by Dr. John Lilly and E. J. Gold
edited by Faustin Bray and Lee Perry
Copyright 1995, by Gateways
Tanks for the Memories
The floatation tank has always been a gateway into what is unknown and what is possible. This book is a guide to making the unknown possible. Information and insights about the tank are finally floating to the surface; these talks are important keys to further opening this gateway.
Tank experiences have been compared to LSD, mescaline, peyote experiences, and so forth. All I can say is that it is a very, very different experience. I've done LSD back in 1964 when it was legal. I took LSD and went into the tank in St. Thomas, and I must say it is an entirely different kind of experience. It is as if the drug limited you, constricted you. Now it is true that you can move into places you are not allowed to go in, you did not allow yourself to go into before as it were, as if a small level of randomness in the neuronal events in your brain was added by the prescence of the drug. Actually you are constricted in the sense that you have added noise to the system in which you are the resident.
First I did ten years of tank work without acid even though there were a lot of pushers on the staff at NIMH (National Institutes of Mental Health) who wanted me to take it in the tank, and I refused because I didn't want to contaminate the experience by any such means. I stayed away from acid for ten years, and then in 1964 I had an opportunity to do it legally and did it and spent two years studying what happened.
In spite of Leary and many other people who have said that LSD expands your consciousness, I don't think it does. I think what it does is to constrict consciousness and make it as it were into a searchlight beam in a certain set of directions so you can break through into spaces you couldn't break through before. If you can do the same thing without it, say by means of meditation or just plain tank work or just working on yourself, whatever it is that you have to do in order to change your state of being in this direction, then you can see the difference. Without the drug you have full peripheral vision as it were. You have full hearing and a full presence and you know everything that you know outside that situation, so it has the same advantages that meditation does. It gives you a very broad consciousness that is unimpaired and unchanged in the sense of consciousness itself.