Journeys Into The Bright World
by Marcia Moore
Pages : 184
Pub Date : 1978
Publisher : Para Research Inc
ISBN : 0914918125
Why did Marcia Moore, the celebrated yoga teacher, astrologer and author, and Howard Sunny Alltounian, MD, a successful and respected anesthesiologist, risk their health, their careers, even their sanity?
This is the intimate personal story of their life together, their love and their explorations into forbidden zones of higher consciousness.
Here is tape-recorded evidence of the struggles they endured, the past lives they relived and the joy that they found–under the guidance of the goddess Ketamine. It’s an inner-space adventure story, more exciting and more profound than any novel. And every word true.
Marcia Moore was a famous author of New Age books. She first took ketamine in 1976, aged 48, with friends in California. A year later she suggested taking ketamine to Howard Alltounian, MD, an anesthetist who came to one of her workshops. After two such ‘journeys’ together, as they called them, they became engaged, having known each other for just a week:
The spell was raying forth in a multihued canticle, a garland of love woven with bands of light – the next ten minutes or so were the most emotionally intense – the Goddess Ketamine had put the seal of approval on our union… At the point of emergence I often did weep and my tears seemed to be drops drawn directly from a shoreless sea of inexpressibly deep feelings…ketamine works primarily on the ’emotional body’ whereas LSD is more mental in its effects..(Moore & Alltounian 1978)
Moore named what she perceived to be the ‘highest’ level of her experiences ‘the cosmic matrix’ or ‘cosmatrix’, the source from which everything was said to be derived. She noted that ketamine produced a ‘higher, clearer and more real trip’ than LSD, although some people just felt ‘disconcertingly whacked out’, and that ketamine produced fragmentation into subpersonalities, including her role as ‘priestess of the Goddess Ketamine’. She took the drug with ever-increasing frequency, noted a rapid tolerance, her mental boundaries became more porous as ‘the message of the Goddess’ was interpreted as ‘let the soul (the light) seep through’, and there was an apparent increase in ‘magical’ coincidences between mental and physical events. By early 1978, she was taking the drug daily and only slept for 3 hours per night. She went to visit John Lilly, who had just been through a prolonged ketamine binge and near fatal accident. She told him that she intended ‘to ride this comet through to the end’: John Lilly’s last words to me were: ‘you’d better be damn strong if you’re going to play that game’…As this book goes to press I have once again increased the doses. (Moore & Alltounian 1978).
‘The Priestess’, aged 50, disappeared on a freezing winter’s night in January, 1979. Her bleached skeleton was found two years later. She had gone at night into a nearby forest, and frozen to death after injecting herself with all the ketamine she could find (Jansen 2000).
The theme of this book is the sacramental use of medical technology in raising the consciousness of man. Originally, our intent was to produce a guide to “samadhi therapy” as facilitated by the’ anesthetic agent ketamine hydrochloride. However, our accumulating notes soon transformed themselves into an intensely personal account of the stages by which we came to believe that in the right hands this unique substance could be safely, easily and advantageously applied toward the psychospiritual regeneration of planet Earth.
In the past, anesthesia has put people to sleep. Now we have discovered that it can also awaken them to their highest human potential. Medicine need no longer be confined to the alleviation of the symptoms of disease; it can help produce radiant health. We do not mean to imply that ketamine is a placebo, a panacea or the ultimate key to the celestial kingdom. There seems good reason to suppose, when, if we do not soon grow up, we may squeeze ourselves right off this planet.
We believe that people have as much right to accelerate their higher mental development as they have to speed their journey toward any goal—within limits, of course. A traveler is justified in exchanging a donkey cart for a car, but this does not give him the right to drive recklessly. Since we are writing for intelligent people, we expect our readers to use as much common sense as they would when driving on a highway. Even though idiots and drunken drivers do abound, mind trips like car trips can take us to many beautiful places.
For the most part, our narrative has focused on the therapeutic and mind-expanding effects of ketamine, assuming from the outset that these two aims are inextricably blended. That is, achieving a broader outlook on life is inherently therapeutic. Hence, one of our purposes in coining the term “samadhi therapy” is to show that experiencing the blissful state that the practitioners of yoga call samadhi can have practical advantages. Real joy—the lift that springs spontaneously from the revelation of the glory of creation—can be physically and psychologically beneficial. However, as any perceptive reader can see, many related issues are involved. The art of correct dying, the study of archetypes, the analysis of the connections among meaning of existence are all illumined with the light of a new understanding. Essentially, we are investigating the border zone between science and religion, viewing them as intersecting spheres of endeavor, which year by year are being brought into clearer stereoscopic alignment.
We are well aware of the disputable aspects of our research, but we firmly believe that the importance of this work will eventually be recognized. In the meanwhile, we are accumulating data banks, files of transcripts and all the paraphernalia of modern technology, assuming that time will bring a consensus of first-hand observations to support our conclusions. Positive results will tell the story. For now we offer ourselves and a few others as examples, hoping that this start will stimulate further progress.
Many people are justifiably critical of the “instant ecstasy” promised and sometimes produced by various psychedelic substances, and such criticism is justified, because the long-range effects have so often proved disappointing. Fifteen years ago there were many, including Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) and Tim Leary who believed that LSD might usher in a spiritual dissipated. Why then, should today’s drug-sophisticated observer accept the claims of ketamine’s advocates, who insist they have found the ultimate high? Obviously, such eulogies sound too good to be true. Like children who know there is no Santa Claus, we have been tuned to spot the worm in the apple, the fly in the ointment, the bluish tinge of rot beneath the bloom on the peach.
To such skeptics we can say only, why not try the substance yourself before passing judgment? Or at least, speak with those who have made the effort to gain such knowledge. People who have adopted this open-minded attitude have not been disappointed.
In the interim, we can assure you that our “samadhi sessions” will be safe and agreeable. Indeed, ketamine is such a well-tested anesthetic that it is commonly prescribed for the fragile patients at both ends of the medical spectrum—for young children and for senior citizens. Even in these cases, the amounts given for anesthesia are six or more times the dosages we have used and are administered intravenously rather than intramuscularly.
The fact that for the most part ketamine has no negative aftereffects has been exhaustively documented over more than a decade of impeccably conducted scientific research. Its demonstrated safety is particularly remarkable, because to date it has been used mainly under distressing hospital conditions in conjunction with narcotics and tranquilizers. By now, enough conscientious and reliable people have taken ketamine “trips” to justify the conclusion (hat hangovers, depressions, and that “freaked-out” feeling are conspicuously absent.
“Yes,” some objectors declare, “I would like to expand my consciousness, but I feel that I must do it for myself.”
To this, our usual reply is that doing everything for oneself can be an unbearably limiting factor as well as an exercise in egotism. What if we had to weave all our own clothes, grow our own food, make our own paper and so forth! In actuality we accomplish hardly anything manifest interdependence attests to nature’s determination to force us to overcome isolationist tendencies. Even our two most essential physiological functions, eating and breathing, serve as constant reminders that in every respect we are obliged to use what lies outside of the confines of the bodily organism.
In the end, we do nothing alone and everything by our selves. Let us remember, however, that these myriad intermeshing “selves” are composite facets of the one transcendent Self in all. If we serve one another, if we accept help from outside agencies, that merely shows our faith in the supreme Identity that constitutes the sum and substance of creation.
People have also objected that spiritual development should not be hastened by “unnatural” means. But what really is natural? If it is permissible to harness physical forces such as steam and electricity, why should we not utilize the heretofore untapped powers of mind and soul? Directing the evolutionary energies of human consciousness need not contravene natural law. Indeed, there may be a spiritual instincts through a deliberate, self-willed forcing process.
It would indeed be gratifying if nature automatically raised us up the evolutionary escalator. Instead, climbing requires hard work. For the most part, we have to ascend on our own legs, slowly, painstakingly, against a multitude of resistances. At the same time, there is an Intelligence that lends a helping hand. We believe that ketamine can be an instrument of that great redemptive cosmic principle that makes us want to move on. The wholemaking impulse called synergy is as natural as the disintegrative impulse called entropy. Curiously enough, however, laziness, dogmatism and conservatism often masquerade as compliance with God’s will, while the determination to better oneself provokes howls of protest from those who do not wish to see the old order disturbed.
We know how much drugs can do to enchance sexual behavior. Why then, shouldn’t they be used to enhance our moral and spiritual behavior? Why do we insist on the dichotomy between matter and mind, making it permissible to take vitamins for the body but not for the soul7 A hormone that enables a man to make love more effectively is touted in medical journals. But what would be the public reaction to a hormone that simply made him a more loving human being?
It has been amply demonstrated that some psychedelic substances can be therapeutically effective. In cases of alcoholism, depression and terminal disease, LSD has precipitated psychological breakthroughs after all other methods of treatment failed. Rightly and responsibly used, consciousness-altering substances have earned an esteemed place in modern medicine’s ever-growing pharmacopoeia. Why then, are the “mind-manifesting” drugs stilI regarded with so much fear? Can it be because modern science still lingers on the threshold of the unconscious, hesitating to knock too loudly for fear of what might be revealed if the door should open?
The politicians of the nervous system have good reason to mistrust the Pandora’s box of psychedelia that was opened up in the 1960s, for the universe thereby revealed bears little resemblance to the reassuringly solid world of objects that can be collected, manipulated and controlled. If the arbiters of the various bureaucratic establishments that keep as in our places were to acknowledge the validity of the psychedelic experience, they would have to rethink the ethical systems. People whose most intimate personal experiences have convinced them that everything is interrelated are hardly likely ‘ to support the armaments race or to wax enthusiastic over the production of bigger and better neutron bombs.
It is true, as many will point out, that the psychedelic repertoire has been sadly debased. What was once a sacrament has been profaned, delivered over to the gods of the gutter and consigned to the votaries of oblivion. Ironically, some of the worst drug abuses were perpetrated by academicians in legal experiment. When LSD was first being studied, volunteers, attracted by the promise that they would be paid ten dollars for their time, were left unsupervised in ugly laboratory settings and summarily dismissed when the experiment was finished. Both the Army and the CIA were quick to look for any destructive potential in the hallucinogens, but they soon lost interest, because the effects produced obviously did not lend themselves to warfare. On the whole, underground consumers handled the situation more sensitively, except for the unfortunate circumstance that many of the bootleg drugs weren’t pure. Possibly the most disastrous effect of the whole psychedelic fiasco was that a generation of inquirers became conditioned to the necessity of breaking the laws of the land in order to study the laws of their own inner being.
Although ketamine falls into the category of the psychedelic substances, it is qualitatively different and, we believe, superior. It need not be misused, and probably will not be, unless it is summarily outlawed. However, to be a worthy servant of mankind, it will have to be accepted, not just as a way of getting high, but also as a valuable aid to self-understanding. In this respect it seems noteworthy that many of the critics who have labeled the psychedelic substances “unnatural” have made no objections to lobotomies, shock treatments and the widespread practice of drugging mental patients into a catatonic stupor. It may be that these drastic procedures have been condoned, not because they are natural but because the dispensing of uppers, downers, stimulants and tranquilizers has become the norm. Actually, the effects of the various psychedelic agents have rarely been objectionable, except when misused by people whose behavior is objectionable. Rather, what has been hard for conservative people to deal with has been the spiritual implications of the experiences produced by psychedelic drugs.
To date, the official medical literature on ketamine has been pervaded by the assumption that any “emergence reaction” left in the wake of this anesthetic has to be a dream, hallucination or unwholesome symptom. This unwillingness to admit the possible validity of the insights gained is an example of the “medical materialism” that the psychologist William James described in The Varieties of Religious Experience:
Medical materialism finishes up St. Paul by calling his vision on the road to Damascus a discharging lesion of the occipital cortex, he being an epileptic. It snuffs out Saint Theresa as an hysteric. Saint Francis of Assisi as an hereditary degenerate. George Fox’s discontent with the shams of his age and his pining for spiritual veracity, it treats as a symptom of a disordered colon. Carlyle’s organ tones of misery it accounts for by a gastro-duodenal catarrh….And medical materialism thinks that the spiritual authority of all such personages is thereby successfully undermined.
In the opposite camp, those who have experimented with ketamine deny that they are dreaming or hallucinating, even though the effect can be that of a child turned loose in a surrealistic Disneyland of animated archetypes. Most subjects feel that they are simply altering their usual modes of perception, removing the filters of sensory limitations and opening the windows of consciousness to new and higher levels of meaning. At the same time, they do not regard the outer world as less real, even though they recognize its limitations. Rather, they become aware of the flatness of consensual reality and begin to see through the systematized illusions that have made the mundane plane such a difficult place in which to function. They discover that there are mountains of the mind, and are given the impetus to ascend.
It is our conviction that the fauna and flora of ketamine’s magical kingdom are in no way weird or abnormal, even though the substance most definitely does open the gates to alternate realities. Peering through the smog of planet Earth, however, it is hard to escape the conviction that its affairs are out of whack to the point of insanity, are reminded of a story recounted by the free-wheeling guru Ram Dass about the confrontation between a mental patient and his psychiatrist. The patient was convinced that he was Christ, the psychiatrist was convinced that he was a psychiatrist, and each was absolutely certain that the other was insane. In our case, therefore, all we can do is describe what happened to us, our friends, and coworkers, and leave it to the reader to decide who may or may not be deranged. We know that the subconscious is inherently bizarre, but we can still explore it in a sensible way.
For the most part, our ketamine experiences have been set down when and as they happened. Hence, our original desire to organize the material systematically, topic by topic, has been sacrificed to the more artistic urge to convey the continuity of a grand adventure. So we have presented our insights chronologically rather than encyclopedically. The intrinsic properties of our boundary-dissolving elixir lead us to detail its effects in the manner of a tapestry of soft-colored squares.
Books, like wine and cheese, usually need time to mellow. However, the cathartic action of ketamine is so intense that it accelerates all functions. One senses that the very cells of the body are being jiggled into a faster rhythm. The mind churns out new thoughts, while the illumination intensifies the desire to shine on others and warm their hearts.
This quickening of responses has made us peculiarly aware of the urgency of the times. Truly, we are now living in the midst of Armageddon. At this moment of supreme planetary crisis every effort must be made to regenerate the ailing body of humanity, to redeem culture as seeds for future seasons of growth. Out of our concern widi the current world situation, we have decided to publicize our research even before we can vindicate our activities with a mass of meticulously documented statistical studies. In short, we are “blowing our cover,” with the full knowledge that we are taking a calculated risk in stirring up resistances before we are strong enough to withstand the opposition. There simply isn’t time to fiddle while Rome burns.
A point that must be made clear from the outset is that at no time have we engaged in any kind of illegal activity. There is no law prohibiting the use of ketamine by a licensed physician. It is a commonly used anesthetic that has been extensively tested and found so safe that even in an instance when ten times the normal anesthetic dose was administered there were few negative aftereffects. At the same time we want to emphasize that this is an exceedingly powerful medicine, which should be properly supervised and administered by a trained specialist. We conscientiously inquire into the subject’s medical background, monitor pulse and blood pressure. To date, however, there have been no untoward reactions.
In this respect, we have drawn on Howard’s unblemished fifteen-year record as a (ull-time practicing anesthesiologist and Marcia’s thirty-five years of metaphysical studies. For both, this has been an apprenticeship in dealing with potentially dangerous substances. The hazards of an anesthesiologist’s trade are clearly evident, since the patient is suspended just this side of death. As a teacher of hatha yoga, Marcia learned that you don’t fool around with necks and knees, much less with heavy-duty breathing exercises. As an astrological counselor, she discovered how to avoid the pitfalls inherent in psychotherapeutic situations. Her work with hypersentience was a further application of powerful mind-opening techniques to ameliorate a variety of human dilemmas.
We both feel that as a result of the care and caution we have shown in practicing these preliminary disciplines, we have been entrusted with the sacred gift of ketamine therapy. Neither of us is preoccupied with money, power or fame. We live modestly, eat vegetarian food, practice yoga, meditate and work long hours, often without remuneration. To date we have taken no money for our samadhi therapy. For years all Marcia’s earned income has gone to support the Atlanta Foundation located in Ojai, California and to publish the quarterly Hypersentience Bulletin. Funds derived from our ketamine research will also be plowed back into this humanitarian foundation.
As we broaden the base of our activities we will try to keep our reading audience up to date. For now, despite our initially narrow focus, there is so much ground to cover that we are releasing this first progress report. If widespread interest is aroused the work will go forward that much faster. Presumably, we will complete our follow-up ketamine book which will be an academically acceptable clinical and statistical study. In the meantime here, hot off the fire, are our first impressions. With the hope that this Promethean offering can be utilized for the benefit of humanity, we will try to describe how we began and hope that others will profit from our experiences.
1: You Have to Die to be Reborn
Anesthetic drugs with actions at specific sites in the central nervous system have been sought for a long time as alternatives to general anesthetics which have far-reaching effects on the brain. The most successful of these to date has been ketamine.
—Introduction to Anesthesia: The Principles of Safe Practice,
(5th edition) Dripps, Robert D.. M.D.. Eckenhoff, James E., M.D.,
Leroy, Vandam, D. M.D., W.B, Sounders Company.
Ketalar is a nonbarbiturate anesthetic chemically designated dl 2-(o-chlorophy-2-(methylarnino) cycfahexanone hydrochhfide. It is formulated as a slightly acid (pH 3.5 to 5.5) solution for intravenous of either 10, 50, or 100 mg ketamine base per milliliter and contains 0.1mg/ml Phemerol (benzethonium chloride) as a preservative. The 10 mg/ml solution has been made isotonic with sodium chloride.
My first ketamine-ruled flight into the Bright World that glistens behind the flashing neural synapses of the brain was launched in Big Sur, California.
It was April 1976. On this mellow spring afternoon my driving companion Isabel Buell and 1 were wending our way up the Pacific Coast feeling more carefree by the hour. Having left our homes in Southern California that morning we were on the first lap of a lecture tour to Seattle and British Columbia where we where scheduled to introduce people to the technique of reincarnation therapy which I have termed “hypersentience.” This art of recapitulating former lifetimes has been extensively discussed in my book Hypersentience and is now widely practiced as a rapidly growing branch of modern psychotherapy as well as for the sake of spiritual self-development.
As the miles felt behind us I found myself anticipating the pleasure of introducing Isabel to my friend Jane who was to be our hostess for the night. At that time Jane, who is a distinguished writer and psychologist, was ensconced in a charming house perched on a pinnacle overlooking the sea. Because it might jeopardize her current career I am not using her real name in this book. However, everything else in this account has been set down precisely as it happened since at no time were any of us engaged in illicit practices.
I have always been inordinately proud of my friends and was already envisioning the social time ahead with Isabel with her cloud of dark hair and snapping black eyes and Jane with her serene blonde comeliness, azure gaze, and starlit intellect. How gratifying, I thought, that two such mentally superior women should also embody such an abundance of physical charm. Already Isabel and 1 had enjoyed an enchanted day and our long journey had only just begun.
As our loaded station wagon wound back and forth along the serpentine coastal highway I toyed with the hope that it might be possible to experiment with a little known psychedelic delicacy about which Jane had spoken a few months earlier when she had come to my hometown of Ojai, California. She said that the substance was a synthetic compound called ketamine, that it was more potent than LSD, and produced no negative reactions. Indeed, many had found it to be the essence of bottled bliss. Naturally, therefore, I was suspicious.
At this point my feelings about chemical mind trips were mixed. I have always avoided drugs of all sorts and did not even keep aspirin in my medicine cabinet. Even now, although I am married to a physician, vitamin pills and some burn salve constitute my entire therapeutic repertoire. In our household anyone who gets sick can expect to be dosed with herb tea and encouraged to do yoga exercises.
I have always opposed the taking of barbiturates, amphetamines, and all forms of uppers and downers, except in cases of real medical need. Resorting to such artificial aids is like borrowing money from a bank. Sooner or later whatever has been taken out has to be paid back with interest. In the meanwhile, the circadian rhythms of the body are disrupted and addictive tendencies have been encouraged. The current trend toward cocaine sniffing is to me a loathsome development. However, when it comes to the therapeutic potential of certain psychedelic drugs it appears that there are still many subterranean veins of gold to be explored within the human mindfield. If religion is the opium of the people, then the hallucinogenics may be the inside dope.
As a longtime metaphysical student I felt duty bound to cultivate some first-hand acquaintance with the magic potions that so strongly stimulated the occult revival of the last part of this century. After all, much of my literary success stemmed from the coincidence of having returned from a two-and-a-half year sojourn in India to set up shop as a yoga teacher in 1961, just in time to ride the rising wave of interest in Eastern philosophies. While observing the successive crests of the Zen-Beatnik-Macrobiotic-Psychedelic-Hippie movement it was gratifying to fancy that I played a small role in advancing the causes of yoga, astrology, and re-incarnation therapy. At the same time, those of us who were in the vanguard need to remember that the cocks who crow at daybreak have not thereby made the sun come up. For sure, the light of a new age was ready to dawn.
Although I had smoked some grass, experimented with mescaline twice and LSD once, and even ingested two tablespoons of heavenly blue morning-glory seeds, none of these substances had been totally satisfactory. Marijuana was no special “turn on.” Mescaline produced some intriguing hallucinations along with a few real spiritual insights but left the body ravaged. The morning-glory seeds, choked down via a cup of viscid tomato soup, resulted in the same kind of “high” but tasted and felt so nauseas that for years I couldn’t stand the smell of tomato soup. All these endeavors left me with the tantalizing sensation of having caught a few sneak previews of a show that never came to town.
My single LSD trip was painful but well worth the risk. At eight o’clock on an evening of undisturbed solitude I swallowed the small white capsule supplied by a hippie friend. During the next two hours of waiting nothing happened except for an increasing malaise. By ten danced behind my eyes and there appeared no doubt but that insanity was pressing in. An hour later there seemed little chance of surviving the night. Surely I was dying! What would happen when my lifeless corpse was discovered?
After still another wretched hour my body was suddenly compelled to sit bolt upright. Glancing at my watch I noticed that both hands pointed straight up. !t was exactly midnight. At that moment a current of blue flame rose from my spine along the backbone and shot out through the top of my skull. Like champagne bubbling from a bottle my spirit rushed out into an effervescent empyrean in which the entire cosmos resembled a gloriously scintillating multi-petaled lotus. This had to be the primordial, eternally flowing fountainhead of creation, the supremely effulgent core of all that which is!
This awesome peek through the rent veil of space and time probably lasted less than ten seconds. At that point the thought occurred that if I didn’t somehow contrive to squeeze back into the cramped contours of the body it would be impossible ever to return. Reluctant-submitted once again to the bondage of the brain.
The rest of the night was glorified with visions of sparkling colors, flowing streams of light, and bursts of gemlike scintillae, as though the watchkeepers of the psyche were celebrating their brief spate of independence from normal perceptual controls. In tune with these neural pyrotechnics my heart seemed to open up and melt with a beatific love for all beings. I totally grasped the fact that compassion is the consciousness of God and that the capacity to relate sympathetically to all beings is the purest manifestation of the divinity within. Would it henceforth be possible to make my own life a more radiant expression of that sublime concern for the lowest and least particles of creation?
From that moment I have never doubted the essential reality of the vision perceived during my ten-second glimpse into the illimitable grandeur of a Self-illuminating cosmos. I knew beyond all question that the revelation was not just in my own head. That corruscating blossom was no mere mirage of a mind disordered by an artifically induced concatenation of phase sequences in the cortex. To this day I believe that this is how the universe really is—an incandescent vortex spiraling outward through multi-dimensional designs of indescribable richness and beauty. And, amazingly enough, the whole pattern looks much like a flower.
Even though the joy vibrations lingered on, the forcible dilation of my sensory apparatus left me “freaked-out” and exhausted for three days. Consequently, 1 determined not to push my luck by soliciting a repeat performance. It was enough to know that this luminous reality existed and could be apprehended even while the soul remained attached to its cage of flesh. I was grateful for this gift of “gratuitous grace” and willing to descend into the valley from whence the next mountaintop of spiritual discovery would have to be climbed under my own steam.
Now more than five years later it appeared that another chance might be granted to peck like a fledgling chicken beyond the egg-shaped confines of the skull. Even with my yogic practices this dome of bone remained an obdurate barrier between my ego-encapsulated persona and the bright beyond. Several months earlier when Jane first mentioned ketamine she insisted that although the substance was as potent as LSD it was gentle on the body, clarified the mind, and lasted less than an hour. Moreover, in many people it produced what appeared to be genuine out-of-the-body experiences.
Being of the school of thought that holds that you don’t get something for nothing it was hard for me to believe that any drug could shatter the rigid defenses of consciousness without damaging the embryonic organism within. Nevertheless, I was impressed by Jane’s insistence that she had taken the substance at least two hundred times herself and had presided over as many sessions with others. Only once had there been an adverse reaction. On this exceptional occasion difficulty arose because the subject tried to move about as the drug took effect. Evidently he was trying to assert his own powers of control.
Even with my limited experience 1 well understand this problem. With all “mind-manifesting” substances surrender is the name of the game. Once you take that dive into the deep waters of the psyche it is useless to make a frantic grab for the springboard in midair. Changing one’s mind at that point can result only in a disagreeable belly flop. The forces engendered must take their course. In this respect the cultivated relaxation of yoga makes an excellent preparation for the psychedelic plunge. Still more important is the basic quality of faith in the goodness of the Universe and in the divine Self within.
We had little difficulty finding Jane’s house, which lay snugly hidden below the hillside where the traffic snaked back and forth between mountains and sea. Jane herself greeted us warmly at the door and ushered us into a sanctuary that was an esthetic delight, alive with thriving plants, a few exotic sculptures and wall hangings, and with a view of the sparkling surf below. The wide-windowed livingroom was sparsely but elegantly furnished with black japanese-style mats and cushions laid out on a shining wood floor. At one end a sloping brick fireplace melded harmoniously into the richness of trailing greenery, while at the other a redwood porch jutted out among the treetops. Each graciously fashioned touch was an invitation to repose.
Toward the end of the afternoon the three of us drove to Big Sur’s world-famed Esalen Institute where we luxuriated in the outdoor mineral baths while watching the sun sink over the sea and the stars come out. As the darkness deepened Jane lit candles and incense and I was reminded of the purficatory bathing rituals said to have been practiced in the legendary temples of Greece, Egypt, and Atlantis where sleep therapy was commonly practiced. Gazing at that candle flame against the sky I hoped that if my long-time dream of helping to launch a holistic healing center ever came true the work would be carried on in a place with natural hot springs.
Returning to the house we met Jane’s spiritual “little brother,” a slender young man with long hair who had adopted the East Indian name Rama. Although Rama lived reclusively back in the hills he made occasional trips to Mexico where he was able to obtain a supply of ketamine. Although he did not bother to explain the nature of his mission to the authorities, presumably he was breaking no law since no steps had been taken to ban this particular medicine.
Somehow, in an understated way, it was conveyed to us that Rama would share his precious elixir with us if we so desired. Isabel, who is fortunate enough to be naturally clairvoyant and able to tune in on cosmic verities without a chemical booster, declined, but I gratefully accepted the offer. From start to finish the issue of payment was never raised. I knew that Jane, who worked hard for a living, was not affluent. Certainly Rama was not making a fortune as a drug runner. The purity of their intentions was incontrovertible.
As the evening wore on Jane, with a minimum apparent effort, produced an exquisite dinner for four. The menu consisted of fresh baby artichokes which, to our amazement, had no chokes, salad, soup, fruit, nuts, and a discreet glass of wine. No one seemed to be in any Hurry to do anything, Around ten o’clock Isabel excused herself to retire to a small side bedroom and I made my place for the night on one of the living room mats.
As I relaxed, Rama explained that he would be the one to administer the injection. The sterilized needle would be inserted not into a vein but directly into the muscle tissue. I was simply to let go and enjoy the experience. It was clear that Rama was an expert with the hypodermic which he thrust into my arm smoothly and painlessly. I noticed that the fluid was as clear as water and took only a couple of seconds to leave the syringe. In less than two minutes, far sooner than expected, the rush began.
April 1976 BigSur, California 50mg
It started with a slight giddiness and a noise like the chirping of crickets. The cricket chorus rapidly swelled to a smooth purring roar similar to that produced by the motor of a well-tuned racing car. This was not one solid sound but rather a propeller-like staccato whirr which seemed to come from an external source. I felt effulgently happy and at ease, even though the traceries of dark beams against the white ceiling were now dancing back and forth and dissolving into a kaleidoscopic reverie of geometrical designs. The sensation was reminiscent of the times I had inhaled nitrous oxide at the dentist’s office. But that had been like standing at a door. This time I was going in. It also felt like going home. My voice thickened; speech was impossible, and then I was spinning round and round like tumbleweed and the sense of familiarity was becoming greater and greater….
In the next half hour, during which the drug was operating at maximum potency, I never lost consciousness, even though ordinary body awareness was totally gone. To an observer I would have appeared completely insensible, deeply anesthetized. Yet, even though the memory of that state remains it can only be called “indescribable.” To speak of a thunderous silence, or a multidimensional sphere turning upon itself, or of identification with un differentiated vibratory energy is probably as close as words can come to portraying a truly ineffable condition of existence. This inner realm, full of sound, color, and sensation was itself entirely formless. Here there could be no distinctions between subject and object, this and that, 1 and thou. Only the vast nameless faceless process remained, churning on and on
and on. Somehow it seemed evident that it would continue to roll around that way forever like a ponderous wheel upon which the chariots of the gods might ride on to eternity.
It came to me that this was also a millwheel by whose grinding action my small personal concerns were being entirely rubbed out. The last husks of “I-ness” were wrested from my grasp, pulverized, and shucked off like chaff reduced to dust. Yet the light of awareness shone on undiminished. That is, the ego was gone—yet the Self was exactly as It always had been.
For a discipline-prone individual like myself who had always made a staunch effort to remain on top of every situation [his necessity to relinquish every last vestige of control was an amazing state of affairs. But now there was no choice but to drop all sense of separate identity, all plans, purposes, thoughts, feelings, and desires, and simply urge onward upon this sonorous revolving circuit of primal power. There was nothing, absolutely nothing that could be done except to submit and let it be. In all this I did not feel that I was being elevated to a higher level of existence. Rather, the substance of my earth-bound psyche was being inexorably reduced to its own common denominator, like molecules and atoms dissolving into some intangible substratum of electricity.
To summarize that instant—and insistent—transformation I would say that the lesson this and subsequent ketamine trips taught me was that one can discard all traces of ego awareness and individual volition and still be more than one was before. The loss of personality does not bring extinction. It seems to me, therefore, that any thoughtful person who tries the same experiment and achieves similar results must be disposed to accept the fact of immortality. How else can it be possible to drop the body, emotions, and mind and still exist as a self-aware entity in a realm of infinite and animate potential? How else can one suffer the loss of every known form of sensory perception, pass through that roaring void of hyperkinetic numinosity, and then return intact to the human condition? Even though we sink down through the bottomless abyss, falling all the way to its nethermost depths, there is something in us that endures and rises again into the light of a new day.
For years I had read of such states of being in the writings of Eastern philosophers and Western mystics, but most of what they had said had of necessity remained book knowledge. In general, their word pictures related about as closely to my ketamine experiences as the blueprint of a house relates to the daily exigencies of functioning within that structure. We are indeed fortunate that blueprints are provided and they are indisputably useful. On the other hand, such line drawings can convey only ihe barest impression of how it actually feels to live, move, and grow up within that home situation.
Unquestionably the most interesting part of this first ketamine trip was the gradual process of spacing back into the body. As it dawned on me that I still possessed a physical form and would have to repossess it my first thought was, “Oh dear, I have completely blown my mind. Now my friends will have to deal with a zombie. What a bummer for them!” At that point it didn’t seem remotely possible that 1 could ever return to the phenomenal world of things and doings in which 1 had formerly functioned.
Vaguely it entered my head that I was on a lecture tour and was supposed to be speaking about something called “hypersentience.” The word had a somewhat familiar ring but I couldn’t recall what it signified. What was it? “So now I’ll have to cancel the tour. Will Isabel go on alone
Well, life continues even if this small self is out of the running.”
The music in the background was ethereally beautiful. Jane had put on a record of Hindu chants and I had never heard such superlative sounds. Listening was sheerest ecstasy. “Rama, Rama…” the voices flowed on and I was melting into that iridescent current of divine love. “Everything is perfect, absolutely perfect!” I exclaimed to myself in wonder. How could Jane have known that this music would be so soul-satisfying just at this time!
As I began to look out of my eyes once more I became aware that Jane was sitting silently beside me. It seemed so terribly important that she should be there, and that we should be sharing this sacred interval together. I fancied that we were fellow priestesses in ancient Egypt, that I had been lying in a stone sarcophagus in a death-like trance, and that she was my hierophant who would usher me back to the world of the living. Images of colonnaded temples, sphinxes, pyramids, and winged figures floated behind her. I loved her enormously and felt that we had been through something like this before in one of the mystery schools of legendary eras. Surely we would remain soul sisters forever. “You are my initiator,” I whispered, certain that she would understand.
For some reason I also wanted to convey to her that I thought that ketamine was a gift from Venus. Not just that it was a Venusian substance in the astrological sense but that I felt as though it had actually been brought, or manifested, from another, higher planet as a gift of grace to help relieve the present human plight. But the idea was too complex and I gave up trying to speak of it.
When once again I was able to look at my watch I realized that the entire experience had lasted less than an hour. My mind felt pure, peaceful, and refreshed though when I tried to move 1 discovered that I was still dizzy. I knew that I would sleep well that night—as indeed I did.
The following morning I felt as though the conduits of my consciousness had been thoroughly cleansed. Stepping outside was like witnessing the dawn of creation. Every leaf and flower was polished to a brilliant sheen, the sea sparkled and the air was dewy fresh. I knew that there would be many impressions to ponder on the way north. Seemingly, some element of my former personality had died, but some other part that was far more vital had been reborn. Whatever it was that wanted to come to life was important, but I didn’t yet know how or why. Perhaps it would be enough simply to wait patiently and without pushing or prodding see what might emerge from a new season of growth.