* based on a true story, as told to Undergrowth magazine...
The fourth method of awakening [i.e. enlightenment] is through the use of specific herbs. In Sanskrit it is called aushadi... knowledge of the herbs is a closely guarded secret.
- Swami Satyananda Sarawati, Kundalini Tantra
There cannot be the slightest doubt that the Hindus and probably the Buddhists of earlier days did regard the taking of psychedelic drugs as part of the wide range of sadhanas which led to ecstasy... The mythological and iconographical corollary to this is, apart from the personification of soma as the quintessence of all mind-affecting beverages, the frequent epithet of oiva as the lord of Herbs (Ausadhisvara).
– Agehanada Bharati, The Tantric Tradition
The Dalai Lama story... well, there's not much to it. It might all have been a hallucination really, the eternal play of Lila as if wafts down from the hills of Mount Meru. I am an unreliable narrator at best, dear reader, and you must remember that this was in my psychopuppy stage, when I used to take psychedelics and explore with the Buddhist masters. So Caveat Lector, and don’t try this in your home reality grid.
Anyway, back in '96 when I was caning it on acid I pictured Andrew Cohen, a New York-Bronx Jew who was the famous student of the guru Poonjaji turning into a crypto-lock on the cosmic sex-drive, with a big red button. He was pugnacious, arrogant, and a complete control freak with almost no compassion – so of course I had to control him. You must understand though, that there was never any egoistic motivations. I had to be arrogant to even attempt Satsang on Drugs, but it was research arrogance pure as the driven snow off Mt. Meru. These sessions were never games for amusement. It was all heart-broken dharma desperado with his back against the wall on a planet going to hell in a hand-basket. I meditated with Master Charles, another famous Australian Buddhist, in the late 1990s. All these teachers were caught up in a Satsang-vortex, day in and day out, locked into a pattern. It might be an exquisite pattern, but somewhere on their paths it got to a stage where higher consciousness started to form a barrier around them like an airbag, to stop them going on to the next level of their realisation. That's why I liked going to Satsangs on drugs, to get the masters wound up and hallucinating within their Satsang structure.
A Satsang is defined as the “fruit of all religious and devotional practices”, but around many teachers they can be like an eternal departure lounge where you can never get off the ground. How did I fall into this Satsang situation? Oh my God, I'm here and I'm surrounded by all these students and gush gush gush. When will I get a moment's peace to meditate, and all that? They're fucked. So in comes J. Random Psychonaut, who says "I'm going to rescue you. I'm going to pop you out of the spiritual teacher experience, and get you back on your path." Of course, they usually look at you like you're a fucking arrogant shithead. But that's karma, I guess.
Many people think that Buddhism is a force for the greater good in that it holds the template pattern of the prime reality together amongst the wavering sea of vibrational frequencies. And that is true. Buddhism is not a scam. It is a force for greater good, a MGO – Meta Governance Organisation in a way, just as the ACLU is more organised than the citizen field of the USA, and is an “reservoir consciousness” but it’s aims and objectives are by and for the citizen field of less self-organised and clear beings. In teh same way the Tibetan Buddhists are maintaining their own reservoir of consciousness, running their own renegade system in the Matrix. Most of their meditative output is devoted to maintaining it, with a bit left over for some active compassion in the world. But they still work to illuminate souls that come within the confines of their pattern. What most people don't know is that Buddhism, like virtually all of the root religions of the world, has it’s origins with different entheogenic plant catalysts, the somas of antiquity.
Deep connection has always begun with plant sacraments, and then become priestified and purified and controlled... Buddhism by way of plant analogies is like clover, it’s flowers are beautiful but modest, it integrates well with the other plants in the field, all plants in the numinous field feed off the earth of humanity, but buddha-clover is rhizomic is feeds back more nutrients by way of the rhizomes, back into the soil. Now the monks are like the nerds of consciousness with their fingers on the pulse of everything, methodically going about colonising different planes, like franchises. It's a bit like World Vision going to a third world country, but Buddhism is a trans-planar organisation, instead of a trans-national corporation. But they are the most eco-sound of the trans-planar corporations. As above so below, and all that. Buddhism established the franchise here on this plane about two and a half thousand years ago from some other trans-planar corporation of higher consciousness. It’s a self-sustaining hallucination of reality that they’ve forced onto the meta-structure of reality.
So anyway, one day back in '96, when the Dalai Lama visited Melbourne, I hacked the mainframe of the Buddhist Corporation and broke into the head office, straight into the mind of the CEO. The Buddhists were putting on a ten-day Kalachakra initiation, which involved the building of one of their mandalas made entirely from coloured sand. 'Kalachakra' means 'Wheel of Time' and is the name of one of the Buddhist deities which represents particular aspects of the Enlightened. It's pretty much the great tapestry of Buddhism, and by sheer force of will the Dalai Lama leads the monks in firing up the Kalachakra mandala on an astral level, which they then transmit to other Buddhists in the audience according to their lights and how pure they are in their practice.
After many years of intense meditation the Buddhists apperceive the astral in ways similar to the visions psychonauts can experience when on psychedelics and entheogenic plants. Yet drugs have often been referred to as the "left-hand path", as if their tumultuous psychic journeywork is in some way of a lesser quality than gradual mental strengthening. Such shortcuts are not conducive to the path of liberation, Buddhism says. But that's just the dogma of the Buddhist textual discipline – you've got to keep the shareholders in line. Buddhism is like the ocean. Most people are content to stay within the flags and play close to the shores in the tidal puddles. A few people may be capable of swimming out beyond the breakline into the deep swells. The opportunity is all there, but everyone's attention is on the beach. But as is well observed, Psychedelia is not necessarily conducive to discipline, it can be criticised as the muddle path in contradistinction to the middle path of Buddha-Dharma.
I wasn't there to make a scene, or to interrupt the proceedings at all. I just wanted to see what the whole Buddhist paradigm was like from the psychedelic point of view. I'd pick apart the teachings and size everyone up energetically. I had a $750 ringside ticket and I just caned myself on every psychedelic I could get my hands on for ten days: acid, mushrooms, marijuana... whatever could be found at the time, and there was a bit of a drought on, I must admit. It was pure curiosity – I wanted to put the psychedelic spotlight back on Buddhism. And I kept a strict poker-face all the time – no spasms, no outward signs of loss of motor control were allowed. Diamond point will was needed the whole time to maintain discretion and politeness yet at the same time fierce intent of inquiry.
It’s interesting watching all the Buddhists together at these types of intentional gatherings because it’s all very Old MacDonald Had a Farm… You could judge different types of Buddhists and compare them to different bird species… The Dalai Lama is the big peacock and he’s got his coterie of littler peacocks; and when they go into their thing and start meditating they’re opening up their psychic plumage. And just like the birds their chests get all puffed up and they tweet away. And then the Dalai Lama comes with his beak and pokes around and inspects them, making adjustments here and granting boons there. And there I am, the fox in the psychic chicken coop, and the other monks are trying to figure out where I sit in the cosmic pecking order.
Every form of rank structure exhibits rank abuse, but the Buddhists pattern is the most mellow form of rank abuse. That’s why they stress the compassion, the compassion. As you go up the gradations of refined consciousness you realise it’s a spiritual foodchain. Everything feeds on the levels below it, and the Buddhist mainframe is being fed by that consciousness reservoir they’ve been building all these thousands of years, that pirate sub-universe they’ve carved out for themselves on the inner wall of the Godhead.
So the Buddhist monks were there being very competent, rubbing their bellies and patting their heads at the same time while they're firing up the absolute 'biggie' of Buddhism – the Kalachakra mandala, which had a big thanka pattern on it. I waited till the Dalai Lama, the master programmer, was preoccupied flicking some psychic switches. He was vulnerable, so I went in for the kill, into the heart of the Buddhist mainframe. The Dalai Lama saw me coming, of course. Here's a member of the psychedelic ratbaggery, he thought, and I'll put on a show for him. We'll strut our stuff. Game on. He starts to generate his God-masks, and radiates unconditional love of all creatures, angels and demons. He was focussed on his work, not vulnerable, that gave me a window to dive in like Count Zero in Gibson’s Neuromancer.
I'd hack into the Buddhist mainframe one day, and the next day those portals would be locked, and there would be a smirk on the Dalai Lama's face as I tried to get in, only to go whoomp, and slide off his defenses like a fried egg on a frypan. And then I'd have to go around somewhere else and hack in again... They had all these bug fixes, these one day-turnaround bug fixes and they'd keep sealing all the holes. In a way, perhaps, they were just letting me in to do the annual stocktake on their filters and firewalls. I was like this little psychedelic bird on the back on a rhinoceros, picking off the ticks. Like a egg off a teflon frypan. I was impressed! One day turnaround on bug-fixes! Annual audit.
This all started when I visited the Australian Buddhist Barry (Bazza) Long, he was a local guru. He was a sort of tantric teacher, all man-woman stuff and cosmic yin-yang energies, you know, get your fucking right and everything's right with the universe. That's not true, everything's just right for you behind your white picket fence of your privatised ego-complex. He wasn't actually activating Buddha-nature, or Gandhi-nature, or Noam Chomsky-nature in the students, or any type of practical spirituality. And then one day I thought, Christ, you need to be on drugs to endure this, and bing!
That's how I became a dharma desparado. I felt the fucked-up-ness of the world had forced me to put a) and b) back together, Buddhism and psychedelics. The world was going to hell in a handbasket and the Buddhists apparently couldn't organise their way out of a paper bag on fire. Christianity is clearly a negativity generation engine, but was Buddhism merely an apathy generation mechanism? I considered it strategic psychedelic activism. Unlike baseline politics the psychonautical terra-ist (Latin for Earth, not terror) doesn't conduct assassinations, they perform liberations. You single out strategic points in the reality grid, whether they be politicians, pop-stars or parking ticket inspectors, and you router your psychedelic love-bomb at them when in higher states of consciousness. Bath them in love, and stand back to watch the explosion.
Back in '96 I spent six days with Gangaji on acid. It was a six-day residential retreat and I had, I don't know, about 21 trips, a big bag of hash and not enough bulbs. Gangaji and Andrew Cohen are sort of brother-sister teachers. They both came under the lineage of Poonjaji and were sort of roughly students at the same time. But they fought like cats and dogs over their approach to things. I kept trying to fling Gangaji out of her Satsang trap when I was loaded up and firing possible Satsang structures. That was the name of the game, as a force of intentionality. Gangaji seemed to clock on to what I was doing, but you know, I was wearing my blue meditation shawl and I was immaculately behaved. I don't flirt with the Dharma-babes, and that sort of thing, I kept it very straight. She knew I wasn't there to be disruptive, so she kept the Satsang going but she had to juggle two balls at the same time, if you will. It was pure research arrogance on my part, but I just decided to do it. It wasn't as if I had any qualifications in my Curriculum Vitae to trip out spiritual teachers.
So I started to tow the line a bit, and while on my psychedelic journey I entertained the idea of the relationship between Lord Buddha and Lord Mara, his ancient Nemesis. Mara was the one who came and tempted Buddha while he was under the Bodhi tree by firing off all the hallucinations, and tried to distract him from his path of liberation. And Lord Mara has this network of God energies he feeds on. The big thing about Buddhism is that there are no creator Gods, it's all a five-fold interdependent arising of different yin-yang attributes. Well, that's not true, there are creator Gods, but, well..., oh look, it gets complicated...
One could say that Buddhism is Lord Mara's greatest creation, his greatest indulgence. This is because even though they've achieved so much, Buddhists are still limited. They're so far against the wall they're in love with it, they want to know every nook and cranny of it. They want to know everything that's going on in consciousness because they're meta-policemen. There's a lot of nasty consciousness going down out there and the Buddhists want to know the causation of everything. They're the Nerds of Numinousity, Anorak wearing Godspotters.
So I stuck to the psychedelic communication level, picking away at them on the astral with my own inquiries. One shouldn't be able to ask these questions within orthodox Buddhism; I shouldn't be able to hack into the mainframe; I shouldn't be able to do anything. But when you're on drugs there's no rules anymore. Maybe I'm just hallucinating but I'm having fun.
Day Five, they decided to pull a practical joke on me. There was no earthly reason why I had to get up in the middle of these proceedings. I had five trips coming on strong and I'd taken care of the plumbing before liftoff. Yet I suddenly felt like I had to go to the toilet, and started crossing my legs and holding my bladder... Jesus, I really had to go to the toilet! But I hadn't even drunk anything in the last six hours, I thought to myself.
Then I looked over to the senior monks, and they were all smirking, and they sent this thoughtform out: hardy har har.
So I had to get up, dressed in black like something out of the Matrix, whacked on drugs, and discretely walk up all these aisles whilst facing off all these Buddhists to go to the toilet. But that was the worst they did to me really, and after that I came and sat back down. Not too bad, considering... They'd clocked on quickly that I had no interest in interfering with their meditations, but even still some of the purists were horrified by my attempts to traverse their spaces whilst on hallucinogens. So I'd almost peed my pants in front of the Dalai Lama whilst on acid, but that was only a gentle slap. We can hack into you, too, mate, they were saying.
After days of staring at it on acid, the intelligence at the heart of the kalachakra mandala came out as an eye, slowly looking around. And then it clocked on to me. Then the Dalai Lama looked at it and they both looked at me, and this thoughtform came at me, "who does this punk think he is?"
I am a simple traverser of the psychedelic planes, I pulsed back. No not, really. I don't know, don't ask me, I beamed at them sheepishly. I'm just on drugs.
About Day Six... I got a transmission from the Dalai Lama. I'd been caning it every day, of course, in the front row with the good monks while the Dalai Lama did his work in front of us and on the astral. And on this day he was looking very grim at one stage and then he suddenly cracked into a smile and said: "Most unorthodox, most unorthodox." Then he whipped out this pulsating ball of yin-yang energy and just huuurrled it at me. It went ker-plonk, right into my chest, a recursive fractal ball of energy... and I did go a little bit spastic. He got right through my shields, and there were a few twitches... just a few twitches before the poker face cam back on.
It was like getting a processor upgrade on the computer. I'd just jumped from a 486 processor to a Pentium as he infected me with his psychic virus. I still don't know to this day what it did inside me; but he got his hooks into me. And make no mistake – from within the Buddhist mainframe the Dalai Lama looks like Schwarzenegger. Rippling muscles. He looks like a harmless, cheeky little man on the outside, but his avatar on the astral is buff, very buff. Extremely buff.
And suddenly some discarnate entity starts to appear above him, all teeth and claw and tentacles, multiple eyes and bright volcanic light as it manifested. It was like a star with teeth, Old Gods from the Cthulhu mythos or a Kraken from the ocean. It started to form above the Dalai Lama's right shoulder and grow bigger and bigger and bigger. The Dalai Lama remained calm, reading his Pali, his Tibetan prayer book, going chunka chunka chunk as he fired up the mandala. So in the astral I sort of tap the Dalai Lama on the shoulder and he glanced up. Hey buddy, look behind you!
I start communicating with the entity and it’s then that I notice he has all these astral puppet strings going into the Dalai Lama, some right up into his bum. If you did a psychic audit on our bums you’d find that all the control strings come through there. It's the last place you'd look, so the entities always go there. Anyway, this entity is sniggering. Now you've got to remember that the Dalai Lama is Jainist in his approach to the sanctity of life forms. He won't even kill a mosquito, he has to keep shooing them away. On a psychic level, when an entity like the one here starts to devour him into the cosmic ecology, he can't kill it. He has to have boundaries, but he can't kill even malevolent deities. He has to see through their God masks, and this one was a very profound God mask, sniggering quite a lot as it watched us.
You may think I would have jumped into the psychic fire and wrestled the entity to the ground, saving the Dalai Lama and getting some fine Buddhist boy-scout medals for my actions. But no. These are the big boys, and they know what they're doing. But what they know and what they act upon are two different things. Anyway, this might be a test – this might be something they do to psychonautical terra-ists like me all the time. It's pretty wild at the top levels of the Buddhist world, and clearly caution was needed.
Suddenly the Dalai Lama just catches the entity and compresses it. He doesn't let it come into this dimension, he just seals off that portal it came through in front of my eyes. He's onto it.
The Dalailamanator in action.
Towards the end of the proceedings I started to get paranoid, thinking the monks were ganging up on me with the past Buddhist masters I'd dabbled with in the astral. I was having a flashback to an earlier session with Andrew Cohen, and remember, the man has almost no compassion. He goes into his Satsang and starts to build up his God masks, and most of it comes across as demonic. One of the themes that goes through his teachings is absolute unconditional love, and one logical consequence of that is unconditional love of demonic nature. I started to feel like I was in a psychedelic Vietnam... But thoughts of surrender were for weaker soldiers.
It started slipping into pure virtuality as I faced off against Cohen and tried to get him to remember that he was an intelligent being on the cosmic crypto-lock sex drive, and I was going to activate him so we could reboot the universe. As I said, I was in a psychopuppy stage. He was intrigued, you know, like he hadn't visited these aspects of consciousness before. Let's cane it, see what happens. So I routed psychedelic energy at him and he loved it. It wasn't a psychedelic attack, per se, just a signal he could choose to tune in on. And he loved it. I met him later in a coffee shop and we shook hands and he said "It's all good sport, isn't it?" But he hasn't come back to Australia since '97, he's in no rush, I'll tell you that.
So anyway, there I was meditating, begrudgingly, do I have to do this all by my fucking self, I wondered. Jesus Christ. DL was going through the part of the ritual where the dorje, you know, the lightning bolt – it looks like four infinity symbols stitched together– is joined by the bell, the tantric bell. And as he starts to sacralise the experience he rings the bell, ding-da-ding-da-ding, he shakes the dorje, the lightning bolt… That’s usually where it stops, but this time he found himself shaking two extra things. And he looked up in surprise at that. This is a ritual he’s been doing for centuries, ritual after ritual in reincarnation after reincarnation. Chonk. Chonk chonk. Chonk chonk, with the dorje. And now the pattern had been broken.
One of the things he was holding that broke the pattern was a Tripping Manual I had written some years previously. I’ve got no idea how my Tripping Manual got up there on stage at the altar, but it was there and he was shaking it. And he was seeing how manipulation of it could shape the fabric of reality. And then he shook the other thing, which was the Ohm system, and he saw how that too, changed the fabric of reality. Now you must remember: the Buddhists are the Prime Pattern Holders in equilibrium with Lord Mara. The Tripping manual is a textual psychedelic, The AUM-OHM system is a organisational psychedelic.
After he’s shaken both of them he glances over precisely at me, as if to say, what are you messing around with here? I pulsed back, that the world was going to Hell in a handbasket and you Buddhists are apparently incapable of moderating the process to stop it. So I’ve developed this text as a non-chemical hallucinogen catalyst. A psychedelic made out of text, and a psychedelic made out of the Ohm system, of pure information.
It was then that I felt these two gigantic cobra fangs stick themselves in either side of my neck. And then this sort of astronaut mask went zooonk over my head like a bank-safe door shutting. I was in the astral Cone of Silence, in the deep, deep end of the eschatological shit. I don’t know what happened to that helmet; I’ve probably still got it on to this day for all I know.
Part of the $750 ringside ticket I had bought enabled me to press the flesh and meet the Dalai Lama at the end of the Kalachakra initiation at some private sponsors gig at a swanky hotel. I was in crisis mode by this stage because I wanted to meet the Dalai Lama and shake his hand on mushrooms as a final cheerio gesture, but I'd run out of mushrooms, of course. They'd been carefully deployed during the final stages of the Kalachakra initiation, and all I had left was a very dubious trip and a joint. The only other thing left in the altered states pantry was an Ecstasy tablet.
So I dropped my disco biscuit and the rest. After ten days of caning it all the drugs were the same by then. It was just another generic psychedelic, plonk. There wasn't any love or heart opening; I wasn't really feeling anything but bent, really, whacked. But I was in my merchant banker's suit and I was the best dressed person in the room. And this was the inner sanctum; these were all the serious students, the devotees and senior monks. I was the only one in the room on drugs, I guarantee you that without a doubt. Not whacked, ripped, twisted, bent, ripped and twisted, but nothing special. I was rallying the flag for the psychedelic embassy and all my diplomatic credentials were unauthorised! As Noam Chomsky might say.
You had to give mandala prayer offerings to the Dalai Lama, and as you remember, I was big on the causal relationship between Lord Mara and Buddha at the time. So my offering happened to be a little Catholic plaster rendition face cast of Jesus. I painted it up and one eye was the normal glowing white, and the other eye was a sort of red yin-yang eye. And that was meant to be Lord Buddha and Lord Mara. I passed the bodyguard test, and they were very clued in bodyguards, able to read the energy fields in the psychic ether. They all smiled at me and let me pass, and I gave the plaster cast Jesus to the Dalai Lama and shook his hand.
Just a shake, no agenda, no psychedelic spin doctoring. The Dalai Lama just smiled and gave me the white ceremonial scarf, placing it around my neck. But as soon as the senior students clocked on to what I was doing, this Catholic image of Jesus with one demonic eye and one normal eye, they became enraged. A wave of righteous anger and hate rose of them and seared towards me. That someone would dare do this to the Dalai Lama, they seethed. But there was nothing they could do. No spin doctoring, no winks or nudges nor secret masonic handshakes, no “I know, you know etc” just formal politeness and minimum energetic imprinting, anything else would have been declasse and infra-dig, this was closure, not competition.
The Dalai Lama talked, and meditated, and he had this huge mandala with 12 interlocking levels, like a psychedelic doormat. So I focused on that, and on him and together we both got the energy field moving within the mandala. And then I clocked him clocking on to me and I realized: this is the relationship between Buddhism and Psychedelia. That neither the left-hand nor right-hand path has all the goods, in fact all the goods only comes together when you put psychedelics in the context of Buddhism.
And you know what’s funny? The day the Dalai Lama left town, the drug drought broke, and you could score acid again everywhere. I wish I could say the same about the enlightenment.