Symbols of the world's religions



Bif Soper

One of our approaches to spirituality was to experiment with psychedelic drugs. LSD was still legal then and we were all very naive about its effects. Two Harvard professors, Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary, were going around the country expounding on the benefits of using these drugs in terms of expanding the mind, so we decided to go to a lecture that Richard Alpert was giving.

Someone at the lecture raised his hand and said, "I heard that you received a letter from Meher Baba." My ears perked up; I actually reacted to that name, although I didn't know why at the time. Richard Alpert got very red in the face and refused to talk about the letter. Later I heard that he had corresponded with Meher Baba and that Baba had told him to stop using drugs.

However, Alpert tried to explain to Baba all the spiritual experiences he was having.... Baba finally wrote back and said that he could use it, but three more times only. Years later, I was also told that after Richard Alpert became Baba Ram Dass, he said that he wished he'd had taken that advice because then his drug karma would have ended, but I don't know whether or not that story is accurate....

Baba finally saved me from the world of drugs. It was spring of 1968 ... and on a bulletin board there was a picture of a man. I just glanced at it, but it caught my attention. "He looks very wise," I thought, and I went closer. It was a picture of Meher Baba, and underneath were these words: "Meher Baba Says Don't Use Drugs."

I wondered, "He looks wise, but why does he say not to use drugs?" Everyone I knew thought taking psychedelic drugs was a spiritual experience, so I was confused. Years later I heard that Baba had sent a directive to some of the Sufis to go around San Francisco and put up this picture and give out the warning. And for me, that was the bait and also the hook....

Maybe at two or three in the morning I was alone in the one bedroom in the cabin, and this thought came: "Meher Baba says don't use drugs." My immediate response was, "If Baba knew what a good time we were having, he would say it was okay." Whether or not that was true, he certainly used this situation to draw me closer.

Then another thought came: "Meher Baba says he's God." When that thought came, I had the wish to experience what God experiences. It wasn't an intellectual thought, but a desire to experience God, to know him through experience. Yet all I could do was to concentrate on the question, "What is God?" and "What does God experience?" So that's what I did with all of the will-power and concentration I had for what seemed like a very long time.

Finally what came to me was this thought: "If God is God, he has to be everywhere. And he has to be in everything." At that point I realized, "If this Meher Baba really is God, then he is here with me at this moment." And at that moment I felt a beautiful presence surrounding me. It's not really possible to describe it, but I had a sense that Meher Baba was all around me.

After that experience, I started to question more and more the validity of using drugs.... Every time I smoked marijuana, I felt as thought I was taking a side trip, and I had to wait until the effects wore off to get back on track, onto the path where I wanted to be. Without drugs I felt more integrated in my own being whereas with drugs, I felt almost as though I had a split personality....

When I had been using drugs, I was sincere; I didn't use them just to get high, or as fun or recreation; I actually thought they were beneficial. But Baba showed me very clearly that they didn't serve me, so it was very easy to stop. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I wanted to stay away from drugs, from other people using drugs, and from that entire atmosphere.


MEHER BABA'S NEXT WAVE, pp. 170-173, ed Carolyn M. Ball
2000 © Carolyn M. Ball


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