“Something is wrong. I don’t mean with you or me or with any person. I mean in general." --Ragle Gumm

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Personal Note Thirteen—Goodbye World

Returning to the US from Tibet was like falling down a dark tunnel where the chaos of others’ thoughts pummeled my brain. Sleep was a war of dirty minds against the silence, purity, and emptiness of life above 15,000 ft. Berkeley twenty-five years later and still the angry demanded the cold illusion of government responsibility to give them their dignity. I was sick in body and mind and could not imagine life beyond what I had just experienced. Better to die in the open spaces of Tibet than bleed spirit all over asphalt, concrete, and the hard floors of claustrophobic living. Our new residence was up the road, however, but the illusions we tried to fit into there were only slightly easier, until we took them on and succumbed to the pretense that permeated everything, despite the group of us who took on the mantle of being spiritual. In our group there was only one soul whose sails were pointed in the direction where she wanted to flow. We stayed close to her. She saved my sanity and enhanced my inner expansion on many occasions. It was here that the heavens fell into my brain with more intensity than ever. My consciousness burst into the highest plane of existence I had ever experienced. I expanded to such a degree that one could easily say I had gone mad. Most around me did not see it, but I occupied spaces where this universe was just an insignificant bauble on a cosmic string that circled in on itself eternally, ever changing, fired eternally by cosmic energy, fed by a cosmic thing into whose space I surged like a teenager thinking I could fly a 747. Crashes, derangement, frustrations, loss of connection with earth ground reality. It all came true after Tibet, bare survival, loss of wife, abandonment of the community that had taken me in, and a journey alone north to Oregon, where the madness settled slightly but where all hope of regaining some semblance of a normal life vanished forever.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Personal Note Eleven—Where the World Ends and Begins

The desert burned us out, so we moved to northern California where the vineyards glowed rainbow colors, where life blossomed more, but left unchanged the brooding cosmos that was downloading into me in a continual stream. Book written. Tried publishers. No deal. Fine. It embarrasses me today, although it contains passages that are among my favorite. Biding time and being alone. Wife close by. A friend or two. One of the Midwest group who had also left; another, a witch-like person who turned me on to the local new age bookstore, where I bought books, got readings and took classes. It was what we did together. Lots of TV. Waiting. I played a miniature role as a performer of Vedic ceremonies, an avocation that continued for years. You know, white outfit, fruit, flowers, handkerchiefs, mantras from ancient Sanskrit texts.  Felt good and gave me an identity, which was getting harder to hold onto. I had to deal with the conflicting beliefs that I knew what I was doing and the deeper knowledge that I didn’t and the still deeper knowledge that all was in order. Damn the personality and all its faults, which take up so much energy and distort even the good things! The veils got thinner, but the regular brushes with insanity were a little farther down the road. The pursuit was still on. Was it toward something or away? Could there ever be enough effort? Enough meditation, enough prayer, enough grooming of my mind. The outer world was drifting away, and eventually I would be as remote from the ground of the world as the moon or the stars beyond. Metaphors, of course, but the metaphor was becoming more real than the burdensome mental stuff which continually clouded up that place inside me that was becoming clearer. A year in this place and then moving on to another town. Wandering from here to there, at least geographically. The inner wanderings couldn’t be measured in miles, only in degrees of acceptance and the concern that the inner vision was overshadowing the outer. 

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Personal Notes Ten—In the Desert

“In the beginning . . .” died when I saw its roots buried in the fantasy of history. If Jesus was real, it had to be now not then. I was open, now that I was outside of a small prison of thought and stretching my legs inside a larger cage. But space is space. My own fantasy of cosmic history ballooned into a 300 page scripture that intermingled with the story of my personal life, just to support the growing suspicion that none of that mattered. During the day the sun shone, for a few nights a comet came through, my harp sold, and my wife worked in the food coop. She did her part. She was heroic being with me who was scarcely there. Flying every morning, touching down during the day on the town tarmac to fuel my personal existence. I continued to meditate. That was good but no longer the main event. It would drop away years later when I had no choice. Things were normal on the ground except the why. Not like the Midwest town where everyone had meditation thoughts slung over one shoulder, thoughts you could carry out into the world . . . after you tied one end of the rope to the town square. Here in the desert there was no town square. Wife was suffering but she made it work for me even if neither knew what that was. The illusions of the Midwest lingered but with different thoughts. It was getting harder to decide what thoughts were mine and what came from others, whether in the sun-drenched world of the desert or the little town with big thoughts, or the early morning world at the keyboard where it always rained cosmic dreams.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Personal Notes Nine—On My Own

No one knew why we were leaving, not even my wife, who wanted to stay. There was no reason to stay for me except that the stars had moved and the sky was more distant than I had thought. How could one leave meditation paradise for a small apartment in the Arizona’s Sun Valley? No reason, no purpose, just the stripping away of years of thinking compromised by things I couldn’t see. Too much heat and not enough water. But inside, the sky rained stars of thought, galaxies of astonishments, cosmoses turning in on themselves. It was all in the words. Tapping away at the keyboard. Straining to put things together. To make pictures in my mind. To take in the surges of energy. To make it work while pretending I knew why I was there. No friends. Just the burning sun and my trans-galactic classroom. My computer at 5 am. Childish stuff at first. Just preparing the way. Things in my multi-storied mind being arranged to sound like it was real stuff. A baby may see a book and think it’s a glass. The storytellers from inside were coming out now that the big story of the Midwest town was fading, burning in the desert sun, transforming into what I was given to see as my eyes began to open. 

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Personal Notes Eight—Learning to Fly

Thousands of meditators in a small town to save the world and to evolve, the only place where enlightenment had a chance, with friends who had common beliefs, a common purpose for the big dive. We carried our illusions as badges, like the badges we needed for permission to dive with the big group. Friends of great depth engaged in dialogues that rivaled the ancients in their probing of reality. Unfathomable people lived beneath the stock phrases and programmed beliefs. Confusion, too. People flying off into inflated scenarios of what was real and what wasn’t, trying this and that when things did not move fast enough and when the gilded cage of groupthink began to fray at the edges. But the satisfaction of belonging to such a group kept me enthralled. I merged into the community and took my seat. I could not imagine living anywhere else. I identified with all this even while trying on Tibetan Buddhism, Liberal Catholicism, the red path of American Indians, kriya, Advaita Vedanta. I turned them all down. How small they seemed, despite a blizzard of visions and mind-popping dreams; visitations by gods, saints, elders, and angels; interfacing with multi-dimensional beings who knew as little about me as I did about them, and something that answered “Yes,” when I asked if it were God. Visitors entered my body thinking I had checked out and split like bats out of hell when they realized that this body was still mine. Meditation eventually became a stabilizing habit after the veils between here and there began to thin out and mental handholds began to slip. These kind of adventures and many more went on for five years. Then another trip to India. Another crash landing after coming back. Then realizing I had to learn to fly in a different way—above the earth and alone; where there was no difference between Kabul, the Himalayas, and a small town in the middle of nowhere. Something from all that had gone before had  passed away.

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