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Visual perception and peeking thru the veil

April 2, 2021 (updated April 3, 2021) by Noah

Among my many diverse interests, one thing that fascinates me is to contemplate the nature of the universe and what Reality is made of, or at least, what my perception of Reality is made of and how the inner mind works.

To that end, topics such as quantum physics, simulation theory, and esoteric writings from the world's oldest religions like Hinduism and Gnosticism are interesting to me, and I like to talk crazy about that sort of thing from time to time.

In this post, though, I'm going to write strictly about visual perceptions that I've experienced at different times in my life. Many are related to psychotropic compounds, including cannabis, but now I'm able to experience some crazy things just by meditating while sober too.

Stories on the full blog post:

I learned how to meditate my way into tripping balls, sober.

The other day, quite by accident, I learned how to enter a fully "tripping balls" state of mind, while completely sober, purely by meditating and staring blankly out into space.

All I was trying to do was meditate, and keep my mind shushed and quiet, for as long as I could manage to, and push to set a new personal record for myself. I'd been practicing meditation for a couple of years, since my spiritual awakening in 2018. So I was just focused on keeping my mind still, but kept my eyes open, and was staring blankly out at the walls of my apartment, which had a complex surface to them.

Complex surface? By this I mean, my walls had a sort of "sprayed on" finish to them, similar to ceilings in many homes, so instead of a smooth finish or tiles or w/e, the wall is 'chaotic' and messy, with ridges and dents and lines and complexity. Any complex surface will do.

So I was just staring, focused on a single point on the wall, mind still, and I kept this up even while my visual perception began to fall apart (as it does due to the sensory tolerance of staring at the same image for so long -- this much I knew would happen even from my early childhood when I'd zone out and daydream while staring at trees or things). It is a bit hard to pull off, I get a strong urge to blink or move my eyes when my perception begins to fall apart, but with some practice you can power through this part.

What happened next is where it started to get interesting.

You know those "closed eye" visuals you get when your eyes are shut? Random colors and blobby shapes and so on. Well, I began to see these same sorts of visuals while my eyes were open. They were overlaid on top of the image of the wall I was staring at. Only then, instead of the colorful blobs doing their own thing, they started to "play off of" the patterns on the wall; they'd cling to the ridges and edges, and make the details on the wall begin to wiggle a bit, interacting with it instead of the blobs simply doing their own (usual) thing over top.

Eventually from the colored visuals emerged some fractal-like patterns, and before too much longer, the visuals came to reach full-on 'tripping balls' territory, like the peak of a psychedelic trip on mushrooms or similar. Rainbow colors washing over the wall, every little detail is wiggling and dancing around, fractal patterns, and even these tiny details I didn't even notice were there emerged and those were wiggling and moving around too. If you've dabbled in psychedelics, you know what I'm talking about, only no such substances were necessary: I meditated my way into seeing this stuff. I didn't even expect this was possible!

And as soon as I'd look away? Gone. Back to normal, nothing wiggling around anymore, Reality is back in its place.

Now, the first time I pulled this off, I had smoked a single hit of cannabis, as I do many days of the week (it's legal for adults in Oregon). But when I pulled this off, nothing about the experience felt related to the weed in particular, and that I should be able to do this while completely sober, and can bring on these visualizations at will any time I choose.

The next day I tested exactly this: no weed, no nothing, just laid on my bed and stared at my ceiling while meditating and waited for the visuals to come on.

Try it yourself, I'm curious if others can turn up the same results.

  1. Meditate, trying to keep your mind quiet, turn off noisy chatter. This may take some practice. If you're a beginner, just meditate by focusing on your breath, and breathe in and out; don't control your breath, just watch it, and if your mind wanders, and you realize you've wandered, just come back to your breath and keep trying, don't beat yourself up for it.
  2. Do this while staring at a fixed point in the room, preferably on a complex surface. Don't blink or look away even while your visuals begin to do weird things; power through it.
  3. Don't focus on seeing trippy visuals as a goal; when I thought too much about seeing visuals, they wouldn't come on, I'd have to just focus on keeping my mind quiet, and the visuals happen naturally.

While I was "meditation tripping," I thought to myself, "is this what people mean when they talk about 'flashbacks' where you get psychedelic visuals later in life after you've used these substances once before?" -- it fully, 100% looked like height-of-the-trip visuals. But, they were completely under control, in that I willed myself into it, and they were gone like *snap* as soon as I looked away.

The visuals were always my favorite part of psychedelics, anyway, and I can do without the "ego death" and the "impressionable mind" aspects of a trip. As I continue my meditation practice, now I know how I can give myself a laser light show to watch while at the same time extending my tolerance for keeping my mind still and quieted.

Hexagonal 2D pattern overlaid on 3D reality

This story is related to the above which will become clear after a while.

So, I'd been using cannabis since about 2016 and all was normal and fine for a while, but in the last couple of years especially, very often after I'd smoke I would start to see a sort of "hexogonal pattern" emerge over my view of Reality.

It was like a 2D honeycomb texture overlaid on top of all the 3D things I was seeing in my space; sort of like the pixels you see if you look really closely at a computer screen. Or like, it was as though 3D reality was actually a projection onto a flat 2D surface and that this hexogonal honeycomb pattern were the "pixels" that make Reality function.

They were especially noticeable when I'd look at a bright white computer screen, like the background of most web pages, because the solid white color removes all visual distraction and I could see the honeycomb pattern the most clearly.

I can't really say what color the hexagon pattern is, as the whole thing seems to flash colors like red and blue, like TV static, but the static is structured and organized into a clear pattern.

If I was reading some text on my screen, the letters would wiggle and interact with the hexagons where the letter touched a border between two cells. It's pretty reliable for me to see this pattern pretty much any time I smoke weed now.

One of the first times I noticed this pattern, I was curious about it and tried to focus and see it more clearly and figure out what it was. I was staring at my white computer screen as it was the easiest to distinguish the pattern on, and as I focused on it, it was like the veil of Reality began to disintegrate and fall apart, like "holes" appeared in my monitor and I could see "through" reality to get a better look at what was behind it.

What I began to see, though, frightened me and I stopped. I had seen it, in all its terrifying glory, once before in my life - story below.

How it relates to meditating myself into tripping? The earlier parts of the visuals I was seeing started out much the same as this hexogonal pattern, before it changed and became fractals and making the wall dance around. I feel the two are the same phenomenon in different forms.

The infinite grid of colorful spheres

So, going all the way back to my very first time smoking weed, in 2013 or 2014 or so. I tried it the first time, and I fully tripped balls and left reality all together, with full-visual hallucinations and I was gone from Earth.

This is not a usual reaction people have to weed. I haven't tried DMT or other hard psychedelics like that, but this story is the closest I've come to something similar.

This guy I was seeing at the time got me to try weed, and he had just a small bong (water pipe) and I took a few hits, wasn't really feeling much yet from it. But then his friend comes over, and he brings this huge bong, one of the 2-foot tall kinds and they had ice cubes in it and everything, and we started passing that around.

I didn't even take a full drag off this thing, I just cleared the smoke in it left by the other guy. Instantly I felt nauseous, and then after that, I was just gone.

What I was seeing in front of my eyes was an infinite 3D grid of colorful spheres, tiled out as far as I could see. I didn't have a body. I could see, but I couldn't move my "head", my vision was locked and staring at this grid of spheres. I could feel my eyes and knew the difference between opening and closing them, but it didn't matter, I was seeing these spheres all the same whether my eyes were opened or not. The real world was just gone, I was in this place now.

I immediately got some crazy ideas in my head, like: the simulation has ended, the Earth has been destroyed, and what I was seeing now were a bunch of other simulations, each sphere being its own separate universe. And that the people who were running these simulations were now studying the end results of ours that had just ended.

Occasionally I'd see a "screen" appear, a window where I could look through and see the real world, and I saw my friends looking in at me and asking "Are you okay? Do you need some water?", again and again on a loop. I interpreted this to be like video clips being pulled from the simulation for study by whoever it is that was running the simulation; that it wasn't "real" anymore, just a video clip, and it was repetitive with my friends asking me over and over again.

I could not speak out loud.

I could think to myself, and I could hear my thoughts just fine, but I just could not talk out loud. At least not on purpose. Occasionally I would manage to say something, and I could feel my throat vibrate and hear my voice, but I never knew when it would happen, and what I'd say would be just whatever random train of thought I was currently on in my head.

Sometimes I could manage to scream, and this would finally get a reaction out of my friends, who would finally say or do something different instead of just repeating the same questions over and over again.

When I'd struggle to get out of that place, I'd get to see the real world, only it was spinning in front of my eyes quickly as though I were shitfaced drunk on alcohol, and when I'd give up and relax I'd be back in colorful land seeing this grid of spheres once again.

It felt like I was there for an eternity.

I would've eventually just given up, relaxed, accepted my fate, etc., except there was a constant auditory tone that was ringing in my ears the entire time which kept me on edge and I couldn't fully just relax into it.

Eventually, I started to come down. I saw the spinning world again, only this time it was sticking around longer than before, and I started to remember how I had gotten myself into this situation. At this point I realized I was now standing on my feet and twirling in circles to keep up with my spinning world. I still could not speak, but I raised a finger in the air as if to signal "ah ha!" and that I realized my situation and that I'm on my way back down to Earth. Earlier in this 'trip', my friends had me pinned on the ground for my own safety and I scratched one of their arms for not believing they were even real during the trip.

Crazy stuff! The closest visual to this I've seen on the Internet is Indra's Net but really I've never seen anything else quite like it since.

I've never had such a reaction from weed since then, and tbh it kinda scared me off trying it again for another couple of years. By that stage all I'd ever tried was alcohol and I never contemplated such crazy ideas of simulations or things before this.

So when I studied the hexogonal patterns I see on weed now, what started to emerge from "behind the veil" looked an awful lot like the infinite grid of spheres and I noped right back to reality instead.

The time I lost my depth perception and saw reality in 2D

Unrelated to the above stories, but an interesting story nonetheless.

One day I was in a car driving down the highway, and I was chiefing on a weed vape pen, when suddenly I lost my depth perception to a certain degree.

The other cars on the road ahead of me started to appear as flat, 2D cardboard cut-outs, like those you might find at a shooting gallery. The cars still had reflections, highlights and shadows, to convey the illusion of 3D depth, only the car as a whole looked like a flat 2D sprite.

The 2D cards did still have relative depth compared to others, like, I could tell the difference between a car further ahead on the road compared to one closer to me; just each individual car, itself, was a flat sprite to my eyes with no localized depth to it.

I found it rather interesting and studied the rest of my visual perception to understand how it all worked. Like, way way off in the distance, there were some mountains covered in trees, only the whole mountain looked like a flat painting. It was so far away, that there was no panoramic effect as the car drove closer, it all just looked flat, like it was painted on, like the skybox of a videogame.

The cars nearby had relative depth, but far away, the horizon was flat. I thought, "where is the dividing line at? How far out do things stop having depth to them and it all looks flat on the horizon?" I estimated the line to be about 60 feet in front of me. Cars closer by than 60 feet, I could tell how far each car was from me and from the other cars; further out than that, everything may as well just be a flat matte painting on a wall, there's no more depth perception to be had at that distance.

I continued to study my perception in this state of mind and came up with the following ways to describe it:

  • Imagine a cylindrical room; the walls are a circle and there's a floor and a ceiling, and the room has a diameter of about 60 feet from one side to the other.
  • Poke a hole in the wall of the room, and imagine that your eyeballs are in this hole, looking into the room but you and your body are 'outside' the room. Your visual perception then is basically right on the wall of the room.
  • The "far away horizon", the mountain with trees, the things so far off that they no longer have local depth perception... these are painted on to the walls of the room.
  • In the middle of the cylindrical room are where actors and stage props appear. For me, these were the cars and other local objects (street signs, lights, nearby trees and things). The actors all have local depth to them because they're all physical objects inside the cylindrical room. But 60+ feet out, and it's a flat painting on the wall instead.

And then imagine you have never left this room your entire life. You've never moved from that location, you've never turned your head. Instead, the paintings on the walls change and the actors come and go and change shape and form to make up your immediate environment. This was more or less what it "seemed" like in this moment.

I don't "believe" ANY of this stuff!

I've written a lot of crazy stuff above, but don't worry, I don't take any of it too seriously! In my normal daily life I'm still a skeptical, science-minded kind of guy, and I even considered myself an Atheist for a good 10 years of my life, in between being raised a Christian from childhood and then re-discovering God in my own way in 2018.

All I know about the Universe is that I don't know anything about the Universe.

I like to dabble and explore my mind, and I fully acknowledge that this may be all it is, is my brain chemistry playing tricks. I can't make any claims that we're in a simulated universe or that gods or angels exist, or any kind of external magick like that.

Even from a material science perspective: our brains never see the Real Reality. We have eyes and ears and senses which feed electrical signals to our brain, and our brain does its best to simulate what might be going on in the external world. In that regard, we all do live in our own tiny little realities, and our own brains simulate our universes and no two people could ever know, for sure, whether what they call "red" is the same color as the other person.

There are surely some real dangers for your mental health if you delve into this kind of thing unprepared, or without the mental framework to handle it. Personally, I've always handled psychotropic drugs well, even during a "bad trip" where my external reality gets scary and out of control, I never lost sight of how I got there and I knew it was all mental and it too would pass and I'd be back to normal.

If there's interest I can talk about some psychedelic trip reports, too, though the above blog post is not really the same as "trip reports" and proper trip reports tend to be so random and chaotic, they don't even make sense to the reader, much like when somebody tells you about the crazy dream they had last night. Hopefully the above stories make some sense, though, and I explained some of it well.

Disclaimers: don't do drugs, etc., but if you do do them anyway, do your research and partake safely. Erowid is a good resource for that.

They say, of all drugs, that all they do is activate features in your brain that it's already capable of, oftentimes playing with your dopamine, serotonin or cannibinoid receptors, and that seasoned Buddhist monks (for example) can play in that space purely through meditation, just that it takes a while to master and drugs are a fast shortcut. A psychedelic trip can give you a peek through the veil and give you a glimpse at the nature of your perception of reality, but beware of unearned wisdom, and it's much safer to take the slower path there so you don't risk turning yourself completely crazy.

“The psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight.”

-Joseph Campbell.

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