Way off the beaten path

I WAS SITTING on our scarlet sofa reading Travels by Michael Crichton who is also a physician. It’s a wide-ranging book that travels beyond physical voyages.

The first chapter is grim. It describes his medical school introduction to anatomy, i.e. dissecting cadavers, a nightmarish experience for first-year students.

mushroomI lowered the book and glanced at the love seat beyond the coffee table, specifically at a large, soft, green pillow. It appeared to be breathing. I looked away and looked back. The breathing had stopped.

Or perhaps it had never started.

However, it reminded me of an afternoon in 1997 when I was on a forested hillside in the Florida Panhandle after taking psilocybin. I saw the earth breathing beneath my feet in broad daylight. The leaves, twigs and soil rose and fell as on a supine breast.

Hours later, when the psilocybin had worn off, I revisited the experience in my mind. I do not think it was an hallucination. It was that I saw things one normally is incapable of seeing. I did see the earth breathe because it does.

Traditional religion does not come close to explaining the universe. It is simplistic, written for the common man. Oriental religions, especially Buddhism and Hinduism, come closer than Christianity in their understanding. I think this is due to their greater meditative traditions, which have sent devotees into caves for long years.

Psilocybin is far quicker.

The earth breathes. You normally just do not notice.

Perhaps pillows breathe too. I thought about all this before turning back to Crichton’s Travels and his grisly medical training. Cutting skulls with hacksaws.

21 thoughts on “Way off the beaten path

  1. Since my cataract surgery and the implant of multifocal artificial lenses, I see embossed, low-relief patterns on surfaces when I open my eyes in a darkened room. Looks like very pretty fancy stationery. Patterns don’t move, though. Need to ask the eye doc about that. Good book about cadavers is Stiff by Mary Roach.

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    1. Carole: I imagine, however, the cataract surgery does not have you seeing the earth move beneath your feet. Fancy stationery is better than nuttin´.

      Thanks for the book tip. I’ve heard of that book. I’ll give it a gander.

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    1. Señor Garner: Found your comment in the Trash file. Don’t know why it went there.

      To answer your question, absolutely. In a book titled “The Secret Chief” by Myron Stolaroff, which is available on Amazon at stunningly absurd (high) prices (I paid $10.95 back in the late ’90s for the paperback that sits now in my bookshelf), the author offers this analogy:

      You’re sitting on a chair on a round stage that is completely surrounded by a curtain. You cannot see beyond the small stage. The curtain slowly begins to open all the way around, and you can see beyond the stage. You see what is out there. After a while, the curtain slowly begins to close again. You cannot see beyond the stage anymore, but you remember what you saw, and it stays with you.

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      1. Like William Blake I am determined to peek through the doors of perception. I am not so very clear as to what exactly I have seen so far but it is an interesting and continuing journey.

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      2. Plato offered a similar analogy. But he also said a lot of bizarre things.

        It is true that we can learn from other religions to enhance our own faith experience. A greatly-misinformed leftist journalist thought he had trapped Rick Warren in a trap when he asked: “Do you think Christians can learn anything from Buddhism?” Without missing a beat, Warren responded: “Of course. All religions can learn lessons from each other.” And those who cannot, like the poor journalist, are stuck in their own prejudice.

        A breathing Earth? Why not? It certainly supports our lives.

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        1. Señor Cotton: One of the definitions of faith is “belief not based on proof.” If you take psilocybin or LSD, and the universe is on your side that day, you go past faith and see what “God” actually is. It’s very interesting, to put it mildly. Knowing is better than believing. All organized religions stop way short.

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    2. Señor Garner, P.S.: None of these materials, with the exception of ecstasy, should ever be tried without the presence of a responsible companion with his feet firmly planted on the ground, i.e. someone who’s not doing the same thing. One needs an overseer. Not doing so can be a very, very big mistake.

      But those experiences were the best of my life. Smartest thing I ever did.

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        1. Señor Garner: Entheogens can be extremely therapeutic. Certainly were for me. Changed my entire life.

          Ecstasy, a name put on it by sales crews and which would be more accurately named Empathy, was being used quite often and successfully by therapists as a healing tool till a sanctimonious Uncle Sam made it illegal. From what I have read, there is a lot of pressure now to make it legal again if only for that purpose. I hope they succeed.

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  2. Living in Mexico and with what it appears to be a favorable view of hallucinogens, have you ever experienced your “separate reality” via peyote?

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    1. Jonas: No, sadly, I missed that one. What I have tried is psilocybin (i.e. magic mushrooms), LSD (similar experience but less soft), San Pedro cactus (had no effect at all. Think I prepared it wrong), an ayahuasca analog (very powerful. The fellow who mixed it for me overdid the receipe), 5-MeO-DMT (very short-lasting but extremely powerful) and ecstasy, which is in a lesser category than all the previous ones. You do not lose contact with the normal world with ecstasy.

      Peyote starts out by making you throw up. Maybe that’s why I never really searched it out.

      Interestingly, both San Pedro and 5-MeO-DMT are legal. You can order them online, which is what I did back in Texas in the late 1990s.

      Before anyone calls the cops, that activity ended for me over 20 years ago.

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      1. I didn’t experience any vomiting with peyote. Others did. It was a mellow high that allowed me to socialize with no one really noticing I was tripping.

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        1. Jonas: So it’s not a given, the heaving. If it was mellow for you, you took a relatively small dose. I’ve never done that with anything. I went whole hog. But sure, one can do it fairly lightly.

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          1. No, it was a full dose. I did it a number of times. I had friends that harvested the buttons in San Luis Potosi. We used the dried buttons as it was much easier to get down. We usually started with about 6 buttons and then consumed several more once the high started.

            Mellow is relative. As in it was not as intense as window pane or blotter that I did in college. The hallucinations were not as long and strong and you peaked much sooner with a very nice clarity. And the trip’s hangover was also much mellower and shorter than acid. You don’t feel as spent or worn down mentally.

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    1. Patzman: I assume you mean the Creighton book. I mentioned a different one here in the comments. Yes, “Travels” is extremely good. I’m still chugging happily through it. I did not know his history and, after a little internet sleuthing, discovered he died at age 66 over a decade ago. He was married five times, and he stood 6 feet, 9 inches! Though he had a medical degree, he never practiced medicine after graduating. I don’t believe I’ve ever read one of his other books. From this one, however, which is nonfiction, it’s clear he was a very, very strange guy.

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