The secret Jewish Cannabis History and Wisdom teachings of all ages

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Taiva for Drugs is the Taiva for G-d: what Shlomo noticed

So we were talking about Shlomo.

It's really such a miracle that special people ever happen. In some ways, they're born special, priviledged and chosen by their surrounding and families, their land and their cultures. In other ways, it's all work and choices.

But not only do the choices special people make say something about the person, the other way around too, the people making the choices says something about the choices.

This is one of my big arguments with my mom about marijuana: if i'm smoking it, and I'm as smart as you insist I am (thanks mom) doesn't that say something about the choice in question?

There's an Ishbitz torah like that too, about the aishes yifas toar. Anything an Israelite is drawn to must have something really good at it's root.

And so, Shlomo was drawn to California. What did he recognize, I wonder?
Something was going on, where kids and people were pilgrimiging in from all around the world to share and seek, everybody knows, but what made that first possible? All the gurus who went, it was after soemone told them that something cool was going on.
But how did that start?

Shlomo first grew up in Baden germany, but that scene was shut down when he was just a kid. He grew up largely in Brooklyn, learning his loveable ghetto english from the local negroes, giving him his "hey, brotha!" amongst other speech and style inflections, till falling into the lakewood Torah void.

How did Shlomo first get involved in Lubavitch?

One night, at the end of an acid trip at a string cheese incidnet concert, I came to a house party where some ex-chabadskers were hanging out. It was sweet, warm and intimate, and we started singing some of the deeper chabad niggunim.

I'd had a profound physical dance experience earlier that evening, and after it was over, I needed deep refuge. Profound physical dance meant that night that my body was then different forever, new things being possible on the dance floor, and a strong rush of seemingly infinite might continues for as long as my soul will keep going with it. I went into a breslov trance of ungiving up, even as I looked for somewhere warm and safe to be able to come down safely.

Hashem's wonderous coincidence brought me to a ride to the engagement party that i'd wanted to go to, and when I arrived, it was into a lovely little heart circle, where someone started a niggun, arba babot "the four grandmothers."

Still tripping, just a little, having finally slowed down the body enough to Sit and Feel from the inside a little bit. And the music we were being invited to make felt so---

The couple getting engaged were Russian-Americans, very aware of their heritage, the glory of Russian culture and Moscow. The show I had just come from gave me the impression of having been some profound cosmic event, largely because it was the introduction of this band to the center of the civilized performance world, the Garden of Madison Square.

We've been moving this whole time, all the wter, all the brilliance and the peak of the world where the widest appreciation and the deepest fun is happening. And it was clear to me, singing this chabad niggun, why Chabad was so important: once Russia was the capitol of the world, where the radicalest innovations, spiritual, philosophical, political and otherwise were happening. War, hunger, and the end of fun moved the divine presence from there, but there was a time where G-d was receiving orders from the high people there, and sending back brilliance in return.

And that's a big part of Chabad's awesomeness. I maintain strongly that the Ikkur Smicha of Chabad is not the Torah, but the music. The music gives over the Torah in a way that the spoken words don't do as honestly and purely.

And let's be real for a minute, alot of the draw of Chabad amongst the scholarly and the non-scholarly, was the ambiance. The vodka was sacramentalized because when it's cold and your heart is dying, it will save your life, and the last Rebbe was wise enough to try to curb it a little before leaving the world, because it's no longer so freaking cold everywhere Chabad is anymore. It's an international organization, in very little danger of being killed out the way it once was, and still annoints those who wind up at the right tables with the secret of how to get high in the holy, a musical tradition that gives people amazing power to go very deeply inside their own wordless hearts. From what i've seen, the kids are able to graduate to truer higher sacraments once exposed, and thanks to what they learned from the rebbes, have some kind of language to deal with the psychedelic realms.

Mind you, the klipah of Chabad is the degree to which this language can inhibit transcendance of this language, trapping people in a world of behamis vs. Elokis, gashmi vs. Ruchni, Heart vs. Mind, and all other kinds of falsehood and malarky growing out of a sacramentalization of word idols at the expense of what the words were there to show you.

And that's why Shlomo left Chabad eventually. He grew up secure enough in his Judaism as the son of a confident community head Rabbi that he could make decisions and trust intuitions about what G-d really wanted without having to take a rebbe's word, and was able to discard organizations and paradigms when they would get in the way of what seemed to him the true service that needed helping with.

And so, Shlomo went on to greener pastures. He'd become aware of the light shining onto northern California during the Berkely folk festival in 1966. In Rabbeinu's own words:
Then, in 1966, the greatest thing happened to me. I was invited to the Berkeley Folk Festival. There I saw all these thousands of young people who the world condemned as being dope addicts and I realized that they were yearning for something holy, and their souls were so pure, awesome! The festival began on Thursday morning. On Friday morning I announced that tonight I'm going to the synagogue and any one who might want should join me. I thought maybe ten or fifteen people would show up, but over two thousand came to the small synagogue.

I thought that the people at the synagogue would be so happy that they came, but the president called me up and said, "It was the most disgusting thing that ever happened." We had people staying and celebrating Shabbat till four in the morning, studying and singing, and then the way that the synagogue responded was a shame. So I realized I had to have my own place. So we created in San Francisco the House of Love and Prayer and until 1974 they were there and then many of the best people there went to the moshav in Modi'in in Israel.

And so is encapsulated what is and will be remembered as one of the seminal transformative episodes of Jewish History. Some will deny this, and deny Shlomo and his Torah as just another fad in Judaism, but what can you do for ignorant people?
The implication of this paragraph is clear, though: What brought Shlomo out from limited Chabad mediocrity into his own higher deeper and more immediately useful Torah? Dope Addicted kids who seemed really interesting to him.

There's the degree to which the Rebbe gives smicha to his chassidim, and the degree to which they give smicha to him, as is known. Shlomo's Torah only came into itself at the House of Love and Prayer, and only from there was he able to go to Israel and create the neo-chassidish norm that would capture the imagination of both religious and secular Israel. A torah that liberates the self to trust the self, piercing criticsms of the horrible failures of religious jewish communities, things strangely obvious yet often utterly invisible to religiously filtered senses.

When I first went to Israel, I was utterly fascinated by esoteric Kabbala. Then After a year, I was like, shouldn't this Torah be making me a better person? More useful to the world? And I started to notice, the Torah that made me do that was only Shlomo, and maybe R'Nachman, when filtered through the right person.

Next: The voice that speaks to the dope addicted masses, crazy people and children, and an ending of sorts.
(update: scratch that. we'll come back to that one in time.)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dare not to not do drugs: How Shlomo blew up his Torah

There's a problem in the larger Jewish community, a problem that arose as a solution to the larger problem, that of communal, societal death. The problem with this vaccine is that a) it involves danger of permananently changing the patient, in ways that they don't nessesarily want to change and b) it might involve some dishonesty, chas 'v shalom. Or worse, it might demand honesty about how bad the dying patient was in the first place, and how much it might be better if they didn't live, maybe maybe chas v' shalom.

The problem I refer to secondly is assimilation, which, like aids, can be lived with and through, is terribly infectious and culturally devastating and comes from getting intimate with Others. The Jewish corporate entity may not want to die anymore than anyone else does (itself a controvertible assumption i've heard argued against. maybe it DOES want to die, at least sometimes?) but some of the cells inside of it might want to get away and stop feeding the communal tantric deity formed by our co-mingling. Whenever the other world becomes more interesting or fun-derful, it's bound to draw us away from where we are coming from, especially if where we are coming from is So Bad. Which, god help us, the Jewish community has been to different people throughout history. Some try to say that the religion is bad but the community is good, some go the other way: either way, assimilation is the deadly virus at the end of Jewish history, that which will fufill the final messianic solution if bodydeath never comes. Because Rome is growing, learning and adapting all the time, because humanity is, and Judaism has to do no more than keep up? To the degree that judaism cannot be The New, it's only playing catch up with the social standard of the rest of the world, or else providing a much appreciated refuge from the Terrible New World. Mcglobalization isn't kosher makes Kosher a refuge from the shit that the rest of humanity is forced to eat, maybe ideally.

To The Degree that archaic traditional cultures remember the crucial steady good that the speedy, thoughtless pop present forgets in it's shallow and desperate youthful passion, it's the elder wisdom of Grandmother Israel, or Africa, or Itzlan, or Volkskeit or whatever tradition You (or your parents) left for whatever reason.

And so, the second problem is that which remindsyou of where you came from, and invites you home by Any Means Nessesary. By this, I refer to what's now known in the Jewish Velt as Kiruv.

Some have been very angered by the promises that mother told in order to bring us home, about what awaited, who we REALLY were, and what was really important. But how far will your mother go to make you feel safe at home?

Will she come to your parties? Hang out at the seedy pool halls you frequent? That would prove how much she cares, but it might not make her entreaties any less embarrassing, unless she can prove that she's COOL somehow, maybe.

And by COOL, I mean not just quietly accepting, but genuinely understanding, or at least genuinely open to understanding, why you are where you are, and what is the good you've found. Until she can do that, it's going to very hard for her to connect to her fleeing children. Can she do that honestly, even with a danger that she will be changed, even destroyed in the interaction?

Is your mom cool enough to smoke weed with you? Your "Rabbi"? Or cool enough not to have to?

In previous posts, I have mentioned R' Shlomo Carlebach a number of times. This is not to say that he approved of drugs, quite the opposite, he tended to view drug use as the failure to find any thing better to inspire the hippilach, a kind of late night cable tv to the happenning party he was offering.

That's not to say that he didnappreciate what drugs could do to sensitize people to sweetness and G-dliness. just that neither marijuna or psychedelics terribly interested him beyond a certain curiousity about what these kids were so excited about, his life was consumed by a very active and inter-human service.

I met someone once who claimed to know a guy who was Shlomo Carlebach's weed dealer. This person was lied to, because I know for a fact that Shlomo would not spend money on mellow drugs. He uses the parable of the Death Drug dealer to give over the secret of how not give tsedakah

Let's say someone comes to me and says,
Oh Shlomo
Help me out!

I need to raise three thousand dollars
To buy some drugs to sell to some kids
to kill them
Shlomo, couldn't you help me out?

What? Am I gonna say "sure, brother, let me help you out"
try to run off and to a fundraising concert.
What am I crazy?
If I do, i'm a murderer.

Chinese medicine uppers, on the other hand, he would use in order to keep going. The work was infinite, and there was always something else that only he could do, another reason to blow off sleep. Another person in need, another concert or appearance where to not go was to neglect an opportunity for some really crucial break through, often literally saving a life.

Intoxication did not interest Shlomo, not that kind anyway. He's the kind of person who would drink grape juice for kiddush, even as he'd exhort his disciples to be drunk yidden, drunk all the time on the awesomeness of G-d.

This is not to say that he never smoked, how else would hippies know that you were cool? The story would go, that as a joint would get passed around a circle where he was rebbeing, he would once hit it once, twice, and then the third time say: and once more in honor of Yaakov avinu. Or sometimes, just hold the joint when it would come to him, and then just start expounding, until some fool would say, hey man, pass that fucker! But it would be too late, the joint would be run to the bottom, and the torah music shared would make everyone higher than they'd ever been, ha ha.

In the Moshav Yeshiva, we would say when someone would draw out a dedication before a hit a leetle too long, or just start talking while holding the joint/bong, giving over some kind of Torah until they forget that there's drugs in their hands: hey man! don't Shlomo that joint !

But no, he was not into getting high or tripping, though he did do both, and his closest students will tell you that it impacted his Torah for sure. The shattering of the ego that lets Torah about holy arrogance or just the sublime oppositeness within every inyan come forth, that depends on two things: breadth of knowledge enough to draw connections between many different ideas, and a certain personal wild openness to, and experience of: G-d unity, in a way that is beyond ego games of Who I think I Am Supposed To Be, what I think someone like me should be doing. He talks in his torahs later about letting go of exactly those things, and as much as the knowledge of chassidic torah opened his mind, so much of that Torah doesn't make sense or interest unless the eyes have already been opened otherwise.

Berkeley freaked Shlomo on, and rather than back away from the challenge of growing in response to the people he was dealing with, rather than retreat into insular dogmatism like many kiruvnauts have done, he rose to the occasion and really learned the psychedelic torah as it came. And through that willingness L'shem Shamayim, he became the vessel through which god's voice would return to Israel.

R Nachman of Breslov was the last to come close to something like that, maybe hillel Zeitlin or R kook, but still on a lower level. There is no Torah like Shlomo Torah, and that is why he is the secret rebbe inside any jewish institution worth it's salt. Some fools think it's just some magic holiness in the music, which is bullshit she b bullshit. The music is only part of the context, the social wilingness to hear something deep, true, and piercing is the other part of the bris, and that's why Karleebach music, as the genre of lesser figures playing his songs, even on key or masterfully, is always a shallow, empty and powerless excersize in self indulgent communalization.

Not that drinking songs around a campfire isn't awesomely special itself, but don't think for a second that that was all that was going on. I'm sure it was sometimes, but what can you do for Jews who just want to feel good about jewishing?

Which is not the highest his torah ever got. There are tapes of him just giving concerts and telling the story of shvartzewolf or the holy miser or something, because a real tzaddik is willing to be whatever is needed of him, and will use that place to plant the seeds of recognition of the holy in people who wouldn't be able to ever notice it afterwards. The baal shem tov, elijah the prophet and their ilk make it potentially safe to be a mystic bum and at least be recognized in some communities as being a holy man as opposed to a threat, don't think i don't appreciate that. But shlomo's deep torah was only heard in the counsels of trippers with vessels.

That is to say, the chassidim smoke(d) some of them, e'en tho he'd gone as far as to strongly discourage herb once legendarily comparing it to Baby Diapers,

Out grow your diapers already!

Yet still some of the highest of his students toke(d) and certainly it was a step on the path to Him, and beyonder! Ya rabbeinu nagila!

(For sure to be continued, but not for a minute. meanwhile, I'm still in Northern Cali. feel free to be in touch if you are too!)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Invite ME to speak at your bookstore or shabbos table!

Hey. Do we have any fans out in California? I'm out here in Northern Cali checking out schools and friends, If anyone wants to hang out or show me something cool, e-mail me from now until nov 20th. I'm not posting but once more until then so people can see this, and the one post between now and then will be about Shlomo and how he related to drugs.

I am That is all.