The research protocol was a combination of lsd and exposure to a powerful stroboscopic light of various frequencies to study the effects of lsd on what is called “driving” or “entraining” the brain waves. When my experience was culminating, the research assistant took me to a small room for my eeg and put the electrodes on my scalp. I lay down and closed my eyes, and then she turned on a strobe. There was an incredible light, more powerful than anything I had ever seen in my life. At the time I thought it must have been what it was like to see the atomic bomb fall on Hiroshima. Today I think it was more like the “primary clear light,” or dharmakaya, which theTibetan Book of the Dead says we are supposed to see at the time of our death.
What happened next was my consciousness catapulted out of my body. I lost the research assistant, I lost the clinic, I lost Prague, I lost the planet. I had the feeling that my consciousness had no boundaries anymore, and I had become the totality of existence. A little later I returned to the physical universe, but in some strange way I did not just see it; I actually became the universe. Then the research assistant turned off the strobe, and my consciousness shrank again. I connected with the planet, I found Prague, I found the clinic, and I found my body, although for quite a while my body and my consciousness were separate, and I had difficulty aligning them, bringing them together. It became clear to me that consciousness is not a product of the neurophysiological processes in the brain, as I had been taught at the university, but something much higher, possibly superordinate to matter. The idea that consciousness somehow mysteriously emerges from matter didn’t make sense to me anymore. It was easier to imagine that consciousness could create the experience of the material universe by an infinitely complex orchestration. I was suddenly in the realm of the Eastern philosophies, where consciousness is a primary attribute of existence and cannot be reduced to anything else