Citation: J. "The Gandhi Experiment: An Experience with Mushrooms (exp34389)". Erowid.org. Jul 10, 2006. erowid.org/exp/34389
Just to give some background on what this is all about, in fall of 2003 my junior year in college I took a class called Peace + Nonviolence. We covered a lot in that class, one thing we did was read Gandhiís autobiography and then do an experiment of trying to live life, like Gandhi. This did not necessarily performing the same acts of Gandhi, but rather living by some of the same principles as he did. Although during the experiment I gave away my mushrooms and had in a sense sworn them off, I know recognize the importance of them. They are good to consume every couple of months, because they provide me with the ability to get back to this state of mind. They allow me to evaluate my life and work towards something better. I hope this is enjoyable to read. Oh and by the way I got an A and my teacher did not my mind about hearing that I trip on mushrooms.
I had been thinking about certain things I wanted to do during the experiment. I had thought about certain actions Gandhi had taken in his own life. I knew I couldnít go and take on an empire or the racist laws of South Africa. Tasks such as those were simply too big and not realistic for a three day experiment. I had to take on Gandhiís day-to-day living. I had to experiment with such main principles in his life as Truth, Ahimsa, Brahmacharya, and Svaraj.
It was interesting how I started the experiment on Thursday I was like ok Iím starting, without really any idea of how I was going to go about this. I had previously thought about fasting, but I was unable to understand Gandhiís point of view on how starving myself and reducing my diet is of any help so I decided not to. On the other hand I had always wanted to experiment with fasting, because I had never done so before, but for now my greed took over and I decided not to go for a fast.
I woke up Thursday morning to the usual routine of resetting my alarm to get more sleep and leaving at the last minute for class. Class was uneventful. This was followed by work. Here I tried to do some experimenting with Truth. I told one of my coworkers that he talked to softly and I often had trouble hearing him. Although this was truthful I donít believe it was the right kind of truth. I felt awkward with saying that and it didnít really seem to solve anything. After work I headed over to the bike shop to work on my bike. Nothing very eventful happened there either. One thing I did note though is that I always insist on working on my own bike and learning how to fix it even though it takes me much longer to do so. This goes along with Gandhiís idea of Svaraj.
As the day wore on I went home. I was having trouble with the experiment. I was unsure what really to do I felt a lot of things in my life were already going along with the way Gandhi lived his. I was in fact all for Ahimsa and all for Truth, but what I failed to realize was what Gandhi really meant.
I had not eaten after lunch with the thought of maybe fasting, but as Thursday night came around I decided to use the fact that I had not eaten for mushroom purposes.
At around 8pm I ate a large amount of mushrooms. From there I had one of the craziest mushroom experiences ever. The trip brought me to the point of confusion and disconnection with reality. I was confused about what reality was, I was thinking that I had possibly gone mad and would be stuck in this state for the rest of my life. My other thinking did come through though and told me just to wait it out I would come down. Eventually I did, as I regained my thinking abilities still quite affected by the mushrooms I began to think about my life. I was thinking about Gandhi also and the experiment for which I was supposed to be involved in and how I wanted to have the determination and will of Gandhi and I always seemed to lack it. I began to get frustrated with myself and my current state of life. I never completed my homework. I was behind on all my schoolwork. I had in fact started the Gandhi experiment without even finishing Gandhiís book. I had just recently found out that I spent hundreds of dollars of my own on stupid material things I donít even need, leaving me with little money to maneuver with until my next pay check. My room was decorated horribly. My room was a mess; I am a clean person I like a clean room, but my laziness and lack of determination let it get to this state. I wanted to volunteer and help less fortunate people than me, but I had been putting it off for years now. I always seem to let my laziness overcome me. I sometimes would listen to music and achieve nothing.
I was not managing my time well. I was stupid with eating too many mushrooms. I had had awkward conversations with some of my friends and was upset about that. I had gotten mad with a friend for not calling me and was mean to her. I had swayed from my vegan eating habits, because of my desire for sweets. During this time of thinking about all these things in my life that upset me I cried. I realized how important this experiment was to me how it was not just an assignment but also something Iíve wanted to be doing everyday in life. I had wrote thoughts down in my journal during this time some were ďclarity of self through disciplineĒ and ďmy life is not the way I want it I can fix it.Ē I also saw the mushroom trip as something of an evolution like my life. The beginning was fun then I reached a confused state and when I finally came out I had reached a state of clarity. I put this to a metaphor which I think fits it perfectly. I was at one time a child having fun not realizing there are even proper ways to be acting and questions to be asking, then I started asking questions the questions led to confusion in my life, confusion about what I should be doing with it and how to go about it, then to this state now of clarity of self-realization and determination toward the path of good.
After all these events and the realization of what I wanted out of life I knew what I had to do. I must be more disciplined with myself. I thought of Gandhi and his vows. I realized how important these vows were for him and how important it would be to have something of the same nature within my life. Although I donít think I can ever have anything being the same as Gandhiís vows I made promises to myself and told myself that certain things can never be given up.
The first step was cleaning my room. It was tough to do, because I always have my lazy side come out especially when Iím doing something like cleaning my room, trying to get me to take breaks or tell myself Iíll finish the task later. I didnít let any of this overcome me I denied it. This very much reminds me of the idea of Brahmacharya. My lower self is calling out to me saying do this, but I let my higher self take control of this situation and finished completely cleaning my room. The joy I got out of completing this task was great. I was completely able to see the benefits of Brahmacharya. John Stuart Mill argues that the higher mind pleasures are greater than the lower bodily pleasures. In this case the lower bodily pleasures would have been taking a break and not finishing cleaning my room, but instead I partook in the higher mind pleasures. Gandhi was absolutely right on the idea of Brahmacharya, by denying my lower self what it wants I am able to achieve these higher self goals and be rewarded greatly.
Over the weekend I worked hard on catching up on my homework. I spent both days working very hard and not letting myself get lazy. This goes along the same lines as Brahmacharya and not letting my lower self, my lazy side win. I had to be very disciplined and it was very hard, but with the promises I made to myself I was able to go through with it.
Another way I acted in accordance with Brahmacharya was by making the choice to go through with the fast. Before I did not have enough will to do it. Now though I had a new strength within me. I officially began the fast late Thursday night. I decided upon not eating and drinking only a little juice. I ended the fast Saturday night. With it I saw what Gandhi was trying to get out of altering his diet so drastically and bizarrely. The fast helped me with clarity of thought. My mind during this time was in much more control than my body. I also felt differently, when I would move it felt almost like the strength was coming from my will to move, it took more effort, my body was in less control. I did have some struggles with the fast. I would think about food often, which would cause a struggle within myself to get my thoughts off of that food. Also before I had eaten the mushrooms I had begun making cookies. I had all the ingredients mixed and just needed to bake the cookies. This caused quite a struggle because as I baked them I was so much tempted to eat one. But determined as I was, I didnít.
The fast also helped me to clarify what kinds of eating habits I wanted to have with my life. I was upset with myself for eating outside of vegan ways. I was a vegan before but had switched to being a vegetarian just to make life easier. During the fast I decided that I needed to go back to these vegan ways. It was not acceptable. I also gave up sweets, because I feel that my desire for them led me astray from eating appropriately. The cookies were all given away. I did not eat one.
During this fast I was able to make more long-term goals for myself I decided I should not engage in earthly desires that do not fulfill my ultimate wants in life. My ultimate wants being knowledge, friendships, community service, and being with nature. This I believe is what Gandhi did with himself also. Although he seemed to be more committed to doing Godís deeds. Even now though when I reflect upon the commitment I made to those specific things I can see possibly some greed in them. Maybe I should be dedicating my entire life to community service. It is very hard for me to make giant decisions like that especially when I donít have the conviction in God that Gandhi did. I believe though that if I fulfill these higher callings and practice Brahmacharya within my life I will obtain the knowledge that will eventually lead me in the right path.
The fact that my eating habits had strayed not only relates to Brahmacharya, it also relates to Ahimsa. I know what goes on with the animals that are used for eggs and milk. They are not treated properly for the most part and although being a vegetarian prevents their deaths it isnít enough. A healthy diet can be had without milk and eggs and it was greed that had led me from that. Ahimsa to me means doing my best to not harm anyone or anything. Of course living a life is Himsa as Gandhi talks about, but there are so many controllable things in my life that I can do to make my life more Ahimsa.
Another Ahimsa related conclusion I came to was with community service. I realized that I was committing Himsa by not giving to people in need. I was born very fortunate and am quite capable of giving to others. I need to give to others, I feel at fault for having the ability and time and not going about doing it. With this conviction I called the ------ and volunteered to help with an after school program tutoring children in need. This had been something Iíd been wanting to do for years now and with my dedication to discipline I was finally able to achieve it.
Over the course of Saturday and Sunday I did a lot of thinking about where I wanted my life to be. I took a lot more actions with my life. As I thought about the Gandhi experience though I was having trouble finding a place for Truth. I read my notes looked over the book and tried to see what he meant by Truth. It was much more than honesty. As I took down a lot of decorations in my room, because I felt that they were just up to fill in space I realized that Truth applied here, my decorations were not true extensions of who I was, the decorations didnít belong they werenít Truthful. I realized that a lot of the things I had been doing all came back to Truth. I hadnít been being Truthful with myself about my life. Truth is something that everything comes back to; i practice Ahimsa, Brahmacharya, and Svaraj in order to reach this truthfulness.
I was also unsure about Svaraj. Itís hard to think about a place in my life where I can use that. One thing I immediately thought of during the experiment was the reliance I had on my parents for money and tuition. I really donít know how I could drop those reliances. I could probably do without their monthly check and get by, but as far as tuition goes to not get that would drastically change my life. It would also work against certain goals in life Iím trying to achieve. During the experiment I didnít go about trying to change any of this. I enjoy getting the monthly check I enjoy school. School is helping me to obtain knowledge. Once again though I may be being greedy. I certainly donít think I should leave school to practice Svaraj. But like Gandhi did when he was in England I maybe should lower expenses in order to put less burden on my family.
I took many more actions over the experiment all relating mostly to Brahmacharya. I caught up on a lot of homework and finished Gandhiís book. I gave away the remainder of my mushrooms. I took a lot of vows like Gandhi did and tried to keep reminding myself about the events of Thursday night and the importance of going through with these thoughts. I decided to start keeping track of my money and spending less. I took out my booklet that the bank gave me to keep track of check purchases and started doing that.
Before I had been thinking about putting a lot of money into mountain biking and although I enjoy that I realized that that money would be a waste, what I really love is hiking and backpacking and any money should be spent on gear towards that. I put things on my wall that were important to me and that I had intentions to do. I put up the ---- fitness schedule because I wanted to do yoga and always forget that I need to sign up. I put a paper I received in the mail about a program called ďOutward BoundĒ where I could volunteer my time to helping kids out and doing outdoor activities with them. I put a newspaper clipping I found on the wall of all the community service volunteer needs in the area. I got in touch with my friend and apologized to her and everything is going well with that now. The experiments have continued into the week now too. Iíve been sticking to a lot of the little things like making my bed every morning, eating breakfast every morning, putting away my clothes and not just leaving them all over my floor. I am basically striving to discipline myself and rid my life of obstacles in order to obtain the goals in my life, which I want to reach.
Some of the hardest things that Iíve had to do have been giving up sweet foods, I have the biggest sweet tooth and Iíve noticed myself wanting to drink more orange juice and eat more peanut butter because they have sweet flavors. Iíve also noticed myself yearning for something and I will eat sometimes even when Iím not hungry trying to fill that void, but it never works because what my body is calling for is sugar.
The Gandhi experiment has not yet ended in my life. I have learned so much about myself in the past couple of days, more than I have learned in months. After taking part in this experiment I feel like I know Gandhi a lot better. I feel like I understand where he was coming from and the struggles he went through in his life. I am enjoying this new life of discipline, although I do have doubts many times, I just remind myself of what Iím trying to obtain and the positive outcomes I will have when these things are obtained. Most importantly I remember Gandhi and his dedication, it helps me realize what an easy task most of what I want to do is compared to the giant tasks, which he took on.
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