Skip to content

Growing old disgracefully: I always wanted a tattoo and experience hallucinogenic drugs


Age (as we experience it in our culture) is more about psychology than physiology. It’s about much more than our body or how many years we’ve been here on the big aquamarine ball; it’s about how we think, act, communicate, work, socialise, recreate and love. That’s why we see ‘young’ people in their seventies and ‘old’ people in their fifties or even forties — because years on the planet is only part of the age equation. Of course there is a physical consequence of time but many of us unnecessarily accelerate the ageing process via our programmed ageist thinking, our poor choices, our stupid behaviours, our irresponsible diet, our sedentary lifestyle, our quest for comfort, our lack of exercise and our propensity to listen to the morons who tell us to grow old gracefully. Fuck that. I’ll grow old disgracefully thanks.

I’m 70 years of age, and I don’t wear tattoos nor have I ever indulged in drugs other than fags when young and booze (sometimes in excess). Yet I always wanted a tattoo and experience hallucinogenic drugs, and would do so once retired from the workforce. I’m reminded of my stalwart position by observing the fifth precept (“I undertake the training rule to abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness.”), and that as a blood donor tattoos would prohibit blood donations. Well, my blood is not wanted in Australia as I lived in England during a critical period. (I pleaded my plant diet case but that fell on deaf ears.) Further, I do not accept the logic that hallucinogenic drugs are the basis for heedlessness. Not at all.

I was In Turkey on pilgrimage from London to Jerusalem when I discovered Graham Hancock’s Ted Talk The War on Consciousness which triggered my interest in visionary plants and in particular the Ayahuasca brew. I had a long way to walk and each evening would turn on my Android Tablet PC to check emails and began searching for a suitable retreat centre in Peru (I decided on Kapitari) and a flight from Melbourne, Australia to Iquitos, Peru. I made contact with Andy Metcalfe and with his support and guidance made my way to Kapitari within a few weeks of returning home.

I’m reminded of the exchange between two Chinese Zen masters: the teacher Dizang and his student Fayan. Dizang saw Fayan all dressed-up in his travelling clothes, with his straw sandals and staff, and a pack on his back, and Dizang said, “Where are you going?” Fayan answered, “Around on pilgrimage.” Dizang said, “What is the purpose of pilgrimage?” Fayan said, “I don’t know.” Dizang said, “Not knowing is nearest.”

Similarly, I didn’t fully know why I wanted to experience Ayahuasca. But here are my reasons:

  • To learn and experience the supernatural forces, worlds and beings described by Graham Hancock in his book Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind; and in the interview with Professor Michael Harner.
  • To recover a child-like sense of enchantment and mystery as opposed to the mundane mainstream world of advertising, credit and obsolescence.
  • To understand that the purpose of this life is to prepare for death, and that preparing to die is inseparable from preparing to live.
  • To maximise my physical, mental, emotional, and intellectual capacity and well being.
  • Taking Ayahuasca is a transgressive act that violates Australian laws (and probably most if not all western countries).

My visions were startling: terrifying and exhilarating. I’m convinced that they were not fantasy. They were real. Also, I learned much from my retreat colleagues. Not only their words but their entire beings. And, since returning home I have obsessively resumed my research in the supernatural, propaganda and diet.

My next task is a tattoo and that remains outstanding but for not much longer. I was engaged in a thoughtful process that produced this design in the Pali language (the language of Lord Buddha). The Brahmaviharas are a series of four Buddhist virtues and the meditation practices made to cultivate them.

My tattoo (destined for the inside of my left arm) is a compilation of the four immeasurables: metta (loving kindness) मेत्ता; karuna (compassion) करुणा; mudita (empathetic joy) मुदित; upekkha (equanimity) उपेक्खा.

मेत्ता करुणा मुदित उपेक्खा


From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: