Citation: Blackie Lawless. "Bad Bhang Recipe: An Experience with Cannabis & Opium (exp45464)". Erowid.org. Jan 28, 2006. erowid.org/exp/45464
Varanasi didn't offer enough comfort to support the idea of staying there for more than a couple days. It was pointless to trust most anyone I'd met, getting around was somehow annoying from the hotel's position, I couldn't find any good food and it was insufferably hot during the day. The crowds near the edge of the Ganges were somewhat obliviously involved in their daily hustle of pictures, pipes and junk while locals took their morning bath in the river. Somehow, in the middle of the heat's oppression and its victims of an already crippling poverty, there was a perversely placed, blindingly new, ice cream parlor offering air conditioning. I stepped inside to find them jamming out to 'Slippery When Wet' at an unnecessary volume. Only to escape the boredom of the sun I attempted to eat mid-day dessert while looking out the window into an entirely different world.
Eventually meeting up with D.truss we struck out on rickshaws to obligatorily seek out the local 'religious drugs'. Inevitably and unknowingly we ended up paying for twice as many balls of bhang for our driver than ourselves but for safety acquired some 'opium cookies' and opium to smoke too. The bhang was basically a gummy substance that nearby natives pull off of long leaves and pack into balls that resemble a dark green clay... you eat it and it gets you really lifted. As our driver began to pedal us away from the government store he swallowed 3 large balls down and glanced back at us smiling mischievously for which reason I didn't care. Feeling relatively satisfied that we had scored but mostly concerned with whether we had gotten enough, we got back home and had our hotel cook prepare us a drink by smashing up the balls into the local tap water, which was not what we had originally intended to drink. Basically this is where my story begins ...
Since we were positioned right on the bank of the Ganges it was clear what we should do now that we were dosed up with what had been reported to be just an alternate form of THC. As a sidenote, while I have had some of the most frightening experiences of my life on large amounts of LSD, nothing has really compared to the confusion and grief I've experienced in what one might describe as a THC overdose. D.lean joined up and we all headed towards the Ganges to board a boat and take your basic tourist ride down and back up the river. As we charter our rower and his boat, we opt to share the ride (to save some money) with a couple French girls who are much harder to relate to for me than the general population. Simply put, I am uncomfortable presenting myself.., especially to girls I don't know,... especially when they don't speak English and I am on drugs.
Being the 3 billionth person to take this ride would seem to dilute the novelty of it but whatever anyone has ever seen on this river was now immediately accessible to me, considering that the ritual behavior on its shores hadn't changed for a few thousand years. It was clear the French girls weren't gonna bother us and us with them so I sat back and took out my handheld tape player/recorder. Relishing my potential legendary status, I played most of one side of George Jones' greatest hits while we drifted downstream. Simultaneously, while I was joining the ranks of the various great souls who had also been at these exact coordinates at some distant point in history, I was also one-upping them by being the first one of these greater beings to jam out to 'White Lightening', 'Brush Arbors' and 'I'm a People' while doing so. My sarcasm will now digress as the ride took an ominous turn when a dull thud resounded as the boat hit a dead baby that was floating face down with some sort of large maggot-type thing using it's backside as it's boat. I have to leave certain details in,,, because I didn't compose this story ,,, ...
By this time I was getting anxious about the bhang lassie not kicking in so I slid down into the hull of the boat, ate my cookies and starting hurriedly smoking away to ensure that I wouldn't suffer the upset of not being fucked up. People to the left of us were having elaborate funerals and pushing their guru's corpses off into the water, while on the right shore other bodies had hit the sand and gotten dragged up by packs of wild dogs that probably waited days for fortunes like this. By the time I had sat up and noticed my surroundings D.truss and I began to feel uneasy and strangely off-balance in our shitty little boat. The intense calm of watching the gracefully lean, but amazingly strong rower pull the entire boat around as the sun pleasantly illuminated the beach had dissipated without our knowing it. I began to ignore the quaintness of the kids playing on top of the ancient ornate buildings littering the shore, partially buried by the river and focus for long stretches of time on the impenetrable brownness of the water. For a decent body of water that is composed of mountain run-off I had no idea how a river could get this dirty without constant and immense polluting occurring up at its source.
D.truss and I met eyes and both realized how immediately fucked up and scared we'd become. Both of us we're plagued with the idea that we we're somehow going to fall out of the boat into the river. Just after we've started to brace the sides of the boat when something starts knocking at the floorboards from under the water. This scares the shit out of us considering that, until now, we were under the logical impression that nothing could live in this water. Even the rower seems surprised. We turn around to see the wake of something swerving side to side and tailing the boat. After knocking against the boat some more, what looks like the head of a black cow rises up out of the water snorting and then dives down to disappear again. Some years later I found out that this was most likely the 'Platanista gangetica'= A dolphin that lives in such muddy water that they don't need acute eyesight beyond the ability to detect light; they use a process called 'echolocation' to find prey. So, although it may have been bumping into us accidentally because it's basically blind, that knowledge could do nothing to comfort us at the time.
The Sun was going down as we started to lose our ability to assess the situation in general. To our left several fires flickered as face-painted shaman danced in ritual while piles of bodies burned. Luckily this was a little too surreal to perceive on any immediate level; it was more like floating by the set of the final scenes of Apocalypse Now. Perhaps I was starting to peak out mentally because the rest of the ride was a blur and it was inconceivable that that little man could row us all up-current back to where we started.
By the time we got back to the shore I couldn't stand up very well and I fell off of the boat onto the dock, barely catching myself on D.lean's back. As we went in the direction of the hotel we passed a concrete dome full of locals banging tambourines, chanting.. having some sort of exciting ceremony. Both D.lean and D.truss were drawn to this while I felt like I should try to get my head together back at the room. Our room was small and mostly taken up by a huge soft bed that I jumped on and lay spread eagle trying to focus. I was feeling like things could go my way and I could still enjoy myself when just about the worst thing that could happen happened. In India it is very common for the power to go out for several hours at a time and for miles around. While usually something like this wouldn't be terrible and you'd just complain about no air conditioning, no TVs etc.. this was going to make my situation too complex for me to deal with. Immediately the heat began to descend on me and the sense of the walls being very close began to impinge.
My father and I are both stricken with a particular vulnerability to the eerieness of claustrophobia. His stems from when he was in the Marines and he was trapped in a small chamber of a submarine with some other soldiers. His last memory was of watching the other guys lose their minds and start beating each other's heads in as he passed out from lack of oxygen. The first thing that my mind wanted to do is perceive the darkness for what it is and merely understand the dimensions of the room. But unfortunately, when I go to find the information about the room I am in that was previously stored in my brain, it is missing. This is clearly a bad foreshadowing for where the rest of my information might be when I need it. About 9 years later a similar thing would happen to my mind, in that it was 'wiped' of all information; but being that the lights were on and I was in familiar surroundings I was not subject to panic and ultimate confusion.. I just sat there and stared foward. After I couldn't perceive the dimensions of the room, I tried to remember the shape of the building and how it juxtaposed the street. After I couldn't remember the building or the room I was in, I tried to remember what town and what country I was in. After I couldn't picture anything about where anywhere was in relation to what 'home' might be, I tried to remember who I was.
Then I realized that I didn't realize anything. I couldn't picture arms and legs or beds or rooms or people or any construct that could help my mind describe 'being' at all. Now I was just a hovering spot of light. In 'Center of the Cyclone' Jon Lilly will tell you that this experience is a type of 'Satori' and that he achieved it regularly by taking ketamine and LSD and going into sensory deprivation chambers. He tells fantastic stories of the entities that came to him when he was a hovering light and guided him through the universe, teaching him the secrets behind reality and its cogs. I can only guess that it took immense amounts of practice for him to shake the inevitable fear one experiences when one completely evaporates. And I'm not talking about Ram Dass losing all concepts of 'self' and realizing it's all gonna be fine .... Ram Dass had the fucking lights on and he was on his couch and shit. Light delivers all reality to humans ... and obviously, like every facit born of the birth of this universe we take the parameters of 'reality' for granted every waking minute. Like Carl Sagan said.. This world as we know it is only just one brief moment that appears to us to be an endless horizon of time ... this time grants comfort ... and this comfort breeds complacency ... and from complacency stems ultimate stupidity and eventual destruction.
It would have been nice to have guides to explain the universe to me... but when I needed them no one came. This bred intense panic because I was experiencing an ultimate philosophical death. Physicality, itself, had been rendered meaningless and all there was was me and deep dark space... but I couldn't really tell the difference. I heard myself saying 'Shit!' ...'Shit!' .. 'Shit!' (the most often-uttered last words). My body got up and tried to open the door... it was self-locking from the inside? I couldn't leave... and I was having trouble breathing .. - Eventually D.lean somehow opened it for me and I tried to run and get to any light.. there was no light and I fell down the stairs ... I kept going down until I saw the light from a doorway on the first floor ... I ran towards it ... I got to the front door and it was locked shut with a huge metal gate ... I didn't know what to do.... I stood there clutching the bars looking out into the street not knowing who or where I was and felt like I was the pathetic target of a mean-spirited joke at the tragic end of an episode of the Twilight Zone. Pantingly heavily, I looked around the room and then looked down near my feet. I could partially see a little Indian man lying down on the stone floor. I'm sure I just stared at him bug-eyed and panting. He motioned for me to join him and lie down on the floor beside him. I had no option. I lay down and remember nothing else afterwards.
I came to India with no camera, no journal and ultimately no interest in traveling. For the previous year I had been the happiest I had ever been in my life. Every single day I woke up and understood what it was to appreciate Life in its immediate sense, and that was what I had previously been looking for since the day I was born. My attitude was that wherever I went, I had been Ultimately invited and was afraid of no one, able to talk to anyone and experience myself as a part of the order that the universe had deigned when good had won over evil in the beginning; for that year the world was absolutely perfect and had finally become my home... but the next day when I woke up I never felt that way ever again. It taught me that anyone can be slapped down, cornered and made to make choices in life they never saw previously as a possibility. Anyone can be dealt a hand that will destroy them... and sometimes they can do nothing but play a part that is already scripted for them. You never know where you will be a year from now and what types of unwanted bloody sacrifices you may have to make or internally dividing and potentially destroying decisions you may have to choose from. You can never anticipate the filthly, disgusting or demoralizing things you may have to face within your own mortality. Just be glad that it is behind you after it's over.
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