Reprinted from The Psychedelic Review, Number 8, 1966.
I recently spent a week in the company of a damned soul, that is, someone who considers himself a damned soul, and found the experience most stimulating, educational, and the cause of much self-congratulatory ideation and emotion, resolutions to continue steadfast in my current prejudices, to listen even less attentively to those who envision visionary experience as the focus of visionary experience, and so forth.
But I also learned something that made me feel slightly naive, a bit soft in the head, as it were: The flood of coincidence (synchronicity) which characterizes the truly genuine mystical experience (that is to say, my experience) as distinguished from mere psychedelic “tripping,” pleasure center button pushing, etc. need not, as I formerly supposed in my state of innocence, coincide with a good karma, or be interpreted as manifest evidence of the gentleness, delicacy, humor, and, above all, love with which the Ultimate Reality reveals Itself, if permitted to do so, to the lesser aspect here below.
In fact, I have good reason to believe, now that my eyes have been opened another hairsbreadth, that sheer terror is as common a reaction to synchronicity-awareness as is delighted acceptance, at least in those cases in which psychedelic drugs have directly provoked the awakening. Synchronicity, apparently, does not “go away” as visions often do. We do not have here an abstracted relatedness, but the relatedness of things. Not the whole truth, of course, and thank God for that, but at least nothing but the truth.
Now if, as my friend did, one has synchronicity shoved down one’s throat, along with all sorts of secondary occult phenomena such as other people’s dreams, “winkle buttons,” inappropriate vivid imagery (if your ideation is on a low level, then your images should be dim), and a variety of hypnagogic hallucinations resulting from too many non-integrated LSD experiences, synchronicity will appear to be just one more, if not the ultimate demonstration, that It doesn’t care about you.
My friend, if he ever frees himself from the erroneous assumptions which have led him to assume he is being punished rather than instructed, will no doubt be the world’s leading expert on demonology, and one may see in this exception (he is a Capricorn) some excuse for his present suffering. However, be that as it may, the lesson I see in his experience for myself and most others is “the same old one”: MAKE UP A GOOD STORY ABOUT YOURSELF, OR NONE AT ALL.
I must add at once that I consider the latter alternative almost impossible to execute. To live without a ‘story’ would be perpetual satori, ultimate mastery, total relaxation at the point of highest tension, and anyone who imagines he can transcend plot in ordinary life because he has become accustomed to viewing internal movies once or twice a week is being very foolish. Nor do powers and influences and what not help. On the contrary, they only raise the tension level.
Unfortunately, some of the teachings of Timothy Leary have been widely misinterpreted as an excuse for just wandering all around the countryside in an aimless manner, such behavior being thought of as a demonstration of one’s freedom from “game routines.” The idea is that you trust the world to take care of you (scrounge), have fantastic visions every now and then, and wait for deliverance. Unfortunately, this attitude is dangerous as well as silly. If it were simply simple, I would advocate it without hesitation as much preferable to teaching school, bombing the Oriental peasantry, or any other common way of life. The script, however, is not so easily discarded. Try to walk off this stage, and, odds are, you will find yourself on another, lower, stage, perhaps with a less complicated set of lines to read: a more primitive production.
What we ought to do is give up our (dirty) neuroses in favor of clean karma, but what apparently happens in many cases is that karma (the Plot) is abandoned, or is ignored, and the neuroses inflated to truly imperial proportions. Man is a myth maker. If he can bring his ordinary life into conformance with the Plot he is on the Path, he need not be “driven to the pasture with blows.” If he refuses to read his lines, however, his life experience will become as mixed and confusing as these metaphors. Wandering around backstage, he will be frightened by the jumbled paraphernalia, the incongruously disordered scenery and props.
Plot/plot. If the Plot is not accepted, then it must all be some sort of plot. If not wise order, then a fiendish design.