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The Deep Self by John Lilly

The Deep Self

RATING: 7/10…READ: May 26, 2013

Written by John Lilly, this book explores his theory of consciousness and the history and techniques of using the float tank. Some of the principles are dated, but nonetheless a fascinating read and highly useful information for using float tanks.

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-The province of the mind has no limits; its own contained beliefs set limits that can be transcended by suitable metabeliefs (like this one)

-Unfortunately we find systems of education today that have departed so far from the plain truth, that they now teach us to be proud of what we know and ashamed of ignorance. This is doubly corrupt. It is corrupt not only because pride is in itself a mortal sin, but also because to teach pride in knowledge is to put up an effective barrier against and advance upon what is already known, since it makes one ashamed to look beyond the bonds imposed by one’s ignorance.

To any person prepared to enter with respect into the realm of his great and universal ignorance, the secrets of being will eventually unfold, and they will do in a measure according to his freedom from natural and indoctrinated shame in his respect of their revelation.

To arrive at the simplest truth, as Newton knew and practiced, requires years of contemplation. Not activity. Not reasoning. Not calculating. Not busy behavior of any kind. Not reading. Not talking. Not making an effort. Not thinking. Simply bearing in mind what it is one needs to know. And yet those with the courage to tread this path to real discovery are not only offered practically no guidance on how to do so, they are actively discouraged and have to set about it in secret, pretending meanwhile to be diligently engaged in the frantic diversions and to conform with the deadening personal opinions which are being continually thrust upon them.

In these circumstances, the discoveries that any person is able to undertake represent the places where, in the face of induced psychosis, he has, by his own faltering and unaided efforts, returned to sanity. Painfully, and even dangerously, maybe. But nonetheless returned, however furtively.

Consensus reality is that which is agreed to be real/true by a dyad, family, group, nation or group of nations. Examples are the various human legal structures (city, country, state, nation, etcetera), the pictures of realities created by the media (newspaper, TV, radio, etcetera), the financial realities created by banks, taxes, salaries, wages, etcetera, and the scientific community’s picture of reality.

-The contained mind hypothesis thus says that the isolation tank isolates the body completely insofar as our present science is able to specify isolation itself.

-We discussed the Self as an isolated observer-agent-operator. In the contained mind hypothesis, the Self, the observer/operator (ob/op) is part of the results of the computations of a central nervous system, a brain. In a basic philosophical sense, the Self is thus a generated result of those computations. Without the computations, the Self does not exist. Thus, the Self is a program, a metaprogram, a Self metaprogram, a self-referential aspect of the computations of that brain. Thus the self is the victim, as it were, of that which generates it, is the victim of the self-referential computations of that brain.

-The deep basic meaning of observer/operator implies a certain degree of conciousness and control. This is a science game, the scientist is always conscious, aware and in control of his thinking and of the processes that he is examining. In the isolation tank this may not necessarily be true. There are many states in which the Self is not in control and is being programmed by forces very much larger than Self.


At first one’s limits are set by the belief “I am centered in my physical brain” (That which one believes to be true, is true, or becomes true, at first within limits to be found experimentally. These limits themselves, are beliefs to be transcended.)

I am not limited by the known physical senses, known physical signals sent/received by my brain. (Transcended, these limits are left behind. I send/receive messages by means unknown with unknown entities greater than me.)

Beyond transcendence is an infinite variety of unknowns. (I move from my brain into other universes and spaces, other states of being. Once lived, these unknowns are no longer unknown.)

In other universes and spaces, the other states of being, are teachers, guardians. (Beyond these unknowns, not known, is full complete Truth.)

The guardian/teachers make me aware, help me be aware, and help me to experience, when I’m ready, realities beyond belief, beyond proof, beyond demonstration, beyond theory, beyond imagination. (Beyond truth, full and complete, are unknowns.)

The teachers’ teachers take over my lessons. (New unknowns become known. The cycle repeats. Mastered, these unknowns are transcended.)

-If there are sources/signals at present detectable by the observer/operator and not detectable by instruments, there are as yet no experimental verifications acceptable to the criteria of the natural sciences. Firsthand reports/observations by accepted trained observers must be verified by agreement with the firsthand reports/observations of 2nd, 3rd, to nth accepted trained observers. Not enough trained observers have used the current isolation technique to try for such consensus verification.

-The only real art in life is how you wish to spend that brief moment. The passions you express for all facets of your being. The style in which you deal with the problems, the joy and the pain. This is growth, this can be bliss, this is art. Individuals who are capable of expressing this in any particular medium are only pointing out to those who are blocked, the existence of a higher state of consciousness.