The Reducing Valve

In 1954, Aldous Huxley wrote an autobiographical piece entitled The Doors of Perception, which was (and still is of course) a memoir into the human experience whilst under the influence of psychedelics, in his case mescalin.

It was during this four-hour journey, that he experienced both minor aesthetic distortions to the dimensions of our consensual reality and major sacramental revelations thereof.

As my one of my older posts revealed (Instrumental Communication), our main senses of sight and sound are mapped to frequencies on the electro magnetic spectrum. Within certain ranges, we can see things with our eyes (shapes, forms, colours) and hear things emitted at certain frequencies.

In essence, anything beyond the boundaries of these two critical senses may well be there (for example the sonar capabilities of bats), but the limitations of our biological design restrict what we perceive.

In his book, Huxley introduced his readers to the concept of the reducing valve, a premise that there is a certain brain function that blocks out information in order for the mind to create an external reality and one that allows us to navigate the physical realm as we know it, safely. For if it was not in place, then we would have complete sensory overload, and we would not be able to function properly.

Under the influence of psychedelics, however, it appears on face value that the manipulation of the reducing value allows us to perceive things very differently, perhaps extending the range of the electro magnetic spectrum to see things in a much greater level of detail.

Using mescalin, Huxley saw mundane objects in a totally different way, from chair legs, to the creases in his checked trousers to the inner light/energy flow generated from three flowers in a vase. Imagine if you will a world where you could see not only the flower, but see the life force that flowed through it, what he was seeing was the source of everything, the divine, energy in its purest form and the interconnectivity of everything in the cosmos.

I have waxed lyrical over the year on this blog, but once again the relevance and importance of The Matrix comes up again. Whilst one could concede that only the first movie in the franchise is worth watching, there are snippets from some of the other films that give evidence to the case.

Films are very much like books, poems, song lyrics, art and life itself. We all have a subjective experience of reality, so what a film means to me could radically differ to you, for example, and that is the beauty and the beast right there.

There are many references (I believe) to Huxley’s 1954 missive across The Matrix, one of the opening lines (“Mescalin, the only way to fly”), the many “Doors on the Wall” which lead to a completely different part of reality and of course the end scene in the third movie where Neo who no longer has eyes to see, sees reality for what it is, pure energy.

For Huxley, his internal reality was somewhat of a disappointment, with eyes closed he didn’t fly through the Milky Way on the back of a dragon or astral travel to Carcosa to meet with the King In Yellow, he only witnessed minor distortions to colours and shapes.

I struggle myself with visualisations, much in the same way Huxley did (except for my “trip” to Light Eye Mind in London, whose light salon now sadly extinguished). I can read a poem, a novel, a lyric yet cannot seem to daydream myself a visual representation of what the piece means to me. I wish I could close my eyes and transport myself to the realms of Wordsworth or Rael just to “see” what it is like to “wander lonely as a cloud”. When I have been on mystical retreats over the years (a lot of them), what I experience at times is pure energy, regressions in thought only, but with a blank screen of closed eyelids.

There are occasions (for some) that the reducing valve opens without the use of psychedelics or mystical practices, sometimes the brilliance of nature shines through, very well described in the passage below (from Huxley’s follow up essay Heaven and Hell):

Huxley’s external reality (what we term consensual reality) changed dramatically on mescalin, both living and non-living objects changed, more radiant and energetic than before, more vivid and significant, confirming what Bill Hick’s would later cite, in that “all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather”. OK, maybe not the last bit.

Whilst still under the influence, space and time and everything in it no longer held any real significance for Huxley, any interest in materialism was replaced by the wanting for being in the moment (a perpetual present that exists outside of time as we know it), and the search for meaning in everything.

Simply put, during those four hours he could perceive, and was part of, the very fabric of the universe, the ether that binds and penetrates all things, and it is this very concept that gave him the notion of connectivity with the divine beauty, so far away from the chaos and entropic state of the material world we live in.

And perhaps that is what the reducing valve is, it is a brain function which blocks out the divine so that it is not overloaded with information, information it could not process without errors occurring.

Huxley also found that material world didn’t hold too much of his attention whilst under the influence, it was the inner workings of the mystical world that consumed his attention.

The Tale of Two Amazons…

  • Amazon (Jeff Bezos): Jeff Bezos, chief capitalist and head of the 1%ers. Jeff in all likelihood cares not a jot for spirituality and the inner workings of cosmos (even though he wants to explore more of it using an extension of his penis), Jeff only cares about materialism, the self and the power and the glory he can acquire to the misery of others. For Jeff, the reducing value is permanently set to off, he only exists in the physical realm and is driven by the needs of the self and the ego.
  • Amazon (Asháninka Tribe): Take the mystics and shamans of Peru. They, in all likelihood, care not too much for the physical realm (or when they do, it is in complete symbiosis with it), they care for the community and the inner workings of the cosmos. For them, the reality valve is set to on (especially so when using psychedelics for healing, cleansing and channelling), they see things how they really are and are not driven by the needs of the self and the ego.

So, just where did humanity go wrong? One could argue that it was the dawn of the agricultural revolution when the concepts of power, greed, control, religion and warfare first took hold. One could also argue that it is only through the inauguration of language and concepts that power, greed, control, religion and warfare took hold (and we could look to blame the likes of Plato and Socrates for introspection – as before that, modern consciousness as we know it did not exist, and was that spark from the ergot cups found recently from ancient times, ergot being the source material for LSD). Things were much simpler in the good old days…

I guess if there is a point to this post, it is this. The more we open the reducing valve and experience the cosmos for what it is, by letting in realms currently closed in, the less likely it would be that we threaten our own existence on this planet.

We do not have to take psychedelics to understand the true nature of reality (although no doubt it helps). We just need to understand the root cause of where things are going wrong and get back to nature and tribes, much in the same way the Asháninka tribe of Peru do every single day. So why not experiment and to paraphrase the godfather of LSD Timothy Leary; turn off (the TV), tune in (to inner reality) and drop out (of external reality)…

ADDENDUM: You may be interested in a brand-new series to hit Netflix called “How To Change Your Mind” by Michael Pollan (yes, I’m aware I’m consuming products from capitalist organisation and the hypocrisy therein), which is a four-part miniseries exploring the origins of psychedelics and how their use in clinical environments is helping some to combat mental disorders.