Eight years ago in New Zealand I was sentenced to three months' imprisonment for the most shameful and unloving acts of my life. The legal charge was Neglect of Child. Prior to being sentenced I was sent to a mental hospital for one month for observation and report. The conclusion was that I was normal and sane. Deep inside myself, however, there was a scar and a sickness which I did not understand. I believed in justice and freedom for all but in my own family had dismally failed.
The loyalty and love of my wife, together with the astonishing solidarity of good friends, helped me rebuild my life on release from prison. Somehow the sickness inside me remained but I managed t o stifle it and devote myself to the sort of social activities - participating in demonstrations for peace and social justice, contributing articles to papers and addressing meetings - which I believed would bring about a better world for all.
On reflection now I can see I was a sort of Steppenwolf, a lonely and desperate person notwithstanding ideals of a free and co-operative society where the basic dignity of every human being would be acknowledged.
My father was the local bank manager in a small country town. As a family we were warned to be very careful about who we associated with - it being made quite clear that there were many undesirable elements in society. His motto to people was to be "Civil but Strange", suggesting a certain diffidence and aloofness. It was considered, generally, very desirable when I was sent off, at the age of five, to an exclusive boarding and preparatory school and later to college. At home it was considered quite consistent with Christian principles - on which Irish society is supposed to be based to hire maids at a pound or so a week. The misery of their lives was what first prompted me to wonder about the justice of the society based on Christian principles. Sexually the whole society was so repressed that it scarred not only my life but that of the great majority, I believe from practical experience and observation, there, in Ireland at least. The infamous practice of slapping even babies' hands for playing with their sexual organs must have been widespread, and caused the perversion and stunted growth of many people.
I mention the details and ideas contained in the last paragraph because they must partly explain the development of a Steppenwolf. (The book of this title by Hermann Hesse is probably one of the most important books ever written - certainly in terms of understanding the human individual).
After New Zealand I migrated to Australia where I continued a life of involvement in movements for peace and justice. It was still a life from which I sensed something basic was lacking but I did not know what this something was I had rejected religion as being a mere part of the unfree society m which we live and as playing on the fears of man. But there are spiritual yearnings in man which cannot be denied.
People, for the most part considerably younger than myself, started coming to the meeting place I rented in Sydney who rejected the hard-drinking, violent way of life of most Australians. Instead of alcohol they smoked marijuana and hashish. It became astoundingly apparent to me by practical observation that Aldous Huxley was speaking nothing less than the truth in Doors of Perception when he contrasted the violence, vomiting and nauseating hangover of the alcohol party with the quiet, gentleness and meditativeness of the psychedelic scene.
About this time - some five years ago - I heard about L.S.D., discussed it with those who used it, read what material was available on t he subject, and, finally, had my first session on it. IT CHANGED MY LIFE
To believe in and have lofty ideals alone is not enough. Indeed they are not the most important things in life. L.S.D. - progressively its wiser use - cleansed me of the evil of the past. I began to learn that tenderness and kindness to others was the prerequisite to any useful social action. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that the highest principle - infinitely wiser and more satisfactory than all the political and religious ideologies - in life was that everybody wanted to love and be loved. Every social, personal and mental problem may be related to that principle and resolved. Love comprises understanding that every individual is sovereign, wonderful and truly flourishes only in freedom - freedom to think, say, read whatever he or she pleases; participating actively in all the decisions affecting his or her life at work and at home - and this understanding must be accompanied by the real practice of concern and tenderness to oneself and others.
L.S.D. properly used for what it is - a love machine, gives the individual the opportunity of appreciating his or her own splendour and beauty and, simultaneously, the splendour and beauty of others. In the vicious, warring, moralistic society we have all inherited, these characteristics are frequently obscured and stunted or frustrated. I have no doubt that much of my own upbringing, as indicated earlier, had closed my mind to my true potential resulting in the loneliness and desperation I have also referred to. I have no doubt that, in varying degrees, virtually everyone has suffered some frustration of development. Consequently because L.S.D opens doors in the mind to a full realisation of this situation and because very few people could come to this realisation any other way, I believe that L.S.D. is a wonderful invention and antidote to the cruelty and insensitivity of modern society with its wars, pollution and senseless rush for unnecessary products of a technology which threatens man's very existence. I believe L.S.D. is the most revolutionary weapon in the world. A weapon of peace and love.
Millions of people all over the world are not merely realising the potential of L.S.D. but are using it to assist themselves in founding a new civilisation, a civilisation which will eliminate the fearful loneliness of the bedsitting room and the emotional gaschamber nature of the family. The new civilisation, now springing up, will be founded on free and co-operative communes which are already being attempted by many thousands of people. Millions more await the opportunity to participate and gradually people of good will and humanity are realising the grim truth that a society based on the selfishness and exclusiveness of the family will not do.
Because it is this very selfishness and exclusiveness, accompanied by terrible sexual frustration and dishonesty to crown it, which is at the heart of our social ills. Aesthetically today's society is also grievously troubling those who are concerned with the destruction of natural beauty by pollution and callous building (involving the housing of great numbers in concrete jungles). Spiritually and emotionally there has been a major devaluation of personal values - the concept of meditation and quiet communion with nature has been seriously imperilled. The new civilisation is combining a humaneness and tenderness for one's fellow man with a deep respect for the individual and the realisation that everybody has an enormous capacity for developing his or her personality and character.
from speech to UK jury, 1973 approx.