It had been over a year since my first trip. Nearly six months since Lothar and I took mushrooms by the lake. I’d been devouring every book I could find about the meaning of life, the secrets of the universe, and esoteric religious philosophy. Now, I was ready to start pursuing my enlightenment in the real world. I had just finished “God’s Plan”, the seminal book by SS. I got on Wikipedia to look up Swami Sami and found nothing. I called Lothar and he told me that SS doesn’t like to leave a trail. However, he knew the writer who had convinced SS to put God’s Plan on paper and publish it, Dale Finkleberg. Dale was the last known person to have interacted with Swami Sami. I had to talk to him.
The next day I phoned Dale.
“Yellow, this is Dale.”
“Hello Dale, this is Pondathon Lakeoff. My friend Dr. Lothar Joseph passed along your information. I’ve been going through something of a spiritual awakening of late. I just finished reading your book “God’s Plan”.
Quickly cutting me off,
“I only wrote that. I didn’t come up with any of it.”
“Right, right that’s actually why I called. From my research, you were the last person to speak to Swami Sami. I’m curious to hear what he was like.”
“What do you mean was?”
“He’s still alive?!”
“I assume so. I haven’t heard anything from that way in years. When we wrote the book he was only 28.”
“My God,” I thought, “I could really meet him! He will know where to look next.” I asked Dale how I could reach Swami.
“Why do you want to?”
“After a wonderful terrestrial life, I started looking for more. I wanted to find meaning in this crazy mixed-up world. I started experimenting with psychedelics. They sure opened up the door. But I want to go through the Doors of Perception and stay on the other side. Like Ken Kesey. God’s Plan by Swami Sami is the most enlightening thing I’ve ever read. I want to hear it from his mouth.”
“It’s not going to be easy. Sami lives pretty deep in the jungle on Maui.” Dale used Sami’s name without his title for the first time. I could hear the reverence in his voice. He must have really connected with SS to feel comfortable referring to him as just Sami.
“Go to Haiku and ask around for Heather. She’ll know what to do.”
As soon as I got off the phone, I booked a one-way flight to Maui. I’d never been so anxious to travel in my life. I studied the map of Haiku to find restaurants, bars, and coffee shops to ask around for Heather at. The week flew by in a flurry of study to prepare for meeting Swami Sami, reaching out to people I knew in Maui, and packing everything I could think that I would need to trek into the jungle. Maui isn’t that big. How hard could this be?
I landed at Kahului Airport imbued with a holy mission. Swami Sami is one of the most revered men of our age. I was on a path to meet him, to learn from his wellspring of knowledge. I rented a car and set out to find Heather. After asking at the grocery store and two coffee shops I was starting to get discouraged. Then a tall, beautiful blond woman in her late 30s tapped me on the shoulder.
“I heard you were looking for me?”
“Heather? Dale Finkleberg sent me. He said you might know where to find Swami Sami.”
“Oh, Dale. One of these days he will learn. Swami Sami doesn’t talk to anyone.”
“You know him?! Where does he live?”
“What’s your name?”
“Pondathan Lakeoff. Former #1 Pond and Lake salesman. Current Spiritual seeker.”
“Well Pondy, you’re not going to be able to meet The Swami just because you are a spiritual seeker.”
“What do I need to do to catch his attention?”
“Mr. Lakeoff was it?”
“You need to understand something. Swami Sami isn’t like us. He might not even be human.”
“Can you tell me about him?”
“I don’t have time right now. I need to head to the farmers market before all of the good fish is gone.”
“Can we go to dinner this week? I have a lot of questions.”
“Fine, Mr. Lakeoff. Come over to my house on Wednesday at 5. We can talk more then.”
I couldn’t believe my luck. The first day I was here, Heather walked up to me on the street. Maybe this wouldn’t be so hard after all.”
The days flew by. I surfed and explored the beaches. Maui is a magical place.
I prepared myself to head to Heather by…. I arrived at the address Heather gave me and was greeted by a tall hedge with a gate that was wide open. House doesn’t close to do justice to where Heather lived. It was a multi-acre compound. with an orchard of fruit trees and cannabis. As I drove through the orchard, massive stone statues of Budda peek out from the trees. The trees gave way to a green field with a low slung mansion planted in the middle. A pool around back with massive palm trees and bamboo peeked out from behind the house. I parked in the circular driveway with a massive boulder in the middle. The center of the boulder had been carved out into a dancing Shiva.
As I walked up to the door I realized it was open. I knocked as I walked in and was greeted by a beautifully decorated house. A mishmash of spirituality adorned every surface. Statues of gods, crystals, and Yantras were artfully arranged all over the house. Floor-to-ceiling windows showed off the pool and the view over the tree out to the ocean. This was the right place to look for enlightenment.
At just that minute Heather floated into the room clad in a white floral jumpsuit. She looked equally ready to raise a barn or spend the day admiring clouds on acid. I was so transfixed by the house that I almost didn’t notice her entry.
“What do you think?”
We ate out by the pool. A circular wooden table sat below palm trees. Heather whistled loudly. An orangutan walked out of the house wearing the top half of a tuxedo. He was carrying a tray with two glasses and a bottle of cava. He walked over and filled the glasses and offered them to us. Heather was so clearly used to her domesticated orangutan that she gave me a puzzled look while I stared in shock. She held her glass to cheers.
“To the journey towards enlightenment.”
The meal flew by in a buzz of conversation, delicious island-inspired cuisine, and libations all provided by Gorlock the orangutan. I learned that Heather won him in a bet but she wouldn’t say what. She was raised in Oregon. Moved to Hawaii 20 years ago because why not move to Hawaii. We didn’t talk much about Swami Sami. Every time I tried to broach the topic she would trail off and look out to the ocean. The longer we sat and ate the drunker I became. I hadn’t had a sip of alcohol since I arrived on the island and I was feeling the buzz.
“Why don’t you just stay here tonight?”
I was happy to oblige. After a whirlwind of an evening dining al fresco via orangutan I was eager to sleep. I figured I’d be able to get more information over breakfast.
I wobbled back into the house strangely exhausted by the meal. I felt myself guided into the east wing of the house. Into a well-appointed, if a bit strange room with an en-suite bathroom. The room had a similar esoteric design to the rest of the house though it was somehow less believable in its decoration. I brushed my teeth with the new toothbrush that was out for me. I felt no closer to finding my next step. I was sure I was in the right place though.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — Chapter 2 — — — — — — — — — — — — —
A few weeks had passed uneventfully. I had gone, full native. I hadn’t worn shoes or shaved since I moved in. My tan was even and dark. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror after week two, I looked halfway to emaciated. Moving crates of fruit and trimming cannabis plants was hard work. I was loving every minute of it.
The feeling of freedom that works on a self-sustaining farm gives you is ineffable. You’re not free, you have a mountain of tasks every day when you wake up. But they don’t seem so bad. You get to be outside. Among nature. What an idyllic life Heather and the few other workers on her farm lived.
There was David, Sarah, Sun, Mohammed, and Gorlock. A motley crew from around the world. I melded into the group immediately. By day two they were calling me Pondy and PL just like my friends back home. Planting and clearing fields. Climbing palm trees to knock coconuts down. Trimming and preparing bud. Pretending to fix a car. Cleaning the property. Organizing shed after shed. The compound ran like a well-oiled but thoroughly stoned machine.
Mohammed was a master grower. He was in charge of all the plants. He claimed to love them all equally but we all knew that the weed was his favorite. I’ve never met anyone in my life that smoked more pot than Mohammed. Blunt after blunt under the Hawaiian sun. He’d always be shooting out irrelevant profundities.
“Fruit falls when it’s ready.”
“Smoking what you sow makes your heart grow”
“The Sun rises when the Moon falls”
Things like that.
Mohammed was the only one to spill additional info on Swami Sami. He was pulling a cannabis bush out of a pot to plant it in the ground. When he pulled the root ball out all of the dirt clung to the bone-white roots. “As above, so below” Mohammed chucked to himself. I turned to him in slight shock. Of course, Mohammed knew the Kybalion. Why was I so surprised?
“You’ve read the Kybalion?” I asked quickly
“As above, so below? You just said that. It’s a Hermetic principle.”
“Look all I know is Sami is always sayin stuff like that when he rolls through.”
“You’ve met Sami?!”
“Do you know where he lives?”
Mohammed just laughed and went back to planting his pot plant. I tried to press him farther but his mind baked by the sun and the weed was on to other things.
David was a retired banker. He made his nut and left the big city for a simpler life. He was in his mid-forties and quiet. He liked to work in the dirt. David never showered. He’d go in the ocean every few days and call himself clean. I never quite broke through to him, in the same way, I did the others. None of us did. He seemed like he was just happier than a clam to be out of the demanding world he had created for himself earlier in life. He was allergic to money and rarely left the compound. Nice guy though. He was always ready to take your burden or finish a chore.
Sarah was breathtakingly beautiful. Dark hair and naturally pale skin that was trying its hardest to resist the Hawaiin sun. She had also gone, full native. She never wore clothes. Literally never. Her full bush and hairy armpits were out for the world to see. She mostly tended to the fruit trees and the vegetable garden. Kneeling over kale plants whispering them stories to try and get them to grow bigger and stronger. Her huge breasts bouncing along with her as she went from tree to tree feeling the fruit to see if they were ready to pick. I was initially repulsed by her unkempt appearance. In my mind, she was spitting in the face of the gift of her natural beauty. Over time I got used to it and was eventually endeared by the fact that she was so thoroughly free. I always avoided going into town with her. The stares from the tourists were just too much for me to handle.
Sun was a tiny Korean woman. Just past the age when Asian women start to shrink. She was barely 5 feet tall. She must have been in her 60s but no one ever really talked about age on Heather’s compound. Time seemed to speed up and stand still. Sun was the chef for all of us. Cooking what we grew and leading the trips to Costco in Kahului. Sun loved to talk about her childhood. She told endless stories of her friends and how they used to roam around the forests looking for edible mushrooms. Then one day they accidentally found and ate what turned out to psilocybe cubensis. She and her friends were never the same. She determined from that day that she would in her words “Break out”. I asked her one day what she meant by that.
“Haven’t I?” is all she responded. I suspected she was from North Korea but I was never quite able to prove it.
Gorlock was one fascinating creature. No one worked harder than Gorlock, in his own way. You could never get him to do anything new. He had his tasks. His domain. And he ruled over it. He served every meal. Cleaned every dish. Gorlock ruled over the kitchen cabinets. Doling out knives and tongs, then carefully washing and rearranging them. We had a fridge outside of the kitchen that the snacks and leftovers were kept in. It was outside of Gorlock’s territory. When he wasn’t in the kitchen he was carefully examining the crates of fruit we had assembled. Gorlock picked out the prettiest, ripest, juiciest pieces of produce from the piles. He’d bring them inside and carefully arrange them into intricate stacks. He was the most evolved chimp I’d ever come across. He knew his world and didn’t stray too far. He had not drank of the tree of knowledge. Sometimes he’d come to get high with us. We’d pass him a joint and he’d hold it between his giant limps and puff away. He’d purr and sigh then lay down and giggle to our conversation or sway to the music.
One night we were all sitting around the fire passing a joint and shooting the breeze. I realized I hadn’t checked what day it was for longer than I could remember. I knew I got to Hawaii on December 13th.
“Hey guys, does anyone know what day it is?”
“March 2nd. I only know because it’s my brother’s birthday.” — replied David.
The weight of the world hit me. I’d been in Hawaii for more than 3 months!
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — Chapter 3— — — — — — — — — — — — —
79 days and what did I have to show for it? I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like I was trapped. I hadn’t made any progress since meeting Heather, it was starting to seem like she was a dead end. Leading me around and around in circles with task after task, inviting me to stay indefinitely on her compound, working for her with other escapees from the world. I think she just liked having us around. In another life, I’d love to install a beautiful reflecting pond on her property. But that life is behind me, it’s not why I came all the way to Maui. I needed a drastic change. I knew that Swami Sami was in the jungle and relatively nearby. That’s about as much as I’d gathered.
I woke up right after sunrise on March 3rd ready to bring my scheme into reality. I was going to just head into the jungle and hope for the best. In God I trust. His infinite wisdom and power will guide me. I packed a backpack with water, food for three days, and a headlamp. I brought a bit of weed too just for good measure. Slipping out the front door without a sound, I set off through the hedge on the backside of the property for the jungle.
Sticks and stones crunched under my feet as I started to move through the trees. “Wow, I should have brought a machete,” I thought to myself as if I’d know how to use that. Through mud and rocks, tall grass, and trees I trekked for miles. Aimlessly searching with purpose for the man who was supposed to be the most enlightened Swami on the planet. Thrashing and running through the jungle now. Batting branches away from my face seconds before they hit me. Running from an unknown threat. Deeper and deeper into the jungle. Panting, I reached a clearing encircled by waist-high grass and palm trees mixed with bamboo. Normally I’d be afraid of tall grass, but Maui doesn’t have snakes. I confidently walked into the field. Basking in the glory of the late morning sun. I thought I felt a holy energy. Was I just imagining it?
Swami Sami has been here before.
I let the glory of my feelings wash over me. Strangely, I felt like I was heading in the right direction. Now seemed like as good a time as ever to stop for a snack. I packed light on most things. I sipped some water and ate half of a protein bar. I had a long day ahead of me and it wasn’t even noon.
Maui is not a huge place. There are jungles but they are not infinite like the Amazon.
After a 30 minute break, a snack, and a quick mediation. I decided it was time to head out again. I entered on the north side of the clearing so I decided to keep going south. I walked across the full length of the clearing. I felt the sun beat down on my neck. I couldn’t quite explain it but I knew I was heading in the right direction.
Back in the thick of it, I batted palm fronds and tree branches out of my way as my pants got stuck on sticks and twigs on the ground. Further into the jungle. Away from Heather’s. What wonderful hospitality she had shown me, I hope she’s not offended. I left without saying anything. What about the others? I wonder if they will even notice I am gone. Leaving suddenly wasn’t an enlightened thing to do. If I was truly civilized I would have waited and thanked everyone over an early breakfast and then headed out.
As the thought crossed my mind I was distracted by the sounds of the road, two cars had just gone by. Maui’s a small island. I mindlessly headed towards the noise. Branches and brush. Tall sharp grass and flowers with thorns. I pushed through the thickness of the jungle to eventually get to a road. I looked around and realized that I couldn’t have been more than 2 miles from Heather’s place at this point.
A black truck was heading towards me. Not a huge four by four. A small well loved two door black truck. The driver started to slow down. He was going to talk to me.
“You lost son?”
“No, I’m alright”
“You look like hell”
I hadn’t thought much about how I looked since I got the Heathers. She only had one mirror in the whole house. It was for special occasions. On top of months of hair growth, I had been running through the jungle for hours. I probably had twigs in my hair and beard.
I chuckled, then shrugged my shoulders while reaching into my hair to explore and extract. “I’ve had a productive morning.”
“Do you want a lift into town?”
“No, not really, thank you”
“Where ya headed?”
“It’s hard to explain.” I was starting to get nervous. I knew I didn’t present well and I didn’t want to attract unnecessary attention. “Have a good day.”
I turned to walk away back into the jungle. No consideration for just how absurd I must have looked.
“Hang on! I know where you’re going.”
I stopped in my tracks. Shocked to my core that he had seen me so transparently. A moment earlier I was beyond comprehension. Now I was obvious.
“Boy, it’s been a while. I was wondering if anyone else was coming”
Dumbfounded. Frozen in the ground. I couldn’t speak. “Anyone else?” I barely squeaked out.
“There have been a few. You read Dale’s book?”
“Yea…” I couldn’t believe it. I’d gone aimlessly searching for him and he’d showed up. Swami Sami in the flesh. In a straw cowboy hat, salt and pepper pony tall and well-kempt beard. An old tank top hung effortlessly off his tanned physique. Worn jeans and the most practical yet stylish pair of boots.
“Nobody calls me that. I’m Sam.”
I picked up my backpack and got into the truck.
“Sam, I’m glad I found you. I have some questions”
Sam’s head knocked back with laughter. He put the car into gear and started driving. “I’ll bet you do”
- Pondathan Lakeoff