Between Jerusalem I’m Sorry, Chapter 5

Painting by Alex Levin, “Colors of Jerusalem” (used with permission)

A New Car, a New Character, a New Interpretation

The first thing to go when David gave me that Charles Manson look was the memory of past lives, and afterwards I couldn’t remember a single one, but that wasn’t the half of it. I was brought back immediately to the mundane world of everyday survival, as here was a man I hardly knew, God knows what kind, in my acid accentuated head obviously the leader of some cult my sister had gotten herself into, trying to steal everything I had, which was my truck and a little less than $500, obviously to bring me into the cult and make it so I couldn’t escape. Who were these people?

In the drop of a hat I went from joyous excitement to feeling very much afraid, or really, repeated the hat drop I’d undergone flying over those divine houses and seeing the Antichrist vacancy. The fear was quickly mounting to terror, so fresh was the antecedent terror in my heart, and in a state of just wanting to burst into tears I found myself in a struggle with his will, and he was really putting it on me. I looked around for Joelle, but she was elsewhere in the trailer. It was just me and the leader of this mountain hippie cult, or so the acid was picturing him. “I’ll, I’ll give you half.” I regretted it as soon as I said it, but I thought if I could give him half my money, I’d have enough to escape.

I don’t remember his reply or the remainder of our conversation/contest of wills. I do remember he was really enjoying himself at my expense. Whatever the case, I lost it and  crumbled into a frightened little child just fighting to hold back their tears. I didn’t continue the conversation or to consider his demand, I just begged him to take me to my sister. Joelle came into the room to see what was the matter, as I think I was begging loudly, and he took off the glasses and sat up. I think he told her about the act he put on, but I’m not sure. Anyway, they both, on seeing me having a ‘bad trip’, smiled that knowing smile, the kind you give to a kid that’s sure there’s a monster under the bed or in the closet, the kind that doesn’t take you seriously and is tickled at your silliness because there is no monster under the bed, or so it’s said. I, however, believe in monsters. At any rate, they tried to talk me down, Joelle explaining the bad mushroom trip that brought her to David’s trailer, telling me I just had to realize it was all in my head, and there was nothing to be scared of. I just kept begging them to take me to my big sister, her familiar presence the only thing in the world I wanted at that moment. They finally walked me to her cabin when they realized it was useless to try and console me. Gwen met us at the door, and they explained I was having a bad trip, and they all three laughed that knowing laugh, and David and Joelle walked off, leaving me with my big sis Gwen.

I remember watching them walk away hand in hand, laughing and still enjoying their trip. It was like watching people from another world so distant they appeared from me, although they were only meters away. The whole world before my eyes, in fact, was a great distance from me, although I was standing right there in it. It was like the world had been drained of substance, as though all color in it was gone despite the presence of color, and these are just images to try and describe the movement of my conscious awareness inside me to a place where the world was perceived at a great distance from me, but, because they body was still there in it, I was still picking up the world’s signal and not, for example, the divine world I’d just visited, or the inner world of dream. This distance from the world was not only in my vision. The sound of their laughter and swish, swish as they walked away I heard like I was underwater, and my touch upon the cabin’s things, as my feet upon its wooden floor, seemed as though other hands and other feet than my own were doing the touching, although I felt the contact, or my body up there in the world did, as strange as all this sounds.

What made it unbearable was the terror, which seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at once, as my ego, loosened from its earthen moorings but still very much alive and kicking, had lost the thing most dear to it, what had formed it and what it was wrapped around like an infant child its mother’s milk-laden breast, had lost its raison d’être, but it existed still, in some vacuum of terror, the world, its lover, too far away to even feel. I’ve described the dissociation state, known as a disorder in psychiatry, as the pit of the void in Buddhism, but the Mother, my teacher, describes it as the infinite in the finite, and from that perspective it can be managed better, since, when the consciousness is changing by degrees towards realization, as opposed to it just happening all in one go, that hard to bear state is a stage along the way, at least for some minutes or hours at a time. I don’t think it’s a necessity to be caught in it permanently. I think the many people today claiming to be enlightened are really in the pit of the void. If the ego wasn’t there they would be realized, but that’s the very thing you’re so terrified of: the ego disappearing and hence you, the world, and whatever else might there be, all in one great big swoosh that swallows you whole into the pit of nothingness.

Gwen didn’t console me or try to talk me down, saying she was tired and just wanted to go to bed. I asked her if I could sleep with her, as I did when we were little, as she did with me when we were teens, her knowing I wasn’t attracted to her or any woman, and my room was cooler than hers. She became angry and told me to sleep in the loft. Several times, as I fought to escape those lethal jaws of nonexistence, I begged her to let me in her bed, like a child begs their parents for the same, but she was adamant in her refusal, like that child’s parents, who aren’t into the kid at that moment and just want some time off. After some hours, tired of holding onto the world so it wouldn’t escape from my grasp altogether, I must’ve drifted off to sleep, but I honestly don’t remember if I did or didn’t. I just remember it being dawn, and, although I could still feel the rush of tripping and was yet under the bombardment of representative thinking tripping sends you on, I was back in the world in my body senses first, and it was wonderful.

Speaking in a mini-recorder beside Gwen’s cabin, which has since been lost, the day not yet having settled itself on the land, I described what I was experiencing. I had this odd and overwhelming sense of oneness, a concept up to that time I’d not considered much, other than as monism in a philosophy textbook, nor did I believe in it. The retreating shadows, the tall trees coming to light, the many brown hues of the leaf-dirt-pine needle mix blanketing the ground becoming distinguishable, and the long, steep, dirt driveway, the forest road kind with two parallel tire-wide tracks running side by side, showing more and more of itself, gave me a sense of edibility to the oneness starring in my mind. In my growing vision I saw the whole being revealed. I tried to see from where it came, the sense of oneness, and, although while there I did not feel it, I saw it came from that divine experience, saw with the connection I still had with it, and, as I spoke a mile a minute into my recorder, out there popped a naked thought of healing that quickly clothed itself in words that pointed me onwards: “the personal growth process towards wholeness and healing.”

It had come as the first aftergrowth of the feeling of oneness, a shoot springing up from that stalk. At that moment I entered the spiritual path, consciously set my feet upon it, which, in my mind, was one of healing and becoming whole more than it was anything else, and I needed healing, but I hadn’t seen that, seen in the sense of know beyond all doubt, until that LSD trip, but now that I did it took central place. I wasn’t sick in body, nor in soul, but the malady effected everything else, from the mind down to the subconscious. I had a social disorder of the third kind. Looking back, I see it was that practicality that made the spiritual path real to me, something walkable, that hands on ‘look at my hands is it working’ (or it wasn’t) vision of it, where the search for God and enlightenment, the finding of those things even, were not the goal, being healed and becoming whole were, or rather, as it would come home to me in time, the finding of those things (and more) were what it meant to be healed and made whole.

This wasn’t just processing that acid trip, which I was yet feeling the effects of. It felt like I had been born anew, remade, and I had this living sense a fundamental change had occurred deep inside me, a change in the direction of my life’s movement, and chasing after what attracted me, satisfying my animal wants and cravings, was not longer my ticket to ride, what I wanted out of life; I wanted to be whole and healed. This was not a decision I made that I would heretofore try and carry out. I saw this paved path my feet now stood upon, felt in the marrows of myself I was now on the Way, and it wasn’t a matter of straying off the path or sticking to it, not a matter of success or failure, because the Path simply was wherever I was, and at the same time, in the bright mysteries of spiritual paradox, it was a not yet arrived place I needed to get to.

Soon, in the settled firmness of the light of morning, I pocketed my recorder and walked to David’s trailer, which was half a kilometer or so from Gwen’s cabin and on the other side of the mountain’s main road, the one the Native American stone sits beside some kilometers down the mountain. Her cabin was nestled behind a small wood above the main road. Jake met me not long after I’d gotten on the main road, and quickly several others dogs joined us. Still somewhat tripping, I felt a part of the pack, its leader as a matter of fact. David’s trailer was down a long driveway that curved to the left and lower than the road, and you couldn’t see it or the other buildings on his property, on account of the many trees standing between the road and his compound. A locked gate met you at the entrance, locked gates the greeter of guests on that mountain. I climbed it and walked down the driveway to the house, Jake and the other dogs at my heels. I knocked on the door, and David came out, explaining that Joelle was still sleeping, and he didn’t want to disturb her.

We sat outside and talked. He wasn’t happy that Jake had formed a pack again, something he explained had gotten the dog into a lot of trouble with the neighbors, on account of chickens and such being eaten, and my pride at being the leader of the pack vanished, leaving me feeling silly to ever have had it. The first thing I said was that I’d realized that something about myself was in shadow, not calling it wrong because it wasn’t a moral sense I had. I saw it as an obstacle, to myself and the people it affected. Gwen had told everyone about it before I arrived, and so it wasn’t like I was revealing anything private about myself. He told me that I’d reminded him of what’s possible in tripping, something he’d forgotten so accustomed he was to dropping acid now. He was reminded he said of his first couple of trips. When I asked why he’d put on the sunglasses and demanded my keys and money, he answered that I was ego tripping, and he thought he should snap me out of it, but he didn’t expect it to take me into a bad trip. One thing’s for certain; he was ego tripping. He didn’t apologize though, and I didn’t linger on the issue. It’s obvious to me now he had no idea of my experience, its depth, its reality; I’d just had an acid trip. We didn’t talk very long, and soon I returned to Gwen’s, leaving a scolded Jake with his master, the other dogs having run off seeing Jake in trouble.

It was now midmorning, and I was still feeling the effects of the acid, the echoes of representations each thought brought, the sense of implied meaning behind the this’s and the that’s I looked at that trailed off into infinity, although my senses weren’t noticeably effected, and I wasn’t seeing trailers of motion or that intense vividness in regards to each and everything you see on acid that makes objects seem almost alive. This was in my head, and it was getting rather scary. I wanted it to stop.

The radio was on in Gwen’s cabin when I went in, and with a shock I heard it say what was in my mind, but I don’t remember what that was, only that, in some strange way there is no way I can explain, it pointed to me being the Antichrist. I seem to remember asking her to turn it off, but it was too late. I had stepped into what’s known as a psychotic state, although one could argue I’d stepped into it the night before, but one can also argue that such a thing, as psychiatry describes it anyway, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s really, as I’ve called it, a spiritual emergency. Maybe if I’d have stayed on the mountain and away from any electronic media I could’ve managed it, or it would’ve abated, the mountain my place to work it out, but I was seized with the need to leave and leave immediately. I was scared shitless.

Gwen, in the hate me one minute love me the next manner in which she had always been my big sister, until hate finally won out altogether (she won’t even speak to me now), tried to get me to stay. Her hate minutes were understandable, although love/hate isn’t the best manner in which to have a relationship with someone, understandable because it’s so human and because she was my mom’s whole world when she was a baby, in that I am your God and you are my only begotten son/daughter way my mom had with her babies. She was that, that is, until I was born, when she was only two. I don’t think the term sibling rivalry can capture it, although it’s supposed to. What Gwen could never understand was that it wasn’t personal, wasn’t about love; it was about attraction, and my mom was more attracted to me because I was a boy, another thing that made Gwen have her hate moments: boys got to do so many things girls weren’t allowed to.

At any rate, she was suddenly sweet and kind, and I could see she really wanted me to stay, not only because it would be better for me if I did, but also because she was lonely there by herself and wanted my familiar presence. I didn’t leave in order to get her back for the night before. I left because I felt I had no choice. I mean, I could not stay there under any circumstances whatsoever. I had to go and go I did, down that mountain and back into the normal mainstream world, as if its normality would bring me back to normal, as I was basically still tripping, would be for the next eight weeks, would never really return to normal where a tree is only a tree, a mountain only a mountain, or the world only the world, again. I had become a representative thinker, mind you, and here at the beginning, unaccustomed to the intensity of that, it was all a bit much.

Returning to Moshehiem’s apartment in Israel, so fast I’m sorry if it’s making your head swim, after telling you the story I tried to tell him, what might’ve turned those mental wheels of his towards ideas of God big enough to fit the world into, non-Jews included, a world that flings things together that are mutually exclusive, or seem so, and that doesn’t conform to any idea that we have about it, I should return to that book I’ve mentioned that I was reading, the only reading I was doing, the only media I was putting my attention to while in Israel, with one very notable exception explained later, other than the songs and such that just came in because they were playing in the air or passing before my eyes, the book I’d ordered right before leaving Houston for Israel, the one I finished upon arriving in Auroville, India six months later: The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo.

Moshehiem had trouble with that book. It was over a 1000 pages thick and featured a large photo of an Indian guru on the cover, staring straight at you, and I carried it almost everywhere I went. Why, he asked more than once, would I have my nose so stuck in a book by an Indian guru when I wanted to become a Jew? I obviously didn’t see The Jew in the Lotus, to make a literary allusion to a book I hadn’t read but who’s title says a lot (I’m reading it now). I should begin my study of the Torah he told me. On my end, there was no way I was putting that book down. That wasn’t even on the table. He said I’d have to if I converted. I remember thinking they’d have to pry the book out of my hands. Never had I had a book participate with me on so many levels while reading it, and I’d danced with many a book, my thought and feeling in sync with its pages. This book took that to a whole other level, and some of the synchronicities were astounding, one in particular while on the hunger strike in Jerusalem, which was the reason I went to Auroville, but that’s another story lost here but told later.

I should explain that, until finishing that book, I did not follow any path or religion, did not have a teacher and did not think I needed those things, was adamant in that opinion and declared it left and right, along with the one about belief, telling people not to believe in anything you haven’t experienced yourself. There is great truth in the popular saying on the spiritual path: when the student is ready the teacher will come. I would add to it that the teacher comes unexpectedly and often from a whole other direction than you’d imagine. I can see now the entertaining of my Jewish identity there in Safed was coming from my unconscious need to belong to a particular spiritual path, not just from feeling a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people, and that I was searching for a path even though I didn’t know it. I can also see now that Sri Aurobindo, and the Mother, a Jew, who I would be introduced to later in Israel, as where there’s one there will be the other, meaning the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, who guided my steps through that need there to my steps here in India, where I now live.

I should say that my teachers have advised me not to flash their names unnecessarily, not to advertise their path to the public or seek converts to it. I’m speaking of them and their path because it’s in the need of the narrative to do so. Their path might be compared to Judaism in that, you’ll be discouraged from joining their yoga by their followers if you express interest, until it’s very clear you have the inner calling, the soul need, and even then it will take you years of both inner and outer study to get a grasp of what their yoga is and entails so immense is the body of their written (and spoken) works and so demanding on your concentration is the opening of the inner consciousness and the keeping of it open in order to have inner contact with them, your soul, and the divine, so demanding you have to learn to concentrate on nothing else, which becomes possible once you begin to see all is the divine, or yoga, or soul process, or however you figure it, that thing or work in front of you just an overlay on God, the fact that it’s God is what you’re looking at while involved with it, which enables you to give it the justice it needs or deserves. And therein lies the whole of Jewish law. It aims to make life holy. Beyond itself, it calls for a life divine.

Afar they seemed a symbol imagery,
Illumined originals of the shadowy script
In which our sight transcribes the ideal Ray,
Or icons figuring a mystic Truth,
But, nearer, Gods and living Presences.
A march of friezes marked the lowest steps;
Fantastically ornate and richly small,
They had room for the whole meaning of a world,
Symbols minute of its perfection’s joy,
Strange beasts that were Nature’s forces made alive
And, wakened to the wonder of his role,
Man grown an image undefaced of God
And objects the fine coin of Beauty’s reign;
But wide the terrains were those levels serve.

from Savitri by Sri Aurobindo
(Courtesy of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press)

Sri Aurobindo is the someone I mentioned earlier who’d had the divine experience I’ve described, and in this passage from his almost 24,000 line epic poem, which I could best sum up as a map of existence, he pictures it differently than I do but paints the same basic picture. He’s speaking of Overmind, the plane of the cosmic Gods, the highest plane in the universe, the summit of Mind, and in the passage he’s describing the lowest tier of Overmind, the one we’ve made contact with, as he explains earlier, because it’s not too steep for our mortal tread, and from where comes the world’s religions.

They do not come a complete formation from Overmind however, are the result of only partial seeings and momentary glimpses, and in some if not many cases the resulting religion is not even close to Overmind’s original intent, the religion we have down here an interpretation of ideals from up there, in many if not in most cases a bad one, especially when a manmade tradition has taken the ball and ran with it for centuries, the tradition becoming the law to live by more than the thing-in-itself, the original divine intent. The tradition will do things like put veils on women’s faces, cover their whole body as well, when only being modestly dressed was originally called for, things like make a man not only divine but the God of all gods, when in the beginning he was only believed to be the son of God, and things like give Jews a soul above and apart from the rest of humanity, when originally only a distinct group within humanity, a people, had been created. The tendency in the interpretation is to take things as far as they can possibly go, and in doing so, they grow farther and farther from the truth of things.

Of those who believe in God, the tendency is to feel that either one religion is true and all the others false, or that each one expresses something different about the same God. In the more inclusive view of the latter we can also go to Buddhism, where they have replaced the one God with a transformation of enlightenment. In a broader vision of that view, all religions are seen as incomplete attempts to capture the same Whole, be that God or the Absolute. The view I’m presenting would agree with that last but be more specific than that and see that each religion down here comes from its own divine house up there, up there being in the upper reaches of our own minds, albeit there being a gulf separating those regions from us so tenacious is the lid between our minds and there. There wouldn’t be a one to one correspondence either, one house to each religion, how I’m presenting it for simplicity’s sake, but a hardly imaginable variety of the blending of houses and the repetition of houses housing the same ideal, with minor variations, multiplicities our one thing at a time bound mind can’t fathom, what the blending of two houses in Sikhdom and the striking similarities between houses, such as that between Judaism and Islam, give us some picture of that.

Each house houses, as I’ve mentioned, a divine ideal or ideals, which we can also call attributes of God, since, as the light or ray of God enters the universe, to use an understandable image for illustration’s sake, it’s filtered through Overmind, which acts like a prism, and God’s ray is separated into His attributes, they becoming divine beings unto themselves, the cosmic Gods, and, again, I’ve greatly over simplified a process too multifarious for our hold one image at time mind, as no house would be bereft of the other ideals or attributes or be mutually exclusive to the others, what can be glimpsed in the Christian house, where the seeming opposites of compassion and wrath commingle and express a world. The thing here to see is that, because it’s a personified attribute of God or the Absolute, the Supreme an image and term that might capture both, any and every house sees itself as the Supreme, meaning the central divinity in a house, identifies itself as That, and here’s the tricky part: it doesn’t see itself as the Supreme in its entirety, holds a simultaneous view of identity incompatible with the ego’s singular grasp of itself, the very center of its see you might say, and so this nuance in identity gets lost in translation, and each religion sees itself as mutually exclusive to all the others, resulting in such divisive formulas as: there is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is His prophet; Jesus is God, either believe that or go to hell forever; there is no Self or soul and to see such is to be deluded; and we can continue.

Of course my view of the origins of the religions of the world has been greatly informed by my teachers the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, so much so the word ‘infinitely’ would not be totally out of line, but it has its base in what I’ve seen with my own eyes, while on acid notwithstanding, and it’s also based on inner seeing not influenced by any substances, inner contact with individual houses, many of the ones involved with earth, over the course of many years, which is a story for later on, lost now because it just sounds too fantastically impossible at this point with only one divine experience under my belt in this book so far.

There in that apartment in Safed with Mosheheim, however, my view had not reached such sophistication of detail, but it was there in a more basic form, but he would hear none of it, was not interested in my experiences or even me really. I was for him a test of his theory of the main difference between Jews and gentiles: inherent in the former was the capacity to get close to God, in the latter no.

I saw this quite clearly when, near the closing of that Shabbot, I was overcome with a feeling of devotion, with bhakti, for the Supreme, and I stood there awhile and just basked in it, tears rolling down my cheeks. It just suddenly came upon me with the song “Secure Yourself” by the Indigo Girls. In the morning he had put on what he called his Shabbot tapes, all the songs that made him feel bhakti or something of the Supreme, which wasn’t religious music but American pop music and rock and roll. As I stood there in that rather emotional attitude of worship, he was intently watching me from the kitchen, I in the dinning part of the living room. I could feel him watching me and hadn’t lose myself in God as much as it seemed I had, but there was some genuine feeling there. When I returned to myself after the song was over, he said he had a special capacity to judge if people were sincere or not in their love of God. I asked him if I had passed his test. Obviously disappointed, he said yes I had.

All this, however, was based on a misunderstanding of what constitutes real devotion, on the part of Moshehiem, on the part of me, on the part of the whole world of religion. Today, except in very extraordinary and rare moments, I wouldn’t pass the real test, although I spend the majority of my time in the reality of my immediate environment, in the relative quiet of that, and do that out of preference, because I know it’s there and not in whatever media that I’m in a better position to get a glimpse of God strolling by in the whirl of things, or witnessing up out at me from the crux of my inner life. When you need external stimuli, such as a book, or a song, or a fiery sermon, when you need yourself drummed up to feel it, you are very far from what it means to have contact with the Supreme, inside or outside, although God is right there right now everything you experience, the presence of the Hostile Powers and everything ugly and mean notwithstanding. You see what I’m saying? Put the book down and look.

Say, just for the purposes of demonstration, a religion would be built upon the preceding paragraph. It wouldn’t take long before that would be interpreted to mean not to read any books, magazines or newspapers, listen to any music or what have you, and TVs, radios and media players would be destroyed, the internet banned, computers blown up, smart phones smashed, and on and on. That’s not what I’m saying, although we’d do well to destroy all television sets and smart phones if we had a choice of what to destroy—I’m just saying.

The thing is, what is most misunderstood about us, we’re each at a different level of development and therefore need different things at different times. Some people need their nose in books (or whatever) for hours on end, but not all of their lives, only for a stage in it—another misunderstood thing: development happens. You don’t just force yourself to suddenly go media-free either, or force someone else to for that matter. That’s a violence that will certainly be too rigid a stance that makes you unable to tell when you do actually need media, and you always will to a certain degree such is the nature of being human. Weaning yourself off media has to be a natural movement that comes about from your inner development calling for it.

It has taken me many years to prefer unaugmented reality over all the media I can put between me and it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t read the news, surf the net, read or write a book, escape in a movie, or rock out to a song. It just means that most of my time is spent without media, and I prefer it that way. That began happening during those three years of intense inner experience I’ve repeatedly referred to, although at the onset I got rid of TV. My spiritual/metaphysical experiences became more interesting than anything manmade. When you begin to see God in the hours, God in your inner life, the world’s media is pale by comparison, and boring, although in the absence of God it’ll do. I predict the next big world-shaking revolution, the developmental one we’ve been waiting for, won’t come about because of technology but by the absence of it.

But don’t misunderstand me. I’ll fast forward three or four months in time, from this moment in Safed, to when I was working day labor in Eilat. The dust, the heat, the dryness, was more than we could bear. For days we’d been moving an old warehouse into a new building across the street, ten hours a day without any breaks except some minutes to eat the lunch we’d brought, if we’d brought one, any official breaks that is. You can really milk drinking water when you have to. It was a building supply warehouse, and you know how much stuff that is? It was awful. We’d hitch-hiked almost the whole length of the Dead Sea to get there to Eilat, where we’d heard there was work, myself and the three friends I would team up with soon after leaving Safed for Tel Aviv. Demoralized, I just wanted to quit and go jump in the Red Sea. We were clearing out stuff near the old checkout counters, when, all of a sudden, a Tracy Chapman song rang out clear and strong. I think it was “Fast Car”. As soon as her voice sounded, I saw blue auric light come out of the radio, which I hadn’t noticed until it was turned on, wide streaks of blue light that disappeared as soon as I saw them, and I hadn’t seen auras in days. Someone had noticed the radio and turned it on. It was like feeling a sea breeze ride a rainbow through our despair, and it was good. We all just stood there for some minutes and let the song carry us far away. Later that day I got everybody to stop working long enough to get the boss to agree to give us regular breaks, and it was that song that gave me the nerve.

Of all the things you make for me, you the whole human sense of you, what you make and create as a matter of course, without even having me in mind, like the food I eat, the clothes I wear, the chair I sit in, the book I read or movie I watch, and on and on, it’s music I’m most grateful for, even though I’d die without some of the other things. It so sounds sometimes feelings in my soul.

It wouldn’t be fair to leave Moshehiem’s apartment on the note of my discovery of his ethnocentric aim in inviting me there, as if any of us are entirely singular in our aims. There was some genuine charity there. And there was also something else, not separate from his ethnocentricity, but nonetheless it was something I needed to see and something only a Jewish person could properly show me, one that had worn the black of the ultra-orthodox, the Hasidic, Jew. I told him of an encounter I’d had with a young man on the street the day before. He was yet too young to have any kind of beard to speak of, but his attitude of orthodoxy was there plain as day on his face and in his eyes as he, running in the other direction, stopped, turned to me, giving a condescending look, and said, “Why?” referring to my long hair, which was well past my shoulders and at that moment I was wearing down, it parted in the middle sandy blond and slightly wavy, bouncing this way and that as I walked. I also had a long untrimmed beard. People often said I looked like the historical Jesus. Funny I didn’t appear to be Jewish to many Jews when they looked at me. Anyway, I gave him an equally disdainful look and, pointing with my eyes to his black attire and so out of touch with the climate clothes, said, “You, why?” He tottered a moment wondering at me and then sped off. I was left with this feeling of pity for the boy, realizing he’d probably spend the rest of his life in, how I saw it then, his religious prison without walls.

Some believe reality is just weird, and that there isn’t any truth to it, in the spiritual sense of truth that is, and it’ll show you whatever truth you believe in, as if your belief will arrange reality to conform to it, at least to the degree it seems your truth gets validated by circumstances often enough it’s kept alive. Spend time with the believers of any faith, and you’ll begin to suspect reality is quite weird in that way. But there’s another way to see it. The Supreme will fill any container made for it regardless of its shape and size, happy to have one to fill, a universe for example, a divine house within the cosmos, or even an atheistic system of philosophy, the Supreme in itself too big for any container, and it’ll back up our belief system with fortuitous circumstance and synchronicity, with many reasons to believe or not to. The thing is, you always have to be open to what’s bigger than your belief, since the Supreme always will be, and that’s really hard when you’re content with your microscopic world (in comparison to That) and the scraps the Supreme sends from time to time.

Back then I didn’t know the Supreme fills any and every container that entertains it, even those that speculate that It isn’t, and I was surprised to hear Hasidic Jews had their little corner on God. Mosheheim explained to me and made me see that the boy who questioned my hair wasn’t wearing a prison uniform; he was being humble. They wore the same clothes so to minimize the ego, did many things for that reason, and, if you can get past the black, hoary clothes and all the hair, that’s no different from Buddhist robes and shaved heads, and you can begin to appreciate their effort to quiet the same animal we all live with, although most of us aren’t trying to minimize it. It’s also part of their practice to learn to not allow sensation, such as heat, cold, hunger, taste, thirst, etc. to come before them and their God, and so they weren’t wearing such a hot getup because they were just rigid as all getout. It was a constant practice helping them to put God before their comfort, although there in Safed, because of its higher elevation, it wasn’t often very hot. You might imagine though, in places such as Jerusalem and the desert settlements, what a sweat you worked up just walking down the street. The Hasidic movement started in Eastern Europe in the 18th  century, where their dress matched the climate, and they didn’t adapt it to the hotter environment. Of course there are better ways to minimize the ego, namely I’d say by not giving into its need to do something one way and one way only and its stubborn habit to be inflexible when faced with change, but theirs, despite its drawbacks, is a way. I didn’t appreciate that before Moshehiem.

These are normal meditation hunters—ah the bubbles of God. They aren’t seeking enlightenment, and the change of consciousness they want is one of degree, not kind, where the ego is minimized so God is put first as much as possible, not where the ego is surpassed altogether and they enter the next higher mode of consciousness called by many names: realization, no-self, consciousness without an object, liberation, Silent Mind, and others. Even still, I would imagine some very few slip through and make it, but it’s not a stated goal or even central to their teachings. I’d also imagine those that do either hide it or leave Hasidism, since it’s not a state of consciousness compatible with orthodoxy or with strict obedience to rules and laws, and neither is it a state easily accessible by those things, as much as the religious or spiritual-minded seem to think it is or should be, even in Buddhism, which has that as its aim. If it were, millions and millions would be enlightened.

It’s the spiritual paradox of enlightenment, which I might come close to somewhat capturing by the phrase we quoted to each other often in Green Beret school, The Special Forces Qualification Course: if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin’, and if you get caught you ain’t SF. It’s only a sideways resemblance, but it’s still an apt analogy. I’ll explain. We lost half the class on the land navigation week during phase 1 at Camp Mackall. At the end of a week of training, using a map and compass, we had 24 hours to find four metal stakes in the day and at least one in the night (four for a perfect score) at given sets of coordinates, carrying a rucksack, an M-16 and an outdated map, the stakes in the worst places, in swamps, thickets and such, and placed to take full advantage of the confusion an outdated map would bring, such as a stake shown on the map to be on one side of road, but since the map had been made the road had moved, and now the stake was on the other side, and so forth. The rules were: you could not follow a road or even be near one, unless you were near a stake near a road (FTR—follow the road, was another refrain of ours); you couldn’t be within a 20 meters of another student, unless you were at a stake, and even then you couldn’t talk to one another; you could only use your flashlight within ten meters of a stake. If you got caught breaking the rules you failed the test and hence the whole course. The problem was, unless you broke the rules you couldn’t pass the test.

You see now the paradox of realization? We have to use the ego to overcome the ego, but the ego’s way of doing things can’t be the only way, which I might partly sum up by listing its preference for assured footing, its wish to take simple ordered steps, its love of rule and law, its aptness to be strict and inflexible, its will for everyone to be the same, and its principle of exclusion. Even to minimize the ego, much less to become realized, you face the paradox.

That thing has touched the wall.
It’s horrible.
It’s not in your history books.
It’s around us all the time.
It’s powerful.
It’s got a way with words.
It’s from another dimension,
another world.

There are monsters in our midsts,
and they’re all around us.
You can’t see them.
I have visions they’re here.
I see them all the time.
I know they’re here.

They’re demons,
hostile forces attached to the universe
that seem to destroy it,
are against God’s plan,
against the Light.
They are unreservedly unholy,
vicious and mean,
and they’re here for a reason.
They test God’s plan,
test it thoroughly.

They get by without it.
They’re just demons.
They’re monstrous.
They came out of Nowhere.
They will be converted in time’s end.
They are a huge mistake,
unwilling and dim.

You can’t stop them.
Their food you can stop giving them.
Their food is us.
They are the cosmic grazers
of horrible energies.
They destroy the world,
or they give it a good go
testing God’s plan by contrarying it,
and on this point they’re lost.
They can only see their feeding space,
and their utter hatred of goodness and light.

Their maniacalness
doesn’t know how to defend itself.
They go too far.
They grandly fuck up.
I am a product of that
I’m here to tell you.
It’s the story of the wall.
It’s nonexistence,
the very limits of human existence.
And stay tuned.

They eat our goodwill.
It’s not what they want.
You’ll have to view the laws of discrimination.
This has brought them along.
Lookin’ for dog,
horrible creature
in every human business.
They are the communiqué of doom that rules the world,
and how long it’s gonna take you to learn that.
This is the conspiracy,
and they are not human,

And we’ve put all goodness aside.
They’re lying.
They are just the level we are at.
They don’t control the cosmos.
They are not Gods.
They can’t even control themselves.
All the particulars let’s leave down to a science
buy ice cream.

A hell of a way to pay for the world,
they get you with your delight,
right where it rubs the world wrong,
whatever it is.
Throw off that fun yoke, will yah?
My God these are clever creatures.
Can you find them?

And it’s here we rob the world.
You’re just not gonna see us,
and we’ve spoken today
of how you rule us.
It’s in our acts you see.
I think we’ve got a demon by the horns.
That looks like
how to control them.
They’re there
you know.
Don’t give them what they want,
harm to yourself or your world.
I think that’s the duty of humankind.
It’s also how we end evil
once and for all:
don’t give them what they want.
Don’t even try.

And you’ve harmonized them,
an integral harmony
that puts them in their right place:
the testers of our degree of God.
That’s what they’re there for,
despite themselves,
and they just hate it.
See them?

The individual series
comin’ up next.
The long and short of it is
you’ve got to see it to believe it.
You can’t get over how it crows,
and that’s hands down
the shit eating grin.

I’m gonna flip
and tell you
a star in knowin’ things could hardly know Nothin’,
but you don’t give the Devil’s worth.
You know I’m talkin’ Supermind,
the Station beyond this universe.
Get it right,
and that’s a tadpole,
and I give you the frog later on.

Lose your temper.
He’s not gonna do it,
tell you
little human shapes
justify God’s expression in time.
Beat on those
a whole universe worth of seeing.
Just three verses:
taking more to movie to;
we are bystanders;
that really belongs to the Earth,
Heaven’s gate,
with all due respects.

What have we done?
Brought the inviolate Supermind to Earth,
the Truth Consciousness on our home planet.
And there it is.
It’s a box warning.
A box is not your life.

Next post:

Chapter 6
Legends of School

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