Pubdate: Wed, 17 Aug 2016
Source: City Paper (MD)
Copyright: 2016 Baltimore City Paper
Author: Travis Kitchens
Bookmark: (Hallucinogens)


Most scientists don't include personal stories in their research 
reports, but for John Lilly, personal experiences and science 
experiments were the same thing.

His ears, eyes, mouth, and nose were calibrated probes.

His mind was the unbiased observer, the ideal model for dispassionate inquiry.

Knowledge and experience led him to new sets of questions, not firmly 
held beliefs.

But as anyone who has traveled into the psychedelic spaces knows, 
soon after arrival, one quickly finds out that the scientist's tool 
kit-language-is much too small and inadequate for the job. The 
scientist's reaction to the psychedelic experience is a set of 
questions that sound more like a seeker's. This is the crux of the 
enigma of John Lilly.

In the last two decades, Johns Hopkins University has renewed 
experiments with psychedelic drugs, a research frontier Lilly was 
drawn to as long ago as the '60s. In fact, Maryland has a long 
history of clinical and experimental psychedelic research stretching 
back to the earliest investigations into the psychedelic drug 
lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. Albert Hofmann accidentally 
discovered LSD in 1938 at Sandoz Labs in Switzerland. In 1947, Sandoz 
began offering it free of cost for psychiatric research, and the 
National Institutes of Health in Bethesda gave its researchers, 
including Lilly, free rein to investigate any potential use for the 
substance. The Maryland Psychiatric Research Center at Spring Grove 
Hospital in Catonsville also conducted extensive psychedelic research 
with LSD and psilocybin (the active compound in "magic mushrooms") 
for many years, ending in 1977. Psychedelics are now experiencing a 
renewed surge in interest, primarily due to the efforts of 
psychopharmacologist Roland Griffiths, who along with psychologist 
Bill Richards began volunteer research studies with psychedelics in 
1999 at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

That first study, the intriguing results of which were published in 
2006, was crucial in restoring legitimacy to psychedelic research. 
"Two-thirds of the participants who received psilocybin rated their 
experiences as among the five most important events of their lives," 
Richards reported in his 2015 book "Sacred Knowledge." Since that 
first study, nearly 300 additional volunteers have passed through 
Hopkins in various studies involving psychedelics with very similar 
results. These studies rigorously designed and carried out at a 
conservative and distinguished medical center by a leading drug 
researcher with a reputation for excellence provided a green light to 
other researchers and institutions to pursue their own studies. 
Research studies with psychedelics are now underway at a dozen or 
more universities around the world.

It may be surprising to learn that the most striking, profound, and 
well-documented religious and mystical experiences are happening 
every week inside of a research center at Bayview in East Baltimore, 
rather than inside of a church or synagogue.

Though mystical experiences do happen spontaneously, psychedelics are 
the most dependable trigger for profound religious and mystical 
experiences when used in the right setting.

The use of mysticism for gleaning hidden knowledge is a long 
tradition going back to the beginning of written and oral history, 
and was the primary source of wisdom for the ancient philosophers 
Plato and Heraclitus, whose mystic insights were complimented by 
rational scientific minds.

As the great British mathematician, philosopher, and social critic 
Bertrand Russell said in his 1976 "Mysticism and Logic": "The 
greatest philosophers have felt the need both of science and of 
mysticism." One of the most clearly written and insightful recent 
books on the relationship between mystical experiences and the 
therapeutic value of psychedelics is Bill Richards' "Sacred 
Knowledge." He has spent over 25 years of his professional life doing 
legal psychedelic research and he also worked with Lilly for a brief 
time at Spring Grove.

Lilly, who died in 2001, is not just an important historical figure 
in psychedelic research, though he is surely that as well. His 
research into LSD and ketamine and the conclusions he reached have 
been virtually ignored outside of the counterculture and the often 
ridiculed, mostly affluent and politically detached "New Age" scene. 
The breadth and density of his output, along with the technical 
nature of the language in which he wrote, have surely contributed to 
his obscurity as well. But despite this marginalization, the most 
recent studies into the brain, memories, the isolation tank, and 
psychedelics are providing new evidence that Lilly was far ahead of 
his time in understanding the science behind cognition and 
psychedelics, sparking a renewed interest and investigation into his work.

Lilly's work-scientific papers, lectures, and 12 books-took him in 
surprising directions. His first book, published in 1961, was "Man 
and Dolphin," which predicted that within 10 to 20 years, humans 
would establish communication with another species, most likely 
dolphins. He saw himself as working in the tradition of Aristotle, 
who had studied and written extensively about dolphins approximately 
2,300 years earlier. "If we are to seek communication with other 
species we must first grant the possibility that some other species 
may have a potential (or even realized) intellectual development 
comparable to our own," Lilly suggested.

He was skeptical of the vain assumption (or belief) that humans are 
the ultimate product of evolution, and believed that getting 
scientists to entertain the possibility of communication with other 
species was the first obstacle to pursuing this potentially valuable research.

His book detailed efforts to establish communication with dolphins by 
teaching them English. Some of Lilly' recordings from his attempts to 
communicate with dolphins were released on an LP by Smithsonian 
Folkways in 1973 under the title "Sounds and the Ultra-Sounds of the 
Bottle-Nose Dolphin." His life and work seeped into other weird pop 
culture relics, inspiring both the 1980 film "Altered States" and 
1973's "The Day of the Dolphin."

Lilly's most accessible book, "The Center of the Cyclone," published 
in 1972, is an autobiographical work documenting his personal search 
for the meaning of life. He describes his experimentation with 
different levels of consciousness using the isolation tank and 
psychedelic drugs, meditation, hypnosis, and psychoanalysis-all 
things that have gained widespread acceptance. "It is my firm belief 
that the experience of higher states of consciousness is necessary 
for survival of the human species," Lilly writes in the introduction. 
In 1977 "The Deep Self" was published, synthesizing Lilly's research 
into isolation and its effects on human consciousness. "Simulations 
of God: The Science of Belief" was released in 1975. In his most 
abstract work, Lilly assigns the term "God" to the underlying 
assumptions that construct the belief systems that control human 
behavior. He then outlines the consequences of those beliefs on our 
behavior, and describes the way societies function based on different 
cultural beliefs and values. "For many people the possession of money 
is equated with God. The belief that God is money and money is God is 
a powerful determinant of behavior in our Western society," Lilly writes.

His magnum opus, "Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human 
Biocomputer" received a proper publication in 1972, but it was 
initially leaked in 1967 after being favorably reviewed by the Whole 
Earth Catalog, a popular counterculture magazine of the time. At the 
request of Whole Earth, Lilly mimeographed 300 copies himself to be 
sold through the catalog, and it quickly became a much-discussed 
underground classic.

Essentially a handbook on how to jailbreak the mind using LSD and the 
isolation tank, its circulation led to speculation and gossip within 
the science community that Lilly had lost his mind, leading to the 
termination of the government grants supporting his dolphin research.

After his funding was pulled, Lilly decided to close the dolphin 
research labs and move to Catonsville to pursue clinical psychedelic 
research at Spring Grove Hospital-once again circling back to 
Maryland where he could research psychedelics legally.

Lilly liked to say that his own beliefs were unbelievable. His 
oft-repeated maxim: "In the province of the mind, what is believed to 
be true is true or becomes true, within limits to be found 
experientially and experimentally." Over the years, experimenting 
with different levels of consciousness, Lilly would go on to explore 
everything from interspecies communication and astral travel to 
mystical experiences, telepathy, and alien contact.

John Lilly found the scientist's toolkit too limited for his research 
on psychedelics. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Origins of a Scientist

Born in 1915 in St. Paul, Minnesota, physician and biologist John 
Cunningham Lilly was what William S. Burroughs called a natural 
outlaw: "those dedicated to breaking the so-called natural laws of 
the universe foisted upon us by physicists, chemists, mathematicians, 
and biologists, and, above all, the monumental fraud of cause and 
effect, to be replaced by the more pregnant concept of 
synchronicity." Lilly's life story forms a virtual blueprint on how 
to escape the confines of the physical body, and he had a natural 
ally in Burroughs, who insisted that humans are "an artifact designed 
for space travel," no more designed to remain in our present biologic 
state "than a tadpole is designed to remain a tadpole."

Lilly, whose life has been well documented in hundreds of press 
interviews, some biographies, and his own books, says that he had his 
first vision at age seven.

It was not well received. "Only saints have visions!" a sister 
scoffed, and few in his family believed him. Mystical experiences, he 
was told, were not spontaneously received by just anyone.

Three years later, after achieving orgasm on his parent's "body 
shaker" (an antique exercise machine fitted with a vibrating belt), 
the boy collapsed on the floor into a state of "moist-eyed, 
wet-crotched post-orgasmic bliss." For him, it was a religious 
experience. But when his parents returned and found him slumped on 
the floor in front of the machine, they scolded him, and referred him 
to the family doctor and a Catholic priest.

The experts told him that masturbation was a health hazard and mortal 
sin, too much of this "abuse" would eventually result in insanity.

He did not understand why something so wonderful was associated with 
embarrassment and shame.

The seeds of his scientific journey were sown, and he decided from 
there on out those ideas that conflict with experience must be 
abandoned. "If religion didn't agree with his own experience," Lilly 
deduced, "then religion itself must be wrong."

Lilly grew up in ideal conditions for a scientist.

On a 160-acre farm outside St. Paul, the young scientist spent his 
nights studying the stars. During the day, he dug for fossils, played 
with bugs, and observed nature.

His father, a successful banker and philanthropist, supplied Lilly 
with the financial independence required for a creative and risky 
scientific career.

In a 1990 biography co-authored by Francis Jeffrey, Lilly said that 
money is a "psychotic system," describing it as "a form of 
forestalled violence waiting to pounce on anyone who weakens, as in a 
pack of wolves or a school of sharks." He never had to worry about 
the limits of money, and had the freedom to pursue whatever kind of 
research he wanted.

While still a teen, he read "Brave New World" and became captivated 
with Huxley's vision of people who were transformed into "ideal 
citizens" (i.e. consumers) through conditioning (i.e. media), learned 
limitations (i.e. laws, schools), and genetic engineering. He was 
struck by the way the characters escaped limited reality by ingesting 
"soma," a tranquilizing drug.

In 1940, he entered medical school at the University of Pennsylvania 
after spending two years at Dartmouth. His mentor at there, the 
physiologist H.C. Bazett, introduced the technique that would 
establish Lilly's maverick approach to drug research.

Bazett told Lilly that a scientist should never conduct an experiment 
on someone that he had not done on himself first.

Bazett had in turn learned from his own mentor, the noted Indian 
scientist J.B.S. Haldane. To obtain scientific data on the human 
respiratory system, Haldane acted as his own guinea pig and gassed 
himself with mustard gas and guzzled various dilutions of 
hydrochloric acid, calcium chloride, and other chemicals, often 
becoming violently ill in the process.

In the spirit of objectivity, Haldane referred to himself in research 
notes in the third person, explaining that he thought of himself as 
he would anyone else.

Lilly drew from this and came to see his body as a sacrifice to 
science, a laboratory and crash test dummy.

In his own "metaphysical autobiography," Lilly cops Haldane's 
approach and refers to himself in third-person as simply "The 
Scientist." His life story is written as a final report on a lifelong 
series of experiments on his own brain and the results, and he 
eschews justifications for his actions. The reason he did what he did 
was simple: he wanted to find out what would happen, as with any 
other experiment. The easiest and most effective way of investigating 
a drug is trying it yourself, he believed. He followed the rules of 
science-and then bent the rules-going on to become an officer in the 
United States Public Health Corps and a recipient of a Research 
Career Award from the National Institutes of Health.

He was brilliant, and he knew it.

Stepping Outside Convention

Lilly, a tall, thin man with a regal and bird-like chiseled face, 
reported for duty at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, 
Maryland in 1953. In a building used by the Navy to study underwater 
breathing apparatus for divers, he developed the isolation tank. At 
this time, there were two opposing beliefs about brain activity.

One group of scientists believed that the brain needed external 
stimulation to stay awake, and the other group believed that the 
brain's systems continued to oscillate and be active at all times, 
regardless of whether the brain was conducting transactions with the 
external world.

This group also believed that consciousness was derived from this 
ongoing activity in the circuitry of the brain. Over the next two 
years, Lilly shaped the tank to exclude external stimulation and 
answer this question.

Early prototypes of the isolation tank were difficult to use and 
involved being completely submerged in water inside of a horizontal 
tube with a breathing apparatus attached to your face like a diver. 
Over the years, such tanks continue to be used, but have been refined 
into large, enclosed bathtubs.

Climbing inside through a front hatch, a person enters an environment 
of complete darkness and lies in water that is neither hot nor cold 
(93 F). The water is heavily concentrated with Epsom salt, making it 
easy to float on top, face-up, with no pressure on the body.

Floating in this dark cave, Lilly discovered that the isolated mind 
becomes highly active and creative. "I did not tend to go to sleep at 
all," Lilly explained in his 1972 book, "The Center of the Cyclone." 
"The original theory was wrong.... One did not need external 
stimulation to stay awake.

After a few tens of hours of experiences, I found phenomena that had 
been previously described in various literatures. I went through 
dreamlike states, trancelike states, mystical states." By isolating 
the mind, Lilly also found that he could also harness the power of 
his heightened senses. "By cutting off the environment I could 
examine the self in stark relief from a perspective that simply 
wasn't available to those who were continually involved with the 
demands of the outside world."

Lilly believed that by becoming unconscious of the body you could 
reduce the size of your consciousness, or observer, to an incredibly 
small size, allowing travel on a quantum level to different universes 
and galaxies as a small feeling/recording device. "At these levels 
there seem to be 'doorways' into other universes, doorways of 
incredibly small size, but nonetheless doorways."

Renowned theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler (1911-2008), a 
graduate of Baltimore City College high school, possibly provided 
some complementary insight to Lilly's mystical observation. Wheeler 
pioneered the study of black holes, helped build the atomic bomb, 
collaborated with Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein, and earned his PhD 
in physics from Johns Hopkins University at the age of twenty-one. 
His colleagues described him as a visionary, one who pushed the 
frontiers of science forward by means of physical intuition.

Wheeler believed that "wormholes" (a term he invented) could act as a 
kind of cosmic shortcut through space and time, essentially a bridge 
linking different universes and points across vast distances.

Theoretically, if you were small enough to jump inside of one, it 
would allow you to travel forward or backward in time faster than the 
speed of light.

Wheeler's wormholes look a lot like Lilly's doorways.

Wheeler later concluded, along with Einstein, that time and the 
separation between past, present, and future was only an illusion.

He also never gave up the belief that consciousness, or the observer, 
was a participant in shaping physical reality.

Though Wheeler explicitly dismissed using his theory for supporting 
telepathy and extrasensory perception, it's possible that the latest 
science behind psychedelics and consciousness may eventually prove 
both Lilly and Wheeler correct. Lilly liked to point out that magic 
was simply the outward appearance of science we don't yet understand, 
and that "radio was silent in the 1700's." With practice, Lilly could 
simply park his body in the isolation tank and disappear; directly 
observing the workings of other dimensions while the world around him 
scurried like buzzed ants.

Lilly's work in the isolation tank, which began during the Korean War 
when the government was interested in devising techniques of 
brainwashing, rejected the notion of using it for torture, opting 
instead to focus on its use as a tool of cognitive liberation-a time 
machine, magic mirror, and mental radio all in one-and laid the 
groundwork for the contemporary float tank industry, which is 
experiencing a surge in popularity among Americans seeking retreat 
from a culture constantly assaulting the senses with artificial noise 
(See Field Tripping, p. 26).

Over time, Lilly became obsessed with his vessel, and practically 
detached himself completely from the outside world and its 
commitments, including his crumbling marriage.

He spent hundreds of hours in the tank studying himself and exploring 
other dimensions. Lilly's colleagues at NIH encouraged him to try LSD 
in the tank, but he refused.

Though it was legal and easily attainable for researchers at the 
time, Lilly didn't want anything to contaminate his isolation 
research. But that would soon change.

He resigned from NIH in 1958 and with government grants constructed 
research labs in the Virgin Islands and Florida to investigate 
another large-brained floating mammal: the dolphin.

If humans were capable of meditating such extraordinary things, he 
wondered, what was the larger brain of the dolphin capable of?

Exploring LSD

Immersed in his research efforts to communicate with dolphins, it 
would be five years before Lilly turned his sites on LSD. But in 
1964, he began to consider how the psychedelic drug might help his 
research into the mind.

He knew that researchers were told not to take LSD alone, that it 
could make a person feel like he had gone temporarily insane, and 
that a guide was recommended to watch over the physical body while 
the mind was away. He knew that he would need courage to take LSD 
alone in his isolation tank because fear is not an ideal state of 
mind for seeing things clearly.

Putting up a resistance would only attenuate and distort the channel, 
producing a bad reading of the experience, thus skewing his results, 
or data. He had to relax and become wide open to get the full experience.

In May 1964, Lilly picked up a bottle labeled "Delysid (LSD 25)" and 
pierced its rubber top with a hypodermic needle, drawing in 100 
micrograms. He injected the substance into his right thigh and 
climbed into his isolation tank. LSD acts like rocket fuel when used 
in isolation and the combination blasted Lilly further out of his 
body and into the universe than he had ever imagined possible.

It was terrifying, he recalled. "I moved into a region of strange 
life forms, neither above nor below the human level, but strange 
beings, of strange shapes, metabolism, thought forms, and so forth," 
he'd later write.

He then traveled down into his own body as a single point of 
consciousness, of feeling and recording, and explored his systems and 
organs all the way down to the atomic level.

He became a speck on the sunbeam of some other universe, one thought 
in a huge mind, and one program in a cosmic computer.

Psychedelics can disable time and space, allowing users to experience 
unfiltered reality down to the quantum level and so, while a very 
sobering experience, it can be incredibly freeing and healing, Lilly 

Lilly was a sexually repressed Midwestern Catholic boy with Welsh and 
German roots.

He had designed his life as a quest for knowledge, and that had given 
his life purpose and meaning, but it didn't provide for balance.

His relationships with women were marred by detachment, infidelity, 
and, ironically, communication problems.

Inside the isolation tank, he saw these issues in new light, he said. 
His psychedelic experiences were humbling and helped him to realize 
that letting his scientific mindset carry over into his personal life 
had made him a sometimes cold and arrogant person, uninterested in 
examining the bonds that tied him to other humans.

"It was the most punishing I had ever had in my whole life," he wrote 
in the "Center of the Cyclone" in 1972. "The pain, the terror, the 
paranoid feelings were of the maximum energy that my organism could 
possibly have sustained without burning me out. During the next few 
days I was to experience and feel love of the intensity that I had 
felt earlier in my childhood.

I was to go through grief, through all sorts of emotions that I had 
been blocking off and refusing to recognize because of my 
"scientific" knowledge.

For the first time I began to consider that God really existed in me 
and that there is a guiding intelligence in the universe.

For the first time since childhood, life was precious: the sun, the 
sea, the air, all were precious."

Self-analysis on psychedelics is absolutely ruthless and life 
altering, Lilly discovered. The experience of seeing one's own life 
with complete objectivity is justifiably perceived as a religious 
experience, along with feelings of being "born again" into a world of 
restored meaning that gave Lilly a more fearless perspective on life and death.

He noted how psychedelics tied into spirituality, exploring how these 
ideas shrouded in mystery and deeply interwoven into cultures, 
religions, arts, and sciences throughout history were difficult to 
explain, so metaphors were employed to condense research down into 
narratives and tales, making ancient knowledge more easily 
transmittable through the oral tradition.

He wondered, were psychedelics then the missing link between science 
and spirituality? Lilly began to believe that religion was an area 
for experimental science. He converted over 20 years of intense 
research and hundreds of experiments into a system of diagrams, 
correspondences, flowcharts, and instructions creating, in essence, a 

The Human Guinea Pig

Lilly's trademark look in the 1980's befitted a pioneer of the mind. 
He favored a Daniel Boone-style coonskin cap and maroon tracksuit, 
with a compass and Swiss army knife attached to the pockets.

His left hand was bandaged from a third-degree battery acid burn he 
incurred flipping his Dodge Camper (license plate number: "DOLFIN") 
over in the middle of the Pacific Coast Highway in 1987 after falling 
asleep at the wheel.

On his way home one morning, he ran up an embankment on the right 
side of the road, flipping his camper.

He claimed that if he had been wearing his seatbelt, he'd have been 
decapitated. He spent most of his time submerged in inner spaces, 
though could sometimes be found sauntering across the grounds of the 
Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, wearing a robe like Obi Wan 
Kenobi, dispensing wisdom and lecturing on dolphins, isolation, and 
psychedelics. "Cosmic love is absolutely ruthless and highly 
indifferent," Lilly would tell acolytes. "It teaches its lessons 
whether you like them or not." By 1987, the elder scientist and sage 
was living with chronic pain from using his body as a laboratory and 
vehicle for discovery for almost 40 years.

After all, he had not limited his research to LSD. In fact, after 
being introduced to the dissociative psychedelic drug ketamine by a 
friend and fellow physician in 1973 as a possible cure for his 
migraine headaches, he became enthralled with the drug and embarked 
on a drug investigation that nearly took his life on several occasions.

Ketamine, a commonly used anesthetic in animal care, makes users 
completely unaware of their bodies when taken in high doses.

Lilly described the drug as a "chemical isolation tank" and he nearly 
drowned after passing out in his hot tub under its influence one day. 
After standing up too fast, his blood pressure plummeted and he fell 
unconscious face down in the water.

He was transported by helicopter to a hospital and treated for a cut 
to the head. But in Lilly's mind, he had traveled to a utopian future world.

After recovering from his injury and spending several days in a 
psychiatric hospital to judge his mental competence, he was discharged.

He continued to do intensive research on the long-term effects of 
ketamine for years.

For three weeks straight, in 1974, he injected 50 milligrams of 
ketamine into his thigh 20 times a day, taking four hours off for sleep.

Lilly became convinced that he was a visitor from the year 3001. One 
night, while relaxing with his wife at home, he noticed a strange 
flickering on the television, while U.S. Attorney General Elliot 
Richardson was delivering a speech.

Lilly imagined that entities from another galaxy were intervening in 
human affairs through extraterrestrial agents disguised as government 
officials. Solid state electronics, including his television, were 
their tools of manipulation. He knew that he must contact the White 
House to warn them of this conspiracy before it was too late. He flew 
to New York alone, injecting ketamine all along the way. From a hotel 
room off Central Park, he phoned the White House and asked for 
President Gerald Ford. "What do you wish to speak to the President 
about?" the voice on the other end inquired. "I wish to speak to him 
about a danger to the human race involving atomic energy and 
computers," Lilly replied. "I will have to have more details than 
that. Who are you?" Lilly introduced himself before a psychiatrist 
friend grabbed the phone, apologized, and hung up. Lilly was 
involuntarily checked into a New York State Psychiatric Hospital.

Soon after his release he re-initiated his research.

In and out of the isolation tank, Lilly studied how different 
concentrations of ketamine in the blood corresponded to changes in 
levels of consciousness. But a near-fatal bicycle crash in 1974 
finally ended this drug study.

On a long, twisting canyon road near his home in Malibu, Lilly was 
blissfully zipping along on his ten-speed when he lost connection 
with the external world.

His bicycle was moving at 30 mph when the chain fell off and the wheels locked.

Lilly was launched over the handlebars onto the hard pavement 
shoulder-first. He spent nine days in the hospital, suffering a 
broken collarbone, scapula, several ribs, and a punctured lung. His 
reputation and credibility were also seriously injured as a result of 
these events.

To some of his orthodox colleagues, Lilly spoke more like a space 
cadet than a scientist, and his unconventional approach to research 
was mistaken for addiction. "When one is doing research on a 
substance, one takes it so frequently that outside observers can say 
you're addicted, but that's a very bad definition of addiction.

Any good research is obsessive and compulsive," Lilly explained.

He spent the rest of the 1970s and '80s pursuing his research into 
ketamine (under safer conditions) and in isolation at his ranch in 
Malibu. He also reinitiated his efforts into dolphin communication in 
hopes of using newer and more sophisticated computers available at 
the time as an interface between man and dolphin.

In the 1990s he relocated to Hawaii and continued to travel around 
the world giving talks on his dolphin research.

Lilly's Legacy

In Lilly's seminal 1972 book, "Programming and Metaprogramming in the 
Human Biocomputer," he explored how much of human behavior was 
genetically determined and how much was "installed" by experiences in 
life, laying the groundwork for future research on the topic.

In essence, Lilly found a graveyard at the outer limits of 
consciousness, a place where bad experiences are buried and 
forgotten. These experiences are coded into belief systems or 
assumptions-the beliefs behind your beliefs, as he described it-that 
operate like background programs running in our subconscious and 
controlling our behavior.

With isolation and LSD, Lilly said that he was able to hack into the 
control panel of the mind and reveal these hidden sets of beliefs.

Once revealed, or brought into awareness, limiting beliefs could be 
worked out through self-analysis and positive changes in behavior, he 
said. Limiting beliefs might be assumptions about appearance, 
self-worth, or current situation.

Lilly urged readers to clean out the attic of their minds-unpacking 
and going through boxes of old pictures-in order to relive the 
painful memories and move toward healing.

This "re programming," he said, enables people to see things more 
objectively, to see more of the unfiltered reality.

This attainment of higher states of consciousness was the only way to 
find mentally healthy paths to personal and social progress, he believed.

Beliefs, unlike morals, are temporary platforms that dissolve into 
more complex beliefs as your consciousness is raised-experience is 
gained and better questions are formulated. Lilly saw psychedelic 
drugs as a way of advance this process of self-awareness. "Too many 
intellectuals and scientists (almost unconsciously) use basic 
assumptions as defenses against their fears of other assumptions and 
their consequences," Lilly explained.

Looking into our assumptions, or limits, about what is and isn't 
possible, can reveal new possibilities and paths to real progress, he 
said. "Freedom is in the unknown."

By using these sets of assumptions as tools of scientific 
investigation-setting them up, knocking them back down again, and 
moving them like scaffolding to navigate the mind in search of higher 
truths-Lilly was determined to reconfigure our perception of reality. 
With these thought experiments, he sought to obtain data from the 
nether regions of the mind and used the information he gathered on 
these forays to create a map of the subconscious.

But in 1968, Lilly was instructed that all experiments with 
psychedelics were to be stopped, and was told to send his reserves of 
Sandoz back to Switzerland. On the last day he could use the 
substance for research, Lilly took a powerboat out onto the sea, 
north of the British Virgin Islands. Shortly after injecting himself 
with LSD, he felt two presences near the boat. "Two dolphins," the 
skipper announced, as two dolphins emerged out of the water.

Lilly then felt another, larger presence. "Whale!" the skipper added.

A finback whale accompanied the two dolphins.

They rowed the boat up next to them. "She (the whale) zapped me," 
Lilly reported. "I've never had such a powerful blast of mental 
telepathic information being shot into my brain....For twenty minutes 
she riveted my attention. She had one eye turned up looking at me, 
and then dropped down into 12,000 feet of water and just disappeared. 
I've never had such an experience since."

In 1970, Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act making most 
psychedelics a Schedule One drug: those with "no currently accepted 
medical use in treatment in the United States." As federal research 
funding dried up and heavy restrictions were placed on obtaining 
substances for research purposes, the scientific community wound down 
its work. The last psychedelic research study in the United States 
was at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center at Spring Grove 
Hospital in 1977, and the man who administered the last dose of 
psilocybin to the final volunteer was psychologist Bill Richards. It 
would be over two decades before clinical psychedelic research would resume.

When Lilly died in Los Angeles on September 30, 2001, he was 86 years 
old. Of Lilly, one of his former colleagues remarked, "there were 
those who thought he was brilliant, and there were those who just 
thought he was insane, I, of course, thought he was a little bit of both."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom