The elusive feeling of kaif was at the heart of the hippie experience—much more than ideology or belief. Kaif was borrowed from the Arabic term keif, which denotes the pleasurable state of mind that is granted to rightful Muslims in paradise. The term kaif meant altering one’s state of mind and entering a new world. Kaif was first and foremost a state of being high—even though not all hippies achieved this high through drugs, but lost themselves in music, sex, spirituality, or simply community. The sistema was all about kaif and it was masterful in creating the conditions in which kaif was experienced. This chapter will look at various routes to how kaif was achieved and what achieving kaif meant for hippie identity and their relationship to the Soviet habitat in which they lived.
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