Joe C
by on August 4, 2019

There is a recurring theme in psychedelic experiences which tells us that consciousness is fundamental to the structure of reality. Consciousness is not something that emerges randomly from a physical world, but rather, the physical world only exists within consciousness. While we do not have a rigorously defined theoretical framework to understand this, the experience speaks for itself. Scientists have never been able to prove that the brain generates consciousness. When scientists study the brain, they are doing so within the context of their own consciousness. In assuming that their consciousness is secondary to some sort of physical world, they are making a leap of faith. As conscious beings having a conscious experience, we have no real way of knowing anything but consciousness, and that which exists within it.

I want to present a theory of psychedelic glossolalia which is a refinement of this notion that consciousness is fundamental to reality. I want to go a step further and say that language such as human speech is a fundamental part of the structure of reality itself. When humans speak to each other, this is not an emergent or arbitrary phenomenon. This is a microcosm of some sort of transcendental language of the cosmos. The universe as a whole speaks in a unified and coherent way and it is possible through psychedelics and perhaps through other means to hear what it is saying. If human beings are fragments of the one mind of God, then our speech is a fragment of God's word.

Language is absolutely critical to our experience as human beings. The life of a human being can in some sense be understood as a story. There is a notion of past, present and future. There are antagonists, protagonists, plot twists, adventures and metaphors. A person's ability to succeed in life is largely based on their ability to construct a narrative about their life that effectively integrates with the meta-narrative of society. Everything is negotiable, even the most important of decisions are made by human beings and human beings are always biased and somewhat open to negotiation. Not only are decisions open to language based negotiation, but decisions themselves are instances of language. Without language there are no laws, categories, body language, verbal language, teamwork, planning, articulation of theories, science, philosophy, mathematics, socializing, dancing, computers, romance. To imagine life without language is not even really an intellectually tenable concept. Language is so fundamental that to imagine a life without it is absurd.

We think of language as how one person communicates with another. Or maybe more broadly how one organism communicates with another. But all physical phenomena can be understood on a micro level or a macro level. On a micro level, one organism speaks to another. But on a macro level, boundaries are non existent and the universe is simply speaking. It's constantly saying something. When you speak that is a microcosm of what the universe is saying. And this divine sentence that the universe speaks is not just a bunch of people talking over each other. In this case the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts. The parts are arranged in a pattern that can't be discerned from within one of the parts. If you heard this divine sentence, it would sound so familiar so as to expand your notion of how familiar something can seem. It is partially in English because the entirety of the English language is contained within it. So sometimes when I hear it I feel like I can articulate it. I feel the words forming on the tip of my tongue but with certainty I can't say a single word. Because English can't contain this sentence.

Experiences of ego death exist on a spectrum of intensity. At the far extreme, there is complete and utter ego death, where you become one with the entire universe. There is also partial ego death, where your sense of self expands but not to the full size of the universe. Glossolalia is a function of ego death, even though ego death does not always produce glossolalia. Therefore there is a spectrum of boundary dissolution with glossolalia. At the extreme of full ego dissolution, the experience is universal. There is only one universe, and it only speaks one way. There is only one such experience to have. With partial ego dissolution, the ego remains somewhat intact and therefore there is room for variation, personality and creative expression. I would characterize full glossolalia as profound. I would characterize partial glossolalia as beautiful.

Partial glossolalia allows me to do two things. Firstly, during intense psychedelic experiences that are ineffable, I feel like I can use glossolalia to articulate my experience. Not everything can be explained in english, but everything can be explained by glossolalia. If something is part of the universe, it makes sense the universe would be able to explain it. Secondly, partial glossolalia allows my mind to conceive of really beautiful generalizations of language. Examples include "every love song ever written" and "every kind word ever spoken to cheer up someone who is upset". Individual love songs are just fragments of the one transcendental love song, which is a real thing and can be heard. Partial glossolalia allows for selectivity. Full glossolalia includes everything including very negative or dark language. There is a beauty in the totality of all language, but there is a different kind of beauty that requires selectivity.