The way of the psychonaut

I have recently come across the last Stanislav Grof’s book, and the title is promising. I shall read on and hopefully will have more to say pretty soon. Meanwhile – please indulge in a free ebook, courteously provided by the unfailing Library Genesis..

It’s taken me a bit less than 10 days to finish the two volumes, and I feel like I need to jot down a few lines about the book, while the things are still fresh.
General impressions: It’s ok. 3-3.5 out of 5. The title and the introduction made me expect more. It feels like a normal Grof’s book, going over the same topics once again. Four Basic Perinatal Matrices (BPMs), COEX systems (Systems of Condensed Experiences), holotropic breathwork, brief history of LSD and a few other psychedelics, some research findings, overview and critique of some psychology theories from 100 years ago, and … and that’s about it. If someone has never read any of Grof’s books, these two volumes could be a good start to get an idea of his contribution to the field and the historical context of his work. I wish he would include more (actually – anything) from his astrological research to the benefit of which he alluded in the introduction. Richard Tarnas covers some basics in the Appendix, but it’s very wordy and does not go into much specifics.

Things that did stand out:
– a little line of poetry by Humphrey Osmond, coining the term psychedelic: “To fathom Hell or soar angelic, just take a pinch of psychedelic” (p.63)
– “…the simultaneous presence of a male and female who get along unlike one’s parents… can have an extraordinary healing and transformative effect on the previously afflicted categories of interpersonal relationships” (p. 128)
– “I have often observed that LSD subjects whose sessions terminate in a state of incomplete rebirth show all the typical signs of mania. They are hyperactive, move around at a hectic pace, try to socialize and fraternize with everybody in their environment, make inappropriate advances, and talk incessantly about their sense of triumph and well-being, wonderful feelings, and the great experience they have just had”. (p.228)
– choice of suicide non-violent (corresponding with wish for regression from BPM II back to BPM I) vs violent (corresponding with wish for progression from BPM III to BPM IV) (p.229-232)
– “Under current circumstances unless a reliable source of pure chemicals is available, the best choice might be plant medicines” (vol. II p. 32-33)
– “Safe psychonautics requires undivided attention to one’s unconscious material as it is emerging, the full experience of emotions, and the processing of the content” (vol II p.34-35)
– “Understanding the phenomenon of meaningful coincidences – sina qua non for psychonauts” (vol II p. 38-39)
– Jung definition of true religion was “the network of genuine spiritual seekers transcending the boundaries of space and time” (vol II p.122)