Type of Spiritual Experience
This is the sort of description one often gets with drug users, who call passing out and going into a coma an 'unseeing trance' or who describe retching in the loo and having to be taken to hospital to have your stomach pumped out 'body load'.
Please note that 'unable to maintain motor functions' means you collapse. That 'aesthetic pleasure particularly in the acoustical realms' is an auditory hallucination; that 'tactile, erotic and aesthetic excitement' means he suffered from synaesthesia and an erection caused by the parasympathetic nervous system kicking in; that 'contributing to a general lessening of dependence on external learned-reward patterns' means you lose your inhibitions; and that 'ecstasy' means here laughing a lot.
Mr Lopez is also not describing a 'mystical experience' although he clearly thinks what he experienced is one. The descriptions are of some quite straightforward spiritual experiences.
The most important part of this quote is the admission that N2O like LSD and a number of these drugs has an effect on the ego - it is a very powerful squasher of egos, principally because it can give the person a real fright. LSD lasts forever and the fear comes from lack of escape, nitrous oxide provides fear in other ways - here we see it is by making people confront their demons, which appear realistically in the hallucinations they have. You have to read between the lines of this quote a bit to get the full picture and forget the mock bravado - William was frightened...'my only recourse was to cover my head with both arms, jump away, and become unconscious' -that bad.
A description of the experience
From Laughing gas – nitrous oxide – edited by Michael Shedlin and David Wallechinsky
The Effects of Nitrous oxide – William Lopez
... the N2O experience, particularly with regard to its religious or mystical characteristics, is quite similar to the LSD-mescaline experience with two important distinctions. First, the N2O induced state is generally shorter - a blinding momentary flash of insight, without an extended period of swelling mystical emotions. Secondly, the N2O religious experience is intense to the point of rendering the user ‘unconscious’, passed out, or in an unseeing trance. In other words, gas is very much like acid pushed to its extreme and compressed into a few moments. On gas you have little time to prepare for or reflect on the joyful insight; and it is much more difficult to "maintain" under the influence of gas because it so rapidly and completely suspends everyday reality as well as motor functions…………….
I want to emphasise that the LSD and N2O experience are quite similar at their most powerful moments, particularly in terms of cosmological and personal revelation. With regard to tactile, erotic and aesthetic excitement, acid is considerably more amusing and fulfilling, whereas nitrous oxide provides a greater frequency of mystical experiences. This is not to imply that heightened aesthetic pleasure is foreign to the gas trip, particularly in the acoustical realms, but simply that I have found it more enjoyable and profitable to feel something, to study a painting or read under the influence of psychedelics other than N2O.
In addition to inducing mystical experiences, opening up new regions of consciousness, and contributing to a general lessening of dependence on external learned-reward patterns, nitrous oxide is very merry indeed. It is one of the few substances I know of that can generate ecstasy..................
..........A word about the nitrous oxide bummer. During a bad gas trip, which seems inevitable sooner or later, the visions tend towards the more dramatic – more toward emotional involvement and identification with oneself as portrayed in the dream. Chaos and revelation coalesce, and are somehow structured through characters and events into actual ego confrontations. It is not my contention that the bad trip results from the structuring of the vision, but rather that the many N2O bad trips are simply ego dramas, where essence and persona plunge from consciousness to unconciousness and back too fast for ego control: the drama is chaotic. It is compressed and intense , and it is enhanced by the revelationary quality of nitrous oxide.
Gas bummers are ultimately dissimilar to Van Eeden's "demon dreams" and more like his descriptions of "mocking or –symbolic dreams" In Van Eeden's mocking dreams, the sleeper is plagued by discomfitting and distasteful inventions, "Nothing is too low or horrible for such dreams," says Van Eeden………..
Certain N2O visions in which demons or symbolic chimeras appear are quite amusing [sic] - I have had indescribable creatures jump directly out of the wall at me with such vividness that my only recourse was to cover my head with both arms, jump away, and become unconscious. These creatures were fascinating, full-fledged visions, in other words, they were so potent that I lost the sense of experiencing an hallucination - I experienced only the demon and my reaction to it. l could not say to myself at the instant of occurrence that l was simply seeing an hallucination. So, as Van Eeden observed, there is nothing to fear from an out and out demon.
However, these bummers are highly instructive to anyone who experiences them, because they illuminate repressed areas of the consciousness.
The source of the experienceOrdinary person
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
OverloadsInhaling nitrous oxide
Overwhelming fear and terror