such as transcendent
beauty in ordinary things;
Exceptional somatic or body awareness, such as voluntary control of blood
pressure or heart rate;
Nonordinary communication abilities, such as the communication of thoughts
and mental states;
Phenomenal vitality, as when we perform "superhuman" feats;
Extraordinary movement abilities, such as uncanny athletic agility;
Inexplicable abilities to influence events at a distance, such as spiritual
Exceptional abilities to alter pain and pleasure, such as delight that
persists despite sickness or adversity;
Extraordinary cognitions, such as creative insights, mystical experiences,
and the works of genius; and
Love that transcends personal wants and needs and manifests a fundamental
unity with others.
All of us exhibit each of these attributes in an ordinary way. But we can
also manifest these attributes in an extraordinary or metanormal way. In the
right place, at the right time (when your child is trapped under a car, when
you're under extreme pressure, when you suddenly fall in love, when you take
a certain psychedelic substance) and soon.
We all perceive external events, for example, to take the first attribute on
Murphy's list we perceive the doorbell ringing, we perceive the voice of a
friend talking to us. But we've all had the experience of perceiving
external events in an entirely different way - with a sudden cleansing of
"the doors of perception," a seeing of "ordinary" reality with extraordinary
new sense of clarity, significance and illumination.
We all have movement abilities, but many of us have experienced times -
often in sports - when we are suddenly playing "in the zone," when the
baseball speeding at you seems so big and slow you can count the stitches
and see which way they're spinning, when you effortlessly drive the golf
ball 50 yards farther than you ever have before, when you suddenly execute
with ease a perfect and seemingly impossible backhand.
In virtually every aspect of our lives, humans are capable of performing
exceptionally in a peak state.
There is now strong evidence that these experiences are essential. Without
our moments of being awake, in the zone, we become sick. As Stanislav Grof
observes, "human beings have a profound need for transpersonal experiences
and for states in which they transcend their individual identities to feel
their place in a larger whole that is timeless. This spiritual craving seems
to be more basic and compelling than the sexual drive, and if it is not
satisfied it can result in serious psycho logical disturbances."
IN SEARCH OF TOOLS FOR WAKING UP
A central thread running through human history has been the quest for
effective and reliable techniques for entering these awakened states
-"spiritual technologies." Humans have devoted an enormous amount of
ingenuity and effort to finding gateways to this realm of lucidity. And in
their compulsive pursuit of these transcendental experiences, humans have
always used the most advanced technology available to them, from the
earliest technology of creating and manipulating fire and light, to the
technology of drums and chants, onward through human history. Technology,
after all, comes from the Greek words technos and logos, meaning, in
essence, an organized way of using reason, or the systematic application of
a body of knowledge. Using technology, then, has much to do with what it
means to be human.
One of the most ancient spiritual technologies is shamanism. This pragmatic
system of mind-body techniques is, in the estimation of anthropologist
Michael Harner, at least 30,000 to 50,000 years old-probably far older-and
surely emerges out of techniques developed over the course of human
evolution Out of shamanism and paralleling it have emerged a vast number of
other spiritual technologies, including the mind-body exercises of yoga, and
a rich variety of esoteric schools, mystery cults and technological rituals,
including gnosticism, Sufism, Kaballism, trantricism, taoism, alchemy and
meditation. In exploring these spiritual technologies, humans have pounded
on drums, danced, chanted, fasted, tried different ways of breathing, stood
on their heads, spent years in dark caves, prayed, muttered magic phrases,
eaten wild herbs and plants, gazed into fires, devised odd sexual practices,
contemplated symbols, created stirring rituals. And the ingenuity and effort
paid off. Humans have devised a variety of technologies for entering peak
states that really do work. One example is the vast array of meditative
practices, including types of chanting, dancing, breathing, sitting still,
moving, maintaining control over the mind. They work. But a problem is that
for most people they only work imperfectly, unpredictably. It's interesting
to note,- for example, that studies of the brainwaves of many people who
claim to be "experienced" or "long term" meditators have revealed that a
substantial number of these individuals are actually only in a state of
light alpha - a relaxing, passive state, but quite different from the
distinctive brainwave patterns of true, deep meditative states.
And perhaps t he most frustrating and discouraging aspect for many about the
various spiritual technologies is that they often require enormous amounts
of practice - hard, rigorous discipline -be fore they really work powerfully
and reliably. Studies of Zen monks, for example, have shown that for the
most part, virtually the only monks who can get into the deepest state of
Zen meditation quickly and at will are those who have meditated for over 20
So throughout human history, the awakened state lucidity, illumination,
mastery, serenity, ecstasy, grace - has been for many a tantalizing goal.
Sometimes it emerges, out of nowhere, spontaneously, and for a few moments
we are there. And then, it is gone again. As despite the wealth of spiritual
technologies available, most of us have discovered, it's no easy thing to
enter these peak performance domains at will.
TECHNO-SHAMANISM AND TOOLS FOR TRANSCENDENCE
All that has changed forever as a result of recent breakthroughs in
neuroscience and technology. First, scientists have begun to discover what
happens in our brain when we enter those nonordinary states, and they have
found that the brain undergoes a number of clear and quantifiable changes,
including changes in brainwave activity and patterns of brain activation.
What's more, it's now clear that it doesn't require years of training or
mysterious meditative powers to produce these unique patterns of brain
activity associated with peak brain states. In fact, the scientists have
found that these changes can be actively and quickly induced using external
mechanical stimulations or devices such as flickering lights, minute
electrical current, flotation tanks, precise combinations of pulsating sound
waves, or rhythmic physical movement.
Out of these discoveries have emerged a variety of high-tech gizmos that
hundreds of thousands of people are now using regularly to experience
altered, enjoyable and in many cases awakened or transcendent states. In
other words, science has now revealed that mind machines can be seen as our
own technological culture's spiritual tools: techno-shamanism.
It's important to note that a variety of studies emerging over recent years
has suggested that the mechanically induced peak states seem to be as "real"
in their psychobiological effects as the peak states attained through
rigorous meditative practice. Because, of course, being able to produce the
physical brain patterns of meditation in someone is interesting, but as we
all know, there's a big difference between someone who's mechanically
producing the patterns of a dance step, and actual dancing.
But repeated testing has made it clear that, for the subjects being
stimulated, this mechanical stimulation of the brain could produce
subjective experiences that seemed qualitatively identical to or
indistinguishable from the heightened states attained by traditional
techniques. For example, it's now apparent that people who use such
brain-tech tools as light and sound (LS) devices, flotation tanks, cranial
electrostimulators (CES), acoustic held systems (or "sound beds") and more,
can undergo profound beneficial personality transformations, experience
life-altering spiritual insights, and more.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Perhaps the most intriguing and important conflict throughout human history
has been the continuing struggle between the forces of authority and those
individuals seeking freedom to follow their own exploratory impulses. The
forces of authority, aware that their power over others rests on maintaining
the status quo, have throughout the ages attempted to restrict social change
by controlling or suppressing the flow of information. The seekers of social
change and individual freedom, on the other hand, have always attempted to
spread new information as widely as possible. Compare, for example, the
jealous guarding of information by ancient rulers, emperors and church
authorities with the command of Jesus to his disciples to "go out into the
world and spread the Gospel." In the area of spiritual wisdom and spiritual
technologies, this has meant that throughout history those in positions of
spiritual authority, those in control of the spiritual technologies, and who
seek to maintain power, have attempted to keep the spiritual technologies
secret. Thus they have perpetuated the tradition of spiritual "mysteries,"
known only to a small circle of initiates, passed down to selected
individuals who will perpetuate the tradition and maintain the secrecy - and
the authority - of the spiritual technologies.
On the other hand, the seekers of change, wanting to spread information as
widely as possible, have always sought to tear away the veil of secrecy that
has hidden the spiritual mysteries. Thus, one central impulse throughout
history has been to find ways of systematizing and simplifying spiritual
technologies to make them more easily taught, and to provide access to the
core mystical experience to as many people as possible. As an example: for
millennia, the mysteries of how to attain states of spiritual ecstasy was
kept secret, passed down in monasteries and mystery schools from master to
But then, as Dr. Herbert Benson observes in The Relaxation Response, by the
twelfth century... it was realized that this ecstasy could be induced in
the-ordinary man in a relatively short time by rhythmic exercises, involving
posture, control of breath, coordinated movements, and oral repetitions.
In many ways the western rationalist, materialist scientific tradition of
the last five hundred years can be seen as an attempt to systematize and
make accessible to all - that is, to democratize - these mystical
experiences. Power to the people.
The development and explosive growth of printing, for example, made it
possible to pass along to an infinite number of potential readers essential
information about spiritual technologies that had previously had to be
laboriously handed down from teacher to pupil, from generation to
Yet there have always been those in authority from the hierarchy of the
medieval Catholic Church, to dictators ruling large populations of
"peasants" - who have feared the spread of literacy, and attempted to keep
books out of the hands of the masses.
HIGH PRIESTS OF SCIENCE AND THE NUCLEAR MYSTERY
The development of modem science was to a large degree an attempt to reveal
to human understanding-that is to the understanding of anyone who was
interested, not just to an-inner circle of those in power - the coherent,
mystical order or organizing principle of the universe. However, even in
science the conflict between those who desire to maintain authority and
power through secrecy, and those who seek the free flow of information, has
continued. Science has always had its "mystery schools" of those who have
tried to keep important scientific information secret, out of the hands of
those who might use it to upset the power structure. Consider, for example,
the extraordinary security measures taken by the U.S. government to keep the
secret and maintain the "mystery" of making nuclear weapons, from the
Manhattan Project until the present. On the other hand, the seekers of
change, the scientists who believe in the free flow of information, that is
the democratizers, have for many years believed that the best way to keep
nuclear weapons from being used as tools of control by various power cliques
or authoritarian power structures, is to spread the information to all.
However, despite its stated goal of understanding and revealing to all the
essential mystery, the coherent order of the universe, modem academic and
materialist science, with its emphasis on a limited definition of reality,
has generally denied and repressed the transcendental impulse. As Grof
notes, "Within the present century, academic psychology and psychiatry
dismissed spirituality as a product of superstition, primitive magical
thinking, and outright pathology. " But the spiritual drive is so powerful
that orthodox science has been unable to suppress it. It now seems clear
that this transcendental impulse is rooted in our genes, an instinctive and
essential component of our human nature.
Abraham Maslow pointed out that virtually all humans report having a
profound sense of "unitive consciousness" at some point in their lives. Even
in this most secular and materialistic era, a recent survey of Americans
found that nearly 90 percent of them described themselves as strongly
"religious" or "spiritual."
More astonishing is the substantial number of Americans who report having
what can only be called mystical experiences. A 1989 survey found that fully
a third of them answered a resounding yes to the statement "You felt as
though you were very close to a powerful spiritual force that seemed to lift
you out of your self." And a full 12 percent claimed that they had
experienced this transcendent feeling "often" or on numerous occasions.
NEUROSCIENCE AS A SPIRITUAL QUEST
Says Arnold Scheibel, professor of medicine at UCLA, speaking of himself and
his wife, Marian Diamond, neuroanatomist at UC Berkeley, "We like to think
that somehow the brain in a sense will become the religion of the future..
." In many ways it makes most sense to see the Brain Revolution as a
spiritual quest: a sudden blossoming of scientists driven by a compulsion to
understand the mystery of the universe by understanding the workings of the
"last frontier," the most complex system in the universe. SpirituaI seekers
using all their sophisticated technology to uncover what happens in this
mysterious human brain when it is going through the ineffable experience
known as illumination or transcendence. As neuroscientists have learned in
recent years, these experiences of awakening are linked to certain clear
physiological changes in the brain, including alterations in the chemistry
of the brain, and changes in the electrical activity of the brain.
It has been established beyond doubt that mind machines, can produce the
very same dramatic alterations in brain chemistry and in patterns of
brainwave activity that are found in individuals spontaneously undergoing
transcendent, metanormal or transpersonal experiences. It makes sense to
assume that by reproducing the same patterns or fluctuations in brain
chemistry and electricity, the mind tools can actually induce these
There is a wealth of evidence, in the form of scientific research, clinical
evidence and ports by thousands of individuals, that the mind tools not only
can but do produce spiritual experiences for many of their users.
ARE YOU A BUDDHA CHEATER?
The possibility of technologically induced peak performance states is
breathtaking in its implications. But it's essential to emphasize that while
it's clear that the mind machines allow users to experience these heightened
states, they don't guarantee it.
A recent article about mind machines in Yoga Journal condemned them,
claiming that "Plugging yourself into a machine is not automatically going
to make you a deeper or finer person." The writer, a long time meditator,
said he feared that to use them would mean that he had to "write off the
last 20 years of [meditative] practice as a waste of time." In his opinion,
they did not automatically produce a state that was identical to meditation,
and' therefore were attempts to "cheat the Buddha."
If such cranky nonsense were not so dangerous it would be humorous.
Condemning mind machines because they do not automatically make you a better
person is like condemning airplanes because flying in one does not
automatically turn you into a saint. Like airplanes, mind machines are
simply tools: modem technology applied to expanding human powers and
capabilities. Humans have always wanted to get from one place to another.
The technology of movement has evolved from walking through riding animals,
riding in carts, ships, steamships, trains and so on. So today, there are a
lot of ways to get from New York to Los Angeles. You can walk, ride a horse,
bicycle, drive a car, etc. If you walk, you'll definitely spend man)' weeks,
meet a lot of people along the way and have a whole bunch of interesting and
life-altering experiences. Or you can fly. But whether you walk for three
months or fly for six hours, you reach the exact same place: Los Angeles.
You will definitely arrive a different person if you walk than if you fly,
but you're still at the same place. What you do there is up to you: you can
seek God, go surfing, get high, or buy a gun and go shoot up a fast-food
outlet. Mind technology, like air-planes, can get you places very quickly,
and very reliably. just because many of us choose to fly doesn't mean we
don't choose to walk sometimes, or condemn those who choose to walk all the
time. just because l generally choose to fly between Los Angeles to New York
doesn't mean, as the Yogajournal writer would suggest, that - I have to
write off 20 years of walking as a waste of time." In the realm of human
spiritual growths nothing is ever wasted. And choosing flying instead of
walking in no way `cheats the Buddha." As the Buddha said, "Everything
arises and passes away... When you see this, you arc above sorrow. This is
the shining way." I believe the shining way is a path that can be hiked just
as well on a 747 as on the Interstate Highways of America.
THE LAUGHING BUDDHA: ON THE EVOLUTIONARY VALUES OF SEX, FUN, INFORMATION AND
Such criticisms as those of the Yoga journal would be comical, like some old
codger in 1920 yelling at people whizzing by in cars to "get a horse!"
Except in this case, such ignorance can lead to the suppression of important
technology, and the suppression of information that can lead to crucial
social change and evolution. The writer of the article, after first claiming
mind machines can't be of any value because they re too easy and too much
fun ("True meditation... isn't blissing out in a chaise longue, but barely
surviving in a house on fire"), then paradoxically claims they re too
dangerous to be made available to the general public (they're so powerful
they expose people to dangerous things hidden within their subconscious),
and suggests that the FDA may soon move to regulate or control access to
mind technology. Such a move would, in essence, make mind machines available
only by prescription, or illegal, and have a disastrous effect on the
serious scientific research into brain technology that is now underway and
advancing at an accelerating pace. The FDA has already shown its willingness
and eagerness to suppress "dangerous" performance-boosting technology in the
form of cognition enhancing "smart drugs," despite an enormous body of
evidence that such smart drugs are both safe and effective. It is now
attempting the same sort of suppression of vitamins and nutrients. (see "The
Problem with the FDA" elsewhere in this issue). Those who scoff at the
possibility of the FDA making mind machines illegal should remember the fate
of Wilhelm Reich, psychedelic drugs and other such dangers to the American
I believe that the flow of information should be unimpeded. Information, by
one scientific definition, is inversely related to predictability: i.e.
anything that's 100 percent predictable contains no information. Another way
of saying this is that information related to novelty and unpredictability.
And information makes people behave in unpredictable ways. Information is
also fun - neuroscientists have documented how the learning centers and the
pleasure centers of the brain are virtually one and the same: having a new
idea causes a rush of euphoria-producing neuro- chemicals, such as dopamine
and endorphins. Evolution has given us a chemical reward system for
behaviors that enhance our survival: this includes eating, sex and having
new ideas. Wisdom (illumination, waking up) and mind machines are both also
Both can make us behave in unpredictable ways The Buddha was a Laughing
Buddha, who taught that wisdom emerged unpredictably.
WHY AUTHORITARIAN SYSTEMS HATE WHATEVER'S NEW
As I pointed out at the beginning of this article, throughout history
authoritarian systems or power structures have by necessity attempted to
restrict the free flow of information. Why? Because information, or novelty,
by creating unpredictability, threatens their stability and authority.
Authoritarian systems depend on people acting in predictable ways. For
similar reasons such power structures also suppress fun. And sex: throughout
history all authoritarian systems, from religions to armies, have attempted
to control and suppress human sexual energies in one way or another.
There's no doubt that mind technology can be a powerful source of new
information in the world. And while mind machines, as the Yoga Journal
writer observed, may not automatically make you into a finer person, what
the hell- neither does sex. But I'm not going to give it up on that account.
Simply by plugging us in - to our selves and to others - they can provide us
with an infinite amount of information. Sounds like fun to me. So obviously,
mind machines (like fun and sex) constitute a threat to some in positions of
power, who would like people to behave in predictable ways, and who would
like to maintain the status quo. They also are a threat to individuals who
have invested much of themselves and their lives in following authoritarian
doctrines, dogma or ideologies. Such as fundamentalists - Christian, Muslim,
Marxist. Such as those who must follow a Politically Correct agenda that
automatically condemns the unexpected, the unpredictable, the novel and the
unprecedented, since by their very nature they cannot come bearing the stamp
of Political Correctness. And such as "enlightened" New Age folks like the
writer at Yoga journal who've apparently spent 20 years of meditative
practice learning only what they have been taught to learn, fearing to
experience first hand the laughing Buddha's unpredictable shining path.