About forty-odd years ago my peers graduated from LSD, wimpy pot and mushrooms to the natural, organic solution - meditation. Gurus from the East flocked to our shores, sparking a qualitative shift in the life style of the American counter-culture much to the relief of our overtaxed brain cells. To its neurons, a hit of LSD was akin to an assault rifle firing hundreds of rounds a minute, making for a blaze of glory with the subsequent wipe out.
I remember trying to write a coherent press release in 1972, announcing the arrival of my guru in the Boston area. Despite having graduated with honors from Columbia University only two years prior, it was now painful to recall syntax and spelling. Apparently, my two year hiatus in San Francisco had seriously dinged previously wide-open neuronal pathways. (Read my lip.) Like a physical therapist who works an injured limb, I gradually dragged my brain through the modest exercise of writing a press release, slowly but surely juicing up the pathways to start a flow of electricity into areas where there had been a major power outage.
The new influx of spiritual ideas and practices created what was called The New Age. For a while it was a badge of honor to be a New Ager - until it caught on with the Pepsi generation. Then, as with all novel ideas that become mainstream, a trivialization took place. Thousand year old traditions were modified into 'meditation light' and self-appointed pundits and panderers set up shop everywhere. Buyers beware.
Nowadays there is an identity crisis amongst us oldies but goodies because the counterculture has been pronounced dead on arrival. Is it arthritic joints or the comfort of iPads that keeps us out of the streets protesting? Or a weariness that comes with the knowledge that change happens behind closed doors where power mongers divide up the spoils and spout humanitarian philosophies from electoral podiums?
What's left of our revolution are designer jeans with rips that cost an extra $50 a tear; tie die and shabby chic; supersonic weed stores with cleverly named blends more diverse than a tea emporium; endless pipe designs and god no! they never had rhinestones and color choices ranging from Barbie pink to gun metal gray back in the day.
For the authentic, what remains is a quiet spirituality that doesn't point to itself. Or perhaps a non-profit in some hell-hole of the world where a thimble full of people get relief for a while.
However, bemoaning the demise of a far-flung freedom seems narcissistic and childish when one remembers that even Mother Earth will be worn away in a cloud of cosmic dust in time. While this reality might sound depressing to some, it is actually a liberating fact. The intensity with which we cling to our ideas, our identities, the countless attachments to all sorts of life details - such as last week when I was pissed off that I couldn't find the good eyebrow tweezers - goes on ad infinitum.
So let's relax into the knowing that all things shall pass...and in the meantime enjoy your chai latte.