Saturday, 29 September 2007

Today was so special.....

It's 7.30pm and I've just got in from having the most wonderful day. Last night I was sad because it was the last night that my flatmate would be here. I've really enjoyed her company over the past two weeks because we got on so well. At one point I was sitting quietly thinking how much I would miss her when my phone went. It was a friend inviting me to come out with her and her son and a friend to a farm early on Saturday morning for the day. I was so thrilled that she would think of me and it cheered me up no end. It is my friend from Thailand who came to get me after my operation and she is so thoughtful. Come to think of it I have the best friends. I've only really seen this and appreciated it fully during this time of my operation. Before this I am ashamed to write that I either took them for granted or had unreasonable expectations of them. I love and value them so much more now.

I woke up in the early hours of the morning 3.30am but this time there was no trembling or shaking of my body. Fell back to sleep again and woke at 7am. There was no inner voice saying 'meditate' and no loud booming voice saying 'go back to sleep' either. Getting up early to meditate is no longer significant, so there is no resistance around it. Without resistance it is easy. All that was there was to get up and meditate and this is what I did. I meditated for an hour and when it was finished wondered for the umpteenth time whether or not it was having any benefit. But I trust that it is and didn't think any further than this.

I showered (yes showered, it's the first time my operated foot has seen water and it was bliss) and got dressed. Then my flatmate got up and I was so sad. I think she was too because she was also quiet. At one point I looked at her and thought 'how in the world am I ever going to repay you'. We sat on the sofa, she with everything packed and me waiting for my friends to collect me chatting and laughing about life in general. After a few minutes my bell went. It was my friend who had come to collect me. When I hugged my friend who had been so selfless in staying with me for two weeks I was close to tears. I told her I loved her and I never meant anything so much or so deeply. I don't have sisters and these two weeks were the closest I have ever had to a sister.

Remembering my possibility of fun and freedom I limped into my friends car and we sped off to a farm where you can pick and eat as much fruit as you like. It was a beautiful drive and we had good fun. I really can't do justice to the kindness of my friends to me it at this time. We arrived at the farm and spent an enjoyable 20 minutes picking and eating strawberries. My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach and I felt quite sick. Also it was a bit of a walk up and down the strawberry patches. I had taken up to the limit of paracetamol so that pain would not stop me enjoying this but I had to bow out and take refuge in the car while the others picked. After strawberries we picked broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, plums and raspberries. There were all so sweet and succulent. It was a nice day when the sun came out and at one point I connected fully with the sun and took some time out to be grateful for the experience. There is nothing to beat being out in nature and given the choice I would not want to be anywhere else.

I went back to my friends house where we stir-fried some of the freshly picked vegetables and the difference from what I buy in the supermarket was marked. My taste buds received a very rare treat. Driving back seeing the leaves I once again had such deep contentment. In spite of the pain in my foot I felt indescribably happy. Sitting here writing this blog I am so happy and grateful. I am aware that there is a risk that I am beginning to sound like a broken record but it is honestly the way I feel. Speaking of this blog I have to state that the blog has been the target of spam and so from now on I am going to moderate comments that are sent to me. This will have no effect on genuine comments other than for there perhaps to be a small delay before the comment appears on the blog. My own reaction when I realised this was interesting. First there was the indignation 'how dare this happen to my blog'. Then in that seeing there was the giving it up by saying 'oh well, it's what happens with blogs' and in the acceptance of this situation as the way it is I had peace. Yes, I will take action but from a place of acceptance and not resistance.

Last night was a busy night. I received a phone call from an ex boyfriend. I have known this guy for 15 years. Shortly after we broke up he got married but has always stayed in touch. It was as a result of him that I had my first experience of a hallucinogenic drug. I am aware that what I am about to write will be controversial but this is a blog about honesty on the spiritual path and my inner voice is telling me to write it.

I explained in my profile that I consider my spiritual journey to have started in earnest when I was 11. No matter what I did at the back of my mind was this idea of the spiritual journey. I met Paul when I was in my late 20's and up to then didn't have much experience of relationships. We met in a pub in the afternoon when I was waiting for a friend. He was with his friend and I was reading a book. He asked me some questions about the book. I gave him short answers because I was unsure of how to deal with it. Shortly afterwards my friend came in and I stood up to leave. He came over and asked for my number to make an 'appointment' with me. I thought this was a strange way of asking someone for their number but I gave it.

A couple of days later he called and we arranged to meet up and go for a meal. I knew from the beginning that this guy was different. He was straight and direct. I can remember saying when it was raining 'I thought that the weather was going to be good today (very original I know!). He immediately said 'no, I heard the weather forecast and it was forecast to be like this'. There was something about his directness which intrigued me. He didn't say things that he thought I wanted to hear, he was so direct. We went out for a while but he kept saying to me that he didn't understand what was in my mind or how I thought. I didn't want to lose him and I thought that maybe if I took a drug I would be able to see what was in my mind and adjust it a bit to something he could make sense of (I understand just how naive that was now but then it seemed perfectly reasonable to me).

I had a friend who smoked marijuana regularly. He had come to visit me many times and had smoked it but I had never. At the time I was a practicing Buddhist and never wanted to take drugs. I called my friend and said that I wanted to smoke some marijuana with him and would he bring some over the next Saturday night. He was surprised at this request because he knew that up to now I had never taken anything stronger than a Nurofen. But he agreed to bring some extra. The Saturday that he was due to arrive I was on tenterhooks. He arrived at 7pm and explained that he hadn't been able to get any marijuana but had this instead. He held out his hand and in his palm was a small plastic wallet which contained what looked like gravy granules. I said 'what are those'. He replied 'they are similar to marijuana'. He took one out of the plastic wallet and gave it to me. I swallowed it, he then put one into his mouth.

We sat down on the sofa in my sitting room and waited..... After a couple of minutes he said to me 'do you see the triangles on your curtains (my curtains were plain!). I said 'no' and he said 'come on you must see them'. I once again replied 'no'. Then his eyes fell to my wooden floor and he said 'can you see the patterns on the floor'. Again I said 'no'. He gave me a strange look and then asked if he could use my phone. I said 'OK' and he took it and left the room. I followed him and heard him say 'Charlie, I've given her a class A drug and it's having no effect'. Horrified I went back into the sitting room. I realised then that what I had been given was a hallucinogenic drug. I was hugely grateful that it had had no effect. My friend returned and wanted me to take another tab but there was no-way that I was going to take it. He put it into his own mouth.

Then suddenly the drug began to work on me. I saw things that were familiar in my sitting room change and become something different. My door became a slab of butter in front of my eyes. My friend began to freak. His normal familiar world was breaking down and he didn't understand it. But I did. I realised that this is exactly what Buddhism teaches that nothing is the way that it seems. Everything is transient and impermanent. I had a Buddhist context within which to interpret what was happening which my friend didn't and he was afraid. I kept trying to reassure him by saying 'don't be afraid, this is exactly what Buddhism teaches'. But he didn't understand. He kept saying 'I hope this drug doesn't make it onto the market. It turns out that it was STP (Serenity, Tranquility and Peace) from the MDMA drug family.

He left my place in the early hours of the morning and I got some much needed rest. When I woke up I noticed a deep sense of peace and calm. Life flowed and was in balance and harmony. This state lasted for almost a week and then left. It was as a result of this experience that my consciousness expanded to enable the realisation of Buddhist beliefs and principles. The irony was that I didn't take the drug to have a spiritual/mystical experience. I took it to figure out my own mind so that it would be better able to have a relationship. After this the relationship didn't matter. I saw what was possible within my own consciousness and I now had the desire to achieve it naturally.

I am aware that what I write here is controversial. I do not advocate the regular use of drugs. I only took that drug the once. I believe that the degree to which the consciousness has to expand to achieve spiritual insights and intuitions that are long lasting is more than can be achieved through meditation. Taking the drug showed me what was possible. Had I returned to my friend and asked him to get some more then this would have been done from the greed to have a similar experience which is totally against the spiritual journey. To take once, and with a philosophical context to interpret it has been for me a milestone on my spiritual journey. But I want to stress that I am against the continued use of hallucinogenic drugs to achieve a state of permanent expanded consciousness.

Two weeks went by and I hadn't heard anything from the guy who had given me the STP. Eventually I managed to speak to his girlfriend who told me that he was in hospital. He had lost the use of his legs! He ended up spending seven weeks in hospital. The doctors said that he had some kind of a virus. I knew that he was a regular drug user and it is possible that he had either taken something else before coming to me, or else the second tablet he took was just too much.

The state of expanded consciousness that is required to live life from an enlightened state in my opinion can only be achieved by something like a mind altering drug in the first instance. I don't look at the world in the same way since I was shown that nothing is what we think it is. I was also reminded of what the Buddha said during this experience. He said 'hold fast to nothing at all'. I take this to mean take nothing in the world to be lasting and permanent. I have had a direct experience to back this up. A direct experience which expanded my consciousness and which has never fully returned to where it was. The initial expansion was chemically based but I have maintained it by keeping alive the principles and practices of the spiritual journey not by drugs.

I agree that drugs do not sustain a mystical/spiritual state. They can only provide an access and only then if there is a philosophical context for interpreting it. I'm aware of how controversial what I have written is but this is a blog about the truth of the spiritual journey as it appears and is happening for me. It all happened a very long time ago and was part of what I have called my first cycle on the spiritual journey.

I'm pretty exhausted now after writing all that so I'll sign off for this evening.....

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