Subject E sat on the floor of his living room, leaving me to the couch in a tiny house not much changed since its original construction in the late 1800s. He had to disconnect his radio in order to plug in my tape recorder, observing that there were only two outlets in the entire house. It might have been more convenient to sit at the kitchen table, but the living room held the only fan.
I started college in Louisiana, doing pre-med studies and working to support myself. I had a partial scholarship and student loan money, but I was trying to work a lot so I wouldn’t have to borrow so much. I was so wrapped up in that that I really wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on. I heard about student protests, but it just went right by me. Then one evening I walked through my parents’ living room, and they had the TV on, and there was this boot that was stepping down on the moon, and I said, what’s going on -- and they said, well, we just landed on the moon, and I said, great -- and then kept on going. I was that removed. My life was so intense it kept me away from everything else.
I missed most of what was happening in the world. Even Vietnam didn’t much come into my consciousness until after four years, my 2-S was done, and suddenly I got a letter, saying it’s time for you to report for your physical, and it was like, oh, well, what’s this Vietnam thing? That’s when I began to connect and start paying attention to what was taking place. I had friends who had done some protests against the war, but I was so aloof from that it hadn’t sunk in.
I was 20 before I started smoking pot, which is good, because I had pretty much shaped myself as an adult by then. It was quite a relief for me, because I think I was heading for a nervous breakdown. I had been neglecting myself, not exercising, not eating well -- so the pot lightened me up. I began to shift my attitude, began to not be so serious about it all. I had been so straight. I had found myself not being able to sleep, sitting up in city parks all night long, talking to the stars -- I was doing too much, hadn’t had a date in two years. Very narrow in focus. So smoking pot relaxed all that and began to open doors of consciousness. I began to listen to music more.
Then I went to Houston and found a job, doing simple work, making some money, checking out life. I started doing more drugs -- I was working at a hospital and had access to a lot of drugs, pharmaceuticals -- so for six months I played with everything. The drug salesman showed up every Friday with suitcases and would go into the drug room and restock the shelves. After he left, we would go in there immediately, going where’s the good stuff, really getting ready for the weekend. We’d take all the good drugs home, and so I did that for about six months and then began to realize that pharmaceuticals were poison. I was getting so toxic -- side effects – and so I did a shift and decided I would only do drugs that came straight from nature -- straight from plants, and I wouldn’t do anything else. Nothing processed much at all. And at the same time, I began doing yoga, changing my diet, and tapping into a whole different reality that I hadn’t known existed.
The whole situation snowballed. I did mushrooms -- not a lot of acid, because it was processed -- same with cocaine or heroin -- altho if I’d been given a coca leaf, I would have chewed it. Mushrooms grew all around Houston, and they became an important thing for me. I used these drugs not so much recreationally as to alter consciousness. The mushrooms became very much that for me. Pot was just kind of neat -- you could do it every day, stay stoned a lot and have fun. But mushrooms became the way to do deep spiritual work. I read one particular book called the Psychedelic Experience, written by Ralph Metzger, Timothy Leary, and Richard Alpert, who later became Ram Dass, who wrote Be Here Now, The Only Dance There Is, and a couple of other grist for the mill -- I think he’s Richard Alpert again now. The book talked about using psychedelics as a spiritual transformative process, and their book was based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead because they had discovered that was the only text they’d ever found that adequately described what took place during the psychedelic experience. So using that as a guide I went into it with mushrooms, and got a little frightened by what happened. I had an out of body experience.
Part of what I was going for at the time was to understand death. I had been working in hospital emergency rooms, watching people die almost daily. I was sensing things going on at many levels, and I wanted to understand more what it was. This thing -- life -- it didn’t just end. It was like a transition thing. I would sometimes feel a person’s presence in a room long after they were pronounced dead. And I was often the one who was left to clean everything up, the person included. I had some interesting connections with the people sometimes, just in a sense, which might sound crazy to some people. I began to realize that there was something more going on here.
So I began reading, Elizabeth Kubla Ross and this guy named Moody, who wrote Life After Life, or something -- So anyway, doing mushrooms was to explore that. My out of body experience was like the whole deal, and I was like, whoa, I’ve overdosed. But I realize now I was given what I asked for. Things like that made me begin to pay attention.
Then there were the social influences of the 60s, that were still there in the early 70s, the music, etc. And the remnants of the war -- I was still trying to figure out how to not get drafted because they had gone to the lottery and my number was like 160 something, but then I got a call from the draft board saying the draft call had been cut, and they weren’t going to draft up to my number. It was like [looking up] thank you. It was like, hey this is a bunch of crap, this whole war, why are we fighting this war, why am I being asked to go and die? What’s going on? I had a lot of friends who had gone, and I began to listen to their stories, and began to sense there was something really amiss. That combined with all the yoga and all the consciousness altering stuff I was using caused a whole shift in my reality.
The big thing for me was what I saw in the medical profession. I had gone in with an attitude like, oh man this is what I want to do, that medicine was this great thing, because that’s what I grew up believing. Being a doctor -- that’s how you could really help people out, ease suffering -- I remember as a child feeling compassion when I saw somebody in pain, thinking I wanted to help, and I thought that being a doctor meant I could relieve suffering on the planet. So I went into the medical profession and saw just the opposite. I saw people suffer from their treatment. I saw people go through hell as a direct result of what we did to them. It was like it fractured something in me. When that broke, it was like, ok, all bets are off. This is a wide open game. Then it was, ok, now what do I do with my life?
To try to figure that out, I had to ask the question: what am I doing here? What’s my purpose? I had no idea, because what I thought was my purpose was shattered. So I had to begin looking in other places. I began reading lots of philosophy, exploring ideas, particularly ideas about what it means to be human. Of course it’s much more complex than what I’m saying. I began to become more aware of some of the ideas of the 60s, what people were saying. I began to connect, to think about the Beatles and how they transformed. I saw a great thing happening. I like to look at specifics, but I also like to step back and look at the big picture, to see how it looks, and I found that interesting things were there. And I was in it.
Hell, when I was in high school I lived close to Woodstock, and if I’d had any idea, I would have been there. But I missed all that. I wasn’t even aware of it. I got tickets to go see the Beatles in Shea Stadium, but I didn’t know what it was all about. I sat way up high and watched the kids try to storm the field and get hit by the police. To me it was nuts, watching girls screaming until they passed out. You couldn’t hear them singing. I didn’t have a clue what they were about at that time. But later, I listened to the records and started understanding.
I became familiar with a biologist from England named Rupert Sheldrake and his idea of morphogenic fields. It’s not exactly unlike the idea of the hundredth monkey, which I have heard from some people was not a true story -- but supposedly, some scientists trained some monkeys on this island to wash their sweet potatoes, and there were other islands where the same species of monkey lived -- and washing sweet potatoes was not an instinctive habit, but learned behavior -- but when they went to the other islands, they found the untrained monkeys washing their sweet potatoes.
So Sheldrake said that all species have a morphogenic field or an overlying energy to who they are, and that behavior patterns are part of that. An example of that now would be that young people know computers so well -- it’s like, the older generation started the computer thing, but all of a sudden, kids are being born with almost second sight into computers -- they just know it. He would say that’s because we placed computers into the morphogenic field.
I look back at the 60s as a shift in the morphogenic field, and I think it’s still going on today. The effects are accelerating in some ways, and it’s happened at an interesting time, when there’s all this electromagnetic stuff happening and a shift in weather patterns. All this neat stuff is going on. I think most of the physical phenomena we see is at its core electromagnetic, including weather. I think earth stuff, energy from the sun, spiritual stuff -- it’s all connected -- if you look at physics and go all the way down to the basic blocks of matter, you find that sub-atomic particles are there for a second and then they’re not, they’re light and then they’re particle, flickering between being tangible and being intangible, being pure energy. So if all matter is that way, then all matter is influenced by electromagnetic energy, which is just a way to categorize vibrations. So the whole idea that it’s all mind, it’s all illusion in a way is true, but I still can’t put my hand through that wall, although theoretically I ought to be able to. So to me, the morphogenic field idea, consciousness and spiritually are all connected, all the same thing. These understandings just continue to develop.
I got into gardening when I tried to consider what would be a good alternative to medicine. I wanted to find something that I would feel good doing. I ended up sitting in my back yard years ago, saying, ok universe, what is it I’m supposed to be doing here? But of course, I didn’t get an answer, so after while I started pulling weeds, messing around, and then lights, bells and whistles started going off, and I realized, this is my answer. But it was actually a year before I really understood. Then I connected -- the very best food you can eat is what you grow yourself, coming straight fresh from the earth, so full of life - and you have the added benefits of being out in fresh air and sunlight, working with the cycles of nature, and then there’s all the airy-fairy kind of vibrational stuff. So I decided that’s what I would do.
It was tough trying to make a living at that. I was married at the time, and my wife worked part time. We didn’t need much money because we lived very simply. But then she decided she wanted the whole thing, big car, big home, and her price to stay with me was for me to get a job and bring home $30,000 a year. I said, I don’t think I can do that -- I mean, I entertained it. I thought maybe the universe was telling me to get a job. But I couldn’t do it.
As I became more connected to the earth and experienced personal healing, more of the idea grew for me, this connection of all these things, and I don’t even begin to think I understand it -- the more I delve into it, the more I perceive. It’s becoming more fun in a way, more wide open. It’s exciting. I look around me and see that most people don’t get it, don’t see the connection between ourselves and the soil. They haven’t been taught. In this country we’ve become so removed from nature.
I started writing a newspaper column, Dirty Dan the Garden Doctor -- I wrote sporadically for a few years. It took a lot of time and energy -- I carefully worked the words, sometimes making them vague or broad in meaning. But now instead of that, I’m doing this TV show. It’s been going on for six years. We do a new show every other week. It’s been a great opportunity for me to take information that’s right out there in public and hang it all together in unusual ways, connect things that people don’t connect, and then present it. I excited and pleased to be doing that, because it’s effective and reaches a large audience. I feel like I’m helping shift things.
Social, politics, religion -- the main focus is with health still. Recently I had a piece -- the Republicans decided they wanted to stop all discussion by the EPA about global warming issues. They came up with a bill to suppress any discussion by the government about global warming issues. They’re afraid it’s going to lead to a back door endorsement of the Kyoto agreement, which of course industry doesn’t want because they don’t want to limit CO2 production. So the Republicans proposed a bill -- and I read that piece on the show after I read about six articles about how erratic the weather is, and how everything is going off, and it’s like, what planet are these guys on? Can they not see these major things taking place? They’re afraid of it even being discussed, because their pockets are all lined with money from the coal industry and others. I love presenting this kind of stuff.
One of the stories preceding that was the big temperature shift in California’s coastal waters, how its killing off the phytoplankton -- well, that’s like the beginning of the food chain. People ought to be alarmed, if they have any idea about biology. The seals are starving, which is of course partly from over fishing. So all of life on the West Coast is affected -- but then, here’s the Republicans -- let’s don’t even talk about it. Let’s sell more sport utility vehicles. Hey, folks -- none of us are victims. WE have to understand that we all have power, and our power is the power to choose. We’re all making choices which are affecting life on this planet. It’s not like anyone can say, oh my god it’s happening to me and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. We can choose to drive sport utility vehicles and get less than 20 miles to the gallon, but we need to realize that this is what we’re doing. Be aware. We’re saying one and one equals two.
I get lots of good feedback. I meet strangers almost weekly who come up and say they really enjoy the show. They enjoy getting the information. They say, hey, you guys are getting stuff I never hear about. But fifty percent of our stuff comes straight out of the local newspaper -- it’s just going right by folks.
And this is all an outgrowth of a process that goes back to the 60s, this whole morphogenic shift. What I’m trying to do with the show is work with that shift, and when I get feedback from strangers, then I know it’s working, even tho I have a quote from somebody that says if everyone agrees with you, watch out, you’re doing the wrong thing. But truly, not everyone agrees with me. There was one guy who stopped one day and said, I really like your show, but I almost never agree with anything you say. And I said, that’s great, because you’re not supposed to. You’re supposed to take the information and decide for yourself. We’re not trying to say this is the right way to think. We aren’t sure either, that’s why we talk about it. We’re no authority. Just a couple of bozos doing a show. It’s its own reward. I feel like I’m stirring the pot a little, helping the shift. We’re at the end of a millennium and the whole thing is about to change, the way it present itself.
This one author I’ve been reading says we’re coming out of the Piscean into the Aquarian, characterized by a change from rugged individualism to cooperation. We’re not going to survive if we don’t learn to cooperate with each other and with nature. The whole energy is going in that direction. Another characteristic of the Piscean is the parent-child relationship -- and that’s all our institutions, the government -- we know what’s best for you. That’s all going to shift. You can see it -- people want to take responsibility for their own care, working with each other. I see it in medicine, moving away from a tradition of treating the symptoms -- symptomatic treatments are becoming deadly -- drugs and surgery, which maim people and cause them suffering. I mean, properly prescribed and administered drugs have become the fourth leading cause of death. I mean, I worked there - we would give somebody a drug for some symptom, and they’d have a reaction, so we’d run in with another drug, which caused another reaction, and suddenly the person would crash and die -- and it’s like, what’s going on here. It was not a rare phenomenon. I saw over and over again that the drug salesmen would come to the physicians and say hey we have this new product, here it is, here’s a bunch of free samples, pass them out. The drug salesmen are educating the physicians about treatments. Thousands and thousands of drugs, the PDR is immense. The doctors depend on the drug salesmen to keep them caught up. And now we have commercials on TV educating the public, so the public will go and ask for drugs, whether or not it’s appropriate. The drug companies were rich enough to convince enough lawmakers to change things so they could do that.
It’s a great time to be alive and be in the thick of it. If we can keep our sanity.
I was trained in yoga years ago and certified as a yoga teacher. I never taught. My yoga practice now is mostly damage control. I do a lot of physical labor now, construction, painting, odd jobs -- I like that because it keeps variety in my work. I enjoy the challenges and the cleaning of energy, making things look nice again. It’s all healing, especially if you’re happy doing what you’re doing. It all comes from your heart.
I’m afraid that people are so asleep it’s going to take a major shakeup to wake them up. I don’t pray for that. I pray for it to be gentle. The shifting is coming now. The big quakes haven’t happened yet. I think the future is tied to our consciousness. Once people apply their vision, change will happen. We choose what we think about. I mean, if you want to think everything is going to hell, we might. Or if you begin to say you see a possibility, then that might create a change in the right direction. It’s not set in stone.
I’m real hopeful that there are enough people with enough common sense. I leave it up to the universe. I decided that a long time ago. I thought I had it figured out, and it became real clear to me that I didn’t. So it’s like, ok, I give up. In a way, it’s the whole idea of surrendering your will -- and in a way, that’s not what I’m doing. It’s more that I’m aligning my will to the will of the universe, which is more like my deeper will. It’s like we have this superficial will and a deeper will that’s not very conscious. It goes back -- the ideas have always been here. If you study philosophy and stuff, look at the yoga philosophy, or that of the Sufi -- it’s been thousands of years. It’s exactly the teachings of Christ. I was raised Southern Baptist, with the stories of Jesus and all that -- and I looked at that and I looked at the church, and it was like, wait, there’s something really off here.. You guys aren’t doing it! You’re talking about it, but you’re missing the point completely. You talk about Jesus and then you talk about hatred or express hatred -- What I saw in the music and ideas of the 60s are a more clear expression of those principles. So the concept preceeded the 60s. It’s always been there. The 60s are just when it began to bloom. It came thru in the Beatles music. The time was right.
It’s been said of our generation that we bought into consciousness raising and then we bought into money. Maybe that’s true to a certain degree, but I don’t think it’s entirely accurate. There’s still a big movement in this generation that’s got the consciousness.