Chatting with Rick about life, the universe, and everything

Prof Deepak Sarma chats with Rick!


**We are so excited to share this interaction! Please enjoy this personal letter that Deepak wrote to Rick after chatting with him, then enjoy viewing their conversation by following the link below the letter!**

My Dear Rick:

            Namaste and greetings my friend. I hope that you are well and happy (and have been able to watch cartoons!). It has been quite some time since we chatted, both on zoom and in-person when you so kindly invited me backstage at the Midland Theater in Kansas City on October 11. In this connection, I offer to you this edited version of our zoom chat, which occurred on Oct 5th of 2022. I also present this letter to you –to frame things, to reminisce about our journey, and to suggest an appropriate set and setting for watching the recorded chat.

But first, please forgive me for the nonprofessional nature of the video. I am, unquestionably, a professor of religious studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio and certainly not a skilled and credentialed editor or film maker. Despite this, our in-depth conversation addressed many of the questions raised in RLGN 230, “Drugs, Religion, and Mystical Experience,” the class that I am teaching this semester. I showed the video to my wonderful students last week and they benefitted tremendously from your reflections on creativity and on the mystical, and the relationships of these two with psychedelics. Heated debates ensued regarding the authenticity of substance induced mystical experiences, as well as the emergence of creativity itself. You had an impact on my students, who were, like me, appreciative to have learned from someone as creative as you. It is indeed rare that one is privy to the reflections and contemplations of a talented artist, and my students and I are grateful to you for this.

I was especially taken by your thoughts about the spaces and places that you inhabit, visit, and otherwise explore when you are in the middle of improvisation. I am also one who closes my eyes when I listen to a jam, and I was pleasantly surprised to see (on the rare occasion that I opened my eyes) that you too had yours closed. I wondered where you were and if you were taking us to That Same Place. But is/was the destination the same for all of us who go everywhere, who feel everything and who rise to the highest depth?  Is there, then, a common core for mystical experiences? Is that endless sea outside of language, ineffable, for you too? And can one achieve/ reach/ inhabit these spaces using psychedelics? Is there a substance that acts like a key to the chain that holds back our minds? So many questions…so many conversations we all must have…and will continue to have…

Our conversation about these ideas, visualizations, conceptualizations, constructions, and possibilities was another kind of jam and style of improvisation. Letting the play of our words and ideas channel and steer the directions of our creativity and conversation is comparable to the sorts of musical conversations that you have with dear Peter, Ben, Jeff and shaded Trevor. The musical dialogues that you have with your bandmates, and our verbal dialogues have opened my heart and given me a glimpse of the Mind at Large, of the Ālayavijñāana (storehouse consciousness), of the astral plane, of the many and the temporary and revealed universes that we inhabit.  Thank you, friend Rick, for this transformative and wonder-filled exchange –in our zoom chat, in Kansas City, and every time I listen to Haṃsa-dhvanis (the dhvanis (songs) of the Haṃsa (Goose).

If our exchange provokes reflection on consciousness, on the doors opened by psychedelics, on the nature of creativity, and if it creates movement, then it will serve one purpose. If it opens the hearts and minds, then it will serve an even greater intention.

I agree that abstract language is even more conducive to experiences of the ineffable. To this end, I shall leave you with a Coach mantra that seems to have been as powerful as it was fruitful, and that propelled Goose on at least two occasions to reaching the astral plane. It is a simple yet profound mantra, perhaps even a koan, with only three components that should be chanted with exuberance and love, and intention, and preferably in a gathering of friends. I use it frequently and often before listening to a show, and especially before I listen to the much loved 2022/01/30 Regency Ballroom Elmeg that invariably leaves me speechless…

“Goose baby Goose!”

With love and affection,

Dr. Deepak Sarma

Professor of Religious Studies - Case Western Reserve University

Professor of Bioethics (secondary appointment) - School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University 
Cultural Consultant for Netflix
Cultural Consultant for Moonbug
Cultural Consultant for American Greetings
Lilly Scholars Advisory Board - Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Curatorial Consultant, Department of Asian Art - Cleveland Museum of Art

 Enjoy the chat by clicking below!

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