Love is. The Grand Canyon, chocolate. William Blake, Botticelli. The sound of rain and the sight of a baby being born. Music so profound that it brings tears to your eyes. Travelling the world, looking into your lover’s smiling eyes. Crying or laughing. Is God love? Or is love God?
In the beginning was the word, and beyond words there is a space so special that it defies language.
Are you unhappy or disillusioned? Do you find that questions and answers lead to more questions and answers? And that you are searching for something you can only define as a feeling? Ram Dass said that the sense of yearning is your key to spiritual awakening. Anything or something, nothing and everything.
Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac. Baby Boomer, Gen Z, Gen X, Millennial. Rap Music or Carol King, Billy Eilish. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones. The sound of a single note on the piano ascending upwards.
Peace, contentment, toleration. Bliss. Our prelude.
Can you relate to the story of amorphous desire? That search led me to search for something I could only define as universal love or God, for lack of other words.
Like most people who are dissatisfied with themselves or their lot in life, I have always searched for ways to understand, resolve, fix or run away from my problems. I have been told by many on the path that the word problem is taboo and that it invites trouble. Better words are situation or condition. Situations, as the logic goes, are invitations to growth and healing.
Really, you might ask. Or are these just rationalizations for explaining away disappointments and hurts?
I have tried mind numbing substances like marijuana. I have tried tranquilizers and glutathione infusions. Neurofeedback, biofeedback. Magnet therapy, crystal healing and singing bowls. But never the hard stuff. I have sat at bougie bars drinking sparkling pink wine. And then I have gone home to watch shows popular addictive series like Succession and Ozark. I had my stint with Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey. I have slurred my words and blacked out.
I am like you who is reading this story. I am also not like you. Since no two people will ever have the same exact experiences.
I have shopped at farmers markets and have used phrases like farm to table and grass fed. Avocado toast, oat milk lattes, and brunch. Eggs Florentine with gluten free muffins and cashew cheese. I am like you and very different. But I was searching for myself in bottles and cans, in words and images. But I never tried the hard stuff to do it.
I have learned to be self-effacing and to say it like it is. So, I am told.
But had I tried it all? Have you tried it all? Do you want to?
The stuff I tried made me hungry for more. Shopping made we weary, foggy, tired, and bored. More things made me search for new ones that were better and newer. New books, new treatments, new friends, and new restaurants. A new gym. The next fix made me anticipate the next one.
Bullet proof coffee made me yearn for green tea. I searched from India to China, and from China to Japan for the right tea blends.
We are told that mind enhancing drugs like ketamine, psilocybin, and LSD are the hard stuff. And there is no arguing that LSD is in fact the hard stuff.
But a ketamine infused treatment in a dimly lit room with people I trust seems easy after years of carrot juice and Pilates, self-help groups and cryotherapy. Is there a lazy boy chair that can take me right to heaven? Can I break through illusions and paradigms for a few hours and come back with a new understanding?
If there’s a chance that a lazy boy chair can transport me to heaven, I am on the next train to that lazy boy.
Be Here Now is the title of a book by Ram Dass. It is also the name of a podcast dedicated to discussing his ideas and streaming his lectures. Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, and Robert Thurman. These names evoke states of mind. Mountain retreats. Presence and absence, emptiness and sitting.
There was a car ride where I listened to Ram Dass as I was anticipating a ketamine treatment. The anticipation turned out to be way more satisfying and hopeful than the rye bread I was about to get shipped from Brooklyn. And better than all the tea in China.
Love. I felt love, connection and hope. Societal structures and rules started looking kind of silly. Just like Chicken Little, I wondered if the roof was going to come tumbling down through my acts of contemplation. Ah, well that’s magical thinking – isn’t it? Or is it shape shifting and intuition. Is it seeing through the “veils of illusion?”
Dichotomies started to show their real colors. Was I being showered with the Wizards of Oz? And I hadn’t even had my first infusion of ketamine! It’s funny how anticipation can produce such changes. An attitude of hope. A pink glow to the cheeks.
Love. Like you, I think about satisfaction and happiness. I want coffee in the morning or as Ram Dass said in one of his lectures, maybe you want Moo tea. But what you really want is love. I want to get rid of the desire to be loved. I want to love selflessly and in the most noble way possible. I want to be of service to mankind and show kindness to my neighbors who are not so friendly. And I want to be happy when I say hello to the mailman. Don’t you seek that too?
I don’t want joy as much as I want contentment, with its ups and downs. I want to be like Ram Dass in the oceans in Hawaii, with a community of people who are there to assist and help me.
If there is a chance that ketamine infused therapy can give me a glimpse of sustained peace and connection, then I am all for it. Why not be in Hawaii in my mind through the activities of hope and contemplation? Your own private Idaho. Aren’t you all for harnessing the power of the mind you were born with – only to go through the doors of that mind to what Aldous Huxley called The Doors of Perception. To see the world in a blade of grass is better than all the white wine in the world. Isn’t that love?
See you on the next lazy boy with a blanket and candle. An open window and a cool breeze.
That someone holding your hand in the ketamine room could be me, or the thought of me. It could be the kind doctor smiling in the Setting. Offering you a smile with the palm of his hand like the weight of feather.
Now that seems as close to love as I can imagine.