Waiting for Timothy Leary
After I left Gangotri Baba I was lucky enough to find a small abandoned temple, not far from the old Eppworth Estate, just north of Almora, that an old friend, Donny M., had rented, and was awaiting Timothy Leary, the infamous professor from Harvard University who was encouraging America’s middle class youth to tune in, turn on, and drop out.
Leary had recently escaped from a federal prison in California with the aid of the Black Panthers, fled the United States, and was slowly making his way to India. Someone had contacted Donny, and asked him to rent Eppworth, where, I believe, Leary had camped out several years earlier and wrote the The Psychedelic Experience, based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Leary had fond memories of Almora, and wanted to return for some peace and a chance to reflect on things.
It was the maharaja of Kashmir, the spiritual Dr. Karan Singh, who originally invited Leary to India, offering the hospitality that went with Dr. Singh’s stature. He had been interested for many years in mind-altering substances, and corresponded with Aldous Huxley on the effects of mescaline. Turning down an invitation to visit India because of his poor health (he passed away shortly thereafter), Huxley suggested that he contact this young professor at Harvard, Dr. Leary, who could, perhaps, introduce him to mescaline or something else. The rest is history, or maybe mythology.