The Paisley Gate: The Tantra of Psychedelics
An essay from Zig Zag Zen that offers a tantic reading of psychedelics in American Buddhism. "No-one's logging any numbers, but I suspect that a healthy chunk of self-identified practicing American Buddhists keep at least occasional dates with the writhing, world-rending void lurking in the heart of psychedelic hyperspace. But I also suspect that, if asked to render judgment on such activities, most dharma teachers would deliver a fat thumbs down."
My encounters with pot and psychedelics in a Southern California surf-town in the early 1980s. "We were immersed in an educational system whose ultimate goal is filling in little round circles with No. 2 pencils, and drugs actually offered a crooked avenue to resourceful, independent problem-solving."
Meditating in Sensurround
A personal essay contrasting a Zen retreat with full immersion in the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference. "The first Zen priest I met was a crazed Texan with a bad back who described himself as a 'Zen failure.' As we talked, the topic turned to UFOs, and he showed me a videotape of Darryl Anka channeling an intriguing and rather amusing extraterrestrial being named Bashar."
Trickster at the Crossroads:
A longer study of the relationship between communication and the trickster myth. "Eshu is a trickster not just because he fools people and creates chaos, but because he's always escaping the codes of the world."
A Bookforum review. "Besides containing the most extensive analysis ever undertaken of the German Kinder Surprise egg toy, The Puppet and the Dwarfis Zizek's most compelling and passionate writing on Christianity to date, one founded on the wacky assertion that 'to become a true dialectical materialist, one should go through the Christian experience.'"
Psychedelic Culture: One of Many?
A talk given at Mindstates II. "In many ways you can look at the mainstream world and say that psychedelics won. If you look at advertising, if you look at MTV, if you look at computer graphics, if you look at a lot of things inside of the emerging cybersphere, you will find traces and sometimes overt quotations of psychedelic experience and psychedelic culture."
A review of drug books: Marcus Boon's The Road of Excess, Daniel Pinchbeck's Breaking Open the Head, and Dale Pendell's Pharmako/Dynamis.
"Though we do it more than we admit, many of us have little interest in making deliberate pacts with chemical sprites. But for those rare psychonauts who hear the call, the secret garden can only be explored by nibbling and sniffing your way through it."
Terence McKenna's Last Trip
The last profile of Terence McKenna before his death, written for Wired: The "altered statesman" emerged from Leary's long shadow to push a magical blend of psychedelics, technology, and revelatory rap. He had less time than he knew.
Terence McKenna vs. the Black Hole
Excerpts from private interviews with Terence McKenna a few months before his death.
This is Your Brain on Buddha
Can Buddhism fill the gaps in contemporary neuroscience? "On the one hand, you have three pounds of gray matter flowering on top of a post-simian spine -- meat that can be mapped, poked, drugged, and registered. On the other hand, you have your own internal flow of impressions, thoughts, sensations, and memories, a stream of consciousness that includes thoughts like 'the stream of consciousness is an illusion.' How can we integrate these two worlds? And is it even a good idea?"
The Occidental Tourist:
"Say what you will about Jerusalem, Tibet, or the Brazilian Amazon: There is no mightier destination for the spiritual tourist than India. The land offers a devotional feast: ceaseless festivals, Ramayana comic books, hash-smoking holy men with Rastafarian dreads, Hindu hard-liners running the government -- even "Sacred Space" sections in the op-ed pages."
Tibet Your Life:
What lies behind today's pop obsession with Tibet? "Tibet remains for us a hybrid, half-imagined landscape, a curious commingling of reality and fantasy, scholarship and popular desire."
Remains of the Deities:
An essay on the roots and literature of modern Paganism. "Pagans are more positivist than you think--they just expand their definition of admissible evidence."
A review of Rene Daumal: The Life and Work of a Mystic Guide, by Kathleen Ferrick Rosenblatt.
Shards of the Diamond Matrix:
Selections from the wisdom literature of the ngHolos, as discovered by Lance Daybreak. "For the ngHolos, the notion of a spiritual 'path' is a misnomer, for spiritual reality is an endlessly proliferating manifold...The path is a network of paths, a plateau. One can not "follow" a network, but must constantly probe it."
Surfing the Indranet:
Philosophical encounters with Mr. Daybreak and his Buddhist computer interface. "'When we cruise the Internet, whatever server we're checking out isn't just
'on' the Net--it is the Net, drawing the whole dizzying tapestry into being. In
a network without a center, you are always the center."
Snakes & Ladders
An essay on the spiritual tension between immanence and transcendence. "In creating a middle way between the intense world-denying asceticism of Hindu mendicants and an immanent embrace of nature and the relative world, Buddhism presents a sort of radial escape from the pagan/monotheistic dualism that haunts the West's mystical tradition."
It's Not Easy Being Green:
An essay on the encounter of postmodernism and deep ecology, disguised as a book review. "A critical postmodern ecology does wait in the wings, but for a truly mutant dialogue to occur, ecologists need to acknowledge their forked tongues and postmodernists need to cede (seed?) some of their Astroturf."
A discussion about brains and dharma with the celebrated neuroscientist and Buddhist practitioner. "'Buddhism has a privileged position of dialogue with the various schools of cognitive science because it doesn't make the assumption that we are these computers of information for a given external world.'"
What is Philosophy?:
An essay on Deleuze and Gauttari's final book. "Deleuze...is a virtual philosopher, diagramming the incorporeal zone that is, in Proust's phrase, 'real without being actual, ideal without being abstract.'"
A study of the magick in the master. "For Lovecraft, it is not the sleep of reason that breeds monsters, but reason with its eyes agog."
My introduction to "Chaos Spirituality," an issue of Fringeware Review co-edited by Erik Davis and Spiros Antonopoulos. "Chaos stirs."
Solar Temple Pilots:
The inner workings of Luc Jouret's incendiary esoteric cult. "Faced with the curious dynamics of fringe religious movements, dynamics which cannot be grasped within a purely secular paradigm, the media went schizo, simultaneously portraying Jouret as a crazed occult messiah and a cynical huckster manipulating rich lemmings."
"Firmage is not your average UFO buff. Unlike a lot of folks, whose idea of the big picture amounts to a 72-inch TV, Firmage thinks on a truly grand scale. As he makes clear in The Truth, which wends its way through a morass of theology, politics, physics, and natural history before it even gets to the Roswell goods, Firmage believes that ETs only make sense when you see them against a larger cosmic backdrop, which Firmage calls the Kairos moment."
Lost in Hyperspace: Trialogues at the Edge of the West
A review of a head-to-head-to-head discussion between Terence McKenna, Ralph Abraham, and Rupert Sheldrake. "These slightly cracked eggheads are drawn to the tantalizing patterns that seem to hover around matter without being strictly identified with it."
The Wandering Sufi:
An interview/essay on Peter Lamborn Wilson and spiritual nomadism. "'To be free and to learn are the only goals for the pure traveler. You've got to be strong, and keep your psyche polished and bright and open and ready to engage.'"
A visit to the National Religious Broadcasters convention during the Gulf War. "Times that look like end times are good times for merchants of the Word."
Hermes on the Seine:
An overview of Antoine Faivre's studies in Western esotericism. "Though the Great Work of psychic and cosmic regeneration rubs against our justified distrust of mystical holism and golden age myths, the alchemist begins where we are: solo souls mired in fragments and mutant signs."