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Jerry Garcia

about it too much before, but finally mortality started to catch up with me.

David: You say that you didn’t have a near-death experience, but did anything happen that gave you any unusual insights?

Jerry: Well, I had some very weird experiences. My main experience was one of furious activity and tremendous struggle in a sort of futuristic, space-ship vehicle with insectoid presences. After I came out of my coma, I had this image of myself as these little hunks of protoplasm that were stuck together kind of like stamps with perforations between them that you could snap off. (laughter)

They were run through with neoprene tubing, and there were these insects that looked like cockroaches which were like message-units that were kind of like my bloodstream. That was my image of my physical self and this particular feeling lasted a long time. It was really strange.

David: That sounds really similar to a DMT experience.

Jerry: It was DMT-like as far as the intensity was concerned, but it lasted a couple of days!

David: Did it affect what you think might happens after death?

Jerry: No. It just gave me a greater admiration for the incredible baroque possibilities of mentation. The mind is so incredibly weird. The whole process of going into coma was very interesting too. It was a slow onset – it took about a week – and during this time I started feeling like the vegetable kingdom was speaking to me.

It was communicating in comic dialect in iambic pentameter. So there were these Italian accents and German accents and it got to be this vast gabbling. Potatoes and radishes and trees were all speaking to me. (laughter) It was really strange. It finally just reached hysteria and that’s when I passed out and woke up in the hospital.

David: Do you feel that psychedelics might be a way for the vegetable kingdom to communicate with humans?

Jerry: I like that thought, but I don’t know if it’s true. The thing is that there’s no way to prove this stuff. I would love it if somebody would put the energy into studying the mind and psychedelics to the extent where we could start to talk about these things and somebody could even throw forth a few suggestions as to what might be happening. There’s no body of information – we need more research. These are questions that we should be asking, this is the important stuff.

Rebecca: And when you came out of your coma, did you come out of it in stages?

Jerry: I was pretty scrambled. It was as though in my whole library of information, all the books had fallen off the shelves and all the pages had fallen out of the books. I would speak to people and know what I meant to say, but different words would come out. So I had to learn everything over again. I had to learn how to walk, play the guitar, everything.

Rebecca: Did you always have faith that you would access it again? It didn’t scare you, the idea that you might have lost it forever?

Jerry: I didn’t care. When your memory’s gone, you don’t care because you don’t remember when you had one. (laughter)

David: What do you think happens to consciousness after death?

Jerry: It probably dies with the body. Why would it exist apart from the body?

David: People have had experiences of feeling like they’re out of their body.

Jerry: That’s true. But unfortunately the only ones who have gone past that are still dead.(laughter) I don’t know what consciousness is apart from a physical being. I once slipped out of my body accidentally. I was at home watching television and I slid out through the soles of my feet. All of a sudden I was hovering up by the ceiling looking down at myself. So I know that I can disembody myself somehow from my physical self, but more than that I have no way of knowing.

Rebecca: So I take it you don’t believe in reincarnation, in the recycling of consciousness?

Jerry: It may happen in a very large way. It may be that part of all the DNA-coding, the specific memory, returns. There’s definitely information in my mind that did not come from this lifetime. Not only is there some, but there’s tons of it! Enormous, vast reservoirs.

Dreams are kind of a clue. What are these organizing principles that make it so you experience these realities that are emotionally as real as this life is? You can feel grief or be frightened in a dream just as badly as you can in this life. And the psychedelic experience is similar in that it has the power to convince you of its authenticity. It’s hard to ignore that once you have experienced it.

Rebecca: What does the term consciousness mean to you?

Jerry: I go along with the notion that the universe wants consciousness in it, that it’s part of the evolutionary motion of the universe and that we represent the universe’s consciousness. Why it wants it, I don’t know, but it seems to want it.

Here’s the reason I believe this. If the point of an organism is survival, why go any further than sharks or simple-minded predators that survive perfectly beautifully? Why continue throwing out possibilities? So my sense is that conceivably, there is some purpose or design. Why monkeys with big heads? Because that’s the most convenient consciousness-carrier, perhaps.

Rebecca: Do you think that humans are evolving en masse to be more conscious?

Jerry: I do think there’s a drive towards more consciousness. There are huge setbacks all the way along, but all the aberrations that we see, holy wars etc.. are metaphors for more consciousness. They are expressed as conflict because we haven’t come up with enough good models to express it in other ways. We are it. We’re the same stuff as stars and galaxies, so we’re indivisibly part of it. We’re the part that speaks, that plays music, that creates abstractions.

The atomic bomb is a good metaphor for consciousness. If you are able to describe a possible way that things work in this universe with enough rigor inside some kind of belief system, you’re going to be the creator of fundamental change expressed as a huge eruption of energy.

You have to have the idea first about energy and mass. Once that idea is expressed perfectly enough then it’s possible to create something that will do it physically. So the atomic bomb is a physical model of the mind gaining control of the material world. The question is are we able to do it without blowing ourselves to smithereens?

David: Are you talking about being able to organize reality the way we want, say with nano-technology?

Jerry: Yes, that would be a good example. If the universe’s mind – meaning us – is able to say what it wants about itself, to describe itself well enough, it can make decisions about where it’s going and what it’s doing – consciously. That’s like bringing the big mind and the little mind together.

David: Have you had any experiences where you felt you were in contact with extraterrestrials or multi-dimensionals – beings not of this world?

Jerry: I can’t say not of this world. I believe that anything that I was ever in touch with was fundamentally a part of this world. I would even go further to say that the concept of extraterrestrial is not applicable in this universe. Everything in this universe is part of this universe.

David: Have you ever felt like you’ve been in communication with beings of a higher intelligence than humans?

Jerry: I’ve had direct communication with something which is higher than me! I don’t know what it is, it may be another part of my mind. There’s no way for me to filter it out because it’s in my head. It’s the thing that’s able to take bits and pieces of things and give me large messages. To me, they are messages as clear as someone speaking in my ear, they’re that well-expressed and they have all the detail that goes along with it.

Sometimes it comes in the form of an actual voice and sometimes it comes in the form of a hugeness, a huge presence that uses all of the available sensory material to express an idea. And when I get the idea it’s like dah! Oh, I get it! And it’s accompanied by that hollow mocking laughter. You stupid fuck! You finally got it uh? Geez it’s about time.(laughter) For me, enlightenment works that way, but it’s definitely a higher order of self-organization that communicates stuff.

My psychedelic experiences were sequential. They started at a place and they went through a series of progressive learning steps. When they stopped happening it was like, this is the end of the message – now you’re just playing around. That was when psychedelics stopped having the relevance they originally had. It lasted for about a year I’d say.

David: What do you think a Grateful Dead show in Virtual Reality would be like?

Jerry: Deadheads would want to be part of the band I would imagine. I think it would be fun if they could be, because it would make them see the experience differently. But I think they would be disappointed if they saw our version of it.

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