“Whitehead, LSD, and Transpersonal Psychology” by Leonard Gibson

This is a truly fascinating piece written by Leonard Gibson bringing Whitehead into conversation with Stan Grof. Gibson uses Whitehead’s account of experience to undertake a rhetorical explication of the LSD experience. A few samples:

Every event prehends the entire universe, with gradations of relevance. In our ordinary perception of events we take into account only those aspects with high grades of relevance, but as our attention deepens the lower grades come into notice. In attending to these lower grades we discover the endless patterns of relationships that bind that event to the rest of the universe. Not only do we make this discovery in regard to the occasions of the world, but also the same deepening takes place in ourselves. That is to say, the enhancement of physical feeling not only brings into attention our relationship with the external world; it also reveals the internal world of the “unconscious.” If we interpret the unconscious in terms of Whitehead’s doctrine of physical feeling, it is easy to understand why amplification of mental processes elicits strong feelings of relationship to the world around us as well as it reveals elements of the unconscious: Both are elements of our physical inheritance.

The same analysis I offered for the LSD experience applies to Holotropic Breathwork: development of intensity under contrast. The absence of any substance use in Holotropic Breathwork emphasizes the fact that experience is the fundamental actuality. Physiology is of no more consequence regarding the fundamental details of experience than is the television set to the content of the programs it displays. As experience deepens, it becomes more apparent that prehension renders the whole of time, the extent of the universe, and the entire array of eternal possibilities internally available to the self-creative moment of the actual occasion. The concresence of each actual occasion is the moment of mystical fullness.

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