The Holotropic Mind


The Holotropic MindThe Three Levels of Human Consciousness, With Hal Zina Bennett, New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

In The Holotropic Mind Stanislav Grof exposes his vision of a holographic universe, and he summons convincing amounts of data and evidence for his view. Grof’s contribution is important especially right now as the holographic view of the universe is one of several ‘theories of everything’ or integrative visions that actually link back to ancient holistic science traditions.

Grof further references current research, thus blending ancient and new cutting-edge science into something like a total synthesis.

With good reason and convincing arguments, he refers to David Bohm’s theory of a constantly unfolding universe as one of the first holistic science concepts in modern times:

For Bohm, holographic theory illustrates his idea that energy, light, and matter are composed of interference patterns that carry information about all of the other waves of light, energy, and matter that they have directly or indirectly contacted. Thus, each part of energy and matter represents a microcosm that enfolds the whole./10

Bohm reminds us that even the process of abstraction, by which we create our illusions of separation from the whole, are themselves expressions of the holomovement. We ultimately come to the realization that all perceptions and knowledge—including scientific work—are not objective reconstructions of reality; instead, they are creative activities comparable to artistic expressions. We cannot measure true reality; in fact, the very essence of reality is its immeasurability. /10

One of the most daring thinking habits to overcome, that are connected with mechanistic science, is the illusion of separateness. Grof writes:

The holographic model offers revolutionary possibilities for a new understanding of the relationship between the parts and the whole. No longer confined to the limited logic of traditional thought, the part ceases to be just a fragment of the whole but, under certain circumstances, reflects and contains the whole. As individual human beings we are not isolated and insignificant Newtonian entities; rather, as integral fields of the holomovement each of us is also a microcosm that reflects and contains the macrocosm./10

But apart from systems theory, in which he knows to excel, Grof is really the specialist for LSD-based psychiatry, and his two decades of experience together with sound judgment of his many observations have led to something like an integrated concept of LSD-based psychiatry.

While all this research had been stopped because of the fact that LSD, together with number of natural plant psychedelics, has been forbidden by our administrative oversoul, the insights and miracles remain an ecstatic outlook in a possible future of psychiatry. Grof writes:

In sessions of LSD-assisted psychotherapy, we witnessed a rather peculiar pattern. With low to medium dosages, subjects usually limited their experiences to reliving scenes from infancy and childhood. However, when the doses were increased or the sessions were repeated, each client sooner or later moved far beyond the realms described by Freud. /16

Many of the experiences reported were remarkably like those described in ancient spiritual texts from Eastern traditions. I found this particularly interesting because most people reporting these experiences had no previous knowledge of the Eastern spiritual philosophies, and I certainly had not anticipated that such extraordinary experiential domains would become accessible in this way. (…) When the process moved beyond the biographical material from infancy and childhood and the experiences began to reveal the greater depths of the human psyche, with all its mystical overtones, the therapeutic results exceeded anything I had previously known. Symptoms that had resisted months or even years of other treatment often vanished after patients had experiences such as psychological death and rebirth, feelings of cosmic unity, archetypal visions, and sequences of what clients described as past-life memories./16-17

Contrary to Freudian psychoanalysis, Grof, following a tradition created by Otto Rank, includes perinatal experiences in his psychoanalytic exploration.

Exploration in non-ordinary states of consciousness has provided convincing evidence that we do store memories of perinatal experiences in our psyches, often at a deep cellular level. People with no intellectual knowledge of their births have been able to relive, with extraordinary detail, facts / concerning their births, such as the use of forceps, breech delivery, and the mother’s earliest responses to the infant. Time and time again, details such as these have been objectively confirmed by questioning hospital records or adults who were present at the delivery./28-29

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