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104 فصل

بخش 66

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 8 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

این فصل را می‌توانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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The whole thing must sound ridiculously hokey, I know, but the conviction Mary brought to the ceremony, together with the aromas of the burning plants and the sounds of the wing pulsing the air—plus my own nervousness about the journey in store—cast a spell that allowed me to suspend my disbelief. I had decided to give myself up to this big mushroom, and for Mary, the guide to whom I had entrusted my psyche for this journey, ceremony counted for as much as chemistry. In this she was acting more like a shaman than a psychologist.

Mary had been recommended by a guide I’d interviewed on the West Coast, a rabbi who had taken an interest in my psychedelic education. Mary, who was my age, had trained with the eighty-something student of Timothy Leary whom I had interviewed and decided was a little too far out there for me. One might think the same of Mary, on paper, but something about her manner, her sobriety, and her evident compassion made me more comfortable in her presence.

Mary had practiced the whole grab bag of New Age therapies, from energy healing to spiritual psychology to family constellation therapy,* before being introduced to medicine work when she was fifty. (“It created the glue that brought together all this other work I’d been doing.”) At the time, Mary had used a psychedelic only once and long ago: at her twenty-first birthday party while in college. A friend had given her a jar of honey laced with psilocybin mushrooms. Mary immediately went up to her room, ate two or three spoonfuls, “and had the most profound experience of being with God. I was God and God was me.” Friends who had been partying downstairs came up to knock at her door, but Mary was gone.

As a child growing up outside Providence, Mary had been an enthusiastic Catholic, until “I realized I was a girl”—a fact that would disqualify her from ever performing the ceremonies she cherished. Mary’s religiosity lay dormant until that taste of honey, which “catapulted me into a huge change,” she told me the first time we met. “I dropped into something I hadn’t felt connected to since I was a little girl.” The reawakening of her spiritual life led her onto the path of Tibetan Buddhism and eventually to take the vow of an initiate: “‘To assist all sentient beings in their awakening and their enlightenment.’ Which is still my vocation.”

And now sitting before her in her treatment room was me, the next sentient being on deck, hoping to be wakened. I shared my intention: to learn what I could about myself and also about the nature of consciousness—my own but also its “transpersonal” dimension, if such a dimension exists.

“The mushroom teacher helps us to see who we really are,” Mary said, “brings us back to our soul’s purpose for being here in this lifetime.” I can imagine how these words might sound to an outsider. But by now I was inured to the New Age lingo, perhaps because I had glimpsed the potential for something meaningful behind the well-worn words. I’d also been impressed by Mary’s intelligence and her professionalism. In addition to having me consent to the standard “agreements” (bowing to her authority for the duration; remaining in the room until she gave me permission to leave; no sexual contact; and so on), she had me fill out a detailed medical form, a legal release, and a fifteen-page autobiographical questionnaire that took me the better part of a day to complete. All of which made me feel I was in good hands—even when those hands were flapping a crow’s wing around my head.

Yet, as I sat there before the altar, it seemed doubtful I could choke down that whole mushroom. It had to be five or six inches long, with a cap the size of a golf ball. I asked her if I could crumble it into a glass of hot water, make a tea, and drink it.

“Better to be fully conscious of what you’re doing,” she said, “which is eating a mushroom that came from the earth, one bite at a time. Examine it first, closely, then start at the cap.” She offered me a choice of honey or chocolate to help get it down; I went with the chocolate. Mary had told me that a friend of hers grows the psilocybin and had learned the craft years ago in a mushroom cultivation workshop taught by Paul Stamets. It seems there is only one or two degrees of separation between any two people in this world.

On the tongue, the mushroom was dry as the desert and tasted like earth-flavored cardboard, but alternating each bite with a nibble of the chocolate helped. Except for the gnarly bit at the very base of the stipe, I ate all of it, which amounted to two grams. Mary planned to offer me another two grams along the way, for a total of four. This would roughly approximate the dose being given to volunteers in the NYU and Hopkins trials and was equivalent to roughly three hundred micrograms of LSD—twice as much as I had taken with Fritz.

We chatted quietly for twenty minutes or so before Mary noticed my face was flushed and suggested I lie down and put on eyeshades. I chose a pair of high-tech black plastic ones, which in retrospect might have been a mistake. The perimeters were lined with soft black foam rubber, allowing the wearer to open his eyes to pitch darkness. Called the Mindfold Relaxation Mask, Mary told me, it had been expressly designed for this purpose by Alex Grey, the psychedelic artist.

As soon as Mary put on the first song—a truly insipid New Age composition by someone named Thierry David (an artist thrice nominated, I would later learn, in the category of Best Chill/Groove Album)—I was immediately propelled into a nighttime urban landscape that appeared to have been generated by a computer. Once again, sound begat space (“in the beginning was the note,” I remember thinking, with a sense of profundity), and what I took to be Thierry’s electronica conjured a depopulated futuristic city, with each note forming another soft black stalagmite or stalactite that together resembled the high-relief soundproofing material used to line recording studios. (The black foam forming this high-relief landscape, I realized later, was the same material lining my eyeshades.) I moved effortlessly through this digital nightscape as if within the confines of a video-game dystopia. Though the place wasn’t particularly frightening, and it had a certain sleek beauty, I hated being in it and wished to be somewhere else, but it went on seemingly forever and for hours, with no way out. I told Mary I didn’t like the electronic music and asked her to put on something else, but though the feeling tone changed with the new music, I was still stuck in this sunless computer world. Why, oh, why couldn’t I be outside! In nature? Because I had never much enjoyed video games, this seemed cruel, an expulsion from the garden: no plants, no people, no sunlight.

Not that the computer world wasn’t an interesting place to explore. I watched in awe as, one by one, musical notes turned into palpable forms before my eyes. Annoying music was the presiding deity of the place, the generative force. Even the most spa-appropriate New Age composition had the power to spawn fractal patterns in space that grew and branched and multiplied to infinity. Weirdly, everything in my visual field was black, but in so many different shades that it was easy to see. I was traversing a world generated by mathematical algorithms, and this gave it a certain alienated, lifeless beauty. But whose world was it? Not mine, and I began to wonder, whose brain am I in? (Please, not Thierry David’s!)

“This could easily take a terrifying turn,” it occurred to me, and with that a dim tide of anxiety began to build. Recalling the flight instructions, I told myself there was nothing to do but let go and surrender to the experience. Relax and float downstream. This was not at all like previous trips, which had left me more or less the captain of my attention, able to direct it this way or that and change the mental channel at will. No, this was more like being strapped into the front car of a cosmic roller coaster, its heedless headlong trajectory determining moment by moment what would appear in my field of consciousness.

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