According to the Wikipedia article, Monism simply attributes oneness or singleness to something, like existence. If that didn’t help you understand it, that’s fine. The article is pretty terrible, as is their categorization of it in “Theism”. Monism is not specifically a belief in God, nor does it imply the existence of Gods, nor is it a religion in any sense. Monism is a philosophical position that the nature of our universe is such that the entire universe, and everything in it, is made of “one thing”, so that we, as a universe, are inherently inseparable from each other.
Monism has been around for several thousand years, much longer than our current understanding of the universe of space-time, so it’s quite surprising to find that ancient philosophers believed in this idea that we now know to be scientifically true. Historically, this “thing” we as a universe were, was hypothesized to be air, water, change, or the “the undefined infinite”. We now know that all of the universe consists of matter and energy (and dark matter and dark energy), which can be transformed into each other, interchangeable, and there is no thing in the universe that is not part of the universe itself.
Later, as this idea spread and became part of various religions, everything from Hinduism to Christianity, and the idea of ubiquity became “God”. This God was everything, everywhere, including in you yourself. I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “isn’t that “monotheism”?” No, the Old Testament is full of examples as Existence and Creation being omnipresent, and Jesus did his best to get us to understand the concept of monism.
His teachings from 1 Corinthians 12 tries to explain it in many ways, but he sums it up with “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”. The Old Testament contains another example in Colossians 1:16-17 “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
And then, strangely, in the past two thousand years, the idea of God has been distorted to mean both something that is ubiquitous, but also that you, a human, are not God. It’s been a strange evolution, one we feel has diluted the Primary Religious Experience we feel should be available to all of us, as inseparable aspects of the universe.
What Do We Believe?
We understand that from both a scientific and monistic system of thought, that we are the inseparable universe. These constantly changing bodies, our “selves”, our consciousness, are an illusion of sameness, and this body is merely a constantly changing aspect of the universe. There may or may not be a universal consciousness, and if there is a God, we, the universe, are it. There may be universes outside of our own, as the idea of a multiverse becomes more scientifically plausible. Existence is infinite, and encompasses the infinitely small, and the infinitely large, and as humans, we will probably never have the knowledge or capability to understand our existence fully.
How Does This Relate To Psychedelic Use?
Often, while using psychedelics, people report great spiritual experiences, a sense of “oneness” with the universe, and, like the quote: “Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves.” Time and time again, trip reports often come back to the same idea – that we are the universe experiencing itself.
This is a fundamental truth. We are the universe. No scientist would refute it. So why does this feel like a revelation on psychedelics? Likely, it may be the first time you’ve actually felt it to be true. It’s a similar feeling when you visit the Grand Canyon for the first time. Likely, you’ve seen many pictures of it. You can get an understanding of its scale from satellite pictures, and various facts and figures about the size. But when you stand on a ledge at the Grand Canyon, you will finally understand how very large it is, from your own personal experience. It will feel like a revelation.