Ludlow, Fitz Hugh - In pleasure gardens
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The Hasheesh Eater – Fitz Hugh Ludlow
And now I was borne away into the full light of the mid firmament; now seated on some toppling peak of a cloud mountain, whose yawning rifts disclosed far down the mines of reserved lightning; now bathed in my ethereal travel by the rivers of the rainbow, which, side by side, coursed through the valleys of heaven; now dwelling for a season in the environment of unbroken sunlight, yet bearing it like the eagle with undazzled eye; now crowned with a coronal of prismatic beads of dew.
Through whatever region or circumstances I passed, one characteristic of the vision remained unchanged; peace – everywhere godlike peace, the sum of all conceivable desires satisfied.
Slowly I floated down to earth again. There, oriental gardens waited to receive me. From fountain to fountain I danced in graceful maze with inimitable houris, whose foreheads were bound with fillets of jasmine. I pelted with figs the rare exotic birds, whose gold and crimson wings went flashing from branch to branch, or wheedled them to me with Arabic phrases of endearment. Through avenues of palm I walked arm in arm with Hafiz and heard the hours flow singing through the channels of his matchless poetry. In gay kiosques I quaffed my sherbet, and in the luxury of lawlessness kissed away by drops that other juice, which is contraband unto the faithful. And now beneath citron shadows I laid me down to sleep.
When I awoke it was morning – actually morning, and not a hasheesh hallucination. The first emotion that I felt upon opening my eyes was happiness to find things again wearing a natural air. Yes; although the last experience of which I had been conscious had seemed to satisfy every human want, physical or spiritual, I smiled on the four plain white walls of my bedchamber, and hailed their familiar unostentatiousness with a pleasure which had no wish to transfer itself to arabesques or rainbows. It was like returning home from an eternity spent in loneliness among the palaces of strangers.
Well may I say an eternity, for during the whole day I could not rid myself of the feeling that I was separated from the preceding one by an immeasurable lapse of time. In fact I never got wholly rid of it.