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Dr. John C. Lilly, M.D. (1915- ) is a physician and psychoanalyst specializing in biophysics, neurophysiology, electronics, computer theory, and neuroanatomy.
inventor of the Isolation Tank Method
illustrated in the film, _Altered States_
Lilly's life and work at the forefronts of human knowledge encompass the major themes of the twentieth century. His dozen books have sold millions of copies worldwide. A distinguished brain researcher even before he became a public figure, Lilly has sown the seeds of several scientific revolutions, including the theory of internal realities, the hardware/software model of the human brain/ mind, and the initiation of worldwide efforts at interspecies communications with large-brained dolphins.
Devoted to a philosophical quest for the nature of reality, Lilly pursued a brilliant academic career among the scientific leaders of the day, mastering one science after another and eventually achieving a perspective that transcends the centuries-old conflict between rationality and mysticism. He has lived in the company of associates and intimates including Nobel physicists Richard Feynman and Robert Milliken, philosophers Buckminster Fuller, Aldous Huxley, and Alan Watts, psychotherapy pioneers R.D. Laing and Fritz Perls, spiritual teachers Oscar Ichazo and Baba Ram Dass, and a host of luminaries, inventors, writers, and Hollywood celebrities.
Today, John Lilly stands
as the twentieth century's foremost scientific pioneer of the inner and
outer limits of human experience. He is a relentless adventurer whose "search
for Reality" has led him repeatedly to risk life and limb, but whose quests
have resulted in astonishing insights into what it means to be a human
being in an ever more mysterious universe.
Lilly: "Historically this implication ( that the experiences reported were caused by the tank isolation ) is incorrect. The history of my experiments with the tank show from 1954 to 1964 recorded no negative experiences. The isolation itself floating in water was not negative.... As long as no psychedelics, hallucinogenic, or mind-altering drugs are used in the tank, ordinary non-ill persons with "non-altered states of consciousness" in general need not fear tank isolation as a cause of "altered states" of consciousness. "Where then does the movie's brochure quote come from? It comes from the period 1964 to 1966 when I was researching the effects of LSD-25 on myself in the isolation tank. These experiences were dramatic and quite different from non-drug use of the tank before or after that period of research.... My present use and experience of the tank is quite undramatic, restful, and restorative. As the second title of the book implies my current goal and use is for the profound relaxation which I find it very easy to allow in our Samadhi Tank." This is not to say he didn't like the movie _Altered States_.
"The film is a fine portrayal
of some of my experiences in the isolation tank during the researches on
my own mind with LSD-25. As my wife Toni said, while crying during the
presentation, the film is "externalized poetry of the 'inner' experiences."
My feeling was that everyone making that film somehow must have had similar
experiences in order to do such a good representation of "altered states."
The acting by the researcher and his wife to us was very moving. It reminded
us of some of our own experiences written up in my book, "The Scientist:
a Novel Autobiography", in which Toni saved my life several times."
- John C. Lilly