In early fall of 1968, a good friend of mine Michael and I rented a house in a predominately African-American neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, east of Prospect on the corner of 69th St. and College. Before we rented it, the house had been used as a neighborhood church. It had a big front room, which had been the meeting room, two bedrooms, one bathroom, a small kitchen, and a room that was used as a living room. The house was painted pink and had a somewhat flat roof, hence we called it the Pink Flat.
Immediately the house started gathering a commune within its walls. Michael and I would go around to building sites after dark and pick up discarded plywood, two by fours, and whatever else we could find, and bring it back to the house. We then constructed a loft around the perimeter of the big room so that there were two levels of sleeping spaces, and it began to fill.
We all made an effort to keep the house neat and tidy. Sometimes that required posting reminders. Some would remind us to wash our dishes, others would remind us to keep the bathroom clean. And all in all, it remained remarkably clean considering the number of people who lived there.
Sometime in late spring or early summer of 1969 the extremely pure form of LSD, Orange Sunshine, appeared on the scene in Kansas City. Orange Sunshine was unlike any LSD that had preceded it. One evening I took a dose of Orange Sunshine at the Pink Flat. It turned out to be my most significant LSD experience and laid the groundwork for a lifetime with meditation at the center.
Once the LSD started affecting me, I left the house and walked around the neighborhood alone. I was a couple of blocks away from the house in some neighbor’s yard when I started to experience hallucinations and paranoia. This was unusual for me; it was rare for me to experience paranoia and I was not prone to hallucinations. But on this occasion, it was happening. At some point it clicked that I was the one who was creating the hallucinations and the paranoia. And immediately, with that realization, the energy being projected from the mind started to go in reverse. It was literally as if I was reeling in the mind. And when all the energy that had been projected out returned home, there was peace, a clarity, an At-Homeness that I had never experienced so profoundly before. I was experiencing Being. I was at home, the ground of being.
It also became clear through this experience that I had had this realization as a result of taking the LSD but the truth of the experience of At-Homeness was because of an ending of mental projection. The seeing of this was enabled by the heightened state of consciousness from the LSD but the realization that took place was beyond the chemistry. I had seen, quite literally, how the projecting mind works.
This new found At-Homeness lingered for weeks, perhaps even a month or more, because I found I could return home by stopping the journey away from home. And the summer of 1969 continued to be a summer of awakening.
Most everyone in our Pink Flat commune began selling copies of The Kansas City Free Press, the local underground newspaper, on street corners as a means of income for the house. While I was creating a sales chart for our house sales, I experienced the “witness” as I watched myself (from beyond the me) draw the columns.
A couple of months later, after we had closed the house and everyone dispersed, I was on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City selling the Free Press on a street corner when a man named Charlie walked up and introduced me to Meher Baba. And through Meher Baba I was introduced to tratak meditation.
Seven years later in 1976, I would find myself being initiated by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho) in the city that Meher Baba had been born and grown up in, Poona, India. And through Osho, a much wider world of meditation opened before me.
If I remember correctly, I took LSD one more time in those seven years after the Orange Sunshine experience and before I arrived in Poona, and that was, as I saw it, some kind of self-checkup.
It is only within the last year that I came to know that the creator of Orange Sunshine, Nicholas Sand, also went to Poona, India, in 1978, and was initiated by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho) and became Deva Pravasi. Ironically, his sannyas darshan with Osho is recorded in the darshan diary titled, Turn On, Tune In and Drop the Lot. Our paths crossed a few times at Rajneeshpuram but I didn’t know that he had been the creator of Orange Sunshine.
I am extremely grateful to Pravasi, and his gift of chemistry, for giving me a glimpse of the workings of the mind and that first experience of no-mind which helped propel me to meet my Master, Osho.
Osho introduced me to the Meditation of watching the mind, and by and by, I discovered that the heightened state of consciousness that I had experienced with Orange Sunshine was none other than my “natural state.” I discovered that this “natural state” is clouded with mind, with desire, with thought, with identity, and that it is possible to come clear of the clouds by watching directly the comings and goings of the mind. But the important ingredient to this watching is watching without grasping or rejecting, watching without judging, watching without jumping into the fray. And as one watches without interference, the energy that is involved in thought begins to return home. The mind is reeled in not by any effort and not by chemistry but by no longer being a party to the creation of the me.
Of course, as long as there are impressions remaining within the mind, one is drawn out again and again, but also it becomes easier and easier to return. This is the gift of meditation. This is the gift of Osho.
This is from the collection of stories, essays, poems and insights that is compiled to form the book From Lemurs to Lamas: Confessions of a Bodhisattva. Download a PDF or order the book Here.
For more info see:
The documentary: The Sunshine Makers available on Netflix