Sunday, February 10, 2013
Saw this discussion on Real Time with Bill Maher, the other night, regarding the near death experience of some neurologist, and the spiritual significance he put on it. The panel went into what happens to the brain under such critical conditions, such as deprivation of oxygen, and the cocktail of endorphins, dmt, and whatever else. Hallucinations are pretty much to be expected.
Not wanting to entirely belittle the experience, it was conceded that, "hallucinations are real to some people," followed by some vague references to recreational drug use, which they all laughed off, but I think that insight deserves more than that.
The way he put it was pretty weak, but think I got what he meant, and I think there's a much stronger point to be made there. Hallucination is still a product of reality, of the chemistry in our brains, and more importantly, an experience we go through. That it's all in our own minds doesn't really negate that. All experience is, first and foremost, an experience- that is, a process our brains go through. A process which can feel meaningful, give us some clue about the world around us, or teach us something. It's all about how we interpret it.
I think it's kind of sad, the way people look on hallucination. People are so bound to their narrow little views of reality, so sure of what's real, and what's not. So quick to assume others share similar views, instinctively reinforcing our interpretations whenever possible, rather than really inspecting them. Oblivious to how blind we all are, how much of what see is already the product of our own minds, doing our best to supplement that blindness.
The way we see things is primarily just what evolution's worked out so far, as what works best for keeping us alive and prosperous. While that's going to have some correlation with reality, it really only works as well as it's needed to, to that end. It can even be deceitful, when truth isn't necessarily in our best interest.
I think it's hallucination that can be an incredible tool, for giving us some perspective. It can be an experience that yanks us out of the familiar every day we've come to have so much faith in. It can give us information and insights we wouldn't otherwise have had, albeit more indirectly. It can be a powerful experience. It can definitely be real to some people, but what we make of that reality, is entirely a matter of interpretation. You'd be a fool to take it at face value, but then again, I'd say the same is true of how the brain processes its experiences, even under the most normal of conditions.