Author's Note & Second Chapter from the book:


written in 1967, 1968 by John Lilly, M.D.

 Published by The Julian Press, Inc., a member of the Crown Publishing Group, distributed by Crown Publishers, Inc., 225 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003 and represented in Canada by the Canadian MANDA Group.

 Library of Congress Catalog Number 72-189950 ISBN 0-517-52757-X 1987 Edition

 John C. Lilly, M.D., has studied and conducted research in the fields of biophysics, neurophysiology, electronics, and neuroanatomy. Best known for his groundbreaking work in human-dolphin relations, Dr. Lilly is the United States's leading authority on the states of solitude, isolation, and confinement and their psychological effects on the human mind.

Author's Note

This work has a curious history. It was written as a final summary report to a government agency (National Institute of Mental Health) concerning five years of my life work. (The agency paid my salary for the five years.)

 It was conceived from a space rarer these days than it was then: the laws suspending scientific interest, research, involvement and decisions about d-lysergic acid di-ethyl amide tartrate were passed just as this particular work was completed; the researchers were inadequately consulted (put down, in fact). The legislators composed laws in an atmosphere of desperation. The national negative program on LSD was launched; LSD was the big scare, on a par with War, Pestilence, and Famine as the destroyer of young brains, minds and fetuses. In this atmosphere (1966-1967) Programming and Metaprogramming in The Human Biocomputer was written. The work and its notes are dated from 1964 to 1966. The conception was formed in 1949, when I was first exposed to computer design ideas by Britton Chance. I coupled these ideas back to my own software through the atmosphere of my neurophysiological research on cerebral cortex. It was more fully elaborated in the tank isolation solitude and confinement work at NIMH from 1953 to 1958, run in parallel with the neurophysiological research on the rewarding and punishing systems in the brain. The dolphin research was similarly born in the tank, with brain electrode results as parents in the further conceptions.

 While I was writing this work, I was a bit too fearful to express candidly in writing the direct experience, uninterpreted. I felt that a group of thirty persons' salaries, a large research budget, a whole Institute's life depended on me and what I wrote. If I wrote the data up straight, I would have rocked the boats of several lives (colleagues and family) beyond my own stabilizer effectiveness threshold, I hypothesized. Despite my precautionary attitude, the circulation in 1967 of this work contributed to the withdrawal of research funds in 1968 from the research program on dolphins by one government agency. I heard several negative stories regarding my brain and mind, altered by LSD. At this point I closed the Institute and went to the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center to resume LSD research under government auspices. I introduced the ideas in work to the MPRC researchers and I left for the Esalen Institute in 1969.

 At Esalen my involvement in direct human gut-to-gut communication and lack of involvement in administrative responsibility brought my courage to the sticking place. Meanwhile, Stewart Brand of the Whole Earth Truck Catalog (Menlo Park, Calif.) reviewed the work in the Whole Earth Catalog from a mimeographed copy I had given W.W. Harmon of Stanford for his Sufic purposes. Stewart wrote me asking for copies to sell. I had 300 printed photo-offset from the typed copy. He sold them in a few weeks and asked permission to reprint on newsprint an enlarged version at a lower price. Sceptical about salability, I agreed. Book People, Berkeley, arranged the reprinting. Several thousand copies were sold.

 I had written the report in such a way that its basic messages were hidden behind a heavy long introduction designed to stop the usual reader. Apparently once word got out, this device no longer stalled the interested readers. Somehow the basic messages were important enough to enough readers so that the work acquired an unexpected viability. Thus it seems appropriate to reprint it in full.

 On several different occassions, I have been asked to rewrite this work. One such start at rewrite ended up as another book. (The Center of the Cyclone, The Julian Press, Inc., New York, 1972.) Another start is evolving into my book number five (Simulations of God: A Science of Belief). It seems as if this older work is a seminating source for other works and solidly resists revision. To me it is a thing separate from me, a record from a past space, a doorway into new spaces through which I passed and cannot return.


February 1972 Los Angeles, California 

'All human beings, all persons who reach adulthood in the world today are programmed biocomputers. No one of us can escape our own nature as programmable entities. Literally, each of us may be our programs, nothing more, nothing less.'

Chapter 2.


In order to test the validity of some of the basic assumptions implicit in the theory of the human computer, a series of experiments were designed and carried out in the LSD-25 state, in physical isolation, and solitude. One point of primary interest during these experiments was to find out what level of intensity of belief in a set of assumptions could be achieved. The assumptions tested in this set of experiments are not those of current science: they are not in the conscious working repertory of this scientist; nor were they consciously acceptable to him.
In this short account it is not intended to give all of the details of either the self-metaprogramming language that was used or the details of the elicited phenomena. The account is purposely sparse, condensed, and compressed. Abstracted from the complexity of the totality of the experiments and their results are only those formal descriptions which may serve as guide posts to others attempting to reproduce these or similar experiments. It is not intended to complicate this account with the personal aspects of the metaprogramming, the elicited phenomena, or difficulties encountered. For those researchers who are interested in this work's reproduction in themselves, these assumptions (or similar ones) and these results can be translated into their own metaprogramming language and such workers can obtain their unique results.
To claim validity of details beyond myself is not my aim. There probably are those men who are prepared well enough to attempt reproducing what has been done here in themselves. The descriptions are given so that the sources of the human computer theory are available to professionals.
This particular set of existence theorems is selected for experiment for a number of reasons. There are a number of persons (Blum, 1964) who experimented with the LSD-25 state who write as if they believe implicitly in the objective reality of causes outside themselves for certain kinds of experiences undergone with these particular beliefs. I do not think it wise to espouse either the existence or the non-existence theorem for this set of basic supra-self-metaprograms (Fig. 1). To become impartial, dispassionate, and general purpose, objective, and open-ended, one must test and adjust the level of credence in each of his sets of beliefs. If ever Man is to be faced with real organisms with greater wisdom, greater intellect, greater minds than any single man has, then we must be open, unbiased, sensitive, general purpose, and dispassionate. Our needs for phantasies must have been analyzed and seen for what they are and are not or we will be in even graver troubles than we are today. Our search for mentally healthy paths to human progress in the innermost realities depends upon progress in this area. Many men have floundered in this area of belief: I hope this work can help to find a way through one of our stickiest intellectual-emotional regions.
Most of these beliefs are ones which have been abandoned in the fields of endeavor called science. Such beliefs continue to be found in the field known as religion. Some of these beliefs are labeled in modern psychiatric medicine and anthropology as superstitions, psychotic beliefs, etc. Other persons present these beliefs in the writings called science fiction. This set of basic postulates (or beliefs) is conceived and used to program several sessions with LSD-25 plus physical isolation in solitude. Above all these metaprograms to be experimented upon is one metaprogram of value to this subject: his overall policy is the intent to explore, to observe, to analyze. Hence there is an important additional basic metaprogram: analyze self to understand one's thinking and true motives more thoroughly. This is the conscious motivational strategy. At times this metaprogram dominates the scene, at times others do. The resolve exists, however, to generate a net effect with this instruction uppermost in the computer hierarchy.


Preliminary to the experiments in changing basic beliefs, many experiments with the profound physical isolation and solitude situation were carried out over a period of several years. These experiences were followed by combining the LSD-25 state and the physical isolation state in a second period of several years. The minimum time between experiments was thirty days, the maximum time several months. [Tables 1, 7 and 8]

Basic Belief No. 1

 Basic Belief No. 1 was made possible by the early isolation results: Assume that the subject's body and brain can operate comfortably isolated without him paying any attention to it. This belief expresses the faith that one has in one's experience in the isolation situation, that one can consciously ignore the necessities of breathing and other bodily functions, and that they will take care of themselves automatically without detailed attention on the part of one's self. This result allowed existence metaprograms to be made in relative safety. Succesful leaving of body and parking it in isolation for periods of twenty minutes to two hours were succesful in sixteen different experiments. This success, in turn, allowed other basic beliefs to be experimented upon. The basic belief that one could leave the body and explore new universes was succesfully programmed in the first eight different experiments lasting from five minutes to forty minutes; the later eight experiments were on the cognitional multidimensional space without the leaving the body metaprogram (see previous section on Projection for the cognition space phenomenon).

Basic Belief No. 2

 The subject sought beings other than himself, not human, in whom he existed and who control him and other human beings. Thus the subject found whole new universes containing great varieties of beings, some greater than himself, some equal to himself, and some lesser than himself.
Those greater than himself were a set which was so huge in space-time as to make the subject feel as a mere mote in their sunbeam, a single microflash of energy in their time scale, my forty-five years are but an instant in their lifetime, a single thought in their vast computer, a mere particle in their assemblages of living cognitive units. He felt he was in the absolute unconscious of these beings. He experienced many more sets all so much greater than himself that they were almost inconceivable in their complexity, size and time scales. Those beings which were close to the subject in complexity-size-time were dichotomized into the evil ones and good ones. The evil ones (subject said) were busy with purposes so foreign to his own that he had many near-misses and almost fatal accidents in encounters with them; they were almost totally unaware of his existence and hence almost wiped him out, apparently without knowing it. The subject says that the good ones thought good thoughts to him, through him, and to one another. They were at least conceivably human and humane. He interpreted them as alien yet friendly. They were not so alien as to be completely removed from human beings in regard to their purposes and activities.
Some of these beings (the subject reported) are programming us in the long term. They nurture us. They experiment on us. They control the probability of our discovering and exploiting new science. He reports that discoveries such as nuclear energy, LSD-25, RNA-DNA, etc., are under probability control by these beings. Further, humans are tested by some of these beings and cared for by others. Some of them have programs which include our survival and progress. Others have programs which include oppositions to these good programs and include our ultimate demise as a species. Thus the subject interpreted the evil ones as willing to sacrifice us in their experiments; hence they are alien and removed from us. The subject reported with this set of beliefs that only limited choices are still available to us as a species. We are an ant colony in their laboratory.

 Basic Belief No. 3

 The subject assumed the existence of beings in whom humans exist and who directly control humans. This is a tighter control program than the previous one and assumes continuous day and night, second to second, control, as if each human being were a cell in a larger organism. Such beings insist upon activities in each human being totally under the control of the organism of which each human being is a part. In this state there is no free will and no freedom for an individual. This supra-self-metaprogram was entered twice by the subject; each time he had to leave it; for him it was too anxiety-provoking. In the first case he became a part of a vast computer in which he was one element. In the second case he was a thought in a much larger mind: being modified rapidly, flexibly and plastically. All of the above experiments were done looking upward in Fig. 1 from the self-programmer to the supra-self-metaprograms. A converse set of experiments was done in which the self-metaprogrammer looked downward towards the metaprograms, the programs and the lower levels of Fig. 1.

 Basic Belief No. 4

 One set of basic beliefs can be subsumed under the directions seek those beings whom we control and who exist in us. With this program the subject found old models in himself (old programs, old metaprograms, implanted by others, implanted by self, injected by parents, by teachers, etc.) He found that these were disparate and separate autonomous beings in himself. He described them as noisy group. His incorporated parents, his siblings, his own offspring, his teachers, his wife seemed to be a disorganized crowd within him, each running and arguing a program with him and in him. While he watched, battles took place between these models during the experiment. He settled many disparate and nonintegrated points between these beings and gradually incorporated more of them into the self-metaprogram. After many weeks of self-analysis outside the experimental milieu (and some help with his former analyst), it was seen that these beings within the self were also those other beings outside self of the other experiments. The subject described the projected as-if-outside beings to be cognitional carnivores attempting to eat up his self-metaprogram and wrest control from him. As the various levels of metaprograms became straightened out in the subject, he was able to categorize and begin to control the various levels as they were presented during these experiments. As his apparently unconscious needs for credence in these beliefs were attenuated with analytic work, his freedom to move from one set of basic beliefs to another was increased and the anxiety associated with this kind of movement gradually disappeared.
A basic overall metaprogram was finally generated: For his own intellectual satisfaction the subject found that he best assume that all of the phenomena that took place existed only in his own brain and in his own mind. Other assumptions about the existence of these beings had become subjects suitable for research rather than subjects for blind (unconscious, conscious) belief for this person.

 Basic Belief No. 5

 Experiments also were done upon movements of self forward and back in space-time. The results showed that when attempting to go forward into the future the subject began to realize his own goals for that future, and imagine wishful thinking solutions to current problems. When he put in the metaprogram for going back into his own childhood, real and phantasy memories were evoked and integrated. When he pushed back through to the in utero situation, he found an early nightmare which was reinvoked and solved. Relying on his scientific knowledge, he pushed the program back through previous generations, prehuman primates, carnivores, fish and protozoa. He experienced a sperm-egg explosion on the way through this past reinvocation of imaginary experience.
The last set of experiments (see Use of Projection section) was made possible by the results of the previous set. Progress in controlling the projection metaprogram resulted from the other universes experiments. Finally the subject understood and had become familiar with his need for phantasied other universes. Analytic work allowed him to bypass this need and penetrate into the cognitional multidimensional projection spaces. Experiments in programming in this innermost space showed results quite satisfying to a high degree of credence in the belief that all experiments in the series showed inner happenings without needing the participation of outer causes. The need for the constant use of outer causes was found to be a projected outward metaprogram to avoid taking personal responsibility for portions of the contents of his own mind. His dislike for certain kinds of his own nonsensical programs caused him to project them and thus avoid admitting they were his. In summation, the subjectively apparent results of the experiments were to straighten out a good deal of the "nonsense" in this subject's computer. Through these experiments he was able to examine some warded-off beliefs and defensive structures accumulated throughout his life. The net result was a feeling of greater integration of self and a feeling of positive affect for the current structure of himself, combined with an improved skepticism of the validity of subjective judging of events in self.
Some objective testing of these essentially subjective judgments have been initiated through cooperation with other persons. Such objective testing is very difficult; this area needs a great deal of future research work. We need better investigative techniques, combining subjective and behavioral (verbal) techniques. The major feeling that one has after such experiences and experiments is that the fluidity and plasticity of one's computer has certain limits to it, and that those limits have been enlarged somewhat by the experiments. How long such enlargement lasts and to what extent are still not known of course. A certain amount of continued critical skepticism about and in the self-metaprogram (and it its felt changes) is very necessary for a scientist exploring these areas.


The metatheoretical consideration of these experiments and the the results are as follows: One supra-metaprogrammatic assumption about these experiments is the formalistic view of the origins of mathematics and of thinking. As was said in the preface, at one extreme of the organization of human thinking is the formal logical basic assumption set of metatheories. These experiments were done with this view in mind and the results were interpreted from this point of view. Obviously this point of view does not test the "objective" validity of the experiences. It merely assumes that, if one plugs the proper beliefs into the metaprogrammatic levels of the computer that, the computer will then construct (from the myriads of elements in memory) those possible experiences that fit this particular set of rules. Those programs will be run off and those displays made, which are appropriate to the basic assumptions and their stored programming.

 Another way of looking at the results and at the metaprogramming is that we start out with a basic set of beliefs, believe them to be "objectively" valid (not just "formally" valid) and do the experiments and interpret them with this point of view. If one proceeds along these lines, one can quickly reach the end of one's ability to interpret the results. One finds that one cannot grasp conceptually the phenomena that ensue. With this metatheory, this type of experience is not just the computer operating in isolation, confinement and solitude on preprogrammed material being elicited from memory, but is really in communication with other beings, and the influence on one's self by them is real. Thus in this case one is assuming the existence theorem in regard to the basic assumptions, i.e., there is objective validity to them quite outside of self and one's making the assumptions. This epistemological position can also be investigated by these methods. This is somewhat the position that was taken by Aldous Huxley and by various other groups. For example, pursuit of certain non-Western philosophies as the Ultimate Truth was generated by these persons. One cannot take sides on these two widely diverse epistemological bases. On the one hand we have the basic assumptions of the modern scientists and on the other hand the basic assumptions of those interested in the religious aspect of existence. If one is to remain philosophic and objective in this field, one must dispassionately survey both of these extreme metatheoretical positions.

 One basic lesson learned from these experiments is that, in general, one's preferences for various kinds of metatheoretical positions are dictated by considerations other than one's ideals of impartiality, objectivity, and a dispassionate view. The metatheoretical position held by scientists in general is espoused for purposes of defining the truth, for purposes of understanding in their particular compartment of science, for acceptance among other scientists and for each one's own internal security operations with respect to his own unconscious programs. It is to be expected that anxiety is engendered in some scientists by making the above assumptions as if true (even temporarily) in an experimental framework. One can easily be panicked by the invasion of the self-metaprograms by automatic existence programs from below the level of one's awareness, programs which may strike at the existence of self, at the control of self, at the origins of self, at the destinations of self, and of the relations of self to a known external reality.

 Possibly one of the safest positions to take with regard to all of these phenomena is that given in this paper, i.e., the formalistic view in which one makes the assumption that the computer itself generates all of the phenomena experienced. This is an acceptable assumption of modern science. This is the so-called common sense assumption. This is the assumption acceptable to one's colleagues in science.

 Such considerations, of course, do not touch upon nor prove the validity of invalidity of the assumptions nor of the results of the experiments. In order to leave this theory open-ended and to allow for the presence of the unknown, it is necessary to take the ontological and epistemological position that one cannot know as a result of this kind of solitudinous experiment whether or not the phenomena are explicable only by non-biocomputer interventions or only by happenings within the computer itself, or both.

 I wish to emphasize that there is a necessity not to espouse a truth because it is safe. Being driven to a set of assumptions because one is afraid of another set and their consequences is the most passionate and nonobjective kind of philosophy. Too many intellectuals and scientists (almost unconsciously) use basic assumptions as defences against their fears of other assumptions and their consequences. Until we can train ourselves to be dispassionate and accept both the assumptions and the results of making them without arrogance, without pride, without misplaced enthusiasm, without fear, without panic, whithout anger, hence without emotional involvement in the results or in the theories, we cannot advance this inner science of Man very far.

 Those who wish to embrace the truth of an alternative set of assumptions as an escape from the basic assumptions of modern science are equally at fault. Those who must find a communication with other beings in this kind of experiment will apparently find it. One must be aware that there are (as in the child) needs within one's self for finding certain kinds of phenomena and espousing them as the ultimate truth. Such childlike needs needs dictate their own metaprograms.

 I am not agreeing with any extreme group in interpreting these results. It is convenient for me to assume, as of this time, that these phenomena all occurred within the biocomputer. I tend to assume that ESP cannot have played a role. At the moment this is the position which I find to be most tenable in a logical sense. I do not wish to be dogmatic about this. I wish to indicate that this is where I stand as of the writing describing this particular stage of the work. I await demonstrations of the validity of alternative existence theorems.

 If ever good, hard-nosed, common sense, unequivocal evidence for the existence of currently unaccepted assumptions is presented by those who have thoroughly attenuated their childish needs for particular beliefs, I hope I am prepared to examine it dispassionately and thoroughly. The pitfalls of group interlock are quite as insidious as the pitfalls of one's own phantasizing. Group acceptance of undemonstrated existence theorems and of seductive beliefs adds no more validity to the theorems and to the beliefs than one's own phantasizing can add. Anaclitic group behavior is no better than solitudinous phantasies of the truth. Where agreed-upon truth can exist in the science of the innermost realities is not and cannot yet be settled. Beginnings have been made by many men, satisfying proofs by one.



XI UNKNOWN (above and in Biocomputer)

 X SUPRA-SPECIES-METAPROGRAM (beyond metaprogramming)

 IX SUPRA-SELF-METAPROGRAMS (to be metaprogrammed)

 VIII *SELF-METAPROGRAM* - awareness (to metaprogram)

 VII METAPROGRAMS METAPROGRAM STORAGE (to program set of programs)

 VI PROGRAMS PROGRAM STORAGE (detailed instructions)

 V SUBROUTINES SUBROUTINE STORAGE (details of instruction)





Each part of each level has feedback-control relations with each part, indicated by the connecting lines. Each level has feedback-control with each other level. For the sake of schematic simplicity, many of these feedback connections are not shown. One example is an important connection between Levels VI through IX and X; some built-in, survival programs have a representative at the Supra-Self-metaprogram Level as follows: "These programs are necessary for survival; do not attenuate or excite them to extreme values; such extremes lead to non-computed actions, penalties, illness, or death." After construction, such a Metaprogram is transferred by the Self-metaprogram to the Supra-selfmetaprograms and to the Supra-species- metaprograms for future control purposes. The boundaries between the body and the external reality are between Levels I and II; certain energies and materials pass this boundary in special places (heat, light, sound, food, secretions, feces). Boundaries between body and brain are between Levels II and III; special structures pass this boundary (blood vessels, nerve fibers, cerebro-spinal fluid). Levels IV through XI are in the brain circuitry and are the software of the Biocomputer. Levels above Level X are labeled "Unknown" for the following purposes: (1) to maintain the openness of the system, (2) to motivate future scientific research, (3) to emphasize the necessity for unknown factors at all levels, (4) to point out the heuristic nature of this schema, (5) to emphasize unwillingness to subscribe to any dogmatic belief without testable reproducible data, and (6) to encourage creative courageous imaginative investigation of unknwon influences on and in human realities, inner and outer.