Photo: Roger Mahaffey
The following comment was added to my interview
with Roger Mahaffey on YouTube:
Roger was 24. We have lost a good young man loved
by his friends and family, and one destined to grow as a shining
light has been lost to his generation.
Please visit Roger’s Facebook page where there are
many comments and photos:
Interview published on Jan 31, 2013
23 years old and lives in Columbus, Ohio. He works at an
insurance company in technical support. We talk about thoughts,
silence, experience, presence, peace, impermanance, darkness,
surrender, how life flows, addiction, action, “no me.” And we
talk about the doorways to Roger’s understandings: LSD,
psilocybin, talks with his grandfather, Buddhism, Mooji.
Tracks with quotations by
1:28 – 3:07 Nonduality scene in Ohio. Gar Drolma
“What makes someone feel
that extreme peace and joy that he seems to radiate. Where
does that come from? That’s been my biggest thing: where to
find peace. Some people you’re around seem to have that and
others don’t. That’s been my quest, to find that lasting
3:07 – 6:08 Challenge of finding peace. Silences.
More Buddhism. Writing. Some rambling.
6:08 – 9:34 Watching thoughts. What is noticed
when taking psychedelics.
9:34 – 12:12 How nondualists talk about experience
and awareness. Relation to his psychedelic experiences. Talking
12:12 – 16:47 Roger talks about his experience at
work when “fully resting
in the moment.” Contentment and
experience. Bringing presence to his work. Nature of presence.
“That silence is very
peaceful. … When I’m fully resting I don’t need anything. I
have the experience all the time at work, my work can be
really stressful … but sometimes on a day where I’m fully
able to rest in the moment I get the feeling I don’t have
anywhere else I want to be. … That is the last place I want
to be in my life … yet I get the experience I don’t need to
be anywhere else. … What I noticed is that contentment has
nothing to do with the experience. Contentment is there
regardless, if you can let go enough into your self. … When
you put presence into anything it can become enjoyable.”
16:47 – 18:30 Ajahn Chah and impermanence and how
this teaching has changed Roger’s perception of the world.
“Everything is uncertain. …
What comes, goes. … Everything changes. That’s huge! If
everything is uncertain and temporary, what can you hold
18:30 – 22:03 Issues with drugs and avoidance of
bad sensations and the seeking of good sensations. Addictive
behavior as the actual seeking of inner peace.
“It’s not just addiction to
drugs, it’s everything. What I was actually seeking was
peace inside myself.”
22:03 – 31:09 Compulsive thought. Meditation as an
attempt to control the mind. Experience at a 12 day silent
retreat at age 20. Transcendence of pain and the meaning given
to the transcendence.
In the midst of experiencing great physical pain
from having to hold certain sitting postures for 8 hours a day
during several days on a retreat, here’s what happened: “Something arose in my mind of clarity, and I
felt so in tune and connected with everything. But the
biggest thing is that there was no pain. I’ve always had a
sense of a little bit of depression, agitation, somewhere in
my consciousness. That’s what made me seek drugs and then
seek meditation and go the nonduality route. But it all
vanished. I’m talking any tiny, little trace of any of that.
I ran to my teacher because you can have a few meetings over
the 12 days. I told him I didn’t feel any pain. This is it!
I got it! I was bubbling with joy. … I found what the Buddha
was looking for! But remember, everything’s uncertain. I
didn’t know that at the time. It felt like I hit something
real and that was it. And my teacher said, ‘Roger, this too
will pass.’ He kinda deflated me and it did pass and there
was pain four hours later. But that’s how things go, right?
… What is the point [of a retreat]? What are you doing?”
31:09 – 35:38 What is the point of such a 12 day
silent retreat? Impermanence revisited. Gangaji discussed. Mooji
discussed as a teacher Roger finds valuable and his favorite.
35:38 – 41:32 Family. Religious and spiritual life
growing up. Talks with his skeptical grandfather at a Chinese
restaurant. Education. Meditation in schools.
41:32 – 45:43 Roger gets into nonduality
discussions with clients at work. Hypothetical cold call selling
of nonduality. The possibility of a cult of awareness.
45:43 – 51:26 Roger’s reaction to the teaching
that there’s nothing to teach and you don’t exist. Nothing Ever
Happened, by Papaji. Diamond Sutra. Emptiness of emptiness.
Negating existence. Impermanance and not knowing. Buddha. What
is going on?
“When I’m experiencing deep
peace I don’t have a lot to say all the time. But I know
that the words coming out of my mouth aren’t, ‘I don’t
exist, you don’t exist, this is just life.’”
51:26 – 56:48 How Roger lives this knowing.
“I feel I’ve been saved
over and over again.”
56:48 – 1:00:32 Grace as related to the flow of
events in Roger’s life. Lex Gillan. Prayer. Letting go. Faith
“I pray all the time. My
first job at Wendy’s, I’m sorry, I couldn’t do that. I
prayed all the time for a new job. I felt like it opened the
doors. … I pray to whatever is. Ultimately I don’t know what
I’m doing or where I’m going or what this is. … It seems
like everything is connected and things are being shown to
you if you’re open to it.”
1:00:32 – 1:04:45 Consciousness is not the result
of brain activity. Near death experiences. You are what you’re
praying to. Mother Theresa. Truth-based way of thinking.
Rochelle Arch-Hayostek mentioned. Negative emotions and fear
“You are what you’re
praying to.” “Die before you die so that you may truly
live.” “Knowing that I am peace and not this body… why am I
still falling back into my thoughts?”
1:04:45 – 1:07:15 Seeing the void or some knowing
in the eyes of some people. More LSD-influenced perceptions.
Experience of oneness through eye contact.
1:07:15 – 1:15:08 Using entheogens in controlled
conditions. Erowid. Seeing through your darkness while on
psychoactive drugs. Nature of the darkness. Depression. Timothy
Leary, Ram Dass, and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Shamans.
Icaros. Being forced out of you.
1:15:08 – 1:21:00 Having given up psychoactive
chemicals. Roger asks Jerry about his perception, search, and
what is seen. Nature of surrender.
1:21:00 – 1:28:03 Roger talks about his daughter
Sophie. “She’s very
happy all the time.” Long
silence. Talking about the Nonduality Highlights. The pace of
conversation slows way down. Talking about alternatives to
1:28:03 – 1:32:58 Roger talks about things he sees
happening in his life in the near future. The nature of the flow
of his life these days. Contentment. His friends.
1:32:58 – 1:34:58 Roger’s opinion of nonduality on
the internet. Suggestions for improving access to the Nonduality
1:34:58 – 1:42:25 Time. “This.” Deep peace.
Feeling like you need nothing. The urge to action. How do you
know what to do next? Findings of neuroscience regarding action.
Rafael Stonemen. Thinking.
1:42:25 – 1:48:35 No thought. Eating mushrooms and
the experience of “no me.”“You don’t have to think
about anything to speak. Who speaks those words?” “I don’t
have a clue of what I’m doing at work, but it goes pretty
Drug-induced seeing compared to sober seeing. Neem Karoli Baba
A Writing by
I have been wanting to write for a while now, its
been in the back of my mind pushing its way to the front
yearning for expression. What is yearning for expression I am
not sure, but there is definitely a desire to let my thoughts
and my heart pour on to the canvas. Today I went to Mass for the
first time in over a year . And this has been one of a handful
of times I have gone in the past five years. As I grew up I
never found much interest in Mass though I have always been
infatuated by religion and spirituality. I never quite
understood what the priests were saying or worse I was so far
towards the back as my Mom was habitualy late to everything that
I was unable to clearly hear what they were saying. As I grew
older we stopped attending church as it didnt seem to do much
for my Mom or step dad or me for that matter.
But there was always a spark inside of me waiting
to be kindled yearning for some understanding of life some
meaning, some point to it all some higher or greater truth…
something. I knew that there was something to existance or life
, I knew that there was something I was missing, life was not
just some random meaningless jumble of atoms. This spark for
truth grew as my grandpa and I started to talk on the issues of
God and the universe. My Grandpa is a stoud Athiest, who
believes in the rationality of man and the sciences. He told me
that God is like santa clause. He has played the role of the
skeptic in my life always questioning spirituality and my later
drug induced experiences of oneness with the universe.
But back to where all this started I went to Mass
today and I found it beautiful, besides the priest essentially
calling people deadbeats if they were unable to donate money to
the church. I had shivers up my spine and hair stood on end as I
listened to the hymns and prayers. I felt my heart slowly
opening, and a silence blanketed my mind. Even as I first walked
into the church today there was a certain energy in the air, I
felt a subtle calm, a soothing feeling. I will no doubt be going
to Mass again as there is something to be gained by going, I
still feel uplifted 2 and a half hours after mass ended. For the
past three years or so I abandoned my Catholic roots completely
in search of my own truth and it started with my experimentation
with psychedelics especially LSD and psilocybin.
As soon as I had my first experiences with
psychoactive substances the fire in my heart blossomed. There
was no turning back. Those chemicals opened my eyes to another
way of seeing, another way of experiencing, it was like a key
that let me walk out of my own psychological prison. Boy did I
walk out, I burned the prison down and felt alive for the first
time, my breath was fantastic, it was exhilirating. My senses
felt electric. I looked into others eyes and it was as if I was
looking into the depth of their being, not even… my own being.
There was a deep unity, but not on a mental level but a feeling,
even beyond feeling it was a seeing, a deep knowing that all was
love, all was ok. Life was beautiful. Damn was it beautiful.
Like so superbly beautiful these words are dead in comparison.
And this did not feel like some drug induced delusion, some fake
hallucination, this felt more real, more meaningful then
anything that had ever happened in my life. Its like truth took
a hammer and knocked me out of my head and most of all my
misery. The problem with this experience is that it didnt stay,
once I came down it went away, the chains slowly weighed me back
down again, the prison walls were built back up. And that was
the problem with every one of these experiences which for me
were innumerable I couldnt get enough as every time I did it I
was one with it all, saw beauty and truth in everything. Later
to come down to the same old “me” the same old dead reality, the
mundane drone of it all. But I clung to these experiences
knowing that they were pointing to something greater, pointing
to who or what the hell we really are.
Thats when I discovered Buddhism and eventually
Timothy Leary and later Ram Dass. This put my experiences into
perspective, and made me know for certain that I was not insane,
but there was something to these insights gained through drugs.
For those of you who dont know who Timothy Leary or Richard
Alpert are (ie. Ram Dass) they were PhD. psychologists from
Harvard who researched, consumed and popularized LSD and
mushrooms in America. They were the guru’s of the 60′s authors
of numerous books, and psychonaut explorers. They became my
heroes as they were people who I could relate to, people who had
been to the edge of their minds and beyond and came back to tell
about it. The problem with my experiences was that no one knew
what the hell I was talking about, didnt care or thought I had a
case of LSD insanity. But when you have lived a typical normal
life, and then something that mindblowing enters your life you
cant help but become obssesively passionate about it. I was like
a preacher for LSD and any psycho-active drug for that matter
for I knew there was something. Eventually the chemicals stopped
working or the supply evaporated and I was left with ganja, I
realized that those experiences were impermanent and if I wanted
to live in the modern world I could not be high on lsd and
mushrooms a few times a week. I stuck to pot and started
meditating and burning incense, that was my idea of spirituality
light a joint, and read the Buddha.
Over the next year or so I devoured anything
Buddhist… actually anything Eastern. The ideas of suffering,
emptiness, no-self, enlightenment and imperamanence fascinated
me not to mention Reincarnation which to me sounded romantically
mystical. Whats interesting about Buddhism is that suffering and
impermanance arent really theories or faith based ideas they are
basic observations of the reality we inhabit. Everything
changes, everything perishes, everything dies and every human I
have met has suffered at one point or another if not
continually. So I could jive with these concepts because they
were fundamental truths that I could confirm in my own
existance. Just watch how truly impermanent everything in your
life is. You dont even have to look around you just watch your
breath…. in and out each breath fades into nothingness. Your
thoughts come and go. Relatives die. Meals end. Sensations end.
Emotions end. Your favorite dog or pet dies. The days pass by
and before you know it your old… nothing is static, nothing is
permanent. Buddhism brings this truth right into the broad
daylight of your consciousness. Its like KABLAM death is at your
door step, and you dont have to wait to the end of your life,
its happening, and its all around you, this whole life is
melting away fading into impermanance.
Now this seems overly nihilistic like who the hell
would want to learn a religion that emphasizes suffering and
impermanance? But there is a light at the end of the tunnel
which is enlightenment, or liberation from suffering which
Buddhists call awakening from Samsara or the dream. Thats what
Buddha means… awakened one. They asked the buddha are you a
saint? Are you a God? he said no, I am awake. So the beauty in
this religion is that there is an end to your suffering a way
out. When you awaken from the dream of your self, birth, old
age, sickness and death then you are free from the cycle of
rebirth free from the pains of existance. You are a Buddha.
Basically the fundamental nature of your own mind is
Buddha-nature, or as Tibetans call it the Dharmakaya the eternal
clarity, spaciousness, love and compassion that is the true
nature of all beings and all things. And when you realize
yourself to be this fundamental awakeness then you are freed
from your ignorance.
Now that sounds great but Westerners are gonna say
how is this any different then the God who sits on his throne
and where is the practicality in it all?
Roger Mahaffey‘s funeral arrangements are as
(Calling hours and funeral will be held at Shoedinger
Worthington Chapel 6699 N. High St., Worthington, OH 43085)
- Thursday, January 16th, calling hours from 5-8pm
- Friday, January 17th, calling hours from 2-4pm and then 6-8pm
- Funeral service Saturday, January 18th, 930am
Rest in peace, Roger. Love you.