The Purpose of Existence

21 Dec

The Purpose of Existence

Back in 1969, I was a hippie college student, going to college on the G.I. Bill, after my discharge from the army that I was drafted into in 1966. I was raised a Roman Catholic and continued to follow that faith, until it was obliterated in my expanded mind. One of my favorite hippie pastimes was going on LSD and mescaline trips. Some of them were very intense and life altering, as far as thinking about reality was concerned. During the summer of 1969, in Michigan where I lived, marijuana was harder to find than LSD. All the hippies were taking acid unless they had bad trips that turned them off to the mind altering hallucinogen. It was also the summer of Woodstock, the Baby Boomer rock music festival that established that generation as significant adults, who could vote and engineer gatherings of nearly Β½ million.
Some of the LSD was imported from San Francisco by outlaw motorcycle gang members, who belonged to clubs like the Hells Angels, Mongols, and many others. If you knew a biker you could score big time, with some of the most perfectly manufactured LSD since Sandoz Pharmaceutical Labs ceased to produce the entheogen. Some of it was manufactured by Owsley Stanley, the Grateful Dead’s light technician and personal chemist. Marty was the name of the biker that I was connected with. I first met him through Marvin, a friend that I made in my first semester of college after getting discharged from the army. Marvin just got discharged from the army around the same time that I did, and he was also attending college on the G.I. Bill, so we hung out and partied together after school.
I purchased 5 hits of what Marty told me was Owsley Orange, for $3.00 each. It looked like dried orange plaster and was broken into hits ΒΌ inch square and 1/16 inch thick. He told me to only take Β½ a tab because it was a heavy dose. When I left his house, I took Β½ of one of the tabs as I was driving past Detroit City airport on Outer Drive the East side at around 7:30 PM. After I got home a little past 8:00 PM, I put 4 tabs of acid in my dresser drawer and took the other Β½ tab at around 8:10 PM. Then I found out that Marvin had called, so I called him back and he said that he would be coming by with his fiancΓ©e, Mary, to pick me up to go to our hangout, the Duchess lounge,Β around 9:00 PM. I told him that I got some good acid from Marty and I already took some, so to be on time. He assured me that he would, so I got ready to go and by 8:30 I was feeling the effects of the drug. I killed time by listening to the radio until a few minutes before 9:00 PM when I shut it off and went upstairs from the basement and sat in a chair on our front porch.
It seemed like an eternity that I waited for Marvin to show up, but that was because the effect of the entheogenic agent was escalating. When he finally arrived I ran to his car and got in, as he drove off and tried to make small talk. I was succumbing to the effects of the hallucinogenic agent, so I was reticent and watched the lights as they burned with an intensity that I never noticed before and seemed to blur like a slow shutter speed photograph. When we arrived at the Duchess, it was a normal Tuesday night with a small crowd. The last thing that I remembered after we were seated was ordering a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, as the bar maid left, leaving a trail of stardust behind her as she walked away through a membrane that separated our reality from another one.
That other reality is where I remained for most of the rest of the night. It was the first time that I travelled there, although it wasn’t my last. I had dropped acid with Marvin and by myself around 30 times by now, but this was my first real trip, where I left my body and experienced the death of my ego and the birth of a new reality. The rest of the night was a traumatic experience, until finally a biker chick helped me come back to reality, and I truly became born again for the first time. As spring became summer I continued to trip, and by September when my second year of college started I was a veteran inner space astronaut.
I was taking an English writing class, where we read fictional short stories by everyone from Franz Kafka to F. Scott Fitzgerald, and wrote essays analyzing them. We also wrote papers about a variety of other subjects and were even given the opportunity to choose our own topic. For this paper I chose β€œThe Purpose of Existence” as my topic. I drew my inspiration from the mind altering LSD trips that I was taking and had concluded that the purpose of existence was to fuck, because it served a double function of sustaining the existence of our species as well as achieving the greatest sensual pleasure possible in a relationship with another person.
I was given a B- grade for my paper, which in some ways was generous. As I read the paper today, 44 years later, I found that my logic was too simplistic and my examples were poor and even flawed. Over the next 2 years I continued to trip until my brain was completely fried and I decided to quit using mind expanding drugs and turn to religion for answers, since that is why they existed and most of them had been around for thousands of years. Since I was raised a Roman Catholic, I dedided that I was a Christian and decided to stick with what I already knew. I dug into it deeper, by beginning to read the Bible, starting with the gospel of Matthew in the New Testament.
A few months later I transferred my job with the postal service to Los Angeles, where I became a born again Jesus freak and discarded my pagan philosophies and theological systems and fully embraced conservative fundamentalist Pentecostal Protestant theology. After studying the Bible by repeatedly reading it, and attending church four days a week, I finally attended and graduated from Bible college where I read the scriptures in Greek and Hebrew.
After graduation I became a licensed and ordained minister, working as an associate pastor of a Foursquare church in the Los Angeles inner city with my wife and three children. The next 35 years saw me leave the ministry, travel the country searching for God’s will, until finally settling down in Salem, Oregon, where I worked for the US Postal Service until I retired and then drove a cab for 9 years. During the same four decades, I also worked as a freelance photographer, writer, and journalist covering rock and religion, first for the church and then for a variety of publications. Then one day, around 2003 or so, I began to think about my conclusions regarding the purpose of existence from 1969.
I began to think to myself, β€œif the Bible was actually inspired by God, then it should explain the purpose of existence. Where would that purpose be given?” I thought and then concluded that if God intended the Bible to be the answer to all of life’s questions and mysteries then it should be in an obvious place. The most obvious place I concluded would be the first sentence of the first paragraph of the first page of the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, better known as Genesis 1:1a. When you read Genesis using the Hebrew original language, the first words of the Bible are β€œBeresheet bara elohim,” which translate as β€œIn the beginning God created.”
β€œIn the beginning God created,” wow I thought, this is the same conclusion that I came to in 1969 on an acid trip. Creation is the purpose of existence. Creation is the source of one of humanity’s greatest pleasures as well as the way that we ensure the continuation of our existence. This is what God inspired the writer of the book of Genesis to say, and it was chosen by the Church Fathers to be the first book of their sacred text in their new religion called Christianity. Now it has been 17 centuries since the council of Nicea and the Bible is the central book for the Christian religion in both the Protestant and Roman Catholic sects.


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