If you have seen my bio on Facebook or Twitter you may have noticed that is says 'accidental Hindu'. Some of you may wonder,
"How do you become an accidental Hindu?"
Did I travel to some distant temple where a statue of Brahma fell upon me, causing me to exclaim,
"Oh, my God!",
and experience a moment of sudden realisation and become a Hindu?
No. But that would have been a great story.
What happened though, was just as strange. If not even stranger.
A Shroom With A View
In the summer of 2012 I was visiting Amsterdam. Yes, that wonderful European city, that little slice of the Garden of Eden (before the apple was banned) where you can walk around in clogs, eat cheese, smoke a little weed and stare at the pretty tulips all day long, if you so desire.
During my visit I tried something new. Magic truffles, and they were magic. If you are wondering what a magic truffle is, it is the same as a magic mushroom. Where as mushrooms grow above ground, truffles are the parts that grow below ground. Both contain the hallucinogenic substance psilocybin.
Before taking the truffles I had done my homework. I had read up on the effects and side effects, read about other people's experiences with the substance and gone through all the how-to's and what-not-to-do's. Still, nothing could prepare me for what I was about to experience.
Buckle Up, Alice! You Are Approaching Wonderland
As soon as I had taken the truffles I laid down on the bed, put my headphones on and listened to a playlist of instrumental music. After about one hour the psilocybin started to kick in. Images flashed before me as a lay there with my eyes closed, but they rarely stayed long enough for me to make any sense of them. About one hour later I was beginning to get restless and a bit disappointed. Was this all there was to it? I expected more. I had hoped that I would be able to meet God and ask"Why are we here?" and "What is the purpose of life?". You know, the usual questions that your brain likes to keep you awake with at 3am when you are trying to sleep.
I was beginning to wonder if the drug was really working, or if I the things I had seen were only due to my imagination. But when I got up to go to the bathroom I realised that the drug was indeed working. The floor, which was covered in a solid green carpet had changed. The carpet seemed to be alive, breathing and moving. I could see vines twisting in and out of it, circling up towards the surface and then down again.
When I went into the bathroom I made the mistake of looking at myself in the mirror. At first I thought I looked like Elvis, then I started looking more and more like the Green Man, and towards the end all I could see was a face covered in red dots.
I went back to bed to experience the rest of the trip behind closed eyes.
Far away from any mirrors.
Your Yoga Is Parvati
During the last hour or two of my trip, the character of the experience changed completely. It was as if I had broken through a barrier.
I was in a cave and I could see an incredibly beautiful man in front of me. His skin was blue, his hair long and black and his eyes were friendly. He seemed to be smiling. (I say 'he', although I did not get the sense that this figure had a gender, it was simply that it did not have breasts.) He did not speak, but I heard a woman's voice say,
"Your yoga is Parvati."
I never saw this woman, but I could feel her holding me. And I felt immensely peaceful. All my worries were gone, and all I could feel was love. It was pure bliss. And that is how my first trip ended.
I fell asleep in the arms of the Goddess.
After the trip I tried to figure out what the sentence meant.
I did a bit of research online and found that Parvati was the Goddess of love and devotion, and the wife of Shiva. I had heard of Shiva before, but not Parvati. I went through all my religious reference books, thinking that maybe I had heard of her before and just forgotten. What I found was an image of the two with the words 'Shiva and his wife Parvati' written underneath. Not a whole lot of information there.
As for Yoga, all I knew at the time is that it was a popular form of exercise with people who like to pretend they are pretzels. That did not seem very relevant. I also found that yoga in Vedic Astrology refers to the conjunction of planets. That did not seem to fit either. The word itself - Yoga, means union, and now I suspected I might be on to something.
The Birth Of An Accidental Hindu
All the pieces of the puzzle did not come together until my second trip two years later where Parvati explained what it meant. She said that we are one, that we are joined together. And finally it made sense.
Just as a single piece of a fractal pattern contains the whole of the pattern inside itself, we humans are pieces of God and contain the whole of God within us. Which means that you are never alone and that you cannot be separated from God - no more than you can be separated from yourself.
"Your yoga is Parvati", is really just another way of saying, "You are united with God."
Beautiful, isn't it?
And now you know how I became an 'accidental' Hindu.
Going into the first trip I was looking for the Bearded Man in the sky. The one that my culture, family and friends were familiar with. The Bible version of God, or something similar. What I found, or rather what found me, was something I never expected. And the experience, and the subsequent experiences I have had with the magic truffles (where I have been in the presence of Parvati and Shiva) has changed my life in ways I could not have imagined. I am deeply grateful for these experiences.