Neo-American Church


Except in a special sense, the Neo-American Church is not really oriented toward psychotherapy. We are more interested in blowing minds than in preserving them. If a person’s first concern is holding himself together, maintaining a stable home life, getting through each day without flipping out, and so on, he is probably better off following the Maharishi, Subramuniya, or one of the other non-psychedelic programmers. Acid, an inhuman force like the “Holy Ghost,” does not produce an experience which is particularly responsive to one’s need for security, comfort, or warmth. It is light that is shed, not heat. One may discover in the process how important warmth is, but it is not warmth that is provided.

I define a “bad trip” as one in which one emerges in a less agreeable condition than one possessed on entering, even if one spent the whole time frolicking with angels. Or, even if you were gobbled by demons* (considered very groovy in Tibet), if you came out better than you went in, I consider it a good trip. How do you know if you are better or worse off than you were? By the simplest tests imaginable: Do you feel happier, freer, more powerful? Does the world around you make more or less sense? What kind of luck are you having? There is no need to be recondite about it all—any reasonably sane person knows if a change has been for better or worse. As a matter of fact, when someone can’t tell the difference, he is probably too paranoid, too wrapped up in artificial systems, to proceed with psychedelics without guidance.

I think that anyone who has had two bad trips in a row should quit for six months or a year. Then, if he has another bad one, he should quit forever. Oddly enough, it has been my experience that most people who have bad trips tend to take psychedelics more frequently than those who have good trips. Further, when I talk to people who constantly complain about their “bad trips,” I frequently discover that although they are having very disquieting experiences, the end results are usually good. True bummers, according to the above definition, are very rare. A world without suffering would be a world without randomness or desire, which would be a dull and freaky movie, not a world Nine times out of ten, talk about “bad trips” resolves itself into a naive identification of pleasurable visionary scenes and sensory appreciation of the present (during the trip) with “goodness.” When such people find themselves in a few Hell-worlds here and there, they think that something is seriously amiss. Well, “if it was good enough for Ramakrishna, it’s good enough for them,” is what I always say. Acid is not easier than the traditional methods, it’s just faster, and sneakier. If there is shit in the way, it has to be disposed of, and the veritable explosion of shit is, in many ways, an even more disagreeable experience than a constant dribble over a period of years.

Perhaps it depends on the amount of shit with which one is confronted. Some people seem to have a ten mile long avalanche of shit on the road that can by no means be disposed of with a blast or two. It is easy to understand how, after the fifteenth or sixteenth explosion of shit in a row, one might become somewhat stunned by the continous concussions and depressed by the atmospheric pollution. Dynamiting avalanches of shit is by no means a pleasant or simple operation.

Now, just because a road covered with shit comes into view, that doesn’t mean that you have to spend the next couple of years blowing it up or the rest of your life shoveling it out of the way. Re-examine your assumptions. Are you sure of your destination? Are you sure that this is the only road? What about using a thermonuclear device? Many people are virtually hypnotized when suddenly confronted by an avalanche of shit. The sight is so impressive that they forget about anything else. I have little sympathy with this view. An avalanche of shit is not the eighth wonder of the world or something, it’s just a lot of shit—and I see no reason not to ignore it completely if at all possible. If you find an avalanche of shit on the George Washington Bridge, by all means try the Holland Tunnel, and if the Holland Tunnel is blocked, consider relocation in New Jersey.

Or a thermonuclear device.

Personally, I’ve always had grave doubts about persons claiming to be spiritual “masters,” or whatever you want to call them, who have not dealt extensively with the personal unconscious. It’s like going directly from grade school to graduate studies, leaving out everything in-between. Having conversations, however satisfactory, with a good many people, in everyday life situations, either straight or freak, is no substitute for having functioned as a psychotherapist or having been in analysis. Unfortunately, the academic mills will never provide us with enough psychedelic psychotherapists and we most certainly should do everything we can to increase the growing number of psychedelic psychologists and psychiatrists. For talented people without the necessary academic credits, Hubbard’s system (“dianetics”), isn’t bad at all, if you ignore the metaphysics and politics, and a truly literate person with the appropriate interests and motivations can always just jump right into it without adhering to any particular system. Why don’t more girls try psychedelic psychology? In the spiritual and ethical realms women are generally so bad that one can actually benefit from listening to them by doing just the opposite of what they advise. Spiritual work is just too brutal for their tender natures, or something. I can think of very few exceptions.

I hope that The Church can eventually provide some kind of training program and accreditation service to psychedelic psychotherapists. One of our most important objectives should be to drive the crackpot faddists and simple-minded occultists out of the temple and replace them with intelligent, literate, professional psychologists who know the meaning and use of psychedelic experience.

* There is nothing “pathological” about fear in the face of Purple Gobblers from outer space, no reason to call the hospital. Just restrain motion until it is over.