The tropical storm is coming to Cambodia from Southern Vietnam. The temperature has eased off to 29 degrees, a rare state of no sweat. The wind is beginning to pick up, tomorrow there might be torrential rain and flooding. Cool.
I remember once feeling somewhat chilly and even throwing on some clothes as I tend to prance around naked in my abode. The thermometer registered 23 degrees, wait a minute! since when do I get cold at 23 degrees Celsius??! I then thought to myself ‘It’s been a while since I lived in the (cold) West’.
It occurred to me as I was listening to Scott McKenzie’s ‘San Francisco’ that I’m no Cleo Odzer, and the hippie movement (which I missed both chronologically and geographically) would never gel with me, for one very simple reason: I detest drugs. I detest alcohol and anything that has the capacity to cloud the mind. Sure, cigarettes may kill me in the end, but they do not rob one of the ability to think clearly. The rest of the hippie paraphernalia – does.
I read Cleo’s book ‘Goa Freaks: My Hippie Years in India’ in a two-night reading marathon. It was compelling for one reason: the sheer realness of its content. Of course, I had no idea who she was, and only after having finished the book did I google the name and read the Wikipedia article devoted to her. And boy! these official articles sound nothing like the life of the person when told through her own words.
If anyone thinks hippies were all about universal ‘love’ – think again. Reality demands paying attention to the basics. Cleo stated herself that hippies of Goa were very concerned with the subject of money, and how to obtain money so that they could avoid the 9 to 5 slavery and spend their days partying, snorting, inhaling, injecting, swimming, chatting, playing… And oh yeah… fucking of course. Ironically, that meant sophisticated for its time drug operations, delivery runs in various parts of the world, tourist scams and a subsequent dependency on the various products they peddled.
Unlike Escobar, the hippies were not interested in building drug empires. They were interested in personal survival at whatever cost. Free love, free drugs and free lifestyle were not that free, after all. All of this required cash and loss of conscience.
Cleo had a quick flirtatious period with Osho’s ashram in Poona, mainly because she was out of money and needed a place to park herself until the next drug scam materialised. She died in 2001 at the age of 51, still looking swell, but internally destroyed by the long-term drug habit.
And so the question of drugs and ‘enlightenment’…. the initial dose may transport one into the altered state of consciousness, which is exactly what it says on the tin: your conscious perception, compared to your everyday Reality, is altered via chemicals. And? How much would one understand about the world and Reality around them from that kick? The kick would tell you that consciousness is subject to change (altered), can easily be manipulated, yes. So? How much Clarity do you have as a result?
One dope head once told me, ‘EVERYTHING changes the state of consciousness, what you had for dinner changes it’. I remember it struck me how true the statement was. Every experience alters the state of consciousness, often on very subtle levels. Fighting off the shark attack changes it. Breaking up with your lover changes it. Sending your kid to school for the first time changes it. Getting dengue fever changes it. Sitting in a nice restaurant and listening to the sound of rain changes it. Everything that makes you stop, pause and think even for a minute – will change your state of consciousness.
Drugs per se – don’t. What becomes the RESULT of getting the habit – will. One may lose much as a result. The loss will alter one’s perceptions. Have we not agreed (together with Jed) that the journey is that of loss? I am not anti-drugs, each to their own and all that, I personally choose not to, despite the fact that ‘commission’ based Cambodia has been heaven for shady druggy characters, both of Western and local origins.
I am anti- mind fog that the drugs induce.
If one eventually manages to get out of the fog, both drug and TMUT induced – good on them. In fact.. hell, you have done well to get out of hell!
As I write this, a party is taking place next door. Young, with money, a whiff of dope is slowly creeping in, alcohol pumped craziness, which will be followed in due course by heavy humping. What changed in human minds from the times of Indochina opium dens? And it doesn’t matter one glorious spliff if this is Goa, New York or Kathmandu.
Monkey ‘fun’ in the human jungle has universal form across time and space. Without mindless ‘fun’ – a large proportion of human population will stop breading.