Lost in Transcendence : A Tribute to Dr.Albert Hofmann

Dr.Albert Hofmann, the man who gave the world LSD ( Lysergic acid diethylamide), popularly known as the addictive phsychedelic drug, “acid” is dead. He discovered the drug and intended that it would be used properly and carefully with respect.A similar person who proposed the use of drugs to explore our mind with drugs died in 1996. He was a controversial person who proposed drug use to transcend consciousness. His name was Dr.Timothy Leary and he was perhaps the most respected and yet, one of the most controversial figures of drug culture. I do not intend to glorify these gentlemen. However, I do wish our society could have learnt something more from them instead of prosecuting them to seclusion and infamy. These were people who were unique because they wanted us to transcend, to realize the possibilities.

There will be several more chemicals which will allow the human species to transcend and remove deficiencies. Men always thought that erectile dysfunction was to be accepted once they became “old people” until Sidenafil citrate (VIAGRA) came along. Men and women throughout the world thought that they could never stop getting depressed until Fluoxetine hydrochloride (PROZAC) came along. Hundreds and thousands of such remarkable chemicals are being discovered and tested in the R&D laboratories of the world. The only thing pending is our acceptance.However, just acceptance does not suffice. There are many slippery slopes in the path to human transcendence and the path is particularly much more slippery when technology comes to lend a hand. Dr.Albert Hofmann’s LSD was accepted in the begining as a fantastic medication for mentally ill patients. However, it soon became very much similar to Dr.Alfred Nobel’s Dynamite and still continues to haunt us.

One of the most important things we must learn to accept in order to transcend into transhumans, cyborgs, superhumans or whatever transcendent being we want to call ourselves; is that we are nothing more than an organism composed of flesh and bone. We carry out our lives as bodies composed of biological cells aggregated together into an organism. Once we begin to understand this; both humility and the passion to transcend would be sown into our minds with double the effect. A revolution could come about in our species if we could cast away our cultural entanglements and understand that our human nature and our human bodies still has a lot to improve.

Having written all of this, I must now state that most of us are merely enthusiastic voyeurs of consciousness. On the one hand, there are radical libertarians or even extreme hedonists who wish to slip easily into the deepest and most exciting realms of the consciousness using synthesized chemicals. On the other extreme of the human spectrum are ascetics who seek the same extremes using renunciation and extremely difficult meditations.

I am very sad to say to both these extreme forms of human nature have in fact wandered away from things that need more immediate attention. More and more news stories are about drugs that help men have better sex or other cosmetic purposes.

Very little news about drugs that help combat AIDS or help reduce the pain of Cancer patients comes up. Why ? because we don’t want to listen in to news that causes pain. Instead, we want to hear about exciting things ! Sadly, I have found recently in my own experience that there is less and less news about AIDS research on television. The latest fashionable crisis seems to be climate change. Wonder when this fad will pass on ?

If humanity as a whole is seriously interested in transcending per se, then it must do so in a balanced manner. It does not matter if a new world order is going to be set up. Such global conspiracies bear no meaning to a malnourished child without education in a warn torn African country. Party and club drugs mean nothing to a teenager seething in rage against nations that discriminate him/her on the basis of religious values.

Buddha tried renunciation to the extreme and found that he would die without so much as a whimper or a glimpse into what he was seeking. He then chose the “middle path“. He has since found out one of the ways of transcendent existence.We could have followed him. Instead, we have dissected his teachings and built concrete palaces for him outside instead of within our hearts.

I am quite sure that many other Bob Marley’s, John Lennon’s and Leary’s would come and go. But we would always be interested in their “coolness” and “rebel” nature instead of their “message of love” or the need to look beyond discrimination and monetary interests.

This was somehow my tribute to a scientist who with good intention discovered a potential chemical gateway to transcendence; which sadly has again been sucked into the darkness of human nature instead of into the light. I hope we come to look at the therapeutic uses of such drugs instead of mindlessly indulging into the “easy road”.

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