Relationship between psychedelic-catalyzed mystical states and structures (levels of development)?

Are you aware of resources on the topic of psychedelics-occasioned peak experience (mystical experience) in relation to the different stages of consciousness development the people were/are at?

Anything from scientific research, to books touching upon that, to people studying or spoken about it. Even who might be a suitable person to reach out to for a general discussion.

Of specific interest in the relations between transcendental states and the structures of mind development; with psychedelics in particular, them being a means to elicit the peak experiences fairly reliably, but even references dealing with sponataneous peak states like satori would be appreciated.

When I searched for such information, didn’t find much. Ken has mentioned mentioned the fact at several points in books or interviews, and a little bit is in a recent conversation of Corey deVos with Keith With, and a conversation of Jeff Salzmann with Kim Barta for example. I am curious to explore these relationships - the different interpretations and understanding thereof by mind at the different stages, better comprehending the real “catalyzing capacity” of psychedelics if any, and whether and how these could then be intentionally used to facilitate the evolutionary progress at any of the stages. Either by actively furthering such efforts by research, review, writing, or by initiating investigation if not existing.

(Am well aware of the general research on psychedelics and mystical states, in fact personally contributing to studies of psychedelics in some way and similar areas. Curious about correlations with stages of development in the various lines and angles, that I find tremendously important, and lacking.)

Thank you for any hints or suggestions.

“I am not so foolish as to equate what happens under the influence of mescalin or of any other drug, prepared or in the future preparable, with the realization of the end and ultimate purpose of human life: Enlightenment, the Beatific Vision. All I am suggesting is that the mescalin experience is what Catholic Theologians call “a gratuitous grace,” not necessary to salvation but potentially helpful and to be accepted thankfully, if made available. To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with survival or to a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large—this is an experience of inestimable value to anyone. . . .”

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I’m doubtful that western science as it practices in the 21st century can properly evaluate mystical states and consciousness or what some refer to as the “subtle realm” in general.

With psychedelics and other altered states there are several barriers. The most obvious to me is amnesia. This is a well known phenomenon where a person can have an experience in an altered states and either be told to not remember or not remember anything about it until their next altered state. The deeper one goes the more difficult it is to remember the experience. Until, for example with psychedelics, you get that “oh, boy” feeling as you suddenly remember everything you forgot about the last trip. While it is possible to narrate into a tape recorder what one is seeing, we do not have vocabulary for these experiences so recording them in time as they occur seems impossible. Even if we could project the entire visual aspect of what the brain is seeing onto a screen, it would leave out the other 5 senses (or more) from the record. How to record a mystical “knowing”. How to record “accepting” on a deep level. I’ve read and listened to many trip reports and what is clear is that the expression of them completely depends on the skill, perspective and honesty of the teller. I can tell you about an experience of rising above a ancient city of gold as a God, riding with the Joker in a carnival, or feeling the bliss of benevolent insects eating one’s entrails - but you could only interpret those experiences to the degree that you can interpret them from your own experience.

The Summary would be that I don’t think Research scientific into Tier 2 has been done or if it is even possible. However, there is a lot of Research available for Tier 1, though I doubt this has been fleshed out in the Integral Community. The Integral Community at times seems overly stuck on Ken, and psychedelics were still taboo and academically stigmatized during Ken’s hayday when the bulk of his work was done.

There is already a lot of research on physical effects of microdosing, yoga, prayer, meditation, hypnosis and so forth. There are lots of recorded benefits conducted in double blind studies. So I guess you can measure There are also psychological tests that can measure things like capacity for certain emotions or lack of emotions, such as showing a person ink blots or a picture and measuring their verbal or physical responses. I would venture that Tier 1 is possible to measure to some degree, but not completely.
Green: Psycholigal testing on empathy, moral descision making, etc:
Orange: cognition, memory etc (test has some overlap with psychology)
Social connectedness (Overlap with Green - inverse to Orange Ethnocentrism)
Red - Domestic Violence

These are just a handful I found within minutes.


Thank you for informative and inspiring response, very interesting points. Also thanks for noting some of the inherent if not barriers surely obstacles.

I agree that assesing psychedelic experience as it happens or even from delayed reporting is to a large extent futile - as in trying to “get the truths, insights, illuminations”. Although imaginably some ways might be conceived of now or in the future to facilitate real-time communication of the subjective interior experience.

The post I wrote is probably unclear. This in particular wasn’t what I had in mind. Rather to better understand their role - if any - in evolution across realms (hopefully developing into further levels across or in some of the quadrants).
My extremely limited experience resulting in how I view it now, yet I think tremenously beneficial if real, is that psychedelic experience (not only) has the potential to allow to experientially feel - for oneself, in very own body and mind, rather that being told or reading about - mystical states of consciousness. Even such a glimpse makes it undeniably, irrefutably, indisputably clear 1) these higher states of existence do exist, and 2) are a real potential for anyone. Thus likely facilitate anyone to even begin with intentional development. If only that was the “effect”, it still is profoundly valuable and fascinating. A reason why it deserves looking into it in this light I believe.

Perhps to clarify one of the directions I was coming from - one of my frustrations with current psychedelic research is its narrowness, missing out many marvelous potentials (in my view), and the general ignorance about integral approach to consciousness - one consequence of which is treating people at various levels of all the various lines without accounting for it, and studying results of these largely mixed “input data” undifferentiated, as if homogenously, not taking into consideration at the very least the mind at the “beginning”. Another related fact is it includes predominantly people of white race and in modern Western society, missing the cultural and societal variables and aspects.
(But likely not all research; that’s why one of my question here - asking for hints on who is doing it/talking about it with integral approach in mind - I would really appreciate learning about anyone.)

Briefly an example what I could imagine to address the just mentioned, is first assesing stages at lines of developments. That might be Jane Loevinger’s Sentence Completion Test of Ego Development, or tests assesing values development/worldviews as proposed by Clare Graves & extended by Christopher Cowan and Don Beck.
For cultural and societal - including wider range of people as well as it being conducted by wider range of people from different locations and societies. Accounting for reports and interpretations within the given socio-cultural scheme, and practices, religions, philosophies including natural psychedelics if already existing. Several anthropological approaches do observe this.
To the valid point of barriers in general into higher than Tier 1 levels - there surely self-experimentation of the ones investigating, instead of “objectively observing” others, and own prior knowledge of and experience with postformal and higher levels.
Generally, as Ken is proposing in the 1997 paper An Integral Theory of Conciousness, “the actual methodology of ‘simultracking’ the various phenomena in each level-quadrant and noting their actual interrelations and correlations (the simultracking of events in ‘all-quadrant, all-level’ space)”.

I am sure there are examples of empirical measurements as biophysical correlates, and test and/or questionnaires “assesing” certain mental traits during or shortly after an experience, that have been developed and used in studies on practices of meditation and so forth as you write and of course even with psychedelics - I don’t have a comprehensive overview of the available assortment at the moment, but am aware of and have used several, and would of course conduct a thorough review on and consult the means to asses these aspects at stages later on when dealing with greater details. Some of such can (and should) be beneficially included.

These links with your description are a very interesting suggestion. In this manner, it could perhaps be matched to Spiral Dynamics value-levels based on their typical expressions and behavior, despite clearly not having been conducted with developmental psychology in mind - at the very least thus serving as a rough starting point for review, as theoretical background, or offering suggestions.
Thank you again for this commentary, broadening the perspective and for pointing out what I have missed or not well considered.

This is not an answer to your question, but there is some literature on the stages of the psychedelic experience which has been correlated with the state-stages recognised by integral theory which may be of some interest to you.

In The Psychedelic Experience, by Leary, Alpert and Metzner, a model of the psychedelic trip is given which follows the basic schema of the passage through the causal, subtle and gross states in the bardo spoken of in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. It is meant to be studied by the prospective tripper and then read out loud by a programmer during the trip.

One application of this model can be found in Programmed Communication During Experienced With DMT, wherein Timothy Leary conducts a high-dose experience and let’s people know what stage he is at using an “Experiential Typewriter”, a little machine with buttons corresponding to each stage he is passing through. A rollicking read!

From these initial experiences, Leary developed The 8 Circuit Model of Consciousness, which he expounds in several books, including Neuropolitique, Info-Psychology (a technological take), and what I consider his most advanced work, The Game of Life, which he co-wrote with Robert Anton Wilson.

Wilson also wrote Prometheus Rising, another treatment of the Circuits, and the Schrodinger’s Cat trilogy, a work of fiction where characters at each of the 8 Circuits (and 24 subdivided Circuits, simply called “Stages” in The Game of Life) interact in often hilarious ways. Leary wrote a work of fiction which uses a similar backbone called What Does WoMan Want?, and both of them regarded Joyce’s Finnegans Wake as the first book that treated with this subject matter extensively. Of course, that book is bloody unreadable.

In The Game of Life, an 8 Circuit (or, chakra) model is presented which fits well with Integral Theory. Each of the Circuits is subdivided as mentioned above into 3 “Stages”: the Reception, Integration and Trasmission Stages. Or, Dendrites, Cell Body, Axon. Or, Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu. This gives us a total of 24. This is then given correspondences with the Periodic Table of the Elements, and the Tarot cards and Hebrew letters. Two are added to the latter, since there are 22 Major Arcana in the Tarot, and 22 Hebrew letters. These have direct correspondences to each other given in the Kaballistic tradition. They are the connecting links between the Sephiroth in the Tree of Life.

This is why this may be a partial answer to your question. Ken tells us that the Kabbalistic Tree of Life is an account of the soul’s progression through States of Consciousness. This I take to mean that the Sephiroth each correspond to different States, which would be subdivisions of the usual Gross, Subtle, Causal, Witnessing, Nondual. If, then, the links between them are actually Stages of Development, as is suggested by Leary’s model, we get somewhere!

Now, don’t expect any hard hitting research studies here. The people I am talking about had a staggering amount of psychedelic experience under their belts personally, and with their friends, but their research notes, if they existed (they must have, given their scientific training, in particular Leary’s as a Harvard psychologist), probably remain underground if they exist at all.

This material is emerging. We have to give it time to bear fruit. People thinking about engaging in serious integral-level scientific research on this topic, in particular in the area you’re asking about, should familiarise themselves with this work. It’s irreverent, delightfully ridiculous and absolutely primitive, but my first ever Teal thought came to me from reading the Game of Life and that’s my karma now. I highly recommend starting there.

Thank you for reminding these works! And pointing out several similarities in the works of Leary and RAW, I have not connected that with “stages” so clearly.

The Psychedelic Experience was one of first sources that helped orient myself, and still hold it personally as one of most inspirational and meaningful in the field.

Programmed Communication a wonderful example. Showing also how tough it is to t inranslate inner experience.

I will mention additionally John C. Lilly (indeed an acquaintance of Tim Leary), particularly his self-experimental research with LSD and ketamine. He also describes various (dose-dependent) “levels” of consciousness. Wrote several books and papers on topic, most relevant probably his books “The Center of the Cyclone: An Autobiography of Inner Space”, mentioning especially controlled experiments with LSD and with isolation tank, and “The Scientist: A Metaphysical Autobiography”, mentioning among all else experiences of internal and “extraterrestial” realities with cosmic entities of “Earth Coincidence Control Office” using ketamine - perhaps psychic and causal realms, though I have never been able to deduce where particularly these experiences might belong on the spectrum.

Thanks again for the various hints and detailed suggestions. Gladly will revisit some of the books from that era by Leary, surely a lot will read differently. I did not known about this interpretation of Kabbalistic Tree of Life, gladly going to dive in to that more.

Being reminded of all these early and highly experimental works, I found that the Tim Leary archives at NYPL supposedly include notes from his research with psychedelics (e.g. this collection or here). Coincidentally am currenly around the area, so will visit there soon. (Small percentage of all documents is digitized, however not related to the content of sessions.)

There is no explicit mention of the Tree of Life in The Game of Life, but certainly his use of the Tarot Cards and their corresponding Hebrew letters suggests that this is what he’s thinking about in the background. Of course, Leary and Wilson were Illuminates of Thanateros, who must have used Kabbalah, as well as Crowley lovers. Wilson talks in Cosmic Trigger about receiving messages from canine extraterrestrials from Sirius while performing the Middle Pillar ritual of the Western occult tradition, and it is based upon these and the Starseed Transmissions which Leary received concomitantly that much of the work is based, to the point where Exo-Psychology is subtitled “A Manual for the use of the Human Nervous System According to the Instructions Issued by the Manufacturers”! How brilliantly audacious.

Here is a simple diagram of the Tree of Life which shows the Hebrew letters.

There are a couple of different sets of correspondences given by Kabbalists for the different bars connecting the Sephiroth, mainly depending on whether there are ones connecting Malkuth to Netzach and Hod.

But basically the treatment given in the Game of Life is that the first letter, Aleph, corresponds to the first Tarot Card, The Fool, which is Card 0. Then the second letter, Beth, is for the second Card, the Magus, Card 1. Gimel corresponds to Card 2, and so on…

Up to the 21st letter, Shin, which stands for Card 20, Judgement. Then, so that we can fit 22 letters/Cards into 24 “Stages”, the last letter, Tav, is paired with Card 21, Universe, but that card is placed at the 23rd “Stage”, which is Galactic Mind, and the ones immediately preceding and succeeding it are added on. These are Singularity, at the 22nd “Stage”, and Black Hole, at the 24th. This is all justified beautifully in the book. My understanding is that primitive human explorers of this vast territory of the mind had no way to clearly map and differentiate the whole of the 8th Circuit, the Neuro-Atomic circuit, and therefore had to resort to calling that far-out, spaced-out Stage “Universe”, be a use there was no distinction yet made between the three parts of that Circuit. Of course, anyone who has the least idea of what a holon is nowadays has experienced a small taste of that Circuit.

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