There are certain states of consciousness in which you experience that everything is interconnected: everything “goeswith” everything else.
We are, I think, really in need of experiencing the relationship of the individual to the physical world in a way that is more positive, more constructive, more friendly, more close than that which expresses itself in a hostile technology bent on the domination and the conquest of nature considered as something alien to the human spirit, mechanical, thoughtless, and stupid, that surrounds us as the mere featureless energy behind the galaxies.
If indeed it were possible for many of us to have a sensation of not just merely belonging in this world, but being it—if we could feel that our separate individuality is a coming and going expression of what it is that is happening through all the cycles of time and generations of cosmoses—we’d be able to cool it a bit and not be so frantic in our pursuit of survival. It might be a very good thing.
The mystical experience is something rather badly handled in Western culture because we’re not used to it. It’s not something which our standard brands of religion have done anything much about. They preach morals, they don’t help people to find cosmic consciousness.
In my normal state of consciousness, in which I am a product of a certain culture which believes that every individual is a separate soul (or Freudian ego) inhabiting a physical vehicle, I feel myself alienated from and separate from everything else that goes on. But if I’m described by a biologist, I’m nothing of the kind. A biologist describes me as an organism-environment: not an organism in an environment, but an organism-environment. The way that he describes my behavior: he describes my behavior as the same thing as the behavior of my environment. He’ll go further than that. He’ll describe the behavior of my environment as the same thing as my behavior. We are a single field of process, or what is sometimes called a transaction.
And anybody who knows nothing about playing the piano can flitter his fingers around on the Steinway and it produces sounds that are essentially, in themselves, excellent because the piano is a fine instrument, but they are not ordered in any kind of musical coherence. Give the same instrument to an expert and he uses it marvelously. And it’s exactly the same thing with psychedelic chemicals: anybody can have a ball with them, just like anybody can have a ball looking through a microscope or a telescope, but not everyone can use them to produce religious experience, or profound aesthetic experience, or, as in many cases, scientific inventiveness. It depends on what you bring to it, what you get out of it.
Respect for our policemen in this country ceased when prohibition came into effect. Because the officers of the law were asked to enforce things that the citizenry simply were not going to observe. They became hypocrites—therefore, armed preachers. And all preaching creates hypocrisy. I mean, you put guns into the hands of clergymen—you’ve got real trouble! At one fell swoop we could restore respect for the police in this country by taking all matters of private morals out of their hands. Question needing no answer: who would volunteer to serve on a vice squad; what kind of personality? Who would volunteer to peek through holes into men’s toilets to see what they’re doing; what kind of personality?
You can’t be schizophrenic about your law enforcement officers and say to them: “It’s your responsibility to control us in ways that we don’t want to be controlled.” They don’t know what to do. No wonder they’re confused. No wonder they’re acting crazy. But you’ve got to get behind these people and help them! Really!