An Ecology of Souls
What is called ‘education’ in the modern West presupposes that nothing ‘really’ exists other than many objects (including humans) perceivable by sight and touch and believed to be composed ultimately of innumerable interacting atoms within a vast universe of space and time. This metaphysical view is called “materialism” (short for “atheistic materialism”). It is, of course, opposed by people who believe in one or more ‘divine’ beings (‘God’ or ‘gods’). It is also opposed by people who have experienced what appears to them to be a non-material reality of some kind, including people who have contacted apparently independently-existing intelligent entities via the use of DMT (N,N-dimethyltryptamine) or other psychedelics.
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This article is an approach to the formulation of a metaphysics which includes a theistic and idealist view of reality, where ‘reality’ encompasses not only the physical world (that which is perceivable by sight and touch) but also a world (or perhaps many worlds) containing non-material intelligent entities, and which also includes the bodies of knowledge making up natural science. Within this conceptual framework this article discusses the nature of human consciousness and the relation of the DMT entities to humans.
2. The Neoplatonic Triad
We begin with the view of the 3rd C. philosopher Plotinus (the founder of Neoplatonism), who posited a fundamental reality which he called “the One”, from which emanated two hypostases, “Nous” and “World Soul”, forming a triad or trinity. A more descriptive name for the One is “the Primordial Mind”, also called “the Godhead” by the 14th C. German mystic Meister Eckhart and by other names in oriental spiritual traditions. There is nothing beyond or above the Primordial Mind. It is beyond all possible conceptualization by us, but not beyond all possible experience. There is nothing other than the Primordial Mind and there is nothing that could limit it. The Primordial Mind is itself beyond existence, and all that exists emerges from its two hypostases.
Of these, one is personal and one impersonal. From the Primordial Mind emanates the Original (or Universal or Cosmic) Consciousness and the Original (or Universal or Cosmic) Energy. The former (personal) is characterized by self-awareness, intelligence, knowledge, love, compassion and wisdom (and is the ultimate source of all these in ourselves). In the Christian religion it is called “God”. All individual consciousnesses other than the Original Consciousness (that is, all “souls”) are limited instantiations of the Original Consciousness (and thus essentially are identical with the Primordial Mind).
The Original Energy is the objective complement to the subjective Original Consciousness (their union is portrayed as yab-yum deities in Tibetan tantric iconography). It provides coherence, consistency and lawfulness to what appears to the emanated souls as external to themselves. It manifests itself in the experience of all living things in the natural world, and is the basis of the “laws” discovered (or invented) by physicists.
The Primordial Mind, Original Consciousness and Original Energy do not exist in any space or time. The Primordial Mind has no awareness of any particular object or any space or time. Spatial or temporal awareness is available to living things only as qualities of their own experience. There is no space or time other than the space and time of some world, where a world is the totality of appearances of a world to a community of souls to whom that world appears. Space and time (as the philosopher Immanuel Kant stated) do not exist ‘in themselves’ independently of experience, but rather are inseparable from appearances of a world, and have no existence except as inseparable from such appearances to conscious beings.
3. Origen and the Hierarchy of Souls
The view of Plotinus greatly influenced the 3rd Century philosopher Origen of Alexandria, who developed the first systematic Christian theology. This begins by postulating a typical Neoplatonic divine hierarchical triad, but instead of using the Neoplatonic names, “Nous” and so on, he calls them “Father”, “Son” and "Holy Spirit”.
The Father creates from the Son individual spiritual intelligences (‘archangels’, ‘angels’, etc.) able to contemplate the divinity of the Father and able to form relationships among themselves. From them emanate many other minds, called ‘souls’. The essential nature of all of these beings is the Primordial Mind itself, since nothing exists which is other than the Primordial Mind.These souls were originally created in close proximity to God, with the intention that they should explore the divine mysteries in a state of endless contemplation. They grew weary of this intense contemplation, however, and lapsed, falling away from God and into an existence on their own terms. ... Thus departing from God, they came to be clothed in bodies, at first of "a fine ethereal and invisible nature," but later, as souls fell further away from God, their bodies changed from a fine, ethereal and invisible body to a body of a coarser and more solid state. 
Origen says  that only the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are incorporeal, that is, lack bodies. All souls (including angels, humans and others) have bodies. These bodies, however, are not substantial or material; rather they are appearances to the souls.
Returning to the present, when someone smokes a sufficient amount of DMT they experience what appears to be a 'space' of some kind which is inhabited by 'entities' which appear to be aware of the observer. One or two people claiming to have experienced such entities may be dismissed as hallucinating. But when a couple of hundred people report such an experience, and the reports, while mostly independent, are curiously similar, it is not scientifically acceptable to dismiss them in this way. And, indeed, more than 200 people have reported contact with these entities (see ). What they are seeing are the bodies of souls which inhabit a world which is intermediate between the angelic and the human. In the words of Terence McKenna, the first person to reveal publicly the existence of the DMT entities, those entities constitute “an ecology of souls”.
The teaching of Origen concerning souls can be seen as a very early anticipation of the recently-formulated idealist philosophy of Bernardo Kastrup. In the quote below he speaks of “spatially unbound consciousness”, which is our ‘Original Consciousness’ or ‘God’, and he summarizes his position as follows, using the concept (derived from studies of multiple personality) of an alter:
[S]patially unbound consciousness is posited to be nature’s sole ontological primitive. We, as well as all other living organisms, are dissociated alters of this unbound consciousness. The universe we see around us is the extrinsic appearance of phenomenality surrounding — but dissociated from — our alter. The living organisms we share the world with are the extrinsic appearances of other dissociated alters. 
4. World as Appearance
In everyday waking life we believe we inhabit, and act in and on, a world of objects which exist independently of ourselves. This belief is based on appearances to us of our bodies and of objects apparently around us in a 3-d space and subject to change. But we can never go beyond the appearances, except conceptually by thinking about what could account for what appears to us.
It is an unspoken assumption that we all live in the same world, and that the appearance of the world to each of us is more-or-less the same as the appearance of the world to others. Clearly there must be something ‘beyond the appearances’ which accounts for this. The received scientific (materialist) view (actually an assumption) is that beyond the appearances there are innumerable ‘atoms’ which endure in a 3-d ‘space’ which itself exists independently of our consciousness. This is initially plausible because this assumption (a) facilitates our everyday activities intended basically to keep us alive and (b) when combined with mathematical theories that physicists have formulated provides apparently satisfactory explanations of what we perceive in the physical world as well as useful and accurate predictions.
However, this materialist assumption fails utterly to explain a fact which is central to all our lives, namely, the existence of (and varieties of) consciousness. This has been admitted by many eminent scientists, including Niels Bohr, Freeman Dyson, Eugene Wigner, Erwin Schrödinger and Max Planck (see ). This failure is sufficient reason to deny that materialism is true.
How, then, to explain the consistency in how the natural world appears to different people? Bernardo Kastrup explains it by positing that the thoughts and emotions of what he calls “That-Which-Experiences” (in our terminology, the Original Consciousness) impinge upon the many dissociated alters (that is, the souls) immersed in it. The experiences of souls are also conditioned by the objective complement of the Original Consciousness, namely, the Original Energy, which is an emanation of the Primordial Mind and thus is the product of an unlimited intelligence. Physicists strive to understand it, formulating theories and ‘laws’ (atomic theory, theory of gravitation, special and general relativity, Maxwell’s laws, laws of thermodynamics, etc.) which are confirmed (by experiment) ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. But the real nature and workings of the Original Energy can be understood fully only by the Original Consciousness.
5. Building a World
The concept of building a world is part of contemporary neuroscience, most of whose practitioners assume that consciousness is somehow ‘produced’ by the activity of the brain. One of the foremost exponents of this is the German philosopher Thomas Metzinger  who speaks of the so-called “neural correlate of consciousness” and defines this as “that set of neurofunctional properties of your brain sufficient to bring about a conscious experience” (note that this definition simply assumes that the brain can “bring about” a conscious experience). Brain activity is alleged to “underlie” consciousness, but no philosopher or neuroscientist can even begin to explain how consciousness can be “generated” by a collection of material atoms organized as biological tissues supporting a system of interacting biochemical processes.
The orthodox scientific theory of consciousness assumes that a human is an organism existing in physical space and possessing a physical brain, composed of neurons and supporting cells, whose activity is observable and measurable. However, such observation itself presupposes consciousness, a fact that adherents to the orthodox theory usually skip over. Thomas Metzinger considers the problem of how to explain the appearance to us of a single, unified world to a “self” apparently existing at the present moment in that world. The explanation he gives is, of course, given in terms of brain activity. The brain allegedly constructs a model of a world, a world possessing the qualities of space and time, in which occur multiple objects (including brains) possessing stable properties. This construction is called “building a world”, and when the brain builds a world then, according to the orthodox theory, consciousness of that world simply happens. (“It’s a miracle!”) To believe this requires an act of faith, made possible by glossing over the fact that the “brain” which is modeled is assumed (absurdly) to be identical with the “brain” which builds the model.
However, the neuroscientific concept of “building a world” helpfully provides us with insight into what a ‘world’ is, namely, it is the totality of the appearances of a world to a community of conscious beings (or souls). The consensus world that we believe we live in (our ‘everyday world’) is the totality of all appearances to us of the world. It is not something ‘material’, ‘out there’, existing independently of our awareness of it. Because of this, our world is not fixed and deterministic; it is, if we allow the possibility, ‘magical’.
6. The DMT World
As stated above, when someone smokes a sufficient dose of DMT they experience what appears to be a 'space' of some kind which is inhabited by 'entities' which appear to be aware of the observer and appear to wish to communicate something. I term this 'space' containing these 'entities' the DMT world, because it seems to be a place which can be entered by multiple observers whose reports are more-or-less consistent with each other, and who predominantly report that it appears to them as an alternate reality, that is, as something wholly other than our everyday consensus reality (and also totally bizarre).
Consistent with the definition above of a world we may say that the DMT world is the totality of all appearances to the DMT entities of a world. How this world appears to them is elucidated to some extent by reports of how it appears to humans who enter this world, as given in the 340 DMT trip reports already mentioned. The DMT entities are seen to act and interact with each other (and with the human observer) in a manner that is aptly described as ‘incomprehensible’ (relative to our ordinary way of thinking).
Our day-to-day experience is lived in a mental bubble, which is the consensus world that is constructed by our brains (whose real nature is unknown) and is more-or-less the same for almost all humans. When a person smokes DMT (or receives an intravenous injection of DMT) the world-building function of their brain is (if the dose received is large enough) shut down. Their consciousness, however, remains, since they are souls, emanations of the Original Consciousness. The consciousness that they then have is what they had before becoming incarnated in (and developing) a human body, that is, the consciousness they had before they were born — and the consciousness that they will return to when, at their death, their brains no longer function.
Thus a human is a DMT entity whose consciousness has become bound to the world-building function of a human brain. That humans were once conscious beings in the DMT World explains the fact that many voyagers into that world feel a sense of familiarity with it, and feel that they have been there before, and it sometimes appears that the DMT entities are welcoming them back home, where they came from, before they were born into the natural world.
The Egyptian concept of the Ka has been described as “the double”, the astral or spiritual essence of a person which remained with a human during their mortal life but was “the superior power in the realms beyond the grave.”
Graham Hancock  quotes Margaret Bunson:
The Ka entered eternity before its human host, having served its function by walking at the human's side to urge kindness, quietude, honour and compassion. Throughout the life of the human, the Ka was the conscience, the guardian, the guide. After death, however, the Ka became supreme ...
So the Ka is the DMT entity which incarnates as the human. Standard interpretations portray a person and that person's Ka as separate beings, but they are different only in that the Ka is the soul of the person which pre-existed in the DMT world and the person is the Ka which has become incarnate in our natural world.
 Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, www.iep.utm.edu/origen-of-alexandria/#SH3b
 De principiis (On First Principles) [2.2.2], www.newadvent.org/fathers/04122.htm
 “340 DMT Trip Reports”, www.serendipity.li/dmt/340_dmt_trip_reports.htm
 Bernardo Kastrup, “An Ontological Solution to the Mind-Body Problem”, Philosophies, 2017, 2(2), philpapers.org/archive/KASAOS.pdf
 Larry Dossey, “Consciousness: Why Materialism Fails”, www.opensciences.org/blogs/open-sciences-blog/232-consciousness-why-materialism-fails
 Thomas Metzinger, The Ego Tunnel — The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self
 Graham Hancock, Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth's Lost Civilization
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