Neo-American Church

Chapter 8


To be vested with enormous authority is a fine thing; but to have the onlooking world consent to it is finer.

I had been reading for no more than an hour, and had just come to the riverboat episode, when Tim and Ling-Ling entered the room. “What happened to my candle?” Tim blurted out, looking down at the rug with open-mouthed amazement.

“Did you do that, Arthur?” Ling-Ling asked.

The candle, which should have burned for days, was all splattered out, in droplets and streaks of wax, in a rough circle about four feet in diameter, mostly on the rug but also on my shoes and on the curtain to Tim’s sleeping alcove. At the center of this mess, or magical mandala, depending on how janitorial or poetic you want to be about it, the flame still burned, perhaps a quarter of an inch off the floor, on a bit of wax and string.

Weird, very weird, but I hadn’t noticed a thing.

“Well, I suppose you could say that,” I said in response to Ling-Ling’s question. “But I’m as surprised as you are.”

“Art, what in God’s name are you up to? You’re scaring the piss out of everyone around here, and frankly, you’re beginning to scare me too,” Tim said.

“I don’t know why that should be,” I replied. Little old me was scaring the piss out of everyone, Timothy Leary included? In terms of my assumptions about this band of hardy adventurers, and the nature of my current persona (very pacific), this didn’t make any sense at all. Sure, Susan Metzner had evidently gotten a paranoid bee in her bonnet about something or other, that could happen to anyone anywhere anytime, but general alarm? Universal urination? What about? I was genuinely upset and puzzled. “All I’ve been doing is sitting here reading Siddhartha. Do you think I put a bomb in the candle or something? As for my interpretation of events, it seems to me it’s what Hesse advocates. What do you want me to do, be dishonest?”

Tim sort of danced around, head down, in a kind of ritual shuffle I had seen him adopt before when he wasn’t sure what to do or say next.

“I don’t think you understand Hesse,” he finally said.

“Then what is all this supposed to mean?” I asked, tapping the Hesse quotation on the wall next to his bed.

Tim’s response to this question about a statement he had deemed worthy of typing out and putting up where he could see it when he woke up in the morning (there was nothing else of this kind around) was so defensive, reductionist and generally feeble that I could hardly credit the evidence of my ears. It was “just” psychological, a literary device, poetic license, dramatic exaggeration. Stuff like that. Was Tim saying that all the claims he had been making for the importance of the psychedelic experience and the “movement” were phony? It sounded like he thought the whole thing was an illusionist’s trick, more impressive than, but not different in kind from pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

“Yeah, sure,” I said, and walked out of the room, feeling paranoid.

(I now think that Tim was right about my not understanding Hesse. I had given Hesse, along with everyone else around at that time, credit for more genius than he possessed. Hesse had certain intimations of wisdom, best realized in Siddhartha and Steppenwolf, and that was about it. Elsewhere, these glimmers are submerged in a Hegelian murk of grandiose moralistic hierarchical fantasies in the worst Germanic tradition, saved, to some extent, by a gloss of irony, but not nearly glossy enough for me.)

Sincerely puzzled by what was happening, Tim suspected a con job of some sort. The trouble with that theory was that I wasn’t the type, and he knew it. A “no win” situation for Tim. And what possible good did that do me? What was the point? If there was one, I didn’t get it.

I spent the rest of the evening splitting and bringing in firewood for the six or seven fireplaces in the house. Interpreting life as an ongoing dream, I tried to figure out what to make of the soundless explosion of Tim’s candle. As far as I could tell, this odd event hadn’t improved my credibility or sanity rating. A fine, upstanding young candle had been wasted and a mess created in order to … intimidate Timothy Leary?

What good did that do?

I couldn’t figure it out.

The obvious Freudian interpretation (“castration”) seemed silly, or was it?

The river scene in Siddhartha had something to do with it, I thought. Crossing rivers has a well-established meaning in all allegorical literature. Death. The other shore. The flow of time. The progression of the generations. A ferry and a ferryman? Charon. The Styx. Relations intermediate between life and death.

Major psychedelic experience, according to Tim at the time, should be interpreted in terms of such conveyance. Perhaps the candle blowing up was a warning not to go any further. If I crossed the “river” to the “land of death,” perhaps all kinds of odd and inexplicable things would happen and I would frighten and alienate everyone in sight. Every rug in the house would be soaked with urine. Don’t push it too far, Art, or you will isolate yourself.

Take it easy.

Pretty soon, I started grinning like my new self again.

I stayed up late that night in the kitchen to read the Evans-Wentz translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Since my own body was as much of an illusion as anything else around, there was no good reason to think of its disappearance as a termination of consciousness. Maybe the book had some useful tips on the topic. So far, I hadn’t found any. In fact, the book seemed stupid, ignorant and crazy.

Susan Metzner walked in, fetchingly attired in a little-girl nightgown.

“Thanks a lot for fucking up my trip,” I said, smiling. I had smiled almost continuously since I had left the hill, which led me to re-evaluate my position on perpetual grinners of the Ramakrishna variety, whom I had assumed in the past to be suffering from blindness to the ugly facts.

“I’m sorry,” Susan said. “Ralph and I have been talking about you and I think I was wrong. Anyway, I didn’t expect Susan Leary to repeat what I said to Tim. Susan and Jackie are very protective of their father, you know.”

Susan and I talked amiably for a few minutes and, for perhaps the first time in twelve hours, I found myself thinking in a “normal” fashion, without paying any attention to what I had decided to think of, pro tem, as “the second level of meaning.”

“Can you explain what’s been happening?” Susan asked.

Certainly. Nothing to it. I gave her a detailed rundown on what I had been going through.

“And right now, I’m revising my theories on the subject of death,” I concluded matter-of-factly, as if I were describing a project in domestic carpentry. “Since the only book on death available at this moment is this one (I held up the Tibetan Book of the Dead) it should be the right one, somehow or other. I’m trying to take things at face value, which is one hell of a change for me, Susan.”

Susan looked slightly glassy-eyed. She protested that the Evans-Wentz translation contained all kinds of disgusting and meaningless undertakers’ and embalmers’ details which Tim had eliminated in his version, so why bother with the nasty old thing?

“Easy,” I said. “If I find I am repelled I will stop reading, since it would be contrary to the principle of taking things at face value to continue.” Which is exactly what happened.

The tantric left-hand path is full of nauseating methods, not the least of which is to dance around with any convenient corpse until its tongue protrudes, at which point you are supposed to bite it off. The tantric literature and its many spin-offs include a wide range of “drug alternative” methods for achieving “higher states” which have this grim, spooky character, ranging from Castaneda’s relatively mild lizard mutilations to the ritual murders of the Kali-worshiping Thugees and the bloody-minded crusades of such religious leaders as Charlie Manson and the popes.

When our enemies invoke Manson as evidence against LSD, I point out that the statistics are on our side. If the Psychedelian sub-culture has “spawned” one genuine fiend, and there is plenty of reason to believe it was the California prison system, pop occultist novels, and TV horror shows that “spawned” him, he was pretty ineffectual and pathetic compared to such unstoned mass murderers as Adolph Hitler, Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson, who had the drug tastes of the average American housewife, that is, speed and booze.

As for Evans-Wentz, I now think he was a learned fool, a kind of idiot-savant, and in his books, as in almost all the academic studies of the subject which have followed his lead, one will find the same sort of hilarious mixture of trash and wisdom which would result if, say a thousand years from now, a modern Tibetan scholar were to resurrect the ancient, mysterious doctrines of Thoreau and Emerson from the rubble of America and present them all helter-skelter, mixed in without discrimination, with selections from the works of Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith and Billy Graham, as examples of the mysterious “Christian” mysticism of the ancient West.

Evans-Wentz could not think, a failing which seems almost sublime in a person of such scholarly attainment and mental industry, and makes one wonder, when faced with an example, if one is missing something. In his case, I don’t think so.

Consider the following remarks taken from Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines (Oxford University Press, 1958) by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, M.A., D.Lit., D.Sc., Jesus College, Oxford:

1. Were the Heat Yoga to be taught universally in all the schools and to become a world-wide practice, there would be no need for central heating in the dwellings of men, not even in Alaska or Siberia, or throughout the arctic and antarctic regions.

2. [The graduates of these institutions would also] become transcendent over gravitation, there would be no need of motor vehicles and airplanes, nor of bridges and boats.

3. By Mind the Cosmos was shaped. By Mind the Cosmos is sustained in space. By indomitable control of his mind a supreme master of yoga can control all mundane conditionality; he can make, or bring into visible manifestation from the unmanifested, all the things that men can make, without wearisome tools and clamorous and noisome factories.

4. On Earth, as in a University granting many degrees, man shall continue to matriculate at birth and enjoy the long vacations afforded by death, as he passes on from lower to higher degrees of Buddhahood, he quits Earth’s Halls of Learning, prepared to perform his duties in the guidance and government of the Cosmic Whole, of which, in virtue of evolutionary growth in Right Knowledge, he has become a spiritually conscious part, an Enlightened One.

No records exist of the learned Oxfordian practicing what he preached. He trudged to the Jesus College mess hall in the rain with all the other Jesusians, resorted to the mundane bridge when rivers had to be crossed, etc.

The Snazzm meaning of the TBD being a big deal at Millbrook at that time was, I concluded, cautionary. Don’t trust books. Don’t trust academic credentials.

Snazzm? At about the same time I excommunicated Tim for cometolatry in 1973, I invented a set of epistemological terms, and explained them in a series of Divine Toad Sweats. These terms discriminate between three orders, or levels, of delusionality and thus help to prevent confusion when thinking about such matters as synchronicity, exploding candles, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Taken together, they are the “Zmms.”

In descending order of delusionality, they are “Snazzm,” “Fazzm” and “McPozzm.”

Snazzm is ideation founded on the assumption that all experience is (in the nature of) a dream. The externality of relations is denied. The only delusion maintained is that a self exists, within whose dream, and by and for and of whom, all appearances are determined.

This is solipsism and is only one step short of maintaining that nothing whatever exists, which is pure Buddhist Nihilism of the old school, into which solipsism must collapse upon close examination. (See Hume re “inattention.”)

Fazzm is ideation which, although often claiming to be monist, maintains the delusion of multiplicity, plural minds, and a space-time continuum with an independent dynamism, however mutable and related to psychic determinants, and however removed, the particulars therein may be from ordinary experience.

Although Fazzm ideation assumes multiplicity and a space-time continuum, those who use it attempt to get over these restraints (transcend them) with word-magic smoke and mirrors. Ordinary, physical things are endowed with psychic and abstract super-natures and psychic and abstract concepts are manipulated as if they were physical objects. “He is trampling out His vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.” Virtually all myth, poetry and non-supernaturalist, but non-enlightened, “cosmic mind” occultist religion is Fazzm. All “metaphysics” is Fazzm.

Straightforward expositions of Fazzm belief systems are rare. Here is an example, an early and unusual quote from America’s leading Fazzmaniac, Ralph Waldo Emerson (Nature, 1836), in which he actually lays all his cards on the table instead of playing them close to his chest, as became his standard practice later:

Nature is the symbol of spirit …. The use of natural history is to give us aid in supernatural history: the use of the outer creation to give us language for the beings and changes of the inward creation … man is conscious of a universal soul within or behind his individual life, wherein, as in a firmament, the natures of Justice, Truth, Love, Freedom arise and shine. This universal soul he calls Reason: it is not mine, or thine, or his, but we are all its; we are its property and men …. That which, intellectually considered, we call Reason, considered in relation to nature, we call Spirit. Spirit is the Creator. Spirit hath life in itself. And man in all ages and countries embodies it in his language, as the FATHER …. There seems to be a necessity in spirit to manifest itself in material forms; and day and night, river and storm, beast and bird, acid and alkali, pre-exist in necessary Ideas in the mind of God, and are what they are by virtue of preceding affections, in the world of spirit. A Fact is the end or last issue of spirit, the visible creation in the terminus of the circumference of the invisible world.

The reader who is reduced to sputtering incoherence in attempting to explain exactly what he has against this kind of stuff (mass-market science fiction is loaded with it) is an anti-obscurantist after my own heart and is in good intellectual company in general. I could try to take the above apart, but dissecting “moonshine,” as Herman Melville called it, is no easy task. After all, how do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand? Damned if I know.

Yet much that is good and even great in art and literature is Fazzm. “The sun is the width of a man’s foot,” said Heraklitus of Ephesus, making one of his many startling-but-true Fazzm observations. The best Fazzm always borders on Snazzm. For a good collection of Fazzm epigrams (the ideal form, beware of lengthy expositions) from noble sources, see Norman O. Brown’s Love’s Body, a remarkable book.

McPozzm ideation assumes the externality of relations. It is based on the delusion of a self which is one of many other similar and dissimilar (but never identical) objects in a space-time continuum with a dynamism independent of one’s own or any other person’s personality or life. There is an infinite, or almost infinite, number of things (minds, souls, black holes, light quanta, neutrinos, archangels or whatever) contained within this imaginary universe. Mental and/or spiritual entities and operations, whether or not they have any “existence” other than in the abstract relatedness of physical things, are governed by rules different than the rules that apply to physical things, thus producing a dualist totality no matter how they are construed. The operations described by modern physics, common sense and strict empirical reasoning are no more or less McPozzm than anecdotes about an Eastern Mediterranean tribal deity hardening Pharaoh’s heart or mooning Moses, a conviction that one is in telepathic contact with flying saucers, or the proceedings of the Council of Trent. All assume a container/contained epistemological situation: There is something out there; I am within it; and I can know something about other beings and things within it, and possibly something about the whole thing, by one means or another.

It’s safe to say, McPozzm, that almost everyone thinks in McPozzm terms most of the time.

One may, however, develop a capacity for thinking all three ways, or, more often, two ways. Literary intellectuals, poets, prelates and paranoids often think in both Fazzm and McPozzm terms. “I have become Shiva, destroyer of Worlds,” thought Oppenheimer, both a scientist and a poetic soul, upon observing the first model of his contraption do its stuff. This beats “gee whiz,” one must admit.

Genuine, systematic, sequential, analytical Snazzm ideation is as rare as Enlightenment itself but Snazzm, good or bad, is almost always the dominant Zmm at the peak of a Big One.

Tim’s Kohoutek phase was a good example of bad Fazzm running rampant.

The following quotes are taken from a press conference given at the time, prior to the non-appearance of the widely touted comet, by Joanna Harcourt-Smith Leary, in which she asserted that she and Dr. Leary were “brought back” to the United States to “decode” the “message” of this comet. It was reported, without comment, in the New Yorker, of all places (the real New Yorker, kids, not the vulgar imposter of the present day):

1. The comet Starseed is to leave the womb planet Earth. The Starseed is a comet of prophesy.

2. Life seeds egg planets throughout the galaxy. When life leaves the womb planet, it attains immortality in the Galactic Star School.

3. When the embryonic nervous system can decipher the genetic code it receives instructions for leaving the earth-womb and contacting higher intelligence.

4. There is no choice. Life must leave the womb planet to survive and evolve.

5. The Starseed transmission was received by Dr. Leary in his cell at Folsom Prison.

Notice the pompous, ex-cathedra tone. The authors of pronouncements of this kind, speaking as they do from Mount Olympus or other famous peaks, would sound even sillier if they qualified anything, and the projection of this omniscient certainty is the actual point of it all. To learn more, one “has no choice” but to “contact” Dr. Leary … or the viper at his side.

This Kohoutek crap, coming on top of Neurologic, was too much for me. I made major changes in the language and doctrines of the Church. No matter how poetic or metaphoric the intent, I could no longer bring myself to use terms like “God” or “Self.” I abandoned all efforts to be ecumenical.

Instead, in a series of DTSs of increasing severity, I defined the Zmms, excommunicated Tim, changed the Second Principle, and made the Church doctrinaire, exclusive, hierarchical, monarchical and dynastic. Membership in any other religious organization, including the Masonic Order, Alcoholics Anonymous and the Church of Universal Life, meant automatic excommunication and still does.

I didn’t want anyone to make any mistake about it. The horseshit Neo-Americans wanted victory over included the metaphysics of my former guru. Better examples of horseshit are hard to find.

Thus, in Snazzm and Fazzm terms, Kohoutek and Tim’s attempt to exploit it, and the comet’s failure to show, helped me to clean up my act and to define the doctrine of the Church.

In a Fazzm sense, Psychedelianism underwent a dialectical transformation and occultism got a well-deserved shot in the chops in the time-honored way supernaturalism and occultism get their shots in the chops. Something was supposed to happen but it didn’t.

McPozzm? It didn’t mean anything. McPozzm doesn’t have to mean anything, which is the beauty of it.

Hard to play croquet or write a uniform commercial code without it.

Imputing to Susan much higher intellectual attainments and philosophic sophistication than she probably had or even wanted, I asked her what she thought about the problem of suffering.

She said she thought it was all a matter of karma, the first of many invocations of the term that I was to hear from stoned but unsophisticated people for years to come. Somehow, karma (fate) explains how suffering is distributed, and that takes care of that. It’s merely an incantation for getting rid of unpleasant thoughts. Just kid stuff. I didn’t know what to say.

A large moth came zooming into the kitchen and rapped me smartly on the forehead.

“That’s the kind of coincidence I mean,” I said. “That kind of thing has been happening all day.” I gestured towards the moth which was fluttering down the hallway to the basement and laundry room.

“What coincidence?” Susan asked.

“The moth hitting me when you mentioned karma,” I said.

“I didn’t see any moth,” Susan said.

I said that it had been a rapid transit and she would have missed it if she had blinked, said I was tired, excused myself, and went to bed.

So Susan hadn’t seen the moth.

She should have. I had uttered a fib in the cause of peace and tranquility.

OK, what difference did it make? Since I no longer believed in the externality of relations, the degree to which my perceptions seemed shared by others was not of crucial importance. I poured a drink from the trusty bottle at the side of my low bed , and lit a cigarette. Moonlight was pouring into my room through the open window along with a refreshing night breeze. The Bowling Alley and the stark pines looked like an illustration from a book of fairy tales.

What if only I had seen the exploded candle? If, as it seemed, strange events were somehow required at this stage of the game, better oddities in the ordinary events of the everyday world than bizarre hallucinations or even mescaline-style visions. I had already been through all of that. Let things continue along these lines, by all means!

I put out my cigarette and went to sleep, and slept soundly until awakened in the morning by the cheerful chirping of chickadees outside my window. I was in a good mood. No hangover. My thoughts effortlessly took up where they had left off the night before.

When I walked into the kitchen I found Dick Alpert, Billy Hitchcock and a couple other coffee drinkers having a discussion about national politics. Dick introduced me around.

Billy struck me as a charming person. It hardly registered that, as one of the two owners of the place, he alone qualified among those present as my actual host. Billy had an open, confident and witty conversational style and perfect manners; a sort of Frank Merriweather archetype who had risen from the depths of Old Money bearing a banner with a strange device. In retrospect, I think he reminded me of myself because he was tall and blond, and had psychological qualities similar to mine, difficult for the person who has them to identify precisely, which produced a feeling of almost instant affinity. He was sure as hell the first zillionaire, and the last, who made me feel this way.

Billy asked what I thought of Goldwater’s chances in the upcoming elections. I forget what I thought, but I was probably wrong, as I usually am about such things.

A day or two later, Tim played some session tapes for me. Part of his routine at the time was to ask people what question they wanted answered by the psychedelic experience they were about to have. Everyone seemed to want the same kind of stuff: “ego-loss” and a “merge” with the “Oversoul,” a better attitude, more love, etc. I don’t recall any philosophic questions, good, bad or indifferent.

As a matter of fact, most of these requests were couched in terms that suggested that the requester understood himself and the world around him perfectly.

I was delighted when I put on a tape and heard someone say, in a self-assured tone, “How can I make more money on the stock market?” The voice seemed familiar, but I couldn’t place it.

“Now there’s a question I like!” I said to Tim, who was scribbling away at his desk. Although the wish expressed was devoid of philosophic curiosity, it was also devoid of hypocrisy and pretentiousness. Tim peered at me over the top of his reading glasses. He was grinning.

Tim almost always responded happily to demonstrations of humor and cynicism on my part. My philosophic utterances, on the other hand, stimulated what might be called a “fight, flee or steal” reaction.

“You do, hmmm?” he said. “Do you know who that is?”


“Billy Hitchcock.” Tim turned back to his writing.

Billy was clearly an uncommon character, but Tim, Dick and Ralph had an established relationship with him, about which I knew almost nothing, and upon which I felt I should not presume to intrude. Also, he lived up the road somewhere in another building called “The Bungalow,” which I hadn’t seen and didn’t expect to ever enter.

I went back to my musings, walks in the woods, and firewood splitting on the porch and later in the day went upstairs to talk to Tim.

“Listen, Tim,” I said, “what I want to know is what am I supposed to do next?”

“What do you mean? Are you still on the kick you were on yesterday?”

“Of course,” I replied. “I know what everything means. Who I am, where I am, and all of that.”

I airily waved my arm in disdainful dismissal of such elementary matters. “What I want to know is why there is so much suffering in the world. I’m willing to do whatever you suggest. Take a thousand mics, go sit under a tree for three weeks, anything.”

“You’re having a bad trip,” Tim said. “Don’t worry. You’ll come out of it.”

I was completely baffled. I left the room without saying a word. Down the hall I found Dick seated at a desk in a small room in the servants’ wing, whistling a merry tune and signing a big stack of $100 government bonds.

“Tim says I’m having a bad trip,” I said to Dick.

Dick shrugged his shoulders and laughed.

“Listen, Art. I’d like your opinion of this.” He handed me a periodical reprint of something he had written on juvenile delinquency. I took it down to the front porch, pulled a rocking chair up to the balustrade so I could put my feet up, and read it.

Terrible stuff. Assuming all kinds of things which probably ought not to be assumed, his comments were reasonable, but his style was lifeless, academic, pussy-footing prose all the way. I felt like telling him that when it came to writing, he should stick to signing $100 bonds, but that would have been unkind. When I returned the paper, I told him to try to be more natural. My thoughts were beginning to feel relatively clogged and heavy. I was losing my high. I missed Sally and the kids. Most important of all, did I really want to take a trip with Tim? I was having a “bad trip”?


A flood of synchronicity awareness does not, I have learned since, always cause people to jump for joy. On the contrary, it’s often the launching pad for paranoid ideation, delusions and freak-outs. “Messages,” already a misleading concept, can be swiftly converted into “orders” if they are misinterpreted in terms of supernaturalist assumptions.

The TV set is telling me to kill my wife, instead of showing me some of the repressed feelings I have about women. Or, because of a remarkable association between some Bible verses I have just read and other events, I have been chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of bondage. So hijack a bomber and nuke Mecca, naturally. And so on.

A list of the different kinds of synchronicity would be a list of all imaginable relations. The best rule is to stay loose.

Synchronicity will teach you how to interpret synchronicity, if you will let it. It is not a foreign language. Anyone who can grasp the principles of cause and effect reasoning in the context of a material universe of space, time and randomness can also grasp the principles of synchronistic relatedness if he is willing to imagine the alternative context of the non-spatial, non-temporal and psychically determined dream. It doesn’t require a high IQ to do this; all it requires is an ability to see things in Snazzm terms without freaking out. The I Ching is the most refined synchronicity condenser available to those of us who constitute the only class for whom the I Ching was intended and for whom it works, that is, superior people. It may be thought of as the actual “magic book” of the myths and fairy tales. It’s in a class by itself. If you refuse to see things in Snazzm terms, your hexagrams will urge you, one way or another, to settle for coin flipping, tarot card shuffling, daisy petal pulling, or whatever.

Always use the Bollingen Foundation edition (which was financed by Paul and Mary Mellon).

I won’t try to analyze the synchronicity of all the events in this narrative. The reader will see what is meaningful for him, if he’s ready for it.

Synchronicity resists retrospective examination. It is OK to talk about one’s life and note the synchronicity of various events as they occur, but scanning one’s memory for startling and entertaining instances and slapping them down like melds in a game of rummy is ridiculous. It implies there is something unusual or meritorious about synchronicity.

A thin line separates enlightened ideation from paranoid ideation, the crucial difference being that synchronicity is correctly understood in the first case and consistently misinterpreted in the second.

Tim automatically and understandably assumed that anyone talking about “messages” and acting as I was had to be paranoid, in the sense of having a delusional system, grandiose ideas, fears of imaginary enemies, and so on.

As a general rule, this is not a bad general rule, but I had decided to regard people who seemed to be screwing me up, McPozzm, as demonstrating certain principles for my benefit and thereby, so to speak, “warning me,” Snazzm, not to get involved in this or that bad trip.

This is also the way to interpret the changing lines of the I Ching. They are warnings or encouragements which, if properly understood, can help bring about or prevent or modify the change depicted.

As for grandiosity, I had gone through that phase in five minutes.

Pride in my imaginative accomplishments? How about shame for all the misery and horror in the world?

Emerson’s little gem “Brahma” automatically comes to mind. No moral or even “spiritual” superiority is involved. An enlightened person does not move to the head of his class. He is his class. The best attitude towards Enlightenment for those content without it is probably indifference and inattention.

Aside from smiling all the time and exclaiming “of course” and “naturally” over everyday events, there were no dramatic alterations in my character as a consequence of becoming enlightened. My likes and dislikes remained pretty much the same, and so did my favored game routines and styles of expression.

Certain fantasies and lines of thought, however, just dropped right out of the picture, never to return, and gradually, over the next few years, were replaced by suitable alternatives.

Enlightenment itself is sudden. Learning how to play the games and finding a style appropriate to an enlightened intellect is gradual and tricky.

The standard cosmicminder and supernaturalist fantasies, which I had allowed some elbow room in my youth, now walked the plank or were elbowed overboard. They disappeared much as love of the cat does in the life of a woman who has just had a baby, or hobby horses in the life of a boy just given a pony.

There is a superficial resemblance between synchronicity awareness and rank, low-down, beware-of-the-black-cat-style superstition. Whenever I encountered a Millbrook Bread truck, for example, from the day of my Enlightenment onward, I took careful note of what I was thinking and what else was happening at the moment. Moments, in general, become the crucial category of time.

The numbers assigned by post offices and telephone companies fell into clearly meaningful patterns. I liked Box 191, Star Lake, the first address of the Neo-American Church. Nine was big in the early days.

A flat tire caused me to question my intended destination, and still does. Indeed, anything about my vehicle also refers, Snazzm, to the way I’m functioning as a personality.

Physical health is more often related to the condition of one’s dwelling, not one’s vehicle. Psychologically, the body doesn’t move around in the world. The world moves around the body.

I’m not exactly delighted when a black cat crosses my path, but I wouldn’t try to avoid a black cat, any more than I would avoid a “bump” sign rather than the bump itself. Supernaturalism leads to futile avoidance of, while solipsism leads to constructive learning from, the black cat.

It’s a good way to explain the difference.

As for the synchronicity of names, check out the cast of characters in the Watergate affair. Check out doctors’ names against their specialties. Now apply the same rules to writers, artists, philosophers and your circle of friends. Smoke some pot. Free associate.

If one assumes that life is a dream, there is no difficulty in seeing life in these terms. If you assume that it is partly a dream and partly a machine, you’re up the Amazon with the alligators, baby.

But, how did it feel, one might ask, to become an Enlightened Being? Vertigo? Groovy vibes? Droopier earlobes? Greater compassion for venomous insects and reptiles? None of the above. In terms of general stonedness, the experience resembled a sinsemilla high lasting about ten hours, or was it two days? It didn’t have the wild, speedy, “spacy” quality of an acid trip, the absolutely whacked-out quality that distinguishes the Supreme Sacrament in action, but I was definitely stoned.

I behaved myself for two days, just hung around and lent a hand with this and that, and then went home. Let’s not forget I had not, at that time, learned all of the above lessons, or, if I had, learned them well. I was enlightened, all right, but in a half-assed way.

However, because I had “stolen” my Enlightenment, that is, gotten it from someone who didn’t have possession himself but had produced the setting that I needed, I had nothing to complain about, and I didn’t.

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