These are experiences from a non-normal or abnormal state of mind.
Viewing a sunlit forest, it is almost as though we are seeing in the infrared or perhaps the ultraviolet. It does appear that the leaves of the trees and of the plants are respirating. Molecular oxygen (O2), a byproduct of prior photosynthesis (and a waste product to the plants and trees), is being exhaled out of the pores of the leaves. The oxygen has a bluish green color. Now, we can see the yellowish carbon dioxide (CO2) falling in towards the leaves. Being heavier than oxygen, the CO2 molecules are moving slower. Here and there the CO2 is being absorbed into the pores of the leaves as if the leaves were inhaling.
The evening after the early morning surgery. In that transitional state of consciousness, midway between wakefulness and sleep, visions came upon my weary brain. Being semi conscious, I tried to consciously control and direct these visions, but could not. Visions of surrealistic landscapes and of people I have never seen before flashed through my mind in rapid succession. This continued for perhaps 30 seconds or possibly a minute. In that semi conscious state, it was difficult to gauge the passage of time. All ended abruptly when a spasm of pain jolted me to full consciousness. Soon afterward, out of sheer exhaustion, I fell into a deep sleep.
These are not (external) hallucinations appearing in the distance so to speak. One sees them in one’s “mind’s eye”, when the eyes are closed.
Many years ago, these visions had visited me when I was suffering some sleep deprivation by working too many shifts and too much overtime in my early 20s. Nonsensical scenes and vistas with much color were flashing through my mind without any effort or control on my part.
There is no desire to seek out such “visions” either through the use of harmful hallucinogenic or mind altering drugs (like Thomas De Quincey with laudanum (opium) in early 1800s London, see his famous Confessions of an English Opium Eater, 1822), prolonged fasting, or special breathing techniques. All these practices serve to alter the brain’s blood chemistry. (Aldous Huxley wrote The Doors of Perception (1954) after using mescaline.) Flagellation (beating oneself with a whip or strap), leading to blood loss, can give rise to visions. Suffering high fever can also produce them in some individuals.
This is not to say or to imply that all claimed spiritual experiences (from numerous, diverse cultures throughout the ages) are necessarily due to altered brain chemistry. As said in prior essays (see link at bottom), we believe that mind (or consciousness) overlaps the physical, protoplasmic brain, but also transcends the brain. In other words, for us, the terms brain and mind are not identities, not exact synonyms. Neuroscientists generally disagree with us on this point.
As to religious visions, we say that for those “visions” that arise from the unconscious (or subconscious), we think that one’s belief conditions the experience. For example, for a person who regularly thinks or dwells on excessive guilt and ideas of suffering amidst the flames in hell, should it be surprising that when the unconscious part of their mind produces a “vision” that such vision would be of a hellish scene? What we obsess on, the unconscious picks up on. We are thinking here of the religious individuals from the late Middle Ages who wrote of such hellish visions they claimed to have experienced. Disclaimer: Yes, people need a well informed moral conscience and ought to act constructively (morally). But, continually harboring excessive guilt does not appear to us to be virtuous.
These “visions” or tricks of the brain in my case may have been due to the trauma of the surgery on the body and the lingering effects of the general anesthesia that morning. (They were filling me up with many different things via the IV that was in my arm for about 5 hours (from before surgery through recovery stages one and two).)
(In addition to opposing recreational drug use, I am also against genetically modified grains (GMOs), and would like to see the hormones and traces of antibiotics be removed from the meats and the dairy products our children consume. But, alas, the profit motive in the agri-business industry is strong. And, my views do not go for much.)
The morning of the surgery, Tuesday, January 8, the weather was unexpectedly mild. It turned out to be the best day in a fortnight for temperature. When we pulled out of the garage and into the dark at a little past 5:30 a.m., the outside temperature was about 20 degrees F (approx. minus 6.5 degrees Celsius). This was better than the single digit lows we had been having on several recent nights. The roads were dry and the sky was mostly clear with some higher level fog in the distance. All the folks at the small surgery center were great as they prepared the few of us for our beginning of day operations. My wife of many years, Lucy, sat in the comfortable waiting room for hours until she joined me in the second stage recovery room, (She was suffering a persistent cough from a cold.)
Prior to being put under the general anesthesia, both the surgeon and the anesthesiologist met with me and addressed my various concerns (as to possible complications) and questions. The experienced surgeon, Michelle (last name withheld to protect her privacy), asked me who was with me and then asked me to describe my wife. At the close of the 2 hour surgery, Michelle went out into the waiting room and easily found Lucy and informed her that the surgery went well.
The pain has not been as bad as we expected. (That serves to account for my quick return to blogging at my home computer – this being the 3rd post surgery essay.) However, as I have two lower abdomen incisions that are slowly healing, extreme care must be exercised for several weeks so as not to strain or injure these (currently) weak and fragile areas. Take one day at a time. We must remember this! (The resulting scars will look bad, but then for me that is not serious. For a young woman, planning on wearing a string bikini to the lake, beach, or swimming pool next summer, such scars would be a concern. 😉 )
Thanks to any and all who offered a silent prayer for me on that morning. Never underestimate the power of prayer.
Interested readers might like this 2 in 1 essay from this past summer:
Not expecting essays from this blog in your email inbox on Saturday past (or Sunday, if you are in Australia or Asia), here is the link to our first post surgery essay in case you purged it out.
Let’s move on to other topics in upcoming essays . . . .
Best wishes to all!