TVCasualty said "It's definitely a fundamental quality of mine!". Well, yes, but the point here is that consciousness is everywhere.
Everywhere I've looked so far is still in my head, though this is not the same thing as Solipsism since I don't assume that my head is the only thing (or conscious perceiver) that/who exists. Even though there must be a reality external to our awareness (something has to feed our awareness, or so I assume), it only exists as a coherent and cohesive whole in the form of a projection on our part that took us years to learn how to create.
It's like how our ears can only detect compression waves in air, but we consciously "hear" what they mean rather than what they are. So we think we hear a dog barking or a bird singing, not sound waves that were detected and processed subconsciously into the interpretation our brains present to our conscious awareness as "dog barking" or "bird singing."
Things get loopy real fast when exploring this stuff; the external world and our consciousness create each other and it may not be possible to determine which creates which (it might even be the wrong question to ask).
Consciousness may or may not be everywhere (it's a question that can't really be answered, only speculated about), but it's apparently the case that consciousness is the bridge between our physical senses and everything/everywhere, including our self. So even if consciousness isn't a fundamental property of the Universe itself, it's a fundamental property of being aware of it and for all practical purposes that's the same thing as consciousness being everywhere. We can't imagine a place where consciousness isn't, since any such place will always be a subset of consciousness just like we can't imagine the infinite nothingness beyond the Universe within which it exists because we can't envision a lack of anything since (by definition) there's literally nothing to envision.
I guess that's all to say that consciousness is both everywhere and nowhere. Wet piles of star ashes wake up and become self-aware, or at least aware of something that is interpreted as "self," but we/they also die and lose that awareness, or it's transformed into something else we can't really imagine or perceive which seems like a distinction without a difference. Is every death the end of a Universe?
I'd say yes, absolutely. And definitely not.
I can't help but conclude that the key to the whole mystery is memory. That's not to say we'll ever really understand how or why, just that memory is somehow the key to it all.
Without memory we are the equivalent of newborn infants lost in a bewildering kaleidoscope of incoherent sensory data. In such a context the concept of self-awareness becomes undefined, similar to what happens to our assumptions about who we think we are while we're at the peak of a high-dose DMT flash and aren't even aware that we possess a body, much less a name (though nothing brings this home quite like a strong Salvia breakthrough IMO.) It can be sublimely beautiful and intense (or viscerally terrifying and intense), but there's a reason we don't (or can't) remember peak psychedelic experiences exactly the way they unfolded at the time we experienced them and I suspect it's the same reason why we can't really remember what being a week or two old felt like.
And, of course, when there is a sudden (not cultivated over many years) flow, it can appear as a temporary dysfunction, as someone tripping may appear.
Tripping, or recently born.
I suspect that part of the bewilderment of intense psychedelic experiences stems from our relative unfamiliarity with that state of consciousness. The only reason we possess a coherent and cohesive sense of self is that we spent years developing it.
The first year was pretty rough; lots of confusion and crying and uncontrolled shitting and such. By the end of the 10th year many of us can take care of many aspects of our own lives ourselves to the degree that we don't need constant supervision, though we're not ready to be living fully on our own yet (generally speaking).
That's ten years of experience tripping balls on serotonin 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That's more hand's-on experience than a college student needs to become a medical doctor, since med students don't study medicine 24/7, but it's still not enough experience to drive a car safely, which we've determined requires another six years, generally speaking.
Now imagine if we could stay in a peak psychedelic state of consciousness (i.e. tripping balls) on psilocin 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for ten straight years. We might not be ready to drive yet, but I'm pretty confident that we'd be able to deal with that state of mind as well as a 10-year old kid can deal with a serotonin-based state of mind.
If we add up the total number of hours we've spend tripping in our lifetime we'd usually find that it's not really very many. As an extreme example that most people won't come close to, if someone managed to trip once a week on a strong dose of LSD (so assuming a 12-hour trip) every single week for 10 straight years (totaling 520 trips), it would mean they will have been tripping 624 hours total per year. That adds up to 6240 hours over ten years, or exactly 260 days of 24/7 tripping.
The most experienced psychonauts among us (excluding a few extreme outliers) are therefore the equivalent of 8 to 9-month old infants when it comes to possessing a coherent and cohesive sense of self in that state of mind, and it still entails a lot of crying and uncontrolled shitting, but less than when we were only a few weeks old. That's not even old enough to talk yet; imagine if we could gain the equivalent experience in psychedelic-based awareness that we had in serotonin-based awareness by the time we were 20 years old!
That said, it might be the case that if we did that then the world would look just like it looks to us now when we're not tripping, and if we took a serotonin-based drug in that context it might make us feel like how tripping on fungi or LSD (etc.) feels to us now. If that's the case then it would suggest that conscious awareness (if not consciousness itself) is a learned skill that requires many years of experience, aka memory, to get any good at and that what we call "tripping" is just temporary bewilderment due to unfamiliarity with a particular state of consciousness.
Since there are many states of consciousness that can be attained (or lost), and all appear to be temporary, then it suggests there must be something fundamental about consciousness that is beyond its manifestations; what is the thing or context that all the disparate states of consciousness that exist are subsets of? If we can answer that question then we've probably understood consciousness, at least at our scale of awareness, and possibly something fundamental about the Universe as well.
I seem to be an existential masochist since nothing else explains why I apparently enjoy grappling with the so-called "hard problems" as if I'll ever actually solve them.
TL;DR: It's complicated, and I really have no idea what's going on but have a few opinions about it anyway.
Edited by TVCasualty, 30 July 2020 - 03:33 PM.