Extract from The Psychedelic Master
Well, the word virtual reality has many different meanings. It basically means electronic realities.… The nice thing about it is, you see, you can design your own realities and you can invite other people around. Within three or four years – even right now, some kids are doing it – but within two or three years, your average kid in America or Japan will be designing their own little homes. And you’ll click through telephone, you’ll modem over and you’ll be in the person’s home, and the person will say, ‘Hey, look at this new painting I have!’ Click. Or ‘Hey, I’ve got my friend here Joe from Tokyo.’ Click. ‘Talk to Joe.’
– Timothy Leary, from a 1995 interview
It was the end of 2007 and my intensive psychedelic experiments had projected me well beyond the deep sleep that characterizes my contemporaries. By then I lived permanently in the subtle levels of reality and I was having trouble reconciling this state of being with normal human reality. To be more specific, the physical plane barely touched me and I was looking for a way to reintegrate consensus reality. Then I discovered Second Life, the new 3D virtual reality program, and it was a revelation. I had read on visual arts forums that it was possible to exhibit artwork in the many virtual galleries popping up like mushrooms. I even had the address of one of the galleries. A quick subject search convinced me to try my luck because I am always looking for new ways to make my art known and this path had to be explored. But I was far from suspecting that it would irrevocably change my life.
Second Life (SL) is a virtual world launched on the internet in 2003 by Linden Labs. The free program enables its users, called residents, to interact with each other via avatars. They can explore, meet other residents, socialize, and participate in individual and group activities; or they can simply travel throughout this world residents call “the grid.” Second Life even has an internal currency, the Linden Dollar (L$). The L$ can be used to buy, sell or lease land, or in the commerce of goods and services with other users. Virtual goods include buildings, vehicles, machines of all kinds, animations, clothing, skin, hair, jewelry, flora and fauna, as well as works of art. Services include “camping,” salaried labor, business management, entertainment and the creation of custom content (which can be divided into six categories: building, textures, scripts, animation, art direction, and sponsor or producer of projects). The L$ can be purchased using U.S. dollars and other currencies on the LindeX exchange provided by Linden Labs, independent brokers or other residents.
I will always remember fondly that glorious December 24, 2007, the evening of my second birth. I followed, somewhat incredulously, the registration process and I was born under the name of Leou Aeon. Born is the right word, because to access this reality in three dimensions it is necessary to create an avatar, that is to say, a virtual body that can take the form of a human, an animal or any other shape conceivable by the imagination. This avatar allows you to move around this virtual world, or multiverse, in the same way we use our physical body to move around in the physical world.
I did not know anybody who could help me understand how to function in this new reality, so I began exploring, groping in the dark. I realized quickly that I was a newbie, as on several occasions people laughed at me affectionately, as one does at a child learning to walk or speak. So I learned some basics like walking, texting and flying, and intuitively I began to seek out spiritual places to visit. I teleported – teleportation finally a reality! – into a SIM (simulation) where I found a replica of Stonehenge with at its center cushions on which to sit to meditate or take a course. My head was spinning. I was in a state of acute excitement. I knew I had found something completely new and I had no reference point. The power of this revelation made me vibrate with incredible intensity.
I realized I could change my appearance at will. Symbolically, I gave myself white skin and tried to be naked because nudity is a symbol of truth. But the program forced me to keep my shorts on hiding my sex (absent any way on the basic avatars, unless you buy one as an object that you stick to the appropriate place) and I did not take offense. I gave myself blue hair and began to explore the SIM. I then realized I could fly, which pleased me greatly. Then after some fascinating exploration I returned to Stonehenge, as if drawn by an invisible force. This time however there was a man sitting on a cushion. His name Entheos Nightfire. He greeted me pleasantly and we chatted a bit. His name immediately evoked in me my research on entheogens. I found the situation surreal, especially when he confessed that one of his friends had planned to register that very night with the same family name as me. Entheos also told me that I was not going to be very popular the way I was dressed, and he generously offered me clothes and skin that made me look more human. Finally he gifted me L$ 2,000 so I could buy myself other clothes and essentials.
And so began my adventure in the virtual world. I felt welcomed with both respect and generosity. As far as first impressions go, it was a good omen. I was in a state of grace difficult to describe in words, and without a doubt I was in the right place at the right time. I knew it with all my being.
I quickly found some art galleries where I exhibited my work. In Second Life everything is built using PRIM (primitives) which are the basic geometric shapes – cubes, pyramids, spheres – that you can twist, modify, color, stick together…. then textures are printed on them to give objects an appearance of plant stuff, or earth, wood, fabrics, etc. I started by learning the building basics and then I took great pleasure in sculpting. I built a “skybox” (a weightless platform located above the clouds). I was then accepted in the SIM Angel Gate as an artist in residence and offered a place in the sky where I could build myself a whole complex of facilities with a gallery, a classroom, etc. I realized I was pushing the boundaries of art to an extent completely unprecedented in history, virtual reality offering me unique options like weightlessness, multimedia, the creation of soft shapes capable of reacting with the wind, and the ability to fly, even within the work itself which can reach colossal dimensions.
Barely a week after my birth in Second Life, I met Tukie Boa. I fell madly in love with her and Tukie became my first virtual companion. My partner in physical reality and I had already agreed to have an open relationship, but I had not yet found another woman willing to share such an experience. Tukie offered me the opportunity to explore my ideas on the subject by talking to her and my physical partner about it. Our love manifested with an intensity that floored me because the psychic connection linked us instantly, so that I could feel her every moment, even when I was not with her on Second Life. What magical moments we had together chatting, dancing, exploring and making love! Even during a solo psychedelic experience, I entered into communion with her. Indeed, I had access to some of her memories and I also came to see through her eyes the exact spot where she lived in the United States. This subtle meeting of a friend of my essence ushered me into ecstasy. I understood how deep our relationship was – that we had had a joint parallel life and that we had just activated it. She is the friend of my essence, and we already knew each other even before we met through a miraculous set of circumstances. She also felt it without being as conscious of it as I was, and when I communed with her during a psychedelic experience, she saw me appear in her kitchen and confirmed my experience.
This made me realize to what extent all that I was living in virtual reality was true, and that behind the pixels, psychic bonds were formed. I understood now that it was possible to find friends of my essence with whom to live multiple simultaneous lives and actualize these relationships so as not to have to reincarnate to experience them. I finally concluded that virtual reality is psychedelic in essence – that it makes manifest on the physical level the subtle level of collective consciousness. Leou Aeon, my avatar, is literally the physical manifestation of my soul finally activated. The world of dreams, this psychic and visionary reality, has begun to physically manifest on earth through technology. Virtual reality may soon become equivalent to lucid dreams and can certainly lead to them already. To me, sensitive as I am to the invisible, it seems strikingly obvious. I have had many dreams resembling Second Life with my avatar. As a result, the difference between the physical world and virtual reality became increasingly blurred and increasingly paradoxical. I had dreams with people I spent time with in virtual reality and they seemed more real and alive than those of physical reality. At that time I spent most of my time on SL. I felt more comfortable and light in this archetypal world where I hung out with fairies, imaginary creatures and people dressed in medieval or outright futuristic styles. And the Psychedelic Master did not seem anachronistic in this world where the word “impossible” has lost all meaning. I went out less and less and physical reality seemed a pale copy of the invisible world, a simulacrum of a ridiculous impermanence.
Then I discovered Mystic Academy, a school of mysticism and spirituality on SL where I met very interesting people. It was not long before I felt inspired to propose a discussion group on psychedelics. Mystic Academy, with its three-floored castle, multiple classes and meditation spaces spread out over a large island lush with greenery, was my wonderful introduction to virtual discussion groups that can be held simultaneously in voice and chat. I began feeling jaded towards my weekly discussion group in physical reality. I had gradually decreased my advertising and fewer and fewer people were participating. My real desire was to renew myself, and Second Life gave me the opportunity. So I transferred my discussion group to Mystic Academy where I could meet people from all over and learn many things about entheogens, which gave me a better overall view of the field.
I also began teaching integral practice in SL. One of my students soon became my new companion, but she never gave me a picture of herself or told me her age, so I had to content myself with my feelings, her voice, and the image she had created for herself in virtual reality. Not only was she seriously ill and could not leave her home, but she had experienced several NDE (near death experiences) that had made her very sensitive to the invisible. I had never met a such spiritual woman. When I began to keep her company I started feeling presences around me at night and see blue-tinted faces floating in the room. The spirit of this woman was so alive that at night, while sleeping, she joined up with her work team and went to different places to help the dying with their passing through her role of psychopomp. If when we made love we were close psychically and spiritually, during our simultaneous orgasms I was flooded with light and a wonderful feeling of subtle sweetness that lingered long after.
Ultimately, these experiences served to convince me that the virtual reality experience is comparable to that of psychedelics: both activate the subtle aspects of consciousness by awakening them and giving them life.
In conclusion, I believe virtual reality could one day replace psychedelics – or at least supplement them – once the technology is advanced enough to eliminate the difference between virtual and physical reality. They will then form an indivisible whole. If we have not arrived there yet, Second Life already asks a very pertinent question: what is true and what is not? Simply seeing a 3D movie at the cinema is proof enough that we no longer view a projection like before, we experience it. This can help people integrate the idea of immaterialism. For this multiverse, as it is commonly called, is now available to anyone who can access it on computer. Even if it is virtual, it is no less real: people get married, do business and build utopian communities there.
Virtual reality is a bridge between the subtle and the physical, between dreams and the waking state. In my case, it finished the work I began with psychedelics and helped me integrate the teachings. It facilitated the birth of the Psychedelic Master.
Extract from The Psychedelic Master