CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGISTS, Dr. Timothy Leary and Dr. Richard Alpert, both professors at Harvard University, were experimenting with several new very potent drugs (later called “hallucinogens”) at a large three thousand acre private estate in Millbrook, New York. In August of 1964, Dr. Leary and Dr. Alpert and a group of their students from Harvard drove to nearby Woodstock to hear Darwin Shaw give a talk on Meher Baba. Although Dr. Leary and Dr. Alpert had heard that Meher Baba was the leading “spiritual authority” on consciousness, it was their first introduction to someone who had actually met and knew Baba. Darwin Shaw had been a disciple of Meher Baba since 1932.
One of the group attending Darwin Shaw’s talk was a graduate student in the department of social relations named Allan Y. Cohen, age twenty-four. After meeting Darwin Shaw, Cohen became interested in Baba and began reading about him. On September 29th he wrote to Kitty Davy in Myrtle Beach, describing his experiences with LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide). On a beautiful inviting day, Cohen had gone to an open field in the woods with Meher Baba’s Discourses and had taken the drug. He wrote:
It was delightful, ecstatic and as close to God-realization as my consciousness (it was no longer I, of course), that is, my ego, can remember. Now, I really can’t judge what level the experience was at – but afterwards it sounded much the same as the soul facing the infinite (while still considering itself finite).
Now, about these psychedelic (mind-changing) drugs such as LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin. I don’t know if you are acquainted with them, their effects or the controversy surrounding them. I know I would never have seen Meher Baba if it were not for my work with these drugs. They allow an indefinite period of superconsciousness, expanded consciousness, ego death, etc. (Not automatically, of course, but with the right set and setting.)
Although the drugs are used in psychotherapeutic, educational and downright low-level contexts, it is beginning to be clear to me that their most appropriate use is in attaining spiritual freedom (or at least helping one to see the path). I get the feeling also, that the existence of these drugs (actually natural chemicals found in common plants) is not a random occurrence, and their increased impact may well be a significant step in loosening up our distorted culture (at worst) and in increasing the drive toward spiritual freedom (at best) …
In my reasonably humble opinion, though, the feasibility of this type of experience, is one of the most exciting prospects in freeing oneself and man (concomitant with the path of love and service of course). One might liken it to a technique, such as meditation, … which can break through our ego’s ‘games’ and traps extremely efficiently.
Unaware of the effects of such drugs, Kitty Davy was alarmed by Allan Cohen’s letter and forwarded it to Baba, and although Baba was in seclusion, it was read to him. On October 10th, 1964, Baba replied to Cohen through Adi K. Irani:
… I am glad to inform you that I was able to convey the gist of your letter to Avatar Meher Baba despite his present seclusion.
Meher Baba directs me to send you his blessing and love and to inform you that he is happy you have been remembering him in the course of your studies. Meher Baba wants you to study the book God Speaks, for it will help you to understand the mystery of life ephemeral and the Truth of Existence Eternal.
The book God Speaks is a very important textbook for all students who are keen to understand the fundamental purpose and mechanics of life and the universe. God Speaks reveals to us that all the experiences, even of spiritual aspirants of the path to God-Realization (gotten in the natural course of involution of consciousness), are of the domain of illusion and are ephemeral and absolutely unimportant; how much more illusory and distracting can be the experience of a layman in a laboratory who experiments with drugs to induce experiences with the semblance of those of an aspirant on the Spiritual Path!
Meher Baba has stated that the one and only true experience is the experience of the Truth, the Reality, for once the Realization of God is attained it remains a continual and never-ending experience.
The all-pervading effulgence of God the Reality can only be experienced by an aspirant who keeps himself scrupulously above all illusory experimentations and humbly takes refuge in love of God.
God can only be realized by loving Him with all the love at one’s command – pure, simple and unadulterated love. When his love for God, and God alone, is at its zenith, true longing for Union with God is greatest, and the aspirant’s ego assertion is then at its lowest point.
The aspirant at this stage is in the sixth plane of consciousness and sees God face to face in all His Glory. This aspirant experiences God’s effulgence consciously and continually without a break. He experiences this without any fears of fluctuation in his continual and never-ending experiencing of “seeing” the Glory of God. Even this most sublime experience of “seeing” God face to face falls short of the only true experience – Union with God the Reality.
It is absolutely essential for a spiritual aspirant who genuinely longs for union with God – the Reality – to shun false practices of yogic postures and exercises, meditation on other than God the Beloved, experiments with the effects of certain drugs and fads for types of food. These things do not uplift the aspirant nor draw him out of the rut of illusion. Experiences born of these practices wear off [as soon as] the aspirant withdraws from or is thrown out of the orbit of the effect produced by the technique employed.
All so-called spiritual experiences generated by taking “mind-changing” drugs are superficial and add enormously to one’s addiction to the deceptions of illusion, which is but the shadow of Reality.
The experience of a semblance of “freedom” that these drugs may temporarily give to one is in actuality a millstone round the aspirant’s neck in his efforts toward emancipation from the rounds of birth and death!
It is good to know that there are drugs that alleviate human suffering, it is better to have a knowledge of a specific drug for a particular ailment, and it is best to put to use the specific drug for the benefit of a human body.
But there is no drug that can promote the aspirant’s progress or ever alleviate the sufferings of separation from his Beloved God. Love is the only propeller and the only remedy. The aspirant should love God with all his heart until he forgets himself and recognizes his Beloved God in himself and others.
When you study the book God Speaks, you will understand how very impossible it is for an aspirant to realize God without the grace of the Perfect Master, and therefore, it is of paramount importance for a genuine spiritual aspirant to surrender himself to the Perfect Master, who has himself realized God.
As a result of this letter from Adi and further correspondence, Allan Cohen stopped using drugs and continued working toward his doctorate degree.
Lord Meher, American ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 19, pp. 6281 – 6283.