In 1970, I was a 24-year-old with serious psycho-emotional problems. The most glaring element was a totally alienated lack of connection with other human beings and fear of all social interaction. My family lived just 25 miles away, but I hadn’t gone to see them in a year and a half. For awhile I had been a true believer in Ayn Rand’s “Objectivism”, which preached atheistic individualism and the “virtue of selfishness”. I eventually gave it up as overly simplistic, but my worldview was still completely materialistic.
I moved into an apartment building in the bohemian section of town, and was befriended by a hippie couple who lived upstairs. For a week or so we smoked pot and talked, but even though I liked them, I was completely at odds with their worldview and what seemed to me their incomprehensible beliefs. Their names were Jim and Jane.
There came a night when Jim scored some acid, and I had my first trip. For awhile it was very freaky and unpleasant, as the walls and furniture undulated and time slowed down. From things I had read and heard about LSD, I knew that you were supposed to go through something called “ego-loss”. I kept thinking: “What am I supposed to lose? Have I lost it yet?” In reality I was clinging to my ego for dear life, desperately struggling to maintain control in the flux of the strange changes and intense confusion.
The main activity in my isolated existence had been reading, and now I opened a book in an attempt to find some familiar ground. It took forever just to read a couple of sentences, and the words didn’t do what they always used to.
It took me a long time to figure out that they were still doing anything at all, and when I grasped what it was, I was stupefied at how absurd and primitive it was. I could hardly believe that such a crude form of communication had been my biggest source of knowledge. The awful truth, as I now thought, was that books were completely useless. I could no longer believe anything that I ever thought I knew. It was all a mirage, and I was lost in it.
Jim came and sat down with a big thick book. I asked what he was going to do with such a worthless object. Ah, but this was a special book ~ you’ll see, he said. He rattled some coins and tossed them several times, drew a hexagram, then looked up the indicated reading in the book, which of course was the I CHING. He read the passages aloud; it just seemed like a lot of mumbo-jumbo. But then something happened — all of a sudden I caught a sliver of meaning in the words. Not only did it make sense, it made my heart leap.
I listened hard, and it happened again. I felt that Jim was trying to get something across to me, across an immense gulf, something of deep and dire importance.
It flashed clear for another instant, and I saw that to really open it up I’d have to decisively ungrasp everything I had, or thought I was, or believed was real. THIS is what the “ego” was, and the prospect of its loss was terrifying. The ego was ME, and losing it meant that I would have to die.
This was the primal equation I perceived; I freaked out and yelled “No!”, disrupting the reading for a moment. But then I saw that there was nowhere else to go, nothing else to be done. I had to do it, even if it cost me everything ~ even if I died.
A passage in the reading seemed to exactly describe this humbling acceptance I had just gone through. It was the first time in my life that I had experienced synchronicity, and it seemed like a divine event, a miracle. And suddenly everything became perfectly clear.
The room was flooded with light from overhead. Now I understood that Jim had been attempting to demonstrate an entirely new form of communication, one that penetrated and transcended the boundaries of ordinary speech and interaction as I had always experienced them, and opened a new dimension of psychic communion.
When the reading was finished I felt wonderful. I sat cross-legged in perfect contentment, waiting placidly for whatever might happen next. I didn’t have long to wait. Strange little tendrils of force began to ripple up along my body, gently guiding my attention upwards, to where they seemed to come together in a peak directly above the top of my head. The pulse of the vibrations intensified, enclosing me like a net. Then I was gone, and there was only the forcefield and the pinpoint of white light overhead where it all converged. There was a sense of ecstatic immensity and union. It was the most intense pleasure I had ever known.
The trance seemed to last for a long time, though externally only a few moments had passed. When I came out of it, I felt that Jim and Jane were my dear friends, that in reality we were one. We all related in a joyful kind of way, though with some of the silly slips and trip-ups that the acid state is prone to. After awhile I sat down and peaked out all over again into the white light. It was incredible.
I felt completely redeemed from the alienated horror that my life had been. I acted out a need I felt to confess all my guilty secrets to Jim and Jane. In doing this, it felt like everything I had ever been ashamed of was now purified, purged, and dissolved. Truly I was born again, without even the need for Jesus.
I looked out my window into the night, and it seemed that I could see into the vast body of all the world. I understood now that all those billions of human beings out there were somehow all one organism ~ one thing, one being, one person. I saw how human life had originated on Earth. In the beginning there was only the one great sapient creature, perhaps come to this planet from the stars and got marooned. And then the entity sharded itself up into splinters, which were all the individual people who had ever lived and were now alive.
Somehow we had all forgotten that we were the one original being, and lived out our lonely lives in the illusion of separateness. Now that I had awakened to our true condition, I could see that the aim of human life was for all of us to come together again, to merge back into the original being and become the One we truly are beneath the surface. I understood that the way to do this was love. Love was simply the name of the natural force which like gravity tended to pull everything back together. As human beings, the way we experienced this force was love. As fragmented creatures, our job was to love each other and become one again.
I passionately embraced this amazing new world I had transitioned into. It was so natural, so right, so completely real – as contrasted with the state of agonized exile that I had lived in all my life. At last there had come the deliverance I’d always longed for.
Time, when I thought of it, was still going by very slowly, but now it was a pleasure, not a drag. In fact, I now knew that I was immortal, knew it with the same self-evident certainty as my face in a mirror. I was the one original being, and I would be here forever, so time was meaningless. When I realized this, I took off my watch and threw it to the floor. “Won’t be needing THAT any more,” I said.
Jane snatched it up from the hard kitchen tiles. “Oh no!” she said, “I hope it’s not broken.” It wasn’t, and she and Jim both assured me that I WOULD need it again. I innocently asked why, indicating how everything had changed.
“But,” said Jim, “when the drug wears off, you’re going to come down.”
I said, “Drug?” I had forgotten what had caused the change.
“LSD,” Jim reminded me.
Then I remembered, and went through a great spasm of realization that it was evidently this drug, LSD, that had taken me out of the fake, hateful shadowland that everyone lived in, and delivered me to this sacred place of true beneficence, this exceedingly real world. So LSD was the key! I concluded that it must be a holy instrument implanted in the realm of humanity by the One Being to ensure that His shards would return to unity.
I wrote the above many years after the fact of the event. The style and wording is intended to convey the euphoria and naivete of the experience. The disclaimer is that the drugs in question are dangerous. Even marijuana is no longer mild in its more popular varieties, namely sinsemilla and its cousins which can induce pathological feelings of paranoia in the unwary user.
As for LSD, well, the concept of the acid test should not be taken lightly. Anyone with a significant pathology can have it exacerbated, even fatally, by taking acid. Sometimes you don’t even know you have a pathology until you take the acid; this is why this substance has the deserved reputation of triggering mental illness in people, sometimes permanently. It has also been used to cure mental illness, but this often hinges on having a qualified guide or therapist present.
In the trip described above, Jim acted as my guide. He was not a completely competent one, and many freaky incidents happened which I did not relate. So it is that sometimes the outcome of a trip can depend on a factor which can be taken as good fortune, synchronicity, or divine intervention.
A P.S. on synchronicity: the day before the trip, I copied into my diary a passage from a book I was reading by Henry James. It describes his reaction to the outbreak of the First World War: “My overwhelmed sense of such prodigious realities has simply left me nothing to say ~ the rupture with all the blest old proportion of things has been so complete and utter. . . .”