This blog takes place in 2 pieces. Here on Ultra Weekend, we explore the results psychedelics has had on my own optimism. The sister article, Historical Exponential Optimism, takes place on Plus Ultra Tech, and explores the optimistic implications technology has had, and will continue to have.
You don't have to read a book on evolutionary psychology to realize how uncommon commonsense is. All it takes is one profound JWH trip to leave you humbled and confused. When you've burnt too much of this herbal incense, the rules of reality itself start to break down. The basic functions and senses of the body start to unfold. In one experience, my peripheral vision appeared sort of fish bowled. It was almost as if matter was still falling out of super position in my peripherals. Wether you consider psychedelics an enhancement of consciousness, or a descent of cognition, one thing is for sure. They put you on a different plane.
The best example I can give you is walking across a field. The curvature of the earth is so slight to our perception that it appears flat. Our life is comparable to walking on a slightly curved surface of consciousness. When we are first born our consciousness is clearly in a much lower state. Ideally, as we age, we gain intelligence and wisdom which results in greater consciousness. If you've lived a sober life most of your time, this personal growth of consciousness is remembered because you remember your immature actions of the past, but the qualia of it is somehow lost. My first true psychedelic experience sent me back to a child like consciousness (among other states). Once there, you will be able to look back at where you were consciously just moments ago, and really feel the different levels of consciousness.
I've talked to TheLastAiDs about this thought, and we have come to agree that it actually brings us peace. Once you experience different levels and functions of consciousness, you then can start to really imagine how different other people's brains may be wired. Example; a jerk on the highway cutting you off deserves to be flipped off, but realize, they may actually think YOU are the bad one simply for being on the same roadway. His or her mind simply may not grasp the concept of fairness to the degree you may. Realizing this when driving can really help you reduce your own road rage.
So how does this relate to Optimism?
IQ is always rising, its called the Flynn effect. I believe that also coincides with growth of consciousness, thus increasing benevolence. To quote Worth in the movie Cube, "All they want is a clear conscience and a fat paycheck." It is true we want to live comfortably, but deep down we don't want to be the root of suffering. As our IQ rises, we likely learn more about the suffering of the world. That empathy will cause us to think and act in more global ways. It is not coincidence that our perception of time is that it always goes forward. Progress can not be stopped or reversed either.
Even if I'm facing imminent physical death, I still believe I will be optimistic. Not just because of my predictions on technology (see Part 1 of The World is Pregnant). But because consciousness is the pinnacle of life on this planet. Life always finds a way to adapt and survive. Life arose relatively early in Earth's history, and has endured many catastrophic mass extinctions. Its easy to conclude consciousness itself looks for an escape when this local reality housing unit of consciousness expires. The sensation of everyone being connected is probably the most common positive sensation psychedelic users report. That makes sense. There is even a theory that the early universe had the "Big Wow" moment, when the early universe had its first conscious experience. The universe then collapsed from a super position of possibilities, to the universe that has played out and we live in now. Big Wow, or not, I'm feeling pretty safe trusting the universe as its done pretty good so far.