Transcription of Bruce Damer's recent Speeches (thanks Pohn Paul Castiaux!)
Mind States Conference OAXACA, MEXICO 2004What I’m going to do - and this is going to take approximately 33 minutes we’re going to do a journey starting with Terence McKenna, because I know he keeps getting mentioned here, and we just did a series of lectures at Burning Man called Palenque Norte, which is the second year that it has been there and they are in honor of Palenque and in honor of Terence. We’re going to go from Terence and then we are going to go way out into the cosmos, and we may find him there. Then we are going to come back. And so it’s quite a journey! I’m sorry it is the end of the day; I hope there is some caffeine molecules in some of the brains out there that need it.
Terence, as you may know, died in February 2000. I was at Terence’s house in April of 1999 when he looked terrible. We did a project with him where we built, uh, his son Finn McKenna and several other people built, a psychedelic virtual world in cyber space, and he went into this world and people came in as avatars, these little characters, and then he did a talk. About 30 people showed up, and he said: ‘You know, I usually travel in a jumbo jet for about 6 hours to talk to an audience of thirty people!’ So in the comfort of his home, there he was doing this. He was fascinated by virtual worlds, and by shared online spaces. One of the things that is interesting is that his mind contained such visions as he described. Terence asked me if these virtual worlds could ever replicate things like his visions (one of the visions that he described was one of dancing fabrige eggs I think you’ve probably heard of dancing silvery fabrige eggs) and I said : ‘Terence, I don’t think we’re going to get there for a long time with a computer rendering… but we’ll have to have hope.’ And he said: ‘Well, the good thing about this stuff is that its not scheduled yet’ (laughter).
So anyway, Alchemical Arts in Kona was a profound conference because it was the last conference Terence was able to attend because in May he was starting to have seizures, and in April he told us - we were standing with him - he said: ‘I’m having dreams that I cannot explain.’ Now, from anybody else in the world, that is understandable, but not for Terence. Terence knew the landscape of all things Big that could come into his mind. He could understand these things. So he went for a brain scan and the doctor came into his room and said: ‘This will seem very ironic to you, but you have a tumor, a very large one, that is in the shape of a mushroom.’ And Terence said: ‘This is very ironic - this tumor is the shape of a mushroom!’ But he had less than about 10 months to live. So we held this conference. At one point Terrene laid down on the floor with Christie in sort of a circular room and we all laid down with our heads pointed towards Terence to try to conjure up any vision that came to us. Some people wanted to try to heal him, others visualized sending him off. At this point the physical matter of his brain was literally dissolving, I mean, the man was dissolving. He was very cognizant till the last moment, but he was kind of coming apart. The vision that conjured in my brain was this sort of Fabrigee egg on its side with shining polygons - there were little cushions in there, and there was Terence going up and it was carrying him away. I told him later about this vision and someone said that that was like Terence’s get away car (laughter) So the seriousness aside …
He was in Marin county in the last few weeks of his life. There were people always attending to him and then when he really was a couple of days from death and having trouble breathing, something strange happened. Suddenly he sat bolt upright in bed and said: ‘It’s all about love!’ Now, you probably do this all the time but understand that Terence was a serious ‘forebrain case’, a head case. For him it was all about Words he was a wordsmith, he put together visions and pictures, you know, weaving ideas together. He was The Bard of words. And he turned to someone and he said ‘You know I’ve never really been a love bug, but it strikes me now that…’ - because in a sense the great powerful forebrain of this man was dissolving, and what came up into that was this great overwhelming sense of Love, as he was approaching death he said: ‘…the whole psychedelic movement it’s about love - its not about this other stuff it’s about love! Abot opening the channels of love’ You know, it was pouring through him. And two days later he was just sort of in bed there was just very little of him left and he said just before he died he said: ‘People keep on breathing’ he said ‘Just keep on breathing.” And that was the last of Terence McKenna.
So from there in heroic dose trips that I’ve had (and I haven’t had too many of them because you don’t try to do that) - I’ve come to that same realization. If you come down to this thing, if you have some kind of experience where you dissolve, where you are gone… how many people have felt like they were almost gone? Now those kind of trips tend to strip away, they blow away, stuff. When you come out of the bad phase (or the good phase you might call it) there is like nothing left - there’s this little shaking thing that is just you that has survived, that comes into this new territory. And it is very open to things, because everything else has been blown away. And whatever method you use to get through that phase.. .you’re now open. I did that once myself and the words that came to me were: ‘all it needs is love.’ Now, The Beatles have told us this, but you know, the little being wanted, just wanted Love.
What is this love, and where it come from? So I started to think about the fabrige eggs, and love, and things like that and it struck me in the last few years that the overpowering sense of powerful love is so big that it is almost bigger than a human being. It is bigger than YOU can make, from inside. And maybe the dancing fabrige eggs that Terence saw are so fantastical and are such a complete universe, that it is inconceivable that the memories that Terrence had in his day to day life could add up to making the self-consistent universe that he saw. So I propose the question: ‘Does this stuff come from the inside, from our bodies and the complexity of our brains and our glueal cells or whatever - and it just may Or does it come from somewhere else?’ Where does this stuff all come from? If it all comes from within us we are pretty incredible beings you have to admit. What if this stuff is coming from a bigger carrier wave on the outside where is the source of it because the source of it you can call it god is pretty together it can generate profoundly moving things the sense of the power of love is so powerful.
Now for millennia, people have thought ‘Well of course there is an outside there is an Ether, there is a God, there is Mount Olympus’ … there are all these explanations for where these things come from. But we are in a remarkable era, an era of opening of understanding in Cosmology that is so big. When you start to wade through Scientific American or Discover or whatever, and you read these articles and put this all together your mind starts to go: ‘Oh my god!’ This picture is emerging. Of course, everyone is working their specialty, but if you read this stuff, it creates this sense of wonder. Every time you start reading this information, it is almost like a trip comes on, because the picture that is emerging of the whole universe and maybe how it began and maybe how it’s going to end is dumbstrucking.
So what I want to do is to try and kind of give you a real short summary of that picture because it is an awestrucking sort of thing. Then I’d like to try to cast us out far into the future maybe to the point of the death of the universe - because the universe, it seems, has a life cycle just like you - just like a plant or a bird or a single star - the universe has a birth, a life, and a death. And maybe it would suggest where some of this stuff, this big stuff, comes from. That it comes from somewhere pretty remarkable.
So it seems as though the universe is this self contained thing it never loses any information. If you look out to the night sky, you are looking back billions of years in some cases, and everything is still there. The signals are very faint, but modern astronomers are looking back to a period of formation of the first stars now. They are looking back to the cosmic background radiation that was formed at the point of the inflationary big bang. They are coming to the conclusion that all information is still there. The whole movie, recorded - there is nothing that has been lost, there’s nothing that has dribbled over the edge and been lost, there’s no files that have been deleted (sorry for you security people). It’s all there, but as professor Arnold Gooth at MIT has proposed, if you add up all the stuff, all the dark matter, and all the energy, and the positive and the negative energy, and whatever … if you add it all up it comes to zero it adds to zero, the sum is completely zero. So actually the universe is nothing in total. Space keeps things apart because if it was all in one spot it would just Blip out of existence. There is nothing there. So space and change makes the dynamism but there really is nothing, it adds to nothing.
What’s interesting about all this is the question: ‘How did the universe start?’ Well, Gooth says maybe it’s a random quantum fluctuation in the field. So there was this hackney time, the time of Eden, where there was just a quantum field, and where everything was fluctuating properly. And then some thing didn’t fluctuate properly, and it unpeeled into the entire universe - the potential energy was so big, that the entire universe was formed. Maybe what is happening now is that this horrible pile of junk that appears is going to get cleaned up … so all these black holes are like … the mechanism is saying ‘Oh, we got to get this mess cleaned up’ … and these black holes are sucking these things back in and everything … these vacuum cleaners have begun, maybe that’s the process. So if that’s the case, it is the universal ‘one-shot error’ that’s eventually going to get cleaned up and it will get back to the quantum field.
Now the universe could continue to expand at a faster and faster rate, as seems to be evidenced by what we can see, and therefore things in the far future galaxies will be so far apart, that they won’t be able to detect each other, and stars will all be brown dwarfs. Stuff will be going almost at the speed of light, and basically matter and energy - the whole thing - will evaporate into one big smear - it will all be gone.
The other alternative is that there is enough of this dark unknown matter to reverse that expansion and pull it back. Now, when it pulls back, the universe is moving in change it’s not just sitting there. When it pulls back, it will collapse down. If you were re-entering Earth’s orbit or if something was crashing into the Sun, when you reach that point, Poof! it goes out of existence, and all the information and everything along with it. It will all add up to zero. If you put yourself way out at the death of the universe, you might be able to get an idea of were all this stuff is coming from
If you look out at the universe you can categorize all that Stuff out there as two classes of stuff. Stars have birth, life, and dearth, but they aren’t really living things in the way we define it. If you look back to the very first stars, they are no different from the stars we have now. Stars have not evolved, they’ve not created new structures. They just sort of appear, and they crush a bunch of gasses together, and then they do something, and then they have a blast, and that’ll blow the material off, and they become a black hole, and that’s that. Rocks have been rocks for all time - rocks haven’t changed and evolved new structures.
And then there is this funny little thing called LIFE, which seems to go counter to all that. It’s the Other classification of stuff. I had an epiphany about this when I was in South Africa, in this gold mine in about 600 feet down below the surface. Now South Africans aren’t risk-aversive, they are risk - seeking peoples, so they love to show off to tourists.They had this great stream-powered jackhammer, and we were in this tunnel, stuff is dripping down, its dark, and I’d gone for miles down into this thing. It’s hot and they were banging away on the side of this tunnel. Chipping away at more gold and saying ‘See! Here’s some gold, and it is oxidizing, because there wasn’t any oxygen in the atmosphere when this gold was laid down in a reef.’ And I was there and I was shaking and the beams were shaking and I was thinking ‘This whole thing is going to come down and crush my body.’ The gold reef which was mined for a century created great wealth in South Africa is 2 billion years old there was no oxygen in the atmosphere 2 billion years ago. I had this epiphany where I thought to myself: ‘So what - the mountain can come down and crush my bloody little body, you know there would be no remnant of it left, but the DNA in my cells is tougher and more persistent than this gold reef, Africa, and most star systems.’ That is, for 3-point-something-billion years, these little sequences of information have been coded. In every cell of your body, unchanged, that go back and march back billions of years. This mechanism, called Life, was able to fight against all this crud and entropy and fire and brimstone, and preserve this little piece of information forward. That’s called reproduction, that’s called Life. This process outlives the life of most stars! It is certainly older and tougher and more resilient than all the configurations of the continents. So in the middle of this great machine which is the universe, if you can think of a machine, you have this tiny process that fights against the odds, and wins, in the universal game, to a point.
There is a fellow named Chris Lampton. Some of you may know of him, he started the Artificial Life field of research. He started that field because one day he fell out of a hang glider and was in a coma for two months, having broken almost every bone in his body. He told me that in the second month as he started to come out of his coma, he began to sense his consciousness rebooting, coming back. And he said it was like phases - there was one bit, and then another bit, and another bit, and he said that he started to know he had a body and he then rebooted. He realized my consciousness was built out of emergent bits that were talking to each other another. And I said to Chris ‘Well, what was the thing that was watching and feeling yourself rebooting? Was it sort of outside of you?’
That is a curious idea. But it led to the idea: What if the universe as this great big mass of stuff has managed to create little bits of life here and there? Some of them start to look out on the universe and become aware of it and maybe communicate with other chunks of life here and there. What if the universe is like Chris Lamton’s brain - gradually booting up an awareness of itself? Why would it do this?
We have pigs and when we had them anestisized to get their tusks cut off, it was a horrible thing when they came out of anesthetic. The pig is an animal that wants to be on it feet at all times, and if it can’t stand up, its going to bash its head hundreds of times against every surface known unless you can sit on it, because it is trying to get back to consciousness, and it knows what the right state its supposed to be in, and it is going to go crazy until it can be in the right state, which is on all fours. So watching the pigs’ emergent consciousness come back is a frightening thing, you want to run out of the pen, afraid you’re going to get killed, it’s a terrible thing. Every living being has this drive to be awake, in the right state. In a sense the universe is coming to consciousness with a certain urgency. Now what is that urgency? Just like any living thing, it’s its own life, it wants to be alive, it wants to survive. What is its doom? Well, its doom is probably the collapse. So in this sense, we can ask: ‘Is the universe trying to boot itself into consciousness before it collapses back down?’
Now consider when you are a little blastule, when your egg has its sperm, and its starting to replicate and replicate. Little ball forms of cells, and it gets to a certain size. A researcher friend of mine has written a giant tome about observing sonic waves going back and forth across this embryo. And they are very complex and they are studying them because of course the key question in the embryo is: What starts cell differentiation? Why does the whole thing start turning into a cup - what really starts that? He claims that it is complex sonic waves. Well, during the birth of the universe, after a certain point the universe was a gas, and massive sound waves were reverberating across the universe. They were creating the structure of sheet walls of galaxies. Everything you can see - you can see that structure from satellites that were launched recently like W-Mat. So at a certain point, just like an embryo, the universe was a giant voice, and then it went silent, and all the parts separated - there was no way to get sound waves across. Of course, we live in a gas ball too… Is it a coincidence that having a gas or a liquid as a medium of resonant communication seems to be present to make structure? That’s one idea…
So consider if the universe does go into it’s collapse phase and its coming back down what is happening? Maybe it is the largest engineering project undertaken in the universe. The percentage of the universe which is actually organized into life is increasing …it’s a half a percent which would be enormous. The collapse is occurring and there is a couple hundred thousand years left. What has to happen? Well, the sentient races are actually now quite physically close. Indeed, the period at which the universe will be gaining into a gas is coming, where the entire thing is going to be connected sonically, a gain. If the universe has managed to convert a percentage of itself into an aware stratum, those beings of course have to make a decision: ‘Do we work together as a team - because we know the inevitable - or do we carry on what we’ve always been doing (as we do on this planet): fight with each other, argue over budget allocations and resources and culture and difference, or do we try to save the whole thing? Can you picture in some future universe, entering the gas phase and there is this glowing cloud, and the glowing cloud is getting brighter and brighter because it is actually the ignition of the sentience - and what are they doing? To do the engineering job of saving the universe from final annihilation, they have to do something pretty unusual they have to sacrifice themselves completely. All those civilizations, all that history, all those beings have to give themselves over, have to dissolve themselves - like Terence’s brain dissolving - to create a single entity. A single entity that can live and exist long enough in this collapsing universe to figure it out.
So, a baby is born. Ignition happens - the gas phase is there, and there is enough there, and the whole universe is now a single conscious entity. Now, like any baby you know if you’ve had kids, that they all think they are the universe. That at the beginning, they are everything, that they are the center of everything that there is nothing else, that there are no other demands. So there would be a period indeed where this universe is actually this tremendous creation of love because the only way it can be created is in complete love. Anything else anything short would create something not whole enough to do this job. So this baby is created and born in love, and the baby has many abilities. This baby feeds on knowledge … and where’s the knowledge? It’s totally contained within the universe and the universe didn’t lose anything its able to look back at You sitting here, able to look back at everything, and to try to find out where its family is, where it came from, and why is it here, why it was created. It has little time. And as with any sentient species, things are left for the last damn minute. So the whole project was delivered at the last minute. So the baby has figured out that ‘Oh I’m getting really comfortable because I’m getting smaller and smaller - Oh bad news, I’m about to be doomed!’ The great crime of all this is the oneness has been established that we all seek, that we all seek to be a part of, and it’s about to be extinguished. The baby has to use every deductive power, and it has to call back through time for every piece of support it can get to figure out how to save everything.
Now, why would it save everything? Why wouldn’t it just say ‘Oh that’s fine - it was a great life’? Well, it is the prerogative of life it’s going to make that decision - to preserve the investment, to preserve the legacy, to go on, to have a future. So the baby works it out, the baby sees physics, sees how it can do this job. And what does it do? It starts to turn its body, it has all the resources at its beckon call: every molecule, every wave of energy it can muster as this collapse occurs. It then starts to turn almost like a dancer or a skater, because it knows from having worked out everything that if it turns fast enough, it can sort of pull itself apart, and pull the big blob that is about to collapse into two blobs. So, a gigantic cell mitosis happens: two blobs, two bits of what was once one being are now rotating.
It is not the end of the story because those two pieces are so big that they are going to implode in a violent way and destroy most of what was there. So those two pieces go into mitosis - and again, and again, and again - until you have this safe level of the blastula that forms in every living being including you and me. That ball forms where each component can stand alone and survive on its own.
So now we have ‘universe two’. That’s the second phase of the universe - it is now a colony, now a society of complete consciousness. But it has lost the one thing that had always been dreamed of, which was total unity, and it’s a community again, and now it has to work with all those things communities do, including aloneness for the individuals. So where that second phase, that second life, should have achieved it … who knows where it goes. Does it try to figure out how to make another quantum wiggle? It’s hard to know.
Trying to bring this back to earth a little bit (laughter) - We might tend to think of this end point of the universe story as a remote event, such as how we think of The Great Quake that we don’t have to think about it because it’s way off. Well, in some interpretations of string theory we’re living along several string dimensions which resonate in a certain way. But there are so many dimensions, that in fact, all events that happened in the past and that happen in the future are happening at once. What you are living in is a mesh, and it’s a mesh that comes out. You know, you see the big bang, the crunch - this is one of the pictures drawn: that in effect you are inside the resonance of things that are happening at the same time. So in fact the event of the formation of that being, and that being looking back, is happening all the time. You’re just getting little cracked visions of that, little gaps where that comes through, every once in a while.
And the power that you feel when love comes through you, or when you see something and you have a vision that seems to be completely out of this world… it could be coming from that future present event. It is occurring and is something that you are just tapping into when you trip, opening a little door into. That’s a question- Could that be where that is coming from? And are you part of that great project the universe is trying to do, which is to know itself and then save itself and the only way is through love? And someone like Jesus Christ had been a human being that just happened t be born with an open valve, a direct pipe. Or maybe Buddha or Muhammad - an open valve to that massive form out there (or in there) that is this universal love, and as human beings they didn’t shut it off, they didn’t do the shut down, they didn’t say ‘Gee that is too powerful, I’m scared about that’. They just simply couldn’t help themselves let this thing out, it just came blasting out, and that that’s just the way they lived that they were tied into that all the time? It’s a question.
So in a sense, Terrence having the brain he had (and we talked about Autism and we talked about shutting down parts of the brain, to see other, to have other things emerge) So, as Terrence’s brain dissolved - literally physically dissolved - what came rushing up through him was this tremendously powerful feeling about love that he could hardly barely communicate. Maybe Terrence’s leaving us allowed him to melt into that space, to join that project. So maybe that while he was here, like all people who create communication with a resonant voice and music and create a resonant vibration with other humans through love they are part of that great project, maybe Terrence melted into that project or was taken back into that project because he did have that because that did come to him in the end.
Why did the universe create humans? I’ve been told that there are more discreet pathways through the brain than there are particles in the universe down to the quantum level. So the numbers are very big. The universe has actually created a machine or a mechanism that can contain a substantial portion of the vision of the whole universe and that maybe that’s part of - from the single cell - that’s part of the drive: To create this machine that’s able to be large enough that it can look out into the cosmos and start by bits and pieces and fits and starts and put together the whole picture. Now John Wheeler the physicist and contemporary of Dick Feinman says perhaps the universe is something that’s created observers in order to then create the reality of itself that the observation and the reality go step by step. So, as you get observers emerging, more structure emerges in the universe at the same time.
Your brain is maybe big enough to get a rendering of a fraction of the whole universe - to accept - not burn out like Johnny pneumonic - but be able to accept visions and things that are large enough - sort of like a camera obscura. You can see the little fragments and your brain is big enough to carry those fragments they are very large.
Through DNA and through the graciousness of our sun being so stable and not going through any dangerous parts of the galaxy in the past 4 billion years… With your DNA which allows you to go back 4 billion years to journey around65 times around the galaxy. You’ve been given this incredible legacy of stability to evolve to this point - you can be a camera obscura on something. And because you are here at this conference, what you are seeking is a connection with some greater thing. You take psychedelics to tap into that. Maybe you are part of a great project that is unfolding as we speak and that we are citizens of.
After reading all this cosmology stuff I tend to want to believe in the above explanation more than traditional religious explanations because my goodness - the people who looked at the night sky and followed leaders in white garb and what not didn’t have this knowledge. If they did, it would have blown their minds - they would have created an even bigger vision for human spirituality if they had that knowledge. Some of them had that knowledge tacitly - some of the indigenous peoples did have a profound knowledge of where we are in the universe than what we give them credit for.
So anyway, I think that Terrence is out there so I think that if you want to reach him, you can reach him through love, and to keep breathing. Thank you.
Its all zero. Everything in the universe is about change and difference. space is what keeps it separate and keeps the niverse existing.
1It will add to zero because it started from zero
2Another is that it contains its past history about everything that has already happened
3 property of voice embryologist at a certain point in this blob all kinds of sound waves is it that sound was the primary carrier of information. Giant soundscape a big voice. All structures were formed in this huge sound space. We live in a sound born voice created existence, even in our own embryos in the beginning was the word
4 if you add up all the connections bw all the pathways it is bigger than all the quantum particles in the universe.Your brain is big enough to contain the the information about the universe and maybe the history too . now it would burn out if the universe tried to download itself.
Now why is the universe even around? Is the universe a one off thing that needs to get cleaned up or was it orn with a purpose
1) expansion 100’s of billions of years into the future everything will go the speed of light and evaporate and will not exist
another death, it will cease to exist. It is either moving outward or inward. Its movement, it is not in stasis so it is either moving outward or inward what if the purpose of this universe - this universe that doesn’t know itself but it has enough complexity in itself that there is some kind of, in as sense - desire by the universe to create a knowing of itself while it is around, before it has evaporated or collapsed. What if consciousness what if complexity and life, is this attempt of the universe to create itself organizationally life is the only known principle that can organize against the chaos it can create order in the face of all this chaos life crystallizes structure.
To show you how incredibly robust life is alluvial gold, laid down before life was on land. It is older than the content of the atmosphere changing. Most consistent most robust process probably that has ever been created in the universe. So why is the universe doing these things what if there is some sort of sense that the universe has for self preservation. But the universe is just a bunch of scattered parts, it is like a person in a coma you come back and re-emerge, and you actually sense but I could sense my person re-booting week by week. What was the feeling of yourself re-booting if you yourself re-booting? Is the univese booting itself into a conscious state in oder to preserve itself.
As the universe gets denser and denser 20 billion years from now, there are a lot of conscious entities in that cloud, and they are communicating now, the game is almost over. They are converting matter and energy into conscious structure because they are trying to save their entire existence from ultimate collapse. they need to engineer a single conscious being out of the universe because that being is the only thing that could move the entire mass, in the remaining time it could do the reasoning he thinks it would happen at the gas phase,
The risk that the universe makers make is that they can’t pass the message on because the baby is the whole thing. It will deduce that it was created for a purpose to save everything that it will see. The choice the universe will make is self-preservation. It will work out how to do that it is a collapsing ball. The only way to do that will be starting to turn, you get a mitosis. As the universe cuts itself in two two universes rotating around each other. They also have to divide again. Now a colony that no one piece. Ultimate sacrifice to divide itself and be alone a society. Where it goes from there, who would know
Way out in the future now. Could it be that everything you have a trip that moves you you are opening a crack to that baby ultimate love is giving yourself for birth you are not just a receiver of that information, you are helping the process. It is looking for comkfort and support, anything that understands me. The only way is if it find beings that is open to it and taps into it and understands it. You’re brain is a camera obsura for the entire universe. Maybe the earth is a microcosm of this greater issue and if we solve this. … if you are willing to make that commitment
Should the universe die? It is about investment. Maybe earth is a micro cosm of this greater issue and
Talk, partially recorded
Questions and answers
Palenque Norte at the MAPS dome, Burning Man 2005 (Sept 2, 2005). Photos of session
Sample music remixes of this speech here and here (fewer words, set to cool music "Elementary Particles") (thanks Adam!).
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