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John C. Lilly

is the way most people think; they’re creating simulations that everyone accepts. Metanoia is where you leave all that and you’re experiencing higher intelligence. But the first time you do this, you’re scared shitless.

On my first acid trip in the tank, I panicked. Suddenly I saw the memorandum from the National Institute of Mental Health: “Never Take Acid Alone.” One investigator who tried to take acid alone got eaten up by his tape recorder. That’s all I could think of. Luckily I was scared shitless, had no idea what was going to happen and boy, that was rocket fuel if ever there was one! I went further out into the universe than I’ve ever been since. So the paranoia is rocket fuel to get you into Metanoia.

Before I did the tank I was frightened by water. I sailed a lot in the ocean and feared sharks. I had a continuous phobia about this. Finally I got in the tank and went through that horrible experience, being frightened to death, you know. And after that I was never afraid of water.

DJB: Do you see a similarity between lucid dreaming and ketamine experiences?

JOHN: No. Lucid dreaming is never as powerful as ketamine.

DJB: Well, one nice thing about ketamine is that you can maintain the high for as long as you want.

JOHN: When people start talking about “higher” states of consciousness I say, “In outer space there’s no up or down.”

DJB: It all becomes relative.

JOHN: No, it isn’t even relative.

DJB: It isn’t even relative?

JOHN: It isn’t anything you can describe.

DJB: Now I’m thoroughly confused.

JOHN: If you stay around me long enough you’re going to get a whole new language. Some people stay around me for a while and run away. I can’t keep a woman here. They all get frightened sooner or later. I’m crazier than hell.

DJB: So are you writing these days? What are you doing?

JOHN: I never say what I’m doing. My analyst said it very well. I came in one day and flopped down on the couch and said, “I just had a new idea this morning, but I’m not going to talk about it.” And he said, “Oh, then you understand that a new idea is like an embryo. A needle will kill an embryo, but if it’s a fetus or a baby then it’s just a needle-prick.” So you have to allow a certain amount of growth before you talk.

RMN: What do you think is the best therapy for people?

JOHN: The best therapy for people is to hit them over the head with a hammer.

DJB: Maybe we could start running workshops at Esalen.

JOHN: I’ve been hit over the head several times. We had a big hot tub out here. I stood up too fast and the circulation left my brain and I fell face down. Three days before, Toni had read how to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in The National Enquirer, and she did it. So many people have saved my life, it’s incredible. I finally figured out that ECCO doesn’t want me to go yet. I asked them to let me go at times. They keep saying, “You’ve got to teach, you’ve got to learn what it is to be a human.” So, I’m spending all my time now trying to learn this. You know, it just gets to be fun. I realized that certain humans have a lot of fun. On some day I said, “What is it to be human?” And they said, “To laugh more.”

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