Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A 1950's Housewife Drops Acid -- For Real !

 (Researcher finds archived footage of clinical LSD research interview)

I haven't dropped acid since 1994. On a steamy day in mid-August that year, I ending up tripping my brains out for hours as M.C. of the smaller of the two stages set up at Yasgur's Farm for the 25th Anniversary of Woodstock.  These days, content with the benefits of a longtime meditation practice, I rarely even partake of magic herb.  Yet I still have a deep gratitude for the seers, saints and sinners of  the Psychedelic Spiritual Revolution of my youth.

Although names like Ram Dass, Timothy Leary, and my favorite Hippie Spiritual Teacher, the late Stephen Gaskin, are relatively well known, there were millions of us who participated in that Revolution.  (You know Who you are, right?)

Exploring the realms of human consciousness through myriad medicines, mushrooms and herbs,  a bunch of us turned on, tuned in, and dropped out -- at least for while.  I believe it may have been one of the most widespread outpourings of Mystical Consciousness ever experienced by humankind.
By the time I graduated from college with the infamous class of 1969, it was well underway.  

I'd forgotten that LSD began being produced commercially by Sandoz as a therapeutic agent that "appeared to show great promise" in 1947.  Before LSD came out from behind closed doors to dance in the streets with flowers in its hair, our collective unconscious was already being dosed.  During the 1950's, there was growing interest in mind altering substances in the psychiatric community and among prominent British intellectuals like Aldous Huxley (author of Brave New World and The Doors of Perception) and Gerald Heard. Even the CIA was running clinical trials hoping to use it as a mind control agent in chemical warfare.  (As it turned out, that didn't work out for them so well.  Psychedelics helped fuel the peace movement, including the whimsical attempt to Levitate the Pentagon in 1967.) 

Although I don't spend much time scrolling through my Facebook news feed these days, Sweet Serendipity allowed me to surf to a video clip of a housewife who "dropped acid" as part of clinical trials of LSD at the VA hospital in Los Angeles in 1956.   Being interviewed by a researcher as she was tripping, her responses were Wonderful.  The internet being what it is, I had to do some research to make sure that it wasn't a very well produced spoof. 

It wasn't.

This clip came from archived footage that award winning religion journalist and UC-Berkeley Professor, Don Lattin, came across doing research for his book Distilled Spirits: a group biography on Aldous Huxley, Gerald Heard and Bill Wilson (the founder of A.A. who had joined Heard in those clinical trials in LA). I found an article in the UK's Daily Mail (Mailonline) that not only covered the story, but included an expanded clip which included footage of English Philosopher, Drug Pioneer, and Vedantist Gerald Heard's take on LSD Mysticism, as well as a promo for Lattin's book The Harvard Psychedelic Club. 

I don't know the name of that beautiful woman who struggled to explain the Sacred Majesty of Existence to Dr. Cohen that day, but I ended up smiling through tears of gratitude. Watching the emotions play across her face as she perceived the Grandeur of Mystical Reality, hearing her words as she tried to describe the Ineffable, reminded me that if I take a deep breath and turn to a certain channel in my consciousness, the air in my bedroom glistens with color this very moment.  Pausing to widen my gaze, the sun outside the window sings of Heaven on Earth.  Throughout and beyond our conventional notions of space and time, the collective high of unfettered mysticism rings through the Silence.  In Reality, Existence itself is a Trip!

Or maybe this is just a delightful flashback.  I better go Sit now.

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My Humble Take on the Real Deal

I believe that the movement for peace, economic democracy and social justice is a Spiritual Quest. No mean feat, what is called for is a True Revolution of the Heart and Mind--and it starts with each of us.

This revolution has to be Peaceful. The Hippies (and Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King, et al) had it right. It really is all about Peace and Love. Besides being a total drag, violence just doesn't work. It keeps our wheels spinning in fear, anger and pain. Who needs that?

Besides some hard work, I think the Revolution also calls for dancing, plenty of laughter, and some sitting around just doing nothing. (Some folks call it meditation.)

As Stephen Gaskin, proclaimed years ago:

"We're out to raise Hell--in the Bodhisattvic* sense."

Doesn't that sound like some serious fun?

(*The Bodhisattva Vow is a set of commitments made in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. It basically says I vow to get my act together and figure it out well enough to really help out--and I ain't gonna stop until everybody is covered.

I've found that doesn't necessarily have to happen in that order. It's best to try to help out even before you have it all together! Like right now.)

-----Brother Lefty Smith, Founding S.O.B*