ONCE A PSYCHEDELIC,
ALWAYS A PSYCHEDELIC
Live high and die high!
--Often repeated, Ganeshian aphorism
When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary
comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be . . .
--“Let It Be” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Ganesh Baba had no reservations about crediting the psychedelic movement with the opening of the Western mind to ideas from the East. He was thrilled to be on the cover of High Times in December 1982 and referred to himself as the Highest Hipster. He sang wild and sentimental hymns to Mother Mary or Mari-juana, or Mary/John--Mary as mother or earth and Juana (John) as man--and delighted in Timothy Leary’s call to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.”
And, of course, he was great fun to be with, laughing uproariously and dancing and singing for hours on end. There were times when he seemed to need no sleep at all for days (and then days when he did nothing but sleep), and there are countless stories about the outrageous amounts of psychedelic substances he could ingest without seeming any higher than usual.
Yet he had no patience for people who took drugs without trying to maintain a straight back or breathing properly, and he told us again and again that it was only necessary to get really high, to take LSD, for example, once. “Once a psychedelic, always a psychedelic.”
Smoking ganja with Ganesh Baba was always about going deeper. We often meditated together when we were very high. Rather than letting us relax into a sleep state, Baba expected us to sit up straight, breathe consciously, and work our brains.
I remember one morning I arrived early at Roxanne and Jayant’s apartment above the New Delhi café in Geneva, New York. I came to write some letters for Baba, a job he gave me periodically, although perhaps a year had passed since I’d last done it in that setting.
We had some tea first, and then a joint or two. At that point I was happy to listen to whatever Baba had to tell me, but he remembered the letters.
“We haven’t heard back from Patrick Menicuci!” he announced. “Did you mail the letter?” The letter to Patrick was the last one we’d written sitting at that table.
“A long time ago,” I answered.
“But he hasn’t answered. Are you sure you mailed it?” I thought I was sure, but marijuana plays with memory.
Baba had me search through his files, but neither the original letter nor a copy (we often made carbon copies of letters in those days) could be found.
We smoked another joint.
“So, you must now remember what we wrote,” he told me.
I remember how the anxiety rose from my stomach to my chest.
“I can’t do that,” I said, trying to keep my voice from shaking. “Not in this state.” Baba showed no sympathy. “Sit up straight. Shoulders up and back and down.” I could feel my center of gravity shift into my spinal column. “Now breathe with me.”
We breathed together, long and loud, slow and deep, until the panic subsided.
“Now, picture the letter. We were sitting right here. It will come.”
I sank into the memory: Jayant rolling the joints and serving us tea, the breeze on the curtains, the pen in my hand, Baba’s voice dictating. And then I could see it: the blue aerogram lying on the table, the carefully drawn OM at the top, my own handwriting, “My dear Patrick . . .”
I read the letter aloud to Baba.
“Ah cha,” he said. “Very good. Now we will write him another.”
Somehow, that experience changed my relationship with marijuana forever. Rather than becoming unfocused when I was high, I became focused. Whether it was Baba’s presence or my own mental work or some combination of the two, it seemed as if new pathways were carved into my brain that day.
“The world will divide between the alpha-betas and psi-deltas (alcoholic beefeaters and psychedelics), you will see.”
From a lecture by Ganesh Baba in 1980:
We psychedelics must become more familiar with the essence and structure of consciousness, because it is out of consciousness we come and to consciousness we return.
Ganja is gyana yoga -- it is an abstraction; you are a little bit abstracted from sensory experience. It gives you room to move your psyche about.
The broad eight categories all operate within the human psyche, but the physical body operates only in the first three dimensions: matter, energy, and space. The fourth dimension, time, we can conceive, but it is like a baby in the womb trying to understand the outside world.
Since time immemorial we have used plant substances to help us recognize the higher frequencies of knowledge.
Corinne Vandewalle remembers psychedelic moments with Baba:
We took a train from Calcutta to Allahabad in January 1977 to attend the Khumb-Mela. The Anand Akhara gave Ganesh Baba a place under a huge bridge to settle his “Ganeshean camp.” Every evening people from all over the world would gather there just to listen to his high talks.
One night, a married couple from Australia, doctors both of them, arrived, very politely, in our psychedelic circle. They sat in front of Baba, who welcomed them and started to tell them about Kriya-Yoga. Chillums were passed and the air was filled with his vibes of love and humorous consciousness: a pure Ganeshean glimpse of time.
Then Baba said that meditation led to “orgasmic consciousness.”
The lady-doctor asked him to repeat.
Baba repeated, “Orgasmic! Orgasmic! You don’t know what is orgasm???”
Then he turned to her husband and said, “Your wife does not know what is an orgasm?”
Too much is too much. The doctors promptly left the scene and never came back!
Baba was laughing so much.
His tantric teaching was kicking our arses and hammering our ego nonstop, shredding our beliefs to pieces, with LOVE!