The Road of Excess and the Palace of Wisdom
A prolonged period of self abuse, self neglect and self destruction which brought about a wonderous state of mystical insightfulness and access to transcendent modes of thought.
Here I relate a strange period of my life during which I spent several months living continually in a borderline mystical state. It was the result of and followed a period of prolonged and intense drug abuse. During this time of recovery my head was not 'normal' and mind really was not working in a familiar manner. I thought strange thoughts and my moods were a bit disorganised. However a series of spiritual insights came to me and I first began to see dimly aspects of mystical truths; these would become fully transparent and comprehensible to my mind later on in my life. It happened like this...
The year was 1996 and during this time I was heavily involved in London's psychedelic rave party scene. I had worked in the promotion of club nights and also for a while I was involved in the selection and booking of club DJs. But it seemed that as the year wore on, I became less involved with the work side of things and more and more concentrated on hedonistic pursuits. I recall that sometime in the Summer of 1996 I started to use the drug ecstasy with careless regularity and reckless quantity. Anyway, the upshot of this is that I had some good times. However as the Autumn of 1996 wore on my life steadily fell into increasing states of decadence. By the time December rolled by, I was pretty messed up. After one last major binge around the time of the Winter Solstice, just before Christmas time, my head was definitely in an altered state. The chemicals that I had been indulging in over the preceded 3 to 4 months, left me in a state of significant dysfunction. My life was a complete mess, my values and life goals seemed to be erased and I sort of became a different person for a while. In retrospect now it is clear to me that I went through a process of self destruction which was brought about partly through excessive drug use but also through the neglecting of my personal health. I was not eating or sleeping properly during this time which added to the weakening of my body and mind. Anyway, after this annihilation had occured, for several months afterwards, I existed continuously in what may best be described as a borderline mystical state.
During this time of excessive drug use I was living in a room in Farringdon which is a quite central part of London, just South of Kings Cross and a little West from the City financial and business district. I lived in this place from May 1995 right up to the January of 1997. Many of my memories of this time are associated with drug experimentation. Apart from going clubbing a lot and being involved with the promotion and organization of club events, I also played guitar a fair amount. This was a time in my life when I really neglected my studies and I didn't really do all that much reading, thinking or writing in my notes. But as my drug use rolled on and my life was steadily falling into a state of degeneration, there was a part of me which was getting tired of it all. And so as my drug use reached a sort of peak and climax, I was already moving away from this whole scene and way of living. However, as described earlier I was left in quite an altered state from all this prolonged intoxication. I spent the last month or so of my time 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. It was during this time that I started to think a lot about philosophical, metaphysical and religious issues. I started to purchase religious books just before the Christmas of 1996 and would dwell on these sorts of matters incessantly.
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 God in the Summer of 1993 but had no way subsequently to integrate what I had experienced into 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 a few years on starting from around this time of the Winter Solstice 1996, just before Christmas, 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. Also that which before I 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. I had allusions to this being the case during several times in my life before this time, but 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.
Shortly after the beginning of 1997 I left my flat in Farringdon to go and stay with friends for an indefinite amount of time. 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. What triggered this change of scene was a desire to escape my old way of life. Also I was made quite dysfunctional by my extended period of drug taking and so tended not to pay much attention to my material circumstances. My head was completely focused on the metaphysical, mystical and religious. And so I moved out of this place where I had become so immersed in the world of drugs and the counter culture and moved in to stay with friends living in the North of London in an area called Muswell hill. 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 sleeping on the living room floor of the 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. 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 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. They really watched TV a lot. 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 on the whole. If they sometimes found me tiresome then I was too engrossed in my little mystical magical 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 Spring, 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 I was returning to normal again but I was still spending quite a lot of time with my mind focused on religious thoughts. Then something happened which came as a major upset and which caused me to put the whole world of psychedelics drugs behind me. Around the month of May 1997, I learned that a close friend and drug experimentation companion had died from an overdose of a cocktail of various intoxicants. I was utterly devastated and the sense of grief 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 decided that the purpose of my life was to somehow communicate the mystical insights that I had to the world at large.
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. 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 read books on philosophy, science, religion/spirituality, history and psychology/neuroscience. 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. It is also worth mentioning that during this time, I experienced a reawakening of my interest in 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 transcendent 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.
This whole phase of my life, which lasted about a year from the end of 1996 to the end of 1997, I can with the benefit of hindsight understand as a process of reconstruction. 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. Also 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 turbulence in life in order to experience profound personal transitions. Anyway, this process of reconstruction, healing and recovery came to a conclusion when through a series of chance encounters, I was very much introduced back into the 'real' world.
Starting in the beginning of 1998 I rather suddenly found myself working as a live musician and playing guitar in shows around the world. Having experienced something of a rather introverted period in life, I then found myself having to play a very extroverted role. Performing in live shows, travelling and meeting people really brought me back into the world. It helped to build up my confidence and also I was given the opportunity to talk to a lot of different kinds of people about my mystic and spiritual insights. The reaction wasn't always positive but I didn't really care. I had more or less recovered from my period of self destruction and started to feel strong again. At the same time my head was still rather filled with mystical and philosophical thoughts, so whenever I had a conversation with anybody the subject matter would very inevitably turn to my obsession. However some of the people whom I spoke to during my travels were very receptive and encouraging, this helped to motivate me even further.
And so it was, I went along the road of excess and found myself in the palace of wisdom. Here I learned truths relating to the ultimate truth that a person's real identity is God. Through this road of excess I destroyed myself and as a result I existed in a borderline mystical state for a couple of months or so. During this time the mystical insights and visions came rather freely and vividly. The veil between the temporal and the transcendent became very thin indeed and I was able to bring back the knowledge of God. 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.