Tell Them Willie Boy is Here
If there’s one thing I’m learning in life, what’s brought home to me in whatever I look at human, is that we’re all the same in essence as different as we are in particulars, and this we we are is a social animal species different in degree but not so much in kind from other animal peoples. What is different about us is more the degree we have one foot lifting up off the ground so to place it in what is more than the animal; you might say that’s our job really, to plant that foot individually, or get as close as our personal obstacles and society will allow us to get, which at this stage of the game is not in the terra firma of the next step but what one might call no-ground, to be perfectly honest about it. I’ve said all this so to say that we are really and truly part of a herd, one, despite our intelligence, as obstinately ignorant as any pack of animals when it comes to seeing anything in any colors other than black or white, good or bad, male or female, or any it’s either this or that. So when we write our bios we write with this in mind, don’t cross any lines that would make us a target of ridicule, or worse. I can tell you that I grew up both in the suburbs of Houston and on a small farm in East Texas, and that I went in the army and rode the Texas rodeo circuit a member of the First Cavalry Division Horse Platoon, was on hand in Washington an honor guard at Regan’s presidential inaugural ball, indicative of that administration’s warhorse was on a runaway wagon through the monuments in D.C. just an hour before his parade. I was the Soldier of the Year of III Corps and Ft. Hood and later fulfilled a boyhood dream (being a cavalry trooper was also one) and became a Green Beret, which is called SF because that name is considered hollywood by SF’ers. On a fluke I was put for a single mission on a tactical nuclear weapons team (a Green Light team to be exact) and parachuted with my team into what was then West Germany and pretended to blow up some locks on a river with a real nuke, seeing a whole lot about the world and the U.S. in it too lengthy to go into. I capped off my military service by teaching summer camp at West point, a duty of SF. Then I got out and went to collage for the next seven years, studying first Science then switching to English and History and in my post-baccalaureate becoming pretty good at translating Classical Greek, although in the 25 years since I can’t read any, and I’ll only mention that I did start a thesis in the History of Science about the origin of atomic theory in Greek science, but I conjured a demon in an attempt to answer the question were there unembodied beings the Greeks may have used to aid them in their science, and the thing was loose in my apartment scaring my friends and me, and the whole thing really blew my mind, and I dropped the thesis and just buried my head in Greek on the suggestion of my professor, an agnostic but one that had to admit the possibility of the existence of such creatures based on my convincing report. Continuing on, because I’ve always had a lot of lucid dreams, I began to explore dreams and found the doorways in dreams and actually really found my soul, although I didn’t know that until later. The out of body thing had really been happening too, but the demon thing kind of put a damper on things if you know what I mean. Out of the blue one night driving my truck I went up out the top of my head a few meters and was for a moment the person I really am presiding over all these many lives I have, the one that can see from multiple fields of view at the same time, and a year later trying to go back up there I went into the absolute silence for a few moments, and boy that was a shock. It’s that no-ground I was talking about. Not too long after I left off taking classes and spent a year or so studying on my own, because I’d leaned how to learn, and then I went to California with the cycle of poems I’d written and read them on a public radio station in Marijuanaville, and that kicked off a year and half of what could be called being on a cultural edge, one so slippery I ended up in Jerusalem with another cycle of poems doing a penance you might say by posting them on holy sites in the old city (with the help of Lars, a Danish friend I must add because this thing was dangerous, and he risked his neck with me). I went on alone to post them on the top of Mt. Sinai, or what we think is anyway, and inside and around the Great Pyramid in Egypt. After going to India for six months I returned to the States for a year and then left again only to visit once in ’99 or so. For a lot of the time I traveled with Douglas, my best friend (I actually have two), and sometimes I was able to work, like in Guanajauto and in Cuzco, in the former teaching English and in the latter teaching yoga on television there, live TV in Spanish with Douglas, and not really knowing a whole lot about twisting the body this way and that because our yoga is about realization and transformation, we ended up doing comical skits and was a hit in Cusco at restaurant openings and the like until some Tibetan monks came to town and we were no longer the new kids in town, and they got the spotlight. Cuzco’s like that. A lot of the time I wasn’t able to work and Douglas paid for our expenses, and I was just a mooch you might say, but I hope to pay him back one day. We parted ways in La Paz after going to the Amazon to find an ayajuasca shaman. Although we found one, that didn’t work out and we fell out. For the next year I traveled around South America trying to find a job so I could leave, living by my wits and by my hands willing to do any kind of work to eat, but a lot of the time people just liked me and took me home. That wasn’t always wise of them back then. After an English teaching job in Venezuela I went to Paris to write poetry and lasted a summer, getting kicked out of my squat by an Israeli no less, trying to explain to him I had to finish the poem A Suicide Bomber’s Broken Arrow is Broken, but he didn’t listen. That poem ended up being more than ten years in the writing. Then I went to Rome and got kicked out of another squat by paranoid pot growers who thought I was a nark because I didn’t smoke grass. (I was really on a puritan kick then but now will take a hit if it’s offered, which it seldom is.) Athens was next, and someone gave me money to go to Crete, telling me it was possible to live there like I live, with no funds. I lived first in the caves of Matala, and then got an apartment as a handyman for a former East German scientist spy, and we didn’t get along: I was too straight and she drank too much. Someone gave me a cabin sitting job, and for three months I got to just write poetry. Then friends told me about a place in Sicily where I might could live awhile, and I sailed there and spent a couple of months, but had to work and couldn’t write. I heard about the Camino of Santiago, and so someone gave me the money to sail to Spain, and I walked the length of it and met someone who took me home to France where I was a handyman and meditation teacher until I got the money together to get back to India, the place I’d been trying to go all along, but not long after I arrived I hit another one of those slippery cultural edges, and it took years to get back up to social snuff you might say, but I have a place and can write finally. Now, herd animals that we are, if I told you the bad parts of my story all the good interesting things I just told you would be completely forgotten and become completely irrelevant, so I’ll let you hear about it.
Letter to the editor:
(Written and sent to Poetry Magazine, unpublished, but this blog grew out of it.)
“May the great poet we are looking for never find it shut, or half-shut, against his ample genius! To this end the editors hope to keep free of entangling alliances with any single class or school. They desire to print the best English verse which is being written today, regardless of where, by whom, or under what theory of art it is written.”
I cannot say whether when your magazine began in 1912 it lived up to the above statement of intent. There’s seems to be something rather fishy in human nature which can be viewed in a sideways glance by the phrase “we teach what we most need to learn.” It’s the same with me and probably was with Harriet, the same with every one of us, if we can admit that to ourselves that is. One day perhaps, when we can get over the fact that we wear clothes, cook our food after we kill it, say thank you and please, and write laws, poems, and the like we’ll be able to see that we are yet wild animals compared to what it really means to be civilized and cultured, but I have to be careful and not step over any line or you won’t publish this letter. But it’s my intention here to point out that we are not the open-minded animals we think we are, and that narrow-mindedness especially affects those of us who think we are not, more specifically, that you are not the magazine you claim you are: one open to the best English poetry and any theory of art. I want to point out in this letter that you adhere to what I might call the literary paradigm of poetry which Martin Earl in a critique of the instrumental German poem What Must Be Said (a critique published by the Poetry Foundation in Harriet online) called “pure poetry”, which can also be called scholastic poetry since, heavily influenced by poets such as Ezra Pound and other poets of the “pure” school, this notion of poetry (genre?) developed in university literature and creative writing departments over the course of the last century, or, to put another way a bit more instrumental, resulted from the usurpation of poetry by academia. Whatever the poetic merits of the poem in question, it’s opened a door in poetry, and it’s becoming much clearer what is missing in contemporary literary poetry: the full spectrum of poetry.
“If you are interested in writing well, in working at being a better poet, then the most important piece of advice that anyone can give you is that you have to read recent poetry.”
You include this quote in emails to submitters and have so for some time. I include it here because it says so much about what kind of poetry you are looking for, what you are open to, setting aside the relevant issues of the importance of a poet first being true to his own inspiration and a willingness to let poetry change into the future. What that quote tells me is that you want poetry that adheres to the current “pure poetry” (scholastic) literary paradigm, and that you are not open to poetry that is not in that genre. The telling thing is this is “the most important piece of advice” you give to poets sending you poetry. I should explain now what I’m driving at. In the contemporary poetry scene form is not really an issue; content is, ideas and how they are spoken in a poem. That openness to poetic form (which sometimes means poetry can even be prose or dots on a page) tends to present a picture of your magazine, and literary magazines in general, as being open to any and all poetry. But as I have found, and I’m sure many other poets have also, neither you nor most other literary magazines are open to instrumental or engaged poetry, that is, verse that addresses social, political issues (spiritual I’d have to whisper) to a degree it speaks out of the scholastic genre, voices such issues as loudly as it does language play and the form of a poem itself. No thing in Nature, however, is cut and dry, this and not also to some degree that, and so your magazine and other literary magazines do include some instrumental poetry in your pages, which you’ll certainly cite to prove me wrong, (and since the winds of change are upon you you’ll probably do so more as time wears on), but from what I’ve read such poetry doesn’t stray far from the paradigm, would not be considered radical or extreme, and is usually about issues currently acceptable to include by the literary mindset such as gay rights, racial and gender discrimination, opposition to war and poverty, censorship, to name the more prominent ones. Be that as it may, your criteria for accepting poems, which you basically state in that quote whether you are aware of it or not, has more to do with maintaining the contemporary poetry paradigm than it does with poetic merit, something by its very nature so subjective no one can prove by argument that you are not basing your decisions on, but inevitably there’ll be poets and poems you decline that are so unequivocally good your narrowness will become evident, and you’ll cease to be the poetry magazine of importance you now are.
I don’t think you understand just how far reaching are these winds of change. As we reach critical mass on all fronts we’re moving online, and not only do we begin to see ourselves as a world but also see ourselves in all our glory and ugliness (more sight there on the latter here in the beginning stages), and the vision is just too much to take in all at once. Everything’s up in the air, even such fundamental things are who and what we are and where we’re supposed to go and what we’re supposed to do. Poetry is becoming more pin-pointed, written more and more to address these changes and help to define us and give us direction and purpose, something that can be said of art in general. You won’t be able to keep that out of your pages for long if you don’t want to go out of significance. It’ll be interesting to see if you keep this letter out of your pages. I think that will say something about where you’re at in relation to the coming change in poetry. If you’re standing in opposition to it I can’t fault you since adherence to any paradigm is more a matter of conditioning than anything else, and trying to change my own conditioning has shown me it’s almost impossible to overcome, especially in matters of preference we think are conscious choices, but as I’ve also found, change I must, and it’s that necessity that ultimately makes it possible. I doubt you feel as yet any necessity sitting as you are still on the top of the heap so to speak, and it’ll probably boil down to poets having to bypass you and the literary establishment completely in order to publish, and with the web that is now a viable option, and in time there’ll be non-literary poetry magazines publishing and posting the new poetry. I doubt you’ll run this letter either. Our sense of fair play and voicing the opposite opinion usually goes out the window when we’re confronted with what is squarely opposite of our own. Wild animals that we are, we usually view it as a threat and keep it as far away as possible, since, being a true opposite, it has our own heart at its heart and hence shows our vulnerability all too clearly for us to let it do that willingly.
Under the Graffiti
(Not posted or sent anywhere)
I’m the story you’re not to read, the one that can’t get out because it’s guarded what you read if you didn’t know it, despite the fact that we now have the net where almost anything can be put to the public. Yeah we; I identify, but I’m on the other side of that almost unfortunately. Understandably so you’d say when you hear what’s on that other side if you’re part of that moral majority (which actually includes probably about 99% of you atheists included – the narrow mind knows no bounds ), and I’m not just talking about the other side of what you call immoral and all that jazz (jizzum a real earthy story would say), but about the other side of the story, life as we know it and think it to be, including in that picture death of course, interweavin’ it into the story like it’s supposed to be seeing how normal it is, and I’m talking to you, so goddamn it why can’t I say so, like come out of the writing and address you personally? A literary work’s not allowed to do that. It dislocates the spell of hearin’ a story and tells it for the sake of more than art. I kinda want you dislocated. We’re all under too much of a spell as it is. And who the hell is art anyway? Can you say? Now this censorship runs deeper than the human editor or the objections of such online organizations as The Victims of Incest, Alien Abductions, and Just Generally Getting Screwed in Life. Neither good nor evil want this story either in print or even whispered into your ear, the story the Gods wouldn’t want you to hear so you wouldn’t get the wrong idea about how you become good if you’re bad, and conscious Darkness doesn’t want you to hear so you won’t know that’s even possible, or that it exists or God and Gods either for that matter, not to mention that there’s actually this state called enlightenment that you and me are supposed to be figurin’ out, and that beyond that you got it in Nature’s plan to become God, and what I mean by that the story’s about, not so much the one you’re readin’, though it shows a God thing or two, things devilish as well, but the story of us itself.
I guess I should start with an example to get your interest aroused. We got more writers today than readers, and unless I grab you quickly and shake the hell out of you you’re not gonna wanna read on. I’ve thought a lot about how to tell you my personal story (what, you expect me to tell a made up story for Christ’s sake?). I actually don’t remember what happened exactly, nor in what order. Can you remember not only what you had for lunch yesterday but also word for word what was said (or thought by thought of what you thought if you ate alone) and bite by bite what order you ate? I didn’t think so. Maybe if I start piecin’ together mementos I can eventually give you the big picture. That’s in vogue anyway for the after the post-modern narrator if I got my story straight. You gotta be in style if you wanna get read (or published I should say — holy shit, I can just post). New styles have to sneak in there under the radar, dressed enough in the old style’s clothes so as not to alarm the status quo. In this one big instance of my own story discoverin’ things bigger than me and you and our general worldview, I remember I was sittin’ in Professor Posi’s Greek class. I don’t remember what we were translatin’, but this was the University of Houston, and so it wasn’t any of Plato’s more questioning dialogues. We did do the Apology, a relatively benign work on the surface, though it’s smarter than the radar to keep such stuff out, and Dora (my prof) gave me a special copy, somethin’ that’d made the national merit scholar, the two Classics majors, the English major, and the couple of Christians in the class jealous (I may have to actual demographics wrong, sorry). It was well into the second year, and we’d lost everybody else. Greek is downright difficult. I had the knack of translatin’ it, although I was the most unlikely of candidates and wasn’t popular with the other students, not only because I wasn’t takin’ any other classes or goin’ for any degree (post-baccalaureate they call it), but because I’d come to class reekin’ of reefer and stoned out of my head and didn’t care what anybody thought about it, even take exams that way and never make below an A, which was for that class of serious students too much of a contradiction to translate into their law abiding view of life. Anybody that’s studied Greek will tell you it’s not easy to translate. You can know what every word means and what it’s doin’ in a sentence and still not know what it’s tryin’ to say. You gotta make this creative leap sort of like Oedipus and Orestes jumpin’ on their mothers not to make love to them or kill them but to interpret motherhood if I can get philosophical for a moment.
Anyway I was sittin’ there and havin’ a déjà vu. I can’t remember if this was before or after what I can’t tell you yet because you just wouldn’t believe me unless I led you to it real slow showing the moon and stars first, but I’d imagine it was probably after, since I was pretty much wide open. I was havin’ about ten or so déjà vus a day, give or take two or three, and I was learning not to get excited when I found myself in one, to have the same indifferent calm it takes to stay in a lucid dream and not wake up in your bed saying, “Damn, I lost it again.” Doing that I was able to make it last longer and longer, and I’d reached the point at which I figured the future would show itself if I could make it last any longer, and that was somethin’ I knew like you know Christmas is comin’ or sunrise tomorrow or whatever’s on the timeline on its way. To get any idea what I mean you have to recall yourself in one if you’ve had them enough to remember what it’s like; what you’re tripping over in that state is the time thing, like you’ve seen whatever you’re experiencing before, thousands and thousands of times. As the state hit Dora was talkin’ and leadin’ up to givin’ us the correct translation of some sentence about pirates I believe, somethin’ she’d do after all of us had had a crack at a sentence but couldn’t get it right. We weren’t in a classroom but in a conference room sittin’ around a long rectangular table lookin’ at one another or tryin’ not to as the case may be. I was lookin’ at Dora at the head of the table and easin’ into the déjà vu so this time it would last long enough. As the seconds ticked off like Godzillas so big they were I crossed some line not so much in my mind as in Mind itself, and suddenly I knew exactly what she was gonna to say word for word, and as I was struggling over whether to blurt it out before she said it, thereby changing the future, she said it (which wasn’t the sentence translated but one explaining the context of the sentence, so it wasn’t my mind doing an ‘unconscious’ the translation of the sentence and mistaking it for seeing the future). And it wasn’t only the sentence I knew was comin’ but everything about to happen in the room, the whole sequence of that future few seconds: the cough of so and so, the rustle of paper, the entire scene. When you experience something like you don’t need anybody else to tell you you did, and it’s precisely here where the scientific method fails and fails miserably to clue us into what’s goin’ on, but I’d imagine if a scientist can make a déjà vu last long enough they’d see the future too, but somehow I doubt a scientist would put any stock at all in such personal subjective experiences, theirs or anybody else’s. And you think religious fundamentalists are herd sour.
Aww fuck, err, aww f**ck I mean, there’s just so much I can’t say, and that’s really the problem with knowledge and passin’ it on: so many times it crosses wrong’s lines. Take here for instance. What got my goat about the whole thing was her using the word booty in that sentence, though with her it was in the context of pirates’ booty, but with me it was a funny word I was using with a friend of mine for fooling around, not a lover, and nobody got any booty, but that word somehow had hit a note for us , and to really bring the irony right onto my home plate, its use here by my professor, I was being a pirate. That the word was used in such an amplified larger than my reality experience really got my attention on the fact that there was another element in the experience other than just me and a glimpse of the future, something conscious of all Time and even of little details like me’s, playfully intelligent but at the same time dead serous about pointing out get out of booty.
It’s happened so many times not only in my own personal experiences of anything to do with clairvoyance and the senses seeing past their physical range, but also with many others I’ve talked to who’ve related to me their experiences, ones that they really couldn’t tell someone else about (I got these ‘I know I’ve been bad’ ears, so you don’t have to worry none), or at least not the whole story, because it revealed their shadow side, so much so and in so many instances I’ve come across that it seems to be part and parcel of the process, that the ESP’s not only to give you that sight but more to try and wake you up out of your animal cravings, get you to get up, evolve, and that’s the number one reason I’d bet we don’t hear about these things as much as they occur among us: they show our bad that we don’t want others to see. Has anyone ever told you a dream they had about you doing such and such, something nasty, something they’d have no other way of knowing save from the dream, something you wouldn’t want to admit, and you simply didn’t? Like I said, there’s so much I can’t say, and you neither. Know what I mean Vern?
Like Which Life Squares?
(Written as a comment for the blog Integral Options Café, but I didn’t post it because it ended up being too much for a prose comment, and as it sat here on the bottom of this page where it may or may not ever be read, I greatly expanded it to address remotely the question of Osel Hita Torres, who’s been told he’s a reincarnation of a Tibetan lama and therefore needs to assume the thread of that former life, uphold the tradition of The Great Vehicle. Really? Maybe the old lama was in a rut and needed a new body to make a bold new spiritual attempt not bound by tradition however great.)
Many times I get the impression that old sayings of common wisdom really had their origin in attempting to give some shape to the spiritual search, or whatever you call that elusive real reason we have a life, what is not at all evident because you can’t see the obvious for the ordinary, or, as it’s been said since time immemorial, you can’t see the forest for the trees. You like the Buddhist perspective if I’m not mistaken, and it’s evident by your thoughts here on the Self you’ve read a great deal of its philosophy concerning that selfsame. In Buddhism there is no Self, only the illusion of one strung together by the constant false awareness of one, and that can be put in innumerable ways, as you do in this post without coming right out and saying it, but it does appear as if you’re still undecided as to whether or not there is a real Self. You do seem to have the perception that the ego, this person that has grown up carrying your name which is and has been in reality many different people, is not that Person. So you’re not in a bad place for eventually being able to answer that question by your own personal experience. Although the mind can over a long period of time, seeing everything through the lens of a specific one-pointed perspective, running that around every thought, approximate an amalgamated realization of either the truth of the Self everywhere and in everything or the seemingly conflicting truth of there being no Self in the samsara of existence, you won’t actually see the Self or emptiness by the acrobatics of the analytical mind, and it should hardly need to be mentioned that the one perspective at a time mind can’t see the Personal and Impersonal as complementary to each other and not mutually exclusive. Most of the time, as you’re doing here basically, although your sincerity is obvious (what I’m replying to I might add), we put more clouds in front of both when we try and reason it out. Reading books about it also confuse the issue, comments too I might add. Sometime somehow we have to get into the silence, for it’s only there can the Self and/or emptiness be seen, and which you see depends upon your orientation believe it or not, and if you actually do have an integral perspective, you’ll end up seeing both as impossible as that sounds.
Can I tell you what I’ve experienced and not so much what I’ve read and thought about? The latter gets more credit, especially if you have titles by your name or a following, because just some guy like I am can so easily lie or exaggerate. I guess you just have to take it with a pinch of salt, but I assure you, I’m being honest. The first experience of the silence was the deepest, where the breathing stopped as well as my heart, and I was driving a truck down the highway and had no problem continuing the action while in that very grooved state, although when I felt from the base of my spine rise an incredible force I kind of freaked out and stupidly stopped the force and turned my mind, heartbeat, and breathing back on. What brought the force rising from the base of the spine was a personal mantra I’d started singing so I could better handle the intensity of that emptiness despite the immeasurable peace I felt, was almost drowning in would be a better way of putting it. Love was the last word in the short mantra, and as I sung the word love my voice changed into a sound I’ve not heard on this earth, something almost metallic but in no way artificial or mean. It was only a few seconds singing on that out of this world note that the force rose up, climbing up through me like a cannon ball, but I stopped it before it got to the top of my head (and you have to understand it wasn’t so much a force rising but all of me) and at the same time shut off the silence, turning my heart and mind back on like I said, doing that by stopping the singing and just shaking the holy fire out of myself believe it or not. The whole thing only lasted a couple of minutes, and I have no idea how long you can stay in such a suspended state, and I was in no way prepared for that suspension by any of the reading I’d done, and I’d read extensively, or so I thought (I am continually amazed at just how hidden in plain sight, or available but not generally known, the writings on profound spirituality really are as well as by the fact that you can read something, about silence for example, and think you’ve experienced it, but when you actually sit in it you discover it to be almost a whole other world than what you imagined it to be). In that state was complete and utter inner silence, with no sense of I or self whatsoever, a shorelessness very hard to suddenly plunge into, an infinity so shocking you only want the finite back, if, that is, you were like me at the time not ready for ego death and the loss of the whole wide world, and I’m not joking or exaggerating in the least. You’re in it, but it’s very far away from you, and there’s no top, bottom, sides, or any boundaries, nothing to hold onto. I guess that’s why some call this liberation, but I doubt if most of us seeking it, or the more sustainable variety accompanied by breathing and a heartbeat (me like a forlorn Perceval having seen the holy grail too wet behind the ears to know what I was looking at and grab it), really understand what we are searching for is at the same time from a less readied perspective that of which we are most afraid.
Anybody who hasn’t had the experience would rightly ask that if there is no I or even a sense of self then who is it that has trouble handling it or finds it intense? Or, for that matter, who chooses to sing a mantra or do anything since there’s no person there to make choices and carry them out? Or when you’re not only in peace but also in bliss and hence have no problems with the intensity, as has occurred with me the couple of other times I’ve been in the silence, who is it that’s feeling and enjoying the bliss? I’ve grappled with these questions for years, and I really can’t answer them other than to say you do still have an observing consciousness, a basic raw awareness, as Franklin Merrell-Wolff has described it, a consciousness without an object, but that consciousness is still armed with a will and still feels, only there’s no thought and no feeling of being in the world or being a self; it’s all an evident fiction, a movie you can act in or not, the world that is since I Am has left the stage entirely, and some months after the above experience I entered the silence in a dream, where it’s easier to get to but still damn difficult, and I had no feeling at all of being in a body and was in such bliss that, even though I was driving into a car crash (driving that time too), I could care less and had the hardest time using my will to try and steer away from it, but will was there as well as feeling; it just didn’t have anything to do with the input from the senses. It’s more a quality of awareness really. As there are many degrees in ego consciousness there are many degrees of the depth of the silence, as there are in the stages into it, such as what Suzanne Segal describes where the seat of her consciousness has shifted completely outside her head, and she’s become an outside witness of herself, but there’s been no change of the operations of that self, no inner silence, not one shred of stillness or peace. All is going on as before with the marked difference she’s completely detached from it, literally, only the observer of her scene, although she’s experiencing panic and terror as that observer. Later her witness also disappears (that witness outside of her body actually being the sudden onset and subsequent subsiding of a simultaneous inner movement beyond this present discussion), but the stream of thoughts and emotions and the actions those give rise to continue, meaning there’s no inner silence, so there’s still an ego in operation there, something like twenty-five percent in a bed of seventy-five percent emptiness to simply illustrate what is going on, and hence her experience, an incomplete movement into the emptiness, albeit still a considerable movement in that direction, is known in Buddhism as being in the pit of the void and in Western psychology as depersonalization since it’s such a negative experience. Because this is so incredibly different from normal waking consciousness you can understandably think yourself “free” (if you’re able to come to grips with it and learn to live in the unreality of yourself and the world), but what we fail to understand about the spiritual path, or life itself really, since that’s what life is when we take off its clothes and see it naked, is that there’s always further to go, in her case and many like her all the way into the emptiness into the inner silence as well, as fearful as that might sound –you’re ready; you’re a player; recovery: keep going–, but it’s become obvious to me that at some point we’re faced with a more fundamental choice than whether or not we should live in the ego or in emptiness, and that is to stay in life or leave it behind completely, and I’m talking about the whole thing, existence itself, life here and life in the hereafter. The thing about the silence is that there doesn’t seem to be a deepest degree but a point at which you enter out of life altogether and enter into I know not what, something the Buddha taught, but while that might be the path of many souls, it’s not mine’s, as strange as that may sound from someone who’s seen the exit and not just heard about it. It’s just that I’ve seen there’s more than the silence, saw beyond it, saw that more first in a reversal of how it usually seems to be seen, and so I can tell you that the silence, liberation, enlightenment to just come out and name the beast, is only the necessary preliminary emptying of the being. There is or can be a filling, what might better be called a rising into the fullness of who we are, into the higher self. I don’t think at any point can we say highest. It’s your choice to go higher or leave, but it’s not a moral choice; it’s one made in the fundamental ground of your being, in your soul, since there emptiness and the Self are not as we see them in contradiction to one another, where emptiness is not at all a nothingness as we imagine it nor the Self limited to the samsara, to existence, and hence to stay would not mean violating their purity. I know I sound like such a heretic, but you’ve got to figure the path evolves as so obviously life does its disguise, and much more of it can be seen than could be two and three thousand or even a hundred years ago.
To get into the silence I’d done a three month practice intensive on my own, using at that time mostly the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism. I had an evening job as a valet and could afford to concentrate on spiritual practice, sadhana, as I did. I thought about emptiness day and night, concentrated my mind on imagining that, played the thought continually on that theme, did at least an hour of pranayama a day, yoga postures, ate vegan and macrobiotic, did an aggressive physical fitness program, spent a couple of hours in sitting meditation, dawn and dusk when it was possible, sung mantras when the mood hit, but personal ones that caught my ear, snatches of songs and the like, and I put down all books except Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines and whatever Greek I had to translate into English from the single class I was taking at the university. But I wasn’t religious about it (and it’s right here where most mess up; it’s not to the right or left but with the flow) and allowed myself a cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake every Friday and a joint once a week, using it for a special weekly meditation, and it was in going off my discipline and just suddenly lighting one up on the way to Enchanted Rock in central Texas, where I was going because I knew something was about to happen like a pregnant woman knows her baby’s about to be born, and that place was a place of power for me, that I hit the depth of thought that triggered the silence, my mind actually collapsing because my thinking branched, something I literally saw in my mind, and I was thinking two thoughts at the same time, something not possible in ego consciousness. I cannot remember what those thoughts were unfortunately. I’ve often thought if I could think them again that would be an easier way to hot wire the silence – hit them against one another and see if it starts.
Anyway, in my sadhana discipline before the experience I put down tobacco completely (though immediately after the experience I stopped at the nearest shop, bought a pack of smokes and smoked myself sick), didn’t bother about alcohol because I rarely drank, and I threw out all thought of sex; not wasting the life-force on orgasms or sexual fantasies was very important to being able to enter the silence, but you don’t abstain for moral reasons, do all this for goodness’ sake, an attitude mistake of rigidity most people make (as I’m trying to explain) and hence few people go into the silence or have overhead experience – they’re not wide enough; it has to do with building up enough life-force and having nothing to disturb your mental concentration. I spoke very little to people during that time, saying only what was necessary to do my valet job and take a college course, didn’t have a teacher, wasn’t a part of any spiritual or religious group, although there was a gentleman who was a doorman where I worked, not a “hidden master” because he wasn’t realized, but he had seen, an Anglo-American Sufi (Bob was the only Anglo in his Sufi order, an old one out of Iran) I was friends with that had ascertained what was going on with me by talking to me and looking at me (he was very adept at seeing the human aura) and helped me assimilate the experience, keep my job and continue my Greek class, grounding things I greatly needed. You do need other people in your practice, but most of the time they’re more of an excuse to stop concentrating and socialize than the needed aid they can be. In such a sadhana you’re alone in a tower, which is the symbol dream and vision use to show where you’re at in relation to other people, and it certainly isn’t easy to be around others and high in a tower not made of ivory so to speak or walls of stuck-up pretentiousness, but being a valet at a high-rise condo where you had to not only park cars and lug bags up and down the building, but also stand up when a resident entered the lobby and say yes ma’am and no sir and just generally be people’s nigger (something transcendent of skin color actually), well, that kept my tower in check. Bob worked there for similar reasons. Those rich people had no idea how poor they were and how wealthy their servants in comparison. I wonder sometimes if things just aren’t that way in general.
The most important element, however, the deciding factor, was that I had the advantage of having knowledge there really are higher states because a year previously I shot up (driving that same truck) out the top of my head and sat for a minute in my higher self, the immortal divine individual I am overhead, the more I saw before I mentioned earlier, but that experience was not precipitated by silence or a force rising up from the base of the spine or anything whatsoever; I was just suddenly beamed up as it were without warning. When you actually know and not only believe such states beyond the ego exist, you can put certainty in your practice, and that gives you the gumption to go all out, point your whole life-energy into your sadhana. I was actually trying to get back up to that station over my head, what I knew to be my true self, where it is when things actually become real, with the full sadhana I was doing over those three months, but I stumbled on the most usual way to it, what most people can’t see past, that no-self silence, or enlightenment, or liberation, or whatever you want to call it. I discovered later, and really kicked myself in the ass over it, that the force coming up from the base of the spine was what would have taken me back up to what the two teachers I now have call Supermind. Whatever we experience high or low there’s always someone who’s experienced more of it than you have, something not so easy for an ego to swallow, especially a spiritual ego like I have having had such a range of experiences. With such an ego and range of experience is the ever present danger of becoming someone important with a following and whatnot, the killers of growth if you happen to be like I am just a person who’s had experiences and not someone actually realized, liberated, enlightened, or someone who thinks they’re there but isn’t, which comprise probably the great majority of spiritual teachers today. Inherent in this comment is a test of being there if you’re hearing what I’m saying. Maybe we don’t let dogs eat at the table, but we do give them table scraps, meaning I’m not there and not a teacher, but I can put in my two cents worth.
After the silence I was devastated. Seeing that emptiness took the meaning out of everything for me, everything, even sadhana, and I walked around stunned for a couple of weeks. I remember some guy in a park I was walking in stopped me and asked if I were Buddhist because of the way I looked, and that was unusual seeing how that was in Houston, Texas, and I wore no special clothes, only that I’m not here look and you ain’t either, but to him that appeared as peace, and he commented on how peaceful I looked. Somewhere around two weeks after the experience I lay down in my bed (I lived alone in a singles efficiency) and just vegged out as I did a lot after the experience and still do now. As I looked at the ceiling the whole apartment disappeared in a sudden flash, replaced by a white woman dressed in American Indian buckskins and getup riding a white horse that was dancing on the top of storm waves on the sea. The sky was a purple storm, and purple lightening flashed all around her. For a brief second I saw through her eyes and countless others, each pair of eyes belonging to a perfected individually distinct Person like she was (only they weren’t by any means all white –the person “closest” to her black as they come–, but each one represented as she did in their figure some miraculous harmony of conflicting elements), but even though each was an individual they were one single person seeing through innumerable eyes. The white Indian woman, who I now know to be a representation of the nature of my higher self, or Supermind, looked at me smiling and said, “Nirvana expresses itself through the forms” (her exact words were more poetic, but they did include the first and the last, and I’ve captured the overall gist), and suddenly everything fell back into place, and the world was real again and filled with meaning, was a living breathing symbol animated by what it symbolized and not a maya of illusion, and so was I if you can understand the significance of what she said. We are That you see. It has its existence through us, through the samsara, although it’s also sufficient unto itself, something unimaginably deeper than existence, and it appears that whatever that is, there are ever expanding Persons we can be to be it, the many levels of God you might say, and what I saw was what’s next for us to be, the first step into God, if we can ever get out of the animal we are now and get through to the other side of the silence, get passed enlightenment and become what the seed idea bodhisattva is in full bloom: a master of existence over and above it.
Of course you’d ask why the hell I concentrated the mind on emptiness when it was actually more the Self (in this manifestation of it my higher self) that I wanted to see? The first answer is because I’m stupid and can’t see the obvious for the ordinary, and the second is I’m herd sour and just don’t trust myself and my own experience, or didn’t so much then. The third answer is that that’s the direction to train the mind actually, not so much on emptiness as simply not thinking, but I didn’t know that at the time. I made that my concentration because the book, Tibetan Yoga, said to. In all the books and things I’d read (no internet access then) I’d found in one single writing there the only slightly possible gleam of a hint of that overhead experience into my divine person, which is, if you got that, the same Self above everyone else although each divinity is a distinctly different person. It turned out that when I read a different English translation of that same writing some time later the hint wasn’t there. It took many years to find a description of that experience, and the person describing it became my teacher, but neither he nor his spiritual partner in the business of bringing down Supermind ever just come out and describe an experience of Supermind. It’s philosophically discussed for the most part, and even in his epic poetry you have to pay attention to see a character go up there, actually cross the line into that larger universe so much of a getting to that line has been brought into view first. If you’ve been up there you know what’s being discussed. Why the secrecy when they were trying to manifest that? Secrecy is unfortunately a tradition on the spiritual path. Up until recently you couldn’t easily find an overt description of some depth of Silent Mind either, but Bernadette Roberts and others of this contemporary age have let the cat out of the bag. I guess there’s the danger of these things being profaned in such a way you think it’s butter but it’s not; it’s Chaffon, to use an American TV commercial to get my point across. It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature. Certainly that danger’s a threat to sincere seeking. Just look at all the people claiming they’re realized, enlightened, the messiah, the maitreya, the reincarnated Jesus or a manifestation of Shiva, ad infinitum. How many are snared into following them? And goddamn the spirit messages and channeling, it makes a poet what to just ignore his muse. How can anything be genuine when there is so much bullshit out there? You just want to hang up your hat and turn your back on all of it, the spiritual path included. How can you possibly get anywhere real faced with all that baloney; I mean, is there anywhere real? The older generation of teachers knew of these dangers to the sincere seeker, and so they shrouded the path in secrecy and placed in the certainty of unmovable stone, bricked in place a tradition of, the wild wind-haired impossible to pin down spiritual path. In doing so they almost lose the patient under the knife, amass pieces of a puzzle with too many missing pieces to put the puzzle together. Today, especially with the net, we’re faced with an explosion of experience, but if you look real hard you can tell if someone’s actually seen something or is seeing it. It’s got that ring of truth to it that doesn’t so much hit you in the emotions, or even the mind. It hits you right in the seat of perception because you’re looking at what you know is the unknown. On the spiritual path that unknown has more to do with a change of consciousness than anything else. That’s what we’re doing sadhana for. All of our practices basically are to get us to that clear place free of ants where we can concentrate the mind on that change and keep it there twenty-four seven. That’s the great vehicle. Today, having gone through so many stages of intention and aspiration, this mantra, that visualization, that point of concentration, this focus, I’m simply learning step by step to walk around and sit and lay in no-thought. I’m starting to almost get serious about it. When I can do it like I was able to concentrate the mind during that amazing three months when I was a much younger man it’s probable I’d first enter the silence again, but my mind and heart want one single thing: to be up there who I am, who you are, to be our Self. Whatever the case the conditions are present for concentration. As to whether or not I’ll take advantage of the opportunity given me by these extraordinary conditions is the big question isn’t it? Will you?
Now back to this comment. A brick wall in a city alley has more clout than a comment section on the net; it can frame art and profundity but a comment can’t yet. And there’s the matter of everyone regardless of what they believe in unknowingly subscribing to the philosophy of perspectivism, “Oh that’s nice. You’ve experienced that? How very interesting. I’m a completely separated person from you, my own reality really, and so your experience is only real for you.” So there you are, but since it’s not wrapped up in the official package, you’re apt not to take a word of this seriously. Spiritual process usually isn’t front page, unless a scandal is involved, most especially a sexual one, and like water it takes the lowest position, is rather homely but very down to earth, and more often than not it picks the people at the bottom of the social ladder to give it any voice. Add all that up and it’s usually quite a test of our sincerity.