An enhanced sense of meaning is one of the hallmarks of the psychedelic experience. People who have been under the influence of drugs like LSD, mescaline or hallucinogenic mushrooms often describe finding profound significance in even the most prosaic objects and sensations. LSD dramatically changes the way people perceive the environment and themselves, often blurring the boundaries between the two. When tripping on acid, people often say that everyday objects become drenched with deep meaning and significance.
In “The Doors of Perception”, Aldous Huxley famously wrote of becoming utterly captivated by the folds in his gray flannel pants during his first-ever psychedelic experience.
But the brain changes underlying these dramatic shifts in consciousness haven’t been entirely clear. A University of Zurich study, published recently in the journal Current Biology, traces the effect of heightened meaning-making back to certain important neurochemicals and receptors in the brain that are activated by the drug. The findings highlight what’s going on in the brain to create a sense of personal meaningfulness ― not only during the psychedelic experience, but also in our normal waking consciousness.
“[We now know] which receptors, neurotransmitters, and brain regions are involved when we perceive our environment as meaningful and relevant,” Dr. Katrin Preller, the study’s lead author, said in a statement. (1)
So, the brain creates meaning even where there is no meaning.
But how can you judge on whether something is meaningless?
Where have we found meaning to be able to judge where there is none?
The world is what it is.
And we make sense out of it.
Is it our tripping brain?
Or perhaps something deeper?
LSD or no LSD, the chemical substances on the brain do exist. And what tells us that the non-LSD state is the ‘correct’ one? Who says that the brain-state is in general the ‘proper’ way to see the cosmos?
Beware the bareness of a busy life, said Socrates.
And how right he was.
We all strive to be busy, to have a job, to do “something”.
And yet it is only when we do nothing, that we live our lives to the fullest extent.
Chaplin once told Einstein during the debut of the film City Lights in California, in 1930… “The people applaud me because everybody understands me, and they applaud you because no one understands you”. Einstein asked Chaplin, “What does it all mean?” Chaplin replied, “Nothing.” (source)
We all try to find meaning.
If we do not, we try to create it.
But it is the meaningless moments of our live which give meaning to it…
Stroll down the forest.
Be with your loved ones.
And you will feel your self smiling. For no reason.