I persuaded the woman who had guided me on my first trip to go to California with me. How appropriate that the woman who first opened the new world to me should help me explore the world. We joined a guy who had a car and was planning to take the drive for himself. We took a northern route through Canada. I had a supply of acid which I took frequently. Liz didn’t get along with our driver and we once had the opportunity to hop aboard a freight train. This had always been a fantasy of mine. Now it could come true. But the cost-benefit analysis was all wrong. We had a secure ride all the way to our goal. The freight train was an unknown. It wasn’t going to California but to the West Coast of Canada. We might have been raped. Bottom line, I chose not to hop the train. Liz was furious with me.
When we got to San Francisco, we started on a motel. Our relationship went steadily downhill. I wanted to find the hippies, anyway. We found the Good Earth commune, the one that the chemist in New York was associated with. I joined and she didn’t. The thing to do was crash until you could find your own place. They were opening a new house and I got in. There was lots to do. The former tenants had been the STP Family. If anything could have put me off STP, it was the way they lived in that flat. Evidence showed that these people lived the most depraved lifestyle imaginable. The place was a filth hovel. Dried egg yoke on the dishes, shit on the walls in the shape of the letters “STP.” This was one drug I never tried and never wanted to. What I liked about the Good Earth was they were really neat and clean. While it was fashionable for beatniks to be slobs, hippies were building a whole counter-culture and they wanted to be efficient and together. In my house, one person got to be “housemother” once a week. That person cleaned the house, collected money from the others for food, bought the food and cooked it. You had the responsibility once a week and the rest of the week, others did it. Our rent was $25 a month. Money was easy to raise. Panhandling was a useful option. I found that spinning a sob story wasn’t productive. What worked for me and others was a perky smile and “Spare any change?” I also spent one night dancing topless and bottomless in the Tenderloin which netted me my whole month’s rent. Drugs were plentiful. I never had to buy any pot. It was just there. You wake up in the morning and someone would pass you a joint. Speed was banned as a “hard drug” but cocaine was completely accepted even though it’s really another form of speed. My thing was ACID and other psychedelics. I found someone who would sell me mediocre ACID for $45 per hundred hits. I simply sold each hit for $1.00 each. So my $45 investment upgraded to $100. I never used that stuff. I had connoisseur grade Acid for my own use. I tripped twice a week, the maximum number of times I could get off on it.
My regular trips stripped me of illusions and attachments. I “knew” nothing mattered. But it still did matter to me that it didn’t matter. One day, someone ran excitedly into our pad and shared the fact that a 13-year-old enlightened master was willing to give the knowledge of god to anyone who asked with a guileless heart. The was the answer. I wanted that knowledge. We got a group together and drove out to the ashram. There a Mahatma Fakiranand lectured us in his rather harsh, abrasive manner. He told us that without the knowledge, we were just machines for manufacturing shit. I had qualms. I wanted to receive the knowledge first and then bow down to Maharaj Ji. But that wasn’t the way they did things. You had to perform an act of faith first. I struggled with it but finally gave in. I was disappointed by the knowledge. It felt like being squeezed into a tiny space. I was. Squeezed into a narrow passage to a new realm which was really my Self.
Despite the disappointment, my life changed significantly after I received the knowledge. For one thing, my best friend and I had been leading a rather celibate life until then. All of a sudden, we were awakened to sex. It just happened. My ACID trips changed too. They took me light years further than they had before. I tripped with Mike, the guy I had a relationship with and immediately felt anxiety in his presence. I had to get away. He followed. I realized I was running away from myself so I turned to face him. He was ugly, hideous. And it hit me that the ugliness I saw was my own self-hatred. Then, instead of ugliness, I saw suffering. It was suffering I was causing myself. Then I saw him as a baby and I realized I could love that baby. Next I knew, we were climbing a hill to a tipi where we had been staying. The exertions of the climb were excruciating. I asked, “It this the way it is all the time. All this work?” He answered that it was work but had to get away from me some time. I was relieved.
We reached the Teepee and our clothes kind of magically fell off and we were in coitus. Where we had been making great exertion a few moments before, now energy was flowing through us effortlessly. Together, we were generating the energy of the world. Our individual forms disappeared like the images on a top that is spun at high speed. There was nothing but a whir of light. I realized that I was god and Mike was god. And we are the entire universe. “So this is the secret gurus have guarded from us,” I thought. “It’s not that they don’t want to share. It’s us who can’t accept it. It is too awesome. Total responsibility. We are responsible for everything. We are alone. There is nothing else.” The top gradually slowed down and our forms emerged from the light. But they were ennobled forms. We looked like gods on Mt. Olympus.
As Be Here Now said, after experiencing enlightenment, there is just carrying water and sweeping the floor. Life goes on. But I never forgot my experience and it is part of my consciousness. I’d like to say that I wasn’t subject to lesser things but I developed a big crush on another guy and told Mike I didn’t love him. Mike got drunk on money he borrowed from another guy. Somehow I got stuck paying for it in order to get rid of him. An ugly denouement of such an exalted experience. But many people develop obnoxious spiritual egos based on their LSD experiences. They think they are still as high as they were on their last ACID trip.
We separated into three groups. The people who were the leaders became exposed to some Scientologists and all joined up. The largest group were fond of hitching their way into the town and getting groceries the supermarkets were throwing out. They brought this back and it made up for a large part of our diet. My group was the only one serious about living off the land. We took care of a herd of goats, walking, feeding and milking them. We were known as “the goat people.” The owner of the land sold it one day and we all had to leave. The timing worked out well for me. I wanted to join a group of 3,000 Westerners with my cult, Divine Light Mission, who were getting chartered flights to India for only $300 for the whole trip, including a month there and the flight back.
Everyone got a going-away present of a lid of pot. I packed up my things, including the pot, and returned to my parents’ place in New York. By this time, my mother had died and my father had remarried. His wife owned a condo garden apartment from her deceased husband and they lived in Queens. I spent my time there, going to the ashram in Manhattan and preparing for the trip. Practicing the Knowledge (really some meditation techniques) got me high and I went feeling very idealistic about the whole thing. We were put into a tent village, six in a tent. They told us we would each have as much room as we would have in our coffins. We are awakened every morning by a microphone calling us to sit up and meditate for an hour. Then we met in the big tent for “satsang” (company of truth — actually people taking turns saying inspirational things). Then we lined up for breakfast. The meals were spicy, Indian dishes. For those who couldn’t deal, the medical clinic set up an alternate meal of tofu, rice and soy. Never-the-less, everyone got diarrhea. The lucky ones got viral diarrhea. The unlucky ones got amebic dysentery. I was one of the lucky ones. Diarrhea was disgusting in India because we used Indian-style toilets. We squatted on the concrete side of the toilet and wiped ourselves with our hands with a little bowl of water to rinse our hands with. We were not allowed to throw anything solid into the toilet such as a Tampax. Volunteers patrolled the bathroom to make sure everyone obeyed the rules. We were told that if someone threw a Tampax into the toilet, we were to make them put it out. I did some patrolling until my own diarrhea made me just too squeamish.
We had a whole little village on our own. We had a Divine Post Office, a Divine Bank, etc. These things were run by volunteers. We called that “service.” The practice consisted of service, meditation and satsang. It could be beautiful, depressing or boring and it managed to be all three for me at different times. I was given some codeine for my diarrhea and I realized how much I loved the escape of opiates. I also became cognizant of how much material things meant to me. It’s easy to say you don’t care about physical comforts as long as you have them. If nothing else, facing my own materialism was a valuable lessen learned. If you were really involved in the activities, you could feel high. If you didn’t, it could be excruciating.
By the time we were ready to go home, I had had it. Some people got really sick. There was a woman in my tent who had pneumonia. She couldn’t lie down because of her breathing. She sat in a chair all night. The bus to the airport was terrible. All the dust of the road came into the bus. It must have been a nightmare for the woman with pneumonia. It wasn’t a joy ride for me either, come to that. On the flight back to new your, people around me chanted, “bole shri satguru dev maharaj ki jai.” I ground my teeth and muttered, “Four legs good. Two legs bad.” I was really glad to get back to New York.
My disgust with the cult was short-lived. Soon I remembered how high I felt before I went to India and while I was practicing the “knowledge.” I began going to the ashram regularly. Next, I joined a Premie House. “Premie” literally means “lover” and practically means a devotee of Maharaj Ji. A Premie House is like an ashram only not as strict. The people I joined with were beautifully idealistic. After a month, each of us had joined one of the ashrams. My choice of ashram was in Denver and was supposed to start the ideal school for our kids. I was very excited about devoting my life this way. It was great at first, like so many other things. I won’t bore you by telling what went wrong. I found myself kind of stranded there. I had donated all my money. I had to ask my parents to send funds so I could get back to New York. But just contacting them seemed a problem. I didn’t want them to know I was leaving while I was waiting for the money. But we had a picnic every Sunday for all devotees. I contacted a nice girl in a Premie House who was open-minded enough to let me stay there until I got the funds. I grabbed my things while most of my housemates were out. One woman remained and helped me to carry stuff to the Premie House which was nearby.