By: Susanne Sims
Every human being has an innate curiosity about the mysteries of existence and consciousness. But how deep do our interests really go? And to what depths would we be willing to dive to find the gems of wisdom that lie in the heart of the universe?
Sadhus and saints of India, for example, have such a strong drive for transcendence that they deprive themselves of basic physical needs in order to overcome material reality. Yogis call this longing to be free from the limitations of the material world mukti. In the West, this kind of radical seeking and devotion is not common, yet there are seekers whose passions run just as deep.
One such mystic is Professor Christopher M. Bache, Ph.D., a teacher of philosophy and religious studies whose desire to understand the structure of the universe led him to conduct an extreme experiment in the realms of human consciousness. In his latest book, LSD and the Mind of the Universe, Bache details his 20 years of personal research in which he subjected himself to 73 therapeutically-structured, high dose LSD sessions.
Many of the sessions entailed physical and psychological discomfort. So why did he do it? Like the elite and brave medical doctors of old, who gave themselves a deadly disease or experimented on their own bodies to find a cure, Bache too ventured into this work on behalf of humanity. “It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it,” he recalls, adding in hindsight that he could have been more gentle on himself.
From as early as he can remember, Bache wanted to be a priest. In his biography he writes: “Where did this draw to the spiritual life come from? It felt like something I was simply born with. I entered the seminary in high school, at a time when this was still done, but after four years decided I was not cut out for celibacy and left.”
Now a Professor Emeritus at Youngstown State University, an adjunct faculty member at the California Institute of Integral Studies, Emeritus Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, and on the Advisory Council of Grof Legacy Training, Bache feels it is time to let the world know about his underground work.
His book provides fascinating accounts of these mind-altering sessions which he meticulously documented within 24 hours of the experience. To enhance his recall he listened the following day to the same musical soundtrack played during the session, which aided in recording his thoughts and impressions.
Reverentially referring to LSD as his “teaching medicine” he was struck many times by the elegant choreography and sequencing that took place from one session to the next. It was clear that a superior intelligence was guiding him, allowing information to unfold like chapters in a book. There was always a consistency in the teachings and the knowledge gained in one session would parlay into the next, regardless of how much time had passed between sessions.
Many sessions focused intensely on the the realms of individual and collective suffering. These parts of the book could be hard to digest at times, but the rewards of moving beyond this field came in time. The structure and purpose of reincarnation was explored and there were forays into the dimensions of time and space. Bache was also shown a promising vision of humanity’s future, which would arise after a difficult and painful transition involving planetary ecological collapse.
On a number of occasions Bache was overcome by ineffable bliss when he was bathed in divine light. The love was so profound it created in him a persistent longing for this experience of the beloved. The Hindu Upanishads speak of this light in much the same way that Bache does: ‘There a light that shines beyond all things, beyond the heavens, the very highest heavens. It is the light that shines within your heart.’ He came to describe this as “diamonds from heaven,” the subtitle of his book.
It takes incredible dedication and courage to venture into the psychedelic realms, and Bache credits psychiatrist Stanislov Grof, M.D. with giving him the tools and the confidence to undertake these heroic journeys. After so much exploration he has come to believe that the sole purpose of all psychedelic exploration is purification.
“There is an intense de-structuring of consciousness, a series of deaths and rebirths that take one deeper into the mind of the cosmos,” he explains. “It is not easy for the ego to enter into the transpersonal experience. Time and space keep us small and we must undergo a psychological ego death each time we enter into these realms. It’s a trust fall. Something I had to learn to surrender to.”
Ultimately Bache feels that the universe is interested in deepening our experience of itself. From my own limited experiences with LSD, I can concur with this sentiment. The guidance I received is that love needs to inhabit us in order to experience itself, and that there are many doorways into its temple.
Not everyone is suited for or drawn to experiencing psychedelics. To this end Bache reiterates the important role that spiritual practices play in bringing about deepening wisdom and transpersonal states. During some of his LSD sessions he relied on ancient Tibetan Buddhist practices to help him navigate.
Bache has certainly earned his stripes as a master psychonaut and his work is truly inspiring. We now have access to the knowledge he gained, which was so hard won. Like his own journeys which brought healing medicine to the collective soul, Bache’s work provides a much needed balm to humanity as we enter an uncertain and tumultuous future.
For more information, his talks, interviews, and a full catalogue of written works, see: www.ChrisBache.com
Photo Courtesy of TitanUI