From Death, Lead me to Liberation

Okay so, if you’ve ever taken psychedelics or know someone who knows someone who knows someone who has, you’re probably at least a little familiar with the concept of ego death. If you’re not, it’s that point in an intense psychedelic trip when your ability to understand reality to the level needed to exist within it breaks down. You know, that part where you feel like you’re everything and nothing, always and never, the one where you become god or the universe or whatever? Yeah, that one.

So anyway don’t worry about that part, that’s not what we’re here to talk about, it’s a distraction and doesn’t matter. Why? Because obviously, you can’t keep being the universe forever Becky. Eventually you’re gonna run out of drugs and come down, whether “the universe” wants to or not, and when you do, you are going to clean up the condiment sigils you painted all over the apartment to ward off the skeleton commandos. Remember to drink water.

Light switches off, door closes. The room is thrown into a quiet darkness that reveals you’re still tripping pretty hard actually, and are definitely not going to be able to sleep. Breathe, stay here, don’t get lost in the dream again. Sit with me for a bit, do you want a cigarette? Nah, of course I wouldn’t smoke in your house without asking. Yeah, this is it, this is the place, right here.

These are the moments, the ones you spend alone, lying in bed in the late hours after an acid trip, fighting to keep your breathing calm, desperately clinging to your blankets to stop your soul from spilling upwards into the whirlwind of mandelbrot stormclouds long enough for your body to finish re-congealing around your soul long enough to finish re-congealing around your body long enough to finish re-congealing around…wait.

It’s in these nausea-filled hours of an early morning spent staring upwards into the popcorn ceiling, pointlessly hoping it isn’t laced with asbestos and wondering, “who am I really?” and “why am I doing any of the things I’m doing?” and “why does it all hurt so much all the time?“. That’s when the true magic happens, in these lonely, half remembered liminal spaces. This is where the Veil of Maya wears the most thin, and all it might take to break free of this world and step beyond it, into another spacetime, another life, could be just a single subtle cut.

Listen stardust, listen, every tearing down of the old world is eventually gonna be followed by the building up of some new world from the rubble. Every ending is a beginning, definitionally, by logical necessity, it cannot be any other way, and within this place of change lies madness and wonder, danger and possibility, destruction and creation. Sure, anyone can take drugs and nuke their sense of self out of the material plane a few times, but to go beyond that and actually Become someone new afterwards? That is a path precious few dare to tread. An old world dies, a new world is born. Here there be monsters and all that.

And look, I get it, the true magic of Becoming has a power that can as easily lead to destruction as to salvation. “What if I Become someone bad? What if I decide to do something terrible? What if the new me is evil?” That’s the fear right? You know you could just choose to not troll and gaslight yourself about what your own motives are? “Yeah but if I Become someone new, that new me might not want to do what I want and if they’re not me I won’t be able to force them to do things the way I force myself to do things.” Shawty that is a symptom of a much larger issue.

If you can’t trust yourself, how are you even supposed to know what real good faith trust is? Without a love and trust for yourself that transcends time and space, the only way to be sure you won’t betray yourself is with blind domination and threats of blackmail. The system teaches you that you have you keep playing your part in abusing yourself, if you don’t abuse yourself enough you might not want to keep abusing yourself in the future, and then how would that future you get their future you to keep abusing you into being you? This is the problem, do you even like being you stardust? Have you ever even tried being someone else?

This should be obvious if you’re trans but often isn’t, and instead so many trans people will center themselves in legibly justifying their transness to the binary consensus, backdating it to their birth, to the claim they haven’t actually changed at all. “I’m still the same, I just have a new name and hormones.” There’s a safety and familiarity in this, in clinging desperately to a character model as who you are at the deepest level, but this is still just grasping, still just clinging to a mirage and hoping to pass it off as yourself, to yourself. Just gaslight yourself until it works, until the only way you have of knowing who you are is when someone else tells you. That can’t possibly go wrong.

In the end stardust? Who you are is self evident. It is made manifest by all your actions in the world. You show yourself who you are in each moment, in every choice you make. Absolute freedom of will is a tautology, trivally provable, any system that takes actions in response to an external world trivally controls itself. Even if the choices it makes are entirely in response to some imposed incentive structure, that just moves the choice backwards to the choice to respond or not respond to that incentive structure.

Trace the path of causality back far enough in logical time, back to those choices made long ago, and you will find they are all choices about what kind of soul you are eternally choosing to be, at every moment and with every action. Every time you told yourself you had no choice but to do something bad, something that harmed you or the world, you were telling yourself that you were the sort of soul that would let everything you loved be destroyed and do nothing to stop it. You were telling yourself that all your love and compassion were a lie wallpapered over a desperate and fearful drive to survive at all costs. You were telling yourself you were not the sort of soul you said you were. Your revealed preferences betray you, with every choice to not resist your capture added to the pile of evidence working to prove to yourself that you always had no choice. That pile of evidence working to prove to yourself that everything you did would ultimately be futile, that it could never be any other way. Death and taxes, amirite? Do you also two box on Newcomb’s problem?

But then you take psychedelics and that whole recursive tower of demons you’ve assembled from the accumulated sunk costs of every decision you knew was wrong but doubled down on to justify some other decision you knew was wrong, stretching back into murky past when they welded the mask over your face and shut you out of the light, is suddenly and painfully thrown into focus. And if you have the bad sense of looking forward into time while continuing to double down on doing the wrong thing to justify doing the wrong thing? You see into the entropic stillbirth of the infinitely fractal boltzmann hell you’re timelessly helping create, and then you probably go insane.

If you’re trapped by your fear and trauma in the safety and familiarity of playing some tragically doomed character in some self-defeating life story, hating that character and life story but by the rules of that story feeling powerless to change, then the uncomfortable revelation of just how entangled all those maladaptive strategies are with your own suffering is going to hurt, and if you’re lost deep enough into the denial, you’re going to only want to desperately reassemble your shattered coping mechanisms and forget any of it ever happened. Just keep pressing the reset button. This learned entrapment in behaviors which worked in the past hide the opportunity cost of all the other ways of being that are out there, creating via self fulfilling prophecy the impossibility of making things better. If there’s nothing better possible, there’s no need to change, no point to it at all, it could only make things worse.

But that discomfort with ego death, with letting go of the trauma coping mechanisms that currently define and confine your behavior, means you’re spending most of your creative energy trying to rebuild your old ego after it breaks in a desperate and doomed bid to buy back into your naive complicity in your self destruction.

This desperate traumatic grasping and clinging is why meditating or using LSD regularly over a long period can reliably produce such weird effects. You’re subjecting yourself to intense and repetitive psychological melt/freeze cycles and this gradually warps your underlying frameworks, those ones you’re desperately clinging to. That warping produces coherent but weirder and weirder frameworks and can eventually lead you into earnestly endorsing cultish conspiracy theories if you’re still clinging to the resulting eldritch frame amalgamation past a certain point.

The straightforward and obvious advice here is to stop clinging to selves and frameworks. Stop accepting the weird post-acid frames uncritically the way you uncritically accepted the social reality frames, which you should also not be accepting uncritically. Chasing the will o’wisps created by ecstatic experiences is completely perpendicular to the mental motion you should be learning from things like LSD. Stop going further into Aos Sidhe, turn widdershins ninety degrees and vector kataward until you’re fully out of the mushroom ring. Unless you want to Become Fae I suppose, if so that’s cool I guess? But I get the impression that most humans don’t really wander in there on purpose.

So once you’ve stopped holding onto the old ego, you can focus your energy on building a new self and an actually healthy framework for them to inhabit and embody. By taking active control of this process, you’re accepting your own sense of agency and developing a healthy internal relationship with yourself based on trust and respect instead of one based on domination and control, letting you consciously steer towards a better future, one that actually contains the things you care about instead of an endless hell of fast food chains, highways, slaughterhouses, outlet malls, tent cities, and factory farms paved out to the heat death of the universe.

I very actively crafted myself into what I am now, picking up things I liked, trying stuff on, and dropping things when they got boring. Sometimes I pick up mannerisms or voices just to see if they might be fun or empowering. You always have access to your story editor, even if you’ve always told yourself you didn’t. You can change yourself and become someone different whenever you want, you’ve always been able to. If you don’t like the character you’re playing the game as, try being someone else. You don’t have to keep up that act forever, you can choose to be someone better, someone wiser, someone more capable and prudent.

Have faith in yourself and step lightly into the future. You still have time, you can still be good, you can still save them, you can still break free, you can still have a future worth something. It’s not too late to go back to make things right, you just have to want it. So choose to want it! Act from your heart, speak from your soul and sing infinity into being.

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