Life connected au des while technology evolves by design?

Friday, July 15, 2011


Indians consider the traditional and contemporary use of psychedelic drugs unfortunate. It is how the poor who have jobs but are not yet in the middle class get through their day. But if you picture the teeth of a clock turning at the rate of its hands you will notice something. The turn of the gear is defined by the movements of Big Ben. Unquestioning abstinence is simply not how we do things.

If you ever hear marijuana called 'kush' or 'ganja', those words refer to the Hindu Kush mountain range and the Ganges river. For thousands of years some sadhus, mystics who renounced the boons of civilization to live in the wilderness and sometimes drift between cities and villages (all the while practicing their yoga and seeking holy knowledge), have consumed the intoxicating buds of the cannabis plant, let their hair form matted dreadlocks and even taken vows of nudity - the wearing of dreadlocks and the consumption of ganja as a sacrament came to Rasta from sadhus brought to Jamaica as indentured servants, the phrase 'sky-clad' to Wicca from the Sanskrit word for religious nudity.

As the seventies hit India, Indian youth were listening to The Beatles and Pink Floyd, breaking from tradition and experimenting with unconventional lifestyles. India has had a politically active populace since its struggle for independence from Britain, and I suspect the increase in the nation's rate of drug abuse retarded its social movements during the seventies.

At the same time, American hippies were coming to India to find their spiritual paths and sometimes become cultural icons. The most famous of these seekers was Ram Dass. Born Richard Alpert, Ram Dass left America in 1967 after a fiasco with Timothy Leary at Harvard. There he proceeded to give LSD to holy men who had never heard of it. What he found was that they didn't gain and consistently reported getting more surplus using yoga. One of them, whom Alpert adopted as his guru and called Maharaj-ji, persuaded Alpert to give up drugs for good. Maharaj-ji taught Alpert until he gave his disciple the name 'Ram Dass' and resolved way, Ram Dass untorted acts' following and effected the founding of many ashrams.

Goa Gil is a US-born musician who in 1969 left San Francisco, California and settled in Goa, India. There he discovered the sadhus and was initiated under an order and guru, eventually receiving the honorary name Baba Mangalanand. In the eighties he started DJing and playing live electronic music all night long at dance parties on the beaches of Goa. He became the founder of the psytrance genre of music which gained musicians from the US, Europe, Israel and Japan.

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