“This is a transcript of a small discussion with botanist-poet Dale Pendell, a long-time practitioner of Zen Buddhism and the occult, a student of the legendary intellectual Norman O. Brown, and-as they say-a graduate of Dr. Hofmann. It took place at the World Psychedelic Forum in Basel, Switzerland, on 23rd March 2008 (read my review). A small group of people who’d just attended Dale’s talk on Zen and psychedelics gathered round a table in the busy foyer, and Dale created a focused bubble of attentiveness with his measured, colourful discourse.
[Question about who taught DP about the occult in Los Angeles.]
Dale Pendell: His name’s not really important. He kind of hid his traces, because he insisted on being without credentials. Anytime I would look for credentials, like, ‘Where did you get your Zen training, Carl?’ ‘Why do you ask? Is that gonna make you believe something I say?’ So he would never tell me. But he had a personal teacher. What he taught was the importance of a personal teacher. His personal teacher was a woman named Mary. And that’s as far back as I know the transmission. But I get a sense of high knowledge being passed on that way: through personal relationships, with some occult structure overt.
I don’t know, he was able to walk in and out of Zen temples like he belonged there. He was an artist, and sat with Suzuki, Roshi in San Francisco, and they palled around like old friends. When Trungpa came to town, they palled around like old friends-he was his driver for a while. Every place he went, he liberated people; he gave people permission. He constantly violated expected behaviour, and laughed a lot. I still consider him my true teacher. I would like to be able to give people permission the way he did.
So, I can’t speak for any occult tradition. I just know there are transmissions of higher knowledge.”