The evolution and expansion of consciousness is inevitable. With the expansion of consciousness comes new ways of seeing reality. Everything changes. You see things that you never could of conceived of before. Old philosophies and religions suddenly appear naive and give way to a far more profound understanding. Most religions and philosophies will not last long, simply because it is inevitable that a profound transformation in our consciousness, in our way of understanding and interacting with reality, is going to soon take place. It is inevitable because that is the direction that consciousness is headed.
A few of us have chosen to make consciousness our 'game', in all of its forms and degrees of intensity, as well as its neural basis, modification, manipulation, and expansion. We observe our own experiences during various different states of consciousness as both a psychologist and cognitive scientist would. We note how different modalities are effected and enhanced, how space and time are altered, and how our sense of 'self' is effected (assuming the ego is still intact). In sum, we note both qualitatively and semi-quantitatively how the myriad different dimensions of consciousness are transformed during altered states of consciousness. It is from such experiences that the unfathomable potential for the enhancement and extension of consciousness in all of its forms reveals itself.
Ordinary consciousness is simply too mundane and limiting. It is necessary to understand the neural basis of altered/heightened states of consciousness and to control the neural system so as to bring about these desired states of consciousness. Neuroscience is just reaching into the realm of expanded states of consciousness, though the future consequences of such are simply amazing, and are utterly beyond the imaginative capabilities of the vast majority of people.
How do we expand consciousness?
An oft-used method for expanding consciousness involves mind expanding/altering drugs , also known as entheogens, though more effective and permanent ways will be devised in the future. Unfortunately, the negative side effects associated with such drugs are oftentimes many, and include poor memory.
Nootropics, also known as "smart drugs", such as piracetam, hydergine, vasopressin, l-deprenyl, acetyl l-carnitine, and nicotine, can offset some of the negative side effects produced by entheogens, and in fact, will oftentimes produce a synergism, not only amongst themselves, but particularly if used simultaneously with entheogens.
Thus, with materials readily available to us today, we can engineer our mind-states and expand our consciousness along many different dimensions.
In the long term, however, it is crucial to identify the particular brain activities and key areas of the brain that are responsible for expanded/transcendent states of consciousness, because then we will be in a position to modulate neural activity in these brain areas using safer and more controlled techniques than what are currently available to us today. Possibly one such technique is Neural Systems Control. Another technique could involve brain-activity biofeedback (for example, EEG biofeedback, though current EEG is too crude a technique to be really useful for the purposes of expanding consciousness via brain-activity feedback).
What are these brain areas and what types of neural activity are responsible for expanded consciousness?
At this point, anything said is speculative, and is best disclosed at a future time when more certainty is obtained. What does seem certain, however, is the involvement of cingulate cortex, prefrontal cortex (and other associational cortices), and the thalamus.
Consciousness may be Expanded along Multiple Dimensions
Consciousness is a multi- dimensional phenomenon. There are many ways of expanding consciousness. The transcendent states achieved thru meditation, while important, are but one type of transcendent consciousness. Unfortunately, many people seem to be of the opinion that there exists only one type of transcendent consciousness, and that it can be reached thru meditation. However, this view is naive because it disregards the multi-dimensional aspects of consciousness, which may be expanded (or transcended) along many different dimensions to result in myriad different transcendent states of consciousness. The tendency to label such transcendent states as simply 'samadhi', 'nirvana', 'Buddha-consciousness', 'cosmic-consciousness', or 'satori' just reinforces the mistaken notion that there exists only one type of transcendent consciousness.
One of the objectives of BrainMeta.com, and in particular, this essay, is to educate others that there are multiple different types and modes of transcendent consciousness, not just those associated with the 'classic' mystical experience, and that these different types of consciousness will play a role in the evolution of our consciousness towards the Singularity, when our consciousness, at both the personal and species level, will transcend itself into something that is currently inconceivable for our species.
What is it like to Experience Expanded Consciousness?
In the following, some of the dimensions along which consciousness may be transformed and expanded will be described. These effects will not necessarily be experienced simultaneously, and are to some extent dependent on the individual. The following list is not meant to be exhaustive by any means, but rather highlights a few of the many interesting effects experienced during states of expanded consciousness.
We've all experienced time dilation to some extent during 'normal' states of consciousness. In general, time dilation occurs when thought processes speed up while memory is left intact (if memory is not intact, you often sense something happened but you do not know what or how much subjective time has passed). It is interesting that time dilation occurs along a spectrum. Normally, we may feel like an hour of subjective time has passed after only five minutes of objective time. However, there does not seem to be a limit concerning how much we can potentially dilate subjective time, and some mind enhancing/altering drugs have the property of taking time dilation to the extreme. What seems like entire lifetimes can be experienced in a few minutes.
Imagine the sense of 'vastness' you experience when you gaze into the clear night sky. Now imagine that sense of vastness magnified a million-fold or more and you may begin to appreciate the type of expansion of perceptual spaces that occurs during this experience so that they become extremely vast, beyond anything 'normally' conceivable.
The experience of one's 'body consciousness' extending outwards, usually far beyond one's immediate body. This particular mode of consciousness falls under the category of 'Cosmic Consciousness'. Normally, we have a 'body-consciousness', meaning we're conscious of our arms and legs, as our own and not somebody elses. 'Body Expansion' occurs when your 'body consciousness' extends beyond, usually far beyond, your immediate physical body. It is as if your new body is your whole environment and that your 'old' body is simply a nexus or nodal point thru which your will exerts itself. Even during 'normal' consciousness, it is possible to willfully enter into the proper mind-set for 'Body Expansion', though naturally, not everyone is currently capable of doing this.
Ego-Death and the Experience of the 'Self'
The experience of the death of ones ego or 'self' can be frightening for some. Such experiences are often related to near-death experiences (NDEs), in the sense that the two often, but not always, occur hand-in-hand. Following ego-death, or the destruction of the individuals 'self', what remains is intense, non-reflective (or non-self-conscious) consciousness, the radiant 'Self' (presumably, this is the same 'Self' as revealed in ancient Eastern religious texts such as the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanashads, the same as experienced during states of 'Cosmic Consciousness', and the same as experienced by religious mystics). This is why such experiences are invariably mystical and religious. Through the death of ones 'self' and unveiling of the 'Self', one soon learns to identify oneself completely with the 'Self' thereafter. Even if and when the individual's ego subsequently 're-crystallizes', it is transparent and seen through for the illusion it is.
It is not possible to put this ineffable experience into words, other than to say that it involves a vivid consciousness of a strong, ubiquitous 'presence' which has some relation or similarity to the 'presence' that we can be normally aware of when others are watching us.
Higher-Dimensional Space and Time
Normally, we construct space and it is limited to 3 spatial dimensions. However, because 3-dimensional space as we perceive it is nothing more than a mental construct, it is perhaps not surprising that this limitation to 3 spatial dimensions can be transcended. This grants one, among other things, the ability to discern patterns and connections in perceptual and conceptual thought not visible during 'normal' consciousness.
Similarly, our mental representation of time is normally of a flowing, continuous, and unitary nature, but this may be modified as well, in a way that is analogous to the modifications of our mental representations of space discussed above.
This involves the experience of ecstasy and rapture far, far beyond what we are capable of experiencing normally. This experience has absolutely nothing to do with the 'ecstasy' experienced using the drug that goes by the same name, but rather involves an intensity and depth that far exceeds those produced by typical 'recreational' drugs.
This experience involves integration across multiple modalities, such as visual, auditory, and proprioceptive, to yield new modalities that are greater than the sum of their parts.
God-Mode is a somewhat humorous name for an expanded state of consciousness that 'simultaneously' involves many of the above effects, including time dilation, body expansion, vastness, ecstasy, consciousness of the 'Self', and presence. There are many degrees and many types of 'Cosmic Consciousness'. God-Mode is perhaps the highest and most profound type of Cosmic Consciousness that our species has yet experienced.