Recovery and Restoration
In the later part of the year 1996 I went through A prolonged period of self abuse, self neglect and self destruction. This was a phase in my life characterized by a lot of drug abuse, shallow hedonistic pursuits and unproductivity. By the time of the Winter Solstice coming to the end of the year I was starting to get a little sick of my degenerate existence. I was just beginning at this stage to start having thoughts about cleaning up my act and getting my head together. It was also around this time that I started to become inordinately interested in Religion.
I remember during the December of 1996, buying a whole load of books about religion. My life seemed to be slowly shifing away from my existing patterns of behaviour. I was pretty messed up at this stage. All the drug abuse, neglect of bodily needs such as nutrition and sleep had taken their toll. I found myself in a rather weakened state, both physically and psychologically. My powers of concentration were much diminished, my moods and energy levels were much lower than normal. It wasn’t a good place to be and I knew that things had to change. So at this point I made tentative decisions to stop taking drugs and heal my life.
While this process of self annihilation was very detrimental to my being and my purpose, at the same time this road of excess did in a very real sense lead to a palace of wisdom. Even though I wouldn’t have planned out this course that my life had taken, I can see now that there was a prize at the end which I definitely consider to have been worth the cost.
So what was this prize? It was this. After I had undergone my period of self destrution, for several months afterwards, I existed continuously in what may best be described as a continuous borderline mystical state. The run of reckless behavior I had engaged in eventually culminated in a state of mind which enabled me to see some things I hadn’t been able perceive to previously. I went through a process of dramatic mental alteration brought about by a pattern of repeated drug abuse and bodily self neglect. And in this state new ways of seeing became accessible to me that were previously beyond my perception and imagination.
Starting from just before the Christmas of 1996, a door in my mind seemed to open, and out of that door came thoughts, ideas and visions that I believe came from transcendent realms. I could see and think clearly about matters that previous to this time seemed rather untransparent. For instance I had my first encounter with the experience of being in union with God in the Summer of 1993 but I had no way subsequently to integrate what I had experienced into the rest of my life. It was something which I knew was the truth, known through direct experience but also back then it was a truth which I had absolutely no way to think about, so it was really pushed into the back of my mind. But now, all the mystical experiences that I had prior to that time, became suddenly accessible and comprehensible to my rational mind. It seemed as if the idea that everyone was God, which was something of a supressed thought, now became something I couldn’t stop thinking about.
That which before, I had considered unreality i.e. the mystical, now became the more authentic and true reality; and what I had previously assumed to be normal everyday reality, I began to more clearly recognise as illusory. Before this time, I had allusions to this being the true state of affairs several times in my life up to this point. But now if I had any doubts concerning the unreality of the material world, then by this time these had all but vanished. So this was the state I found myself in towards the end of 1996, which would continue for a while. During this a series of spiritual insights came to me and I first began to see dimly aspects of mystical truths which would become more fully transparent and comprehensible to my mind later on in my life. The mystical insights and visions came rather freely and vividly. The veil between the temporal and the transcendent became very thin indeed. What had been a trickle became a steady flow and the things I saw, the wisdom I gained, would make reality never seem the same again.
It was this state of mind and with these thoughts that in the beginning of 1997 I left my flat in Farringdon to go and stay with friends for an indefinite amount of time. I spent the last month or so of my time living in Farringdon, relatively drug free although I had taken up smoking cigarettes for the first time since quitting about 2 years previously. This would have been in the December of 1996 going onto January 1997. While existing in this borderline mystical state naturally I spent a lot time thinking about about philosophical, metaphysical and religious issues. I started to purchase religious and philosophical books just before the Christmas of 1996 and would dwell on these sorts of matters incessantly. Also for period of 2 weeks or so in January 1997 my mind would also be quite preoccupied with morbid and hypochondriacal thoughts.
I moved my possessions into storage, this included my books, my computer and bits of furniture that I had acquired; and so effectively I was now living out of a large back pack. I did however take my guitar with me on this new phase in my life. This change of scene was very derived from my desire to escape my old way of life. And so I moved out of my flat in Farringdom where I had become so immersed in the world of drugs and the counter culture and moved in to stay with friends living in a flat in the North of London Muswell hill area. I didn’t know it at the time but this turned out to be the perfect context for my philosophical and religious explorations.
So I found myself moving in to a large spacious flat, rented by two friends I had met when I was involved in London’s psychedelic party scene. They were a couple from the state of Texas, in the United states, who had been in a relationship but were now best of friends. They really helped me out at a time when I really needed some place to escape and get my head together again. I was living out of a camping backpack and sleeping on the floor in the corner of their living room. I can’t believe now how I could have lived like that but will always be eternally grateful to my friends for providing me with a place to live when I really had nowhere to go. My life was in a pretty pathetic state. My hedonism, decadence and excessive behavior had left me almost totally dysfunctional for a while. At the same time because of a state of mind, I tended to pay not much attention to my material circumstances. So at that time in my life my surroundings didn’t really matter to me much at all. My head was completely focused on the metaphysical, mystical and religious.
The flat itself was full of religious and mystical images and artefacts and thus provided a stimulating backdrop for the thoughts that were going on in my head. From waking up in the morning right up to falling asleep in the night time I thought incessantly about things philosophical and mystical. Sometimes visions would appear in my head which were so vivid that I would become totally distracted from some of my daily activities. Sometimes I would find myself in a shop or something like that and then become gripped by the thoughts and visualizations that were going on in my mind to the exclusion of everything that was going on around me, for many minutes at a time.
My day would typically involve waking up and going straight into my thoughts. Then I would eat and leave the house to go wandering, thinking all the while during the walks and visiting public libraries to sit, read, think and write in my notes. I read a lot of books about religion, mysticism, philosophy and the relationship between science and spirituality. I would walk a lot, and often walk from Muswell hill into the centre of London, a journey on foot that would take a couple of hours. So my days were spent walking, stopping off at a public library, walking some more, visiting another library and so on. I read a lot of books about religion and philosophy, but also books about the relationship between science and religion. I really got a lot of thinking and reading done and in retrospect I can see that this period was an important formative phase for my ideas and philosophy. After getting back to the flat where I was staying, I would typically find my American friends smoking cigarettes and watching the television. It was not uncommon that I would find myself ranting about my latest thoughts and ideas to my hosts and I remember that they were supportative, patient and quite encouraging. If they sometimes found me tiresome then I was too engrossed in my little mystical universe to really notice. I really was in another world. In this world but not of this world, as the expression goes.
This state of affairs carried on until the early Spring 1997, when the change in the weather seemed to awaken my worldly mind a little and I started to consider earthly matters once again. Around this time my head was returning to normal again but I was still spending quite a lot of time with my mind focused on religious thoughts. As my mental state was slowly reverting back to something more like how it was before my road of excess, so it seemed that the mystic door which had opened up months before, now slowly seemed to close again. The spiritual insights and mystical visions became much less frequent as my brain became more regularly functional again. In retrospect I can see now that this time of my life was a valuable one in terms of providing me with new ways of seeing and new ways of understanding.
As already mentioned, at the beginning of the year I had already started to feel that I had really taken enough drugs. Now I was becoming increasingly wary of their detrimental effects. My desire to put a stop to my drug use altogether would not be immediate. One of flat mates was working in the scene as as DJ and I was still heavily tied in socially with it and so would still go to psychedelic parties but only about a couple of times a month, a big change from my previous pattern of 2 or 3 times a week. The hedonistic dimension of the drug culture started to have less and less of a pull on me. Also I was probably getting diminishing returns in terms of new experiences and insights derived from the scene. As my drug taking diminished so my mental fitness and powers of concentration started to return. But then something happened in the Spring of 1997. In early May of that year a major upset would bring my now minor pattern of drug taking to an abrupt end. And which would cause me to try to put the whole world of drugs and drug abuse completely behind me.
Around the month of May 1997, I learned that my close friend and drug experimentation companion Patrick had died, at the age of 29, from an overdose of a cocktail of various intoxicants. I was utterly devastated by the news and it really shook me to the core. We had spent a lot of time together going to clubs and generally hanging out. We also talked a lot together about life in general and about religious and philosophical matters, so his demise and the circumstances around his death came as a real blow. It also forced me to think hard about my own situation and all this put me into a profoundly depressed state. It certainly made it clear to me how reckless my way of life had been. I thought what a waste it all was, someone dying at such a young age with so much of his life ahead of him and someone with potential. The fact that he had a small daughter aged about three or four added to the tragedy. Patrick and his daughter’s Mother had separated but he was quite dutiful when it came to taking his offspring for days out. I met up with the two of them together on a few occasions when he was looking after his daughter, usually in some cafe or restaurant in central London. She would have been just old enough to have some brief memories of her father, but who would never get the chance to know him. It was all very sad.
Also some of the circumstances surrounding my friends death made the feeling of grief more intense and also prevented a sense of closure. Towards to end, my friend had lapsed back to a previous mode of existence and employment which involved the movements of and trade in the drug Cocaine. He had been arrested months before his death in possession of a large quantity of some illegal substance and was facing a court case and, what he thought, a certain jail sentence. I remember this hung on his mind a lot and depressed him immensely. At some point he decided to jump bail and during the last months of his life existed as a fugitive on the run from the law. Partly as a result of this and also partly due to the fact that my life was starting to move away from the world of substance abuse, I lost contact with my friend. I knew he was living in a house owned by a criminal associate somewhere in London, this is where he was found dead. I didn’t know this person or the location of the place where my friend was in hiding and also I had moved house recently as well so we lost touch with each other. As a result I never got to see my friend Patrick during this desparate and final period of his life. After his death there was this horrible feeling of guilt and regret, a feeling of ‘What if?’, ‘What if I was there to help, perhaps to advise or merely console?’, ‘What if this?, or what if that?, then perhaps my friend wouldn’t be dead etc.
On top of this sense of lose and grief things were furthur complicated by other circumstances surrounding Patrick’s death. Due to a variety of reasons, my friend had a few antagonisms with various people associated with Londons Psychedelic party scene and made some enemies. After his death some of these people choose to openly criticize my dead pal, unfairly and inappropriately I thought, which encouraged in me a definite hatred for these persons. These sentiments helped me to develop more of a distancing between myself the world of psychedelic drugs. If I already had less of an affinity for this scene, then some of the feelings floating around in my head at this time, caused in me an outright rejection of some of the attitudes and outlook of the people with whom I had been hanging out. There developed in me a strong desire to abandon my previous mode of existence. To engage in more wholesome pursuits and strive for better things.
This was definitely one of the most wrenching times of my life, exacerbated by the fact that my mental state at that time was still quite delicate from the chronic pattern of drug abuse I had been indulging in. The sense of grief and anger was probably made more intense by the fact that my brain was still in a recovering stage and emotionally weak. During a turbulent few weeks, I really reorientated my life and set a new course. I now wanted to re-enter the ‘normal’ world and I had the first inklings that the purpose of my life was to somehow communicate the quite basic mystical insights that I had to the world at large and mainstream society.
It was this process of pain that helped me to wake up from the slumber that I had been in, the sleep of the lotus eaters. Also it was this mental and emotional turbulence which gave me the escape velocity to take charge of my life and leave the land of the lotus eaters. It was at around the Summer Solstice, a month or so after learning about my friend’s death, that in my mind, I finally made the break. My entire outlook and mental state seemed to change rather dramatically. It was a powerful point of transition, my life was being steered towards a totally different course. Somehow and in some way I first started to believe and see clearly that the purpose of my life was to communicate to the World the idea that everybody is God.
I didn’t really have a clue as to how I might go about this task of explaining to the world the visions I had seen and the mystical ideas that I had, but I knew that to accomplish my objectives I had to learn a phenomenal amount of knowledge from all the various areas of human learning. So all through the Summer right through to the end of 1997, I read voraciously finishing at least two or three decent sized books a week. I would typically spend 7 to 8 hours a day reading, day in day out. It got to the point that I became temporarily short sighted during this time as a result of all the time I spent staring into books. I would find it difficult to focus at a distant object, even though normally I have good eye sight. Mainly I read books on Philosophy, Science, Religion/Spirituality, History and Psychology/Neuroscience, but also I read a wide variety of periodicals as well. I was getting myself ready for the purpose of my life. Aside from studying, the rest of my time was spent jogging, meditating and playing the guitar.
I’d like to mention that during this time, I experienced a reawakening of my interest and long held dream of working out how the brain worked and creating Artificial Intelligence. My notes from this time reflect this and I remember that 1997 was a productive year where I gained many insights into how the human mind worked. However, although at this point in my life I saw some connections between the brain/mind and mystical/spiritual truths, they were however still areas of learning that existed in separate compartments within my head. The full integration of the neuroscientific and the spiritual would come a couple of years later, when it became clear to me that the processes of the brain are totally correspondent with the processes of human history, the evolution of life and also the overall process of the Universe. Also it was later on that I would become better able to articulate the idea that the mystery of consciousness and the mystery of God are one and the same.
I remember getting a lot done at this time. It was a relative halcyon period of my life but at the same time there was a sense of unease. At the back of my mind there was always the troubling thought that I had jeopardized my long term aims through the senseless way that I had lived over the past few years. There was a feeling that I had wasted valuable time and that it was necessary for me to play catch up. Anyway, this definitely acted as a kind of spur, as I really got down to work in the latter part of 1997. Also on my mind through out this time of intense study were thoughts about my recently deceased friend Patrick. Death generally, was a thought that occupied my mind quite a lot during this time, coupled with related reflections on the transience of life and eternity. Probably partly due to the process of mourning my dead friend and also as a result of the kind of things I was reading and thinking about, I felt a closeness with death. This focus and meditation on death gave me more of an eternal and wider outlook on things. In the contemplation of the transience and fragility of life I was able to get a better orientation towards the permanent and transcendent.
This time from the Summer Solstice of 1997 onwards I can with the benefit of hindsight understand as a process of reconstruction or restoration and perhaps even initiation. This time of healing following on from the self destruction I brought about upon myself through personal neglect and the extensive consumption of various types of psychoactive drugs. In retrospect I can see that this was a very necessary thing for me to have gone through to get to the stage that I am at now. Sometimes we have to go through some extreme situations in life in order to experience profound personal transitions. This process of reconstruction, healing and recovery would be much enhanced when through a series of chance encounters I was given the oppurtunity to engage in some confidence building and strengthening activities. Slightly later on I would suddenly start doing some work as a musician playing guitar in front of quite large audiences in various parts of the World. This would help me to regain my confidence and strength.
My life was now completely drug free and I no longer had very much in common with most of the people that I had spent the past few years hanging out with. My life went through a total re-orientation and I was living a very different existence from my previous one in the land of the lotus eaters. I would continue to get my head and body together. I would continue to prepare myself for what I had to do in life.