I feel compelled to write a series of entries on the five senses. I will begin with taste.
All five senses have an apparatus through which external sensory data is received. For taste, it is the tongue. Without the fleshy muscle inside the mouth, there is no taste. The tongue can also play an important role in spiritual development, as I have found out through experimentation and study of AYP, but more on that later.
It has been said that some gifts in life may not be fully appreciated until they are lost. When we possess something for an extended period of time, we can take it for granted. But when it slips away, there can be a rude awakening, followed by a grieving for what has disappeared. Why do I bring up this observation when the topic of this blog is taste? Let me explain.
It was 2007. I was still drinking and using drugs (pre-AYP and kundalini surge). One night I had ingested quite the cocktail: alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and Xanax. Late into the evening, after I had passed the point of blackout (drug-induced amnesia), I perched myself on the rail of a balcony. My balance did not hold long, and I tumbled backward into a somersault, with my head being the first part of my body to make contact with the concrete pavement two stories below. Crack!—a concussion and small fracture ensued on the back of my skull. Again, I do not remember any of this trauma due to my blackout status, but what I do remember is waking up in a bed with a man standing beside me.
"Am I in jail?" I asked the man. "No, you're in the hospital," he replied. He was a nurse, and he offered me some food and water. I thanked him and slowly chewed on what he had given me. But I immediately noticed something wrong. I couldn't taste any of the food, nor smell it—not a single flavorful hint or aroma from the morsels. Blank, void of olfactory distinction, absent of palatable uniqueness. I quickly relayed my predicament to him, and he informed me that my concussion had most likely caused damage or disconnection in the nerves and tissue. Later, a neurologist in the hospital said my taste and smell might never return.
But several weeks after the injury, I got a glimmer of hope. As I was walking past a group of women on the campus of Florida State University, I suddenly detected the scent of heavy perfume. Voilà! The perception of the fragrance only lasted a fleeting second, but it was enough of a preview to confirm that some healing and sensory resurrection were occurring. In the following weeks, months, and years, my taste and smell would become reacquainted with external stimuli and establish new neural pathways of memory and discernment.
Not all tastes returned in the same manner. I became more sensitive to artificial ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup. Whereas I had enjoyed drinking Coca Cola pre-injury, when I recovered, I did not relish in the synthetic tang of soda. It was like my receptors were starting from scratch, having been stripped of their acquired likings. I suppose it was a kind of blessing in disguise.
My love for fruit really came back with great zest: oranges, tangerines, clementines, mandarins, bananas, blueberries, açaí, strawberries, watermelons, mangoes, kiwis, starfruit, and so on. And there was no lack of enthusiasm for herbs: cilantro, basil, mint, thyme, oregano, parsley, bay leaves, fennel, rosemary, and so forth. I even gained a new appreciation for particularly rustic vegetables, like brussel sprouts, and I'm still discovering and learning.
Our sense of taste has a broad range, and that scope goes well beyond the mere act of eating food. There are deeper cultural implications that are linked to taste. Taste crosses socioeconomic boundaries, and spiritual ones as well. I've had the pleasure of dining at some of the finest restaurants in the world: Maxim's in Paris, The French Laundry in Napa Valley, Tavern on the Green in New York City, and Bern's Steak House in my hometown of Tampa. I've also been on the other end of the spectrum and eaten meals with my father in a trailer park, where after cooking fried chicken and sharing it with a fellow carpenter, my dad then asked his rugged friend how he liked the dinner, to which his friend smugly and nonchalantly replied: "Eh, it'll make a turd."
So, taste touches lavishness and vulgarity.
When I finally stumbled upon AYP, my gradual investigation into kechari mudra opened up a new realm of taste...that of inner taste. Allowing my tongue to explore the soft palate and nasal passages brought about further stimulation of ecstasy, as well as an increase in the internal flow of my body's own sweetness: an inner elixir produced by the sublimation and mixture of sexual essences, digestion, and respiration.
At last, I had found a cocktail far superior than the atrocious one which had catalyzed my head injury and robbed me of the divine gift of taste. I had turned my sense of taste inward (pratyahara), thereby revealing a potent reservoir and organic sanctuary of bliss...hidden right under my nose the whole time (pun intended).
Thanks for reading about my shenanigans and revelations.
Taste the rainbow.