“He is, of course, attempting the impossible—to describe in words (which always lie) that which is beyond words.”—Timothy Leary, forward to Alan Watts’ The Joyous Cosmology.
“My wife and I were looking at your blog,” the man said.
“Uh-oh,” I replied, “that can’t be a good thing.”
I was picking up the meat scraps from a Safeway and the man is a cutter. Once a week we chat about all sorts of things, family, kids, holidays and what not.
“It’s pretty deep,” he went on. “My wife was asking what kind of schooling you have. She reads books. I don’t. It was above me.”
Reminds me—very loosely that is—about an encounter between Mordecai Richler, Montreal born novelist, satirist, and humorist and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
“Hey Trudeau,” Richler quipped, “hear your memoirs are coming out. Where will I be able to find them, in fiction or non-fiction?”
Trudeau, no slouch in the repartee department, replied: “Poetry!”
We read newspapers to stay current with happenings in the world; we discuss events obsessively, scrutinizing motives and analyzing decisions or policies taken, and then when our brains are sufficiently exercised we watch a little television or read a book to cool down. We are all more or less educated, informed…but there is always a line we shy away—consciously or not—from crossing.
Why do we balk at the line? It is dangerous, that’s why. Terrifying. We experience the threat intuitively, viscerally. Our very identities are imperiled. What are we without our identities? It’s who we are!
And the line? Pushed to the margins for sure, but still all around us. Waiting. It is the taboo.
Listen to the words of a man who has crossed the line, in this case sixties Zen Buddhism interpreter Alan Watts experimenting with the mind altering effects of LSD.
“In the type of experience I am describing, it seems that the superconscious method of thinking becomes conscious. We see the world as the whole body sees it, and for this very reason there is the greatest difficulty in attempting to translate this mode of vision into a form of language that is based on contrast and classification. To the extent, then, that man has become a being centered in consciousness, he has become centered in clash, conflict, and discord. He ignores, as beneath notice, the astounding perfection of his organism as a whole, and this is why, in most people, there is such a deplorable disparity between the intelligent and marvelous order of their bodies and the trivial occupations of their consciousness. But in this other world the situation is reversed. Ordinary people look like gods because the values of the organism are uppermost, and the concerns of consciousness fall back into the subordinate position which they should properly hold. Love, unity, harmony, and relationship therefore take precedence over war and division.”—Alan Watts, tripping on acid in The Joyous Cosmology
LSD? Never tried it. The closest I’ve come is naively shelling out five bucks for a tab of dried sugar water from a total stranger on a bus in Montreal many years ago. What a doofus!
But you could say I began a long slow mind blow the day I first crossed the threshold into the Omphalos Cafe.
Watts finishes: “Love, unity, harmony, and relationship therefore take precedence over war and division.”
Isn’t that just a learned, literary way of saying…
Life is ALL there is?