LSD And A New Way To Think About Life
“The purpose of life, existence, and the universe is that it’s for you.”
The contemplation of life, existence, and the nature of being is a fundamental part of the human experience that dates all the way back to Ancient Greece. As far as we know, we are the only species that possesses inherent knowledge of life’s finiteness. Despite the explanations offered by philosophy, religion, and science, the answer to the meaning of life remains ambiguous. I certainly don’t have the answer, but I’d like to provide some food for thought: a different way of thinking about life inspired by LSD. I’d like to use this interpretation to offer an insightful way to think about your own existence and to try to provide examples of how to best optimize your time on this earth.
I’d like to note two things before I go on. The first is a PSA that, in the U.S. where I’m writing, LSD is an illegal substance that warrants legal repercussions for those caught using or distributing it. Whether or not you or I agree with the law, it is what it is. The second is that I have never personally used LSD. I don’t necessarily think it’s either good or bad and I’m aware of both the positives and negatives associated with its use. I just haven’t made the decision to use it up to this point in my life.
I’m writing this article because I was inspired by a video produced by PsychedSubstance that shows one individual’s experience with LSD that I found incredibly insightful and thought provoking. I’m in no way affiliated with the channel but I do recommend checking it out if you are interested in psychedelics and thinking outside of the societal norm. I’m also deeply interested in your personal familiarity with LSD and anything you can share that will help expand my knowledge of the subject so please feel free to leave a comment. Now onto the topic…
“The purpose of life, existence, and the universe is that it’s for you.” I’m aware I already stated this, but I want to really let this statement sink in. What does this mean? LSD is known for it’s ability to expand the consciousness of the user. It’s been used as a tool to help answer difficult life questions and to provide aid for psychological and emotional issues. The statement above is essentially what the individual in the video, during the peak of his trip, was able to articulate. Before we endorse this as an incredible insight or discredit it due to the illegal nature of the substance used to induce it, let’s look at this idea a little closer.
Let’s, for a moment, pretend we do not have preconceived notions about the meaning of life. Let’s allow ourselves to be open-minded and examine this new concept with as much objectivity as we can muster. The mark of a wise individual is the ability to entertain two paradoxical ideas without judgment until they have been carefully examined. Perhaps we can alter or improve our current paradigm based off of the ideas inspired by this new concept.
My interpretation of this concept is that it postures that our individual cognizance of life and reality IS the meaning of life. The ability to be conscious and aware, being able to feel emotions and sensations, the ability to see, hear, taste, and communicate, the fact we can move our bodies without thinking, our capacity to think, reason, and create…everything that comprises the awareness of being alive as perceived by the individual is the meaning of existence. It’s as if the universe has personalized the journey of life for us simply for the sake of the journey itself. I’m going to attempt to go a little deeper…
I believe this idea reconciles the fact that the universe is so complex that we can’t possibly determine or comprehend why anything (us, the world, the universe) exists or why it is set up the way it is. This doesn’t necessarily mean it was or wasn’t constructed by a higher power but it does suggest that the complexity is beyond human comprehension. I think that instead of trying to understand more and more and delve deeper into metaphysics and the understanding of reality, this concept accepts the fact that there are things beyond us that are simply unknowable. This idea probably drives scientists and other truth-seekers absolutely mad because the insatiable desire to learn and discover more about the universe is an inherent part of human nature.
This concept appears to assume a sense of humility and acceptance at the fact that we are incredibly small and perhaps insignificant in the grand scheme of things. This humility, acceptance, and understanding of our own inability to comprehend beyond that which we can perceive with our senses and reason with our minds allows us to focus less on “the meaning of the meaning of the meaning” of existence and more on the actual experience of existence itself.
Life is a gift. In order to fully appreciate the gift that is life, I’d like to dive briefly into the concept of death. I believe this idea draws upon the fact we have no clue what happens after we die. It doesn’t necessarily suggest that there is or is not an afterlife or other condition of being after the dissolution of consciousness but rather assumes humility and acceptance at the fact it’s impossible to know. There are many ways to ponder what happens after we die: heaven, hell, resurrection, reincarnation, nothing, etc. The fact remains that the observation of death is impossible to emulate until we actually die.
I always enjoyed Plato’s Phaedo in which he describes Socrates’ ideas on the nature of death. Socrates says that one of two things will happen after he dies: 1) He has lived a just life and if there is an afterlife he will join the heroes that he’s read about in the stories or 2) there is nothing after death and it will be like going to sleep without dreaming, which is really not so bad. I’m not trying to dive too deeply into the philosophy of death and the afterlife but I do believe that the experience of death, whether we are capable of being conscious of it or not, will be entirely different than the perception of being alive and that the idea of death can be used to add context and duality necessary for appreciating life.
Based on this new concept and philosophy, we’ve fully accepted the fact that we cannot understand the universe, the absolute meaning of existence, or what the experience of death is like. As a result, we are left with the consciousness of our own existence. Consciousness, as far as I can tell, is personal to each and every individual and is realized in a unique manner contingent upon the individual. As such, it is the sole gift and responsibility of the individual to experience life for themselves. We cannot experience life for anyone other than ourselves. We can include others in our experience but it is still our perception.
I believe that this knowledge implies that it’s our responsibility to achieve our dreams, to appreciate the use of our lungs, to form emotional bonds with others, to be happy, to feel gratitude, to take time to smell the roses, and to be thankful for the fact that we have the opportunity to be a part of this world.
My very first article touches on an interesting and inspiring idea proposed by Sir Ken Robinson. He states that the probability of us ever being born is a miracle in itself. The exact circumstances that had to take place throughout history to lead to our existence proves to be astronomically low in a statistical sense. When put in perspective like that, it’s difficult NOT to appreciate sentience. I believe that the ability to appreciate the sentience of being, coupled with the notion that our own reality is all we need to worry about, provides the space necessary to establish a framework for HOW to live.
The first thing we are able to do is personally define our life’s meaning. Not the meaning of life, but the meaning of OUR life. We can choose to experience life for the sake of pleasure and spend all our time in good company, in comfort, eating good food, and taking in emotional and physical pleasures (much like the Epicurean philosophy). We can decide we want to live for the greater good of humanity and devote ourselves to a cause such as increasing the pleasure of others or reducing their suffering. We can decide our purpose is to have children in order to keep the unique phenomenon of life continuing. We can choose to be selfish or we can choose to be philanthropic. Once we’ve defined our meaning, (which I believe can change if we so choose, even daily) we can determine an appropriate manner in which to behave.
Once we have our personal meaning for our life defined (and it can literally be anything, even not having a purpose is, in a sense, a purpose) we can behave in a way that provides the greatest benefit to that purpose. If our purpose is to experience pleasure and a sense of ease, we can take time to appreciate the delicate glow of the moon on a clear night, the combination of robust and subtle flavors in our favorite dish, or the fine strokes of a paintbrush on a finished canvas emulating the imagination of the painter. If our purpose is to improve life for others, we can choose to be kind and generous. Our purpose defines our behavior.
One thing is clear: since life is for us as individuals, we need to behave and think congruently with how we want to live and experience life. We can’t allow the influence of others or society prevent us from living life as we wish to live it. We can’t allow the limitations of our psychology such as fear, anxiety, insecurity, the need for approval, or anger prevent our ability to act in accordance with how we wish to live. We must allow ourselves to become present and recognize the subtle sensations of sitting in a chair, typing on a keyboard, walking across the street, or the breeze against our face in order to enjoy the physical presence of our bodies on this earth. We must allow ourselves to expand our minds, learn new things, be creative, and critically think in order to enjoy the mental capabilities we’ve been blessed with. We must allow ourselves to feel emotions such as fear, sadness, joy, and love in order to observe the emotional nature of our being. We must allow ourselves to connect with others in order to enjoy and satisfy the humanistic need for socialization and relationship.
It is by truly experiencing life as we wish to experience it, while simultaneously recognizing the present moment, that we can live fully and utilize this ever-fading gift that, for whatever reason, has been given to us.
I don’t know if this is what the individual on LSD meant. I don’t know if this is the right or wrong way to interpret existence and I’m not sure whether or not this is the best framework for living life. I’m not sure if I even believe all of the things I’ve just written about. What I do want to do is inspire thought and discussion. I want you to think for yourself. I want you to question things including your existing beliefs, values, and concept of who you are. I want you to determine the type of life you’d like to live and take full advantage of your fleeting opportunity on this earth. I want you to make the most out of your life and live authentically and in alignment with how you feel you should live.
Life is for you. It’s your gift. Don’t squander it.