Many psychedelic trippers have tales of when they felt the world around them had feelings. Chatting to trees, making friends with rocks— just interacting with the world as an equal, as though friend or family. Some people may dismiss this as just an amusing effect of psychedelics, however, for others it is a life-altering moment. This feeling of one-ness with the universe, can be a road to a higher consciousness, often incorporating ego-death.
What is Panpsychism?
This experience is actually reflected in the ancient philosophy of Panpsychism. Panpsychism is the belief that all matter has consciousness. This means that humanity is not exceptional in having a ‘mind’. It is actually something that everything in the universe has in common. From animals, to plants, to fungi, to bacteria, to molecules and viruses, all have an essence of consciousness.
Imagine The Mind of a Rock
Within the structures of traditional human-centric thought, it is almost impossible to imagine the mind of a rock. Interestingly, it is often children who do not differentiate between these things. They interact with, and care for inanimate objects, before they absorb the norms of society. Psychedelics are often cited as a tool for being able to reconnect with this freedom of mind.
‘This world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence … a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related.‘
Plato had taken part in the Eleusinian Mysteries, a secret ceremony in which participants drank a hallucinogenic drink called kykeon. If it was this hallucinogenic experience that inspired much of his thought, you could say that all Western Philosophy is inspired by a psychedelic trip!
This moment of understanding or feeling of one-ness with the universe that psychedelics encourage has been christened by some as ‘The Flip’. American college professor Jeffrey Kripal recently published a book of this title. In it, he explores the moment of realisation that individuality is an illusion, and we are part of something bigger. This can occur after a psychedelic, mystic or near-death experience. Kripal argues that this mindset would end the conflicts, such as racism and prejudice, that are based on difference. He states:
‘We are not our thoughts. We are not even our beliefs. We are first and foremost conscious and cosmic, which is to say we are human.’
A Positive Impact on the Environment
As well as benefiting societally, a panpsychic approach could also have a positive impact on the environment. If we were to believe that everything is connected and conscious, we might be less likely to harm the environment. We would take care of the world around us. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face today. The connection with nature that psychedelics and panpsychism encourage would help make vital changes in attitude. These changes are necessary to combat climate change.
A ‘Philosopher of Mind‘
Dr Peter Sjöstedt-H is a “philosopher of mind”, with a special interest in psychedelics. He sees psychedelics as a catalyst to a further evolved thinking. As well as being an exciting prospect in the medical field, psychedelics can become a philosophical tool as well. Sjöstedt-H states
‘…they (psychedelics) are to the philosophy of mind and metaphysics what microscopes are to biology: With this new tool of perception cells, bacteria, a whole microcosmos were discovered, which in turn had vital ramifications upon our knowledge of disease, digestion, evolution, and so on.
I believe that the psychedelic tool of perception could yield extended knowledge about the mind and the cosmos in likewise fashion.’
The Philosophy for you?
Panpsychism has its detractors of course, however, the mystery of consciousness, remains that— a mystery. With many distinguished devotees throughout history, as well as an outlook that promotes, at its base, kindness to the universe— Panpsychism is definitely a philosophy that deserves your attention. Why not make it your new ancient philosophy?