Mycomysticism: Spiritual Charlatanism At Its Most Genuine
“My retrospective attitude towards [psychedelics] is that when one has received the message, one hangs up the phone.”–Alan Watts
“A pitiful example of an aging hippie, a gruesome example of how drugs ruin a brilliant mind. A third-rate comic . . . with a routine that invites pity.”–Art Linkletter on Timothy Leary, “High Priest” of LSD
“A fool who persists in his folly will become wise.”–William Blake
It was in a dank disheveled basement redolent with the odours of Bob Marley’s tour bus that “Timothy” presented me with a long-coveted opportunity:
“I’ve got an ounce of shrooms. Wanna do ’em with me tomorrow?”
The question was posed with pot-induced nonchalance, but as a tenderfoot with drugs (or a “dope noob,” to employ the current vernacular), Tim’s invitation was providential and its timing impeccable.
During that summer, when not enduring the monotony of employment or swilling malt liquor at weekend shindigs, my leisure time was spent reading Aldous Huxley, Ralph Metzner, and other proselytizers of drug-induced mysticism.
I found Huxley’s seminal hippie classic The Doors Of Perception particularly enticing for its reasoned idealism and inquiring, sober account of a mescaline experience. In the book’s concluding section Huxley proposed these substances were a “gratuitous grace”; perhaps a tool for artists or a kind of spiritual steroid for the mystically obtuse. He also claimed, perhaps less convincingly, that psychedelic experience was identical to the traditional mysticism of the perennial philosophy.
I was incapable of considering this claim at the time. And as an impatient, sensation-chasing adolescent the purported authenticity of psychedelic mysticism struck me as a stroke of luck, a shortcut to enlightenment. An occasion for optimism; I didn’t need mediation or method to meet God, merely a molecule. Terence McKenna: “Psychedelics work for Joe Ordinary. And I am Joe Ordinary. I can’t sweep up around the ajram for twenty years . . . psychedelics work.”
So, brimming with the Promethean idealism of youth, and due to my extracurricular interests, I accepted Timothy’s invitation. A puerile rationalization lay behind this: the proposed trip would of necessity entail deception of my parents and the breaking of the law. This former rationalization was easy; I agreed with the grandfatherly insistence that we let the “children play” and not parentally pontificate. As for the legalities, I thought it ludicrous for the orthodoxy to forbid the use of “God-releasing” substances. A violation of our religious freedom! I noted the exception made for the Eucharist–perhaps theophagia is acceptable when the substance is human flesh.
Moreover, I found the ambience of pot cozy, and it did occasionally bring me to the margin of a “spiritual” sensation. Having tested the shallows with dope, I reasoned psilocybin would be a natural next step and transition into the deeper waters. I also felt thoroughly prepared given my studied obsession with psychedelic literature, and thus I anticipated a comfortable cruise.
I was wrong, and shortly enough I’d realize this with hellish intensity.
Timothy and I made a plan to rendezvous at my house the following morning. We’d heard the weather would be ideal, and there was the convenience of a tall-grass prairie adjacent to my subdivision. We reckoned its solitude and array of natural scenery would be conducive to the idyllic “good trip.” Timothy and I reciprocated grins, two self-conscious hooligans surveilled on all sides by postered depictions of Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison (all dead by their twenty-seventh year). If our musical idols had explored the antipodes of the mind and returned to tell the tale, why then couldn’t we? Rationalization springs temporal in incorrigible youth, it seems.
The next morning, I arose at ten c’clock. A golf course awash in summer haze greeted me through my windowpanes. Gnarly thickets of trees, bark and leaf and the featureless dome of blue sky mirrored my exuberance. I stumbled into the bathroom, urinated. Glanced in the mirror and winked knowingly. As I dressed, my enthusiasm manifested most prominently: desiring my attire to reflect the day’s adventure, I pulled on a loose-fitting pair of khakis and a t-shirt emblazoned with Paisley patterns. After a moment’s consideration, I also equipped myself with a portable diskman and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I yearned to join Lucy in the Sky with her hallucinatory diamonds, a blind yearning that overlooked the album’s concluding musical mosaic “A Day In The Life” and its drug-despairing paranoia.
When Timothy arrived, we didn’t immediately depart to our chosen trip-setting. As a cover, he’d brought along a guitar; I’d earlier informed my parents we’d be harassing the dog-walkers, infant-boasters and geriatrics at Fairy Lake with borderline-illegal busking (I’ve busked numerous times since and my open case has received everything from a pack of gum to a Jehovah’s Witness pamphlet. Once a jogger stopped and insisted on paying me an unheard of sum. May God bless him and keep him.). We hastily hid the guitar in the shadows beneath my deck, knowing full-well we’d be in no condition to be strumming folk-tunes, and then set off.
As we entered the creek Timothy wasted no time in producing a ziplock bag stuffed with the mushrooms. The appearance was not what I’d anticipated; a tangled mishmash of excrescences curiously blue-gold in colour. This was the full ounce that Timothy’d claimed, and he eyeballed out my share and we promptly began eating. I winced at the taste, which was reminiscent of peanuts left to fester in manure. Timothy’s water bottle kept this understandable nausea at bay, but nonetheless our theophagic feast was hard work. It was approximately fifteen minutes before the mushrooms were completely consumed, and by this time our wanderings had led us to a railroad slicing through a sun-dazzling expanse of deciduous trees and tall grass. We chose the railroad.
The initial symptoms arrived with surprising speed and were predominantly psychosomatic in nature: a feeling of restlessness accentuated by a dull glow in my abdominal region. This was not nausea per se, but rather a paradoxical numbness. Shudders of a kundalini-esque energy shot through me. As for my mental state, calmness had unexpectedly replaced the exuberance. It was a quiet headspace lightly tinged with anticipation: a calm before the storm, I supposed.
Our romping accelerated. Psilocybin induces an amenability towards movement, a child-like exploratory momentum. It is adventure-friendly, unlike narcotics or even cannabis, which produce either apathy or laziness respectively.
It is true that some psychedelic advocates tout psilocybin as a meditative drug, a medicine for stationary navel-gazing, but for Timothy and I this advocacy was untrue. Instead, reality was becoming increasingly erratic; Newtonian space-time and its “stubbornly persistent” qualities were dissipating. This was felt subjectively as an expansion and ascension. As it progressed, I began to lapse in and out of my self (“self” denoting the sense of being an interior experiencer). Where I was when outside, I either cannot recall or articulate.
“Man, something’s fucking with me.”
“If it’s God, he’s fucking with us.”
I roll my eyes now at this briefest of exchanges, but at the time we laughed giddily.
The world around me was taking on an absurd, almost lampoonish quality. Framing the railroad were two gently sloping hills of sun-dappled grass dotted with golden microcosms of dandelions. This landscape undulated like liquid, reassembling its arbitrary wildness into an ordered arrangement I found breathtaking. Light seared my eyelids not as wave nor particle, but as a shimmering fractal. Timothy’s head, when I dared to look his way, seemed queerly large and beast-like–a cro-magnon beard beneath slitted werewolf eyes and prominent canines. His familiar laughter sounded like elfin prattling, his gait was that of a sugar-addled infant. But these descriptions fail; Timothy was something other than himself, or perhaps more than himself than ever before. We had now left behind Terence McKenna’s “mundane plane”: friends had become demigods.
Notwithstanding the marvels around us, our preoccupations were mainly inward and our meditations were suddenly and shockingly ambushed. The train track had moved beyond the brush and intersected with the margins of a golf course. Moreover, a hodgepodge of its clientele were situated on a patch of green no farther than fifteen feet from us. A fat loaf stared silently at us from his automative perch. A golf cart? If so, the model had a distinctly anthropomorphic quality–like the loaf, the lights stared at us. His compatriots, putters in hand, spouted cliches characteristic of the sport. (I find sports culture contemptible for many reasons, but I’ll address that some other time).
“I’m gonna get this bastard in the hole, just you watch.”
And then, upon noticing our intrusion:
“Hey fellas! Up to no good, eh?”
Timothy and I looked at each other, silently questioning. Was this golfer a cop? The questioning provided an immediate answer: err on the side of caution. We turned, puppeteered by paranoia, and hastily strode back along the way we came. The anxiety receded as we re-entered the comforting canopy of trees and tall grass.
We remained silent, absorbing the photon-drenched world around us. Distant suburbias, as we gaped, metamorphosed into petite hobbit-holes composed of gingerbread. A looming tree bore the semblance of a preying mantis. Down in the bush, sporadic sprays of milkweed became elegant gardens. The earth was ornamented, a self-organizing entity. Tears emerged from my eyes.
The mental lapses began again. For a brief moment I quite literally saw myself from the exterior, a non localized consciousness. Then it ended, and I swivelled with agitation to catch the gnomish doppelgänger evading my vision. Was this myself, or McKenna’s “other”? I was no longer certain I even possessed a self; it was dissolving with alarming momentum into a frothing expanse of phenomena arising as one. With this shift into a monistic ontology, Timothy and I were nonetheless not alone. We had “company,” seemingly beyond worldly categories and classifications. If I could ascribe one quality to this company, it was one of Loki-like mischief. This monism was not serene, as is generally supposed; it was a state of mental, physical and sensory confusion.
“God, man . . . is it God, or the devil?”
“Both.” (I roll my eyes yet again).
My answer seemed like an epiphany of titanic significance. All apparently opposed and disparate forces could be reconciled. The multiplicity is unity, the two is one. Good and evil? Completely interdependent. You affirm or negate one, you inevitably affirm or negate the other. I giggled, prayerfully clasping my hands. With this non-insight, I felt Raymond and I had been officially initiated into the psychedelic esoterica.
“Let’s go into the wild!” I intoned, pointing out an approaching path cleaving through the brush. Scarlet sumac and glistening milkweed waved at us in greeting as we entered the path. Gaia, for the time being, accepted our presence.
Minutes accumulated. We rode the edge of an old farmer’s field; on the opposing side was a lowland of willows, bullrushes, and an eddying river. It was around this point that I pulled the compact disc player from my pocket. Technology, like conversation, was confounding to my stoned brain, and two minutes passed before I managed to adjust the volume and press the applicable button.
A sudden sonic explosion flooded my eardrums, deluging my synapses in synesthetic beauty. I merged with the grinding groove of Sgt. Pepper’s opening track, it and myself arising as singular phenomena. Yet where had my beloved Beatles album gone? It had been replaced by an extraterrestrial klezmer jam. Then the second track began and Ringo’s soothing baritone brought it all back down to earth, relatively speaking.
“I get by with a little help from my friends, ooo, I get high with a little help from my friends.” The Beatles’ most undervalued member was crooning to me in a gesture of psychedelic empathy. He understood, that hound-faced mop top from the past. Timeless, timeless, timeless. I giggled, but had had enough and stuffed the music-contraption back into my shorts.
Once my attention had reverted to the outside world, I noticed that Raymond and I had unknowingly been transported. We were no longer in a garden-variety future construction site. We were in some pre-historic jungle. The day’s humidity was magnifying exponentially, gnats orbited our heads, impish creepers tickled our legs. I gaped as a dragonfly of Cambrian proportions danced by. Incredulous, I glanced at Timothy and wondered if he too had experienced this transportation. It seemed like a millennium since I had last acknowledged him. Guilt flared in my heart.
“I think I’m getting the fear, man,” came the dreaded statement. Sweat coated his skin, mingling with a downpour of tears. I attempted to reassure him with an awkward pat on the back, but his consternation seemed inexorable. Now charged with an overdue feeling of empathy, I felt his own fear infecting me. There was no proud ego-barrier behind which I could hide, as the psilocybin had now obliterated any chance of emotional tune-out. Regardless of my preferences, the world as it was insistently thrust itself upon me: Timothy was upset, and his upset was literally my own.
(Some schools of eastern philosophy proclaim the oneness of all things, notwithstanding the apparent fact of separation. Apprehending what may have been this same oneness, Raymond was not an extension of myself, or part of myself, but rather me in the most intimate sense. Yet this was not solipsism but a heart-rending humility to the point of self-negation. As the hippies speculate: was Gotama Buddha a mushroom veteran?)
Timothy: “Let’s go back on the tracks, man, or we’ll get stung.”
Me: “Okay, just, uh, stay calm and . . . stuff.”
As we turned around, a sudden flowering of laughter resounded nearby. This was not physically heard but rather of the hypnagogic variety (i.e. the voices heard whilst falling asleep). Its non-auditory nature didn’t reduce its reality, however: it was like a child’s and emanating from behind me to my right. A pattering of spritely footsteps followed it, echoing as if from out of a huge void. I swivelled wildly, attempting to catch God in the act. For a moment I beheld a runny, quasi-material gray mass, and then it disappeared. I knew then that I’d almost cornered the motherfucker behind all of this. God was a Loki-child, an “Aeon at play with coloured balls (Heraclitus)”–concisely, someone who didn’t know what the hell he was doing. The universe was a manifestation of whimsy. God got bored, I realized with horror. Every “why?” that I threw out was countered with a “why not?” And I intuited that even if there was more to it all, this “more” was the exclusive ownership of God. I felt humiliated, like a paltry plaything or puppet. We would never attain certainty–all striving, all beseeching–fruitless.
Yet I refused the temptation of blind faith, or existential apathy. This left me where I felt I had now always been–an infinitesimal wave adrift on an infinite ocean, fated to drift, destined to drown, condemned to be free (as Sartre said).
As we approached the train tracks, my self tightened into a paralyzed knot. Who am I? The thought pulsed rhythmically. Who’s asking? came the mocking reply. I felt exposed, empty, turned inside out, ensnared in a uroboric loop of madness. Verily, who was asking?
Practical considerations compounded the difficulties. I couldn’t seem to navigate through the foliage, spatiality had imploded and every point seemed connected to every other. Gaia had lured us in; now she wasn’t letting us leave. Paralysis began to set in. Tree stumps shimmied mockingly, wizened faces of bark leered and jeered at our fear. I longingly gazed at the Edenic railroad through the maelstrom.
“Man, come on,” Timothy implored, placing his hand on my shoulder. This human contact broke the paralytic spell and with Herculean intensity we stumbled/ran through the last barrier of demonic flora and out onto the tracks. O, the utter triumph! I felt as if I had overcome the sum of all obstacles. My pride was that of a lofty Mazatecan god, and Timothy’s appearance mirrored this. Unreal feathers encircled his polychromatic countenance. We beheld one another for what felt like an eternity, laughing and carousing over the sheer absurdity of our former fear.
Exhausted, we eventually sat down on the rails. For a moment I closed my eyes and focused on breathing deeply, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine. Then I looked up and surveyed the sun directly, and this brought about the most intense dread I’ve ever experienced. It hadn’t even reached its apogee, and this meant we had only been tripping for an hour. Nauseated, I realized that in the psychological denotation of the word we were “fucked.” Having a relatively low toxicity (lower than that of a Starbucks Americano), there was no risk of overdosing on psilocybin. But in our brazen idiocy we had consumed a half-ounce each, and I knew this “historic dose” would occasion a total severance from reality. And I already felt the severance well at work.
Suffice to say, the Mazatecan deity’s feathers departed as quickly as they had had arrived.
“I’m thirsty,” Timothy gasped. I noted that I was as well; my mouth felt as parched as the serengeti. The lips I licked were sticky, cracked and numb. It seemed a very real possibility that I might die if I didn’t procure a drink. A glass of water reverberated in my mind’s eye like a mirage.
“We should go back to your house.”
“Man, we can’t!” Horrid images of a parental drug bust loomed in my mind. “My mum and dad are at home!”
“I need water.”
“Me too. Let’s go to the convenience store up the road.”
“No fucking way.”
“We have to go back to your place, man. I’m freaking out here.”
“That makes two of us. Uh, heh, one of us. Okay. Yeah.”
The cliched reply was anything but funny given the direness of the situation. Without further ado we rose to our feet on legs that felt composed of wobbly concrete. With a newfound intensity of appreciation, I understood the burden of having a body; flesh is the source of nearly all of our suffering–physiological, neurological, emotional. In my altered state my body felt like an inconvenient encumbrance my mind had to lug around.
This became even more obvious as we trudged towards my suburbia in the distance, separated from us by an expanse of dirt and construction detritus. Like retarded folk we stumbled over the cracked hills, our sandals snagging on metal wire and tripping over bricks. In order to maintain a sort of balance, Timothy and I had to repeatedly look down. Clownish faces popped out of the beige terra. Nature was laughing at us. Who were we, after all, to eat the sacred children?
I recalled something someone somewhere somewhen had said: “You monkeys only think you’re running the show.”
This, more than ever, was obvious to me. Even as we finally entered the artificiality of the subdivision nature refused to surrender her power. Housefront gardens, hurricanes of gleeful colour, shrieked at us like banshees. A neighbour walking her dog across the road glanced at us. Concealed beneath her grin was a diabolical sneer. And this was only the dog’s smile.
Up ahead I could see my house, bathed in a squalid yellow light. The twin second floor windows, coupled with the gaping open garage beneath, resembled Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream.” As we neared the driveway the house reassumed something of its accustomed familiarity. But my fear remained. Heart beating like a death metal drum, we traversed the pavement and climbed the stairs and I knocked on the door. Ominous footsteps were heard from inside. The door swung open, revealing my father’s face.
I did my very best to sound nonchalant.
“Back so soon?”
“Yeah, it was, um, uh, too hot.”
“Where’s your guitar?”
“Left it outside.”
We had “successfully” arrived, and stepped gingerly inside. Unaware that Timothy had now fully departed from the material plane, I made my way down the tiled hallway that frothed like an opalescent sea. My friend, a motionless savant, remained glued to the indoor mat. My father, his back to me, walked into the living room. As I passed by it I saw him take a seat beside my mother, whose eyes were fixated on the television screen, the morose sounds of Six Feet Under emanating from the speakers. As fast as my appendages could carry me I entered the kitchen. There I poured myself a glass of water and chugged it back, suppressing a sputtering cough. I then turned from the sink, relieved, only to discover Timothy’s absence.
“No, you come here! Water.”
“Where are you?”
“In the kitchen.”
“I’m going upstairs.”
This exchange was inept enough to alert my parents, whom I intuitively knew were now listening to our halted “conversation.” The volume of Six Feet Under had been unmistakably lowered. I rushed through the cluttered dining room and turned the corner to see Timothy loping up the stairway, the hairs on his legs writhing like grubs. I followed, averting my gaze from the living room. There was a perfectly reasonable sense that if I dared a glance, I’d be greeting two wrathful demigods (I’ve had this feeling even when not on psilocybin). Instead I fixed my gaze on Timothy’s melting buttocks. We crested the stairs, and Timothy piled into my room, quietly shutting the door.
Feeling a looseness in my bowels I made my way into the adjacent washroom. More opalescent waves of tile greeted me. Avoiding the horror of the mercury, I pulled down my shorts and collapsed on the latrine. Immediately, what felt like a living creature began writhing its way out of my colon, grunting gasps of excremental gas. I looked down. Two ordinary logs of shit floated in the bowl. A lumber drive, if you will.
The toilet paper was awe-inspiring, but I’d no time for a lingering contemplation of bathroom aesthetics. I put the paper to its good application, flushed, and rose, feeling kilometres tall. Almost helplessly, I now turned to confront myself in the mirror.
Instead I greeted an elfin entity garbed in a swirling toga, its hair shimmering like streams of golden elixir. As I watched, dumbfounded, its head expanded, contracted, morphed into myriad colourful faces both demonic and angelic, bestial and robotic. I knew not whether to laugh or scream upon seeing this buffoonish changeling in the mercury, brazenly taking the place of my familiar self. Resentful, I exited the bathroom.
Timothy was standing by my bed when I entered my room. He gave no sign of my arrival, his mind occupied by the violent onslaught of the psilocybin. As it had been since the onslaught of the trip, there was a pervasive sense of being in two worlds; Plato’s transcendent forms and the shadows on the cave wall had collided. All mundanity was radically cleansed in the light of the experience: my room was no longer a concept, a thought-form. Instead it was as it was as it was, infinitely and terrifyingly. The brushstroked canvases on my wall were microcosms of beauty.
The sense of God’s immanence was overpowering, a mental orgasm of sorts. In spite of my earlier theological pessimism, I now felt beatific, imbued with gratitude. Who was I to interrogate God? It would be as absurd as interrogating oneself, which was precisely the same thing. I knew with glee that philosophy was a fruitless pursuit, “spiritual indigestion” in Gibran’s words. Existence questioning itself? The irony, the absurdity, the sheer obviousness! Ha! God was sustaining, even being, every thought in our heads, and arising equally in all things.
I felt on the verge of laughter when there was a knock on the door, and without waiting for a reply my mother and father leaned into the room, peering at us with quizzical expressions. Stoned on half an ounce of Stropharia cubensis, Timothy and I could do nothing but stare. This silent confrontation seemed to last forever, and upon forever’s denouement, the parental heads withdrew and the door slammed shut.
“Shit, man,” said Timothy.
I nodded in agreement. God, in his infinite nature, is all that exists, but that didn’t mean that this paltry slice of the divine would be exempt from an impending parental ass-whuppin. Was God a masochist? He was punishing himself, just like the day he spent crucified to a tree two millennia ago. A reluctant messiah-complex passed through me, but given the weightiness of the situation, its passing was swift. With anxiety ravaging my body, I surrendered to the inevitable and entered the hallway. Quite predictably, my father was waiting for me by his bedroom door.
With a guilt-inducing look he asked the question: “What’s going on?”
“We ate some magic mushrooms. I’m really regretting it now.” And I was.
The world collapsed around me. There a few things more painful than disappointing your loved ones–in this case, violating the trust they place in their progeny’s good conduct and sense. My father’s simple utterance of my name seemed to break my heart. Even as the trip continued to intensify, this moment somewhat grounded the experience. This is not to say that it diminished the drug’s subjective intensity, but the trip was sure as hell no longer about spirituality or hedonism–if it ever had been to begin with. I was fettered by the stark reality of my failure as a son. There is no hyperbole or melodrama in this statement; it is a fact that most instances of betrayal are unethical. It manifests in worse forms than my own, of course: suicide, double-crossing, fraud, but this didn’t lessen my guilt.
I was a dishonest delinquent. A contemptible hedonist. No more. Enlightenment for kicks.
As my father disappeared to relay the news to my mother, I heard the mushrooms laughing at me. They’d known all along. In my internal vision they were writhing yellow agarics sneering at me with googly eyes. The little fuckers. How dare they take advantage of me? Yet my anger was ironical. In my arrogance and misled idealism I’d willfully ingested them, willfully chewed, willfully swallowed. Once metabolized, the mushrooms had only performed their inherent purpose–that of utterly stoning the primate brain.
Upon the closure of a century, my father and mother returned, but by now I was incapacitated completely. My mind had disintegrated into a sort of chaotic nothingness–but this state cannot truly be articulated in any qualitative sense. All remaining fragments of the Will identity, holding out against the psilocybin, died. What transpired subsequent to this, extracted from a few remnants of memory, can only be conveyed by the following:
“I’m sorry, man.”
Dropping Timothy off, his mega-mandolin in tow.
“Obviously I wasn’t thinking.”
A melting maternal face, explosive with tears.
“I don’t want you to fuck yourself up!”
Quaking suburban avenues, jabbering domiciles, non-Euclidean cloud fractals.
“I think Timothy was more stoned than you.”
Diesel, the fat feline, slumbering on bricks with lantern green eyes.
Sitting on a crumpet chesterfield, Tibetan mandalas bursting from my hands.
Humanity has no idea!
A dead hockey player’s franchise granting us steaming brews. Driving through, diving deep.
The gargantuan self-assembling factory of the All.
“I’m sorry, guys.”
Was I dead? For that matter, was I alive?
Somehow Lord Krishna hitched a ride on our steel steed, galloping along an asphalt river.
The Om Ur-language, fully legible, fully incarnate, fully immanent, endlessly emerging from the transcendent. The nihilists are deluded. All is necessity, all is purpose. No more, yet surely no less.
The universe is polyrhythmic, the test is to keep the tempo; this thickens the plot.
Past tense? Future tense? An assured dismissal–all is present.
Eternal sunrise, a majestic magnificent morning glory.
And then, I am not certain precisely when, the peak of the trip subsided. I descended to discover myself slumped in a moving car, puttering through a town bustling with clothed monkeys, wee tykes and corpulent behemoths alike. I gazed through the windows, shuddering in wonder at beauty unclothed.
To ensure I had conscious control of my nervous system–I still felt somewhat dissociated–I took a deep yawning breath, and this brought me deeper into my body and its rhythms. Luminous liquid energy twined its way up my spine and a kind of beatific relief possessed my heart. I glimpsed in the rearview mirror and recognized that I was no longer (just) myself, at least the self I had believed myself exclusively to be prior to that day. All egoic residue, the accumulations of sixteen conditioning years, were cleansed in the cathartic power of the mushrooms. Or so I believed. At the time, however, disbelief seemed not a viable position in light of the apparent validity of my experience.
We pulled into the driveway. I stepped out, calves shaking slightly. I still gripped an empty Tim Hortons cup. I clumsily strode up the asphalt towards my home’s glass-enameled door, accompanied by the two strangers known intimately as mum and dad. We entered a dim household. From the corner of my eye I discerned movements upon the wall, but when I turned to verify the qualia I greeted only stillness. Nonetheless, I acknowledged that I was not yet fully sober. I’d made it through the “worst of it,” however. Despite the traumatizing parental intervention, and all of the hellish emotional regions visited, I was by then feeling the best that I’d ever felt in my life. Due to all that I’d learned, I no longer desired to take tempting refuge in self-pity or excuse-making. I was probably grounded for life and yet a lifetime now seemed like the blink of a cosmic eye. Besides, hadn’t “I” been doing this forever?
Recollecting these events, I find myself in agreement with Jean Paul Sartre’s notion of “bad faith,” the freedom-denying suppression and repression found in most forms of absolutist conviction. It is a pathological denial that we humans often wallow in. Even when we have always known the truth, which is arguably self-evident, out of puerile refusal we do our best to ignore it (there are of course other categories of truth that are relative, or partial, or await discovery, given the limitations of our knowledge). We replace first-hand experience with second-hand myths, fearing a confrontation with the immediacy of facts. We surrender our autonomy to external agents, resenting the responsibility that freedom demands. We even seek ways to be unhappy, fearing the vulnerabilities that await us if we dare be joyful. We adhere to worldviews of either absolutism or relativism, frightened of the truth of what merely is–wonder, doubt, choice. Can these three miraculous conditions be confined to a stale paradigm?
Terence McKenna notes: “I think people are in love with the journey. People love seeking answers. If you were to suggest to people that the time of seeking is over and the chore is now to face the answer, that’s more of a challenge.”
Yet we hold out in bad faith, all the while knowing that its hell is self-chosen. We chastise ourselves for this choice, nonetheless holding out with the conviction that “One day we will be happy, but for now . . .”
That day in August, I temporarily broke free of such a hell. As I sat in my room, slowly returning to the consensual agreement we call “reality,” there was no encumbrance of the past nor dreams of the future. Nothing to disrupt my communion with God. Pulses of kundalini flowed upwards into my cortex and crown.
As I beheld the summer afternoon through my window, all I could say was:
“I am, I am.”
I was overcome with the most lovely, childlike joy imaginable. Nothing was required for me to bask in this happiness. It was completely effortless, and whilst experiencing it, essential to my existence. I could only equate my joy with my being. With trembling hands I flipped through a collection of photographs, eyes hankering to contemplate every iota of their beauty. All faces, all scenes, smiled up at me with divine love. My heart felt primed to overflow with thankfulness. Why had I not seen this before? How could I not have recognized this all-pervading grace? Life was, and is, a blessing, and God no longer seemed like a contingent possibility or a hypothesis; rather, he was a ludicrously obvious given.
I am, and we are.
Thank you for reading.