The Ecstatic Adventure
Reports of Chemical Explorations of the Inner World
Chapter 22 Dropping Out Tuning In
A DISCUSSION WITH THREE STUDENTS
OVER HALF THE population of the United States is now under the age of twenty-five. Here lies the major social-political force of the next half-century. Forty million between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. According to the government's own estimates, the most intelligent students are dropping out of high school. And according to various estimates, between 10 and 20 per cent of college students have taken LSD.
These are some of the basic lineaments of the jigsaw puzzle we call American youth. "People are happeningand the older generation is getting scared." Very radical departures are being made by today's youth, departures of a nature very difficult (though not impossible) for their elders to understand. The pattern may be like this:
firsta search, a question; "I had a feeling there was so much I was missing."
nextturning on to LSD; "It's made more difference to me than any other aspect of my life outside of being born."
thendropping out of school; "Why should I go back to school and interrupt my education?"
re-evaluation of personal relationships; "It has made me see their parent game and I didn't have to be involved in it."
disengagement from political activity; "Left, right, are just two sides of the same coin."
absorption in "religion" as spiritual evolution; "I found that religion is something that grows from within."
concern with "art" as turned-on communication; "You come back, you have to come back to share it."
The gap between generations is wider than ever, but also closer. There is a reaching out"We have to teach the older people to be nice"and a very determined desire to end conflict. Individuals grow inwardly and they come closer together, nursing hope and allowing trust to bloom. "It's the biggest game, it's evolution; it doesn't wait for people." Over one-half of the population of the United States is under the age of twenty-five. There is much to ponder here.
No attempt has been made to put this discussion, which was a very open flowing of feelings and ideas, into more conventional literary form, for which we beg the reader's indulgence.
R.M.: We're sitting in The Third World Studio on a fine sunny day, Sunday. What is your name?
LARRY: My name is Larry Z. I am twenty. I go to Hunter College. I will be graduating this June.
R.M.: And you are
KEN: Ken Green. I'm twenty-two. I go to schoolsometimes. Other than that, I'm involved with putting together some light shows and various things. Various things such as working very seriously in yoga.
R.M.: Let's go back to that yoga thing, but right now we'll get to you.
JOAN: Joan Wiener, twenty-two, I'm married and I also work for an artist.
R.M.: Larry, when did you first learn about LSD?
LARRY: Two years this April.
R.M.: Had you smoked pot before that?
LARRY: Yes, I smoked pot for a couple of years. I had heard about LSD for about a year before I tried it. I was very hesitant, because naturally most of the things I heard were sort of precarious as to whether they were positive or not, but the January before the April when I turned on to LSD I heard Dick Alpert on the Barry Gray show, and just bearing what he had to say about it convinced me that I was going to try it. I tried it that April.
R.M.: You took it with a friend or by yourself or?
LARRY: I took it with a few friends in a social situation. First, I guess it was the quality of what I gotit wasn't that good. The second time I really was plunged into a completely different world from anything I had ever experienced, even on heavy amounts of pot. It just seemed right that it should happen. The night I heard Dick Alpert talk about it, something clicked. Somehow it was like almost meant for me to fall into this experience.
R.M.: Let me ask you. What were you hoping to get from it?
LARRY: Some kind of higher form of awareness, although I don't know if I verbalized it to myself as such at the time. Wider ways of seeing things. I had a feeling there was so much I was missing. Pot, when it came along, was interesting. Mild, not really expanding. just changing. As soon as I took LSD, it was a completely different sphere, and I started taking it regularly.
R.M.: About how often?
LARRY: I've taken it eighty-eight times now.
R.M.: Can you say what kind of difference it has made for you?
LARRY: As far as I'm concerned, it's made more difference in me than any other aspect of my life outside of being born. It's like a different set of eyes. it was like peeling veils off my eyes in terms of seeing myself and seeing other people. And ways of experiencing things. At the same time I started taking acid, I started reading Oriental philosophies and I was introduced to this book, Siddhartha, which just all seemed to fit together. These isolated phenomena in my life just all tied in to be part of my personal evolution.
R.M.: Did it make any difference in terms of what you did outwardly? Your behavior or how you spend your time?
LARRY: In terms of tolerance of other people, in terms of being able to tolerate myself primarily, and in terms of being able to tolerate the things I didn't like about other people, and seeing things (just for the time I was on the trip at first), just to see things without my own personal veils and projections, anger and hostility, and very bemuddled subjectivities. If it didn't even change my personality at first, at least when I was on a trip I saw a glimpse of something I'd never seen before, a purer type of objectivity; and after I kept on tripping for several months it began to have a really transforming effect on my personality. I began to be aware of a unity of things, a sort of movement that goes through everything and is beyond everything. I don't know if I ever conceived of it or felt it in one form or another. There was more to life than what I was experiencing.
R.M.: Did it make any difference in what you were doing at school?
LARRY: School had always beenbeing brought up in a middle-class backgroundschool was just a natural step for me to take after high school. But I never really felt that this was my true place or that this was going to be any type of ultimately enriching experience for me, and I never found a true, heartfelt vocation in the academic world. And when I started taking LSD, I just saw that the academic thing was more or less a socio-cultural game more than a true learning experience, in that the things that I really felt I was learning were when I was just purely being or purely experiencing something and not trying to read it from a stilted textbook or bearing it from some superintellectual professor. I've just been getting less and less involved with school, and I'm just finishing it up until this June because my life has taken completely other directions.
R.M.: How did you get interested in LSD, Ken?
KEN: About three years ago I casually looked through your book on psychedelic experience. It didn't mean too much to me. It didn't hit. I spoke to one person and he told me about the visions that he bad, and he just steered me into it. I finally tripped off about a year and a half ago, in the fall. It was unbelievable. It just opened up things. I merged with everything around me. It was like a realization that there is something beyond the area of your perception and the way that you see the world, but you always think that you could never possibly get to it. And all of a sudden you could break out of the world of biased, prejudiced perceptions and views. It's unbelievable. The first trip had the greatest impact. I've tripped about fifty or sixty times, and some of them have been unbelievable. Much more than at first, in a sense, but yet the first one was really the awakeningit took me off in a direction and began my path, and at least made me aware that there was a path. As I progressed with trips, I went back to read the book again, and it meant so much; I got into Eastern philosophy and mysticism of the West, and the correlation between my experiences and these readings became clearer. Between my first and second trip, it was about three months, maybe four, and afterwards there was less time between trips and I found that the more experienced I got, the more I began to understand that everything is in here, and that everything out there, everything which is the objective world, is only a projection of my own inner center. I went through a period in the first six monthsit was an unbelievable opening upbut in the same breath, it was fighting the old values still part of me, and I still have some of that; that is what I want to get out ofmy twenty-two years of conditioning. It wasn't until after I took LSD that I really began to use pot to open up; before then it was a game, a social stunt. It was afterwards that I was able to use it on a more serious noteyou know, meditative, and working with it instead of fighting it. My second trip was a bad trip, because I was with someone, and I wasn't prepared for their overpowering personality. But I don't think there is any such thing as a bad tripI walked through what I createdit was my own inner hell and I don't have to fear it because when you walk through it you have nothing to fear. It's been a very wild year and a half, because I have been turned on to things that were nothing before, things of universal understanding. And now I have this direction, working; at first I always had this insecuritylike who is an artistand maybe its not really in mebut it is in everyone and its a question of contact, that's what I found out. So, I've been working with that, less and less with school, and then about three months ago I fell into yoga.
R.M.: You do this every day?
KEN: Yes, sometimes a lot, and I work with the Institute on West End Avenue: Swami Satchidananda. There are lots of nice people there and lots of conflicts have been happening about LSD, with people who don't fully understand. We've had some strong arguments at times, but I try not to get bung up there, because things are working out too well. I'm working with the yoga, combining it with LSD, to sustain it. The thing about LSDit's a beginning, I'm finding, but it's not enough alone. Because you can take a trip and it can change you, but you can also fall into a lot of bad things if you trip that much and if you don't continually work on yourself. So I've been combining them. just body postures make it a better trip. I've lost about thirty pounds in the past few months.
R.M.: Joan, when were you first interested in LSD?
JOAN: About three years ago, when I was nineteen. I smoked pot for about two or three years before that. The first thing it did was... it showed me what it was to be a girl and then a woman. I had only sort of felt maneuvered before; before that I really didn't know what I was or what role I was supposed to play. So Iit showed me how to play that role. With love, and I didn't know what love was before that, on a personal level or a total level anyway, being one with everything. The greatest good I think it did was I used to be very strongly into possessions and things and people and it showed me that that just was keeping me back from being part of everything and having everything and giving everything. AndI don't knowthat's about it.
R.M.: How often do you take it?
JOAN: Well, I used to turn onwhen I first started taking it, I turned on twice a month. That was about the end of the summer. Then I went to yoga and I didn't take it for three months. I took it again recently, and it was just so much better, even physically. I was able to control the tremors that I used to get at one part that would divert me from the whole trip that would take me intobeing heldby somebody, or fear. The acid changed my life. it brought me to yoga, and now they're both still changing me.
R.M.: Have you ever had freak-out trips, that were scary?
JOAN: Yes, once, because I took it with the wrong people. And one of the people I took it with got very paranoid, and I went right into his trip. And once I did because I saw that I was living in a plastic environment that was built on dirtI mean, you know filth and dirty air and poisoned foodand it freaked me out but it was good. When I came down I knew that much more about environment.
R.M.: Have any of you felt that you were getting addicted to LSD? Like you felt a craving for itor alsothat you felt like a craving for any other kind of drugs? People often wonder about that.
LARRY: I'd say I have a craving for LSD, in the same way as I have a craving to really know what is... to know what is, about myself and everything around me. In terms of the conditioning I always had as to what the craving was and wasn't supposed to bethe lurid tales I heard when I was a prepubescent, it was just a different realm.
R.M.: Did the stories about trips that are put in papersdid they affect you at all?
LARRY: I'd say that the things that are put in papers are some of the most deleterious garbage that you could ever feed the poor impressionable young minds of adolescents. Because the things that go through mass media and the Daily News, for example, if I may drop a very miserable name, are just geared and slanted toward creating the reality they want to create because of the fear that's inherent to the way they live and the way they set up their own reality. They would like to create a certain image of LSD that, instead of opening the field to research, which would show both the possibilities and the negatives of the drug, would just close things up.
R.M.: Isn't there some way to detach oneself from those stories?
LARRY: I grew up in this reality, too, the world of the Daily News and the world around methe values around meand it was all I knew, but once it was peeled away for me by the tremendously expanded awareness that I was brought to by LSD, I winced at all the unreality that was mistaken for reality around me. Until I could detach myself further, I got hung up very often thinking how bad everything around me wasI still do sometimes, like right now maybebut I attain a certain degree of detachment because I see that the only reality to be concerned about is the one I experience in myself, instead of being bung up on the way things are outside, which has changed my view of my place in the world. At one point maybe two years ago I felt that my role would be as a political activist in the peace movement, perhaps, dedicating my life to it and manipulating the external game of politics and trying to change things slowly working within the system. But since then I have found, while that is a valid activity for anybody who is so concerned, it is not the truest and most essential way, in my opinion, of changing reality. Reality has to be changed within. Reality has to be realized within and it radiates outward to the culture around you; the way you can change the culture is by changing yourself. The Daily News is just going to disintegrate one day along with everything it stands for, just by people no longer being hung up on the values it represents. And then we wouldn't have Lyndon Johnson as President because there would be no need for someone as hung up, hostile, as hateful, aggressive and deceitful as he.
R.M.: You would say that politically it has made you less active, or less interested in political activity?
LARRY: Yes, I know the Progressive Labor movement is getting upset about people being pulled away from political activism, yes, left-wingers who become acid heads. This is a perfect example of the way they react to acid. This is the way the Daily News reacted to acid, only at the other end of the political spectrum. They accused Leary of being in cahoots with Johnson in a plot to take away the left-wing activists from the cause and so forth, which is at least comparable to the worst paranoid Daily News editorials on Sunday. It just shows that left, right, are just two sides of the same coinand that neither of them is the ultimate reality to which one can dedicate oneself in a political sphere. You just can't concentrate on the blood flow of your left hand and let the right hand rotit's the same thinglike looking at one side of itpolitics is just a means on another level of manipulating outside reality.
R.M.: One of the things that the middle-aged person who is not turned on is scared about is that all the young people taking LSD will just sit around and contemplate and not be concerned about society and community, and so forth. Would anyone have any idea on thator experiences?
KEN: I think it is tremendous that finally people are understanding meditation and contemplationthings that meant nothing to them before. It's true that some of these experiences are contemplativeit's a step inwards, it's not negating a step outwardsand I think everyone should have long periods of solitude, inward searching. But you come back, you have to come back to share it. Like finally the goal at the end of the rainbow, and then you come back. So that's why there is such an increase in the arts because you have something inside you want to communicate, and what's art but a communication? So some people might say that since it's an ineffable experience it's something that can't be put into words. A lot of people get into music, into sound, into light or films, into various mediums where they can get across this whole realm of environmental theater trying to turn people on with sensory stimuli, and the greatest thing is that it's an evolving thing. In a discussion with my sister yesterdayshe was saying that everybody is sitting together and doing this thing and it's paradoxical because if it's a self-search, why is it done in groups? I can't explain what's been happening. All of a sudden I may wake up and look around and there's someone else who without knowing that I went through this awakening is alsolike mergingpeople coming togetherlike these be-ins, it's happeningit's not planned. People are happening, and the older generation is getting scared. People who have been closed off, people who are imprinted very strongly in their own ego-oriented little world are scared because we are a threat to their little world because we are evolving and sweeping them away. That is how it has to be, you know. It's the biggest game, it's evolution; it doesn't wait for people. We have to teach the older people to be nice. I'll do my best, but it's hard to teach them. We are living in a transitional period, and its a dangerous period, too, because the establishment does have power and force on a physical level. Only a couple of days ago I had the experience of being busted, and its a drag, you knowlike I spent the night in jail, because I want to find freedom because I am on a spiritual planeit's importantI get upset when I see dissension between us, between people who know about this evolution, because it has to be now and its important. No matter what, it's the most important thing for everyone to remember. We have to band together. It's going to be tough in the next few years.
R.M.: What do you think is going to happen?
KEN: What, this year or in the next century? Its evolving. I believe I have had visions of things to be, and again time is a man-made concept and we can tune into that. I see better things to come, and I also see I don't see exactly what, but I've been turned on to this whole war karma; it's not an intellectual thing either. Action and reactionall things that work together. So, I felt that there's a lot of really bad karma happening in this country; there's a lot of very bad vibrationsbut yet there's something good happening. People will be turning on. Maybe this is the way it will evolveall of a sudden this will developspiritual development will open up.
R.M.: Joan, do you think LSD has changed your relationship to your parents?
JOAN: Yes, it has made me see the parent game, and once I could see it I didn't have to be involved in it. Once I wasn't involved in it I could understand it and love them more, instead of hating them or thinking that they were totally insane; and I could see why, and that they hadn't been turned on and it was sort of too late for them to turn on, so I could be groovy to them and understand why they were the way they were.
R.M.: You were saying something, Joan, about the family.
JOAN: Yeah. In our society children are possessed by their parents; the parents have them just to perpetuate themselves as an extension of themselves. But when children are born, they already belong only to themselves and they already have pretty developed personalities, and they are records of everything that's been before so they don't belong to any one person. They belong to everything. In a community a child can understand this and can relate to more than two people without the bang-ups that two specific people have. They can get a much wider diversification, and I can think now of two possibilities: one is living in an Ashram with the Swami and another would be living in a community with friends of mine. But I'm definitely strongly considering living in some kind of community environment.
R.M.: What about religion?
LARRY: Religion as it is in this country, what was called religion to me, was just meaningless. It had no concrete basis of reality as far as I could see, and I always rejected it, and I had also subsequently rejected the whole concept of God.
R.M.: What religion were you brought up in?
LARRY: Well, I was born Jewish, but it wasn't much practiced in my house anyway. But around me, with my friends, I saw the formal ritual of Bar Mitzvah, you know; it just seemed funny that my friends were going to evening school, not wanting to go and wanting to cut and play with me. I went to their Bar Mitzvah, where everybody just gathered around and stuffed their faces, I mean the real thing. But yet, I thought religion was a bad thing because that's all I had seen of it. But when I had my first really intense life experiencesthe new things with the help of acidI began to feel more intensely and at the same time I was exposed to this philosophy which just grew and religion is just a label for those experiences because they are so pure, so spontaneous and so all-embracing that they could only be called religious. As far as getting to more basic and pervasive things, you know I was also led to an idea of what God is and that maybe He exists after all in spite of what religion is in this country, in spite of how it's become a dead, lifeless institutional game. And I found that religion is something that grows from within. And it's been happening.
R.M.: Would you describe to us the most profound experience you've had?
LARRY: Once I was sitting on a rock facing east at sunrise, and I was completely surrounded by pure creation and I saw these patterns. "Saw" isn't the right word, because it was more than just a visually sensitive thing. I perceived patterns that ran from me and ran through my feet, through the rocks, through the air, through the patterns of birds and the connection between one bird's wings and the other in terms of, not their bodies, but just molecular structures connecting everything, which went through everything, transcended everything, went beyond everything. And I couldn't call it anything, except God, because I had never seen anything like it before and it just completely overwhelmed me as the most, just the most all-pervasive thing I ever perceived. And on several meditative trips, I have just sat and completely transcended my own body and transcended the thought patterns in my own mind. Whereas a few years ago, I would have said, "What? What is there besides body and mind?" Who knows, because I have always been just in my body and my mind, so that was all that existed. That is the whole point with LSD! LSD can't produce a dead religion because there is nothing to believe until you have experienced it. And once you have experienced it you can't be dead, because it is living in you.
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