How do we break free from our stories, our reenactment, and get back to the world? Tom Wolfe wrote The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test about the Merry Pranksters, a group of young people that formed a community around author Ken Kesey, in California, in the early 1960’s. While Thomas Kuhn wrote about paradigm shift and revolutionary scientific discovery, the huge generation of children born after World War II were brewing-up a paradigm shift of their own for living and the life of society.
The Pranksters used LSD, amphetamines, and marijuana for perception altering, creative excursions around social life and the making of art. They became the seed of a broader social experiment by their contemporaries– flower power, psychedelic music, pop art, free love and communal living.
The experience of psychedelic, synthetic and natural substances such as LSD, psilocybin, or peyote provide a sense of synchronicity and release. These substances very often bring people to a sense of wonder, wholeness, awareness, perception, a feeling of being in tune, one with all, that the rising and falling of the ten thousand things without ceasing is fluid, that they are part of that fluid stirring of all life and events, connected to one another and all things, all one life, one god present. It is a sense of not knowing or needing to know, of just being, here and now, experiencing, without need for understanding.
The psychedelic movement was an attempt at living from a place of comfort with ambiguity and lack of knowledge, of perception rather than explanation. It was a community of people with the bonding, shared experience of feeling for a short time to be at one, completely in tune with all of creation, and at the same time seeing themselves outside of themselves. The experience and the goal was that of perceiving the world directly, without replaying it through consciousness, while at the same time being conscious of it. “Higher consciousness” we call it.
They also had a lot of parties. They had a lot of fun together. They broke a lot of other people’s rules and expectations. Everything has a light side and a dark side. The dark side of that life is falling into the trap that everything, anything is okay, and that being comfortable with not knowing makes it okay or preferable not to know.
However the experience is real. The sense of synchronicity, belonging, wholeness and one-ness is something we long for. There are many stories about it from many different sources. It’s an experience that people have, through various means, that can become a state of mind.
To quote Sailor Boy, the parrot from Tom Robbin’s novel about a man forced to live three inches above the ground, “Peeple of zee wurl, relax.” Go and get some perspective, wherever you get it.
The ideas in your head. Most of the time, they’re just ideas. You’re attached to them. They’re right to you. But they’re not real. How can you tell? Other people have different ideas that you don’t, that you might violently disagree with, and they’re getting along just fine.
“Peeple of zee wurl, relax.”