Jun 18, 2021 • 8M

Love Everyone and Tell the Truth, the Old Man Said

Deep Fix №11

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A podcast by Alex Olshonsky exploring mental and spiritual health, addiction, work(aholism), psychedelics, and philosophy.
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Deep Fix is a newsletter by Alex Olshonsky exploring mental and spiritual health, addiction, work, and philosophy. Thanks for being here.

If you’d like to listen to me narrate today’s piece, click the link above. And if you were forwarded this email, get your own:


Ram Dass by Alex Grey

So, you want to get enlightened? asked Baba Ram Dass in his aged Hawaiian shirt.

Yes, I said.

I’ll tell you what my guru told me. There are only two things you must do to get enlightened. The first—love everyone. The second—tell the truth.

Okay. I agree with both of those. In theory, at least.

In theory?

Socialism and polyamory are great ideas—in theory. An absolute mess in practice. I was hoping you could give me something a bit more, I dunno, actionable?

Love everyone and tell the truth. How’s that for actionable? the old man chuckled.  

The room we sat in was dimly lit. The windows on the right wall were wide open, letting in a breeze that smelled like ocean rain and flowers. Directly in front of me, hundreds of candles surrounded an altar covered in trinkets and icons and pictures. There were at least seven photos of an Indian man wrapped in a blanket. A headshot of Joe Biden. Donald Trump, too. A harmonium stood on the floor at the center of this bizarre shrine. And sitting behind the harmonium was the old man with his white hair and a neat mustache. He sat in his wheelchair, mala beads shaking in his trembling left hand. The floor beneath us was see-through glass, like in an aquarium. The room seemed displaced, floating above a timeless continuum. The view beneath our feet revealed grid lines upon grid lines dancing above an eternity of darkness. I recognized the view—it was what Matthew McConaughey saw when he passed through the eye of the Black Hole at the end of Interstellar.

I spoke.

Well, I love my mom. I love my dog. I, like, really love my girlfriend. But I can’t be expected to love Alt-Righters. Or the Woke Mob Leftists. Can I?

There’s another way of looking at love that I think will help you understand, the old man said, still laughing.  

I’m listening.

You say you love your girlfriend, right?

Yeah, I do. She’s rad. She smells nice. She puts up with my B.S. And she even, you know, kisses my—

Oy vey! Ha! That’s great, good for you. But don’t get me all worked up over here, I’m old!

After settling down from his chortles, the old man continued.

When you say—I’m in love with her—what you’re really saying is this: She is the stimulus that awakens you to a place where you are love.  

So… I don’t love her?  

When you are around her, this beloved of yours, the world starts to look different, doesn’t it? There’s a certain luminous quality that colors the universe when you are in state of love, right?

Yeah, that’s right. Things were especially bright shortly after we met.

When you’re in love, you connect to your girlfriend—and then you get hooked on your girlfriend. Because your girlfriend becomes your connection to source. In the same way that a junkie has a heroin connection, your connection with her is your connection to the place inside you where you are love. And, because, you don’t know how to get to that loving place any other way than through her.  

Shit. Are you saying I need to break up with her?

That sounds extreme, Baba Ram Dass said.   

But when you put it like that, it sounds like I’m just addicted to the dopamine hit I get from my connection to her. And have I told yet that I used to be addicted to fentanyl—not sure if they had that in your time? But my point is: I have a tendency to get hooked on stimuli.

How’d you stop the fenta-whatever? the old man asked.

It’s a long story. It hurt too much to be me, so I did the only sane thing I could—I escaped it.

Let me guess what happened next. You went through whatever you went through only to realize that you needed to reconnect with your Self. That you can’t love anyone before you love yourself.

I never thought about it like that.

That’s how this story goes. First, you want to get high. Then, you want to get free. Then, you realize it’s only you that’s in your way of your own freedom. You, your attachments, and your clinging to those attachments. The only thing that brings you down—the only thing that prevents you from being you—is your ego’s desperate attempt to hold onto to the person you thought you were.

Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard something like that. The Buddha’s diatribes on grasping and enlightenment. But I’m pretty sure his prescription to meditate has expired in our modern world.

I paused to think. Then I spoke.

Let me ask you plainly—how do I break my attachments?

Love everyone and tell the truth, the old man said. 

Right, right… but that doesn’t actually answer my question. I’ve been taking online quizzes to assess my attachment style—have you heard of Dr. Amir Levine and the New Science of Adult Attachment?

Love everyone and tell the truth, the old man said.

Sure, but you can’t spiritually bypass trauma. Dr. Gabor Maté also has a great new movie out—The Wisdom of Trauma. In it he says that even the smallest traumas suffered from infancy can affect attachment. That trauma shapes everything. And I’ve got plenty. Do you think that’s key to breaking my Anxious-insecure Attachment style, and then achieving enlightenment?

Love everyone and tell the truth, the old man said.

Jesus, man. Again, we agree in theory, but that’s not really helping me here. Do you think I need to break my attachment by doing a guided MDMA journey? Rick Doblin just said the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies is moving MDMA to Phase III trials with the FDA. Technically this wouldn’t be a relapse. It’s medicine.

Technically! Technically—love everyone and tell the truth, the old man said.

You’ve said that already you senile old man! And are you even aware of how fucking naive that sounds?! Did you see the anti-trans legislation just passed in the Southern states? That the keyboard warriors at Apple just cancelled Antonio Garcia Martinez, who wrote Chaos Monkeys—one of my favorite tech memoirs?

Love everyone and tell the truth, the old man said.

Our world is burning! Mass psychosis is spreading like an infectious disease. And yet you repeat this pithy line like you’re Mahatma fucking Ghandi?

Love everyone and tell the truth, the old man said.

FUCK YOU! I don’t even know why I bother asking you anything. I might as well answer my own questions.

There you go! said Baba Ram Dass, delighted as ever.

Huh?

See what just happened there?

I see it’s time for your nurse to give you your sleepy-time meds, I said.

For the first time in our conversation, Al, you told the Truth.

Whatever. And?

The old man’s gaze intensified. His left hand stopped trembling. He spoke.

Learn the art of taking your stand on the Truth within. The Truth that can only be found inside you. When you live in this Truth, the result is the fusion of the mind and the heart and the end of all fears and sorrow. It’s not a dry attainment of mere power or intellectual knowledge. You cannot think your way there. Instead, a love which is illuminated by the intuitive wisdom of the spirit will bless your life with ever-renewing fulfillment and never-ending sweetness.

Okay, look. We can agree the postmodernists lost their humanity in their dry, dialectic intellectualism. And I’m all for spiritual intuition! But not in a New Age, Burning Man, Manifester type of way. We spend a literal third of our lives online—mostly on social media. The performative nature of which renders it impossible stand on any Truthwithin!

-- Silence -- 

The old man spoke.

You know what I’m going to say, don’t you?

Yes, but—

Faster than I could blink, the walls of the room collapsed on each other. The floating continuum spiraled into a space smaller than light allows. My alarm clock blared. It was 7 AM. I felt groggy and tired. The new bedtime supplement I’ve been taking knocks me out hard. It’s an expensive, cutting-edge nootropic. I find its ingredients—magnesium glycinate, reishi, valerian root, and l-theanine—make for great REM sleep and very lucid dreams. But when I take it multiple days in a row, I’m lethargic. Can’t have that. As I got up and walked towards the shower, I started thinking of the review I’d leave on the seller’s Amazon page. It was time to tell the truth.


Thanks for reading Deep Fix, my friend.

I had fun with this one. I’d love to know what you think—especially if you listened to the (emphatic!) audio version.

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No newsletter next Friday. I’ll be on a retreat, perhaps connecting with Baba Ram Dass in my dreams. (You can read my original essay celebrating his life from this 2019 newsletter edition).

Hope to hear from you in the meantime. Or see you in our growing community (bi-weekly dialogue groups, book clubs, Slack channel, fascinating humans, etc.). Thanks again for supporting this work.

Until next time …

Get deep,

Olo

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