Partly because of the power trips but I think the poverty got to me too. I was enough of a cult head to go pretty psychotic. I found myself walking around San Francisco crying hysterically and finally I got on the train to go back to Tennessee because I didn’t know what else to do with myself – I didn’t think that I could fit into any kind of society.
I prayed for guidance. I said, “listen Jesus if there’s an energy or a force that you represent, I need help.” I landed up visiting my son in St. Louis who had a station called KBNA that was outrageous, there was nothing like it on the air, and the folks there said, “why don’t you just stay here and learn how to do radio.” I never went back to the farm.
David:: Have your views on the use of technology changed over the years?
Elizabeth: I always wanted to use technology for it’s highest good and that has not changed. I thought that in learning to communicate with one another in new ways we could somehow help each other more to stay `alove’ and that’s what technology should be used for.
Rebecca: It seems that many people confuse the tool with the experience.
Elizabeth: There’s a Zen proverb that says you should not confuse the finger pointing at the moon with the moon, and that’s true whether it’s psychedelics or anything else. But I think technology is a miracle. I sat in my room last night listening to music written 200 years by someone I’ve never heard of – isn’t that amazing?! (laughter)
David:: It seems that we’re developing more and more ways to access the whole universe from a single point.
Elizabeth: That’s nice. It seems that we’ve invented timespace to play some game I don’t understand.
Rebecca: Has the game become less serious for you over time?
Elizabeth: Yeah, I’m working on that more consciously. But you should have seen me when the cat disappeared the other day, I was just as attached as anybody could be.
Rebecca: You’ve interviewed such an extraordinary variety of philosophers, scientists and thinkers. How has your interactions with people who have such differing belief systems influenced your multi-faceted view of reality?
Elizabeth: To begin with I couldn’t have done the interviewing if I already didn’t have a multi-faceted view of reality. I have had a really charmed life in many ways. One of the things is that I was exposed to all different kinds of music and arts from a very early age, so I know a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The other side of it is that I find it really hard to read anymore. I want my information to come fast and precise and verbally at me. I don’t want to ready a hundred words when two would be enough. There are other things I want to do, like work in my garden.
Rebecca: When we started out compiling the first volume of Mavericks of the Mind, I think we were a little too deferential. We would think, “Oh, he’s got the answer, or no she’s got the answer.” Now it’s more like a dance where the mind waltzes with an idea for a while which then moves back and becomes part of the flow.
Elizabeth: I think that the secret of success, when you get the cosmic badge of honor pinned on you, is when you can dance on totally nothing. No concepts, no grids, no graphs, no formula, you just dance and you’re happy.
David:: What do you do without a context?
Elizabeth: There are contexts but they’re always shifting – contexts within contexts within contexts, continuity and change.
David:: What were some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had during your years of interviewing?
Elizabeth: Sometimes I get bonded in that hour or hour and a half and all I want to do is hug them and to heck with this talk. (laughter) I’ve always thought that it would be great to do a book of interviews with unknowns. It’s unfortunate that we put so much emphasis on people whose names have become known. But there are a lot of people on the streets who have a great deal to offer. I think that everyone knows everything basically, it’s just a matter of education, training and luck whether that knowledge expands and blossoms or gets trodden down by fear.
David:: You mentioned how one of the results you’ve seen from the sixties is that spiritual awareness has increased, but what does spirituality mean to you?
Elizabeth: (long pause) I would rather not use the word spirituality, but I don’t know what else to use. It’s the number of levels of awareness reaching to a level where there is absolute identification with all atoms of the universe in all the different realms that there are.
I think that it has something to do with the peculiar and unique properties of the human brain and something to do with not being afraid of accessing all the different realities. The psychedelics are medicines to teach us how to utilize more of the brain and access the many, perhaps infinite, levels of reality. Spirituality is when we know that there is neither form nor no form.
David:: What’s your perspective on God then?
Elizabeth: Well, what’s God’s perspective on me? That’s what I’d like to know! (laughter) Unfortunately the word has terrible connotations because of the Judeo-Christian web that most of us have been born into in this part of the world. The other thing is that humans are incredible chauvinists so they assume that somehow God or Goddess have human attributes. There are so many Gods and Goddesses that have been invented since humans began to think about this that it’s very crowded up there!
I think there is a matrix of an energy that’s beyond our capacity to touch until we can develop our brains more. And maybe this matrix, perfect intelligence or whatever you want to call it, really wanted to feel more so it invented humans in order to enjoy all this beautiful stuff. If a tree falls in the forest, there’s no sound if no one is there to hear it.
Rebecca: Except for the birds and rabbits.
Elizabeth: But I think we’re better transmitters than animals. They don’t have this, damnable sometimes, capacity for self-reflection. They don’t know that they know.
David:: How do you know that?
Elizabeth: I don’t know how I know. I just know. I think humans have a greater capacity to enjoy and suffer, and to think about it.
David:: You think self-reflection causes suffering because when you reflect on the past or imagine the future you’re not experiencing the moment?
Elizabeth: If you reflect on the past and imagine the future you’re doing it right now. There is no other time.
Rebecca: In what ways do you think that you experience suffering as opposed to that bird singing outside your window right now?
Elizabeth: I think about my suffering and I know that I’m suffering and the bird knows in a whole different way. (bird begins singing more loudly) To get back to the Haight Ashbury, I think what we hoped for and what I do see evidence of in the ecological movement and the feminist movement and the touchy-feely workshops, is this desire of many people on many different levels to feel better, feel more aware and to understand more.
If there are infinite possibilities, my favorite scenario is that we get our heads together and choose to shape our destiny. Maybe we’ve already done it. The vibration right this minute is really different from what it was an hour ago when you guys first came in. We’re being less social, in some ways we’re being more real, but it’s a different reality.
David:: What relationship do you see between sexuality and the creative process?
Elizabeth: The tangible universe in which we exist is the result of a giant orgasm – they call it the Big Bang don’t they? (laughter) And it’s always happening. And then on a smaller scale, sex is creativity, that’s how we make the next generation of stuff. I think the reason that we are so, excuse the expression, `fucked up’ about sex is that it’s an absolutely guaranteed way to get high and people are so afraid to get high.
David:: Why do you think that people are scared of getting high? Is it because they are so attached to their egos?
Elizabeth: Their brain isn’t ready for it. They don’t know themselves any other way. They have to have more experience just like all of us do on one level or another. Have you ever read descriptions of tantric rituals where there are maybe thirteen men and thirteen women and the woman actually goes from one male to another and sees God in each partner and they just keep coming and coming but don’t reach orgasm?
Rebecca: You’ve been describing the process of growing into something more through mystical experience and yet at the same time you are also describing a process of individuation. What is coming out of your self when you dissolve your self?
Elizabeth: A crystal pulls to itself out of the elements what it needs to complete its form and what accrues to it are separate entities and yet it is all one thing. They don’t lose their individuation any more than the cell in your hand does, it’s just part of something bigger. And I don’t see any need for us to die in order to have this wonderful experience of unity.
Rebecca: How has your relationships with men influenced your life?
Elizabeth: My relationships have been my anchor throughout my life. Trying to get validation as a woman through my relationship with a man and setting myself up so it couldn’t happen led to some incredibly bad relationships. I spent ten years alone until I met Paddy, my present partner. I got old and that helped a lot!
We’ve been together for eight years and we still have our moments of working things out, but how I ever lucked out enough to have a man who is so helpful, I don’t know. I couldn’t do half of what I do without him. He’s so wonderful and supportive, and so kind. One of my cosmic laws is `The higher up the fewer,’ which I got from my mother. The second one is, `It takes one to know one.’ The third one is the most important, it’s a real heavy koan and I hope everyone takes it