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104 فصل

بخش 35

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  • زمان مطالعه 4 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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متن انگلیسی فصل

I HONESTLY DON’T KNOW what to make of this experience. In a certain light at certain moments, I feel as though I had had some kind of spiritual experience. I had felt the personhood of other beings in a way I hadn’t before; whatever it is that keeps us from feeling our full implication in nature had been temporarily in abeyance. There had also been, I felt, an opening of the heart, toward my parents, yes, and toward Judith, but also, weirdly, toward some of the plants and trees and birds and even the damn bugs on our property. Some of this openness has persisted. I think back on it now as an experience of wonder and immanence.

The fact that this transformation of my familiar world into something I can only describe as numinous was occasioned by the eating of a little brown mushroom that Stamets and I had found growing on the edge of a parking lot in a state park on the Pacific coast—well, that fact can be viewed in one of two ways: either as an additional wonder or as support for a more prosaic and materialist interpretation of what happened to me that August afternoon. According to one interpretation, I had had “a drug experience,” plain and simple. It was a kind of waking dream, interesting and pleasurable but signifying nothing. The psilocin in that mushroom unlocked the 5-hydroxytryptamine 2-A receptors in my brain, causing them to fire wildly and set off a cascade of disordered mental events that, among other things, permitted some thoughts and feelings, presumably from my subconscious (and, perhaps, my reading too), to get cross-wired with my visual cortex as it was processing images of the trees and plants and insects in my field of vision.

Not quite a hallucination, “projection” is probably the psychological term for this phenomenon: when we mix our emotions with certain objects that then reflect those feelings back to us so that they appear to glisten with meaning. T. S. Eliot called these things and situations the “objective correlatives” of human emotion. Emerson had a similar phenomenon in mind when he said that “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit,” suggesting it is our minds that dress her in such significance.

I’m struck by the fact there was nothing supernatural about my heightened perceptions that afternoon, nothing that I needed an idea of magic or a divinity to explain. No, all it took was another perceptual slant on the same old reality, a lens or mode of consciousness that invented nothing but merely (merely!) italicized the prose of ordinary experience, disclosing the wonder that is always there in a garden or wood, hidden in plain sight—another form of consciousness “parted from [us],” as William James put it, “by the filmiest of screens.” Nature does in fact teem with subjectivities—call them spirits if you like—other than our own; it is only the human ego, with its imagined monopoly on subjectivity, that keeps us from recognizing them all, our kith and kin. In this sense, I guess Paul Stamets is right to think the mushrooms are bringing us messages from nature, or at least helping us to open up and read them.

Before this afternoon, I had always assumed access to a spiritual dimension hinged on one’s acceptance of the supernatural—of God, of a Beyond—but now I’m not so sure. The Beyond, whatever it consists of, might not be nearly as far away or inaccessible as we think. Huston Smith, the scholar of religion, once described a spiritually “realized being” as simply a person with “an acute sense of the astonishing mystery of everything.” Faith need not figure. Maybe to be in a garden and feel awe, or wonder, in the presence of an astonishing mystery, is nothing more than a recovery of a misplaced perspective, perhaps the child’s-eye view; maybe we regain it by means of a neurochemical change that disables the filters (of convention, of ego) that prevent us in ordinary hours from seeing what is, like those lovely leaves, staring us in the face. I don’t know. But if those dried-up little scraps of fungus taught me anything, it is that there are other, stranger forms of consciousness available to us, and, whatever they mean, their very existence, to quote William James again, “forbid[s] a premature closing of our accounts with reality.”

Open-minded. And bemushroomed. That was me, now, ready to reopen my own accounts with reality.

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