A professor of religious studies meticulously documents his insights from 73 high-dose LSD sessions conducted over the course of 20 years
• Chronicles, with unprecedented rigor, the author’s systematic journey into a unified field of consciousness that underlies all physical existence
• Makes a powerful case for the value of psychedelically induced spiritual experience and discusses the challenge of integrating these experiences into everyday life
• Shows how psychedelic experience can take you beyond self-transformation into collective transformation and help birth the future of humanity
On November 24, 1979, Christopher M. Bache took the first step on what would become a life-changing journey. Drawing from his training as a philosopher of religion, Bache set out to explore his mind and the mind of the universe as deeply and systematically as possible--with the help of the psychedelic drug LSD. Following protocols established by Stanislav Grof, Bache’s 73 high-dose LSD sessions over the course of 20 years drew him into a deepening communion with cosmic consciousness.
Journey alongside professor Bache as he touches the living intelligence of our universe--an intelligence that both embraced and crushed him--and demonstrates how direct experience of the divine can change your perspective on core issues in philosophy and religion. Chronicling his 73 sessions, the author reveals the spiral of death and rebirth that took him through the collective unconscious into the creative intelligence of the universe. Making a powerful case for the value of psychedelically induced spiritual experience, Bache shares his immersion in the fierce love and creative intent of the unified field of consciousness that underlies all physical existence. He describes the incalculable value of embracing the pain and suffering he encountered in his sessions and the challenges he faced integrating his experiences into his everyday life. His journey documents a shift from individual consciousness to collective consciousness, from archetypal reality to Divine Oneness and the Diamond Luminosity that lies outside cyclic existence.
Pushing the boundaries of theory and practice, the author shows how psychedelic experience can take you beyond self-transformation into collective transformation, beyond the present into the future, revealing spirit and matter in perfect balance.
I don’t think these six sessions are well served by further commentary. Every time I attempt it I find that my words dilute their message, so better to let them stand as they are. In the last section of this chapter I want to pivot from experience to theory. Theory pales before experience and can feel like a weak postscript, and it is, but in order for me to integrate my experiences, I had to understand them. This required that I expand my understanding of what is possible in these states and how the universe works in them.
When I began this work, I was thinking in terms of a model of transformation that held that the purpose of undergoing these exercises was to heal and enlighten the individual. When Grof discussed the therapeutic impact of psychedelic therapy, he always focused on how it affected the individual patient, and occasionally the patient’s significant partner. When he reflected on how this therapeutic movement might influence the emerging global crisis, he did so in terms of the cumulative impact of healing large numbers of people one person at a time. Accordingly, when the ocean of suffering opened after what had appeared to be a solid ego-death in sessions 9-10, I interpreted it to mean that some stubborn remnant of my ego must have slipped through the therapeutic net and that my ego-death was unfinished. I thought that this collective suffering would eventually lead to a more complete ego-death.
Eventually, however, this interpretation was overwhelmed by the sheer intensity and quantity of the suffering involved. These episodes went on for too many years and were too extreme in their content for me to continue seeing them as collective experiences drawn in through resonance to the core of my unfinished ego-death. This eventually forced me to reassess the boundaries of this entire enterprise. The conclusion I came to, both intellectually and experientially, was that these collective episodes were not aimed primarily at the transformation of my personal consciousness. Instead, they were aimed at nothing less than the transformation of the collective psyche as a whole.
I wrote Dark Night, Early Dawn in part to answer the question: Why did death become as large as it did in my psychedelic journey? What is driving the healing process when it opens to such collective tracts? In that book I abandoned the person-centered narrative I had been assuming and adopted an expanded narrative. By integrating Rupert Sheldrake’s concept of morphic fields into Grof’s paradigm, the way opened to viewing these collective ordeals as part of a larger transformational process aimed at healing wounds still carried in the collective psyche. I argued that in highly energized psychedelic states, the collective unconscious is sometimes activated to such a degree or in such a manner that it triggers a collective healing process. Through some fractal flip or quantum entanglement I had not anticipated or even thought possible at the time, the “patient” in my sessions had shifted from being me to being some portion of humanity itself.
This interpretation proposes that the working of the collective psyche parallels the working of the personal psyche in key respects. It proposes that just as painful experiences can accumulate and block the healthy functioning of the individual, similar blockages can occur at the collective level. It suggests that the unresolved anguish of human history might still be active in the collective memory of our species, burdening its life just as our personal unresolved anguish burdens ours.
Continuing the parallel, if the conscious engagement of unresolved pain can bring therapeutic relief at the personal level, the same may also occur at the species-level. Normally we would expect such healing to take the form of historical reform movements or cultural shifts in which large numbers of people confront and heal some painful legacy from our past. Within the context of LSD therapy, however, a new possibility seems to be emerging. In this setting an individual seems to be able to tap into and directly facilitate a healing of some portion of the collective psyche. The process of engaging and healing a collective META-COEX system in a psychedelic session is essentially the same as engaging and healing a personal COEX system, but enacted on a much larger scale and a different level of consciousness. Grof has embraced this expansion of his paradigm.
I came to this conclusion only after great struggle. For years I kept trying to fit my psychedelic experiences into the model of individual transformation. Opening to a narrative of collective transformation felt monstrously arrogant. How can a single person impact something as large as the collective unconscious of our species? It felt like I was inflating my ego even to suggest the possibility, and yet this shift was demanded by the experiences themselves. Not only did the quantity of suffering shatter the myth of individual therapy, but the quality of suffering was demonstrating that this was an inherently collective dynamic. Years later, I learned that Marie-Louise von Franz, a life-long collaborator with Carl Jung, had come to a similar conclusion about the collective import of deep transformative work.
Moving to a model of collective transformation represented an enormous transition for me because with this pivot we are no longer speaking of an individual “having transpersonal experiences.” Here the individual dissolves into pre-existing fields of collective consciousness. At this point it is these collective fields that become the “working unit” of experience in these sessions. This requires a new way of thinking about what is taking place in our sessions and a new therapeutic calculus. In letting go of the person-centered narrative, I was surrendering to a universe whose workings were stranger and more complex than I had previously imagined
Christopher M. Bache is professor emeritus in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Youngstown State University where he taught for 33 years. A Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, he is also adjunct faculty at the California Institute of Integral Studies and on the advisory board for Grof Transpersonal Training and the Grof Foundation. An award-winning teacher and international speaker, he is the author of 3 books and lives in Poland, Ohio.
“Once or twice in a century a book appears that has the explosive force of a supernova, breaking through the limitations of religion, science, and culture. This is such a book-- a gripping account of an utterly unique and extraordinary hero’s journey that opens our minds and hearts to a new vision of our universe and ourselves. A deeply moving template of our evolutionary journey.”
– Anne Baring, Ph.D., author of The Dream of the Cosmos
“Chris Bache demonstrated tremendous courage to embark on the 73 highdose LSD sessions that form the core of this book. The insights and lessons he brought back are fascinating and profoundly relevant as we seek to answer fundamental questions of the meaning and purpose of our own lives. LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven is a diamond from Chris!”
– Rick Doblin, Ph.D., founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychede
“Chris Bache is an intrepid psychonaut whose 20-year odyssey has yielded an extraordinary harvest of luminous insights into the deeper structure of reality and the underlying dynamics of human existence. Prepare to be amazed, energized, purged, shattered, illuminated, and reborn by penetrating to the heart of this stunning revelation for our times.”
– David Lorimer, program director at the Scientific and Medical Network
“This most remarkable book fuses the critical reasoning of philosophy of religion and the epiphanies of mind that come from direct gnostic access to some of the deepest structures of the universe. That these impossible epiphanies were made possible by a most remarkable scientific discovery, LSD, which is now criminalized, only adds to the power of Chris’s remarkable revelation of who and what we really are.”
– Jeffrey J. Kripal, holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice Univ
“Every now and then a genuine pioneer arises in our midst. With modest yet profound intelligence, Chris Bache takes us with him on his courageous journey into the depth of the universe as a field of reality that transcends all our beliefs and consciousness. With him we experience the intense suffering and ecstasy of universal reality.”
– Barbara Marx Hubbard, author of Emergence and Conscious Evolution
“This book is an extraordinarily rich journey, and Professor Bache’s cosmic insights represent a rare but profound gift to humanity. Highly recommended!”
– Eben Alexander, M.D., neurosurgeon and author of Proof of Heaven
“We have extensive historical, cross-cultural, and experimental evidence that psychedelics can have significant therapeutic and religious benefits. Now we have a new kind of data: the careful reflections by an eminent philosopher and theologian of his own intensive and systematic psychedelic explorations into the farther reaches of human experience.”
– Roger N. Walsh, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of Califor
“A stunning and uplifting vision of the cosmos and humanity. This revelatory and transformative text is a genuine treasure; to read it is to open a portal into the vast and mysterious beauty of life.”
– G. William Barnard, Ph.D., professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University
“Chris Bache has traveled into largely uncharted realms to explore the further reaches of psychedelic experience and brought back hard-won insights into our world and our moment in history. His memoir will be a guidebook for generations to come. This is a gem of a book.”
– Duane Elgin, author of The Living Universe
“A fascinating and inspiring work by an intrepid explorer. A rare glimpse into realms of consciousness and the transformation such journeys can bring, including a revelatory vision of an enlightened human future.”
– Peter Russell, author of The Global Brain
“Words can barely begin to describe the power and the importance of this book. If you open yourself to the paradigm-shattering wisdom of this remarkable book, you will be changed, and you will sense great possibilities for humanity. Essential reading for a species at the crossroads.”
– Stephen Gray, editor of Cannabis and Spirituality
“Chris Bache’s controlled LSD experiences have been meticulously logged, analyzed, and synthesized in this extraordinary book, which greatly extends our known entheogenic cartography. A must-read for all those interested in psychedelics, psychology, and the furthest reaches of subjective experience.”