LSD and the mind of the universe

Foreword to the Japanese translation

By Echan Deravy and kindly edited by Dr. Christopher Bache

“ It’s a very salutary thing to realize that the rather dull universe in which most of us spend most of our time is not the only universe there is. I think it’s healthy that people should have this experience.”

Aldous Huxley, Moksha: Writings on Psychedelics & the Visionary Experience

Over half a century ago in the swinging sixties the buzz word was ‘acid’. ‘Drop acid’ , ‘acid trips’ , ‘acid flashbacks’ ‘bad acid’ and ‘ heavy acid’ come to mind now. Acid is of course the nickname we young hippies gave to LSD. It had been synthesised by Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman in 1938, and in 1943 he became the first person, albeit accidentally, to ‘trip out’ on its hallucinogenic properties. Millions of young people like me took it to party, to have weird and wonderful hallucinations.

Darker agendas for its use were also in existence as the US government secretly carried out mind control experiments with it in the 1950’s. 

By the time I started playing with it in 1969 it was an illegal drug, but that may soon change. In 2020 a referendum in Oregon determined that  LSD should be decriminalised. Hoffman himself always maintained that it posed no danger to society but that the swinging sixties had ruined its reputation. He continued its use himself and died at the ripe old age of 102! 

That being said, the explorations reported in this book were made possible by  a substance that is currently illegal in Japan. It is a forbidden fruit. Let the reader have no doubts about this. Unlike in the West, there is currently no research being done in Japan into LSD’s therapeutic potential for healing  psychological disorders. In this astonishing story of Chris Bache’s twenty years of secret experimentation, we must not forget that what he did was against the law in his native USA, a fact he took seriously and which forced  him to keep his experiences hidden for 40 years. But times change. They change because of people. People like professor Bache.

I am an independent researcher, writer and film maker. My central theme has always been this: How can consciousness exist? In other words how is it we think, dream, have visions and memories? You might be surprised to know that there is actually no scientific data that exists anywhere to explain ‘me’, that elusive creature who lurks behind every thought and memory, touches and is touched by every emotion and who never actually goes to sleep as any lucid dreamer knows. The more brain science progresses the farther away this magical entity we call consciousness recedes.

I have made it my life work to tackle this enigma from multiple angles including spiritual research and personal experience of course, coupled with the study of scientific research. Though I am not a scientist, in this age we can all do ‘scientific’ research if we have open and inquisitive minds. One of the best ways to learn about leading edge science is naturally to have dialogues with those who champion its advances. I thus made it my mission to meet and interview many scientists, philosophers, writers and thinkers from the early nineties onwards. 

In sharing their information with the Japanese people through my books and lectures I discovered a real hunger amongst them to learn about what is never taught in school and university. They too, like all human beings have an aching to know about that forbidden fruit that Eve made so famous. We are all of us essentially seekers after a deeper truth. We need to listen to those who have traveled farther and deeper if we are sincere in our seeking. I was very fortunate to find many and so I will share with you some of their insights. 

Christopher Bache comes from a long line of psychedelic pioneers stretching back to Aldous Huxley in our modern age. Huxley used psilocybin extracted from mushrooms to open the doors of his perception and left us a book of that title. I encourage you to read that classic of altered states of consciousness literature: The Doors of Perception. It broke new ground and did open the door for others to discuss these forbidden fruits that have been with human evolution possibly from its very beginning.

Kyoto 1992: I had given up all drug use by the time I arrived in Kyoto in 1974 to study Zen. At that time in my life I was far more inclined to study psychology and especially depth psychology. When I found out that the Transpersonal Psychology conference would be held at the Kyoto International Conference Centre, I immediately offered my services as a volunteer interpreter to help the visiting lecturers with their work. Soon I was face to face with one of its pioneers, Dr. Stanislav Grof. Grof is one of the greatest exponents of the deeply healing effects of LSD therapy. You will be reading more about him in this book because it was his research that changed the course of Dr. Bache’s life.

 Around the same time, I co-hosted Dr. John Lilly in Kyoto and spent a week with him at our base on Yoshida Yama. He too was a dedicated scientist who had invented the isolation tank and performed LSD experiments on himself while floating in its zero gravity environment. He shared many key insights with me especially about how our belief systems program our realities. He personally experienced many ‘altered’ states of consciousness in the tank using LSD while it was still legal. He remains one of the most powerful personalities I have met and was responsible for my swimming with wild dolphins to explore interspecies communication with them as he had. Those dolphins had been the trigger for him to develop the floatation tank. He needed to find out how such huge brains as they possessed were necessary just to swim and eat all day.

Within a year or two, I had also attended a lecture by Dr. Timothy Leary who earned a lot of bad press for how he had promoted LSD. As a Harvard psychologist he had been profoundly awakened by psychedelic experience and so held a vision for changing the world through its use. His slogan resounded across the world: Turn on (drop acid), Tune in (to other levels of consciousness), Drop Out (leave society). To give the reader some idea of how dangerous he appeared to the US government for promoting LSD,  he was sent to prison for a twenty year sentence,  all for the possession of two marijuana joints. He later escaped jail to continue his work. (Very strangely, the psychological test they gave him when entering prison was one that he had designed himself at Harvard!)

Huxley had believed that academics and professional people should be the first to use these forbidden fruits and then slowly bring them to the general public’s attention. Leary promoted the  opposite strategy. He believed that everybody should take LSD and wake up to an entirely different perception of the world. In retrospect, Huxley was clearly correct in his understanding of this issue. Now with a psychedelic renaissance underway in the West, more and more countries are decriminalising psychedelics and  creating research centres to study their beneficial effects on human psychology, brain functioning and general happiness. Massive leaps forward in neurochemical research have shown just how much the human brain can gain from psychedelics administered with proper supervision in clinical settings that promote the safety and  well-being of its subjects. Sadly Japan is currently lagging behind in this field of research.

In my studies I met, interviewed, and learned from many researchers over the  years, but the men I mentioned above all shared one common feature. They were academically disciplined individuals or persons well versed in critical inquiry. They were trained to be as objective as possible even while undergoing extremely  subjective experiences, such as those you are going to read about here. The experience of ego-death that you will find in the following pages is something we will all face sooner or later in physical death. Dr. Bache took the ego-death experience to levels seldom reported in any of the psychedelic literature or even in the spiritual literature of the world. The Sufis call it Fana. It means annihilation.

I interviewed Christopher Bache two days ago. As I had imagined he was a very youthful man in his early seventies full of deep compassion and humility. His two decades of exploring the mind of the universe with LSD was exactly that. For twenty years he had a running dialogue with the greatest mind in existence. It was never easy. In fact, it was full of suffering for him. Let that be a warning to all of us that this forbidden fruit was forbidden for a reason. But for those who can muster the courage and care to eat of this fruit responsibly, the rewards are simply beyond all expectations. 

Prior to each of his seventy three sessions, Bache told me that that he felt like a soldier going into  battle or a woman going into the pain of labour and delivery. Unlike we hippies and others who took LSD  for recreational purposes, Bache did it as a disciplined philosophical inquiry and under carefully controlled circumstances – isolated from the outside world, under the watchful supervision of a clinical psychologist sitter, protected from all interruptions, lying down, eyes closed, and listening to carefully selected music.  What he learned in these psychedelic journeys in my humble opinion, ranks with some of the greatest spiritual writings of all time. I am thus deeply honoured to be part of this profound book’s publication in Japan and congratulate the publisher Natural Spirit and the translator June Maemura for making it possible for you, dear reader, to find out what happens after you eat the forbidden fruit.

Esquimalt, Vancouver Island

British Columbia

January 15, 2021