Grin without a cat

«”All right”, said the Cat, and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.

“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin”, thought Alice, “but a grin without a cat!”»

– Lewis Carrol, “Alice in Wonderland”.

Hoffman’s experimentation without drugs

«It’s very, very dangerous to lose contact with living nature. In the big cities, there are people who have never seen living nature, all things are products of humans. The bigger the town, the less they see and understand nature. (…) I was completely astonished by the beauty of nature. (…) Any natural scientist who is not a mystic is not a real natural scientist.» – New York Times, 07/01/2006.

«That is the real problem today, that people live in towns and cities, where everything is dead. This material world, made by humans, is a dead world, and will disappear and die. I would tell the young people to go out into the countryside, go to the meadow, go to the garden, go to the woods. This is a world of nature to which we belong, absolutely. It is the circle of life, of which we are an integral part. Open your eyes, and see the browns and greens of the earth, and the light which is the essence of nature. The young need to become aware of this circle of life, and realize that it is possible to experience the beauty and deep meaning which is at the core of our relation to nature. (…) When I was a young boy, I had many opportunities to walk through the countryside. I had profound and visionary encounters with nature, and this was long before I conducted my initial experiments with LSD. Indeed, my first experiences with LSD were very reminiscent of these early mystical encounters I had had as a child in nature. So, you see that it is even possible to have these experiences without drugs. But many people are blocked, without an inborn faculty to realize beauty, and it is these people who may need a psychedelic in order to have a visionary experience of nature. (…) It is important to have the experience directly. Aldous Huxley taught us not to simply believe the words, but to have the experience ourselves. This is why the different forms of religion are no longer adequate. They are simply words, words, words, without the direct experience of what it is the words represent. (…) If we were to read about spiritual things, it is only words. We must have the experience directly. And the experience occurs only by opening the mind, and opening all of our senses. Those doors of perception must be cleansed. And if the experience does not come spontaneously, on its own, then we may make use of what Huxley calls a gratuitous grace. This may take the form of psychedelic drugs, or perhaps without drugs through a discipline like yoga. But what is of greatest importance, is that we have personal experience. Not words, not beliefs, but experience. (…) The pathway for this is through psychiatry, but not the psychoanalytic psychiatry of Freud and not the limited scope of modern biological psychiatry. Rather, it will occur through the new field of transpersonal psychiatry. This transpersonal view takes into account both the material world, including our body, as well as the spiritual world. It recognizes that we are simultaneously part of the material and the spiritual worlds. (…) What transpersonal psychiatry tries to give us is a recipe for gaining entrance into the spiritual world. (…) These psychiatrists must become the Shamans of our times.» – Newsletter of MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), Volume 8, Number 3, Autumn 1998, pp. 30-33.

– Albert Hoffman, scientist, inventor of LSD.

It was in China, late, one moonless night

«It was in China, late, one moonless night,
The Simorgh* first appeared to human sight –
He let a feather float down through the air,
And rumours of its fame spread everywhere;

Throughout the world men separately conceived
An image of its shape, and all believed
Their private fantasies uniquely true!
(In China still this feather is on view,
Whence comes the saying you have heard, no doubt,
“Seek Knowledge, unto China seek it out.”)
If this same feather had not floated down,
The world would not be filled with His renown –
It is a sign of Him, and in each heart
There lies this feather’s hidden counterpart.
But since no words suffice, what use are mine
To represent or to describe this sign?
Whoever wishes to explore the Way,

Let him set out – what more is there to say? (…)

A girl fell in a river – in a flash
Her lover dived in with a mighty splash,
And fought the current till he reached her side.
When they were safe again, the poor girl cried:
“By chance I tumbled in, but why should you
Come after me and hazard your life too?”
He said: “I dived because the difference
Of ‘I’ and ‘you’ to lovers makes no sense –
A long time passed when we were separate,
But now that we have reached this single state
When you are me and I am wholly you,
What use is it to talk of us as two?”
All talk of two implies plurality –
When two has gone there will be Unity.»

(*) “Si” means ‘thirty’, “morgh” means ‘bird’.

– Farid ud-Din Attar, “The Conference of the Birds” [“Manṭiq-uṭ-Ṭayr”], translation by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis.