The Festival. V1
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Explanation of this Guided Experience
This experience suggests unusual images that can introduce us to new phenomena or ways of perceiving. This unique way of seeing things will be useful to us if it opens the possibility of a new world and a new meaning in life, even when we apply this vision to nothing more than everyday objects. The "mystical" and psychedelic experiences that are so attractive to the new generations are characterized by the vigor of a fresh perception of reality. But the usual approach to these phenomena has been limited simply to having faith in the first kind of experience (mystical), and to the use of destructive artificial chemicals in the second.
Lying in a bed, I gradually become aware that I’m in a hospital room. Faintly I hear the dripping of a faucet. I try to move my arms and legs and then my head, but they don’t respond. It’s an effort just to keep my eyes open.
I seem to hear someone at my bedside saying that fortunately I’m out of danger, and now it’s only a matter of resting. Though confusing, these words bring me great relief. My body feels heavy and drowsy, and grows more and more relaxed.
The ceiling is smooth and white. As each drop of water drips from the faucet, a ray of light flashes across the ceiling. One drop, one ray. Then another. Then many rays, and after this I see waves of light. The ceiling keeps on changing with the rhythm of my heart, perhaps an effect of the arteries in my head as blood pulses through them.
Now the rhythm outlines the face of a young person, who speaks to me saying, “Hey you, why don’t you come with me?”
“Sure,” I think, “why not?”
Up ahead is a music festival, and the sound of instruments floods with light a vast space carpeted with green grass and flowers.
Lying in the meadow facing the stage, I’m surrounded by an enormous sea of people. Happily there is plenty of space, so that no one is crowded. In the distance I see some childhood friends, and I can tell they are truly enjoying themselves.
I fix my attention on a flower, connected to its stem by a slender stalk that, within transparent skin, gleams a deep green. I reach out my hand, lightly running my finger along the polished fresh stem, barely disturbed by tiny knobs. Moving up through emerald leaves, I come to the petals, which open in a multicolored explosion. Petals like stained glass in a solemn cathedral, petals like rubies, petals like embers awakening into flame—and in this dance of hues, I feel the flower lives as if a part of me. (*)
The flower, disturbed by my touch, releases a sleepy drop of dew, barely clinging to the tip of a leaf. As it falls the drop vibrates, forming an oval, then it lengthens, and now in the emptiness it flattens out, only to become round again . . . falling in endless time, falling, falling through endless space . . . finally landing on a mushroom’s cap, the drop rolls like heavy mercury, sliding to the edge. There, in a spasm of freedom, it hurls itself into a tiny pool, raising a tempest of waves that bathe an island of marble. (*)
Looking up, I see a golden bee coming to sip from the flower, and in this intense spiral of life I withdraw my disrespectful hand, removing it from that dazzling perfection.
My hand—I look at it astonished, as if seeing it for the first time. Turning it over, opening and closing its fingers, I see the crossroads on my palm. And I comprehend that in those many lines all the roads of the world converge. I feel that this hand and its deep lines do not belong to me, and I give thanks within myself for this feeling of not possessing my body.
Ahead the festival continues, and I know that this music connects me with that young woman gazing at her clothes, and that young man leaning against a tree petting a blue cat.
I know that I have lived all this before, and I have known the tree’s jagged outline, and the sharply defined volume of each thing. Once before I have seen the soft shapes of these ochre clouds, set like cardboard cutouts against the immaculate blue of the sky.
And I have also lived before this timeless feeling in which my eyes seem not to exist, for they see everything so clearly, as if they were not the eyes of everyday seeing, eyes that cloud reality. I feel that everything is alive and all is well, and that the music and the things have no names, and nothing can ever truly name the. (*)
In the velvet butterflies that flutter around me, I recognize the warmth of lips and the fragility of sweet dreams.
The blue cat comes toward me, and suddenly I become aware of something obvious—the cat moves by itself, without cables, without remote control. The cat does everything by itself, and this amazes me. In its perfect movements, behind its beautiful yellow eyes, I know there is a life, and that everything else is a disguise, like the bark of the tree, the butterflies, the flower, the mercurial dewdrop, the clouds like cutouts, the hand with its converging roads. For a moment I seem to communicate with something universal. (*)
But then a soft voice interrupts me just before I pass into another state of consciousness. “Do you believe this is how things really are?” whispers the stranger. “I tell you that things are not this way, nor the other way either. Soon you will return to your grey world—without depth, without joy, without volume. And you will believe that you have lost your freedom. For now you do not understand me because you lack the capacity to think as you wish. Your apparent state of freedom is only the result of the natural chemical processes in your brain. This happens to thousands of people, who all receive my advice. And now, good-bye.”
With this the kindly stranger disappears, and the whole landscape begins to spin into a light grey spiral, until the wavy ceiling appears once more. I hear the water dripping from the faucet, and realize that I’m lying in the hospital room. I feel the dullness in my senses dissolving and try to move my head, and this time it responds, and so do my arms and legs. I stretch, and realize that I’m completely well. Leaping out of bed, I feel altogether refreshed, as though I have rested for years.
I go to the door of the room, open it, and stepping into the hallway walk quickly to the exit of the building. There I see a large open doorway, with many people passing through in both directions. I go down the steps and out onto the street.
During the first few days that follow this experience, try to exercise a new and enthusiastic vision of the people and things around you, things that otherwise would be absolutely commonplace for you. We are not recommending anything beyond this; we are not trying to develop a new way of perceiving. Doing an experience of this type once is sufficient. Continuously repeating this exercise is not useful for daily life because it leads to a passive kind of contemplation that in turn leads to mental enclosure and isolation. Hopefully, this experience will help us understand that beyond the flat surface of the commonplace lies a dimension pregnant with hope.