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Check it out. I've never used drugs, and I have no intention of ever trying them either. I have heard the term "tripping out," but until Ram Dass explained the experience in his book "Be Here Nowof using psychedelics, I had no idea what it meant.

Ram Dass, formerly Professor Richard Alpert, became famous for his clinical study of psychedelics. He and several other Harvard professors experimented with using drugs to stimulate spiritual experiences and attain higher levels of consciousness. Professor Alpert wrote extensively about his "trips" under the influence and how his journeys led him to greater understanding.

I really enjoyed reading his travelogue. It was fascinating to hear about the effects LDS, psyclobin, mushrooms, etc. had on his own and others' consciousness and awareness. Ram Dass explained how he learned more in 1 minute under the influence of psychedelics than he had come to comprehend in his entire 35 years.

He had many spiritual experiences and even met God under the influence. His visions and realizations sound so similar to other great spiritual leaders that it makes me wonder if some of them weren't also inducing hallucinations. It's a curious consideration.

His explanations about how he came to "see things as they really are" fascinated me beyond measure and I loved hearing an intelligent individual communicate the hallucinogenic effects of drugs. It felt so clinical and scientific, whereas formerly I had only been able to see drugs as harmful and bad. I now have a broader understanding and I love when my mind expands. I grew up so close-minded with such black and white thinking. It's a real trip to be able to take off the blinders. I feel like a kid in a candy store--no, a total bookworm in a library where no topic is off limits, rows, and rows of books and I am free to drink freely from them all and draw my own damn conclusions! Oh God almighty, I'm positively giddy just thinking about all my intellectual escapades.

But back to Ram Dass. What really blew me away, besides his chemically induced spiritual realizations, was his ability to not become a drug addict. I mean, I thought everyone who started using drugs becomes a bum? Or at least that is what I was taught. Dr. Alpert admits that the "high" was addicting, but because each "trip" resulted in a "come down" or an eventual "returning home," he didn't see the point in continuing to take these journeys because once he had proverbially "traveled the world" there was little point in getting high when he would have to feel all deflated and depressed when he returned to reality.

This explanation really resonated with me. It reminded me of my early morning Sunday mountain excursions. I used to love waking up early and hiking to my rock to spend time with Universe, God, or Spirit. But inevitably there always came this moment when I had to leave the mountain behind and return home. Last year, I stopped heading up the mountain to spend time with God because I found God all around. I realized that Universal Spirit was everywhere and in everything. I didn't have to "trip" up the mountain to make contact, I just had to be "aware" and I could tap into this special presence/power always. In fact, I am that very power. Plus, the power wasn't only found on top of the mount, the power was also in the journey. The destination didn't trump the trip. There is as much joy in the journey as there is in the destination.

Equally fascinating was how Dass explained the psychedelic benefits of heightened awareness. He came to understand and see things differently because he was able to separate himself from his experience. Becoming an observer of his consciousness allowed him to take his awareness to the next level.

I resonated with his explanations of the power of awareness because I can honestly say that awareness has been a game changer for me. I have found that the greater my awareness, the greater my freedom. I don't react. I don't harm others, or myself. I'm at peace. Totally calm, centered, and full of love. It's a total trip. And as I read Ram Dass's psychedelic journeys, I realized I do my own kind of tripping all the time. I trip out on my daily walk, during meditation, practicing yoga, reading, writing, playing with my kids, eating, basically any time I bring my attention to the present moment--letting go of the past and not fretting about the future--just being HERE NOW.... well, it's a total freaking high! A total ride! A total trip!


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