Meher Baba in 1945 (public domain photo)
This week's essay originally was published in Gnostica magazine in 1977. After Mike Gathers sent me the hard copy of the piece, I ran it as a blog post on April 13, 2011.
I am always a bit nervous in discussions about the occult and magick, as those are topics I would not claim to know much about.
However, the essay fits with what Chad says is a theme connecting the pieces in the book, that of Wilson's concept of model agnosticism. When I interviewed Chad about the book when it first came out, he remarked that he originally envisioned the book as a political book, and assembled 20 Wilson essays touching on politics. But then, "we shelved several of the more overtly political tracts and focused exclusively on Wilson's writings on model agnosticism. The project really became fun when we made that pivot explicit. Wilson scholars know how much model agnosticism underlies his worldview, so the idea that there would be a newly published book of essays and interviews spanning five decades where we get to see him riff on that theme very directly, over and over again, in a variety of different ways, was one of the coolest moments for me."
Wilson writes, in the essay we are talking about this week, "The Biggest Lie in the World is the idea that there is one 'true' reality. That is the lie that keeps the conditioned citizen trapped in the one static reality imprinted by parents and schools in childhood."
A couple of notes:
When I posted this piece back in 2011, Eric Wagner remarked, "Great stuff. I find it interesting how Bob uses Beethoven as a touchstone." And indeed, this piece is yet another of the many RAW pieces that mention Beethoven. Not only that, but there is yet another mention of the Ninth Symphony.
The end of the essay quotes Meher Baba, an Indian religious figure who died in 1969. I know pretty much nothing about Baba, but I recognized the name because Peter Townsend of The Who was a follower of Meher Baba back in the day and would mention Baba in interviews.
The Wikipedia bio of Baba has this bit: "In the mid-1960s Baba became concerned with the drug culture in the West and began correspondences with several Western academics, including Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, in which he discouraged the use of hallucinogenic drugs for spiritual purposes. In 1966 Baba's responses to questions on drugs were published in a pamphlet titled God in a Pill? Meher Baba stated that drug use was spiritually damaging and that if enlightenment were possible through drugs then 'God is not worthy of being God'. Meher Baba instructed his young Western disciples to spread this message; in doing so, they increased awareness of Meher Baba's teachings. In an interview with Frederick Chapman, a Harvard graduate and Fulbright scholar who met Baba during a year of study in India, Baba described LSD as 'harmful physically, mentally, and spiritually" and warned that "[its continued use] leads to madness or death'."