In nineteen-seventy, I was nineteen, and if the truth be told, totally confused about almost everything. The fear of nuclear annihilation that had been created in me when I was in elementary school had lingered on and melded into just another prickly paradigm of my daily middle class existence. My heroes had been systematically murdered by ‘establishment enforcers’ and it seemed that the nightmarish cloud of violence that descended on the nightly news from southeast Asia would go on forever.
I graduated from Col. White High Schoo, in Dayton, Ohio, in 1969, and spent most of the time following my release from state custody dazed and confused. Not on drugs mind you, but as a result of thirteen years of informal culturally sanctioned brainwashing. by the state-controlled school system.
The unapologetic truth of my youth was that while so many of my peers were being shipped off to fight and too often die in the horror and inhumanity of Vietnam, I, by virtue of my 4-F status, had elected to attend the well known University of Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. Back in those days-way, way back -in those bygone days of Hippiedom, and in response to the evil forces of war-for-the-sake of-it, a certain kind of perceptual clarity was a freethinker’s tool of paramount importance-a radical shift in perception that would provide the anti-dote to the poison of party rhetoric. Mind altering drugs and rock and roll music were a daily cathartic that allowed for a radical shift in personal values. And sex, well…who needed a reason?
I was a typical Midwestern child of the baby boomer generation born, raised in a typically Midwestern house in a typically Midwestern class neighborhood in a very Midwestern city. And for most of my nineteen years, I had cheerfully swallowed the pabulum that was the American ideal. I didn’t smoke, drink or experience sex for the first time [a dismal failure at that] until I was eighteen years old. Admitting that I led a sheltered life is an understatement. I handed in my homework on time and rarely spoke with disrespect to my elders. For all who witnessed my slow maturation, I looked like the All American kid. And I hated it.
For the uninitiated among you, let it be known that to be perceived as chaste and wholesome, especially in that time, was tantamount to admission into Geekdom . And as I teetered there on the brink of the lowest of lows-to be avoided at all cost, in the eye of my late adolescent storm, I intuited that some kind of drastic personal metamorphosis would be required if I ever hoped to wipe the scales from my philosophical eyes. Even so, I could not have imagined that my imminent date with destiny would forever alter my view of reality as I knew it.
My girlfriend, and future spouse were living in the converted attic of my family home. The refurbished decor matched the style of the day-think of it as the Thrift store/Hippie look: colored, flashing light bulbs: strings of colored plastic beads: black lights and those beautiful fluorescent posters: a turntable [for those antiquated media known as records] with a stereo amplifier of dubious quality: and of course the requisite incense burner with accompany varieties of exotic perfumed sticks of incense. Edwin Starr was on the radio asking the most important question, and sadly still relevant today: “War! What is it Good For?” , then answered his own question with a thunderous reply, “Absolutely Nothin’! ”
On one poignant night that stands out so clearly in my memory despite the passing of more than forty years, these elements of Hippiedom stood in a state of piquant readiness: records stacked in precise order of relevant themes: ashtrays strategically spaced: multicolored, overstuffed pillows scattered about: and soft drinks ingeniously suspended from a windowsill in the chill of an early spring evening. The scene was set and the only thing needed to complement this auspicious moment was Rick.
Rick was my best high school buddy, fellow drummer, party pal cum college connection par excellent, and had proven very successful at procuring batches of some of the best mescaline available. Rick finally arrived with ‘THE STUFF’ and described it as something kind of new. Rick said it was called ‘windowpane mescaline’ and seeing as how he had turned me on to ‘The Scene’, I generally trusted his word on matters of varieties of esoterica, otherwise known as the purple, brown, orange, clear, chocolate in the form of microdots, barrels, pyramids, paper and cube ad-infinitude-of psychedelia, which by any other name would stone you just the same.
Naive as I was and inclined to kick caution out the door in the valiant search for mind altering experiences, I quoted a familiar suggestion from a Bob Dylan song, “Well, everybody must get stoned. Let’s trip,” Rick carefully placed a tiny square of opaque plastic-like matter on the tip of my index finger, which I painstaking placed on the center-most part of my tongue . Then, there was nothing to do but wait for that characteristically slow, gentle onset of the mellow sensory experience that typified a mescaline high.
In just minutes though, I felt my nervous system begin to throb and hum with the deep pulse of the universe. I imagined myself aboard a cosmic supertrain departing Planet Earth, sucked off the tracks of reality as I had known it and plunged into hyperspace. Warp factor was soon achieved. Overcome by tidal waves of pure energy, I lay down on the floor for fear of being ripped from my body and absorbed into a cosmos of pure light. As matter dissolved into magnificent, multi-colored patterns of swirling light, I closed my eyes and felt the core of my being more alive than I thought possible. At that moment I experienced a freedom-frightening as it was-that I hitherto could not have conceived. Waves of cosmic bliss flowed through and around me until no separation existed between my ‘self’ and the energy that gave me form. In other words, the ‘me’ which I known for all of my life as a separate living, breathing entity had ceased to exist.
At that moment, as my rational thought process evaporated into Nothingness, I realized with profound conviction that this was definitely not a mescaline trip. In an effort to confirm my suspicion, I opened my eyes to use an archaic, yet time tested method to measure the potency of the trip. Still lying on my back, on the floor of my little room I moved my hand in a wide semi-circle to observe the quality and quantity of the trails of refracted light created by my fingers as they moved slowly across the ceiling, I witnessed with complete amazement a dazzling torrent of neon rainbow streamers issuing from five glowing points of light at my fingertips. I tried with great effort to speak, but my mind was occupied by revelations from the great Cosmos as at a depth of perception that defied description.
The two little six-by-nine inch speakers, which had seemed so insufficient only a few hours before when preset to a very low volume, now sounded so loud and pure and brilliant that, had I been able to speak, I would have sworn that my ears was pressed hard against Jimi Hendrix Marshall amp. Time slowed to a crawl, then became irrelevant…inconsequential. As I reached the peak of my experience, my eyes were engorged with a radically expanded light spectrum of awe inspiring magnificence. Deep, rich hues of light energy flowed and pulsed, infusing the ambiance in perfect cadence with the throbbing, jungle rhythm of rock and roll.
Synchronicity had been achieved in a way that continues to inform me regarding the true nature of the universe. Looking back, I am convinced by the profound nature of that experience that I was privileged to witness a very brief, yet life altering glimpse into the nature of material reality at its most elemental level. At the innocent age of nineteen, I had seen and felt the underlying, unifying principle of our common reality. The universe had been revealed to me as vibratory in an essential way that words, by their limited nature, can not possibly convey. And within the context of these revelations, some mysterious transformation had begun within me.
Looking back, I see this first of many psychedelic experiences as my first tentative step on the path to knowledge, with no possibility for a return to innocence. This powerful new agent of radical conscious change was of course not mescaline. Rick had made a little mistaken in identification no doubt based on the word of a fellow cosmic traveler.This particular little chemical entity was known as LSD-25 [ Lysergic Acid Diethelamide.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LSD%5D
Across the dimensions of time and space, there are many among people-the saviors and the saved, the redeemers and the redeemed, and the self proclaimed, self righteous anti-drug warriors-fearful, evil, mindless twits-with no experiential knowledge upon which they might legitimately reference, who will gladly contradict the positive values of the LSD experience. D.A.R.E and The Partnership for a Drug Free America are two classic examples which typify this sort of neo-fascist attempt at mind control on a grand scale.
These days in the ‘Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, very little opposition is heard to balance the full weight of the massive anti-drug campaign injected into our consciousness by means of the GovCorp mass media propaganda machine. No doubt the truth is out there somewhere, but without the aid of this powerful psychedelic we may never find our way home. I do not advocate the widespread use of LSD, aka Acid nor a return to glory days of the Sixties, though its radicalism is sorely missed in the present state of geo-political repression.
And yet I do intend, with the full weight of my personal knowledge and experience, to contradict the propaganda of those powerful, well monied anti-drug cartels, with the provable assertion that in a historical, cultural context responsible drug use by capable individuals has been the rule rather than the exception in its potential to benefit humankind. To heal the body, to inform the spirit, and to promote enlightenment, hallucinogens remain our benevolent allies throughout human history.
This consciousness raising entity known as LSD is technically a neutral chemical compound without an intention of it own. The danger it poses is that of its potential revelatory nature in that it shines a bright light on the contents of human consciousness. When Leary told us all to “Turn on, tune in and drop out”, he became an advocate of change at the deepest level where-through a chemically assisted exploration of our psyche-we might begin the process of achieving psychological autonomy. Further, I will state unequivocally that any government , church or other authoritarian agency who assumes the right to dictate the direction or modality of individual or collective human consciousness presents a far greater danger to the notion of conscious autonomy than any hallucinogenic substance available. I am neither proud, nor ashamed to say that I have employed many mind altering substances, both legal and illegal, for more than forty years with the only apparent negative effects manifested as a reasonable fear of authoritarian governments who enact legislation based on their assumption that I am not capable of making decisions regarding my own drug related safety while continuing to sell me dangerous pharmaceuticals with the potential to kill me.
History does prove that many therapeutic and beneficial drugs owe their illegal status to the tendency of the state to habitually forbid its subjects access to the self knowledge that might liberate them through a greater understanding of the mechanisms of power and control which seek to dominate culture. In this sense prohibition reserves and allocates the most effective of these mind expanding drugs for use by the dark forces that continue to guide us down a gloomy road of self-contained fear and ignorance.
The desire to nurture, and maintain the the internal flame of enlightenment remains the responsibility of the seeker. To accept this reality…this illusion of LSD as a dangerous drug at face value is to continue to submit to the grand illusion of the conditioned mind. When one realizes that the question becomes the answer, then you become the teacher, and achieve psychological autonomy-which I consider a prerequisite for all human beings on the path to self-realization. The road to ourselves is a lifelong journey, and to be successful, the individual must be free to choose the tools of their personal enlightenment based on their need and effectiveness. To accept any external authority who would limit our ability to journey inward is to submit to tyranny of the most insidious kind.
If you feel the calling to employ psychedelics on your path toward enlightenment, please be judicious by first practicing right thought and action. Use your mind to its fullest capacity to make this decision. These tools are not for everyone. Many other avenues exist in our search for inner truth. Whatever you choose to use on your path,I wish you the best, with the hope that your search inevitably leads you the light that shines within.
I send you vibrations of peace and love with one final caveat:
REALITY IS FOR THOSE WHO CAN’T HANDLE DRUGS?