Inner Paths to Outer Space
Originally published in 2008 ‘Inner Paths to Outer Space’ is a collaborative project between Rick Strassman M.D., Slawek Wojtowicz M.D., Luis Eduardo Luna Ph.D. and Ede Frecska M.D.. Through a series of scientific explanations, first-hand psychedelic accounts and the development of hypotheses therein, the four authors offer a broad argument for a connection between certain sci-fi topics and psychedelic consciousness.
In a recent interview with PsypressUK, Rick said: “I think the science fiction community has taken the ball with the psychedelic material and done great things with it. This was the kernel of thought that blossomed into the Inner Paths book.” The collaborative effort, taking in a variety of disciplines, means the book has a broad foundation of knowledge from which to draw on; which ultimately leads to an exceedingly well structured text.
The early chapters by Strassman, Luna and Wojtowicz deal with DMT, ayahuasca and psilocybin mushrooms respectively. They include historical information, the science of the drugs – including structures and studies – and first-hand psychedelic accounts.
All three draw focus on the sci-fi elements, though Luna examines the shamanic connection more thoroughly. The accounts are derived from the research and experience of Strassman and Luna; plus from the Vaults of Erowid. There are some truly inspiring descriptions of the psychedelic experience; which translate both the wonder and removedness of what Strassman described as the “invisible worlds.”
The chapters by Ede Frecska are perhaps the most difficult to grasp in terms of the language and ideas; and they also contain some of the more speculative hypotheses. However, through an examination of scientific method and some observations by Aaron Beck, on depression in the cognitive scheme. he develops a hypothesis that essentially lends its premise to the title of the book.
Shortly, and simply, “individual consciousness arises from an interplay of mind – developing in the non-local aspect of the universe – and matter, which is the localized aspect of this same universe.” This draws on quantum theory and, as is noted, also reflects the Hindu ideas of Brahmin and Atman. Hence, some of the visions that have, in the past, been labelled as outer space experiences, have in fact developed from the psychedelic experience. Hence, we must search the inner path to reach the outer space.
In examining this hypothesis, historically, Frecska examines the theory of paleo-contact. Through the etymology of words in ancient texts and by taking a look at the archaeological evidence, he attempts to demonstrate the links between certain sci-fi ideas and the “invisible world” as a journey of our consciousness. Through the textual examination of these ancient narratives one can seemingly uncover certain concurrent themes and ideas.
Academically speaking, Luis recognizes the dodgy ground on which they are walking. In the past “I myself have avoided mentioning UFOs in my writings, because consideration of their accounts is not well received in academic circles.” But he believes the UFO motif has been neglected by such people as cognitive anthropologists, depth psychologists and in the study of mythologies in modern man.
Essentially, it is not only “inner paths to outer space” but also outer paths to inner space, as the book offers a dynamic area of research for future psychedelic studies and frameworks from which to levy ideas in our understanding, and journeying, through the psychedelic space. As is noted in the book, there is no reason to believe that what is on the fringes of, or even removed from, scientific acceptability will not eventually pass into its scope in the future.
Rick Strassman wrote: “While we understand a great deal about the pharmacology of these drugs, it is important to remember the existence of the ‘explanatory gap’ in psychopharmacology – that is, our inability to relate directly, in any particular case, the relationship between subjective experience and changes in brain chemistry.” The ‘explanatory gap’, however, is also the creative space through which our understandings have room to evolve. It is both our limit and our tool.
Lastly, but certainly not least, there is a wonderful collection of psychedelic, visionary art included, which elude to both the sci-fi and shamanic themes of the book. Artists like Robert Venosa, Slawek Wojtowicz, Pablo Amaringo, Martina Hoffman and others all lend their artistic skills. ‘Ayahuasca Dream’ by Venosa struck me as being a particularly beautiful example; capturing both the organic and the alien.
A remarkably interesting work. Inner Paths to Outer Space has pulled together a collection of threads into a theoretically grounded framework and although many of the ideas are, admittedly, speculative, the authors field an extremely well-structured argument. An important read for anyone with an interest in sci-fi, shamanism and psychedelic consciousness and a great addition to the literature.