Call me a Kenworth spirit guide.
For those of you in the dark Kenworth is a brand of highway class truck. The bearded young man behind the wheel was on his first lesson and I was working my voodoo magic taking him hopefully on a journey to a sort of oneness with the machine and the road beneath.
At the same time I was learning as much as I could about him and his inner workings. Inner workings of the truck, inner workings of the individual who happens to be sitting next to me: it’s not quite all the same but it is what I do.
Anyway, as it turns out, he had recently returned from a three month sojourn in the jungles of Peru, and had quit his job to go there no less! Beautiful, I thought, a seeker after meaning and truth! If we weren’t buckled in I would have jumped across the shifter and given him a hug.
“Why Peru?” I asked.
“Well actually,” he explained, “I was on an ayahuasca retreat.”
So he clued me in on the shaman guided psycho-spiritual retreats proliferating in the jungles of South America, ageless ceremonies revolving around powerful plant based hallucinogens.
Ah, I thought, Aldous Huxley Doors of Perception, Alan Watts The Joyous Cosmology stuff. Ken Kesey had this sort of thing in mind when he and his Merry Band of Pranksters sought to alter the staid mindset of late fifties/early sixties America with his Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests.
But the project and the hopes and dreams of a decade came crashing down by the early seventies. Kesey returned to the forested hills of Oregon and America, dragging the rest of the world with it, shrugged off youths’ short lived folly and moved on…. to wherever it and we are now.
“So,” I asked my young friend, already doing a pretty good job out of the gate, “now that you’ve had this mind altering, life changing experience, where do you go from here?”
“That’s a good question,” he replied. “It seems everybody I shared the experience with is struggling, trying to incorporate it into our lives as we return into the world.”
Ahh, and therein is the rub!
That night or the next after I watched the film DMT, The Spirit Gene on Netflix, deepening my awareness of this whole ayahuasca thing. Now I wouldn’t say don’t watch it, do, but I would say it is deeply flawed, just as we are collectively, which shouldn’t be a surprise when you think about it.
In a nutshell, we live in communities, metaphoric circles more or less defining the psycho-spiritual and conventional boundaries of our particular group. We are inside; they are outside. The circles define us and prop up our sense of self, our very identities. Whether Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, or our particular nationality—whatever, the metaphoric circles surround and define the boundaries of who we are and what we know; unspoken taboos serve as sentinels at the borders, more to keep us in than protect us from the other without.
Hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and ayahuasca dissolve the boundaries, lift or drop one out of the metaphorically circular comfort zone, as the case might be. One undergoes an experience outside of the known, time narrows and expands simultaneously, if that makes any sense—and why insist on a limiting definition of sense anyway when the senses themselves are alive and receptive like never before?
“Would you put new wine in old skins?”
Wasn’t Jesus just a desert spirit guide attempting to loosen the rigid stone walls of the Judaic circle? Unfortunately for him he fell victim to the Jewish sentinels and then, ironically, the example of his life and death would serve as weighty foundation stone for a new and at that time yearned for metaphoric circle, Christianity.
Oooh, careful here. This is getting long and very very deep. Time to change gears.
At any rate, The Spirit Gene is larded with a bunch PH.D. type talking heads, representatives of our current hyper-intelligent metaphoric circle. The sort of folk who wax intelligent before highly alert and educated crowds on TED talks held throughout the land.
Complete outsiders when it comes to arcane topics and events such as a shamanic ayahuasca ceremonies.
Outsiders, in fact, when it comes to Life.
Who is there, I ask, who can act as spirit guide for us who have journeyed so far down the rational road the wrong turn we took a thousand years ago or more is a distant, largely forgotten memory?
The truck parked and the lesson ended, I thanked my newfound friend and wished him the best. Back home now, I wondered, would he find a guide…. or perhaps become one himself?
Because without the guide, it’s just drugs man.