Quantum Zen

Recently, reading a New York Times article entitled, “Black Holes May Hide a Mind Bending Secret About Our Universe” (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/10/science/black-holes-cosmology-hologram.html), I was struck by the similarities between my last kensho…

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Spiritual Adventures: LSD

Alice WonderlandThis weekend I did my first experiment with LSD as a spiritual journey. Probably one of two I plan on doing. It was more of a ‘calibration’ run. Turned out to be enough to know I was ‘trippin’, but not enough for psychedelic fireworks. Having missed all the psychedelics of the 1960-’70’s, I decided to try these at this last, liberated stage of my life. Below, you can read a poem I penned on Sunday morning afterwards. So, how did it go?

I actually started the experiment several days before by doing a shamanic journey to my Power Place in the Lower World and meeting with my spiritual guides of the Four Directions– Wizard (North), my eagle, WindWalker (East), Turquoise Woman (South), and Cougar/Mountain Lion (West)– to consult with them about doing the experiment in general. You know, “Hey, guys, is this a good idea? Can you give me some advice of insights?”

Spirit Guides (a.k.a. Jungian archetypes) communicate through dream imagery (usually), and, so, like dreams, you are left with interpreting the messages. These messages can have multiple levels of meaning. Consequently, interpreting is not always straightforward. Intuition is required.

Wizard’s message was about taking precautions, as I had done. I got no warning emotions or anxiety. More like, a ‘go.’  This was my first use, and I was doing it solo. However, I had sufficient backups close at hand if things got a little out of hand. Like the rest of us, I have read and heard of bad shit about bad trips. However, I’m coming from a well grounded, mentally balanced place, so felt reasonably comfortable. You never know though.

I asked WindWalker, my eagle of the east, for truth without judgement or blame in my journey. I asked Cougar for courage. (Yes, I was nervous about trying this experiment.) Then there was Turquoise Woman, my anema and goddess, Mother Nature personified. Turquoise Woman’s answer was a mischievous, inviting smile to come dance with her. Bandido, part of my Shadow complex and alter ego, showed up too. His message also was, ‘go for it!”

 

On the big day, Friday, I started my experiment by smudging all four rooms of my small house with sage and telling any negative energy to depart. Then asking in the four directions for guidance. At 9:22am, I took a tab. When I felt the acid start to kick in after about an hour, I did a shamanic journey back to the Lower World and my Power Place to dance with Turquoise Woman, per her request. What can I say, ‘dance’ was a metaphor. It was intimate, erotic, and loving. From there (afterwards), I was pretty much on my own.

I kept a journal, tracking time and how/what I was doing/thinking/feeling. Writing became more and more difficult, as did logical, linear thought. There were slight visual distortions, and I found myself captivated watching the flames in the wood burning stove, the leaves blowing outside on the pecan tree by my window, the birds and squirrels scampering around. Wasn’t hungry. Just sitting there watching/experiencing things happen. By 6:00pm I was bored with the experience. But, hey, it is not like you can get off the train. You have to wait till you get to where the trains going. After dark, I decided to go lie down in my bed in the darkness. That’s when I found myself chasing random thoughts down rabbit holes. After a while, I’d stop and ask myself, why are you following these thoughts? I’d focus mindfully on my breath and come back into the Now and present. That went on for several hours (I think). There were no great spiritual insights or experiences this trip. It was overall mellow. I was disappointed. The next morning and midway through the day, i.e. over 24 hrs, I could feel the effects, but they were minimal. Here’s where the scientist part of me comes into play–

For it to be ‘science,’ an experiment needs to be replicated, making adjustments and corrections where needed. I’m going to wait a month or so I’m thinking, but next time double the dosage. Then, I think that’s going to be all of this type of adventure I will want to do. Well, maybe.

Below is a poem I penned Sunday morning when I was completely down from the acid. It’s been edited some. Enjoy.

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Resurrection

Medicine Drum
Medicine Drum

At this late stage in my life, I am circling back, picking up some aspects of myself that I left behind: another Harley, my neo-shamanic abilities, and writing poetry–and exploring something I hadn’t tried back in the 60’s as an adjunct: psychedelics. These represent a resurrection of things that I had set aside and am returning back to at this late stage of my life. All of them together represent a rebirth of sorts at this late stage, and I feel my energy and interests come up as I move back into them. A sign to me that I am on the right path at the right time for me; a time of personal growth and renewal.

I have not blogged for a while because resurrection and rebirth take a lot of time and energy. Just ask any mother. I have been on an exponential learning, and relearning, curve. It has been a period of energizing transition and metamorphosis. Woven into this dynamic tapestry of personal growth is the process of individuation, or in Maslow’s term, self-actualization, that is intertwined. And all of this is been deepened and made more fertile by my years of Zen practice, which forces you to deal with your Shadow issues of the subconscious, or as Carl G. Jung named it, of your Personal Unconscious.

The Harley

While I have blogged earlier about the Harley part, I’ll do a short update here: Damn, those bikes have gotten heavier since my last one, only seven years ago. But as I write, they were already heavier by then too. I have to really struggle to pick it back up if I let it go over on its side–and that is with all the bicycling and weight lifting I do. This getting old sucks!

Just the other day, I let it fall over down the street at my daughter’s, Amy’s, house. I had pulled up in her front yard off the busy highway/road and forgot to put the kickstand down (old age again!), and over it went as I stepped off. Once it gets only a few degrees off vertical in a lean, its is too much weight for me to pull back up, so I just stepped off. Bending over, I tried to lift it back to vertical. It was laying on its engine guards that keep it at about a 30 degree angle. I could just barely budge it trying to lift it. I had just bent over forward and was trying to pick it up, having forgotten about turning around backwards, sort of getting under it, and using my legs to push it up–a technique of which my son later reminded me. Here I was, on a fairly busy street, cars driving by, Harley on its side, old guy trying to upright it. How embarrassing. I went inside the house and asked my ex, Carol, to come out and help. No good either. Imagine now, people driving by and seeing these two old folks out there trying to upright a big Harley. The Three Stooges come to mind, only there were just two of us. Curly was elsewhere. Finally, two ol’ Big Boys pulled up in a big truck, hoped out, and quickly set it upright. Thank-you, Big Guys! Next time, I’ll remember the ‘turn around backwards and use my legs’ technique–or, better yet, to be sure and put the kickstand down.

Moving on now…

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble…

The poetry resurrection is part of my effort at creative art to express/explore my subconscious and is part of my personal growth/individuation program. I am using the poetry along with shamanic journeying, dreamwork (analysis), Zen practice, and re-writing my personal myth. Thrown into the bubbling caldron of individuation, I’m adding a little seasoning for a deeper, richer flavor: psychedelics–I hope.

Psychedelics

Even though I was a flower child of the 60’s, I somehow missed out on the psychedelics of that era. Tried a little ‘shrooms’ a couple of months ago, just enough to get a little buzz as it turned out. A testing the water thing, ‘putting my toe in the water to see how cold it was,’ before I jump in, sort of thing. Do I jump in?  It was a pleasant mellow, different from marijuana, which I did do a lot of in graduate school. My plans are to do some LSD. This is just an experiment understand. I want to see if it facilitates my spiritual growth. I’m big on experiments from my science days. Speaking of which, a lot of research is once again being done on LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) for psychotherapy for seniors–hey, that be me. It is indicating positive effects on depression, anxiety, and some benefits for Alzheimer’s, if I remember correctly. Don’t quote me on this latter though.  I’ll let you know how this experiment goes, recognizing that for it to be good science, experiments need to be replicated several times. I was inspired for this experiment after doing some Zen readings of one of Alan Watts’ book. This is It

Poetry

I started writing poetry in the ninth grade, moon-eyed in loved with a young lady a year or so younger. I had shown it to my speech teacher. She had encouraged my to keep writing–and so I did–but switched in college to science and technical writing. In highschool several of my poems were published in our school’s literary publication, Panther’s Tails. The science/technical writing however, was a kiss of death for my poetry writing. Over the years I had tried several times to revisit writing poetry but had not been happy with the results, so would drop it. However, the other day after one of my shamanic journeys, which I have started doing again after almost 16 year absence, I gave it a try. In terms of creative art, I’ve tried music: piano for two years from age 7-9, trumpet in junior high, again, for two years, and, about three years ago, I tried taking up banjo and harmonica. No good. Playing musical instruments is just not my thing. Hence, resurrecting my poetry writing. Afterall, I’m writing it just for myself, painting word-pictures with it. That said, maybe I’ll publish an edited version of my first try in a later post. I was actually pleased with it. Needs a lot of editing, but still, I like the way it flowed and came together.

Now to the culturally disonate topic: neo-shamanism…

Neo-shamanism

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Buddha on a Bike: Harley Resurrection

 

June 2, 2022, was my one-year anniversary of my “bicycling-it only” experiment. I had sold my truck on June 2, 2021, and had been getting around only on my bicycle. On Friday (5/26), I went and bought myself another Harley, a 2017 Heritage Softail Classic, my favorite model of Harleys. Enough was enough of this bicycling-it only shit!

I found trying to do only bicycling around here in rural South Carolina, very restrictive, limiting, inconvenient, and dangerous. The latter, I knew going into the experiment. Around SC very few of the roads have shoulders to ride on. Around town here in Liberty, the bicycle was just fine, and I plan to keep doing that. Most of what I need is within a one mile radius of where I live, that’s probably 90% of my going, at least over the last year. However, as soon as I wanted to go further, to one of the other cities around here say, that was a different story. Too many hills, too dangerous on narrow, two-lane roads with no shoulders and often, a good amount of traffic. All of these cities are ten or so miles away–or further, which took lot of energy, effort and time to go to any of these.

Throw into this mix the COVID pandemic with its social isolation and my being pretty much a hermit and single at this stage of my life, I found myself severely restricted on what and where I could go, often requiring finding a ride or borrowing one of my kids cars. Because of these restrictions and obstacles, I had found loneliness becoming more and more an issue.

Woven into this story was my Texas Desert Bike tour, returning back here May 1. The month of May has been largely spent getting my head back together after that tour: all the training, effort, and preparation, and finally the actual doing. On that trip I had decided I was tired of only bicycling it, the isolation, and growing loneliness. This is where the Harley comes into the story/equation.

My daughters had wanted me to be reasonable,and get a small car, maybe a small SUV, so that I could take my two large dogs to the vet and myself around. “Reasonable” is boring, pedestrian, but, yeah, they were right. Sigh. During May, I looked several times on the Internet and was not happy with the costs and my choices.  I had looked several times over the last year with the same conclusion. If I was going to lay down that much cash, I wanted it to be something I wanted to drive, something with some adventure, some excitement, some sex appeal! Increasingly over the last year of bicycling, I had found myself missing my Harleys. To me, Harleys have all of these. Of course the irony here is that the only thing more dangerous than a bicycle is a motorcycle.

This is my fifth Harley and seventh motorcycle. Well, one of these, the first, back in the eighth grade was just a little put-put motor scooter, not a real motorcycle: no gears, only a back break, no signals lights, no helmets back then, etc. You just turned the throttle and it went. Kind of like the gocart I had had in the seventh grade and nearly killed myself on running under a parked car. I was paying more attention to the kids playing in the street and not to where I was going. I was in a coma for three days from that little incident.

Then in graduate school at Texas, I had ridden a little Honda 350. Again, a basic bare-bones bike back in 1970. Put a lot of miles on that little bike: running to and from the University, riding kamikaze in the hill country around Lake Travis, especially at night, one time pretty stoned as I remember. I had come down from Fort Worth and ended up spending the night in one of the technicians that worked in the lab. We had started out with “magic” brownies she had just made, later going riding in the hill country around lake Lake Travis, here on her little 125cc bike, me on my 350cc Honda. Turned out to be quite a night. I remember falling asleep in her apartment, listening to the Rolling Stones new Let It Bleed album that had just come out, her pet rat crawling across the bed. It was certainly a night of “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard, you can get what you need.” Fond memories of that night.

I made numerous trips between Austin and Fort Worth that summer and can still remember how I would “vibrate” for hours afterwards from the bike’s vibrations. No anti-vibration options on those old bikes. And an aching neck: it had no windshield and fighting those Texas winds was tough, even in my early 20’s. Let’s skip ahead 20 years or so now.

I had started out for my fortieth birthday with the smallest Harley, a Sportster. It had a whole lot of “kick” (power) with very little weight, given the size of the engine (997 cc). This was a whole new ball game! This was real motorcycle! No rice-rocket here. It didn’t take me long to “outgrow” the Sporter though. I quickly realized I wanted something for the open road. Aside from a lot of vibration, the Sportster has only a small gas tank, very limited range, and there was not a good way to fit it with saddle bags, etc., for touring.

I sold it and bought a 1981 Superglide. Still not a touring model, but a step in that direction. These are full size Harley. Took it to Sturgis. It was the 50th Anniversary of the rally (1990)! What an experience! On the trip I found it was not a good touring bike–one that you can drive long distances and carry gear. I sold it and for my birthday in 1993, I bought me a brand new 1993 Heritage Softail Classic. Paid cash for it. Drove it right off the showroom floor.

Heritages fit me and they have a 1950’s touring bike look that I really like. When I say “fit,”I’m referring to my very short legs. The bigger touring bikes, like the Road King and Electra

Glides, are to tall for me, even though years later I bought a Road King.  My Heritage is the one featured on my WindWalker book cover. I drove it to Texas and Big Bend several times; New Mexico and all over. Put nearly 40,000 miles on it before selling it around 2001. You can read about the Big Bend trip in WindWalker, as well as the Sturgis rally.

Then I went from 2001- 2013 Harley-less. I wanted to try one of the bigger touring bikes touring bikes, one with cruise control and a gas gauge, more luggage capacity, etc. In 2013 the Harley bug bit me again.  I bought a 2011 Road King, a bike designed for touring. It didn’t take me long to realize the Road King was too tall for my short legs. (Couldn’t find any images of it. I know I have some somewhere.) So, I sold it in 2015 to help pay for office renovations.

Here we are back in 2022 and on Friday, May 26, I went to look at Harleys. It was decided it was Harley resurrection time! I had been thinking about it a long time. Woke up Friday morning and decided to go look at them. When I told Tricia, my ex and still girlfriend, she quickly pointed out that she knew me and when I said “look,” I had already decided to buy. She was right. This time I definitely wanted one though that fit my short legs. There are several models, but again, the classic look of the Heritage Softail Classics called my name and it still fits my legs. The dealer. Timms Harley-Davidson in Anderson, SC, had just gotten in a used 2017 Heritage. It was in immaculate condition and only had 6000 miles on it! They had not even had time to go over it and check everything out.

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Bike Tour: New Orleans!

A wonderful end to my bike tour adventure!

To recap from my last post, I hitched a ride with the Keels (the subject of my next post) to Del Rio. There I picked up an Amtrak to New Orleans.

[Why does Amtrak have to be such a pain in the ass to use? I was on the train 21.5 hrs for what is schedule as a 17 hr ride. However, since I rode Amtrak back in 2019 to D.C., a real nightmare, the dining car is now only for the wealthy–i.e. those that buy sleeper car tickets. Us peasants in coach have to go to the Cafe car, a sorry and expensive excuse in itself: terrible food, very limited choices, many of which are out. I bought a cup of coffee for $2.50 and went back and had some of my energy bars from my bicycle ride stores. Lucky I had those. Essentially it was 21.5 hrs without eating. This was while my metabolism was still raging from all the bicycle riding. I lost 10 lbs between the riding and starving.]

Finally after arriving in New Orleans at midnight, I had a wonderful (and pricey ) hotel in the French Quarter, the St Pierre. From there I could have walked down a little further into the French Quarter (like across the street and down a block) for something to eat. However, the desk attendant at the hotel said it wasn’t really safe to go alone this late. Well, alone was all I had. I went to bed after another delicious, nutritious energy bar. Sigh.

I had one day in New Orleans, Saturday. Sunday morning I was to catch another Amtrak back home to Greenville, SC. I was determined to make the best of it. This was a once in a lifetime experience and opportunity for me. First on my list that morning was Cafe du Monde for beignets and chicory coffee.

Eating beignets and drinking chicory coffee at Cafe de Monde in New Orleans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They had a rocki’ street band playing: Cafe du Monde cajun jazz ban

Cajun jazz! It is hard to dance,  eat beignets and drink coffee all at the same time, but people around me were doing it. I wanted to, but was content to sit and pat my foot and hands in rhythm at my table. The place was packed. It was great!

Okay, one thing off my bucket list for New Orleans. The band set the mood for the rest of the day–I didn’t really understand that until about 30 minutes later. Next was a little sightseeing around the Cafe. Beyond that I had no agenda, just a list in my head of things I wanted to do: the Cafe du Monde, pictures and walking along the Mississippi, visiting the St Louis Cathedral, eating Cajun and seafood, cigar and scotch at a cigar bar, hanging out on Bourbon Street for a few hours, were all on my bucket list. The hookers were a bonus.

My family and I had been here back in the mid-1990’s. Our children were still small. I was in a wedding of one of my graduate students at Clemson that was held in the St. Louis Cathedral, here shown in the background across Jackson Square.

We had had beignets and coffee (Mom and Dad) and the kids milk or juice. Afterwards we had walked along the jetty along the Mississippi for a while. That was what I was doing now. Reliving those moments so long ago. Looking the other direction was the mighty Mississippi River:

I had forgotten a water bottle back at the hotel, and so stopped by a street vendor to purchase a bottle. This is when and where the rest of my day fell into place, one I could not have planned better.

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