Questions from Stacie: Part 2

1.) Do you think all children should be exposed to some sort of organized religion to help form their moral compass?

I don’t know much about child-rearing, so I really can’t say. Religions in general can  be a mixed bag of nuts when it comes to imposing their particular “moral compass” on others. Though generally I think it’s good to expose children to religion. At some point later in life most of us start asking the religious questions: “Why are we here? What is this life all about?” And religion is a good starting point for investigating into these questions.

2.) What effect does religion have on your daily life today?

Not much, I consider myself as a spiritual person, more so than a member of any particular religion.

3.) Are there any negative aspects of religion that have affected you in the past or that affect you now?

When I was in college, my roommate — who was a pot-smoking, guitarist in a KISS cover-band — suddenly became a Born Again Christian, cut off his hair, and spent the next semester tormenting me that I was going to Hell if I didn’t renounce Satan and give my life to Jesus.  So that was annoying.  Other than that, I can’t think of religion impacting on my life one way or another.

Questions from Stacie

1) Do you consider yourself religious, spiritual, or any other creative source?

I’ve always considered my life a spiritual quest. I’m a seeker by nature. At times I’ve felt like I was gaining hard-fought spiritual wisdom. While at other times I’ve felt like a spiritual cripple.  I’ve checked out most of the world’s religions. But don’t belong to any of them. Practiced yoga and meditation for many years. But I suppose those would be considered more as a form of spiritual science than as a religion. I’ve probably most been influenced by Vedanta and Hinduism.

2) Have you ever had a religious or spiritual experience so intense it changed the way you feel about the universe that you’d like to share?

When I was 19 I was heavily into LSD and Alan Watts and books about Zen. And at one point, peaking on acid, I had what I considered to be a pretty intense mystical experience. Experiencing God, experiencing myself as a manifestation of God, experiencing Oneness with God, Oneness with the Universe. I transcended my individual identity and experienced my Universal identity. Though later I came to question the authenticity of the experience. And to question the validity of psychedelics as a spiritual tool . . . .  My spiritual life sort of hit a dead-end after awhile, and was dormant for many years. Until I was 40 and a friend of mine gave me for a Christmas present a copy of this book by Swami Muktananda — an Indian guru — titled “Where Are You Going?” (good question) And I had an instantaneous “Shakti” experience just from looking at the photo of Muktananda in the book. “Shakti” is the experience when an enlightened spiritual master directly transmits his divine spiritual energy into a devotee. It’s like the ultimate “contact high.”  Where the guru gives you a taste of his Divine state. That experience kick-started a renewed interest in my spiritual development. And I would spend the next 7 years reading all of Muktananda’s books and practicing daily kundalini yoga meditation and mantra repetition. And I had many spiritual experiences from those practices.

3) What do you think happens when you die? If you believe in heaven do you think there are certain criteria that must be met to be worthy? Do you believe in redemption?

I believe in reincarnation. That we all go through many lifetimes — as a process of purifying ourselves. Until we ultimately reach the highest state and merge with God. Though the mystics regularly point out that in fact we’re already one with God, even though most of us haven’t realized that fact yet.

4) Do you believe that objects like crystals, symbols like tarot or ouija, have any power?

I believe that different objects, and places, can be blessed as well as haunted or cursed. There is spiritual power emanating from all the points of this universe of ours. Personally, I’m not very familiar with crystals, tarot or ouija, so can’t really comment about that.

5) Have you ever had a paranormal experience?

One of the unusual — and dangerous — side effects of practicing kundalini yoga is that as you get more advanced into it, you start to gain these occult powers. The powers are along the lines of “whatever you think will manifest.” The more purified and powerful your mind gets from the yoga, the more you’re able to make things happen simply by willing them to be. Which can get you into all sorts of trouble if you start using these powers. Especially in the early stages. Because you’re like a baby who has been given this extremely powerful (and volatile) toy to play around with. And I severely retarded my spiritual development because I couldn’t resist indulging on the occult level.

6) How do you think all this was created? Big bang, evolution, a higher power?Does your personal belief system help you act with higher standards of morals and behaviors? Was your first exposure to religion a positive one, or was it used as a judgment with unreachable standards or harsh punishment?

I believe God created this entire Universe in a blink of an eye, primarily for sport, for His own amusement and cosmic kicks. And one day God will blink his eye again and dissolve this entire Universe back to nothingness. And that the entire Universe is nothing less than the body of God Himself.

7) Do you think there’s only one “Right and true religion?” Can an atheist have a conscience and similar high moral integrity without religious rules or the punishment of purgatory, or hell?If you do believe in an afterlife or higher power, when did you first find your faith? Have you had more than one religion that you Identified with? Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

I think most of the world religions have something of value to offer. Different people feel comfortable with different religions depending on their temperament and cultural background. But there’s a common mystical thread that runs through most of them. And that’s the primary facet of religion that has always interested me. I started out primarily interested in Zen Buddhism (the satori experience) and Taoism. But was later drawn primarily to Vedanta.

I appreciate your questions. Spirituality isn’t something I talk about very much. It’s a personal thing with me. And not always easy to communicate with others about. And like I said, I primarily consider myself a spiritual seeker. So it’s not really my place to be a spiritual talker or teacher.

On turning 58

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Alan Watts, possibly considering publishing a new book, “The Drunken Cosmology.”

This might sound stupid (I thought I’d give that stupidity thing a whirl and see if it works for me).  But one of my last remaining goals in life was to make it to 58.   Two of the acid heroes of my youth — Alan Watts and George Harrison —  both kicked the bucket at 58.  Both of whom I would later come to have decidedly mixed feelings about.  So it was important to me (for some stupid reason) to out-live both of them.

Alan Watts was pretty much a wasted-away, old man alcoholic by age 58.  In between writing all those books about how we could attain the higher states of consciousness, ole’ Al failed to mention that one of his favorite techniques, personally, was to pound endless fifths of straight vodka.

The famous Indian philosopher Krishnamurti used to go on tirades about Alan Watts and Aldous Huxley back in the ’60s.  He blamed them, rightly or wrongly, for helping to lead an entire generation astray with their books that linked psychedelic drugs to spiritual wisdom.  And he held them partially accountable for the Drug Epidemic that swept across America in the wake of the ’60s.

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The Beatles, grooving at one of those famous ’60s LSD parties.

George Harrison, along with them other Beatles, was another one who greatly popularized the notion of LSD to a generation of youth.  People forget, in 1965 and 1966, the Beatles had an audience primarily of millions of prepubescent little kids.  Then, just a year later, they’re singing songs exstoling  the magical (as well as mystical and mysterious) virtues of LSD.  I remember as a 10 year old boy watching the Beatles Saturday Morning Cartoon Show,  and there were the cartoon Lads, singing “Tomorrow Never Knows.”  The lyrics taken practically word-for-word from Dr. Timothy Leary’s “The Psychedelic Experience”  — which he wrote as a How-To-Take-An-LSD-Trip guide.  Which is exactly how John Lennon intended the song . . . .   Nowadays, we’ve banned the Joe Camel cartoon character out of concern that it might influence children to smoke Camel cigarettes.  And yet, very little consideration was given to the potentially tragic aspects of the Beatles singing their LSD hymns to an audience of millions of kiddies.

After John Lennon’s murder in 1980 (by a guy my age who went nuts partially from gobbling down LSD by the handful back when he was a budding 14-year–old Beatlemaniac grooving to the Magical Mystery trip) George Harrison famously opined:  “This would have never happened if John had stayed in England.”  Shortly after, another Beatles-obsessed nut came within inches of murdering George in his English mansion.  Which no doubt contributed to George’s premature demise at age 58.

And me?  Somehow I’ve bucked the odds just to still be walking on two legs on God’s green earth at age 58.  Considering some of the demographics I’ve been in over the years — smoker, drinker, druggie, starving artist, long-time homeless — my life expectancy probably should have been around 40.

And if anybody just wants to write this rant off as, Sour Turd Blames Famous Celebrities For His Own Degenerate Drug Use, there’s probably more than an element of truth in that, too.