Published on Mar 6, 2017

Transcendent experiences that were once attributed to gods, angels, muses, or even possession, are now being demystified by neuroscience. Jamie Wheal, Director of Programs at the Flow Genome Project, explains that each culture has unique rituals and narratives when it comes to non-ordinary experiences of consciousness or ‘altered states’, whether that’s mediation, flow state, psychedelic experiences, or others. A farmer in India, a peasant in Mexico, and a coder in Silicon Valley will all have vastly different ways of approaching altered states, and will give vastly different descriptions once they come out the other side – perhaps they saw a vision of Ganesh the elephant God, received a message from the Virgin of Guadalupe, or produced a brilliant line of code while in a Matrix-like binary blur. However, those experiences are more alike than we think. Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler devised a functional framework so they could compare non-ordinary experiences across cultures. Here, Wheal explains that they identified four common elements of altered states of consciousness, which they coined as STER: selflessness, timelessness, effortlessness and richness. Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler’s book is Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work

 

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So when you’re considering non-ordinary or altered states one of the first questions is what do they feel like? What’s actually going on in those places and spaces? And one of the challenges in coming up with a good and consistent answer, not just for a specific state like meditation or a flow state or a psychedelic the state, is what qualities do they all share? Because each of those communities of practice over decades, centuries and even the millennia have accumulated their own storytelling or content about what the state they access are, what they mean and where you’re supposed to go through them. So for instance, if you were a Buddhist meditator you will be instructed in all sorts of stages and levels and progressions of non-ordinary states of consciousness ranging from waking state all the way to white light void to Buddha consciousness, et cetera.

Full transcript here

Stealing Fire

It’s the biggest revolution you’ve never heard of, and it’s hiding in plain sight. Over the past decade, Silicon Valley executives like Eric Schmidt and Elon Musk, Special Operators like the Navy SEALs and the Green Berets, and maverick scientists like Sasha Shulgin and Amy Cuddy have turned everything we thought we knew about high performance upside down. Instead of grit, better habits, or 10,000 hours, these trailblazers have found a surprising short cut. They’re harnessing rare and controversial states of consciousness to solve critical challenges and outperform the competition.

Stealing Fire