Thursday, December 23, 2021

A Calculus of Kisses


Zeno of Elea (500 BC): Ancient Greek logician 




In a foot race

Achilles can never catch the tortoise

Let alone outrun him.

For Achilles gets half way in one slice of time

And half way more in slice number two

And half way again in slice number three

After an infinite number of slices

Achilles merely gets to where tortoise has been

Not to where he's at now.

Thus no matter how fast Achilles can hurtle

He can never outrun the much slower turtle.

So argued the famous Greek philosopher

Zeno of Elea.

Lat's you and I set a timer for sixty seconds.

In the first 30 seconds I'll kiss you just once

Kiss you twice in the following fifteen

Four kisses during next seven point five

Then in half that time, we'll squeeze in sixteen.

If one takes this game to its ultimate limit

We can fit infinite kisses into only one minute.

So following what Zeno's logic allows

We'll be tasting infinity using our mouths.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Which of Your Body Parts Needs More Amour?

Nick Herbert contemplates his 108 chakras

 Quantum Tantra represents an as yet unrealized new kind of physics that hopes to connect with Nature in a direct and more intimate way than merely "physicists making measurements". Quantum tantrikas seek a new way of knowing the "inanimate world" analogous to the mysterious way we presently experience our own bodies. Systematically experiencing our own bodies could be good practice for some day experiencing the physical world in a brand new (quantum) way.

To that end, Nick Herbert has been developing an original system of body chakras to aid in exploring this great corporal gift we've been given, both for its own sake and in preparation for a new (possibly quantum) way of enjoying our own body and the physical world.

This chakra project began when Nick was studying for his physics degree in the '60s while at the same time working at a psychic book shop (East-West Books) in Menlo Park, California. At that time so many new particles were being added to the physicist's worldview, Nick wondered why the number of bodily chakras had remained the same for centuries despite advances in meditation techniques and yes, the advent of new and more efficient psychedelic drugs.

Nick's immediate goal was to expand the number of classical chakras using two rules: 1. As in particle physics where each (fermionic) particle has an antiparticle, each chakra should possess an antichakra; 2. Each chakra should be represented by its own symbol (preferably some simple geometric form) with its "antichakra" represented by a black-white reversal of that form.

Progress in this program has been reported in three previous blog posts: Sixty-four Chakras, Eighty-four Chakras and Ninety-nine Chakras along with more background and justification for this unusual project. After working and playing with this notion for more than fifty years, Nick has finally decided on a total of 108 chakras -- 108 different places to situate your awareness and your willed action. 108 different playgrounds in which to exercise your imagination.

One Hundred and Eight Nick Chakras

 The lighter symbols are chakras, and the darker versions are antichakras. This convention is maintained for the first 72 chakras but is slightly modified for the rest of the group.

Seven classic Hindu Chakras plus one

The seven classic Hindu Chakras plus a "Ground chakra" added as antichakra to the classic Hindu "Crown chakra" makes Eight Hindu Chakras.

 Eight Spinal Chakras

The Eight Spinal Chakras: "Will" and "Auto" represent the voluntary and involuntary nervous systems as objects of conscious attention. Note the nice chakra and antichakra organization.

Eight Sensory Chakras

 The Eight Sensory Chakras. Note that the Lungs and the Bowels are highlighted as two important ways our bodies interact with the outside world.
Twenty-four Hand & Foot Chakras

Twenty-four Hand & Foot Chakras. Six chakras each: whole hand plus five fingers; whole foot plus five toes. Note that the antichakra of each hand is the corresponding foot chakra.

Twenty-four Arm and Leg Chakras

 Twenty-four Arm and Leg Chakras. Six chakras each: whole arm plus shoulder joint, upper arm, elbow, forearm and wrist; whole leg plus hip joint, thigh, knee, calf and ankle. Note that the leg parts are the anti-chakras of the corresponding arm parts.

Thirty-six Special Chakras

Thirty-six Special Chakras plus the foregoing Seventy-two chakras round out the total to one hundred and eight. The Special Chakras include the two Girdle Groups: Eight Pelvic Girdle chakras and Eight Shoulder Girdle chakras; the Eighteen Cranial chakras; the single Full-Body chakra plus the final No-Body chakra.
Sixteen Girdle Chakras
The Eight Pelvic Girdle chakras are antichakras to the Eight Shoulder Girdle chakras. Note that in this system, the sternum is homologous to the sacrum and the two clavicles are homologous to the two pubic bones.
Eighteen Cranial Chakras
Eighteen Cranial Chakras. In this special case, the chakra/anti-chakra convention does not apply. Here the light circles/ dark circles correspond to paired and unpaired anatomical forms. For instance there is only one inion and two temporal lobes. The former is symbolized by a dark circle; the latter by a light circle. The cranium itself is single (should be a dark circle) preserving the symmetry: six paired and six unpaired Cranial Chakras.

The final two chakras represent 1. The Whole-body Chakra, experiencing your entire body without breaking it into parts, and 2. Its antichakra the No-body Chakra symbolizing the contemplation of the entire physical universe with a small you-shaped piece cut out of it. 

Purely by accident these 108 Nick chakras correspond to the 108 beads in a traditional Indian japamala. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

You Might Want To Know What Tantra Means

 Many thanks to Prem Ashoka for videoing this at Baron's birthday party.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Amazed by the Muse

Erato, Muse of Poetry: Sir Edward Poynting (1836-1919)

 In science, music, art and even in ordinary conversation, where does inspiration come from? Often fresh ideas that well up in my mind both in dreams and in waking life seem so strange that it is easy to imagine that they come from somewhere outside myself. Thus the notion of a Muse is born, an actual disembodied entity, conventionally female, who favors the artist from time to time with hints and nudges of where to go next.

In the 1990s, I took part in an exciting public poetry movement in Boulder Creek, CA which was centered around the Boulder Creek Brewery, the Boulder Creek Bistro, and J.J. Webb's Poetry Grove a few miles north of town. As a frequent contributor to this poetic action, I was continually looking for inspiration and often appealed to my poetry Muse, in whatever realm She dwelt, for just one more original spark to light my lyre.

Since these poetry sessions were rather frequent, I practiced keeping my versical antennas open for Muse reception wherever I went. Which, in this particular case, happened to be a seaside gathering of the Holy Hemp Sisters.

In an era of severe marijuana prohibition, including daily military-style helicopter surveillance and the classic midnight "knock on the door" of families caught growing the forbidden flower, the Santa Cruz Holy Hemp Sisters responded with fun and good humor, their insignia being a strand of artificial hemp leaves worn in the hair, as a necklace or as a waistband. To get a sense of the HHS activities, here's a recent Facebook post by LB Johnson a prominent member of that Holy Sisterhood.
"Seems like another lifetime... The Holy Hemp Sisters, educating about the virtues of cannabis through outreach and events, 1990s. Special thanks and gratitude to Theodora Kerry for her tireless leadership, creativity and vision. Also to Sandra Pastorius for her wisdom words and tech skills at the time.

We put on some well attended creative events, Hemp Hop Heaven, and The Hallowed Weed (Oct 31), come to mind, along with many booths at festivals and street corners. One year we had a booth at the county fair and a fundamental Christian group labeled us witches and put out a flyer using the cauldron photo that we created for the Hallowed Weed event. Teehee... we got a kick outta that!
When Theodora and I were at the Jazz Heritage Festival in New Orleans, 1991, we got the news that the HH Sisters were mentioned in an article on the front page of the Wall St Journal. That was an awesome time, the good ol' days."

LB Johnson at the Seabright Beach Holy Hemp Sisters gathering

 Some time in the '90s I attended a Holy Hemp Sisters gathering on Seabright Beach just north of the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. As the festivities were taking shape I decided to break from the group and walk along the ocean towards the Yacht Harbor. I was barefoot and enjoying the sensation of cold water washing over my feet as I walked along the shore.

As I was enjoying my salt-water foot bath, I noticed a beautiful woman in a long flowered skirt walking towards me from the opposite direction, a woman whom I surmised had nothing to do with the Hemp celebration. Then just as this woman approached within a yard of me, a larger than usual wavelet swept across the sand. The woman instinctively raised her long skirt out of reach of the water, affording a quick glimpse of her lovely legs just above above the knees. As we passed each another going our separate ways, I smiled at this accidental little erotic gift at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

i had not waded more than a few yards past this raised hem line encounter when I noticed, scratched in the sand in two-inch-high block letters, the following message, just seconds before it was erased by the incoming tide: WILL YOU MARRY ME? it said. Then the next wave swept the message away. Perhaps, I reasoned (my mind inclined to think in mythological terms by the cannabis molecules I had previously inhaled) the first encounter had signaled the presence of my Muse; while the second encounter showed me Her message. (Thank you, Sophia!) Which message I was eventually able to expand into this:

Will you marry me? said the sea
Will you take my name?
Yes I will, I answered back
And to the sea I came.
Will you marry me? said the sea
Will you be my fiancée?
I've spread myself beneath the moon
In kelp and coral lingerie.
Will you marry my estuary?
Will you copulate with my slough?
Do you take my foamy white breakers?
I will, said I, and I do.
But would you dare to wed the sea?
We practice deep polygamy
So He, She, It would marry thee
And no one ever leaves the sea.
Will you marry me? said the sea
Will you share my deep salty life?
Would you be the sea's newest husband?
Would you be the ocean's next wife?
Will you marry me? said the sea.
Would you offer me your heart?
Why get married? my heart replied
I've belonged to the sea from the Start.
Nick, amazed by the Muse

Friday, July 2, 2021

Sex Manual

Nick Herbert, Quantum Tantric Philosopher

 As long as I've known him, my friend Alan Lundell has always carried a video camera on his person to record a kind of visual diary of the many events he originated or participated in from numerous Burning Mans, to lots of private parties, to lifting weights at the gym, to backstage celebrity scenes. So ubiquitous is Alan's camera that the word in philosophy circles became this: if a tree falls in the forest, and Alan doesn't video it, then that tree never fell.

One of the events that Alan happened to memorialize was the Boulder Creek Bistroscene where for ten or fifteen years, crazy poets came out of the woods to share their outpourings with one another and with an enthusiastic audience. Al managed to video a number of these gatherings and so convey on them a concrete reality they otherwise would never possess.

I recently ran across one of these Lundell-memorialized events on my computer while searching for something else. This one is myself reading a recipe for the best possible sex.

Thank you, Alan Lundell, for recording this historic event.

Here's how it goes:


Love is the best lubricant
Mind the best sex toy
Darkness the best light
Spirit the hottest erogenous zone

Smell is the best sex drug
Eye-play the warmest caress
Touch the best language
Taste the most intimate gesture

Silence the best music
Desire the best teacher
Yes, naked desire is the best teacher
And silence the best music

Taste the most intimate gesture
Touch the best language
Eye-play the warmest caress
Smell the best sex drug

Spirit the hottest erogenous zone
Darkness the best light
Mind is the best sex toy
Love is the best lubricant.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Nick Herbert: The Lex Files Interview

Lex Pelger, Summer 2017

Lex Pelger is a longtime explorer of forbidden medicine, outlawed sacraments and unconventional behavior, both as chronicler and participant. I first met Lex in 2017 at Bruce Damer's Digibarn in Boulder Creek where he was researching a section of Damer's Timothy Leary archives. Recently he's created his own Lex Files, a series of audio (and now video) interviews with persons working at the edge that have attracted his interest. Lex began this project in January 2020 and has since produced nearly 50 high quality interviews with a variety of individuals which include Britta Love on Sex as a Psychedelic (#11), Erik Davis on UFOs as Spiritual Objects (#16), Mike Crowley on The Psychedelic Roots of Buddhism (#30), Jeffrey Kripal on Mysticism, the Supernormal and Books from the Future (#34), Harald Atmanspacker on The Mind/Matter Problem (#48) and, most recently, Nick Herbert on The Poetry of Quantum Reality (#49).

The Lex Files: Season Finale: The Poetry of Quantum Reality with Dr. Nick Herbert 

Dr. Nick Herbert is one of the original bad boys of quantum physics. He's written one of the most readable textbooks on quantum reality and is featured as a countercultural hero in David Kaiser's book: How the Hippies Saved Physics. Today he explains quantum reality, quantum tantra, and his pursuit of the riddles of consciousness. He also performs his quantum poetry and explains some of the history behind Kaiser's book. It's a grand talk with a marvelous old wizard -- and the ideal way to end our second season.
Nick Herbert, seeking inspiration

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Color Lines

Fractal-prism Bubbles by Tammy Wetzel

If you can choose your gender 
Why can't I choose my race?
When asked about ethnicity
I''m everywhere in color space.
I'm just as red as any Russian
And sometimes, Miles, I'm kinda blue
My grandsire killed in Ohio coal mine
I'm just as anthracite as you.
My ancestor's the famous Green Man
Striding through some Irish bog
My uncle's the Jolly Green Giant
I'm cousin to Kermit the Frog.
No color is to me unbeautiful
I'm your rainbow troubadour
Call me Homo spectral  
Hear me roar!

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Forty Memorable Fucks

Nick in his new bath pavilion


Actually some of My Forty Fucks are not sexual at all but what they have in common is a strong and  instructive connection with The Mysterious Other -- in this particular list I define The Other to be a member of the opposite sex.

Sometimes on various mind-altering drugs. Sometimes completely straight.

Just for fun a while ago I made a list of (for me) Forty Memorable Fucks. Since then I have added more items, both through subsequent happenings plus reminiscences of ones I'd long forgotten.
It's more than forty now.

Are you the least bit interested in exploring what sexually astonishes you? I encourage you to put together your own list of memorable fucks. Since I was somewhat shy and ignorant in those days, your list will probably be much much longer than mine.

Here's one simple example of a (non-sexual) incident from my list. It may not mean that much to you but it seemed at the time profoundly important and insightful to me.

Your fuck memorable mileage may vary of course.

South of Esalen Institute in Big Sur a public campground is located near the beach at Lime Kiln Creek. There's also a restricted access private campground that extends into the hills and encompasses the actual lime kilns for paying customers only and (in our case) we were friends with the manager of the camp.

My future wife Betsy Rasumny and I car-camped at the private Lime Kiln park, spending a few days there, and decided to explore the premises on LSD. We wandered up to the famous lime kilns and viewed them in their ritualistic splendor.

Betsy was a dancer trained both in ballet and dance improv in New York City and at the late Ann Halprin's Dancer's Workshop in San Francisco. So I was surprised when we crossed Lime Kiln Creek barefoot (and probably naked as well) that she was stumbling over the smooth rocks that lay beneath the surface of the stream, while I (totally untrained in dance) had no problem in skillfully traversing this little Big Sur rivulet.

"Hey Betsy," I shouted. "I thought you were a dancer. What happened to your gracefulness?"

Betsy looked me straight in the eye and replied: "Nick dear, dance is not only about grace."

And in that moment I wordlessly realized that she with her seemingly clumsy movements was moving fully in the imperfect moment while I, who am accustomed to seeing life more as a problem to be solved rather than a miracle to be savored, was experiencing what was happening from a totally different perspective.

It's not that her way was better than mine. But her answer raised a question in my mind that persists to this day.

Betsy was expert in living in the present; Nick's monkey mind is usually somewhere else entirely .

Is being clumsily fully present better than being gracefully fully in charge?

In Esalen co-founder Mike Murphy's terms, what is the way to more deeply employ and enjoy  "this life we are given?"

And could your own Five or Five Hundred Memorable Fucks become useful clues for learning to live more fully this strange miracle of waking each morning inside a needy animal body?

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Five Views of Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu, the "Old Master"


In the late 60s I discovered the Tao Te Ching, a 2500-year-old Chinese text attributed to Lao Tzu, the "Old Master", which forms the basis of Taoist philosophy and is one of the world's most translated books. Over the years I've collected about a dozen versions of this Chinese classic and would like to share five of my favorites here.

"Tao Te Ching" literally means "Way Virtue Book"or "Book of the Virtue of The Way" and its 81 concise chapters concern themselves with eliciting the nature of The Way (Tao) and how and why one might best follow that Way. Tao might also be construed to mean "Nature", both physical nature and especially human nature. The Tao Te Ching tries to capture the unspeakable elusiveness, ambiguity and power of human and physical nature, The Chinese character "Tao" is also  the "-do" in Aikido, Tai Kwan Do and similar oriental martial arts. Spontaneous dance, jazz improv, surfing: each a splendid embodiment of the Tao. Especially surfing.

The popular philosopher Alan Watts never attempted a translation of this ancient Chinese text. But Watts did write a book on Taoism naming it "The Watercourse Way."

Bushido (Japanese): the way of the warrior.

In keeping with the quirky nature of this sacred Chinese text, the Tao Te Ching begins with a pun. The Chinese character "Tao" can mean both "the Way" and "to speak". So the first line of the watercourse way can be rendered "The tao that can be taoed is not the tao." From then on it just gets deeper.

Here I'm posting five different versions of Lao Tzu's first short chapter by five very different translators (including myself).

First up is Ursula Le Guin, a prolific author of science fiction and fantasy, whose NAFAL (Nearly-As-Fast-As-Light) starships and her instant ansible communicator entered the sci-fi canon and has been adopted by other writers. Le Guin's stories, however, are not primarily about hardware but about people, and about cultures depicted in empathetic and imaginative prose. Of the five translators, Le Guin, because of her sympathetic treatment of so many of her fictional people,  seems best positioned to express the human nature of the Watercourse Way.


The way you can go
isn't the real way.
The name you can say
Isn't the real name.

Heaven and earth
begin in the unnamed:
name's the mother
of the ten thousand things.

So the unwanting soul
sees what's hidden
and the ever-wanting soul
sees only what it wants.

Two things: one origin
but different in name,
whose identity is mystery.
Mystery of all mysteries!
The door to the hidden.

US postage stamp honoring Ursula Le Guin

When I was working at Memorex in Silicon Valley, on my long drive home to Boulder Creek, I would sometimes stop for hot tub, tea and conversation at Stillpoint, a mountain top retreat center presided over by Gia-fu Feng, who taught Tai Chi and kept the books on his abacus in the early days of Esalen Institute. Gia-fu christened my son Khola at Stillpoint and gave him a Chinese middle name "Shou" which means 'long life". Gia-fu and his wife, physicist/photographer Jane English put together one of the most physically beautiful versions of the Tao Te Ching illustrated with Jane's evocative black-and-white photographs and Gia-fu's hand-drawn calligraphy. Of all five translators (including me) Gia-fu is the only one that spoke Chinese.

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name:
     this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.

Gia-fu Feng at Stillpoint

 Next up is former Harvard professor and LSD advocate Timothy Leary. I interacted many times with Leary (never got stoned with him) in several different contexts. Leary holds the unusual distinction of being arrested and imprisoned for carrying (a tiny bit of) marijuana INTO MEXICO. Even after drugs Leary was an instinctive academic and wrote lots and lots of books about his experiences with these then-outlawed mind-altering substances. Leary's version of the Chinese classic, Psychedelic Prayers, imagines that the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching describe the perfect acid trip.

That Which is Called The Tao

Is Not The Tao


The flow of energy .  .  .  .  .  .

Here  .  .  .  .  
              It  .  .  .  .  .  .
              Is  .  .  .  .  .  .

Nameless  .  .  .  .  .
Timeless  .  .  .  .  .
Speed of light  .  .  .  .  .

Float  .  .  .  .  .  .  beyond fear  .  .  .  .  .
Float  .  .  .  .  .  .  beyond desire  .  .  .  .

Into  .  .  .  .  .  this Mystery of Mysteries
through this Gate  .  .  .  .  .  of All Wonder 

Dr. Timothy Leary, PhD

My first literary introduction to the Pathless Tao was via The Way of Life by Witter Bynner. Bynner was a Harvard graduate, a scholar and writer who divided his time between Sante Fe, NM and Chapala in Mexico. Bynner was a close friend of D. H. Lawrence with whom he explored Mexico and gathered experiences that inspired Lawrence's novel The Plumed Serpent. Bynner's version of the Tao appears a bit dated compared to Ursula Le Guin's splendid modern rendition, but I first fell under the spell of the Tao through his particular words. And first loves are often our most memorable.

Existence is beyond the power of words
To define:
Terms may be used
But are none of them absolute.
In the beginning of heaven and earth there were no words.
Words came out of the womb of matter;
And whether a man dispassionately
Sees to the core of life
Or passionately
Sees the surface,
The core and the surface
Are essentially the same,
Words making them seem different
Only to express appearance.
If name be needed, wonder names them both:
From wonder into wonder
Existence opens.

Witter Bynner by Rockwell Kent

My own version of the Tao Te Ching is inspired by the crazy paradoxes of quantum theory. Here we have a perfect mathematical representation of the world. But not even the smartest physicist can explain to his kids "what Nature is actually doing" at the sub-atomic level. Nor can we really justify how this unvisualizable quantum reality turns into the ordinary reality we experience every day. I hoped eventually to devise a physics version of all 81 chapters of the Chinese classic, but only managed to compose the very first. To follow the tradition of beginning with a pun, I use the term "quantum state" as a physicist's customary way of representing the invisible quantum world. None of us really know what sort of "reality" corresponds to a quantum state, but a good deal of modern technology (this computer for instance) directly grew out of our increasing ability to manipulate these mysterious mathematical objects.


The state you can state is not things-as-they-are
Language, like highway, goes only so far
Unnamed is the Source from which everything springs
Naming gives rise to the "Ten Thousand Things"
Unlooked at: She exceeds what can possibly be
What you get when you look? No more than you see
Yet the world She is One whether looked at or not
Nature's own nature's not something that's taught
But reach out to feel Her invisible flesh
Hear, see and smell: everything fresh!


Nick Herbert composed this post




Friday, May 7, 2021

De Gustibus #2


Tastes like copper pennies
Tastes like the Seven Seas
Tastes like egg white
Tastes like Mephistopheles.
Tastes like a bit of bleach
Tastes like Bolinas Beach.

Tastes like zinc
Tastes like something peachy
Tastes like deep-sea bladder kelp
Tastes like Frederick Nietzsche.
Tastes like Big Sur hot spring
Tastes like a living thing.

Tastes like a gush of wisdom
Tastes like something French
Tastes like mozzarella
Tastes like the Übermensch.
Tastes like cream of tartar
Tastes like holy water.

Tastes like pulque
Tastes like a Valentine
Tastes like marijuana butter
Tastes like the Gegenschein.
Tastes like folded silk
Tastes like malted milk.

Tastes like Holy Communion
Tastes like water mixed with rum
Tastes like goat’s milk
Tastes like Götterdämmerung.
Tastes like a gush of grace
Tastes like outer space.

Tastes like soy sauce
Tastes like the Wild West
Tastes like tapioca
Tastes like Oktoberfest.
Tastes like the night sky
Tastes like the right guy.