This book is a Get Out of Jail Free card and a passport back into the playground.

The aim of this book is to set you free. But free from what? Free from neurosis. Free from the feeling that you have to obey authority. Free from emotional intimidation. Free from addiction. Free from inhibition.

The key to happiness, mental health and being the most that we can be is absolute and unconditional self-acceptance. The paradox is that many of our problems are caused by trying to improve ourselves, censor our thinking, make up for past misdeeds and struggling with our negative feelings whether of depression or aggression.

But if we consider ourselves in our entirety in this very moment, we know these things :

1. Anything we have done is in the past and cannot be changed, thus it is pointless to do anything else but accept it. No regrets or guilt.

2. While our actions can harm others, our thoughts and emotions, in and of themselves, never can. So we should accept them and allow them to be and go where they will. While emotions sometimes drive actions, those who completely accept their emotions and allow themselves to feel them fully, have more choice over how they act in the light of them.

Self-criticism never made anyone a better person. Anyone who does a “good deed” under pressure from their conscience or to gain the approval of others takes out the frustration involved in some other way. The basis for loving behaviour towards others is the ability to love ourselves. And loving ourselves unconditionally, means loving ourselves exactly as we are at this moment.

This might seem to be complacency, but in fact the natural activity of the individual is healthy growth, and what holds us back from it is fighting with those things we can’t change and the free thought and emotional experience which is the very substance of that growth.

How to Be Free is available as a free ebook from Smashwords, iBooks in some countries, Kobo and Barnes & Noble

It is also available in paperback from Lulu or Amazon for $10 US, plus postage.

The ebook version currently has received 725 ***** out of ***** ratings on U.S. iBooks.

Friday, 4 August 2017

BOOK REVIEW : DMT - The Spirit Molecule by Rick Strassman, M.D.

What if we could trace the biochemistry of mystical or religious experiences? Materialists might see this as a way to explain away such events as aberrations arising from physiological disfunction, much as they sometimes tend to see depression as nothing more than a shortage of serotonin, as if the happiness of a dog were produced by a sufficient amount of tail-wagging. This would be no more rational than to think that our understanding of how the eye works lessons the size and magnificence of the galaxies we can see with it. The reality of such experiences can best be assessed by the effect they have on the lives of the experiencers. This says nothing about whether anything experienced as existing in an external physical sense actually has that independent existence. Think of it this way. If you read Hamlet, you are reading a work of fiction, but the play actually exists as a coherent creation which has the power to effect how you live your life. If someone has an experience which is far richer and more powerful than that, but of which there is no identifiable author, then that is something real, the mysterious nature of which is not so easy to explain away.

N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a powerful, fast-acting psychedelic drug, the active ingredient in the ayahuasca brew used by Amazonian tribes for their shamanistic rituals. It is very similar in structure to serotonin, and occurs naturally in many plants and animals, including humans. Between 1990 and 1995, Dr. Rick Strassman administered this drug intravenously to 60 volunteers. This was the first psychedelic drug research on human volunteers to be performed in the United States in over 20 years. While the avowed aim of the research was to test the physical effects of the drug at different dosages, Strassman was hoping to explore his theory that such altered states of consciousness as near-death experiences, dreams and psychotic hallucinations might be mediated by the body’s production of DMT. He calls the substance “the spirit molecule” and believes that it may be produced by the pineal gland. (In 2013 researchers reported finding DMT in the pineal gland of rodents.) DMT is very fast acting when injected. The trip would begin almost instantly and be completely over in half an hour.

Some of Strassman’s volunteers did describe mystical states or something akin to a near-death experience. But the hardest thing to explain was that a significant number had encounters with alien beings, some of whom performed probes or other surgical procedures on them. The similarity to reports of alien abduction couldn’t be ignored. Strassman initially tried to use the conventional psychoanalytic approach to dreams, looking for some symbolic relationship between the drug experience and the key current issues in the volunteers life. This was not productive. The volunteers insisted that these were not dreams, but something more real than everyday reality. So Strassman was forced to adopt the strategy of viewing these creatures as something which might actually exist in some sense. The best hypothesis he has been able to come up with is that they are the inhabitants of some kind of parallel universe or some realm of dark matter. This is a troubling idea, especially since one poor man was pack raped by alien alligators in this DMT realm.

Not surprisingly the most interesting part of this book is the account of the psychedelic experiences of the volunteers. The book as a whole is tantalising and fascinating but a little unsatisfying, because there is still so little data on which to assess Strassman’s hypotheses. This is hardly his fault. He explains in great detail how hard it was to organise his study, how many things went wrong and why he wasn’t able to go on to further studies. By honestly and clearly describing the struggles, the risks and the mistakes, along with his inspirational vision of what could be in the future if enough people support psychedelic research, he has provided an indispensable resource.

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