14 Chapters
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5 Recalling of birth memories with LSD

House, Simon; Ridgway, Roy Karnac Books ePub

“When we return to the root we gain the meaning.”

Kanchi Sosan (Chien-chih Seng-ts’an), On Believing in Mind

It was the Swiss chemist, Albert Hofmann, who discovered the potent psychoactive properties of lysergic acid diethylamide 25 (LSD25), when he was accidentally affected by a minute quantity of the substance in 1943:

Last Friday, April 16, 1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away. [Hofmann, 1980]

Shortly afterwards LSD25 became the subject of considerable controversy, which has not diminished over the years. Welcomed by a small band of scientists interested in the nature of consciousness, it was later feared and denounced along with other psychedelic drugs for poisoning the minds of young people during the counterculture movement of the 1960s.

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11 Ways that a mother affects her child

House, Simon; Ridgway, Roy Karnac Books ePub

“Following 2000 women through pregnancy and birth, Dr Monika Lukesch, a psychologist at Constantine University, in Frankfurt, West Germany, concluded in her study that the mother’s attitude had the single greatest effect on how an infant turned out.”

Thomas Verny, The Secret Life of the Unborn Child (1982b)

In all societies there have always been those who believe that the outcome of pregnancy depends largely on the mother’s own feelings and experiences, which are imprinted on the child in the same way as a film projector throws an image onto a blank screen. For thousands of years the Chinese have believed in creating a pleasant, relaxing atmosphere for the pregnant woman. The unborn child has been regaled with song and poetry. He is treated as a human being from the moment of conception. When the child is born, he is regarded as being one year old—presumably allowing three months for preconceptual preparation! This much, at least, modern research endorses.

Many Vaishnav Hindus believe that reading aloud religious literature—not fiction—throughout pregnancy influences the intelligence and moral character of the newborn child and makes it easier, later in childhood, for him to learn the verses (or slokas) he had heard in utero.

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Epilogue I

House, Simon; Ridgway, Roy Karnac Books ePub

Roy Ridgway

Finally—if I may end on a more optimistic note than perhaps much that has gone before would seem to justify—it remains a fact, whatever hurts we have suffered, that there is part of the mind of all of us that is uncontaminated by the past. Strictly speaking, it is not a “part”: it is everywhere, behind and in everything, and can be reached in meditation. David Bohm calls it “intelligence”, which is not, he says, what people think it is: the mere capacity for design, remembrance, or communication. Knowledge, the accumulation of facts and experience, however wide, does not necessarily indicate intelligence. Intelligence, David Bohm would say, is sensitive awareness of the totality of life—life with all its problems, vexations, contradictions, miseries, joys. To be aware of all this, to accept it completely without rejecting anything, and to flow with the whole of life is intelligence.

This means scrubbing the ego off the slate, emptying the mind of all the chatter that goes on all the time: which is meditation. Meditation does not, of course, by itself solve your problems: in fact, it is just an escape for some: better than alcohol or drugs, but an escape all the same—an escape back to the “nothingness” of the womb. The important thing is to bring the meditative mind into the everyday world where there are so many problems, so many conflicts, irritations, frustrations. The meditative mind sees what is there and does not invent anything that is not there. It sees through the fog of self-deceit.

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6 Echoes of womb-life: bliss and distress

House, Simon; Ridgway, Roy Karnac Books ePub

“see all, nor be afraid.”

Robert Browning, Rabbi ben Ezra

The French dramatist and critic Jean Cocteau described in his diary an interesting experience he had when he revisited his childhood home in 1953 (Cocteau, 1988). He was interested to see whether by going back he could recover some of the feelings he had when he lived there. Could he relive his childhood?

The man who lived at his old home would not let him in. Cocteau looked around at the street and the houses and found that everything had changed; he wondered if it was at all possible to bring back his childhood memories without going into the house.

Cocteau then recalled how as a child he would walk close to the houses in the road and trail his finger along the wall. He did this again, hoping that memories would come flooding back. But they did not. There were a few memories, but they were thin and pale.

Suddenly, he remembered that as a child his hand had trailed along the wall at a different level. He was, of course, much smaller at that time. So, bending down and closing his eyes, he again moved his finger along the wall. The result was remarkable:

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1 Beginning and adapting

House, Simon; Ridgway, Roy Karnac Books ePub

“The universe resounds with the joyful cry I am.”

Alexander Scriabin, Poem of Ecstasy

The New Zealand gynaecologist, Professor A. M. Liley, pointed out that although in the temporal sense we spend a very short time in the womb, about 1% of our life, in terms of the division of cells, our physical development—apart from stature—is almost complete by the time we are born (Liley, 1977).

We begin life as a single cell; 45 generations of the doubling up of cells by growth division are needed to reach the thirty million million cells of an adult. Of the 45 divisions, 41 take place before birth. Yet even before this single cell there is “life before life”. The sperm’s life can be traced back months to its genesis in the testes, which were already formed in the father when in the grandmother’s womb. The beginnings of the ovum itself existed in the mother when she was still in the grandmother’s womb, where it is known to have been susceptible to the grandmother’s environment. Nor should we lose sight of the genetic trace unbroken down the generations:

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