Duane Carpenter (Autobiography)

INTRODUCTION

 The Razors Edge

The Misadventures of a Reluctant Prophet

*The true meaning of prophecy, is not the simple predicting of what will happen tomorrow or some future event, nor is it in the analyses of personal information or hidden karmic forces, but living in the light of Unconditional Love and becoming a lamp through which others could see themselves more clearly; a light which in spite of all the horrors of our past, all of the restrictions and liabilities of the present, the future of freedom, love and joy stand assured. Love is the only reality and love is the only truth, and it is upon this truth everything has its existence or is given meaning.

The Master Djwhal Khul summarizes this truth in his next quote.

“Love was the impelling motive for manifestation, and love it is that keeps all in ordered sequence; love bears all on the path of return to the Father’s bosom, and love eventually perfects all that is.  It is love that builds the forms that cradle temporarily the inner hidden life, and love is the cause of the disruption of those forms, and their utter shattering, so that the life may further progress.  Love manifests on each plane as the urge that drives the evolving Monad onwards to its goal, and love is the key to the deva kingdom, and the reason of the blending of the two kingdoms eventually into the divine Hermaphrodite.  Love works through the concrete rays in the building of the system, and in the rearing of the structure that shelters the Spirit, and love works through the abstract rays for the full and potent development of that inherent divinity.  Love demonstrates, through the concrete rays, the aspects of divinity, forming the persona that hides the one Self; love demonstrates through the abstract rays in developing the attributes of divinity, in evolving to fullest measure the kingdom of God within.  Love in the concrete rays leads to the path of occultism; love in the abstract rays leads to that of the mystic.  Love forms the sheath and inspires the life; love causes the logoic vibration to surge forward, carrying all on its way, and bringing all to perfected manifestation.” TCF 595

 

Chapter One: Days of Innocense Lost

 

  Chapter 1

                                                          Days Of Innocence Lost

            “…the sensitive boy who feels much and knows little is the most unfortunate creature under the sun, because he is torn between two forces. The first force elevates him and shows him the beauty of existence through a cloud of dreams; the second ties him down to the earth and fills his eyes with dust and overpowers him with fears and darkness.” 

 (The Broken Wings by Kahil Gibran.)

            Some of my earliest recollections of my childhood were in northern New England in a quiet suburban neighborhood just outside Boston. My family lived for twelve years in a large, rambling Victorian house, surrounded by four or five well-cultivated acres of lawn and trees. Enormous, panoramic windows facing a circular driveway gave an elegant view and an air of spaciousness.

            In the front yard facing the street, a small island of pine and English Hue bordered a narrow rock garden.  In a mantle of frosted and muted green, lichens of a dozen varieties spread out across the garden in a wave of living verdure.

            To the east, just above a grassy slope, crabapple trees instilled a subtle, moving fragrance that became a cherished sign of spring’s true birth. To the west, hedged within a grove of spruce and pine, a small pond hid in the shadows. Goldfish swam like phantoms searching for food beneath the murky water.

             Beyond the pond were dogwood trees. Fondly, I recall their delicate, fragile blossoms of languid pink, rose and white, wafting in the early morning air.   

            Inside, the rooms were large, yet private.  Glass bookcases ran the full length of the living room. Oriental tapestries embroidered in gold and silk brocade hung majestically on the walls, their embossed reliefs shimmering in the early morning sun.  Persian rugs, richly woven in rust, brown, orange and amber, gave the dwelling an air of royalty. Between windows, at the furthermost end of the living room, ebony dividers intricately silhouetted floral designs.

            I remember one particular motif unusually well.  It was a Japanese landscape.  Cherry trees in full blossom profiled a towering snowcapped mountain.  To the far right, half obscured by craggy hills, a small bent figure leaned on a knotted cane.  In the immediate foreground, a large aquatic bird poised on one leg, seemed frozen in the antiquities of time.  To the left, several august personages sat silently meditating.

             At night, lying in bed, I watched the mysterious patterns on the walls made by a huge beech tree just beyond my window. Often, in the late evening hours, when my brothers and I were in bed, Thais Meditations or Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata floated through the house from the downstairs phonograph. I remember being filled with a longing for something so sweet, so irresistibly pure, that sleep became impossible.

            I recall several occasions, sitting on my father’s lap with my two older brothers, each on opposite arms of a large, overstuffed velvet chair, listening in rapt attention as he read to us. It was usually from a publication on the “Evolution of Man.” I marveled at the progression from primeval slime to aquatic fish and land mammals, and, eventually, the passing of monkeys into man. It seemed a profound mystery! The theories of Darwin, Huxley and Spencer were quite acceptable to all of us back then.

            Playing in the living room, my brothers and I eventually made our way into the bookcases. Here, we thumbed through piles of old manuscripts, and looked for an occasional picture or drawing. “Grimm’s Fairy Tales,” with its richly colored pictures, seemed to hold a peculiarly strong fascination for me.  I recall one scene depicting a battle between two mythological giants.  One muscular opponent, dressed only in shredded animal skins, wielded a large knotted club.  The other, clad in a suit of burnished armor, brandished a long silvery sword.

            Immediately, upon discovering this picture, a whole sequence of fantasies and subconscious images began to form in my mind.  I was irresistibly drawn towards the helmeted figure and began projecting some aspect of my identity into him.  There was something unmistakably spiritual about his graceful, refined presence. What awesome power lay behind the gaze of those unseen eyes?  What strength and conviction lay behind that gleaming polished mask?  Clearly, I saw myself as the helmeted figure.  The cloak of impenetrable steel I wore seemed to reflect some deep, mythological fantasy of indestructible, superhuman powers.

            Night after night, these two figures came to life, acting out some antediluvian drama that shook the bowels of the earth with its fury. Each time I entered into combat, it was with feelings of fear and frustration, because somehow I knew I could temporarily defeat the beast, but I could never destroy it.

            Just as I raised my blade for the fatal blow, the brute would retreat amidst some underground ruins. This dark, menacing figure would then reappear and the whole drama would repeat itself like a recurring ritual. I felt transported to a place apart from time and space; a hidden, secretive place, where I touched some deeper part of my psyche.

            My dreams were always extremely vivid and I recalled them easily, so that my dream life became a distinct second reality to me. The events of my nights were as important and meaningful as the events of my days.

            One dream persisted over my entire childhood. In it, I received a special sign that only I would recognize, and I found myself in front of a concealed doorway. Once it opened, I descended into a deep, labyrinthine maze of underground passageways, which led to a main chamber filled with precious gems of every hue and color. There was an endless treasury of glittering metals, oddly shaped stones and spinning chromatic disks, radiating an unknown beauty and brilliance. I would then become fabulously wealthy, and like Robin Hood, live a benevolent life bestowing these precious gifts to all in need.

            Regardless of what I was doing, this dream was always in the back of my mind.  Naively, I took the dream quite literally and kept an alert eye for that special sign or cryptic message that would lead me to the fabulous chamber of wealth.  My dream was prophetic, but it was only much later in my life that I realized its awful importance and significance.

            Like many children, I had dreams of being pursued by animals and sinister creatures; one night a dark aborigine, another a Nordic bear, then a lion or a gorilla. Unable to outwit or out maneuver the pursuer, just as the dream climaxed and the beast would leap upon me, I would awaken from sleep, screaming in utter desperation.

            In these nighttime pursuits, it was not simply a case that I was afraid of physical pain or death. It was something deeper. It was the overwhelming horror of having anything sinister or evil capable of capturing or overwhelming me. It was the fear of losing my individual identity, of becoming psychically absorbed by that which was clearly stronger and more powerful than I was.

            In these dreams, I recognized the presence of evil. But how strange it was!  My dream life was spilling over into the daytime and was coloring much of my thoughts and action, yet my family gave no credibility at all, to these lucid dreams of horror.  To them it was all fantasy.   I was simply a ten-year-old with an exceptionally vivid imagination.

            The last dreams of this type, that pursued me right up into my 11th year, seemed to reveal with astonishing clarity the underlying meaning behind my apparently irrational and uncontrollable fears. 

            One night I found myself once again pursued by the same dark figure.  I say dark, for its psychic presence required few physical details for recognition. Every attempt at concealment was futile and it eventually found me.  It was uncanny how this ugly, venomous thing could anticipate my every move.  If I would hide in an old automobile trunk, it found me. If I ran into the forest and concealed myself deep within an underground cave, it found me still.  I was now desperate.  Entering an old dilapidated building, I hid in one room after another, but to no avail.  Suddenly, to my amazement and horror, I realized that this wretched figure always knew exactly where I was going to hide. Somehow, it could perceive my thoughts as quickly as they arose in my mind!  It had great psychic powers and was telepathic!

            Now reaching the point of physical and psychological exhaustion, I made one last, frantic attempt at concealment, by trying to psychically outwit my pursuer.  I threw myself under a nearby bed, all the while mentally affirming that I was really hiding in the next room.  This time, I was certain I had finally succeeded in eluding my assailant—–but it was hopeless.  In a moment, it was again hovering over me! Petrified of its evil presence, I froze. In a circular rite of doom, the dark figure spun around me, coming closer and closer with each sweep.  Now, face-to-face, I could see clearly that it was an ugly, old hag!  As she moved nearer and tried to press her gangrenous lips and cold limbs against mine, I felt the warmth of my body leaving.  Overwhelmed by sheer disgust and horror unspeakable, I began screaming uncontrollably, refusing to succumb to this heinous death. From the deepest recesses of my being, a great psychic force erupted and repelled the wretched vampire.

            Through an insidious fog of red and the stench of sulfur, I felt my normal objectivity returning. Slowly, as the nightmare began to fade, I realized something frightening, something awesomely profound.  This evil entity, this monstrous aberration, did not disappear; it did not leave me as it had so many times before.  No!  I now realized that it had merely slipped beneath, or behind, a part of myself I did not normally see. A self that lay secretly buried in some dark place in the depths of my subconscious. The horror, fear and sense of disorientation that I first felt after this realization could never be fully conveyed. At the age of eleven I was beginning to discover that evil was neither an abstract concept nor something you could simply dismiss as the imagination, but a living force that moved inside others and myself. Because its identity went unrecognized and undetected, its existence could go on undisturbed indefinitely. Was this one of the unspoken challenges of human life and existence? To recognize our inner darkness, stop projecting these undesirable qualities onto others and begin our own redemptive work.

 If this were true then the first challenge must surely be to discover what techniques or disciplines that would allow this transformational work to go on. It seemed obvious that this realization of our own inner darkness was so earth shaking in its implications that few would be strong enough for this kind of inner work. How many in the human family were sufficiently focused to carry on an integrated program of self-realization and discipline that would take place almost exclusively in the hidden dimensions of the mind, emotions and the subconscious?

            At this time I may not have been able to articulate intellectually with any great clarity this whole process of dealing with the subconscious but it was obvious that here would lie much of my life’s work.

These startling realizations allowed me to begin to emerge out of the confusion and uncertainty of early adolescence, and begin to objectify and make more visible the problems that I would have to face and overcome in this lifetime. Clearly these inner realizations set the stage for all my future work in self-analysis and self-transformation.

             At age eleven and twelve I was discovering that I was a multi-faceted and complex being.  Although enjoying a pristine stage of childhood unencumbered by responsibilities and self-discipline I was now clearly falling from grace, from the naivete of youth.

            There was something magical about the holidays, old family grievances and animosities were magically dropped and everything came together into momentary harmony. This must surely be the best life, I always mused. Reminiscing about holidays gone by and ones to come.

             At Xmas we always adorned our living room with an eight-foot evergreen. Wrapped in a mantle of tinsel, multicolored bulbs spiraled their way to a brilliant five-pointed star at the top.  There was a special type of Xmas water bulb that when heated to a certain temperature would send rainbow colored bubbles cascading up from the base.

            Beneath the tree in clearly marked piles were the presents that spread their fancy ribbons and paper in all directions. I remember one particular Christmas my brothers and I each received an English three-speed racer, ice skates, school supplies, puzzles and an endless assortment of clothes and games.

            Gorging myself on dishes of mixed nuts, fruitcake and a certain type of ribbon candy I was always grossly overstuffed to the point of nausea long before the main meal arrived.

            To the ambient sounds of Percy Faith, or Mantovanni my Dad’s voice would announce dinner and everyone would excitingly take their designated seats. The dinner table was an oak ark that was perhaps fifteen feet long and must have been at least a hundred years old. At each corner, where the legs met the top, carved faces of Nordic Gauls were interspersed with a scroll of acorns and leaves that flowed down along the tapered legs and ended on the floor with the intricately carved feet of some exotic animal.  Central chandeliers above the table cast a scintillating yet warm glow on a small army of neatly arranged linen, china and silver utensils.

              Like some prehistoric ritual the thirty-pound turkey and all of its condiments and trimmings would arrive in a shuffle of serving trays and swishing skirts. Baked and sweet potatoes gravy, pineapple and cranberry sauce, green beans, boiled onions, squash and numerous types of stuffing. And waiting in the wing, coffee and tea, rhubarb, apple, mince and pumpkin pie with ice cream.

            Damming up the gravy with the mashed potatoes, I would skate my fork around my plate pretending to be deeply engrossed in consuming my dinner. Just by chance I happened to look down the hall and into the recreational room where someone had left the television on. I slowly became engrossed by two figures that moved vaguely before my view. It seemed that there were all these little children being knocked down as they attempted to reach for food in a large grain bag. Repeatedly they were flung to the side as rioting adults trampled over each other in a frenzied attempt to reach this grain.

            The figure of these children suddenly had become larger than life, their swollen bellies, their hollow and pleading eyes staring grotesquely at me took on a surrealistic and mythic proportion. Their outstretched hands seeming to leap from the television screen and out into the room. Their frightening and plaintiff cries filling all space and crowding out everything in my perceptions. At the height of this experience I feel as if some great weight is upon me and that I cannot breath. I am suffocating by some mysterious presence that I do not understand and that I cannot control. Instinctively, I throw myself under the table for relief. In this state of emotional panic I can hear strange words reverberating through my mind and emotions with terrible power “Feed My Sheep”, “Feed My Sheep”. I am screaming uncontrollably now, “Stop the bad men from taking the food from the little kids, Please stop those bad men from taking the seeds from the little kids, “turn the TV off Ma – Ma”. My mother embarrassingly tries to pry me from one of the table legs that I have tenaciously locked onto. I can just barely discern her voice, “but Duane the Television is not on”. “It’s on, it’s on, “I scream,” please turn it off.” My Dad’s authoritarian voice can now be heard rising in irritation “These damn kids are always making a scene. What the hell is his problem now”?

            I am disorientated and confused. The glaring disparity of my comfortable upper middle class life and the hungry and pitiful children in the world has suddenly thrown me into shock. I am resentful of this grotesque scene that is wrecking my Christmas.

            Slowly, in the aftermath of this unusual experience, I start to question. Is it possible that there are kids my age that go hungry and are starving to death out there somewhere? That the things that I experience and the comfortable world that I know and have grown accustomed to may not be the norm or the only one true reality for everyone? Was I in some odd and inexplicable way responsible for what was taking place halfway around the world in some strange and foreign country? What was this freighting magic that allowed me to momentarily plunge into the grief and horrors of others in some far distant land. Whose voice was it that speaks in the innermost depths of my conscience and demands recognition?

            Like all children, I loved to explore my surroundings. Roaming new streets and neighborhoods with my older brothers and friends, we created an endless variety of challenges to test our skill and dexterity.  Seemingly stupid and ridiculous acts were, nevertheless, vital in the development of our confidence and self esteem. I remember how, in the scorching heat of summer, while at our cottage in the mountains of New Hampshire we would often remove our bathing suits and run through the woods by our house.  Rubbing red and blue berries over our bodies, we tested each other’s courage by who could remain the longest in the middle of a near-by road, shocking some elderly neighbor or passing car. We knew we had to demonstrate unflinching courage in the face of fear or pain, to claim status in the neighborhood gang.

            For many hours of my early youth I amused myself by drawing an endless array of swords. A finely balanced, well-crafted knife always held a special fascination for me.  There was something very pleasing in the balance of a double-edged dagger, or a finely carved teak or brass handle.  Certain implements of war also inspired the same intrigue.  The intricate geometry of a cannon, a ship or a plane and the almost endless motif of wheels, gears and pins were aesthetically suggestive to my fertile mind.

            Sharply pointed, swept back fighter planes, which I constructed from plastic models, seemed to hold an odd veneration to my touch.  Their free flowing forms, that these delicate machines were faster than sound and powered by fire, gave them an additional quality I could not find in other, more mundane and inanimate objects.

            From my earliest recollections, fire was an obsession. Often I would drive my bike at top speed, miles, to see firemen battle some burning, gutted house. I was filled with a sense of mystery while watching the great circular columns of radiating orange and crimson flames. My aesthetic appreciation of color and movement went far beyond what I could understand as someone else’s personal loss.

            My brothers and I spent many days melting candles and burning leaves in little burners that we fashioned out of old cans.  Even though playing with matches was forbidden, discipline rarely averted our insatiable desire to experiment.  Like an alchemist of old, I watched inanimate objects consumed in seconds by great licking flames, reduced under the direction of my will, to mere ash.  There was always a moment of great exhilaration as base objects turned into heat and light.  Here, through the agency of fire, everything common and mundane suddenly disappeared like magic into the surrounding air, purged of its heavy inert quality. Fire was power and I worshiped it! A thousand times I tried to enter into closer union with this awesome mystery and know its secrets. I never got any closer than burning my fingers and realizing that fire was indeed a living thing that would not reveal its innermost secrets out of mere, idle curiosity.

            My understanding of people, places, or even objects, was far more expansive than words, or mere intellectual concepts could describe.  I felt a deep physical rapport with everything; the corner of a vacant room, an abandoned path in the woods.

            To me, nothing was dead or inert. Every stick, stone, flower, or even old bones from some dead animal had an inner life, some special properties of its own. I made talismans from chrome buttons or shiny aluminum pie plates and buried them with great reverence beneath wooden lean-tos, that I constructed from old logs and discarded canvas. 

            An adornment of old animal skulls and bones gave a special sanctity to one particular hut my brothers and I fashioned from broken sticks. Built high in the trees, this secret meeting place we dubbed “the club of skulls,” gave an aura of special power and magic to all our plans.  Here, projects became magically fused with life and unseen vitality.  The grotesquely shaped stumps and bones, dangling in the wind, gave an air of seriousness to any intruders who may have approached, to profane, what had now become holy ground. 

            If I stubbed my toe painfully on a tree root while out running, I would beat it into submission with a magical stick I had whittled.  In my attempt to climb the largest tree in the neighborhood, I stroked its skin with each grip. This gave me confidence that I would not fall, because the tree and I had entered into a type of communion that others could not see or understand. These trees were not merely an object of beauty but a part of my essential nature. I felt in an odd way that I was the human tree, with my branches and roots encircling out to grasp and ensoul everything.

            Mountaintops, houses, trees, or anything that could raise my stature and give me a new, more expansive perspective, were intriguing to me. As I swayed in the wind, on top of some giant maple or pine, I felt akin to the sky and its endless expanse of clouds and blue.  Here, with bits of rope and old boards, I would fortify my mythological dwelling high above the world.  In the silence of summer afternoons, I would become more alive and closer to my real self. Although this self was unknown to my mind as an objective, rational concept, I somehow realized that there was some deeper, more integral part of my being.  Here, in my tree top kingdom, I plotted out my deepest fantasies and dreams, hopes and longings.

            Hour after hour, I would watch in envy as hawks soared, weightless, high above the trees.  I longed more than anything else to rise and accompany them in their lonely sojourn across the sky.  I was envious of their freedom and wished that I could also be liberated from this heavy, unnatural habitat people called earth.  I loathed this inert form that tired easily and was forced, out of its impotence, to rely on mechanical gadgets for mobility.  Like Prometheus, who had fallen from the sky and been chained to a rock, I questioned an unknown power I could not understand, yet intuitively felt near.

            Often, after constructing giant kites, or flying machines out of cardboard and sheets of plastic, my brothers and I would dive off White’s Point hoping to fly like the hawk — only to land at the bottom, in a pile of broken rubble!

            My heart lived in the eye of the eagle and I felt a longing, of irresistible power, that someday I, too, would rise upward upon unseen wings.  I, too, would mount the heavens with fearless grace and fly into the burning sun.

            One particular characteristic that plagued me, since my earliest recollections, was my uncanny sensitivity.  If I were close with others for any time, I would completely identify with them, to the point of taking on their characteristics. When circumstances changed and they had to depart, I was in such sympathy with their emotions or ideas; the result would be a feeling of deep loss within me.

            This undue sensitivity caused me much turmoil and discomfort over the years!  I thought there was something wrong with me and that perhaps I was abnormal.  I must point out, that although I have a great desire to help and understand others, these feelings are not always altruistic. On the contrary, they often sprang from insecurity and a fear of being alone.

            It seemed I was often on the verge of tears, seeking release from storms of emotion just below the threshold of my normal perceptions. If everything at home was in harmony, I sailed along in peaceful tranquility. When there were accusations, criticisms, or arguments, I immediately felt personally involved.  It seemed a veritable curse that I had to live with everyone else’s problems, as well as my own.

            I kept telling myself that I was just being overly sensitive, that I should ignore my family’s arguments, but it didn’t help. I felt there was something wrong with people who couldn’t understand or live in harmony with each other.

            In time, I realized I was suffering from an idealistic idea of perfection, a perfection that was out of synchronization with the real world in which I lived. It seemed I was always comparing life and its endless imperfections with some greater truth, lurking just below the surface of my awareness.  A truth, about the way things should be, that was so strong, so deeply ingrained within me, that I could not alter or change the way I felt, no matter how hard I tried.

            If I could have had one wish granted in my youth, it would have been that I be relieved of my uncontrollable, emotional sensitivity that haunted me day and night.   No doubt, this was the reason why solitude, although frightening to my personality, inwardly attracted me; why nature, free from conflict, would become such a soothing balm, later in my life.

                       When school was out, my family always spent their summers high in the New Hampshire Mountains. Packed into my Dad’s green Buick we rumbled along the old dirt road to our summer cottage, overlooking a spring lake, where we frolicked in the sun and swam all day.  All sorts of animal life filled the water, and it was not unusual to see cranes and hawks, beaver and deer.

            There was an inexpressible surge of emotion that always arose within me, when I returned to this forest home and smelled that first exhilarating breath of spruce and balsam, fern and pine. It was as if I was seeing everything, as it might have been at the beginning of time. Rising in the early morning, I watched the mist over the lake slowly dissipate, with the rising sun, and listened to the haunting tremolo of loons in the distance.  Alone, I would walk the lapping shores and watch, as raccoons cracked glistening shells in the distance. In a way impossible to convey, I seemed to be momentarily linked with a part of myself that was ancient and deep.

            At the age of nine my family moved to Toronto, Canada. Here I met many new friends and participated in many exciting experiences. Amongst these new experiences were a flood and a train wreck. One experience, however, stood out above all the rest in its impact upon me.  Across the street from us lived a neighborhood girl who was perhaps fourteen or fifteen.  One day, when my brothers and I were visiting her house she took off all of her clothing and reclined leisurely upon the floor. I don’t recall how my brothers reacted to this startling event. As for myself, being quite free from preconceived ideas about human sexuality, I saw her nakedness in the purest and most pristine setting. She was spellbinding, and I was riveted to her every nuance and gesture.

             I followed the contours of her body, her shoulders and thighs, her tiny waist and belly of milk white skin.  Her breasts seemed like little melons rippling in the early morning sun. I wanted to reach out and touch her, and run my fingers along her flawless skin, but I couldn’t move. I simply was frozen in adoration. Without guilt or shame, she had revealed a mystery of life and nature unknown to me.

            When I was ten we moved back to the US from Canada. Yet, wherever we lived, we always spent our summers at our camp high in the mountains.  The vastness and purity of the New Hampshire wilds never failed to excite something deep within me, and yet at the same time, its pure vastness and primal beauty made me feel vulnerable and insecure.

            Here at the lake, we spent many days observing nature, trying to understand her endless diversity and form.  It was a time of great simplicity and, yet, cruelty.  Nothing seemed to escape my scrutiny. I remember one particular experience that inspired deep introspection within me, for a long time afterwards.

             We often had a brood of ducks carousing on the lakefront and lawn, ferreting insects and seeds.

            One day in July, when I was alone all afternoon, one of the smaller ducklings began to wobble around the yard. He stumbled erratically and fell, as if some huge weight were upon him.  Watching in disbelief, he finally lay upon his side.

            Oh, how I hated these situations!  If there was only something I could do to end this poor creature’s suffering. Finally, he closed his eyes and lay still.  In what seemed an eternity, I watched, totally helpless, as his little life ended.

            As I picked up his still warm body from the grass, I felt a deep pain arise within me, a nauseating pity that life could be so insensitive and cruel.  How beautiful this furry friend was, as the cool wind ruffled his golden, blond feathers and how soft as I cradled his limp, lifeless body in my hands!  At this moment, I knew there could be no God. There could be no higher Providence who would protect the simple and weak. No omnipresent power that would come to the aid of the innocent and pure.

              I prayed, begging mercy until my heart ached, but my pleas fell silent before what appeared an unfeeling world.  In defiance, I raised my arms before the sun, rotating the fragile body of the baby duckling in a slow, but mocking ritual of humiliation and despair.

            Suddenly, as I stood there, I noticed his silky down feathers were matted and stuck together between his legs.  Instantly I realized he had died only because his rectum had been blocked! He had just suffered excruciating pain and premature death, simply because he had been unable to eliminate his feces.   If I had just picked him up and looked, with the mere flick of my finger, I could have saved him.  Oh God, I didn’t want to think I was in any way responsible, but it was inescapable. I had allowed this little duckling to die, because I didn’t have the intelligence to inspect his condition carefully.

            If I were not so afraid of pain, and the unknown, I could easily have pushed my face under water, or jumped out of a window, in an act of defiance against a life that so seemed so callous, so ugly and cruel.

            In the aftermath of this stupid horror, as the weeks and months passed I spent much time trying to decipher what had happened. Had my emotional involvement with the ducklings’ suffering blocked any attempts at objectivity, hence any possibility of a remedy for his condition?

            Would I become, or was I already the victim of a similar fate. Immersed in the web of my own emotional sensitivity I too might someday suffer and die because of some fluke that was clear to others, but not me. 

            I had railed out against God, or the unknown, but wasn’t it my limitations that ate at me like a nagging cancer?  If my emotions restricted me from seeing reality clearly, and caused me such suffering and pain, of what value were they?  It was very difficult to think clearly about these questions.  There was such deep resistance against clear, mental analysis.  This experience left me with a driving need to see things objectively and not necessarily as they appeared to my emotions.

            Being the youngest in the family, I seemed to be last in everything.  Last to go out at night, last to visit friends, last to understand what was happening around me. This drove me with unusual will to assert my individual power and identity.  I determined to break free from individuals and situations that had control over my life.

            What eventually began to emerge was the realization that the security I felt within the family was not real, nor could it ever be long lasting.  We may be living together physically, but how much did we really understand each other?

            Much to my uncertainty, I found my interests growing out of my home, and into those broader relationships within the outer world that loomed so enchanting.

            As I fixed my attention on new acquaintances, life began to radically change.  I became intrigued by the way people spoke, walked or dressed. I began to notice that each person was uniquely different and expressed themselves through a whole range of peculiar interests and idiosyncrasies.

            While attending school, people’s faces seemed to hold an unusual fascination for me. Each face revealed a hidden spectrum of character impressions I felt keenly, but was unable to formulate into any clear understanding.

            A beautifully shaped body, or strong, agile muscles, were very flattering, but the contour of a delicately framed face, or the texture and hue of healthy skin, hinted at a quality even deeper.

            The large perplexing eyes of an attractive girl magnetically attracted my gaze.    Entranced by their air of innocence and simplicity, my emotions often rose to unbearable heights.  At the exact moment that our eyes met, my life became altered, indescribably held in an alluring moment of enchantment that lingered and then vanished. These feminine fawns, with their careless airs of gaiety and gilded laughter, could dispel my nagging self-doubt, with but a look from their eyes, or a soft word from their sensitive lips.

            Entering the fourth grade, I became infatuated with a girl that would come to color much of my later affections with the opposite sex.  Although this relationship arose at an early age, it invoked some of the deepest, most profound sentiments and feelings I had ever known in childhood.

            I remember so vividly sitting beside her in class, studying her long brown hair. Her soft cameo skin and her smile that cut through all of my defenses and made my uncertain world momentarily bright.  Basking in her beauty, I did not merely feel attracted to her.  I wanted to be her, to open her very soul and enter into communion with that radiant center of joyous light.

            The beauty and power of her smile captivated me. Her mere presence made my body tremble and weak.  Nearly every waking moment the thought of her possessed me.  At night, I would lie awake and see her face softly speaking to me, her voice sweet and reassuring.  There was something deep and uncommon about that face, the smile and laughter that seemed to arise from out of the vague and distant past.  They evoked a feeling of love from me and, yet, a simultaneous feeling of separation and longing.  But from where or when?

            I was in a continuous state of rapture, and yet, I suffered terribly, for I knew there was no way we could ever be together.  Being only children, we could soon be separated, controlled by cold, unfeeling forces: the clock on the wall, teachers or just the physical distance that always came at the end of the school day.

            The next year, when I was twelve, we moved permanently to Rindge, New Hampshire, a small country village of some six or seven hundred people. Suddenly all my friends were gone. Gone were the sweet face and smile of the girl I loved so much.

            Withdrawing into a world of fantasy and dreams, I grieved over my loss for many years.  Unable to reconcile how whimsical life could be, in the face of such beauty and depth of feeling I continuously recreated the girl that I loved, in my mind’s eye. Here in the secret recesses of my imagination, she would live.

            As my older brothers obtained their driver’s licenses and disappeared nightly with their friends, I became even more isolated and alone.  It was during this period of isolation, that I felt myself slowly becoming angry and rebellious.  Unable to have my deepest feelings fulfilled, they became violently suppressed.  As I entered into my early teens, my unusual sensitivity became submerged in a callous and hard exterior.  I was becoming an angry young man, with a growing disrespect for the conventions and authorities of the day. Moving from an upper middle class, suburban neighborhood, to a small, rural community had been an extremely difficult adjustment that I would never make.

            Here, friends my age were hard to find.  The local farm girls lacked the beauty and grace of their more fortunate, suburban sisters.   The youths of the town were totally dominated by the coon-tail, leather jacketed hoods of the mid fifties. I can still recall the rumble of glass pack mufflers, as a number of them downshifted, to make the sharp turn in front of our house.  Music and a growing preoccupation with books became a prime source of passing time.  Vaguely, in the back of my mind, I felt I was waiting for something.  Some new turn of events that would redirect or change my life for the better. What I was waiting for I didn’t know, but it felt very near.

            This early rebelliousness against the current norms of the day slowly developed into total disregard for law and order.

            Speeding along mountain highways with friends, a dozen times we brushed death, as our high-powered automobiles lost control and lurched off the road.

            I knew there was something highly irrational about this behavior.  I was afraid of death, but at the same time I felt the need to be strong and assert my will over fears of the unknown.  To assert my will, even if it is over life itself.

            We sparred with death and made a sport at it.  I was afraid of death, but oddly I was more afraid of life not fully lived.

            It seemed I needed sharp contrasts and the daily danger of dangling over some abyss to sharpen my perceptions.  I may not have been able to convince others of the value of this irrational behavior, but there was something euphoric about making a hairpin turn or driving into a sharp corner, escaping death by inches.

            Unlike the human mind, or emotions, that can neither be understood easily, nor accurately controlled, everything in auto-mechanics has its proper place.  In a high performance engine, nothing is placed at random; all moving parts are synchronized with perfect tolerance to within thousandths of an inch.

            After weeks of meticulous preparation and growing intrigue, I would finally listen, with great satisfaction to a well-balanced, finely tuned V-8 engine, each moment growing in anticipation for that trial run on the open road.

            There was something intoxicating about the smell of leather seats in the early morning sun as we slid under the dashboard; that first crack of ripping power as fire exploded from the manifolds and exited out the exhaust with a loud sensuous rumble.  That unforgettable, exhilarating surge of force that always pinned me against my seat!  The ancient smell of castor oil that destroyed the false boundaries of memory, throwing me back to forgotten moments of similar satisfaction.   Now, out on the open road, there is an all pervading calm before the storm as I cruise along mountain roads and gently glide by azure lakes — The wind, like some ancient mythological friend rises in intensity upon my face, caressing, taunting my trembling skin with each shift. This is ecstasy! It pulled the small man out of me and poured in the whole of nature  — the meandering tree line of verdure, the cerulean skies with their flowing ribbons of fleecy white.          A journal I kept intermittently during my teenage years captured my growing obsession with mechanics and speed, while revealing the need to redirect my life into more moderate and controlled forms of behavior.

                                                        April 7   1964

            A Jaguar, Austin Healy, Triumph or M.G. is not a mere car.  That is a vulgar term used only by the uninitiated.  It is a finely crafted Flying Machine.  One does not simply drive the machine. It is a question of mutual cohabitation and respect.  Sport cars and motorcycles are a romantic adventure, on par with the finest wines and the most beautiful of women. An obsession that can only be appreciated on the first warm day of spring, when the sun has finally chased back the white death of winter from out of the hills and roadways.  Freedom from confinement, inertia, and the downward pull of gravity, this is the true meaning of acceleration and speed.

            Internal combustion engines had always fascinated me. The mere smell of raw gas, transmission fluid or crank case oil, although repulsive to others, stirred something primal within me.       My hand and eye had always marveled as I moved them slowly over a newly planned head, or around bored cylinder walls.  Solid geometry, where circles, squares, rectangles and polyhedra, bisect, converge and cut straight through solid steel.  Honey colored oil that brings immediate relief to the inertia of bearings, rods, rings, pins and a thousand whirling, dancing parts.  Here, in the endless diversity of mechanics I could find what appeared as mastery over inertia, and power over the physical plane.

                                                                        April 21 

            In my rear view mirror I caught sight of an M.G. coming up behind me fast.  There was an eerie rise in motion as I plunge the accelerator to the floor. As if frozen in time, seconds now became minutes and minute’s hours as the driver becomes the driven.

            Coming over Johnson’s hill I completely leave the ground.  As the vehicle bottomed out, my head snaps forward cracking against the steering wheel.  Veering three or four times into the soft shoulder, I just missed an oak on one side and a rock ledge on the other. Controlling my skid, I catch sight of the M.G. less than 500 yards behind me and still climbing.

            Jerking the wheel into another turn, I downshift into third gear and floor it, a truck half in my lane sends me skidding off the road and into the grassy shoulder.  Again, the road breaks beneath me, as I lurch out into the oncoming lane. A storm of gravel sprays the bottom of the car like machine gun fire. As She tightened out at seven five hundred Rpm’s I slam Her into fourth gear.

            With the accelerator against the floorboards She climbs to 90-95.  From behind the trees, the sun sends waves of kaleidoscopic vibrations pulsing across my face.  In a wild hypnotic dance, the whistling of the wind rises and blends with the fury of the engine.

            The nervous tension in my body has now merged into one seething rush of adrenaline and speed.  Everything is vibrating through me, the clicking of the tappets, the drone of the pistons, the high shrill whine of the transmission and rear end, all building their cadence into one unbelievable crescendo of wild, frenzied music.  100-105, out across the dark pavement I flash, until everything is lost in an indistinct blur of purple haze.  Now at 110, She levels out tight one inhuman mass of burnished fire and steel.

            In the extreme tension of man and machine, there is a moment I cannot remember, a union in which time stops and space contracts and I am no longer there. This union is indescribably sweet, and sustainable for only the briefest moment.

            As I come into another turn, I release my foot from the accelerator.  As the vehicle decreases in speed, I feel a growing anxiety enveloping me. Is this the right direction I should be taking in my life?

            As I entered town and pulled into the parking lot, I notice the M.G., I had just raced, cruise by me.  As I glance over I see a smiling blond headed youth my age.  He flips me a peace sign, which I return.

            As his car disappeared around a turn, the thought arises that I could have been responsible for him being killed or crippled.  Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, a dozen possible accidents pass before my view, a panorama of shattered glass and twisted steel.  Feelings of hopelessness and despair emerge, as I watch the blond youth’s mangled body removed from the smoky ruins.

            One day it will be me; only instead of death, that I had come to flaunt so openly, I would become a human vegetable living from tubes, wires and machines.

            Christ, this is all wrong.  What am I doing?  Is this what I really want?     

            Suddenly, it became clear that my irrational behavior was an attempt to reach out (as absurd as it may sound), and fly into the future. It was a frenzied, fiery search for something outside time, outside myself. Some altered state of reality that I didn’t understand but felt at times intimately near

Yes, there was something inexplicably euphoric about speed. But there must be an easier, safer way to achieve the same high. A simpler way to escape beyond the boundaries of what I saw as my normal self.

            Perhaps in all my rebelliousness I really wanted to conform, to submit and belong to something.  But what could it be?  Whatever it was, it had to be worthy.  It had to be something different, something I could freely participate in, not forced upon me.

            No person, no law, could restrain my rebellious will.  But I was changing, slowly realizing the need to redirect my life into new, more creative areas of experience and exploration.

            One winter when I was 16, I cut school and drove down to Reading, Massachusetts where we had previously lived. For hours I walked the same streets and sidewalks, the same paths leading through the woods, as I had years before, as a child.  In the early morning mist, I would listen, attentively, to the familiar sounds of blue jays cracking the stillness, or search the passing faces for someone I knew.

            As I gazed, reminiscing at the old house I had grown up in, somehow it wasn’t the same.  Yet, standing by the large rhododendrons in the front yard, I was irresistibly drawn into the past.  With unusual clarity, long forgotten memories surfaced — the smell of burning leaves, the sound of beechnuts crunching under foot, or the voices of friends playing out in the street.

             Now, for a moment, the curtains of my mind parted and I found myself present in two worlds simultaneously. Something sadly exhilarating arose within me, as I deeply questioned the course of my life.  Did I really live here so long ago? Am I the same person who walked these lanes or climbed that giant beech tree over there?   If this is true, who am I now and where am I going?  What is it that I’ve once known, but lost?  Where is my inner knowing, that magical rapport I used to have with nature and all life, that’s, somehow, grown clouded and forgotten? Have I really grown up?  Am I really older and maturer now, than when I crawled across the fragrant grass and played in the sun with the Carlow boys from across the street? And what of that girl I still loved so much, where was she now?  Would she still remember me, or was I just one more fleeting, forgotten face obscured and lost by the passage of time?  There was something sweetly tragic about these memories.  At this moment, I wanted more than anything else for time to stop, for everything to be as it once had been!

            Standing here in the inescapable silence I see clearly that time does not really move or pass by. For time stays still and it is we who run headlong and blindly into a future no one can foresee and no one will ever understand. Shakespeare and the great poets were right. We are all pawns on the chessboard of life. Moved first against our wills this way, then against our wills that way. At sixteen, I felt so tired, as if I was a very, very old person somehow living in this youthful body. It was frightening to have known such beauty and, yet, have to let it all go.

                       As the sun departed and the cold January wind whipped across my unprotected face, I fired up my 56 Ford and cruised down along the old familiar river that wound its way across town like a glistening silver snake. As the last flicker of twilight descended, a broken picket fence thrust its gray stubs into the horizon of purple and rose like the beak of some grotesque bird of prey.

            When the river widened into a pond at the very center, I saw a small band of youth skating in wide circular arches around an immense bonfire. Sensing the hands of fate or providence were guiding me, I downshifted and pulled off the road.

            Walking out onto the ice, a mysterious calm descended within me. As I sat on one of the long wooden logs that ringed the blazing fire, I felt like I was being pulled irresistibly into an inner emotional vacuum.

            Suddenly, like a phantom from another world, a lone figure came flying out of the dark and skidded to an abrupt halt directly in front of me. I reeled back startled as ice crystals like a million diamonds flew in all directions. Standing before me now was a young woman. The flickering bonfire gave her skin a burnished and unearthly glow. Her long and graceful limbs silently poised like some fabled bird of paradise. Could this be the little girl I had loved and left so many years ago? It was the eyes that I recognized, those same bright eyes looking back over the years, back, back, over what seemed as centuries of time. Those same bright eyes, remembering, longing to be at one, Her eyes, my eyes, immovably frozen in a deep hypnotic gaze that seemed to go on forever. One long unbroken stare of ecstasy in which space contracted and time collapsed and all that I had been, all that I was, imploded in upon itself with inescapable power. I, the fragile and dazed man, had somehow passed effortlessly into some place I had never been, yet, recognized as the one and only truth. This woman — child was not just a person whom I loved, she was the embodiment of Life, its innocence, beauty, and its highest aspiration. Life that had the unexpected power to sweep aside the human winters and plunges me headlong into a sea of sweet remembrance. I felt the frozen ice beneath me begin to glow, and the sap in the trees to sing. The cold and frozen night rolled back as a warm breeze sprang forth from within me. Spring, eternal spring, where all the senses overran their normal boundaries.

            How long she stood there I do not know but suddenly she turned and was gone. Not one word passed between our lips. Here in this moment of transcendence nothing needed to be spoken. Beneath my breath; I silently uttered the only words that I could summon, Grace, dear God, Grace. We both understood something beyond words as our eyes had become lost into each other’s. For one fiery moment we were wedded into eternity A sacred marriage in which two flames had momentarily become one. Yet the little man in me wanted to take her away, to wrap my body around her in loving embrace. I wanted to see this exquisite light-creature before me every day of my life. But somehow she and I both knew it could not be. Controlled by geography and limited by time and space it simply could not be. As a man I could only love her and let go. I could only take her flawless beauty into my heart and there build a shrine that could go on untainted by time or distance.

            In a world bordered by darkness and confusion, how much of Life had suddenly been given to me so freely? How could one repay such an exquisite gift I thought? And my heart instantly answered, by being true to beauty. By facing fearlessly the limitations of the human condition and plunging courageously beneath its terrifying surface. By ripping the veneer of fear, doubt and conformity that keeps us one and all pressed to the habits of yesterday and the horrors of the past. By loving Life. By throwing our lives irresistibly out into a sea of Love that has no shores and into which all men must one day be drowned. Poor broken humanity who slave their whole lives for mere crumbs and I at this moment consumed by some great and sumptious banquet. I wanted to lift them all at this moment like a broken doll, a wave or a leaf to this inner place of sublime beauty and grace. To cradle them all in my arms and shake them from their lethargy and sleep, but I was just sixteen and who would accept such wisdom from a mere child.

            Although it was not formulated intellectually until much later in my life I knew on this day that I was an artist and a poet. There was a volcanic passion within me that could not be denied and demanded constant recognition and nurturing. The true artist could never be self-created and no amount of technical training can bring forth what must first start as an irresistible fire in the mind and heart. On this day and at this auspicious hour I began however awkwardly to sing my hymn to life. In stone or clay, in words or music.

           Like many teenagers in the fifties, I closely identified with Marlon Brando and James Dean. In the movie The Wild One when Brando is asked by one of the local people he and his gang are terrorizing what he was rebelling against, his reply was a surly “whata got” This reply was my first zen koan. It meant to me that since our generation was alienated and disenchantment with society and its strict and orthodox rules, we were rebelling against anything and everything. It just didn’t matter since we had no respect for the whole social structure and institutions of our parents fought so hard to uphold and protect. .The comfortable middle class environment that I was born into seemed so mediocre and tame.

James Dean’s internal brooding against social and psychological injustice struck a sympathetic note within me.  I, too, felt the need to disregard conventions, rules or laws that were rooted in hypocrisy and what I saw as falsehood.

            I recall a fleeting passage from Deans “Rebel Without A Cause” that summarized my  alienation and made such a lasting impact upon me that I committed it to memory.  It went something like this:

             “I must show them that I am better.  That I am the best.

  They are the ones who never understand.  The ones against whom I stand alone against.”

            Back then, it seemed there were only two choices available. You either accepted the status quo like the average person, whose life was ruled by a hypocritical social and religious structure, or, you broke away and became part of another group. Here, independent from the main social fabric, you found a new identity in non-conformity.

             Conformity and rebelliousness were rather vague terms back then, particularly since my friends were conforming or rebelling against so many diverse things. Some rebelled, because they were destructively oriented individuals.  Others rebelled, because it was the “in thing” and socially acceptable to their peer group.  There were some that rebelled, because they wanted attention, and didn’t know any other way to get it.  A few rebelled to make a statement about a lifestyle, the social structure, or laws that seemed unfair or biased.  I like to think I belonged to the last group.

            My relationships with the female sex although centered in some idealistic and poetic place that would be becoming more grounded and driven by hormones. I recall  a beautiful eleventh grade girl Sandy that I had become fond of while I was in my last year of high school.

 Sandy’s cute face and a body that would in the nomenclature of the day stop a time clock or make a marble statue weep with envy. She was head majorette for the school and her flawless form could always be seen out in front of every local parade in full regalia. T Belchat and I would make snide remarks as she passed by in the street and try to break her concentration but she was a real professional and never missed a beat. She would throw her baton so high and catch it as if it were a magic wand. Things were heating up and getting more intense between us. I remember one weekend that she had to babysit she invited me down to check out some new “baby doll” pajamas that she had just bought. The invitation sounded intriguing. We kissed for a while and then she disappeared into the bedroom only to return in a few moments wearing nothing but the filmiest negligee I had ever seen. I felt my body begin to vibrate and tremble. My mind suddenly began to leave its normal moorings as I felt my whole being pulled from below by this delightfully sensuous undertow. Like a great black wave that kept rising and cresting in power I sensed I was about to be engulfed by an ocean of surging foam and sea. As she kneeled beside me on the couch Her perfume and body heat spread its effervescent over me like the descent into some ancient and tropical rain forest. I felt a thousand furry creatures brush against my naked skin and heard for the first time the plaintiff cries of an army of colorful and exotic birds, their feathers all fanned out and vibrating in iridescent waves.

It was moments like this that I began to believe in reincarnation. It is as if I have been walled up in some ancient monastery prison for a hundred lifetimes and I am only now seeing the female form for the first time in all its poetry and power. I am intimidated by her beauty. The man in me wants to pull her down onto the couch. The poet and artist in me want to make the moment linger forever. I study her every nuance and move. She is poetry in motion; she is living art that no bronze, marble or clay statue could ever capture. She is every schoolboy’s fantasy and her gaze is locked onto me like a cat tracking its prey or a hawk ready to descend.

            For a moment I am afraid and want to flee this awesome truth. But the man in me overrides the artist as I pull her gently down onto the couch and we begin to explore each other’s bodies as only the young can do.

            Contrasting this immersion into sexuality and the exploration of the female psyche was the fear of losing my individuality and personal freedom.

            Just the word commitment would send shudders of horror to the very core of my being. There is something about the word that always caused such a deep involuntary reaction within me that I cannot control. First I want to regurgitate, then to scream and cry out. Then the bottom half of my body, from my solar plexus down begins to slowly vibrate, churning faster and faster like liquid Jell-O. Next it is as if someone has pulled a cork from the bottom of my feet and I can feel my life force slowly ebbing away and departing. This insidiously spinning and psychic vertigo then passes up to my brain and I go unconscious into the tar pits of the emotions from which I fear there is no return. I would sooner die at the wheel of a speeding car, OD from drugs, face the hangman’s nose or fry in the electric chair, anything but that slow and insidious loss of personal freedom.

            I keep having this recurring nightmare. I rise at seven every morning, go to a big gray factory which belches out these gray toxic fumes with my little gray lunch pale. Returning at five, kiss my perfect little gray wife, hug my normal little gray kids, eat supper, go to bed, get back up at seven and perform the same boring lifeless ritual forever. The real horror of this dream lies in the unexplainable fact that I never grow old, nor do I ever die, I just keep revolving mindlessly without hope or alternative on this endless wheel of gray linear nothingness.

            Initiating practical jokes seemed to be my only relief from total insanity of the school system. I recall several pranks that kept my spirits high and a belief that we were not all about to go totally comatose.

            In the ninth grade we had a split period in physical science half the class before lunch half after. One day Mario and I sneak into class five minutes before the students are due to return. Fasten a condom onto one of the gas jets that were used for class experiments and turn on the gas slowly. The gas jet is positioned in a way that it is clearly observable to anyone sitting in the class itself but is obscured by rows of apparatus and equipment if standing at the very front of the room.   Miss Penelope Stout, a beautifully fragile lady who is just out of teachers college and has begun her first year of practical work is the lucky victim to this condom caper. The students milling around see nothing at first as they file in and take their seats. Penelope who has a hard time controlling the sheer volume of noise tries sheepishly to raise her voice over the clamor. Finally order is restored and we begin reviewing our latest alignments. Ten minutes into the class the modified condom, which has now swollen in size and is easily discernible expanding over the petri dishes and dissected frogs. Mario and I are trying to keep a straight face but it is impossible. We are laughing so hard tears are streaming down our faces. Suddenly several of the students in the front row notice the abnormal shape ballooning over the top of the counter. “What’s that Miss Stout?” someone asks as the whole class attention is now riveted on this strange oblong form. As recognition of what the strange object is laughter explodes upon the class in a wild deluge of  screaming. Miss Stout, still unable to see the condom, looks on bewildered. Suddenly the condom fully expanded, slips off the gas jet and takes off like a rocket.  Swoosh – it goes, first bouncing off the ceiling and then careening of the back wall. Several ninth grade girls who have never even been kissed by a boy dive frantically under their desks as the condom buzzes uncontrollably just overhead. Finally the condom circles the room one last time and comes to rest on the head of a stuffed red headed woodpecker. Mario sensing times like this are truly rare in school history, seizes the moment and from the back of the room gets up from his seat. Bowing slowly over the pandemonium he says in a low but serious voice “Captain Cosmic Condom at your service mam”.  Miss Stout has turned stone white and is frozen in embarrassment as she finally figures out what has just happened. Unable to speak, she eventually departs from the classroom with a look of complete unreality and shock. Minutes later she returns with the school principal. But it’s too late, for nothing can reverse the magic of the moment.

            The best was yet to come. That Caper was a riot but nothing compared to the Miss Bordner fiasco. Same split period in biology class a year later.  Half a class before lunch, half after. T. Pelchat and I sneak back to the classroom while everyone is eating and change Miss Bordner teaching forum. Miss Bordner, the consummate storm trooper behavior was predictable to the last iota, she would always come in late from lunch grab her wooden pointer and without turning her vice like eyes from the class whip down a large roll up chart and begin a dissertation on some arcane biological subject. This day it happened to be on the reproductive cycle of the ameba. Returning early to Biology class from lunch break T. Pelchat and I unfold our insidious plot.

            As I stand lookout T Belchat rolls down the large chart against the classroom wall and slips the latest Playboy centerfold from out of his shirt. I cannot recall if it was Jane Mansfield or Marilyn Monroe, but it was totally awesome. T Belchat, a confirmed hedonist, could actually show great reverence under certain conditions. I can see his tall lanky figure crouched over the centerfold. His voice low and almost imperceptible as if performing some sacred litany.” I thank whatever gods there may be for making me a man” And with those solemn words he leans forward and with a look of intense adoration kisses the centerfold in an unknown place. Like a great artist or sensitive musician the nude is carefully taped onto the chart and the chart slowly and meticulously retracted.

            Thirty-five minutes later the students are all in their designated seats throwing things and buzzing as they wait for Mrs. Bordner’s return. Like some Shakespearean drama the stage is set. The final bell rings and in rushes Mrs. Bordner. Without glancing up from her commanding position in front of the class she whips down the chart with one powerful swing of her arm. There is a moment of total silence, a hush that sweeps over the class, and then an explosion of jocular laughter burst forth. Miss Bordner tries to raise her voice over the roar of laughter. “I can see that we have a problem” but it is to no avail, gasps, whistles, cat caws break fourth from all of the students. Bertha, a skinny little girl in the front row who is beet red and whose body is twisting in nervous contortions, points frantically to the chart. Miss Bordner finally glancing up has now turned 10 shades of grey and probably for the first time in her long teaching career does not know what to do and is totally disorientated . Now there is total pandemonium. T Pelchat and I literally buckled over and  rolling in the aisles in ecstasy as we suddenly realize we may have successful executed the greatest cu-de-tat on civility and good taste in the history of the school. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind who would have the balls to execute such a riotest event. Miss Bordner who is now in a total tither tries to retract the chart but her frantic efforts have only caused the chart to tear and then suddenly collapse onto her head. When she finally gains some composure down to the office T Belchart and I go.  We denied the allegations there was no witnesses, no proof. The week suspension that we both received however didn’t break our hearts. We bought a couple of six packs of Jaguar malt liquor and to the music of the Righteous Brothers and a commanding view of a spring lake made toast after toast to the beauty of the day and our audacity to momentarily break free from the system.

                                               Amidst all the controversy, wanton destructiveness and anger that was experienced in high school no one ever cared enough to try to find the source of all the conflict. To ask why things were the way they were was to invite instant retaliation and anger from the school hierarchy.  The teachers and the social system were not interested in dialoging or giving out explanations. The school system’s whole orientation was to demand total obedience and conformity from the students. I was driven, with an almost morbid compulsion, to understand everything happening within and around me.  It was this constant questioning that would set the stage for my studies in psychology, the social sciences and the humanities that would soon follow.

            With illiteracy engulfing the planet, how easy it would be to sing the praise of public school.  But for me, I felt that school took away 12 years of my life! School may have taught me to read and write, but it did nothing to help me understand the complex and multifaceted character of my inner world.  Therefore, classroom study was never significant to me. Not that knowledge didn’t have value, for I hungered for self-discovery and anything that furthered my understanding of the world in which I lived.  It was the way the school system worked that seemed to violate every fundamental value I held dear. Memorizing legions of isolated facts, tabulations and charts, as if the human psyche were but an empty sack that must be filled with millions of isolated tidbits of information, was ludicrous. What we really needed were the fires of creativity to be set ablaze in our fertile minds and hearts!

            So much of what you were taught in school was too easily twisted and biased by the culture within which you lived. When I lived in Toronto, Canada we pledged our unwavering devotion and patriotism to the Queen and English law. Here in the States it was the President and the Congress and House of Representatives. We were always the chosen ones and God was always on our side. Each group, nationality or religion always considered itself as the only ones worthy of being saved. In history we were taught that on a certain date Columbus discovered America. What a farce.  America was already home and populated by millions of indigenous Native Americans. America was not discovered it was invaded, systematically raped and plundered by a race of men whose sole claim of superiority was the guns and sophisticated weapons they wielded.

            I felt alienated and alone. I did not belong to any period in history and I could not identify with any one group, ethnic tribe or religious sect. I was in some odd and unknown sense, a planetary citizen that could not be forced into the narrow dogmas of my age nor bent to fit into someone else’s pigeonhole. I felt intuitively that the whole world and its endless diversity must somehow become my true training ground.

            I found the patriotism, so deeply ingrained in our educational systems, is not a virtue, but unknowingly breeds divisiveness and separatism.            

             We wept at the gushing orations on the 4th of July and Veterans Day and fane deep sympathy for the poor unfortunate souls who gave their lives at the last conflict. But there was little interest in those corporations and people who had a vested interest and who profit from war. Nor do we attempt to understand the psychology behind aggression.  My only patriotism and alliance would be with the truth however difficult it may have been to understand or however it may have flown into the face of the status quo and conventional wisdom. I was a citizen of the planet and my allegiance was not to one race, religion or ethnic group but to the whole planet.

What was the first thing that I remember about my first day in school? The long insidious lines of gray galvanized steel fences, more boxes! Who are they trying to keep out, I asked myself? Or what colorful forces within me are they attempting to keep in? Burned into my very soul is this gray latticework of boxes that I will press my sensitive face against for the next twelve years. In the long hours of reverie that I will look through this weave of cold steel I wonder what unknown but terrible deeds I must have performed somewhere in the antiquities of time to deserve this dastardly fate. Of all the places in the universe I could have been born, why should I be so unfortunate as to be excommunicated to the planet earth – the kingdom of the boxes?

            In middle school and junior high, at our best behavior, my brothers and I arose at 6:30, got on the bus at 7:00 and returned home at 4:30 in the afternoon.  Just in time to eat, do our homework and go to sleep.  I never did any more than what would pass me to the next grade and even that was unbearable. If school detention was given for small infractions, such as wearing a shirt in or out of one’s pants, or wearing a shirt collar up or down, or for trying to protest the general bureaucracy in some small way, then it seemed highly unfair. But when school detention resulted in a three-hour walk home, from another town 12 miles away, it became ridiculously cruel.

            To me, the school system was an impersonal bureaucracy that was purposely set up to perpetuate the ideals, values and goals of an older generation.  Students had no rights, for they were looked upon as too young to know what was best for them.  Everybody had to be exactly the same, we were all toy soldiers and if anyone attempted to act, dress or think differently, they were chastised and alienated.  Condition them, mold them, and crank them out.  Create a race of mindless automatons that would attend church, do their civic duties and unflinchingly fight the next war, like their fathers and forefathers before them.

            I realize that I was a difficult student, but I had a tremendous need to show others, particularly teachers, that everything was not all right and that the accepted norms of society were really a fictitious creation that did not exist in my world.

            And what can be said about those special students that excelled, above everyone else, in their degree of conformity?  They got the best grades, participated in all the extra-curricular activities and generally looked down upon other students, as stupid, vulgar, or underprivileged.  Their attitude was if you didn’t get good grades and go to college, what else would you be able to do?  Dig ditches or work in the local mill for $1.25 an hour?           

            In high school, my brothers and I had studied most of Sigmund Freud’s works and had a good working knowledge of his theories. Reading David Copperfield or A Separate Peace by John Knowles in English class seemed so pathetic to the mysteries of the subconscious mind, human sexuality and dream interpretation. In the eleventh grade I had my mind totally blown when I read Plato’s Republic. The idea of the Philosopher King and his analogy about people seeing only reflections of reality like shadows cast on a cave wall stimulated questions about what was real and what was an illusion. In the twelfth grade AP Sinnet’s; Esoteric Buddhism put my mind into an even wider orbit. The idea of multiple realities. Waves, rounds and rootraces of developing human life all developing under the guidance of some supreme being was stranger than any fiction I had ever read. These theories of higher levels of consciousness suddenly made Sigmund Freud seem tame.

            I spent many sessions down to the guidance counselor’s office talking to Ms. Michaud about what my true vocation might be. I had to admit I was as equally impressed with her bright luminous eyes and cute figure as the radical literature of Alan Watts and Aldous Huxley that she suggested I read.

            I ran into her quite unexpectedly one autumn afternoon at a Sunday football game. I remember the beauty of that moment so perfectly. The clear crisp air, the bright blue sky, the brilliant leaves of orange, red and gold that were swept by a sudden breeze and came spiraling vertically across the road. She smiled so sweetly at me then looked away. She knew and I knew it would have been improper for our eyes to linger a moment longer. There is something that passes between the eyes of two people, a kind of knowing that defies logic but impacts you in some deep and ancient place and lets you know exactly how they feel and what they are thinking. Jumping on to my brother’s Harley Davidson that I had borrowed for the afternoon, I gunned the throttle and roared up Main Street letting the pipes bellow out a rebellious roar as I felt a deep pain at the prison ship of conventions that had once again asserted themselves over my life. We were either born too early or born too late. Born too rich or born too poor. Born too smart or too ignorant.  Age, sex, race, religion are all painful reminders that we must not overstep the boundaries of what is prudent or socially acceptable. Miss Michaud’s gentleness and high intelligence, her patient understanding were her true teaching skills and although at eighteen I would not care to admit it, these qualities had made a deep and lasting impression upon me.

            What the school administration called my bad attitude was really a Pavlovian reaction to save my very soul from getting ground into that flat and linear dimension that they wanted me to be molded into. I was arrogant and I was angry and I played the fool, the court jester or the class clown, the one who would illuminate or poke fun at the inconsistencies and hypocrisy I saw all around me.

            When high school graduation arrived, a feat still incomprehensible to me, I refused to attend all the sacred festivities: graduation, the reception party and the senior dance. What a cartoon. Everyone was in such an emotional panic. “What will we do now that we’re out of school?” asked some of my classmates frantically.  ” If it isn’t too late, maybe we could make some small attempt at being ourselves, at finding out who or what we really are,” I thought.

            One last incident before graduation seemed to summarize it all. When our senior pictures were to be taken for the graduation yearbook, I tried to decline, refusing to be herded, one more time, into those narrow rows of empty, meaningless faces.

            As we filed along the school corridor, I can still hear Mrs. Wilmore’s loud, raucous voice, “My God, Carpenter, where’s your white shirt and tie?  Everyone else has one!”  “Gee, sorry.  Looks like you’ll have to leave me out, I commented”  “Oh no!” she snapped, “You wait right here at the side of the hall. We’ll find you one.” As she departed in a huff, I slipped back into line and had my picture taken. I never did see the look on Mrs. Wilmor’s face but there I was, in the Class of 1965 Yearbook at the end of the school year. Set in the middle of those nifty little rows of white shirts and ties was the rebel and the wise guy Carpenter in a black shirt.  The black sheep had made one last final protest. But it had no effect. I was just one more insignificant drone getting ready to be blown before the winds of life.

Positioning my brother’s 56 Chevy across from the high school during the last graduation exercise I pulled out from under my seat The Rubiyat by Omar Kyan and read my favorite quatrain.

                    “The moving finger writes and having written moves on,

       and all the tears or regrets can not call back so much as a single line”

Chapter Two: Rebel without a Cause

 

                                                                          Chapter 2

                                                              Rebel without a cause.

                                       Shakespeare speaks from out of the past

 

            After high school graduation, I moved down to my parent’s summer cottage on Lake Monomonac in southern New Hampshire. Here I could explore the world around and within me without the constant interruption I would experience anyplace else

 I walked for days undisturbed along the water’s edge pondering those eternal questions, Who am I? What is life all about?  Where am I going?

    One day in the early afternoon, I had an experience that directed my sensitivities towards new heights.

            As I sat on a high bank, overlooking a cove, I noticed a dark form drifting by in the water.  As it moved closer to the rocks I could see it was a large bass.  Gashed and bleeding, his tail swished ever so slowly, back and forth, in a morbid ritual.  As he turned sideways, his large gulping mouth and bulging eyes invoked a horrible sight. Nauseated, I watched, unable to assist or help this forlorn creature that seemed in some inextricable way, to be a part of my own nature. Helpless and without aid, he was condemned to die, as the outside world stood unmoved and unaffected by his plight.  As he continued to float by, becoming lost in the darkness of the waters, I questioned the meaning that he should come to my shore.

            All activities were momentarily put aside so that I could think deeply on this event.

            One morning, several days later, while walking alone along the lake’s shore, I came quite unexpectedly across the same fish, dead.  He was white and glazed, as decomposition had begun.  I placed his remains in a sandy grave and walked back to the cove where I had first seen him.

            As I gazed long and deep into the murky waters, I felt uneasy that so many creatures must be born, live out their short span of time, suffer, and then die without any alternative options.

            As I continued to watch the ghostly passing of fish below, something inside me began to change.  A gentle shifting of my awareness, as if I too were now submerged and moving through another type of dark and murky waters.  As my breathing suddenly became heavy and labored, I was possessed by an indescribable horror so overwhelming I felt momentarily sick and unable to breathe. In an intuitive flash, I came to the agonizing realization that I too, like the fish, was imprisoned, and immersed in a similar, but lighter fluid.  The air that I breathed, the body that I possessed, and the thoughts that I enumerated were all bounded and contained by some unseen and impenetrable barrier. Imprisoned in this peculiar atmosphere of the earth I was conditioned to accept this as the only one true reality. Like the fish, which could not know of its own limited existence or predetermined fate, I too, was in bondage and must one day unknowingly suffer and die.

            Yes, I was driven to know the reality of things, but the more I studied and observed nature and the world of daily events, the more illusionary and unreal did it all become.

             Because I had little confidence in my ability to be objective around these deep questions I decided to work more extensively on my writing journal. Here in my daily entries, I would have a way to record and assess my life’s direction. Through my journal, I would struggle to place myself in this incomprehensible experience we called life.

 If I knew where I had just come from and could see where I was now. Perhaps I reasoned I could sense where I was going. With pen and paper, I would attempt to give my life greater meaning and direction. Not to understand life or myself was the worst curse any person could endure. I did not want to die as the fish, alone, and without identity. Yet, I didn’t feel I truly existed.

             How could I fully participate in the life I saw around me? Everybody was busy planning, building, and reaching out to fulfill some family, biological, or social goal I saw as meaningless. Life seemed so absurd! We are brainwashed from every conceivable direction to take responsibility, succeed, and go for the gold. Yet, society does not tolerate failure even in the smallest way. You are either out front leading the pack, or you are behind, a nobody. Who could live this double standard and ever be happy? If we attempt something a little different, out of the norm, and fail, we are laughed at and criticized. But is it not by our errors and mistakes that we learn to become proficient and grow? You either conform to the status quo, or you cut adrift from the mainstream of society, as I had.

            So many people in our society are living a life of illusion; desperately striving for excellence, power, or money, without thinking of the effects their selfish actions may have on others. The unfortunate consequence of competition without conscience is that the only way one can win is if someone else loses. Instead of cooperating and helping each other, we violently compete. Behind the painted smiles and the false altruism, we try to tear others down on our climb to the top. But what does this twisted lifestyle give to the real inner person? What about the secret opinion that one must inevitably form of oneself?  One’s own sense of goodness, beauty and truth Is it possible there is something worth pursuing beyond the petty power plays, vanity, and pride of people? If so, where can it be found?

            As I resisted the mainstream of contemporary life and cut across the social grain, I felt a deep sense of alienation.  To those around me, I may have appeared irresponsible, because I refused to participate in the social conventions of the day, but I was working diligently to understand life and myself.

            Contemporary society demanded a conformity I could not give, Time, that seemed so illusive, I did not have.  As I watched it day to day, week after week, quietly slipping away.  The thought of coming to the end of my life without having really lived, facing a death I did not understand was unbearable.

            Another experience that gave me a totally new perspective into myself, helping me understand for the first time, my inadequacies and limitations, took place late one afternoon, while I was still in high school.

            It was February and I had been moving furniture all day for a friend.  Extremely tired, I finally relaxed before a large spacious window overlooking the backyard.  As I watched the sunlight beam off the snowfields, I followed little vortices and eddies of snow blowing circular patterns around the naked trees. I was very relaxed as I felt myself slipping into a dream-like reverie.

            Suddenly, I saw myself standing in front of a long succession of mirrors. As I gazed more intently at my reflection, my eyes looked back, from what seemed a hundred different places.  First, a childhood candy store, then a restaurant, and a school, now a dance floor.  As these scenes flashed forth, from what seemed the depths of my being, a question I had been asking myself for years, arose again and again with irresistible force.

            Why didn’t anyone understand me?  How could the world continue unaffected by my confusion and pain?  These questions, like an ancient demand from the depths of my being, plunged me to the brink of revelation.

            Why didn’t anyone understand me or see my suffering? For the same reason that I didn’t understand or see the suffering of others! Because people – all of us – are so overwhelmed, so caught up in their own personal inadequacies and problems, their own wants, needs, and desires, they are simply oblivious and blinded to everyone else’s.

            Strip away the cosmetic smiles, the smug self-assurance and pride, discard the endless array of false opinions, prejudices, and caprices, and what do you have?  A frightened child that neither sees, cares, nor understands anything beyond himself. People do not receive any real degree of sympathy, love, or understanding from others, because they are too busy taking, and wanting. In short, we are not worthy.

            Suddenly I saw myself clearly for the first time and this indictment that has been revealed to me has become my own. In a timeless flash, my sense of self-importance was devastated.

            Christ, this personal examination is too harsh! I want to look away, remove myself from the agonizing truth, but I cannot.  Yes, how selfish and vain I am, I, who am always complaining and criticizing.  I, who desire to be known, and recognized, but who isolates himself and gives nothing.  One who seeks to know the truth, yet who daily lives a lie.

            Here, in the endless succession of mirrors, I have become naked and alone.  Was not my biggest problem that I may have had too much privilege in my youth and did not realize it? Were there not many less fortunate than I, who suffered far more just to physically survive each day?  Indifferent and unconcerned I have passed by many people I could have helped, with a generous act or a kind word.

            Waking from my reverie, I was saddened by what I had seen; yet I felt temporarily purged, as if some heavy psychological weight was lifted off my shoulders.

            Perhaps if I have the strength and courage to free myself from my own deceptions, egotism, and pride, I can learn to be kind.  To forget myself and my morbid introspection, in the assistance and service of others.  Yes, only then will I be worthy of understanding life, or receiving love from others. If this is true, then I must begin my life anew.  Where will I start?

            Something told me there must be other alternative lifestyles to what I was experiencing, or a better way of life, but at 16, where were they to be found?  I was untrained for any creative employment and uninterested in any specialized area of work. Local factory jobs were the only positions available and the only difference between yourself and the machine you operated was that you went home at night and they stayed.

             My interest in the opposite sex was so idealistic and far removed from what is considered the norm; nothing of any value could ever develop.  Intuitively, I felt there was a great mystery waiting to be plumbed in the psychological understanding of women, but they were so prostituted, their roles so spiritually demeaning, it would take a veritable revolution to wake them up!  Many times I tried to shake my feminine companions from their lethargy and collective sleep but all I managed to do was antagonize them. Even now, as I sit and write, out of the past, I can still hear the voices of many a beautiful girl’s plaintiff cry; “But why do you have to be so different?”  “Why can’t you be like everyone else?” “Take responsibility, be a man!”  Why?  I didn’t know.  But I was certain of one thing, there had to be more to life than dating, marriage, and raising a family.

            College was definitely out; high school had been such a shock to my psych it would probably take the rest of my life to recover from.   If only there was someplace to go, something else to do, some way to be part of something new and progressive, besides the mass insanity of bars, movies, church, and sports, a place where there was real sensitivity and depth of thought.

            It was at this critical point in my life that I increased my desire to read. Captivated by the diversity and complexity of other men’s minds, I found myself journeying into the most interesting areas. As a balance to these weighty volumes of logic and philosophy, I occasionally read lighter novels. At any moment in my mind’s eye or imagination, I could be found climbing Mount Everest, courting the King’s daughter, or participating in the psychological torments of Sartre or Camus.  I was anywhere but small-town U.S.A. in the late fifties and early sixties. In high school, I studied the collected works of Sigmoid Freud. Now I lost myself in the writings of Will and Ariel Durant’s magnificent volumes on philosophy. I found a strange and symbolic book on the Sacred Jewish Kabala at a used bookstore. It was like trying to study a maze or a labyrinth in which truth was hidden on many different disguises or levels. The knowledge contained within this book was not linear but more circular in nature. Because of its depth and profundity, I could only read and study one page at a time.

            If the early beat poets, Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsburg were on the road writing zen-blues, I never discovered their poetry or heard of their spiritual adventures until years later.

            The poet Kenneth Patchen summarized my state of hope, and yet disenchantment of life in his work, The Journal of Albion Moonlight; a book that became my constant companion.

            “Tonight I shall meditate on the greatness and the littleness of man; the heavens and the earth, the cow and ant, the wren and the buffalo, the wise and the foolish, the good and the bad, the fairy tale and the Word made Flesh, this world and the next… death and birth, the idiot and the messiah…to speak, to see, to walk, to eat, to sleep…what do we do, where are we to go…sun, moon, stars.. Those who are born of water…what is memory?  How is it possible to speak the truth if there be no truth on earth?  How is it possible to have faith if there should be nothing at all to believe in? How is it possible to practice devotion if there should be nothing worthy of our love?  How is it possible to act if there should be no result whatever but murder…to have power, to be born, to die, to wander in the darkness without hope, with nowhere to lay your head, with no one to walk beside you, with no man anywhere whose name is not known to the eyeless worms…Jenny, Carol, Anne! Jackeen!  Why do you hunger and decay?  Why do you suffer pain and die? Jetter, Thomas, Billy, Joseph why do you thirst after murder?  Why do you waste your bodies in the crawling dust?”

            Alone and immersed in the tranquility of the lake and surrounding woods, months quietly passed.  Because there seemed to be more to life than the shallow order and regularity in which people tried to place everything, I plunged headlong into all the areas of life others seemed to quietly avoid.

In the beginning, the study of sleep and dreams interested me, and later solitude and death. Fearlessly and without caution, the unfathomable depths of the subconscious and subliminal regions were probed.

            As days passed into months and months into years, it became quite clear to me what people unconsciously feared.  It was the realization of their own nothingness that hung like an unseen phantom, just above and beyond the fragile facade of the structures of society. In these moments of introspection, I tried to give my life meaning, but it was obvious that my life as a man was clearly insignificant.  I was just an ape, a random collection of protoplasm and dust, lying in the gaping jowls of some great and unfathomable void. A whirling black hole of night that lay within and around me

    I seemed to be slowly, painfully sliding into an abyss. Refusing work in a menial factory job, I literally lived from hand to mouth. Each winter when I seemed on the verge of some new psychological breakthrough, poverty dictated that I physically move my place of residence.  Continuously, my needed concentration was broken by the most degrading and banal distractions.  Like the coils of some serpentine power, I felt myself slipping into a total state of despair. Everything around me seemed ludicrous, ugly, and deformed.  I was far from any model of humanity, yet I felt as if I was the only one who cared; the only one concerned over the crass ignorance and psychological poverty I saw everywhere.  I may have had glimpses of a better way to direct my life, or a higher sense of purpose when I was younger, but it was gone now and everywhere I looked I saw darkness.

            Night after night, lying in the grass and gazing into the black firmament above, I would be overcome with nausea.  I, who, naked and alone, could do nothing to alter or change the vast impersonal forces that surrounded me.  I, who could only wait for the final anguish, that would one day come and consume us all — and that was Death!

            Life had become a Shakespearean nightmare, in which even the most delicate and sensitive moments failed to move me. If everything was already in a process of decay, if everything was marked for extinction, then everything might as well already be dead.

    Straining into the starry silence, I often heard Macbeth’s plaintiff words echoing down through antiquity.

            “Out, out brief candle, life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.  It is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing”.

            There was something sweet in this sorrow, something childlike and submissive, in this utter hopelessness and despair.  It was as if there was some part of me that delighted in this inner torment, reveling in the lack of meaning and self-control. The doubter, the evil sub-personality I had recognized in my youth, had once again gained control over my life.

            I recall thinking at this point, that having reached the bottom of life; there could never be any new or greater woe. However, my entry a short while later, into the United States Army, allowed me to see life entirely differently and realize I was completely wrong.

            Here, the experience of oppression was not only systematic and well organized, but it gave me tremendous insight into the distinctly different forms of conflict that are self-imposed and those imposed by authority from without. It was as if I needed some external stimulus or authority to awaken me from my self-imposed exile, my existential sleep that would be jolted daily as real-life and death situations had to be dealt with.

Chapter Three: The US Army

                                                         

 

                                                                  Chapter 3

 

                                                     United States Army

                                                  “I have met the enemy”.

 

In speaking of the military service, where does one begin?  Like a nightmare, no amount of reflection or retrospect could bring it back in all its endless horror and confusion.

By 1966 the Vietnam War had developed into a major conflict and it was only a matter of time before the draft would call me, so I enlisted voluntarily. Under these circumstances, I would have the option to choose my military occupation, and it was obvious I would choose a non-combat role.

The purpose of the Vietnamese War was beyond my comprehension. Although having a few scuffles as an adolescent, I never believed in violence.  If someone gave me a gun and told me to shoot another person, I simply would not do it. It was obvious the world was in such a sad state of disarray, because of the insistence of people to try and solve their differences through violent means. I could not formulate any clear ideological arguments why men should fight and die.

I can clearly recall my enlistment day.  Stopping to visit my older brother that morning, who had been in the U.S. Navy several years earlier, I told him that I had enlisted.  He suddenly turned pale and became very agitated. Repeating himself he said that I must be out of my mind, and I really didn’t know what I was getting into.  There was a foreboding of sorrow in his voice, and a look in his eyes that conveyed something that could not yet be understood. 

Not very encouraged by what others had said who had been in and out of the various military services, I was resigned to nevertheless make the best of it.

       After arriving in basic training, it did not take me long to suddenly grasp the significance of this new life. I remember that as we were all assembled in the barracks, our drill sergeant came for his first inspection of the new recruits.  The first thing he did when he walked into the room was to take everyone’s duffel bags and dump all of their contents on the floor.  When he finally reached me and saw some books on philosophy and psychology that I had, he asked me quite abruptly, “What’s this bullshit, sonny boy?” “They’re books on religion.” I answered thinking he was obligated to let me keep them.  “Looks like pornography to me” he boomed as he grasped me by the shirt.  “I ‘m going to break your ass, punk, if I catch you reading anything else but your Military Manual.” With that order he gave me a shove that sent me tumbling over my things, and sprawling onto the floor. “Yes, Sir,” I stammered, impressed by his grim words.

So here I was to spend the next three months with five hundred other men who would be systematically stripped of all identity and creative thought.  The Army’s objective was not only to condition us physically for armed combat, but also to implant within our confused minds new values and ideals.  A new patriotism that was instilled with such organizational efficiency that it defies the imagination. It strained one’s credibility, that such hypocrisy and falsehood could be perpetuated on such an all-inclusive scale without some form of opposition.

I remembered while in high school the teachers of the social sciences spoke of the “mass man”, and his need to identify, and conform.  Only now in this military dictatorship could that concept be understood to its fullest extent.  Through continuous indoctrination sensitive schoolboys were conditioned into mindless fanatics. Men who could now take human life with little conscience or concern.  Each man’s innate sense of guilt, fear, and inadequacy, was deliberately provoked, until any power to reason was gone. And what was left could only be spoken of as a form of mass hysteria to kill and destroy.

I recall clearly during basic combat training watching wave after wave of soldiers running through the obstacle courses with bayonets drawn, screaming, “Kill!  Kill!  Kill!” as they slashed down imaginary Communist foe. Those evil little Gooks or monkey-men from Viet Nam that would have to pay dearly for their insidious attempts to colonize free men. Each man wanted to think in his conscience that he was training to make the world safe for democracy. Yet to fulfill that end each person had to relinquish his own personal freedom. Each man would become a mindless automaton, a tool of the state in which any sense of moral worth, or personal dignity would be stripped from him.

Some of this discrimination was so deep, and hypocrisy so obvious, it was impossible not to speak out.  This however proved to be a serious mistake.  To question or doubt the infallibility of the military hierarchy was an unforgivable sin.  Immediately I was labeled a “wise guy” and a troublemaker.  “Carpenter gets 5 demerits; Carpenter gets 10 demerits, 15, 20 demerits.”

Many of those who have long since left the military services  laugh as they look back nostalgically to the good old days of bivouac and K. P.  I had kitchen patrol so many days that my feet would swell to such an abnormal size I couldn’t fit my combat boots on.  The pain was so excruciating; just to walk a few steps would send tears uncontrollably streaming down my face.  Because of what the cadre called my insolence and rebelliousness, I was used as an example.  Even the men within my own platoon began to use me as a scapegoat for all of their frustrations and fears.  I washed and waxed floors until I couldn’t stand straight from the excruciating pain.  I scrubbed latrines until the acid in the urine began to burn my skin and make me sick from the stench.

I had become, without any effort, the stable boy. The more I protested in the name of what I thought was truth and justice; the more I was ostracized and held in contempt.

I recall being given recognition for my physical fitness and skill in the use of the M-14 rifle. I was the best shot in my platoon and one of the top five in our whole Company. During one of our practices out on the shooting range the slide on my rifle jammed and a live shell was ejected out onto the ground. Everyone in my platoon searched for the missing round but it just couldn’t be found. On returning back to the barracks that evening it miraculously fell out of my pant cuffs on to the floor as I changed clothes. Secretly I hid this live round, first under a pot and then under an old rain barrel. In moments when I was being abused or smacked around by different members of the cadre I would think of my hidden weapon and know that I had this great power.

I recall an incident in which I was at the barracks waxing floors while the rest of the group took some rare recreational time out in front of the barracks and directly within my view.

I could see our drill sergeant knocking around some skinny Jewish kid from the Bronx. Kneeing him in the balls I saw the kid go down in agony onto all fours as he vomited uncontrollably. The outrage just seemed too much. Like a man in a trance I slowly and methodically retrieved my hidden bullet that was in a fold under my mattress. Taking out my M-14 rifle from the cabinet I slid the sleek and polished brass shell down into the chamber. Snapping back the slide on the magazine, I moved back from the window and against the back wall where unseen I had a command position to the open windows and the parade ground beyond. I could see the little Jewish kid crying for his mother and the platoon sergeant just grinning like some evil demon from the pits of hell. It’s the sheer sadistic pleasure that this man gets from beating on others that I find so offensive. Raising my rifle to my shoulder I put the drill sergeant’s head directly in my sights. There is a moment of deep silence in my mind’s eye as I flip back to an early training film. Graphic footage of the impact of a 308 gram bullet slug as it is seen tearing through a man’s head. Upon impact leaving a hole no bigger than the diameter of a cigarette but taking the whole side of a man’s head completely off as it exits on the other side. As I begin to slowly pull back on the trigger I know that my life is now over. At nineteen I have suffered too much abuse that I cannot stand back passively and watch one more innocent victim ground up by some inhuman machine. I can no longer sit idly by as the arrogant and powerful systematically prey upon the weak and defenseless. It’s all over, this bad dream that men mistakenly call life. Suddenly as my finger bears down on the trigger I heard a voice like a bell ringing on the inside of my head. A strange ethereal ringing in which I clearly heard the words, “Save yourself for a more worthy foe”.

The words carried such authority that I knew intuitively that I must be obedient. Releasing my finger from the trigger and returning my rifle back to the cabinet, I went about my duties as if in a dream. 

Although oppressed into a state of total subservience, my silent will could not be broken. I would never consent or give in to this insanity and crass ignorance.

In spite of my humiliating condition, the world began to be viewed in a new manner.  For the first time I began to sense some vague but underlying theme behind this veil of oppression.  I was being forced to learn detachment from physical and emotional pain. To be indifferent about those circumstances over which I had no control. I felt much pain physically but in some odd and inexplicable way, I felt I was more than my body. I felt emotional discomfort but I was more than my mere emotions. Even my thoughts seemed to veil an elusive and emerging something that lay just beyond my grasp

Here within my quiet and growing humility I knew I must endure all of these outrages right to the end.  Exactly what that end would be was not yet known but I felt confident it would direct me toward a new sensitivity and expanded awareness of what I was as a man.

At the end of our basic training the irony that no one was able to explain was that how such a dunce, such a joker that I had been labeled could ever score so high in the final evaluations and combat test.  Out of 500 men I was one of the top twelve.  Because of my proficiency in the use of the M-l4 rifle, they presented me with a little badge that said “Expert.” What hypocrisy I thought, that they should give me recognition for being capable of taking other people’s lives, for being capable of bringing so much sadness and misery to those unfortunate families and friends that must go on after someone they loved has been killed or maimed for life.

This whole idea of receiving ribbons and pins, crests and badges for something as superficial as mere skill in manual dexterity or physical strength seemed ridiculous; yet so deeply a part of man’s vanity and insatiable desire for prestige and power.  I thought of the world within and of those trials that no one ever sees. Those daily struggles as we try to make ourselves into something constructive and good, or as we attempt to understand the meanings behind time, reality, and death.

No one will ever know how much I may have wanted to conform and be a part of the group. To be included and accepted by the men I ate, slept and lived with 24 hours a day.  But one day they would all be gone and because I would be with myself always, I could not compromise with my own conscience.

In rare moments of freedom, I would walk to the end of the barracks, and unnoticed slip into the woods.  In the intoxicating calm of Mother  Earth I would temporarily find solace sitting on some mossy stone or listening attentively to the liberating cry of a blue jay or crow. Here, in the silence there were no orders or harsh voices, just an exhilarating sense of inner peace. Never had so small a pleasure meant so much, never again would I take for granted the creative and restorative powers of nature.

Released after basic training for a two-week leave, I realized definite action would have to be taken to remove myself from this insane and chaotic environment.  However I was uncertain how it could be done.

Upon my return to continue my training as a military journalist, a plan began to slowly emerge in my mind.  When the weekends would come and all the men left the post to visit the local bars and strip joints of the city, I took the opportunity to do research down at the base library.  Pouring over military court records, I began to familiarize myself with military law. After several weeks of inquiry, I realized there were many discharges that ranged all the way from “Honorable,” which one could attain by simply completing his enlistment, to “Dishonorable,” which one was given if he did something serious such as striking an officer.  Also uncovered was the fact that any member of the armed forces could be prematurely released from duty on what was called “Unsuitability.” This was a general discharge under honorable conditions and applied to those persons who were under chronic anxiety or stress and were no longer capable of carrying out the responsibilities given to them by their senior officers.  This was definitely the key I had been searching for. I was definitely under stress and it wouldn’t take much effort to exaggerate my condition.

With my earlier studies of Freudian psychology as support, I decided upon returning from leave to manifest certain aberrations, perhaps acute anxiety and melancholia or nervousness with overtones of paranoia.  I was sure that this type of behavior would set the stage for my eventual release.

It seemed unwise to go directly to a military psychiatrist with my disorders because it would be too obvious.  No doubt there were many others who had thought of this same idea of premature release from the military over the years and the psychiatrists might be looking for someone they thought was trying to avoid their military obligations.  One Saturday I approached our base chaplain and mentioned that my nerves were hyperactive and I was having difficulty sleeping.  He consoled me with the usual platitudes and asked me to pray.  As the visits to his church became more frequent and with even greater signs of distress and nervousness, he finally decided to make an appointment for me with a psychiatrist on the base.

After a false sense of reservation I finally agreed that this might be the best way to find the solution to my problem. Days before my appointment with the psychiatrist, a whole series of aberrations that ranged all the way from nightmares and muscle spasms to assorted psychological fears were practiced.  I gave particular attention to my speech, which became broken by continuous stuttering. In the Mess hall, while passing down the lunch-line I would make a scene. In a loud and aggressive voice I would accuse someone of trying to slip crushed glass in my potatoes, or my corn. It became a real comedy act in which every time I came through the chow line I could hear the cooks mumbling under their breaths. “Ow shit, get ready, here he comes again”

Arriving at the psychiatrist’s office, the Doctor on duty began his evaluation.  I kept repeating to him that this was all a mistake and that I didn’t really need any help.  If he only had some pills that would make this hypertension go away.

After a long series of questions, suddenly he asked me point-blank if I wanted to get out of the military service.  He asked the question in such an off hand and nonchalant manner I almost burst out laughing. With a serious and straight face I said “Oh no.  I’ve never really had it so good.”  Things are much better now than when I was on the outside where I never had a job or good friends.”

As the weeks passed and the visits to his office became more frequent with my strange and elusive complaints, I decided to let my studies at the school slide, another proof that there was something wrong and that an adequate adjustment to military life was not being made.  Sitting through the boring classes on military journalism I began to seriously doubt the value of this information.  It seemed the military was under no obligation to speak the real truth. They could hide behind a facade of authority or the clever juggling of semantics and half-truths. How easily they manipulated the release of information for their own gain.

 It was this distortion of information, which left a public thousands of miles away uncertain about what might really be taking place in Viet Nam; politicians and a public that pass legislation that affected thousands of American military personnel, as well as hundreds of thousands of lives of innocent Vietnamese women and children. I simply did not want to be a part of some inhuman machine that could not see the consequences of its own actions. Most of these military personnel did not seem to be too concerned about anyone but themselves. They were cold and calculating machines that felt neither guilt nor any type of remorse for their actions. They may have loved their families, been kind to those friends immediately around them, but their hearts were empty and barren to those of humanity who were outside of their immediate environment

Over the next 3 or 4 weeks my plans to be released from military service seemed to be developing well, but then my worst fears emerged when the psychiatrist, in spite of all that I had done, reported one day that my condition was definitely improving.  Immediately my negative aberrations were doubled.  Eagerly anticipating my visits to the Psychiatrist office, which had now become daily, I pleaded with him for some new and stronger form of medication to relieve my anxiety.  (Whenever pills were administered to me I would curl them under my tongue and spit them out later) When he refused, I warned him that I needed more help and I could no longer control myself.  “My God,” I stammered in a loud and hysterical voice, “everything is closing in on me.” Confident that the psychiatrist was finally coming to the realization that there was nothing he could really do for me, I felt it was time to do something more daring than before.  An outrageous act that would draw more attention and make my situation seem more critical.

One day I had an extended conversation with a number of troops that went on for several days. These Marines had just returned from their first tour of duty in Viet Nam. What they shared was to seal my fate and directed me towards a new and radical approach to my plan. I had heard many horror stories about civilian casualties and torture that could easily fill a whole book, but what was shared with me by them was simply too much. Since all three of these marines reiterated the same story at different times and under different circumstances. I had not the slightest doubt of the accuracy of their statements.

When the American troops and South Vietnamese made their periodic sweeps to capture Viet Cong invariably they would round up large numbers of civilians who were caught in the crossfire of this immense war. To extract pertinent information from the Vietnamese women on troop movement, hideouts, hidden tunnels or supply depots certain practices were used. One was to take a large vat, fill it with water and submerge their child or infant down under, until the mothers who, looking on in horror, gave them the correct information. When I asked them what would happen if the women did not know anything, they all simply replied in a nonchalant manner, tough shit, the kid is history! I was shocked beyond belief and when I asked them if they considered themselves Christians? They all defensively replied “of course”. But when I asked them how could you, as a Christian, take innocent and defenseless life without any remorse or sense of conscience. Their immediate reply was one of hostility and anger. These Vietnamese people are gooks or monkey men and that they are not real people. Since they are not Christians they can have no souls. And because they have no souls we are justified in doing whatever we have to. Besides “we are just following orders”

For weeks afterward I could not sleep at night and when I did I kept having recurring nightmares as I heard the cries of these poor peasant women who were forced to see their own children drowned. After my usual lectures one day I just decided that I had enough and I just couldn’t take it anymore. And so I just walked off the military base.  It was January and although quite cold I did not dress properly or even take any money.  Instead of traveling east toward my hometown, I would go north.  When apprehended, the only way any credibility concerning my abnormal condition would be maintained was by my apparent bizarre and totally irrational behavior.  Rather than something that was planned or premeditated, it must be spontaneous.

On the second day that I had left, I had gone only about 150 miles.  My feet were aching and slowly becoming covered with blisters.  Having not eaten, I was starting to feel weak and dizzy.  On the third day it started to snow and as night approached, developed into a full snowstorm. For hours I trudged along the highway until I could no longer go much further.  Wearing only loafers, jeans and a sweater the melting snow ran down through my clothing like long icy fingers.  As my whole body was becoming slowly numb, my physical safety was now my primary concern.  Positioned between two little towns on an interstate highway, I shuffled along half hypnotized by the monotony of my footsteps and the blinding snow

After what seemed an eternity, a flashy sports car finally pulled over.  As I rigidly sat down on a blanket carefully draped over the seat, I felt a sigh of relief for the first time in days.  The driver was a young man my age, perhaps, 19 or 20 and on his way home after visiting a local bar.  As I began to slowly come out of my daze he offered me a cheese sandwich he had left from his lunch.  As I slowly ate, relishing each morsel, he explained something about himself.  He said he was married, and had a little girl, and that he had just bought this new car and was making out very well.  He seemed to be quite pleased with himself. But when I asked him what he did for work, he became a little self conscious and uneasy.  He said he worked in a local defense plant making napalm bombs.  Something within the pit of my stomach sank as our eyes met.  What a sad coincidence, that wandering aimlessly over this frozen wasteland, forsaken from all human comfort and friends because of my personal belief in each man’s need of conscience and morality that I should get a ride from him.  He may not have pulled the trigger but his hands were still stained with blood.  I wanted to tell him that the napalm he was making was burning alive innocent women, and children in Viet Nam, just like his own wife and little girl but I was too cold and discouraged.

         After driving for half an hour, he stopped and dropped me off in the middle of a small town. When I finally began my hike down Main Street I noticed a sign dimly lit at the end of the intersection. With the wind blowing at a horrible pitch and snow cascading like billows all around, the sign half obscured read Defiance, Illinois. For a moment in my fatigue I thought I was somewhere else, that I was strangely in another place and another time. The thought of the early Christian Paul on the road to Damascus rose within my fertile mind and emotions like a specter from out of the past. Yes, yes, I muttered under my breath the road to Damascus; this strange and tortured road to revelation and Christ was first tread by defiance. Defiance of physical comfort, emotional security, defiance of any  need of acceptance by others. Defiance against even what I had become conditioned to believe is self preservation or life itself.

For a passing moment some unseen and overshadowing Will had suddenly gripped me with irresistibly power.  But in another moment it is gone.

After slugging through the wet snow and ice for l0 or l2 blocks I finally came upon a Laundromat that was open.  Lying down on one of the benches to rest, I quickly fell asleep.  Several hours later I felt a stabbing pain in my side as a local police officer began whacking me with his nightstick.  When no identification could be produced, he took me down to the police station for interrogation.  There I would wait for several days until the military police came to pick me up.

This jail was a vile place.  There were five of us, all crammed into one dismal cell.  The mattresses were so hard and the blankets so stiff, they felt as though they were made from horsehair and cardboard.  The smell of urine and vomit permeated everything and was so strong, that it was impossible to lie down without becoming nauseous. Little mites and bed bugs irritated your every waking moment as they voraciously attempted to burrow under your skin.  In the next room I could hear the police interrogating an older black man that they had found like me wandering out in the streets.  He was a strange man, who would not answer their questions directly. He stammered continuously, about what seemed totally irrelevant, and incomprehensible concepts.  After about six hours of listening to him babbling hysterically, about death, justice, and alienation, I suddenly began to realize that this man must be either totally unhinged from reality, or that he knew something, I or others, simply could not understand or see. There was an element of truth and familiarity in his incessant jabber.  “In my soul I am free,” he kept repeating as he went through these endless tirades about social injustice and racial inequality.  Everyone in the police station laughed and called him a fool and a crazy nigger.  He seemed to be in another world or was seeing reality from another place because everything in this man’s outer life had already been taken away or destroyed; it seemed nothing more could now be lost.  A saying by Lao-Tzu, I had read earlier in my youth, but did not understand until this moment, began to slowly surface from my memory with irresistible clarity.

“He who would find the world must first lose it.  Only when all that we have in the outer world is gone can we learn to possess everything”.

 

Several concepts that this black man kept reiterating were.

  1. Because men see everything from their own narrow point of view people will rarely understand those who are from different cultures or religious backgrounds.
  2. Out of this difference between cultural and religious affiliations is born insecurity, and out of insecurity, fear. Fear then develops into anger and the need to alienate or destroy that which we cannot understand.
  3. The only way that men can come to a mutual agreement or understanding about anything is when they are able to remove themselves from their own limitations and put themselves in the other person’s shoes. This ability to remove oneself from one’s personal prejudices and caprices could only be achieved by the mutual recognition of something transcendent or universal. Whether it is love, truth or beauty, because of its universal nature it must surely unite and find the common denominator that resides within all people.

 

This black man’s oblique dialogues may not have been appreciated by those around me. But they were clearly helping me find some meaning in a world of total insanity and madness. The coincidence of this man speaking these exact words at this exact moment when I was listening attentively from the next cell seemed a rather odd coincidence.

This black man may have come out of the ghetto and his body may have been behind bars, but his mind and emotions stood aloft and soared like an eagle far above the limitations and hypocrisy of this world.         

When the military police came the next day to pick me up and I was slowly escorted past his cell. As if aware of my presence and waiting for me to pass, he looked up and with these wide pleading eyes; spoke these simple but invocative words: “Boy”, he said, “the only way out is in.”  “There just ain’t nothing out there, that ain’t already here.” And with those simple words, he slowly raised his massive hand, and in a solemn gesture, pointed to his forehead, right between his eyes.

I felt a shiver of recognition run up my spine as we exited the police station and boarded the military truck. As we drove along the frozen highway those words “the only way out is in.” seemed to echo to the very depths of my soul. The guards explained that I would be transferred temporarily to a civilian jail pending my return to the base.  On our route back we picked up two others who had also been AWOL.  We were all seated in the rear of a long panel truck.  It was extremely cold, and the steel of the handcuffs began to sting our wrists.  When I asked them to please put on some heat because we were all cold and freezing our asses off. The sergeant quickly snapped, “Shut your mouth, punks like you don’t have any rights.”

When we finally arrived at our destination, we were all stripped naked, and examined for signs of disease and drugs.  After exhaustive questions concerning our sex life and ideological beliefs we were finally taken up to the top floor and given a place to sleep. I was escorted down a dark corridor and pushed into a small room with several raised steel platforms that had neither a mattress nor blankets.  Beside me in the next room I could see several Latinos and a Negro through my grated cage.  They were all chained to an iron post, and slept on the floor.  It was a dismal room, colored steel gray, but at least it was warm!

The next morning we were all led to breakfast.  As we sat down at several long tables, I began to survey everyone. It seemed unbelievable that there could be so many sad faces; so many people resigned to this grim fate.  There is an emotional and psychological depression that pervades correctional institutions that is so overwhelmingly strong that it sooner or later vampires everyone that comes through its doors.  It is a feeling of hopelessness and despair, that we have now reached the bottom of life and that there is now nowhere else to go. True rehabilitation was impossible in this environment and was a concept erroneously held by either idealistic fools, or naive people who simply wanted to feel good about their humanitarian efforts. No one had a clue how degrading penal and correctional institutions really were.

       After we were seated, large trays of white bread were brought out with bowls. The bread was hard and stale.  I had always wondered what the bakeries did with all the old bread that no one bought. Now I knew.  The bowls were filled with milk made from a powder and sweetened artificially.  Christ! It wasn’t even real food, it was all chemicals. At that moment I saw my mothers smiling face, her outstretched hands loading me down with homemade cookies and granola bars. The smell of her soups and organic rice are making my head swim in delight. My mother had a keen interest in vitamin supplements and initiated the whole family into natural  foods. Adele Davis, Gaylord Houser were her mentors as well as Rodale with his organic gardening. She never let a day elapse without cooking some tasty meal coupled with a sweet discourse on the importance of diet.

Until my transfer several days later to my military attachment, I was instructed to scrub floors and clean out bathrooms and lockers.

When we finally arrived at military headquarters, I underwent a military court martial.  Fined and broken of rank, I was restricted to my barracks.  It would have been far more serious had my actions not been so irrational and abnormal.  Institutions like the military service just look for those rebellious individuals they can crush and use as an example to others.  I was once again subjected to the same intimidation and belligerence.  “What is the matter, Carpenter?  Don’t you want to be a man?  What will your mother say?  Don’t you want your children to be proud of you one day?” The hardest test of all was to refrain from speaking the truth, to say just once, “You stupid bastards! The quality of a man lies in his capacity to love, to feel and to share, to fight against the very system of injustice and sadism that you so fully support, to remain firmly resolved in beauty regardless of the consequences or the pain.” It was so ridiculous, all these grown men with the mentality of schoolboys playing soldiers.       The greatest gift my parents nurtured within me was a free and independent mind, an ability to discriminate and question authority, and to go against the grain no matter what the odds. And when everyone else was attempting to sabotage your life, and pull you down, to somehow assert your innate powers of intelligence and will.

Following more psychiatric counseling and exhausting inquiries I was finally put under observation at the base hospital, which happened to be directly across from my barracks.

After two weeks of performing the strangest and most erratic behavior that one could imagine, ranging all the way from not eating for six consecutive days to waking up every night and screaming about all kinds of imaginary foe. The doctors all agreed that my improvement was so dramatic I was going to be released to go back to school on the following Monday.  After all these obvious problems I had manifested no one even noticed or they just didn’t care, it was unbelievable. Christ! Now I would probably never get out. Desperate, I realized this entire erratic behavior; all these progressive series of ailments must only be preparatory from which something more serious and of a far more critical nature must be launched.

       That afternoon, after much deliberation, I slipped outside the door of the hospital and started running toward my barracks, which was situated just across a shallow river. It was obvious that by the time I reached the other side of the field a dozen people would have seen and apprehended me. Particularly since it was mid-February and I wore only a hospital bathrobe and a thin pair of socks.  This gave my sprint out across the open field that needed air of absurdity. As I raced over the grass and darted out across the river, I felt my feet sinking as the ice cracked and splintered beneath me.  Fortunately the water was only knee deep.  By the time I had scaled the top of the hill and entered the barracks my feet were bleeding and numb.  What followed was utter confusion and pandemonium.

As I ran down the barracks hall, several of my former classmates who were lying on their bunks, looked on in disbelief as I ran to my locker and tried to force it open.  Quickly scanning the floor, I secured a long bar from under someone’s bed.  Using it to break the lock, I forced my locker door open. By now several people had gathered around me and began to inquire what was happening.  I said that permission was granted for me to come over and get a few clothing articles and that I was going right back to the hospital.  With my erratic behavior and my feet bleeding on the floor, it was rather obvious I was lying. Someone called for the platoon corporal who was taking a shower. When he finally emerged several minutes later, to see what was causing all the commotion, I had fully clothed myself and was packing a small handbag.

 The corporal ordered one of the men to run next door to headquarters to find out where I was supposed to be.  He then instructed all the men present to restrain me until he got dressed.  As he disappeared into the next room, I jumped up, and let out a loud hysterical scream.  In surprise, everyone jumped back.  With bag in hand, I dashed right through their midst, and ran down the hall.

“Grab him.” someone yelled as I reached the door.  Spinning on my heels I whirled my bag around in a wide circular arch, instinctively everyone reeled back.  In a flash, I was out the door and running across a nearby field.  Finally after fifteen or twenty minutes of running as fast as I could I turned to find that there was no longer anyone behind me. They had all somehow fallen behind and vanished.  What would I do now?  I really had no idea which way to go.  In fact, what the hell was I doing anyway?  Wasn’t it my plan to get caught? Without even time to catch my breath, I emerged out onto an asphalt road. Suddenly, a high command limousine appeared driving right towards me. Too tired to run any longer, I just stood there looking bewildered.  As the limousine stopped just across from me, a colonel stuck his head out the window and snarled, “You want a ride, sonny boy?” “Yes, Sir,” I sheepishly stammered as I opened the door and got in.  “Where’s your tie?  What the hell are you doing out here,” he queried?  “You look pretty sloppy to be representing the U.S. Army.”

“Ahhh, well, you see, Sir, I am on my first leave and I am trying to get to town and got lost.”

“Good,” he snapped, “That’s where I’m going.”

We were just about to pass through the main gate of the Fort, when two military police cars passed by, (no doubt looking for me), their sirens screaming full strength.  “Must be an accident,” the colonel said. I nodded in agreement.  When we finally reached the outskirts of Indianapolis, we stopped for a light. When a local city bus stopped directly in front of us, I said, “That’s my bus,” as I thanked him for the ride.  Boarding the bus and sitting down I thought to myself how amazing this whole experience seemed. This whole situation had suddenly begun to take on the air of a cartoon or some slapstick comedy in which I had become a key and central player.

I had not really planned on taking this charade so far. It had just happened.  Why did not someone stop me at the hospital or the barracks?  Perhaps because some of them were my friends, and they did not really want to stop me.  They had only appeared to try and catch me to appease the cadre.

When the bus finally arrived at the Indianapolis bus depot I moved out into the aisle to exit.  Suddenly I noticed at the bottom of the steps the same military orderly waiting to get on the bus that had been observing me for the last two weeks while I was in the base hospital.  Oh no!  I thought not now after getting all this far.  It was unbelievable.  I frantically tried to turn around in the aisle, and go to the back of the bus to hide but people were pushing too hard from behind. Squashed in a tight knit of human bodies, I was carried forward against my will. There was just no way I could avoid him.  Upon reaching the top of the stairs, in an act of desperation, I took the large khaki trench coat hanging on my arm and threw it over my head.  Exactly how this must have looked as I stumbled down the steps and emerged into the waiting crowd is incomprehensible!  I just walked off the bus with this large trench coat draped over my upper body and proceeded down the street, bumping into other pedestrians, telephone poles, and parking meters. I could hear muffled voices faintly in the background “what the fuck is this—must be a new recruit, stand back he could be dangerous!’  After traveling a safe distance, I peeked out from under my trench coat to see that I was in the clear.

Until this day it is impossible for me to look back in retrospect on this experience without a certain amount of disbelief.  It supported an opinion I have always harbored that the more irrational and absurd some situations are often the greater the possibility of their success.  Perhaps my indifference was a contributing factor as well.  A person unconcerned about the outcome or consequences of his actions may create a psychological setting in which extraordinary things can happen.

Whether staying away from the military base for one hour or three weeks, I was officially AWOL for the second time and the consequences would still be the same according to military law. I would go before a military tribunal and be court martialed.

I used my last fifty dollars, and took a bus back home to New England. One of my brothers let me stay in a small cabin he had built in the woods.  It was only l0 x l2 feet but it was high in the mountains of New Hampshire and quite remote from any of the familiar noise and distractions of Army life. During the first few days of my return, the value of my original plans became doubtful.  What if the psychiatrists or the military courts did not realize my problem could only be solved by my release into civilian life? My plan had been worked out in such detail, my role acted with such precision. To my growing dismay I could see one important factor had been overlooked, and that was the incompetence of the U.S. Army and human error.  By chance, what if they thought my behavior was rebellious rather than merely abnormal, or that I was a communist, instead of a person who is psychologically unbalanced?  They might beat or torture me.  They might put me in military prison for years. They could send me to Viet Nam to die in the front lines. Many people had been shot and killed for attempting far less than what I had already done.  It could all happen so casually.  They could just shoot me in the back of the head and say he was killed while trying to escape or that it was just an accident or that he died in the line of duty.  Who would really know?  Who would really care that one more man, one more nameless face was gone?  My identity was RA 137-88891, this and nothing more.      Because of my moral and spiritual ideals, I had put myself in a serious position that could not be altered nor easily withdrawn from.

Never before had such an irrational series of behavior been attempted, never had I put my life in jeopardy for what I believed to be my ideals.  Freedom had suddenly become something far more than just my physical struggle against the iron grip of the United States Army. Seeking physical freedom was not done because my life would have then suddenly become one of instant peace and joy.  No, because it was only then, that the real opportunity would be presented. The opportunity to creatively change; to creatively redirect my life toward something as yet unknown, something so elusive and subtle that it demanded nurturing in the silence.

My life and my physical safety had been put in serious jeopardy, yet there could be no turning back now.  Out of my own will, out of my determination, I had to go on.  As I prepared my last and final plans, a feeling of intuitive foreboding of a new and greater crisis yet to come crept over me.

Lying awake at night and unable to sleep, a poem learned in high school continuously rose to my mind and seemed to give me great strength.

“Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be, for my unconquerable

soul.

 

In the fell clutch of circumstances I have not winced

nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeoning of chance My head is bloody,

but unbowed.

 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the

horror of the shade

And yet the menace of the years, Finds, and yet shall

find me, unafraid.

 

It matters not how straight the gate, How charged

with punishment the scroll,

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my

soul”.

                        *Invictus

Sir Ernest Hennly.

After several weeks of roaming the snowfields and walking beneath forest pine a new mystery began rising up within me. A new unity and peace that deepened with each breath and moment of silence.  Solitude no longer felt oppressive or frightening but somehow became like a familiar old friend. Although I was alone, I was not lonely. Although separating myself from the outer world, never had I felt so unified, so much a part of all nature. Everything seemed so clear and pure here in the mountains. The hushed silence, the sudden descent of snow from an overhanging bough. I felt for the first time in my life I wanted to fall to my knees in some type of emulation and prayer. This was grace, but to whom was the object of my affections? God, Life, the Great Mother-Earth who nurtures her wandering and wayward son with such exquisite sensitivity?

I noticed to my surprise that upon reaching the crest of a hill and descending, that no matter how hard I tried, no longer could my footsteps be followed in the same exact pattern that I had created when I walked this same path earlier in the day.

Stopping at the bottom of the hill and staring silently at the calm forest of white and green, that one thought began to rise in my mind with irresistible power and strength. Something unseen opened my perceptions as I realized that we can never go back in time, nor can we ever keep life as it is.  Every conscious moment is unique, the past and the future really do not exist.  There is only one moment in eternity and that is right NOW! – NOW!, that keeps unfolding out of itself. I am transported into the past, as vague and half-forgotten memories of repeating that same word, NOW, as a child, surface. There is an indescribable feeling of connectedness and awe that winds up through my perceptions, like some spiraling vortex, making me feel deep and timeless.

As I stood there totally lost in this experience the sun like a million diamonds beaming off the ice and snow seemed to momentarily blind me with its brightness. My breathing suddenly became very deep and labored, as the oddest sensation came over me.  It felt, as if, electricity were moving across my neck and down along my spine like a type of vibrating energy. As this experience slowly began to fade and my sight returned I had an immense feeling of anxiety that there were deep forces working within me that I could not understand at this time.

 Continuing to walk back to my cabin, I promised myself one day I would come back to these fertile forests and try to understand what this strange and elusive experience was that seemed to be moving just beyond the borders of my normal perceptions but was so deep and timeless.

A week later I decided to turn myself in at the nearest Army installation, which was Fort Devens.  Immediately I was escorted to a military police station, and interrogated, for the next five hours. Once again my clothes were all dumped on the floor and all literature confiscated.

My first sergeant flew out from Indianapolis to pick me up. On our return flight, passing through the airport handcuffed was a memorable experience. My sergeant was a large burly man of 250 pounds with only a 5th grade education and not the intelligence to tie his own shoes without help. He was instantly plummeted to celebrity status and dubbed a hero as we proceeded through the airport terminal. “Atta Boy Sarge,  bust his balls”, “shoot the fucken scum.” Yes, the Sergeant had caught the dirty rat trying to avoid his military responsibilities while our boys were getting their asses shot off in Viet Nam.

As if you had a contagious and deadly disease, mothers instinctively pulled back their children and the elderly moved away from the center of the terminal aisle as we passed.

The passing college girls and the neatly dressed preppie woman avoided your eyes and would never give this soldier boy time. No! You’ll never caress their marble shoulders nor feel the warmth of their kiss. Nor stroke their long perfumed hair, or press against their naked breasts, – not for me – to row my oars down their feathered canyons, where the bird of paradise sings. And what of those poor bastards in Viet Nam who would never return. A gun to their heads protecting all these fucken ladies that couldn’t care less that their blood was flowing like a mighty river.    

       Reaching the bottom of the escalator and taking a slight detour before entering onto the tarmac I could see a bundled figure approaching. She was a poor sight, a bag lady that lived in the outskirts of the terminal. Shuffling her crippled frame through this bleak December day she was like a figure from out of one of Goya’s paintings. Her naked legs were directly exposed to the cold as two different colored socks could be seen rolled down around her ankles. Now passing directly in front of us I could see she wore a blue velvet cap with a faded rose at the top. As I caught her eyes she looked up and seeing the handcuffs said with the sweetest voice, “Poor boy”  “POOR BOY!” I thought to myself, my God! This is not possible, that this old beat up, decrepit and bedraggled homeless bag lady noticed that maybe I was not doing well. This poor unfortunate creature that lived on the streets of this large city eating garbage out of trash barrels had the compassion to notice someone else’s pain when her own was so great. For a moment I am in shock and transported into another world, a momentary departure from this inner hell as I realize the immense gift that someone else cares! That on the whole planet not everybody is dead.

She was the most beautiful creature in the world. Beneath her disheveled and matted appearance was the heart of a Madonna. Beyond her incredible poverty burned the light of a Buddha or the heart of a Christ.  Yes, she might freeze to death or be snatched away by the Grim Reaper this very night. But the darkness of this poor broken world could never diminish her Spiritual radiance and light. She had taken on the proportions of an immense symbolic figure that kept growing and expanding in my emotions and within my mind’s eye. She was the eternal feminine that nurtured all the lost people in the world without cost or consequence to Herself.  She was the polished jewel buried beneath the dark night of time that waited patiently to be revealed as she called her own back into herself. Yes! I was her lost and wayward son. She had touched me as no woman had ever done and I stood defenseless, cowering under her immense stature and beauty.

When we finally arrived back in Indianapolis we drove immediately to the fort.

As the sergeant escorted me across a vacant field to the stockade, I noticed him nervously fingering, his Colt 45 that clung to his hip.  As we reached a midway point, from the gate, he turned to me, and with the face of a man possessed, said, in a frenzied and agitated voice, “Come on you communist mother fucker just start running so I can blow out your brains”, There was a moment of stillness like death as our eyes met. I knew I was looking into the face of evil. Summoning up some deep and subterranean power I riveted every ounce of will that I could summon in my entire being onto his eyes and said in a calm but firm voice “No!”  Slowly he turned his gaze away from mine and led me into the stockade yard.

Until they could decide what to do with me, they put me in a small temporary cell.  Sitting there awaiting my unknown fate, the hard bench I was on seemed to sum up symbolically all my experiences in the U.S. Army. The bench, perhaps 8 feet long and two feet wide, was divided up every two feet by sharp triangular strips of wood.  If your body ached from sitting in just one position for many hours you could not stretch out or lie down because these strips of wood cut into your back and legs. How hard everyone tried to make you feel uncomfortable. Was this not the heart and soul of every totalitarian regime? To bring conformity to its perverted ideas and ideals through the systematic use of torture. Was not physical discomfort the very thing most people tried to avoid in life? Make a person experience enough physical pain and I guarantee you that he will eventually conform or give in to anything no matter how ludicrous or insane. For a moment I travel back in time and see myself reading the life of Henry David Thoreau at the shores of Walden Pond. As the book unfolds, we see Henry sitting alone in a Concord, Massachusetts’s jail for not paying his poll taxes. A protest for what he saw as the immorality of the Spanish American War and the poll tax. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a close friend and colleague, visits Henry to give him assistance. When Ralph enters Henry’s solitary cell he exclaims in a loud and demanding voice “Henry what are you doing in here? To which Henry with his usual Yankee wit replies, “Ralph it’s not what I am doing in here that is important, but rather, what are you doing out there? Is not the true home of all reformers and revolutionaries who are standing on the side of the good and the true, incarceration?”

Later that day, I was interrogated for the second time.  I explained my long series of psychiatric problems, and how I had been under observation at my former post at military school. They all seemed to be confused and because no one really knew what to do, they decided to put me in solitary confinement until some new directives came from high command, “Solitary confinement!” I protested.  “You are making a serious error.  I need medical supervision.”

After being stripped naked and given a pair of baggy pajamas, I was then escorted down a long corridor of individual cells.  Several older inmates poked their heads through the bars, as we passed, and made a few supporting remarks.  “Keep cool kid, you’ll be out in no time.” At the end of the hall we turned and entered another chamber that was filled with row after row of gray steel boxes. An innate feeling of peril seemed to slow my stride as we stopped and the last door was unbolted.  “This is it, kid,” someone mumbled as I was given a nudge to enter.

“But there is nothing in here,” I exclaimed.  “No bed, no chair, nothing but a grey metal    floor and four steel walls.”

“Don’t bother making any noise, kid, there’s nothing we can do.  We’re just following orders.” “Just—following — orders”, those words seemed to plunge into the very depths of my soul. Standing there, I seemed to be in a daze.  Could all this really be happening to me?  Before I even had a chance to turn, someone pushed me.  As I fell against the floor the steel door shut menacingly behind me with a loud foreboding ring.

There was something fearful here in the darkness; something overwhelmingly final as I strained to put meaning into a world that had suddenly spiraled into a nightmare.  I had been alone and in darkness many times but never like this, never without some sound or object upon which to fix my attention. How would I survive this present crisis? I could not help but think that I must have committed some great sin somewhere in the past that I knew not of, but now would rise to confront me with its full fury. Some secret and hidden transgression that had tracked me over a long period of time and now finally had trapped its quarry in this dank and isolated cell. It seemed that up until this moment all my life was a running away, an avoidance of this hidden secret that was about to be revealed.

As I sat gazing into the inky blackness, instinctively I knew the only way I could deal with this sensory deprivation could be to continuously fill my mind with a steady stream of ideas, thoughts and plans. I made timelines and followed the chronological order from my date of birth to every place I lived and every school I attended. Each Christmas, thanksgiving and Halloween day that I could recall was recapitulated. Each birthday and what gifts I had received passed before my view.

Mentally, I visualized all the old cars and motorcycles ever taken apart or rebuilt; all the crumpled fenders and rusty bolts removed or repaired. With great patience I fixed a dozen slipping transmissions and blown engines.

Systematically, and with great articulation I thought about all the different people known in my life, my brothers, my parents, friends, and teachers, all the different girls I had come to know and love over the years.  Recreating their smiles, their words and even the sensation of their touch.

  I saw every act of deception that I had perpetrated upon anyone. I relived them in my mind’s eye in graphic detail. My relationship with women seemed to loom over me with even greater clarity. Every affection, every sexual encounter. I could see my bedroom during high school and the four-poster where I played at love-making.  

Across my headboard I had a long string and upon that string I hung bra tags. Medals I had captured during my sexual conquests. Like trophies 34-b 36-b 38-c all notches to the inflated male ego. Yes, I was mister fucken cool. Never chased the ladies, just set up the psychological conditions in which they would hit on me. A little wine, sweet music, some poetry, a full moon and bingo!  But Mr. fucken cool was’nt doing so well now. He was cooking alive in a little steel cage with perspiration pouring down his face, frantically trying to put meaning into a life that was completely insane. If there is some God in heaven or some hidden power I promised myself I would make amends and free myself from these childish games and vanities.

After the first several days, in which I was let out for only ten minutes per day to go to the bathroom, a sense of desperation started growing within me, as time seemed to slow down and come to a halt.

Day after day I felt along my prison walls and counted rivets across the floor with my fingers, judging its size from the length of my hands, placed one after another.  I went on multiplying, subtracting, dividing until everything started to become clouded from the sheer emptiness and boredom.  Several days later it was becoming difficult to hold my attention on even the simplest things.  I tried speaking aloud, composing poetry. Every time I thought an hour had gone by, I tied a knot in my pajamas.   I had just tied 12 knots but why was there no one there to let me out to go to the bathroom or give me water?

 Was it morning, or night? I had fallen asleep, but for how long?  One hour, five or ten?  What really was time now, in this pit of endless and unfathomable darkness? Had the guards somehow forgotten me?  Christ! If there were a fire, I would surely roast to death in this human oven. 

 Like a motion picture that had suddenly been speeded up, I began to feel myself losing control over my rational mind.  My self-awareness that had suddenly become like a spinning kaleidoscope cascaded uncontrolled fragments and images in all directions.  Like a great black dragon rising out of the past, I felt inundated by an immense void that lay all around me.  For a moment, I thought I saw a dark figure moving in the distance.   Is it real or just a hallucination? Are there realms beyond our mind, just waiting for an unwary traveler to stumble upon?

Just at what seemed the last moment of sanity, I heard a deep metallic thud as the guards unbolted the door.  Oh, God, light – reality – people, as the door burst open and the beauty of the outside world came streaming in.

Even before my composure was gained, someone handed me a tray of white bread and some water.  “Here’s your grub for today pal.  “You’re kidding,” I stammered my eyes straining, to adjust to the light.  “Nobody can live on just white bread.” “Sorry, man, it’s your problem, so don’t hassle us.”

After slowly and with great relish eating all twelve pieces they walked me upstairs where I went to the bathroom.  I had not even been out of the darkness for 10 minutes, when they shuffled me back down and into the box.  In the hopes of seeing a doctor or getting some exercise, I pleaded with them, but no one listened.  They just pushed me back in the cell, and shut the door.

Days had just passed in total sensory deprivation. Could I have the strength to go on? If someone would only tell me what the plan was. Or what they intended to do with me. But nothing came, no communications about anything. Perhaps I would be incarcerated in this black pit indefinitely; perhaps I would go insane.  Yes, this must surely be the greatest unspoken fear of all men, the fear of losing control. The fear of appearing childlike or submissive before our peers or our family and friends.

Lying here in total darkness, I perceived, for the first time, that people are not really as stable as we might like to think. Nor is reality what it seems. Man was a simple creature of habit and comfort. We fill our days with all this endless repetitious detail, rise at eight, eat at twelve and go to bed by ten. Everything in our lives from birth to death is mapped out until we can no longer entertain any original or creative thoughts of our own. We think we are independent and free. We do what we think is “our own thing” but we are one and all, mindless automatons of the social, religious, and cultural norms of the day.

Here in this endless void of darkness, the lines between the real and the unreal are rather thinly drawn.  The definition of sanity is a concept made by a certain intellectual and scientific elite who does not really understand insanity or other altered states of perception because they have never experienced them. Society easily defines and categorizes what is normality, but perhaps it is our culture that is insane. Perhaps  those individuals, who society sees as unstable, nonconforming or even mad, are merely people who have realized the limitations of their conventional environment and are trying desperately to break  away from those limiting structures and back to some form of Real normality. But a normalcy that is so different, so creatively diverse from what has always been accepted as the norm, it invariably becomes violently rejected by those in power who fear change. Those who have a vested interest in upholding the status quo.

 Because some men cannot bear life’s cruelties, their own inner sensitivities cause them to think and act differently. Men who may have this inner prompting to break free from what they see as a world of mass insanity, and moral and spiritual decay.  In their attempt to break out of all these painful restrictions and laws because there are no maps for this new journey, no support or guidance. These sensitive few often break down vacillating between the horrors of the past and the uncertainties and hopes for the future.

            Perhaps it is only when we are cracked and shaken from our normal moorings that we can let a new light into our lives, or the “broken” to quote from one of Rumi’s immortal poems that will ever know the real truth about themselves, reality or death.

             One of the reasons why men will not identify or seek to understand those in the world who act abnormal is not merely because they don’t care, but often because they care very much.  Here, with their intimate contact with those who are different, the false assumption that they are normal or that there is really such a thing as the status quo can suddenly be challenged.  Through the dark shadows of others’ so called abnormality,  normal men are put in direct contact with their own doubts and unresolved fears about who they are, or what life is really all about. Uncertainties and doubts that may lie brooding just below the veneer of their rigidly controlled and regulated lives.

           

            Orthodox psychiatry is largely a farce, because its main objective is conformity. Society doesn’t need free or original thinkers; it needs conformity for its tax base and the ease at which it can uphold the status quo. Psychiatry, which defines what is real or an illusion, is the handmaiden of a civilization who forces its citizens to adjust to a modicum of behavior that tolerates such irrationalities as war, mass starvation, alcoholism, drug addiction and economic and political enslavement by one group upon another. The idea of servitude or perpetual slavery is more than owning or controlling another person’s body since it clearly can happen also on a moral, spiritual, economic, political and psychological level as well. A type of servitude that is doubly insidious because the perpetrators of these heinous crimes we are outlining are not always easily recognized and their influence often peripheral or oblique as they hide behind mountains of official decrees and laws .

 I am reminded of this quote by Voltaire who said concerning man made laws:

 

            “Laws are light cobwebs where the little flies get caught and the big flies breakthrough.”

              Psychiatry successfully brainwashes men to distrust their own inner sensitivity for a social and political ideal that is based on something as superficial as laissez faire, or the profit motive. “Manifest destiny” what a farce – God is always on our side when we seek to extract from others what does not belong to us. Never, never, underestimate the power of the human mind and emotions to rationalize the truth and arrange the facts for its own gain or benefit.

Rather than teaching people how to overcome and resolve their problems, psychiatry teaches people to forget their problems through a system of slow and methodical denial. Drug a person, shock them, remove part of their brain, or just make them feel alienated for a long enough period of time, and he, or she, will eventually conform back to the status quo and  the mindless herd.

In its present form psychiatry does not really alleviate men’s suffering, confusion or pain but in many cases actually perpetuates it.  Here the need to understand the cause of suffering or the bigger questions of what is life? Or who am I?, becomes submerged beneath the superficial veneer of social acceptability and what our peer group may think.

 The only ones who would ever be allowed to make any changes in the social mores of society are those in power and they don’t want to make changes for it will clearly undermine their complete and dominant control of every facet of life. The rest of us are simply   satiated with a steady diet of “bread and circus”. Entertain the average man; brainwash them or just outright force them against their wills in any direction deemed favorable to those who control the strings. The puppet master’s that control the finances within and around the world and keep a large part of the population in economic bondage.

When you have control of the majority of  money, you can control everyone to that exact degree that others need that capital you possess to fulfill their desires. Money is crystallized desire; money is our “wants” and “needs” abstractly converted into a common and manipulative medium of exchange. If The Golden Rule of capitalism is that “he who has the most gold rules” then those who amass or manipulate money are the elite power brokers and the most revered and respected of humanity. Like a magnet everyone is attracted to their money which is always a guarantee of satisfied desires somewhere down the line.

The desires I am referring to are not the ones we need for our basic everyday survival. But those artificial ones that are unknowingly created as we watch our televisions, listen to our radios or submerge ourselves in any type of mass media whose sole purpose is to sell something. We are a race of men that does not look for truth within ourselves but blindly follow the latest fashion created out of the plastic and celluloid world of Hollywood,  and Madison Avenue. Hypnotized and entrained by the perverted values of those who have neither conscience nor any sense of compassion for their fellow man.

The average dwelling in which most people live is a clear testimony to this “illness of acquisition” where each closet,  cellar, or attic are  stuffed  with  a thousand  useless things. We are a world of hoarders but since everyone is infected with the same disease it goes unnoticed and unquestioned. In fact if you are not an obsessive hoarder you are designated a failure and assumed that you must be laboring under some type of strange illness.  Everything we own is a reflection of long hours of tedious labor. And time, the only thing of any real importance in our lives, we convert into things rather than the quality of our thoughts, or our emotional sensitivity.

 

The anthropologist Huntington summarized this idea most eloquently when he said

“There goes man and in the saddle – things”

 

If you desire anything you must sooner or later pay the piper and become its slave in the mad rush to possess it. The Buddha was right when he said enlightenment could only be achieved when you desire nothing. It was only then your spiritual nature, whatever that might be, could emerge or be seen in all its beauty unencumbered.  We all say we want to be free or happy but our whole lives are spent in the acquisition of Things!  Things! Things  and more things! We are one and all choking to death on too much of nothing.

                       We are taught from an early age that we are a race of people who are born with unalienable rights to freedom and the pursuit of “life, liberty and happiness with justice to all” This idealistic dream is a complete fabrication and a lie compared to what most of us experience. It does not matter if we are rich or poor or part of this group, or that group, we are one and all an indentured race of beings that thinks the next purchase, vacation or acquisition will finally bring that long sought state of satisfaction, harmony or peace. But it never comes.

             Having a constant need to fulfill an endless series of desires is like being born with a debt that can never be paid off; and why is that? Because every effort to fulfill any desires sooner or later out of the very nature of its condition simply creates or begets new desires.

Desires are like the dreaded mythological hydra. Cut off one head and another one springs up to take its place.

             Desire is so ingrained in the human condition and the very fabric of our existence, that to try and dissect its nature, or distance ourselves from its nature brings an immediate sense of confusion and bewilderment to those who exist under its hypnotic spell. Desire is like gravity that no matter how much effort you exert to overcome it we all are locked under its all pervasive influence.

             What would reality suddenly look like if we didn’t need or want anything? Would the concept of who we are  be  forced to radically change into something new and totally different then what we are familiar with.? Are there minds or intellects that are so strong that they could exist independently from the body or physical plane existence? And if minds of that stature really existed where could they be found and how would they be recognized?

             When we have a powerful or creative thought, what is that thought’s origin?  We say it comes from our brains but I have thoughts that are so radically different then anything I have ever experienced or read about perhaps there is another origin for them.

            Are there  superior minds that exists in some type of abstract state that although hidden from physical view  are seeding our lives with a constant  down pouring of new and different ideas if we are humble and intelligent enough to listen?

           Are we like hamsters running on a spinning wheel and that no matter what speeds we reach or how much energy we exert we are still confined to a small cage of our daily existence that we just cannot see. We are in awe because someone else’s spinning wheel is more brightly decorated then ours or has a few extra frills, but not one person in the entire group can see the extent of the insidious dynamic, and can with any willful intent step off the wheel or move beyond the predetermined parameters of their own confined and habitual lives.

 Perhaps death may not be the terrible specter people have been taught to fear, but may be simply like a good night’s sleep after a hard day and take on the quality or characteristic of a  great liberator, temporarily freeing us from this mass hysteria and hypnosis that we all exist within. A chance to have our eyes cleansed and our visions renewed for bigger and better things.

 If the culture we live in is psychologically unbalanced, if the world is essentially schizophrenic, whom shall we blame, when one man here, or there, tries to break free and fly from the insane “normality”?  Yes, yes, this is it! Insanity at its primal core may not really be an act of instability, or weakness, but one of great courage and strength as we attempt our own self-healing. It is an act of power in which, turning away from the ignorance and falsehood of the outer world, we search inwardly in our conscience and heart for a new hope and a new spiritual meaning.

It is all so clear, here within my mind’s eye and yet there is something within me that is afraid of this knowledge that I have just recognized.  This expanded, and transcendental knowing, that has suddenly turned my whole world upside down and destroyed all conventional ideas and values of who I am. It is as if my mind that formulates, deduces and reasons has jumped from a one-dimensional linear level to a 360-degree view.

Dear God!  I am afraid, and yet at the same time, elated. I cannot control this dreaded fascination of the unknown that keeps rising and building within me. A mystical yearning to know what may lie just beyond the other side of what is called the time, sanity, or death.

Ah!, just once to peer behind the veil that separates the real from the unreal.  Or just once turn my back on what men call life and make that leap of faith into that great abyss that keeps the whole human race throttled by fear and uncertainty of the unknown.

This was surely the greatest challenge, the ultimate gamble in which one might come to know, all or nothing. But no, no, I am not yet ready for that awesome test, as some deep, and ancient fear seeks to pull me back.  Unsure, and afraid, I try to keep myself from thinking these terrible thoughts.  In a last attempt to attach myself to something tangible, my mind is drawn into the past.

 How beautiful the snowy hills must be back home, all glittering with ice and snow.  And that girl, if only she were here now in my arms.  Her warmth that could give me such direction and strength.  Her smile that could restore my fading hopes that in all this madness and confusion, I still have an identity. That it is better to go on, than to give in and die. But it is no use; for there is an opening, deep within me, a pit of overwhelming depths, that rising, spreads its mantle of darkness over me.  I feel I am being swallowed up in raging fear, terror, as all the walls collapse, and I am floundering within a sea of uncontrollable forces.

Oh my God!    The walls are beginning to move; they’re closing in upon me.  There is no air, and I can’t breathe.  Now I am screaming.  Open the door!  Open the door!  In my blind panic, I try to push back the walls.  Clutching against the steel door, my fingernails become split and bleeding.  Suddenly in my horror, I see myself as a child, in another place. Pinned, beneath a schoolyard bully, I am unable to breathe.  Gasping for air my face is slowly turning blue.  Dear God, why doesn’t someone help me? 

It is as if I am looking at myself through multiple dimensions, simultaneously. I can also see myself as an old man lying upon his deathbed. His lungs are slowly filling with bronchial fluid; he struggles and gasps for one last breath before he expires.

In my cell I am running frantically smashing my body from wall to wall.  Suddenly, everything begins to fade as I feel myself letting go, and falling – falling, like slow motion, onto the floor below.

There is a moment without recall, a timeless pause of total emptiness that I cannot remember. Regaining consciousness slowly, there now seems to be two of me.  It all seems so vague at first, as if waking from a dream.  One of me appears dead, and lies crumbled on the cell floor, and the other self, was somehow weightless, and was suspended above the floor.  Gazing down at my body, I felt a warm glow rising within me, an interior recognition of some new and transpersonal self.  A jubilant sense of gratitude, that I was now free from pain, confinement and inertia. I could not explain what I was experiencing.  Apparently dead, I still lived.  Moments before in emotional distress, I now felt light, transparent and airy.  The only thing that could be said with any certainty was that the experience was profoundly good.

 During this revelation I saw no signs of angels, no singing choirs or blinding lights so often spoken of by orthodox religion. This experience was too real to be considered religious; too intense to be confused with ecclesiastical dogma or theological teachings.  This experience was simply an all-pervading awareness of myself as something intrinsically good.  Something spiritual that needed no external identity to maintain its own sense of integrity or happiness.

 Another week clicked by but I seemed to be in a type of suspended animation and indifferent to my plight.   Time, space were all relative terms and did not exist outside of this new sense of self. A self that had been modified and changed in ways I was incapable of defining. One day from the heavy stupor of my physical brain, I heard the guards unbolting the door, their voices barely audible as I strained to adjust to the light.

The guards, eyeing me suspiciously, fed me and then escorted me upstairs. Although that one moment of illumination and truth was now beginning to fade there still remained a silent confidence that some great truth had been momentarily known. In spite of all the confusion and madness that might follow everything would eventually work itself out

 At the captain’s office I was informed that I would be transferred back to my military school in Indiana the next day. My first sergeant would be flying out tomorrow to pick me up.  The captain said court-martial proceedings would start for the second time but it was possible they were going to terminate my enlistment.  It was a question of unsuitability. Fawning my disappointment, I was privately elated

When the first sergeant finally arrived to escort me back, I complained of headaches and nervousness.  Back at my old barracks I continuously paced the floor.  After two weeks of waiting I was finally brought in for my court martial. I can hear the indictment being read, AWOL, irresponsible, dangerous character, and an anarchist, menace to the army, immature and weak, the litany of infraction just kept going on.

My Captain, a short cocky man with shoulders like a dump truck cannot control himself. He keeps jumping up every few minutes and with wild jerking hands like an animated robot he shouts obscenities over the proceedings. Like a harbinger from hell, he kept running over where I was sitting and circuling around me as if some bird of prey, ready to descend on its unfortunate victim. Reaching a crescendo of uncontrolled animation I recall the veins on his ruddy face bulging out like some grotesque creature from out of Gustav Dore’s etchings on Purgatory and Hell.

The sheer emotional intensity of this experience seemed to momentarily break down the parameters of my perceptions and I felt myself plummeting into some ancient memory.  Suddenly all of these accusations seemed strangely familiar as I saw myself standing before another trial.

 Condemned to death by what appeared a Roman tribunal I see this long line of men in dark robes depart the courtroom. I can hear them searching their fevered minds for the only thoughts that could now have any meaning. Did we argue well? Did we state our case for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?  Would this sentence of death be swift and merciful?

As the Captain summarizes his final arguments it is like being in two worlds at the same time. I can hear his concluding remarks as if they are being spoken from across a great divide.” “Yes gentlemen, we must punish Mr. Carpenter and make him feel the full power and wrath of the U.S. Government. We must make an example of him so that others will know there is only one program that they can follow and one type of behavior that is acceptable and right. We must have discipline and we must at all costs maintain order.”

Like a man possessed, I jumped up from my seat and blurted out these strange and foreign words. Words that seemed to come through me and not from me “Yes! Yes! I am afraid of death, of torture and pain. Yes, I am afraid of what the U.S. Army will do to me. But I am more afraid of my own conscience, more afraid of the moral guilt of participating in a heartless machine that grinds up defenseless women and children and burns whole villages without remorse”. Like the words spoken by some great moralist or religious reformer I continued half hypnotized and entranced by my own words. “You have stoned me and you have removed my head. You have burned me at the stake and crucified me a thousand different times throughout the history of man, but you cannot kill the truth and your physical power is but temporary and soon you will all be disgraced and made low by the irresponsibility of your actions.”

The sincerity of my retort and the sheer power of my words must have confused and startled them. I can now see all the members of the court martial in a tight huddle at the end of the courtroom. Although they are all speaking in whispers, telepathically it is like they are all inside my head and I can hear each one of their voices clearly as if they are speaking directly to me. The Lieutenant, the only man with a moral bone in his whole entire body speaks. “This kid as you can see is not a Communist, nor some anarchist agitator, he is simply totally out of his fucken mind. It is therefore my recommendation to the court that for the good of the Army we get rid of his ass”.      

       The rest of the group visibly disorientated by my outburst belatedly agree. Momentarily they returned from their meeting and their conclusion to the Court Martial is read. “We hereby recommend that Private D. Carpenter RA 114628999 be given a general discharge from the U.S. Army on conditions of unsuitability, # 209”.

Returning somewhat to my normal perceptions I notice I am wet with perspiration and my heart is racing and pounding at high speed. The new found moralist within me wants to argue more, completely indifferent to the outcome. My personality wants me to quiet down and shut up as I realize the implications of the court’s determination. Suddenly a sense of relief begins to flood over me as I realize that I may actually escape this nightmare.  

Over the next six weeks while my discharge was being processed, I tried to review and understand all that had taken place while in the U.S. Army. What had really happened those long days I had spent while in solitary confinement, that snowstorm in Indiana or out walking in the snowfields back home? And what of that voice I had heard that said “save yourself for a more worthy foe” A transcendental voice that had reverberated throughout my conscience with such irresistible power and clarity. I detested violence and yet on that fateful day out on the parade grounds with my finger on the trigger of my M-14 rifle I was more than eager to perpetuate the same violence I so strongly opposed. This moral indignation of mine although based on a need for some type of justice could easily lead without clear thinking into the same type of moral morass I was desperately trying to get myself out of.

When I was released from the U.S. Army there would be rallies to attend, speeches to be made, the building and unifying of a whole network of fellow peaceniks that opposed the war in Viet Nam. Yet the anger, confusion, and evil that I saw within myself now seemed as a far more important area of exploration, and study than simply the horrors of the United States Army. A hidden darkness within me that dwelt just over the threshold of my normal perceptions. If these undesirable qualities within me could be understood, perhaps they could be somehow transcended, transmuted or destroyed. This recognition of darkness within me was not new. It was clearly the same darkness I had recognized within myself from earlier youth, and although often projected and displaced onto other situations, or people was clearly my own. Yes, surely the opposition to the evil within me was “the more worthy foe” that I would have to recognize and confront. An inner voice that had resounded with such clarity and moral authority that I knew, I must submit to that fateful day in the army barracks.

 While in solitary confinement I had clearly exhibited classic signs of claustrophobia as I relived a struggle to get free from a schoolyard bully. But what was that startling scene in which I had seen myself transported into another time and another place as an old man dying from respiratory failure.  And what of the idea that I had lived before and been condemned to death before a Roman Tribunal for my beliefs in what I saw as my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Christianity was clearly for me, and  speaking in contemporary terms, a farce, and I held in contempt  any of those who in any way thought Jesus Christ would come and save them.

Part of me wants to dismiss all of these experiences as mere hallucinations and figments of the imagination. But it is not that simple for I am beginning to understand that the subjective world within me is multidimensional, or  like an extended labyrinth or maze. An immense and multifaceted puzzle that only I can piece together or understand.

I felt certain that somewhere buried in the dark recesses of our minds and emotions are answers to these questions of existence, life, death, time, goodness and evil. We must discover these truths solely alone and without the aid of teachers or textbooks or conventional education. I had been the proverbial black sheep, always rebelling, always going against the grain and bucking the system. Now with my reality turned upside down and what I thought was true turned inside out, I had paid a terrible price of deep emotional confusion and stress. But there was no way I could turn back from this journey of self-exploration. I am reminded of a short quote from Henry David Thoreau that seemed to summarize all that I thought and was feeling.

“ …it is easier to sail many thousand miles through cold and storm and cannibals, in a government ship, with five hundred men and boys to assist one, than it is to explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific of one’s being alone.”

 Fear had asserted itself over my rational mind while locked in solitary confinement. But what was that spiritual presence or transcendental self that revealed itself?

 The US Army without any intent on its part had brought me to this place of crises. Through crises I felt there was something that needed to be known and recognized. A type of emergence that needed to take place.

Because of these various insights  I began to see that it was not just I, but all of humanity that existed in this immense duality.

 If each person lived thinking that he or she had only 70 or 80 odd years to their existence it would condition everything they thought and did. They would make every effort to fulfill their desires knowing that in the end they will simply be obliterated by death’s finality.  But what if man lived many lifetimes and that there was no end to this evolutionary condition we call life. Not just  evolution genetically, but the evolution of ideas and emotions that kept reaching up to experience the new and spiritual.

Was this dark influence that dwelt on the threshold of my perceptions getting stronger with each contact with my conscious self, or was it always this powerful and it was only now in this military crises that I saw its nature eye to eye, and that I could now clearly understand the extent of its influence and the enormity of its power?  Many of my dreams in childhood graphically brought to my attention that there was something dark and hidden within my personality but this was somewhat different. It was if there was now  a great searchlight being directed into my life and it revealed a future filled with spiritual promise and self growth, yet simultaneously it showed those dark influence of egotism and anger within me  that clearly stood in its way and would eventually have  to be addressed and dealt with. Whatever its nature, it was real and constituted some unknown and unrecognized aspect of myself. I had met the real enemy of my life, and it was not the U.S. Army, it was I!  Whatever the nature of this darkness within me was, it was clearly beyond my capacity to confront or destroy it at this time.

I had entered The US Army a robust 165 pounds, and exited at mere 140 pounds. I had received several shattered teeth, a broken nose, several concussions for which I would have migraine headaches for most of my adult life but I was still alive and optimistic at the possibilities of a future that I could now attempt to control and creatively direct.

         

Chapter Four: Early Disciplines

 

CHAPTER 4

   EARLY DISCIPLINES

        The doubter or negative that I had earlier recognized in my youth had one more time asserted its dominance over my personality.  Despite early discipline, it was obvious I did not have enough control over my emotions and mind.

        In solitary confinement, I had become afraid of my personality’s disintegration, and this fear had developed into a case of claustrophobia.  A fear of suffocation and death that became uncontrollable when linked to a childhood experience of being choked into unconsciousness by some schoolyard bully

       Now, released from the Army, it became clear that in order to understand the unusual and bizarre experiences I had just undergone I needed a lot of time

       It seemed obvious that if I exhausted all my energy in the pursuit of material gain or social activities I would have little left to devote toward any higher or more creative goals.

       Everyone around me seemed to labor under the impression that they would be happy or content if they could only acquire more money or material possessions.  Ironically the more I saw them pursue this quest the more unhappy and confused about the meaning and purpose of their lives they became.

       Security or happiness for me could only be achieved by learning to understand and control my life.

       One day, sitting down at my desk I drafted a short resume of all the areas within my life that needed improvement.

       First       –      there was the physical body

       Second   –     the emotions

       Third      –      the mind

               Working on the physical level first I decided to adopt a program that would keep me physically fit. Setting aside an hour every other day I began a series of light calisthenics, push-ups, and deep knee bends. It was very difficult at first.  My body protested with each contraction.

       Although I had managed to get a moderate amount of exercise in school or from pushing old motorcycles and old clunkers around our driveway, this situation was totally different.  I was now attempting to do it out of an act of will and personal desire for my own self-improvement.

       For days my body was so racked with discomfort from these exercises that even a short walk across the floor was painful.

       I was curious about the psychological condition within me that was present during those moments when I attempted to impose discipline upon my physical body. I began to see once again those two different aspects of what I had commonly accepted as my personality assert themselves. One self was skeptical negative and delighted in doing what was easiest and most entertaining.  Almost like a child, it reveled in a self-centered egotism of wants and desires.  The other self was positive well disciplined, and self-motivated. Whenever I examined my behavior at any time I clearly saw these two distinctly different personality types working and living within the same psyche.

Upon closer observation these two different personality types within me seemed more like two different types of mind. One of the minds which I began to identify as the lower mind interacted with my emotions and always seemed to find excuses and reasons why not to do anything that required any great amount of effort. The other mind, which I came to call the higher, was linked to my will. This higher mind could summon in for assistance this fearless drive and indifference to discomfort. This Higher mind using the will would keep working on some problem until it was resolved.

The lower mind was lethargic and could easily outline all of the reasons why something couldn’t be done or would not work, Influencing the emotions, this lower mind would cause me to become uncertain, disorientated, and fearful. The higher mind in contrast could bring this one pointed will to help achieve difficult problems.

The higher positive mind found great satisfaction in helping others, overcoming obstacles, and generally saw things in a clear optimistic light.

Applying this insight to the physical exercise that I was attempting to undertake, the lower mind would summon up all types of criteria for failure. “It’s too hard.” “There is no time.” “This is really going to hurt.” “You’re only going to fail.” Your friends will think you are weird” etc, etc.

       Much of the confusion and discomfort that I was experiencing in my life was a direct result of these two different types of mind in constant conflict and opposition.

Because the old patterns of inertia were deeply entrenched within me I didn’t know how to feed or let this higher mind and will take control.

       In many ways it was emotionally easier and psychologically safer to Just go along with the negative I and not attempt any new disciplines.  If no effort was put forth there could be no failure and the resulting emotional stress or guilt that always came with defeat.

       The negative part of my mind seemed to be the strongest when my body and mind were idle and I was doing little or nothing.  This lower negative mind’s basic attitude was to take things as easy as possible and go through life with the least amount of effort.

       In the living room, comfortably reclined on a large overstuffed captain’s chair, I mused over these complex and paradoxical aspects of the mind.

               I realized that to maintain strict concentration would require the disciplining of my physical body and orienting my mind in a new way. Because I knew the negative I within me was always present, and that my vulnerability to its clever arguments was strongest just before beginning to exercise or initiate some new discipline, I began playing a subtle but complex series of psychological maneuvers to outwit him.  Just before beginning my exercises, I would deliberately preoccupy my attention with positive thoughts.  Within my imagination, I would assert repetitiously that I was getting stronger and was gaining greater control of my physical body and life. Visualizing my task, before it was performed, from beginning to end, I reinforced and strengthened my psychological attitude.

       When I had finally been able to develop a habitual rhythm to my exercises, soon to my amazement every day the exercises were done not only in greater rapidity but also with progressively less effort.  What was incredibly difficult when I started became much simpler now. For the first time in my life, I felt I had discovered a way in which the doubter or negative side of me could be driven back and controlled.

               I also realized that this negative part of myself that was causing me so much difficulty and resistance to my psychological and spiritual growth was in fact a facet of the same dark and sinister figure I had confronted in my early youth through dreams and nightmares, as well as the fear I had experienced while in solitary confinement in the U.S. Army.  That dark, loathsome, and negative part of myself that had mysteriously changed through the years and was now a more subtle but clever foe. A foe that would require constant vigilance to understand and eventually learn to control.

               As my powers of concentration grew and my tolerance for physical discomfort increased, I began to experience a psychological freedom beyond description.

               By constantly exceeding my earlier disciplines I knew I was forging an even greater capacity that went far beyond the physical. There was a curious relationship between the physical body and its activities and the emotions and the mind; they were clearly linked and reciprocal. The activities we choose to pursue physically have a definite effect on our feeling nature and our thoughts. Our thoughts and emotions in turn had a reciprocal and equal effect upon the condition and activities of the physical body. The integration or growth of any individual person could only take place when one understood how the whole organism was interdependent upon all of its cooperative parts.

       Music, I found, could become a tremendous asset in directing my will or in asserting my higher mental concentration and one pointedness.  The rising tempo of drums or the steady rhythm of guitars seemed to infuse me with greater power and concentration as I exercised.

       Years later when I had graduated to far more strenuous exercises, I noticed that at the maximum peak of my energy expiration, I felt a tingling sensation or movement of energy that rose from below my loins and ascended up into the large muscle groupings in my back and chest area.  Here at the critical moment of near exhaustion, my muscles were momentarily infused with extra vitality and power.

       I noticed my sexual habits also had a definite effect on the quality of my physical discipline.  Physical intercourse not only seemed to deplete my physical energies, but also seemed to also diminish my emotional and psychological concentration and power. My interest in women physically at this time reached an all time low.  I seemed quite content to appreciate their charms from what I now considered a safe distance. Yet, I seemed to be often preoccupied with what I saw as the ideal woman. This woman was not of this world but molded out of certain fantasies and possessed certain attributes of inner beauty, poise and grace not easily found.

       Physically eating only those foods that were full of good nutritional value, not only did I progressively eat less over the coming months, but I also learned to simplify my diet to only a few needed essentials.

               From a local farmer, three dozen eggs were bought for a dollar, peanuts for thirty-nine cents a pound, or bunches of bananas for a quarter.

               Living at my parent’s summer camp high in the New Hampshire mountains, my presence served the dual purpose of not only having an inexpensive place to live but also the property could be protected from thieves who continuously looted the unattended cottages around the lake.

               Without any need for transportation or any desire for entertainment, less than a dollar a day sufficed. “Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity,” was the stoic but practical philosophy of Henry David Thoreau.  “Let your needs be so few that you can count them on your fingers.”

               Thoreau built a little cabin for only 28 dollars overlooking Walden Pond and lived self-sufficiently from what little produce he grew from his garden.  After all, he once remarked, “A house is merely a place to sleep and keep warm.  The larger the dwelling, often the smaller the man.”

               When rebuked for his lack of financial initiative, Thoreau replied with these simple but meaningful words:

                      “If a man does not keep pace with his companions perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away”.

               Living only half an hour from Walden Pond, late in the Autumn when all the tourists were gone, I would stroll leisurely along the water’s edge transfixed by autumn’s foliage of red and orange, yellow and gold. Occasionally I would stop and listen attentively as the silence was broken by a woodthrush haunting cry or a single leaf gliding weightless upon the still pound.  As it rested calmly upon the mirrored surface of the still water, I would drink in a new peace that only nature could provide.

       Jogging along country roads in the early morning my senses seemed to be undergoing a radical transformation.  Drinking in the crystal clarity of sunlight and shadows I would marvel as grasses and grains moved rhythmically to the wind.  Even the furry little creatures within the woods became a familiar sight as I jogged along through the passing seasons.

       This intense physical exercise not only interrupted long periods of physical passivity but also brought a tremendous amount of stimulation to my intellect that often became lethargic and clouded after long hours of study and introspection.  Expanding my sensitivity into areas of prose and painting, for the first time I realized the immense Joy of being able to create.

        If a growing preoccupation with something negative was noticed, before it could adversely affect either the clarity of my thoughts or the calm of my emotions, immediately my attention was shifted to some more positive activities or thoughts. Systematically I began training myself to be constantly aware of what I felt or was thinking at any given moment, I also maintained a constant vigilance on the people associated with and the places visited.  Whenever I could see myself becoming involved in any situation that might have a destructive influence on me, I would leave.

       It became clear that any repetition of negative thoughts or emotions that are continuously held in the mind over an extended period will have become so habitual that they will fall below the threshold of one’s awareness.  Even though one might not be consciously aware of it, these undesirable qualities seated in the subconscious are nevertheless affecting one’s behavior. The origin of negative propensities is not merely habits conditioned from our immediate environment, but might also include early racial and evolutionary urges that are a part of our emotional, mental, and genetic nature.  Totally eliminating negative propensities within my personality did, was not possible, but controlling the quality and quantity of these undesirable impulses was.   It was becoming clear that these negative thoughts and emotions I was experiencing were like a type of unseen energy that surrounded and interpenetrated all that I was.

               An example of failure to control our psychological environment may be seen when we examine what most people have come to accept as entertainment, amusement and fun.  As these words are written all over the country men stand in line for blocks to subject themselves to violence and fear incited by such movies as “The Godfather “Jaws” or the “Exorcist”

        Only people who are sleeping or living in the dark would be foolish enough to drag their imaginations, that most precious gift of the human species, down into such pits of darkness

       Emit Fox summed up this concept quite clearly in his penetrating little book titled, The Sermon on the Mount when he said:

       “And the Truth turns out to be nothing less than the amazing but undeniable fact that the whole outer world–whether it be the physical body, the common things of life, the winds and the rain, the clouds, the earth itself–is amenable to man’s thought and that he has dominion over it when he knows it.  The outer world, far from being the prison of circumstances that it is commonly supposed to be, has actually no character whatsoever of its own, either good or bad.  It has only the character that we give to it by our own thinking.  It is naturally plastic to our thought, and this is so, whether we know it or not, and whether we wish it or not.

       All day long the thoughts that occupy your mind, your Secret Place, as Jesus calls it, are molding your destiny for good or evil; in fact, the truth is that the whole of your life’s experience is but the outer expression of inner thought.

       Now we can choose the sort of thoughts that we entertain.  It will be a little difficult to break a bad habit of thought, but it can be done.  We can choose how we shall think–in point of fact, we also do choose–and therefore our lives are just the result of the kind of thoughts we have chosen to hold, and therefore they are of our own ordering, and therefore there is perfect Justice in the universe.  No suffering for another man’s original sin, but the reaping of a harvest that we ourselves have sown.  We have free will, but our free will lies in our choice of thought”.*

       *Fox, Emmit, The Sermon on the Mount, Harper and Brothers Publishers, N.Y., Copyright, 1934, 13th Edition, pgs. 13-14.       

       One of the greatest breakthroughs in the twentieth century has been in the study and exploration of man’s visualization faculty. All action is predetermined by some type of visualized image first in the mind’s eye. This pertains to literally all of our behavior and actions. Whether it is looking for the car keys, an act, which must first be visualized in the mind’s eye to the construction of a modern skyscraper. All creative discoveries or developments need to be first visualized before in fact they can be acted upon.

       A person can be passively influenced by the stimulus around them or they can be taught how to control, direct and guide this inner picture-making faculty to creative and positive ends. Our environments are more than where we physically dwell but where we direct our imaginations to go in moments of thought, intense concentration or reverie.

      The power of being able to formulate some picture inwardly of what we want to do outwardly before it is created might be what separates genius from mediocrity and failure from success.  If we visualize the person we want to become, we begin however subtly at first to set in motion those forces that will help rebuild the inner person. His thoughts, his ideals and his reality. There is a curious relationship between an image that is visualized inwardly and the actual working out onto the physical or psychological plane as something tangible and real. The relationship is time. Knowing how long and how much visualized effort is required to make this whole process work is not easy to determine but seemed to require an act of will for follow-through. A type of sustained intention. Visualization was clearly a creative discipline that needed to be nurtured and practiced with rhythmic regularity.

When the public educational system begins to teach students how to build and sustain their powers of visualization for psychological and spiritual growth we will have the birth of a new world order in which drug addiction, alcoholism, and a thousand other maladies that exists in the world at this time may begin to disappear and die out.

       Because the average person does not understand how the human mind is conditioned by negative visualization he meanders through life continuously prostituted by volumes of negative images and suggestions. Basic psychology clearly reveals that man is a creature of habit. That man will assimilate and later act out those thoughts or types of behavior that he is continuously exposed to. Big businesses and advertisers profit from this fact.

How can we expect any man to stop and think clearly about his own life when every single moment he is being morally, socially, and economically prostituted by some form of propaganda pumped out by the mass media?  The more people consume these dark and celluloid images fashioned in Hollywood and Madison Avenue, the more unhappy and desperate they become for something real and meaningful. Capitalism requires the art and science of making people desire those products and services that they don’t actually need to survive. 

Most men’s potential for creative growth, and moral and spiritual development are simply submerged in the mud of materialism and undisciplined living that could all be changed by positive visualization.

       It is for these very reasons that in the early stages of my development, I was often forced to spend prolonged periods alone. Here, without distraction, a keen sense of concentration and visualization could be developed.  At first, controlling the quality of my emotions or the direction of my thoughts could be achieved for only one hour or two.  Later, after many years of constant practice, it was extended through the entire day.

       Each obstacle in my life became a challenge in which my higher will was continuously asserted.  It was a slow and tedious process at first but as time passed, what may have seemed difficult yesterday became much easier today.

  Challenging a new book, I visualized new and more progressive ideas and ideals. The moment I opened a good book my visualization capacity was captivated and guided from my common surroundings and into a new and more expanded reality. No longer alone in the true sense of the word my life, rather than being a seething mass of doubts and negative habits from my early youth, my personality was now becoming well-disciplined and directed.

       In the early stages of these disciplines, I often began by comparing myself to other people.  Through this comparison, certain undesirable qualities I did not wish to possess were recognized and slowly modified and eliminated.  

Years later when my personal control began to exceed even the older and better disciplined people around me, this comparison could no longer be considered to be useful. The comparative quality now needed in my growing integration had become so refined I searched for historical figures that could be a new yardstick by which I could see myself. Often by measuring what I had been in the past to what I had now become in the present, my progress could be charted in all its varying degrees.

       Although my new and growing spiritual and psychological identity had separated me outwardly from others, it slowly began to unite me subjectively morally with them on a much deeper level.

       Understanding and appreciating myself for the first time was very fulfilling.  It was not a question of mere vanity,  or that I might have been more advanced than others, but that I was taking control of my life and helping to transform myself into something spiritual and good.            

Studying Sigmund Freud since early high school was a useful tool in my early psychological analysis of myself. When our English class was reading Charles Dickens’works, I was teething my psychological teeth on His Interpretation of Dreams, Civilization and its Discontents, and Totem and Taboo. With the help of other psychologists such as Adler, Horney, and Sullivan and years later by the transpersonalists, Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow, Artie Lang and Rollo May new vistas of the mind were opening.

        Some of the important concepts they conveyed were.

  1. Men do not orientate themselves toward reality in the outer world merely as it exists, but through the distorted powers of repressed desires and hidden emotions create a modified psychological reality within themselves. It is for this reason their thinking processes as well as their understanding are consequently unclear.
  2. The average person, being centered in the distorted world of his desires, is interested and only aware of what he has grown familiar with. All else he will naturally ignore and will not understand.
  1. If each man’s pride and vanity convince him of his superiority, he will therefore fight and die asserting to his last dying breath that his knowledge is infallible and absolute; be they the delusions of a madman, the worship of a spiritual devotee, or the deductions of the scientist.

       It was just as that beautiful black man had pointed out back in the U.S. Army.  There can be no absolute truths until each man can transcend the distortions of his personality, his physical desires, his unruly emotions, and his inept and confused mind.

       Reviewing my own short life and all the progressive changes that had occurred within it. I realized that if someone had approached me 10 years ago with the statement so well accepted in psychology, that the human mind was like an iceberg and that the small protrusion above the water line was normal consciousness and the other 90% were the hidden subconscious and subliminal depths I would have surely thought he was joking or even a little mad.  However, because this concept is true and there are levels of activity below the objective and rational mind, then why could there not also be undiscovered or unknown levels of activity above it. Had I not in fact touched on certain elevated states of consciousness while in the US Army.

       Science which had for so long been labeled as a stronghold of materialism was being shaken daily by new discoveries in biology, chemistry, and physics.  If in theoretical physics, atomic particles can travel in two different ways simultaneously, then perhaps the past, the present, and the future are only different aspects of the same continuous energy stream.  If the future already exists on some Quantum level then perhaps precognition is possible.

        If an electron can be a particle, as well as a wave, it is therefore a material form that can also be formless. If form can be broken down into constituent parts of unseen and unrecognized then perhaps this is the transitional point that Theosophical teachings call the etheric realm. That there may be unseen and unrecognized life that lies behind all material forms yet animates them and gives them life. Einstein’s theory of relativity, although perhaps not being the final word in the discovery of the unseen, substantiates the relationship of time and space and how the reality that we see with our eyes and with our other senses is relative. Perhaps what we call consciousness itself will one day be studied in the same way we study the natural sciences.

        The Universe, contrary to popular belief, is not wound up like a watch and, therefore, cannot run down.  The Universe is not created by chance, nor developed merely along the simple lines of natural selection, as Darwin and Spencer had contended.  Man can no longer be considered a mere chemical and mechanical compound.  The theory of conservation of energy can no longer be substantiated, for radium produces vast amounts of energy without acquiring it from any apparent source.

       If science has developed x-rays that can traverse solid objects or if radium can be turned magically into helium or lead or if magnetic waves can move around the earth, why should thought transmission or telepathy not be possible? If tiny amounts of radioactive matter can generate enormous amounts of energy, then everything is alive. Even so-called inorganic matter is vibrant and has the potential for great activity or power that might be one day harvested. If everything is therefore alive then the Universe and all its component parts are a living vibrant organism with Consciousness. If all living things in the Universe radiate an electrical and atomic force, why shouldn’t people’s desires, emotions, and thoughts not be considered real or tangible?

        Yes, it seems science in its many and varied branches and not orthodox religion, was slowly dissolving the barriers between the mundane and the metaphysical; between physical reality and what men have always accepted as fantasy or science fiction.

       The only statement that can now be made with any certainty is that all things are in a perpetual state of change and anything is possible.

       Orthodox religion had interested me very little.  Each contact with its continuous show of pomp and hypocrisy drove me further away and deeper into myself.  I did not want to know the truth about God, but simply the truth about myself. Being saved did not interest me; merely having the opportunity to transform myself through my own powers of intelligence and will was enough.  If there was any truth in life, I had to know it directly and without other men’s interpretation or aid.  How naive of people to think they could understand some infinite creator with their finite brains, or the macrocosmic whole in all its endless depths, with but mere emotions. If there was a higher truth or a greater ideal, it must surely be found or experienced within an organ of sight–a vehicle of vision far deeper than anything yet developed by the average man.  The blind faith so essential to the acceptance of orthodox religion did not raise men to the glorious height of immortality as it promised.  On the contrary, under a shroud of secrecy, fear and superstition, it held men back from ever understanding the real truth. And what was that truth; that men must not wait around for some type of resurrection to save them but develop to their highest capacity their own innate creative and spiritual powers. This is what led the great German philosopher Fredric Nietchi to claim “God was dead”. Any deeper understanding of his teachings clearly reveals he was a very spiritually enlightened philosopher in spite of the fact that the Fascists of during the second world war distorted his teachings for their own perverted ends. What he meant by that statement may have been that  the old concepts of god so long perpetuated by western theology would one day be replaced by the “superman” who would find his powers of immortality and redemption within himself. To conservative theologians these words are blasphemy. But to a whole new generation of seekers who no longer fit into the old Judo-Christian mold of endless dogma it was a rallying cry for the emergence of a new truth. 

       The last time I had entered a church was quite a memorable occasion.  Out walking with a friend one sunny October, we decided, perhaps out of curiosity more than anything else, to walk into a local church.  As we entered, the sensation of confinement and gloom was so overpowering that it literally took my breath away.  Immediately I became nauseous and felt an incredible force of oppression and penance hovering over me.  Gazing around the room, the dark shadows of the arched walls seemed to loom menacingly like the broken wings of some great and mythological bird. Even the tapestries and pictures hung as dead artifacts from an ancient and dim past.  This is not life but death.  “Dear God! I thought, tear down these dark and grotesque walls!  Throw open the roof and let the beauty of the sunshine in. Let the fragrance of the earth and the skies bring its healing vitality to this cold and antiquated tomb”.  Somehow it was impossible to believe that the church was a dwelling place of some immortal truth or transcendental ideal.  It had become a place of hopelessness and despair; a place in which men came to humiliate themselves because they were weak and had not yet felt their own power.  What men needed was not vague ideals or theological dogma, but the psycho-spiritual techniques that would allow each man, through an act of will, to recreate and transform himself into something holy, noble, and good.

        I never really understood the meaning of original sin.  How could sins fall upon us from other times or unseen forces?  Was not sin created out of our own ignorance and misunderstanding of what we are or had the potential to become? If we lived in other lifetimes and made terrible errors, that was an original sin I could possibly understand. We would simply take our karma or previous propensities and dispositions on into the next lifetime to work out. 

In my darkest hour of pain, or my deepest moment of error, it was impossible for me to beg for help from those forces of the church that could be neither seen nor understood.  If I suffered or was in confusion I would try to put myself in touch with my own higher powers and not wait for some special clemency to be doled out by someone else.  It seemed a false crutch to assume that some great intervening power would come to help those who merely cried out in pain or believed blindly. Miracles could happen but they must surely happen because there was a hidden science behind them, a science that we could learn through the activation of our  inner spiritual minds and wills.          

It was not a vague belief in some supernatural power that was needed for the 21st century but an empirical understanding of all the different facets of reality that were hidden within us. Man must become the New Church. His mind, his heart and his body are the edifice upon which some higher truth can descend and become known.

       The manner in which theological laws were presented by the church was impossible to accept.  The moment the church tried to legislate morality through an external body of laws or impelled men to be righteous out of the fear of some capricious power, man’s free will was gone.  And with it went the possibility of his own participation in a goodness that was, and is, of himself.                How could a higher and more spiritual life come out of the mere worship and emulation of crucifixion and torture? If there was a God, he was not way up in heaven but here within all men as a vital evolutionary force that was attempting to uplift and influence all areas of human life equally. Theilhard De Chardin the great Jesuit mystic and anthropologist had it right when he stated that it was all of creation and not just man that was reaching up and aspiring towards some higher type of spiritual evolution and revelation. Man was not given dominion over the lesser kingdoms by some special privilege or heavenly decree. He took it through the power of the gun.

Not understanding Jesus Christ’s wider and deeper message, Capitalism has devised its own superficial interpretation of his humble teachings that allows it to exploit and destroy under the perverse doctrine of Manifest Destiny and Laissez-faire. If there is one thing worse than outright evil it is the clever twist that the immoral often put on their activities while simultaneously claiming that their perverted actions are for the common good and in line with God’s will.

 Because of their gross egotism most religious denominations put their theological emphasis on their organization’s special contribution. If they can claim that they are the “Chosen Ones”, they can justify any atrocity because they alone know God’s will.

How could the hand of man write the word of God? This must surely be one of the greatest deceptions perpetrated upon man in the last two thousand years. It is the lie that fuels so many of the divisions and hostilities between races of people at this time historically.

       Gods Word. The Word that was in the beginning. The Word that created the heavens and the Earth must surely be an interior force or energy that is all-powerful, and all-pervading and could never be written or be utter by men’s lips. This is the great heresy that man and his religious dogma have perpetuated on the masses because of his infantile yearning to be special and different. If you think your sacred texts are better than everyone else’s you will stop at nothing to perpetuate this lie and insulate yourself from the real truth. And what is one of these great and profound truths that most men flee? The realization that in the eyes of God, we must surely all be the same, and no one is special or different.

This is what the prophets throughout history must have discovered and why they were either misunderstood or persecuted after they wandered in the desert for months that the real truth was not found in the temples, churches or synagogues where they merely studied the theology about God, but out they’re in the desolation, they had become submerged In God. Here stripped of all human rank, prestige, and power they must have been given the true revelation about creation, God, Christ; and the living Word.  Here at the moment of deepest spiritual revelation, our sense of being special and different must have been completely destroyed. And what can be said to have been left after this meeting eye to eye with one’s creator? Humility, appreciation, and perhaps above all else a kind of bewilderment so often spoken of in the poetry of the great Persian poet Rumi. A bewilderment that we have been so naive and clueless for so long. A bewildered revelation that all the pieces of the grand puzzle now fit so perfectly and seamlessly together. The bewilderment that something so grand and sublime could reveal itself to man the creature that is so insignificant and small.

The world is full of those mere neophytes and spiritual charlatans that have only touched the outer periphery of these great and profound truths that we are outlining and you can see them everywhere, they say the right words and quote eloquently spiritual scripture, and they have immense followings. They magically transform their pulpit into a vast moneymaking machine of tremendous adulation and power. They are rich in education; rich in personality talents, rich in personal magnetism but quote devoid of that deeper contact with their creator.

 These spiritual con-men that we are outlining are so full of themselves, so inflated with their special knowledge and contributions they will never as Christ has indicated fit through the eye of the spiritual needle.

 There is one quality and one quality alone that we have earlier mentioned that characterizes those who have passed through the fires of God’s unconditional love. And it is a quality so subtle and transparent it is not easily seen amongst a whole generation of false prophets and claim makers. Humility, You just cannot hang onto anything personal when God has stripped you bare. Your ego, your pride, and your sense of being special must surely be the first characteristics to go. 

             I felt a cyclic process of growth and maturity that was slowly drawing all of mankind up like a cosmic magnet toward some new and more profound understanding of himself and life and I, even with all my idiosyncrasies and human frailties could potentially become an intimate part of this grand and profound revelation.

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                                       October Camp

               Here immersed in the solitude of the mountains there was a time when my only friends were the creatures of the forests–a time when I was a brother to the deer and the black raccoon.

               But then one day angry men came stealing through the forest.  With their rifles they lay in wait like jackals for the innocent and unwary.  Suddenly the silence was shattered with their gunshot.  From behind tall ferns I listened to their laughter, and watched speechlessly as with heavy chains, they hoisted their prize high above the earth.  As they tore out red guts and bleeding fur, I stood by, dazed at the pitiful sight.  That men could be so cruel to sacrifice life just to make themselves seem a little higher in their neighbor’s eyes; or a little more powerful in their own self-esteem. Christ!  It was my entrails that hung from the carcass–my blood that was spilled and stained the forest floor.

               I pleaded with them to leave, to stop their killing of the gentle and innocent; but they only laughed and my pleas only increased their lust. This was not sport; it was murder the licensed and wholesale slaughter of defenseless life.

               Oh Christ!  That men should stuff and display the once living in the name of fun and amusement. Trophies that would come to be no more than a mute confirmation of man’s pagan rites…a blood sacrifice that could not even be raised to the stature of idolatry; but would remain forever a testimony to man’s barbarism and inhumanity.

               Yes, my countrymen, the time will come when the stature of a person will no longer be judged by the number of lives he may destroy–but by the amount of lives he may save and protect, and by the capacity he has for loving the defenseless and weak.

               But the darkness is everywhere and my pleas fall               upon a cold and lifeless planet.  Is there anyone who sees my face?  Is there anyone who knows my name?

       At these moments I could no longer be considered the same man.  Every sorrow, every prayer, and plea now seemed to flow through me in a universal direction towards all of life. As my joys increased so, too, did my understanding of bondage–the need of all life to free itself from some unknown and unseen limitation.

        I felt very open and vulnerable to all the social games man was ensnared in.  If I walked down a street, or merely stopped to talk with an old friend in a store, everyone seemed so confused and morally vacant, it was impossible to interact with them for more than a moment.  I could read their thoughts just by looking into their eyes and it was horrible!

       “Look at me,” everyone cried.  “Aren’t I great, Aren’t I powerful, sexy, handsome, or pretty?” Me, Me, Me was all people ever thought about.

       That selfish little man inside each person was crying for recognition.  He was pleading for acceptance because inwardly his life was so shallow and impoverished.        If I walked through a large metropolitan area or spoke with groups of people congregating in the streets, it was disheartening to see man’s capacity for gross living.

       1 was overwhelmed by the selfish use of mass media and advertising.  “Buy me”, boasted the new Jaguar in Playboy magazine “I’ll bring you excitement and adventure “Buy me”, drone the endless parade of cigarettes, food and alcoholic beverages.  “We’ll bring you power and pleasure. Peace and success!” Everywhere the beautiful was profaned and prostituted for a price.

               “Love is an Electrolux”

               “Love is mommy’s Arpege”

        “Love is a toy balloon”

         “Love is dead”  –  and with it man’s creative potential for growth, submerged by an endless array of technological and mechanical junk. Tell people what they want to hear, tickle their egos.  Anything for a dollar.

       How clearly men’s vanities were played upon and their egos tickled by human jackals, which in the name of fun and amusement prostituted the average man to fill his coffers.

       Not only did these economic pirates get excessive profits for their goods, but also their swollen earnings were then refunneled back into new and more expansive ways to manipulate and exploit the mass man even further.

       The average man who walked to work with his lunch pail under his arm and became chained to endless hours of tedious, uncreative labor because he was hypnotized into thinking he just had to have more and more things.  The ignorant little consumer with an average education of the eighth grade was unknowingly being led like a sleepwalker to the economic and political slaughterhouse by methods of propaganda and psychological indoctrination, so subtle and yet so all inclusively sweet that only a group of doctorates of psychology could create.

       Here were the real criminals of society who neither bore arms nor used physical force, but propagated a moral death upon the people through their power of distraction, disruption, and manipulation of human desire.

       Respectable businessmen and politicians who under the facade of social concern used their financial status and political power to take advantage of their fellow man.  Here through false ideas of patriotism and pride, nationalism and fear, they beat the war drums.  Selling out the youth of the nation, who would be forced by law, to fight to their last drop of blood for someone else’s vested interests. War is, and shall always be “big business”.

       Men who out of their greed not only prostituted the earth’s natural resources and upset the fragile ecological balance in which the whole human family lived. But with their inflated earnings departed to the unspoiled quarters of the globe, only to recreate the very conditions that they originally created, but were now once again, trying to escape. Yes man is the only animal or creature that will spoil its own nest. Even the rats in the local dump take care of their own and rarely in the annals of nature will animals systematically destroy their own species.

       Everywhere I turned I saw people falsifying or degrading life for a profit.  Through television and the theater, advertisers and artists kept pumping out lies about how sweet and beautiful we all were.

       Greed is what motivates the majority of men.  Greed and the desire for power.  We watch our televisions and listen to our radios and become spellbound by the intrigues of Hollywood and Madison Ave.  Hypnotized by the paper mace and celluloid antics of a group of people whose very criteria for living is how well they can act out that which is illusionary and unreal; pretenders who know nothing about themselves or the ignorance they both live and perpetuate.  The more glamorous the outer world becomes, the smaller and more drab our interior lives and perceptions of ourselves.

       This darkness was not confined to the mere economic and political, artistic and theatrical arena but encompassed all areas of life equally; the educational, the scientific, and even the religious.

       Orthodox religion had become no more than a shell, an empty tomb of meaningless platitudes whose sole existence was spent submerged in ecclesiastical dogma and fighting for theological bones.  The purpose of organized religion was not to know God but to support the church and the fat hierarchy of politicians who run these big businesses. Ow yes, the church will make you emotionally dependent and feel real good about yourself, without asking or expecting you to make any real changes or sacrifices in your life. But that’s the trick, promise immortality without effort, submerge people in the hysteria of their own emotions, relieve them of their own uncertainty and fear of death, and they will eagerly fill your coffers.

        Arguing over the Word of God. That could never be written by the hand of man but was eternally inscribed on each man’s heart and conscience. The moment a man or a nation, or the whole human race discovers that God is not in the church, that He is in fact the true church, His body, his emotions and His mind. The church, the synagogue and the temple as we now understand them will disappear forever. And out of the dead ashes will come the resurrection of a new life. One in which man will come to know his own divinity directly rather then threw intermediaries and proxy

       Communism is equally a failed system, because it attempts to force people to be good rather than letting them find their own moral, center and worth.

     The solution to all these problems could not be found in mere social or political reform, biological or cultural change or even education as it now exists.  All these undesirable conditions are mere symptoms, an outer manifestation that is controlled by something far deeper and more obscure.

       It is the very state of human cognition itself.  Man’s awareness is in such an embryonic stage of development that it could be hundreds, perhaps thousands of years before any real light or spiritual reason can emerge within the majority of humanity at this time.

       There is something radically missing in the constitution of man, some illusive emptiness that no matter how hard he tries he cannot fill. It makes each man secretly mad, each person craving desperately for attention, craving for something real and tangible. Man who unknowingly drives himself into the depths of depravity by an obsession with drugs, alcohol, sex, power, material possessions, any temporary fix, to keep his attention off this gnawing emptiness.

       Man, drunk on physical and emotional attachments unknowingly exists in a type of conscious sleep or stupor. He imagines he is awake, but no, he is asleep and dreaming.

       There is only one thing worse than never experiencing this higher and more expanded state of awareness and that is to momentarily experience it and then become submerged once again in the darkness and illusions of the earth.  The earth that now appears a thousand times darker than before.

       It was a paradox of profound proportions.  The light of the soul or transcendental self had a dual effect, although illuminating the higher way and directing one towards future growth.  Simultaneously it illuminated the dark regions of the subconscious and subliminal.

Repeat

 All that was good, all that was bad was before me in stark contrast and bold relief.                               The responsibility I now felt was awesome, in a way impossible to describe.  I felt alone and overpowered by a sense of isolation.  Alone from that uplifting and soothing touch of the soul and yet alienated from my human brothers and what I had always come to accept as the personal self. This was truly the dark night of the soul where a man is fixed midway between heaven and earth.

       Years slowly passed and although I was able to have several more spontaneous visions of this nature, always in the wake of these experiences a sense of inadequacy arose – a frustration at being unable to experience these higher truths directly and in a continuous manner.  I wanted now to be alone not merely with my thoughts as I had done for so many years, but to be alone with the simplicity of nature. My extreme sensitivity militated against me being around others, I could read their minds by looking into their eyes and it was simply too painful.

I had used the mind to go beyond the mind. You did certain preparatory things such as keeping the mind focussed on higher and more spiritual subjects. You kept your personality well disciplined and directed. You lived in almost a self-contained shell that insulated you largely from the external world.

 Though the mind had been an important tool to pull my attention away from my emotions at an earlier age and now was needed to keep all of these personality forces clearly focused on the transcendental and sublime. Yet I didn’t understand exactly how this whole process worked. When the spirit or soul descended in its most powerful form such as when I had been driving my car that fateful night. It did so out of its own volition. Were there new approaches to this work that I needed to discover? New types of discipline and orientation that I was not familiar with that could guide me in the right direction.

I realized that this greater spiritual life could only be known when I was somehow able to go beyond the limitations and structures of the intellect in all its various degrees.

Philosophy even in its most idealistic and lofty form now seemed to speak in mumbles of dust.  Even the most inspired passages became empty and meaningless.  I did not want to read about someone else’s revelations about higher truth

In spite of all the long years of discipline and self-control, this greater transcendental life made me feel helpless.  A spiritual presence I felt so near, yet so far away.  Psychologically I felt exhausted from the continuous years of mental exertion. I had built a strong intellect but now it was like a bright gilded cage, that, shining with its own Inner Light, still clearly restricted and hindered.

       In my growing dissatisfaction and anxiety, nature proved such a purifying balm.  Freed from the discordant vibrations of more populated areas, she seemed to draw me into her great mystery of silence.  The woodland creatures who neither whined nor complained of their fates, nor played those endless human games, seemed so free and uncomplicated as they scampered through the treetops or ate nuts I placed along the walls.

       As my mind became immersed in the solitude of the mountains, I slowly began to reverse a life long preoccupation with mental building. I slowly and methodically emptied myself of all that was preconceived or structured all that was discriminatory or complex.

       Years before, running short of finances, I could work for several months and then resume my inner quest.  But now, in my need to escape from the prison house of my mind, I existed only for that next moment of revelation.  One never knew exactly when that inner door might open.  It could be in the middle of a rainstorm or out walking at sunset.  Everything but that central quest for spiritual realization was abandoned.

       When late autumn arrived, and I was caught by winter’s first snowfall unprepared, I would often be forced to sell my last few remaining possessions to extend my work for just a few more weeks.  It was an interesting psychological condition in which, through this external pressure, my internal one pointedness would increase.  As the snow piled deeper every day and the temperature dropped lower each night, I would find myself sleeping in the bathtub of our summer cottage covered with blankets, old newspapers and rugs. If someone had just won a million-dollar prize or could suddenly do anything they wanted for the rest of their lives. They would be so excited and exhilarated everything else would disappear. These spiritual experiences were a hundred a thousand times more powerful and satisfying then the greatest gifts and rewards that could be heaped upon one. To now know and understand that you were immortal. That there was no longer any place you had to go or nothing you had to do but just simply be present in this light. Be a witness to your own immortality and redemption. An inner richness and peace that made everything right in the world and universe.      I may have appeared eccentric to those few who knew me, but there was little interest outside of this one pointed aspiration and will to know. It was the only thing that motivated my life

       Although driven by this apparent illogical compulsion, I would, nevertheless, psychologically evaluate every decision made.  Freud would have no doubt called my behavior a case of delusion of grandeur, omnipotence of thought, or any of the various and sundry forms of religious mania or schizophrenia. To me, however, there were no yardsticks or comparative qualities to describe or explain what was truly beyond the understanding of the rational mind.  I felt myself upon the verge of a great discovery and transformation and nothing upon earth could avert my spirit. Something intuitive told me that I had been searching for this inner pearl of great price, for many lifetimes and now It was clearly within my grasp.

       As something august and powerful descended upon me, my reasoning and will could no longer be considered human but was strangely divine.

       Reading over the trials of the great mystic reformers, I found little consolation in their words.  Poverty, contrary to idealistic glamour, although helping one’s attention to be focused more easily within the spiritual eventually became psychologically debilitating.  How easily my quest could have been pursued in a pleasant environment with normal facilities; but these necessities required an exchange of time and it was simply a situation where I had no time to give. This was it, and I had to put everything on the line.

        People imagine that those who may have abandoned the social life and cut themselves adrift from the conventions of the day would be admired or respected by those around them for their inner strength or convictions. On the contrary–people were suspicious of you.  Lacking fine clothes and material possessions, you stood out as an oddity amongst most everyone else who worships the good life.  Your presence irritated people’s so-called sense of fine taste.  Thank God, in the sixties, faded jeans and tee shirts became the fashionable rage with the young and could now lend a respectable anonymity to those who wore old clothes because that was all they owned. Many people were actually afraid of me because I threatened their commonly held values.  No one wants to believe that there could be a valid reason for experiencing these austerities or physical disciplines that I was undergoing. Or that the reality that they have so neatly and hygienically constructed, may have been but a thin veneer superimposed over an immense multi-dimensional universe that unseen lay all around and within them.

       Every affair of the heart experienced with the opposite sex always failed because Platonic relationships were not understood and spiritual love was just some crazy abstraction that did not fit into there practical world of bearing children, sexual relationships, nice clothes, an attractive home, or a high-paying job

 Although when younger, I had deliberately broken the mores of the day and flaunted men’s system of morality and ethics, now in my isolation, sex had become elevated to a position of the sacred. The mystery of the body, the secret attraction of opposites. Occasionally and without warning I had felt this great up-rush of fiery energy that seated in the genital area rose upward bathing my upper body in a subtle glow of warmth and effervescence. Desire was being made holy. By directing all of my sexual energies away from the common forms of procreation and recreational sex there was this swelling energy that could be felt building at the base of my spine.

       Often at night, unable to sleep I would lie awake writing words few could understand and no one I was certain would ever read.

    Personal Journal,

   December 20, 1967

        I have tried to call man’s attention to the fact that he lives in spite of all the suffering and death.  But in my determination to expose his confusion and despair I have only managed to stir a sea of resentment and anger.

        Because one man will not give up–one man will not conform to the insistence of the senses, but turning inward and away confronts point-blank his own primary cause and condition.      Out of the endless years of searching something is born.  The flight of the phoenix from out of dead ash–the metamorphosis of that which yearning rises and one day bursts, moving us out and into higher regions.

        Do you want to know the reason why men cannot understand the reality of what is?  Why he cannot see beyond external appearances where beauty, truth, and love reside?  Because man does not understand that his philosophies and his religious belief systems are only a dim reflection of the truth.  Only the realization of what is can emerge from within oneself after the inexhaustible study and review of one’s own life. The understanding that our awareness of ourselves and life, right here and now is, in fact, not it.

       If what I say here seems vague and abstract, or is strangely distant, it is only because it is merely read from the outside of what we are.  In, where the real seeing is done, it is the clearest of clear. And so I am judged by the I-less.  Men whose knowledge comes not from knowing, but mere thinking, and not from seeing, but mere sight. That my sadness and disappointment of all men’s loss should be seen as apathy,       my gentleness a perversion,    my strength, a weakness. 

    In the defense of all that is good and pure I cry out to you now! Please do not become angry or look away. The child         crying is ours.

        Christ! to stand naked and alone while the whole world nails you to its little pagan alters.   But I will not turn away now or ever from loving you or all men.

                          December 25

Christ either comes every day or he does not come at all.

      Humanity was like a poor broken toy I wanted to uplift and cradle in my arms.  And yet I was afraid that if I came down or left the security of my self-imposed exile, the earth would become like a black hole that threatened to engulf me.

       Often people who recognized my concern for spiritual and moral growth would ask me if I believed in a life after death?  No, I would answer.  I believe in a life before death.  A new life that continuously emerges out of the ashes of our own self-destruction.  Did my belief in this higher life exist because I was afraid and could not accept death? No, for it was only in the true acceptance and realization of our exterior death that this new inner life could finally emerge in its true power and purity.

       If each man does not have the courage to face psychologically his own physical death, then surely by avoiding this inevitable crisis, he secretly thinks he will live. The harsh realities of war, sickness, and disease have indicated that he will one day die, but this no one will accept.  In this acceptance of his own death, he is forced to momentarily deal with the possibility of his own nothingness and this few are strong enough to do.

Immersed within the purity of mountain forest and crystal lakes, there was something strangely reminiscent of the dim past, something soothing in the vast expanse of green and blue. The longer I sat at the lake’s edge drinking in the purity of lapping waves and glistening rocks, the more absorbed in the reflections of sunlight I became.  Suddenly there would be a moment of perfect poise in which I was no longer myself but rising I would become a part of the glowing waters. Within these undulating waves, my thoughts would become temporarily suspended as I felt myself soaring weightlessly far above them.  Here in the purity of higher region, life’s sweetest notes flowed through me like crystal streams sweeping away all intellectual and emotional impediments, once again making me whole.

       Sitting here beside the sparkling shore and breathing in the deep vault of heaven, I realized that some higher Grace was descending upon me and that the opportunity to recreate myself was being given.

 The Four Seasons:

                                Winter

               The last sounds of time that were heard before the inner movement were the patter of spring rain, the wind rustling through summer fields, and the gentle falling of leaves in autumn.  Now with the approach of winter the skies have grown steadily cooler and the woodlands shed their brilliant garb. Here in the midday we pause, as the skies grow mysteriously darker.  Anticipation rises from deep within. At the furthest edge of the clearing pine and evergreens silhouette descending snow, softer than the looks between lover’s eyes, more silent than the depths of the sea.  Here in the first snowfall is the ever-embracing continuity of life, its liberating cycles, and its ever-relieving change.  As I look upward, the snow falls gently upon my face, lightly, ever so lightly upon my soul.        As my mind empties itself I feel I am blind, I am deaf, that I am dead.   The snow and wind fall upon me, but I do not get wet…And I understand, Christ!  I understand.  

Men think it is the powerful, the intelligent, or the wealthy that possess real life.  No, I tell you it is the idiot, the cowardly bungling fools like me, who can say and do nothing.  The madman that can neither motivate, build, create, nor destroy, but simple Be.

                           Spring

       As I listened attentively to great flashes of fire crack and boom throughout the forest, I realized I had been intrigued since my earliest youth by spring storms–those irresistible and awesome spectacles of thunder and lightning.  And yet now it seemed as though there was something else moving just beneath that distant and muffled roar–something vague and half-forgotten just beyond the patter of the rain…

       As the rain subsides, all is still except the dripping, the hushed tapping of tiny droplets as they fall on shimmering leaves.

       Presently the sky grows brighter as the sun brings infinite clarity to the lush growth of emerald moss and green verdure.

       Barefoot, I walk along the sandy road skimming puddles.  Occasionally a pine bough brushes against my naked skin.  I catch a cool droplet and touch it with my tongue.

       From far above the treetops the sunlight streams down in long brilliant shafts making a cathedral of birch and pine, oak and evergreen.  Soon a light breeze stirs sending kaleidoscopic patterns vibrating through the forest.    Letting go I feel myself rising, spiraling upward through the forest and trees; upward into the infinite space of blue.

. Without form I hear the faint murmur of brooks gurgling and the sweet drone of bees but now the sound is all within. Like a thirsty bird my soul flies towards its source.

                           Summer

       Walking one warm and windy summer, I feel strangely distant as I look at the dead animals along the roadside.  What is death or Pain?  This thought no longer has any sting.       The smell of sunlit leaves and ferns rise and blend with the warmth of August hills.

       Occasionally I stop and listen to all the sounds of the earth.

       As I reach the summit of a Maple Grove I feel an inner breeze rising–an irresistible blending of perception and sound, sight and feeling.  Following this inner sound to its hidden sanctuary,  suddenly there is an immense opening and the great wound of life closes.

       The silent catapult of pure crystal upon the still waters, lightly, lightly until all motion ceases

       Oh Christ!  I want to run madly across the fields, to tear open my mind and body and let the whole world in where it belongs–the flowers, the trees, the sight and smell, the glory that I live in spite of all the suffering and death.  Everything is so clear and beautiful.  I wonder who I am, the touching or the touched.  I want to speak or act. But I am too intoxicated and dazed.  Unveiled, I look down over my body with something higher than eyes.  With a feeling, a wonderful glorious feeling of love and gratitude.

       Do you want to know what life is?  Life is suffering until one day something irresistibly pure sweeps over you and all the coffins fly open and little children go singing about.  You see there can be no real deaths–only a kind of inactivity, an unknown waiting until at last the seal is broken.

                          

Autumn.

              From far atop the hill I scan the surrounding woods as they slope downward into nature’s softest weave of orange and flame, honey and brown.

              And beyond this, at the furthest edges of the horizon, is the deep blue of azure lakes.  In the far distance, the faint call of crows can be heard as they retreat from the empty gardens.  Now in the silence, we stop at the crest of the hill.  The smell of fallen apples rises from long-abandoned orchards, earth’s rarest wine that seems to lift our senses to new heights.

              As I fall to my knees and touch the earth with my outstretched hands I feel a new vitality and power within me, a new purity and innocence that is indescribably sweet.  As I lie there hour upon hour drenched in a sea of goldenrod and sun, the high whine of crickets lulls me into an even deeper communion.

              Presently a breeze stirs sending waves of wildflowers and grasses rippling across my view, a rising chord of color and sound that builds into a vibratory crescendo.  Suddenly my breathing stops as the flowers and trees, earth and sky all merge into one all-consuming sea of undulating motion.  Now we can no longer be contained but rise and spill out in splendor.

              In this intoxication and stupor, I perceive a yellow light around my body.  This glow is at first exceedingly subtle but increases in intensity as it flows out from what appears within the heart of the sun.  As it undulates in a palpitating rhythmic motion I marvel as trillions of tiny microscopic lives vibrate in the air before me like a myriad of visitors from another world.

              The physical sun veils another sun that is radiantly golden-yellow and although blinding to behold brings a great sense of belonging and peace. I suddenly realized as my perceptions of my personality began to return that I had momentarily found my true home which was in the Heart of the Sun.

 

One of the keystones of this inner spiritual realization was the creative immersion into the music of several groups. The Pink Floyd, Electric Light Orchestra, the Beetles later music, and the Moody Blues who all were key contributors to my inner shift into deeper areas of self-exploration.

In the 1960’s my older brother Dwight on one of his return trips from California brought the Umma Gumma Album by Pink Floyd and when Set the Controls to the Heart Sun played the drum solo was so hypnotic I felt like I was about to leave my body.

Later that week I taped the drum solo from the album onto my reel-to-reel tape recorder and put it into a continuous loop. Relaxed and hypnotized by the rhythmic beat I eventually slipped into a type of exalted stupor.

It was here during this auspicious moment that I Recognized for the first time with full clarity that I had mutable selves that existed in different hidden dimensions, and through rhythmic music and inner focus I could now access them.

The Pink Floyd and other musical groups were communicating some deep messages through their music and I was clearly getting it.

 I was dying daily, the small and insignificant man being crucified by his own hands.  Yet it was a joyous and exhilarating death in which some great power beyond my wildest imagination was attempting to impress itself upon me

       Freed from the harsh confinement of the intellect, month after month, season after season, I slowly became submerged in the most sublime communions with nature and god.

Chapter Six: Brothers

       The more that the limitations of orthodox psychology and religion were revealed, the more I turned toward other thinkers that ruminated from out of the mold, philosophers such as Nietzsche, Voltaire, Spinoza, and Montaigne; and Kant, Bergson, and Hegel. Often I would read a synopsis of these philosophers by reading and studying the works of Will and Ariel Durant’s amazing books on the History of Philosophy.

       Although each new philosopher seemed to draw my mind to great intellectual heights, each one seemed unable to give any practical instructions on how one might rise above the rabble of the senses and the limitations of the mind.

         Bergson’s radical hypothesis that the outer world of sensation and ideas did not control the mind, for the mind, existed prior to sensory experience and was itself the directing agent, supported all that I believed. But how was that final transition beyond the emotions, and into that greater mind to be found?

Following Plato’s instructions into the silence of my innermost being, I pursued the path of the Philosopher Kings and resided in the continuous contemplation of the Good, the Beautiful, and the True.  But why did that higher realization not come – that moment when I could say unequivocally and without any reservation that this was the moment of truth? If there were teachings or special techniques to find these higher and more ethereal places they were well concealed. My emotions had a passionate desire to ascend above the endless paradoxes, impasses, and cul-de-sac of philosophical thought. Yet the difficulty of this situation lay in the fact that the more insistent my emotions were in the need to experience some higher and purer state of perception, the further from it I seemed to move.  

       Occasionally while engaged in lofty conversations with my brothers on philosophy and metaphysics subjects, a subtle but distinct change could be felt building within me.  Reading aloud from the works of, Maurice  Buck, Henry David Thoreau, or Ralph Waldo Emerson, the sheer intensity of our minds and will seeking to know a higher reality would cause an intense point of intellectual penetration and focus.  There would suddenly arise a fleeting moment of what appeared as pure cognition–a climax of such intuitive understanding that it always left us mute and unable to speak.  Here in the silence, a look between our eyes would convey all that we were mutually experiencing.

      Resigned to build a deeper understanding of this transcendental experience through the one-pointed focus of my mind and will ,the years slowly passed as I studied Plotinus, Pythagoras, and William James. My guidance counselor had recommended I read the works of Alan Watts in a sort of off-the-cuff or candid conversation during an interview. 

       I recall one late afternoon when my brothers and I were involved in another prolonged discussion on higher levels of consciousness. Progressively as the sun slowly dipped below the horizon the room became darker. No one made any effort to put the lights on and we just kept focused on our different subjects.

In ever such small increments my brothers began to dissolve into the darkness, their bodily gestures, hand movements, and their different facial expressions completely gone. 

Yet how clearly everyone’s presence was felt as we continued to reinforce each other’s expanding thoughts. Without any clearly defined personality traits there suddenly came a point in the discussion in which there was only one mind inhabiting the room. For several hours there was just this giant intellectual space that kept building and expanding until we had created this enormous Thoughtform.

This word thoughtform I use for a lack of a better description was an amorphous mental state that reached out in all directions and was timeless. It was as if you were in the very presence of these great minds of antiquity and their understanding was now yours.

As difficult as it is to describe this experience in any clear and coherent way, it seemed so totally natural as if this was how the intellect and thought were meant to be or evolve into. It also occurred to me that this might be what death was like. You had no body, but the mind, which was clearly independent of the form, stretched out in all directions simultaneously. Thought was not some biological or mechanical phenomenon generated by the brain, its identity or life existed or was generated from within itself.  The mind merely used the physical brain as a way of seating or grounding itself into the material world.

This experience in itself would have been sufficiently supportive for the rest of my life but as it turned out this experience was only a springboard to something additionally profound that was about to happen.

       At some point in this intellectual fusion, someone put the lights on and it was like someone letting go of a fully inflated balloon. Whoosh! and down we came from this awesome revelation, our eyes squinting in the bright light and straining to understand this awesome and unique experience. We tried to put this experience into some practical framework but it was impossible. After a short discussion, we all dispersed and went in different directions.

I had my TR-3 convertible and started to drive back to my parents’ summer cottage where I had been staying. Driving along the winding mountain roads and ruminating over the night’s events I suddenly experienced an unusual sensation that I was no longer driving the car but was progressively being withdrawn into a type of inward subjective vacuum.  As this experience intensified, my thoughts on the night’s discourses completely faded.  Immediately I released the accelerator of the car neither recognizing the road I was driving on nor remembering where I was going. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t even know my own name. I keep repeating aloud to myself, “I don’t have a fucken name,” “I don’t have a fucken name”.  For a moment a ripple of uneasiness spread across my solar plexus region, but shortly after this momentary discomfort departed what remained was this exhilarating sense of weightlessness and psychological freedom.  I am dead!  I cried out loud to myself in astonishment.  Dead because there is no longer any outward identity.  Here driving alone on a mountain highway I have no memory of the past, the present, or the future. I was like a little child who had suddenly entered into this gleeful state of pure joy. I seemed, as this revelation unfolded, to be suspended weightless in a type of inner subjective vacuum.  Above both thought and emotion in their most expanded and transcendental form, my consciousness now perceived itself as a steady stream of flowing awareness. 

During those first moments just before the experience had reached its zenith and took total control of all my faculties, I realized that I had to remain completely passive and that any type of mental analysis would break the magic spell that had fallen upon me.   Thoughts, however lofty and sublime, were now like heavy anchors pulling my awareness back down–once again trying to ground me in the lower world of the mind.  This in turn would have a reciprocal effect and bring back my emotional and physical awareness of myself as a separate and distinctly individual person.

       How I was able to pilot my car during this experience is unknown.  Unaware of the body it was as if I was piloting the car unconsciously.

       After traveling for some distance, suddenly like a spell broken, the experience began to slowly recede and my memory returned. Like a drowning man, I desperately attempted to stay in this transcendental realm. Yet, the more effort I exerted, the faster it departed.  As my perception of this higher truth now began to wane I could not help but draw the analogy that before this experience my conscious awareness had felt like the diffused rays of light passing through a prism.  During the experience, there was a shift of focus in which the rays suddenly all condensed and merged back into one intense point of subjective focus.  As the experience passed, these rays once again fanned out and my normal perceptions with all their multiplicity of personal expression returned.

       During this experience, I received a definite impression that it was a reciprocal act.  Directing my thoughts for years up towards these transcendental ideas had created a bridge from which at some point this revelation that was situated way beyond the lower mind could descend. This was a startling observation with many implications. The first of which was the paradox of how the mind needed to be disciplined and directed towards these higher and more austere levels of reality before they could be contacted. But once contacted the necessity of disengaging from this lower mind and letting this higher mind stream down into the body unimpeded and without over analyses. What an interesting paradox this created. Using the concrete or lower mind to go beyond itself and be able to springboard to an even higher mental realm and from there be able to enter an even higher state that neither the lower or higher mind could enter.

I understood from this experience why some spiritual groups claim that the mind is an obstacle to enlightenment and that it “slays the real” yet others like Edgar Cayce claimed that the mind is the builder to these higher levels. They both in their respective contexts were right and needed. 

Although this experience had slowly grown out of a continuous contemplation of higher levels of reality it was neither an experience of mere aesthetics, artistic license, nor the result of some metaphysical pathos toward the unknown.  Through direct and irrefutable moments of transformation, a new reality or state of spiritual perception was conveyed.

——————————————————————————————-

   

In reviewing this powerful experience it was as if the lower intellect was forced to build its understanding through a slow and tedious sequential series of deductive steps, like building a pyramid from the base up brick by brick until now having placed the capstone at the very top we could springboard off into the infinite expansion of a universal mind.
As difficult as it is to describe this experience in any clear and coherent way, it seemed so totally natural. It occurred to me that this is in fact the way it is supposed to be, that all my life I had been caught unknowing on the opposite and restrictive side of a great divide in which only vague impressions of real truth periodically filtered through. It also occurred to me that this might be what death was like. In fact the whole idea of death was now laughable. At death it was clear you could simply slip into this higher mind, assuming it was available to you, and be totally unaffected by what was taking place in a physical realm that was insignificant and unimportant. The body was like an old worn out pair of shoes that having used up its usefulness could now be discarded without the slightest hesitation. But then I questioned, where would those of us who could not achieve this mental fusion go at the moment of death?
This was clearly the death of the personality. One fell swoop and everything we had known about so-called normal reality, everything that was common and familiar, was swept away in one great ascent of mental thought or fire. I use the word ‘fire’ here since everything below this experience seems so heavy, lethargic and inert. In this mind-revelation everything flashed fourth simultaneously like lightning or transparent fire. The lower mind clearly did not generate its own thoughts. All thought originated from much higher and more abstract mental realms as an impulse of sound and light and then descended into a higher part of the mind, then became seated or grounded into the material world through that heavy and inert organ we call the physical brain. It was obvious that there was some impediment or restriction in which this higher mind was not easily accessible and could not freely flow down unimpeded into the brain. What was the nature of this gap in the mental world between the lower mind and the higher mind, and why did that gap exist?
It was clear that this was one of the hidden purposes of all evolution as well as all educational incentives, however vaguely understood by the mass of teachers and educators in the world. We were driven to know legions of isolated and mundane facts in the public school systems never suspecting that this endless minutia we were forced to memorize was the potential foundation for some supernal revelation or perception that might come later. I say ‘potential’, for the mind would clearly have to make a progression from linear thinking into the more abstract levels of trans-personal psychology and philosophy. This transcendental experience was clearly the result of prolonged philosophical study and meditations on the great master thinkers of antiquity. There was clearly a human psychology outlined by great luminaries such as Sigmund Freud and many of his disciples at the turn of the century that plumbed the depths of the subconscious. However, there is another more exalted divine psychology that will become a point of focus and interest by some of the greatest minds in the coming centuries.
At the very apex of this experience my brothers and I were mute and unable to speak. Telepathically we had entered into a realm in which everyone knew simultaneously what everyone else was thinking and it was grounded in a type of universal ‘sameness’. We were all participating and fused by the same sphere of illumination. On the surface and later in retrospect the idea of knowing someone else’s thoughts, particularly thoughts shared between brothers, was intimidating in light of all their usual rivalries and competitions. But here in this sublime mental state those fears or any sense of discomfort did not exist. We had temporarily blown by and transcended the realm of emotional attachments, desires and individual egos that can so easily bring any advanced realization like this to an immediate halt. What became overwhelmingly clear is that I could not have experienced this expanded state without the constant interaction with three other bright and searching minds to stimulate, drive and carry this group experience forward. We had all passed over into a far land by the combined efforts and contributions of all. None was more important than another. It was like we were all a part and parcel of a private elite school, and the outer world could not begin to fathom or understand where we were all going or where we had been.
This was clearly the true meaning of “group life”. This was also the true meaning of spiritual community that so many pundits, philosophers and reformers have so inadequately tried to describe. Life without form. This was clearly immortality — psyches and minds fused into one searing perception of their “own truth”. Suffering and evil, the two great clouds that taint the human condition, had suddenly become meaningless terms. Evil, hatred, fear, or anger could only come into existence when an individual or group became separated from this primary mental field or holistic state of existence. If our true existence was found on this high mental plane, and we clearly existed in that state prior to taking on these sheaths and vestments of some lower personality life, what could possibly be the purpose of descending or separating ourselves from something that was so perfect and so sublime? Why this great and mysterious duality of mind and matter? Why had we all become exiled and excommunicated from our obvious common roots of freedom and joy, the joy that we could have an existence outside of the body or identification with the five senses. I had many questions but found few answers.
We are one and all on a personality level scattered fragments of some deeply pure and primary state of existence. There was both light associated with this revelation and some type of interior sound. This sound was like a mighty river in which all that you had previously identified with was completely absorbed. One was now flowing in something sublime that was neither tangible nor had any discernable form. This was surely the baptism by fire spoken of in certain religious scriptures. Yet my personality felt discomfort if my mind tried to make any analogies between this supreme recognition of some interior truth I had just experienced and any religious tenet or system. This profound experience was clearly the antithesis of the fanaticism found in contemporary religion and its obsession with blind belief as opposed to some direct and irrefutable experience.

      ———————————————————————————–

  These transcendental experiences may have been some of the high points in my evolving perceptions and that brought an immense sense of beauty and joy into my life but as the days and months passed and I became more firmly rooted in the old and limiting order of the past, the outer world seemed to take on a new barrenness. 

Just as each man had a subconscious of fear, hatred, and confusion that dwelt unknowingly within and around him, so did humanity have this same dark force that was a million times more powerful because it was composed of all the negativity of humanity combined. If this is the evil that great historical figures such as the Buddha, Christ, or Mohammed had to fight against and overcome I was humbled beyond words.

If man was composed of three different entities, A super-consciousness, which was advanced, wise, and compassionate. An opposite subconsciousness which was dark, and limiting and self-consciousness which lay somewhere in the middle between these two extremes. It was obvious the difficulty the average person would have in facing these immense forces within his life and sorting them out. This is also why self-consciousness and the little personal ego were such an important facet of the evolving life of each person it protected them from being overwhelmed by either extreme. Pride, a sense of self-importance, or even egotism were not in themselves a bad condition but paradoxically constituted part of a protective barrier or filter that kept each man in a stable relationship with his everyday life. Otherwise, people could be easily overwhelmed by either extreme of the subconscious and superconscious that I have just outlined. No doubt these facts constitute one of the main reasons for people’s mental instability or psychological breakdowns. 

This place of disorientation and confusion was one in which one could get caught between the old order that they have just renounced and something new that has not yet revealed itself. This is one of the obvious incentives for writing this book. If just one person can gain insight into this immensely important journey through life and have some guidelines however limiting they may spare themselves some of the obvious errors that I and others who tread this razor’s edge path have made.

Perhaps it’s a good thing people don’t know the truth about higher or altered levels of reality or God or are exposed to it prematurely, perhaps they were not ready to understand or assimilate either extreme.

This higher soul light or transpersonal self that would eventually descend into the life of every individual man would have a dual effect, If revealed not only the beauty and truth of some great and profound future, but simultaneously the dark clouds of the subconscious were always there preventing this light from shining through.

Carl Jung, a person who has made major contributions to the understanding of this whole transmutative process, pointed out that it wasn’t important to merely look for the light or God in your life but to face the darkness that you may have unknowingly or inadvertently created within your life that was preventing this light from reaching you and shining through. In one’s journey through life, one did not create spiritual light; you simply removed or transmuted the dark and found that the light was always there.

 Not enough ballast or grounding in one’s individual journey through an ocean of immensely conflicting forces without the right tools or knowledge of how to process the whole thing could be dangerous and this path “was strewn with many skulls” to quote a common aphorism. It would take many more years of study; reflection and contact with these paradoxes before I began to realize that there must be a reason for personal or planetary darkness and the influences of the subconscious. Was it all for nothing or did these limitations that each man possessed have a much more important part to play in a much bigger drama than I could have ever imagined at this time?

Although I had tried to stay in these expanded states of consciousness as long as possible I had failed.

It was not merely my inadequacies that now plagued me but something far deeper; a realization of humanity’s moral and psychological poverty that spread out before me like an immense dark cloud. Like a seething blanket of darkness that insidiously covered and interpenetrated everything.

I had always been deeply affected by the cruelty of man towards nature and the animal kingdom, now the human family in a wider and more inclusive way stood out even more glaringly with all of its vices and primitiveness.

       I felt a deep commitment to working toward the betterment of humanity and world conditions, but my growing sensitivities seemed to reach such expansive proportions at times it nearly incapacitated me.

 My growing illumination of higher spiritual realms had momentarily caused a reciprocal opening within the subconscious regions of man and nature.  Here my identification with animal suffering sent waves of deep sympathy vibrating through me. My journal recorded this unusual sensitivity.

Chapter five: Emerging point of light
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Chapter Six: Brothers

Chapter Six: Brothers

       The more that the limitations of orthodox psychology and religion were revealed, the more I turned toward other thinkers that ruminated from out of the mold, philosophers such as Nietzsche, Voltaire, Spinoza, and Montaigne; and Kant, Bergson, and Hegel. Often I would read a synopsis of these philosophers by reading and studying the works of Will and Ariel Durant’s amazing books on the History of Philosophy.

       Although each new philosopher seemed to draw my mind to great intellectual heights, each one seemed unable to give any practical instructions on how one might rise above the rabble of the senses and the limitations of the mind.

         Bergson’s radical hypothesis that the outer world of sensation and ideas did not control the mind, for the mind, existed prior to sensory experience and was itself the directing agent, supported all that I believed. But how was that final transition beyond the emotions, and into that greater mind to be found?

Following Plato’s instructions into the silence of my innermost being, I pursued the path of the Philosopher Kings and resided in the continuous contemplation of the Good, the Beautiful, and the True.  But why did that higher realization not come – that moment when I could say unequivocally and without any reservation that this was the moment of truth? If there were teachings or special techniques to find these higher and more ethereal places they were well concealed. My emotions had a passionate desire to ascend above the endless paradoxes, impasses, and cul-de-sac of philosophical thought. Yet the difficulty of this situation lay in the fact that the more insistent my emotions were in the need to experience some higher and purer state of perception, the further from it I seemed to move.  

       Occasionally while engaged in lofty conversations with my brothers on philosophy and metaphysics subjects, a subtle but distinct change could be felt building within me.  Reading aloud from the works of, Maurice  Buck, Henry David Thoreau, or Ralph Waldo Emerson, the sheer intensity of our minds and will seeking to know a higher reality would cause an intense point of intellectual penetration and focus.  There would suddenly arise a fleeting moment of what appeared as pure cognition–a climax of such intuitive understanding that it always left us mute and unable to speak.  Here in the silence, a look between our eyes would convey all that we were mutually experiencing.

      Resigned to build a deeper understanding of this transcendental experience through the one-pointed focus of my mind and will the years slowly passed as I studied Plotinus, Pythagoras, and William James. My guidance counselor had recommended I read the works of Alan Watts in a sort of off-the-cuff or candid conversation during an interview. 

       I recall one late afternoon when my brothers and I were involved in another prolonged discussion on higher levels of consciousness. Progressively as the sun slowly dipped below the horizon the room became darker. No one made any effort to put the lights on and we just kept focused on our different subjects.

In ever such small increments my brothers began to dissolve into the darkness their bodily gestures, hand movements, and their different facial expressions completely gone. 

Yet how clearly everyone’s presence was felt as we continued to reinforce each other’s expanding thoughts. Without any clearly defined personality traits there suddenly came a point in the discussion in which there was only one mind inhabiting the room. For several hours there was just this giant intellectual space that kept building and expanding until we had created this enormous Thoughtform.

This word thoughtform I use for a lack of a better description was an amorphous mental state that reached out in all directions and was timeless. It was as if you were in the very presence of these great minds of antiquity and their understanding was now yours.

As difficult as it is to describe this experience in any clear and coherent way, it seemed so totally natural as if this was how the intellect and thought were meant to be or evolve into. It also occurred to me that this might be what death was like. You had no body, but the mind, which was clearly independent of the form, stretched out in all directions simultaneously. Thought was not some biological or mechanical phenomenon generated by the brain, its identity or life existed or was generated from within itself.  The mind merely used the physical brain as a way of seating or grounding itself into the material world.

This experience in itself would have been sufficiently supportive for the rest of my life but as it turned out this experience was only a springboard to something additionally profound that was about to happen.

       At some point in this intellectual fusion, someone put the lights on and it was like someone letting go of a fully inflated balloon. Whoosh! and down we came from this awesome revelation, our eyes squinting in the bright light and straining to understand this awesome and unique experience. We tried to put this experience into some practical framework but it was impossible. After a short discussion, we all dispersed and went in different directions.

I had my TR-3 convertible and started to drive back to my parents’ summer cottage where I had been staying. Driving along the winding mountain roads and ruminating over the night’s events I suddenly experienced an unusual sensation that I was no longer driving the car but was progressively being withdrawn into a type of inward subjective vacuum.  As this experience intensified, my thoughts on the night’s discourses completely faded.  Immediately I released the accelerator of the car neither recognizing the road I was driving on nor remembering where I was going. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t even know my own name. I keep repeating aloud to myself, “I don’t have a fucken name,” “I don’t have a fucken name”.  For a moment a ripple of uneasiness spread across my solar plexus region, but shortly after this momentary discomfort departed what remained was this exhilarating sense of weightlessness and psychological freedom.  I am dead!  I cried out loud to myself in astonishment.  Dead because there is no longer any outward identity.  Here driving alone on a mountain highway I have no memory of the past, the present, or the future. I was like a little child who had suddenly entered into this gleeful state of pure joy. I seemed as this revelation unfolded to be suspended weightless in a type of inner subjective vacuum.  Above both thought and emotion in their most expanded and transcendental form, my consciousness now perceived itself as a steady stream of flowing awareness. 

During those first moments just before the experience had reached its zenith and took total control of all my faculties, I realized that I had to remain completely passive and that any type of mental analysis would break the magic spell that had fallen upon me.   Thought however lofty and sublime were now like heavy anchors pulling my awareness back down–once again trying to ground me in the lower world of the mind.  This in turn would have a reciprocal effect and bring back my emotional and physical awareness of myself as a separate and distinctly individual person.

       How I was able to pilot my car during this experience is unknown.  Unaware of the body it was as if I was piloting the car unconsciously.

       After traveling for some distance, suddenly like a spell broken, the experience began to slowly recede and my memory returned. Like a drowning man, I desperately attempted to stay in this transcendental realm. Yet, the more effort I exerted, the faster it departed.  As my perception of this higher truth now began to wane I could not help but draw the analogy that before this experience my conscious awareness had felt like the diffused rays of light passing through a prism.  During the experience, there was a shift of focus in which the rays suddenly all condensed and merged back into one intense point of subjective focus.  As the experience passed, these rays once again fanned out and my normal perceptions with all their multiplicity of personal expression returned.

       During this experience, I received a definite impression that it was a reciprocal act.  Directing my thoughts for years up towards these transcendental ideas had created a bridge from which at some point this revelation that was situated way beyond the lower mind could descend. This was a startling observation with many implications. The first of which was the paradox of how the mind needed to be disciplined and directed towards these higher and more austere levels of reality before they could be contacted. But once contacted the necessity of disengaging from this lower mind and letting this higher mind stream down into the body unimpeded and without over analyses. What an interesting paradox this created. Using the concrete or lower mind to go beyond itself and be able to springboard to an even higher mental realm and from there be able to enter an even higher state that neither the lower or higher mind could enter.

I understood from this experience why some spiritual groups claim that the mind is an obstacle to enlightenment and that it “slays the real” yet others like Edgar Cayce claimed that the mind is the builder to these higher levels. They both in their respective contexts were right and needed. 

Although this experience had slowly grown out of a continuous contemplation of higher levels of reality it was neither an experience of mere aesthetics, artistic license, nor the result of some metaphysical pathos toward the unknown.  Through direct and irrefutable moments of transformation, a new reality or state of spiritual perception was conveyed.

——————————————————————————————-

   

In reviewing this powerful experience it was as if the lower intellect was forced to build its understanding through a slow and tedious sequential series of deductive steps, like building a pyramid from the base up brick by brick until now having placed the capstone at the very top we could springboard off into the infinite expansion of a universal mind.
As difficult as it is to describe this experience in any clear and coherent way, it seemed so totally natural. It occurred to me that this is in fact the way it is supposed to be, that all my life I had been caught unknowing on the opposite and restrictive side of a great divide in which only vague impressions of real truth periodically filtered through. It also occurred to me that this might be what death was like. In fact the whole idea of death was now laughable. At death it was clear you could simply slip into this higher mind, assuming it was available to you, and be totally unaffected by what was taking place in a physical realm that was insignificant and unimportant. The body was like an old worn out pair of shoes that having used up its usefulness could now be discarded without the slightest hesitation. But then I questioned, where would those of us who could not achieve this mental fusion go at the moment of death?
This was clearly the death of the personality. One fell swoop and everything we had known about so-called normal reality, everything that was common and familiar, was swept away in one great ascent of mental thought or fire. I use the word ‘fire’ here since everything below this experience seems so heavy, lethargic and inert. In this mind-revelation everything flashed fourth simultaneously like lightning or transparent fire. The lower mind clearly did not generate its own thoughts. All thought originated from much higher and more abstract mental realms as an impulse of sound and light and then descended into a higher part of the mind, then became seated or grounded into the material world through that heavy and inert organ we call the physical brain. It was obvious that there was some impediment or restriction in which this higher mind was not easily accessible and could not freely flow down unimpeded into the brain. What was the nature of this gap in the mental world between the lower mind and the higher mind, and why did that gap exits?
It was clear that this was one of the hidden purposes of all evolution as well as all educational incentives however vaguely understood by the mass of teachers and educators in the world. We were driven to know legions of isolated and mundane facts in the public school systems never suspecting that this endless minutia we were forced to memorize was the potential foundation for some supernal revelation or perception that might come later. I say ‘potential’, for the mind would clearly have to make a progression from linear thinking into the more abstract levels of trans-personal psychology and philosophy. This transcendental experience was clearly the result of prolonged philosophical study and meditations on the great master thinkers of antiquity. There was clearly a human psychology outlined by great luminaries such as Sigmund Freud and many of his disciples at the turn of the century that plumbed the depths of the subconscious. However, there is another more exalted divine psychology that will become a point of focus and interest by some of the greatest minds in the coming centuries.
At the very apex of this experience my brothers and I were mute and unable to speak. Telepathically we had entered into a realm in which everyone knew simultaneously what everyone else was thinking and it was grounded in a type of universal ‘sameness’. We were all participating and fused by the same sphere of illumination. On the surface and later in retrospect the idea of knowing someone else’s thoughts, particularly thoughts shared between brothers, was intimidating in light of all their usual rivalries and competitions. But here in this sublime mental state those fears or any sense of discomfort did not exist. We had temporarily blown by and transcended the realm of emotional attachments, desires and individual egos that can so easily bring any advanced realization like this to an immediate halt. What became overwhelmingly clear is that I could not have experienced this expanded state without the constant interaction with three other bright and searching minds to stimulate, drive and carry this group experience forward. We had all passed over into a far land by the combined efforts and contributions of all. None was more important than another. It was like we were all a part and parcel of a private elite school, and the outer world could not begin to fathom or understand where we were all going or where we had been.
This was clearly the true meaning of “group life”. This was also the true meaning of spiritual community that so many pundits, philosophers and reformers have so inadequately tried to describe. Life without form. This was clearly immortality — psyches and minds fused into one searing perception of their “own truth”. Suffering and evil, the two great clouds that taint the human condition, had suddenly become meaningless terms. Evil, hatred, fear, or anger could only come into existence when an individual or group became separated from this primary mental field or holistic state of existence. If our true existence was found on this high mental plane, and we clearly existed in that state prior to taking on these sheaths and vestments of some lower personality life, what could possibly be the purpose of descending or separating ourselves from something that was so perfect and so sublime? Why this great and mysterious duality of mind and matter? Why had we all become exiled and excommunicated from our obvious common roots of freedom and joy, the joy that we could have an existence outside of the body or identification with the five senses. I had many questions but found few answers.
We are one and all on a personality level scattered fragments of some deeply pure and primary state of existence. There was both light associated with this revelation and some type of interior sound. This sound was like a mighty river in which all that you had previously identified with was completely absorbed. One was now flowing in something sublime that was neither tangible nor had any discernable form. This was surely the baptism by fire spoken of in certain religious scriptures. Yet my personality felt discomfort if my mind tried to make any analogies between this supreme recognition of some interior truth I had just experienced and any religious tenet or system. This profound experience was clearly the antithesis of the fanaticism found in contemporary religion and its obsession with blind belief as opposed to some direct and irrefutable experience.

      ———————————————————————————–

  These transcendental experiences may have been some of the high points in my evolving perceptions and that brought an immense sense of beauty and joy into my life but as the days and months passed and I became more firmly rooted in the old and limiting order of the past, the outer world seemed to take on a new barrenness. 

Just as each man had a subconscious of fear, hatred, and confusion that dwelt unknowingly within and around him, so did humanity have this same dark force that was a million times more powerful because it was composed of all the negativity of humanity combined. If this is the evil that great historical figures such as the Buddha, Christ, or Mohammed had to fight against and overcome I was humbled beyond words.

If man was composed of three different entities, A super-consciousness, which was advanced, wise, and compassionate. An opposite subconsciousness which was dark, and limiting and self-consciousness which lay somewhere in the middle between these two extremes. It was obvious the difficulty the average person would have in facing these immense forces within his life and sorting them out. This is also why self-consciousness and the little personal ego were such an important facet of the evolving life of each person it protected them from being overwhelmed by either extreme. Pride, a sense of self-importance, or even egotism were not in themselves a bad condition but paradoxically constituted part of a protective barrier or filter that kept each man in a stable relationship with his everyday life. Otherwise, people could be easily overwhelmed by either extreme of the subconscious and superconscious that I have just outlined. No doubt these facts constitute one of the main reasons for people’s mental instability or psychological breakdowns. 

This place of disorientation and confusion was one in which one could get caught between the old order that they have just renounced and something new that has not yet revealed itself. This is one of the obvious incentives for writing this book. If just one person can gain insight into this immensely important journey through life and have some guidelines however limiting they may spare themselves some of the obvious errors that I and others who tread this razor’s edge path have made.

Perhaps it’s a good thing people don’t know the truth about higher or altered levels of reality or God or are exposed to it prematurely, perhaps they were not ready to understand or assimilate either extreme.

This higher soul light or transpersonal self that would eventually descend into the life of every individual man would have a dual effect, If revealed not only the beauty and truth of some great and profound future, but simultaneously the dark clouds of the subconscious were always there preventing this light from shining through.

Carl Jung a person who has made major contributions to the understanding of this whole transmutative process pointed out that it wasn’t important to merely look for the light or God in your life but to face the darkness that you may have unknowingly or inadvertently created within your life that was preventing this light from reaching you and shining through. In one’s journey through life, one did not create spiritual light; you simply removed or transmuted the dark and found that the light was always there.

 Not enough ballast or grounding in one’s individual journey through an ocean of immensely conflicting forces without the right tools or knowledge of how to process the whole thing could be dangerous and this path “was strewn with many skulls” to quote a common aphorism. It would take many more years of study; reflection and contact with these paradoxes before I began to realize that there must be a reason for personal or planetary darkness and the influences of the subconscious. Was it all for nothing or did these limitations that each man possessed have a much more important part to play in a much bigger drama than I could have ever imagined at this time?

Although I had tried to stay in these expanded states of consciousness as long as possible I had failed.

It was not merely my inadequacies that now plagued me but something far deeper; a realization of humanity’s moral and psychological poverty that spread out before me like an immense dark cloud. Like a seething blanket of darkness that insidiously covered and interpenetrated everything.

I had always been deeply affected by the cruelty of man towards nature and the animal kingdom, now the human family in a wider and more inclusive way stood out even more glaringly with all of its vices and primitiveness.

       I felt a deep commitment to working toward the betterment of humanity and world conditions, but my growing sensitivities seemed to reach such expansive proportions at times it nearly incapacitated me.

 My growing illumination of higher spiritual realms had momentarily caused a reciprocal opening within the subconscious regions of man and nature.  Here my identification with animal suffering sent waves of deep sympathy vibrating through me. My journal recorded this unusual sensitivity.

Chapter 7

NEW CHAPTER

       The more that the limitations of orthodox psychology and religion were revealed, the more I turned toward other thinkers that ruminated from out of the mold. Philosophers such as Nietzsche, Voltaire, Spinoza, and Montaigne; and Kant, Bergson, and Hegel.

       Although each new philosopher seemed to draw my mind to great intellectual heights, each one seemed unable to give any practical instructions on how one might rise above the rabble of the senses and the limitations of the mind.

         Bergson’s radical hypothesis that the outer world of sensation and ideas did not control the mind, for the mind, existed prior to its experience, and was itself the directing agent, supported all that I believed. But how was that final transition beyond the emotions, and into that greater mind to be found?

Following Plato’s instructions into the silence of my innermost being, I pursued the path of the Philosopher Kings and resided in the continuous contemplation of the Good, the Beautiful, and the True.  But why did that higher realization not come – that moment when I could say unequivocally and without any reservation that this was the moment of truth. If there were teachings or special techniques to find these higher and more ethereal places they were well concealed. My emotions had a great and passionate desire to ascend above the endless paradoxes, impasses and cul-de-sac of philosophical thought. Yet the difficulty of this situation lay in the fact that the more insistent my emotions were in the need to experience some higher and purer state of perception, the further from it did I seemed to move.  The only times I had briefly touched on these higher and more transcendental realms were while I was in the US Army and in moments of deep reverie in nature.

FUSION OF THE BROTHERS HERE?

       Occasionally while engaged in lofty conversations with my brothers on philosophy and metaphysics subjects, a subtle but distinct change could be felt building within me.  Reading aloud from the works of, Maurice  Buck, Henry David Thoreau or Ralph Waldo Emerson, the sheer intensity of our minds and wills seeking to know, would cause an intense point of intellectual penetration and focus.  There would suddenly arise a fleeting moment of what appeared pure cognition–a climax of such intuitive understanding that it always left us mute and unable to speak.  Here in the silence a look between our eyes would convey clearly all that we were mutually experiencing.

       Resigned to build a deeper understanding of this transcendental experience through the one-pointed focus of my mind and will the years slowly passed as I studied Plotinus, Pythagoras and William James.

       I recall one late afternoon when my brothers and I were into another prolonged discussion on higher levels of consciousness. .        Progressively the sun slowly dipped below the horizon. As the room became darker no one bothered to put the lights on and we just kept focused on our different subjects.

In ever such small increments my brothers began to dissolve into the darkness. They’re bodily gestures, hand movements and different facial expressions. After a while everything in the room was completely obscured in darkness.

Yet how clearly everyone’s presence was felt as we continued to reinforce each other’s expanding thoughts. Without anything visually to focus your attention on there came a point in the discussion in which there were only these different minds inhabiting the room. There were no clearly definable personality traits.  It was totally awesome. For several hours there was just this giant intellectual space that kept building and expanding until we had created this enormous Thought – form. This word thought-form I use for a lack of a better description. An amorphous mental state that reaching out in all directions seemed timeless. It was as if you were in the presence of some of these great minds of antiquity. They to had no discernible features. Everything was known simply by the quality and depth of its mental composition. As difficult it is to describe this experience in any clear and coherent way, it seemed so totally natural. It also occurred to me that this might be what death was like. You had no body but the mind, which was clearly independent of the form, went on. If generated its life solely from within itself. The mind contrary to popular belief was not dependent on the body for its identity or existence. The mind merely used the physical brain as a way of seating or grounding itself into the material world.

I remember at another point in this experience where our words although building with each new thought and idea suddenly reached some type of plateau and we all fell completely silent. As if we had exhausted the ability of words and the concepts they represented to take us any higher. This experience in itself would have been sufficiently satisfying had it come solely by its self, but as it turned out this experience was only a springboard to something even more profound that was about to happen.

       At some point in this intellectual fusion someone put the lights on and it was like someone letting go of a fully inflated balloon. Whoosh and down we came squinting in the bright light and straining as we tried categorizing a totally awesome and unique experience into some practical framework. Soon everyone began dispersing in different direction.

THIS BROTHERS AND TR3 HAS BEEN INSERTED AT THE WRONG PLACE AND SHOULD COME AFTER NATURE SCENSE CRUELT SEE CHAPTER 3x

I had my TR-3 convertible and started back to the cottage where I had been staying. Driving along the winding mountain roads and ruminating over the night’s events I suddenly experienced an unusual sensation that I was no longer driving the car but was progressively being withdrawn into a type of inward subjective vacuum.  As this experience intensified, my thoughts on the night’s discourses completely faded.  Immediately I released the accelerator of the car neither recognizing the road nor remembering where I was going. Suddenly I realized I didn’t even know my own name I keep repeating aloud to myself, I don’t have a fucken name.  For a moment a ripple of uneasiness spread across my solar plexus region.  But shortly that sense of discomfort departed what remained was this exhilarating sense of weightlessness and psychological freedom.  I am dead!  I cried out loud to myself in astonishment.  Dead because there is no longer any outward identity.  Here driving alone a mountain highway I have no memory of the past, the present or the future. I was like a little child who had suddenly entered into this gleeful state of pure joy. I seemed as the moments unfolded to be suspended weightless in a type of inner subjective sphere.  Above both thought and emotion in their most expanded and transcendental form. My consciousness now perceived itself as a steady stream of flowing awareness. 

During those first moments just before the experience had reached its zenith of power, and took total control of all my faculties. I realized that I had to remain completely passive and that any type of mental analysis would break the magic spell that was falling upon me.          Thought however lofty and sublime were now like heavy anchors pulling my awareness back down–once again trying to ground me in the lower world of the mind.  This in turn would have a reciprocal effect and bring back my emotional and physical awareness of myself as a separate distinctly individual person.

       How I was able to pilot my car during this experience is unknown.  Although aware of the body it was if it was piloting the car unconsciously.

       After traveling for sometime, suddenly like a spell broken, the experience began to slowly recede and my memory returned. Like a drowning man I attempted to stay in this transcendental realm. Yet, the more effort I exerted, the faster did it depart.  As my perception of this higher truth now began to fade I could not help but draw the analogy that before this experience my conscious awareness had felt like the diffused rays of light passing through a prism.  During the experience, there was a shift of focus in which the rays suddenly condensed and merged into one intense point of subjective focus.  As the experience passed, these rays once again fanned out and my normal perceptions with all their multiplicity of personal expression returned.

       During this experience I received a definite impression that it was a reciprocal act.  Directing my thoughts for years up towards these transcendental ideas had created a bridge from which at some point this revelation that was situated way beyond the mind could descend. This was a startling observation with many implications. The first of which was the paradox of how the mind needed to be disciplined and directed towards these higher and more austere levels of reality. But once contacted the necessity of disengaging from the mind and letting this light stream down into the body unimpeded and without analyses. What an interesting paradox this created. Using the mind to go beyond the mind. I understood from this experience why some spiritual groups claim that the mind is an obstacle to enlightenment, and that it “slays the real” yet others like Edgar Cayce claimed that the mind is the builder to these higher levels. They both in there own respective ways were clearly right. One needed to shift their attention from the lower mind and its downward view of reality to the higher mind and its direction upward towards the spiritual and transpersonal. Yet once this connection was made and the higher door opened we needed to disengage from the mind in all of its different facets so that there would be no impediment to the descent of this new and greeter creative life.

Although this experiences had slowly grown out of a continuous contemplation of what had seemed the incomprehensible or esoteric. It was neither an experience of mere aesthetic charm nor the result of some metaphysical pathos toward the unknown.  Through a direct irrefutable moment of transformation, a new reality or state of spiritual perception was conveyed.

       This experience may have been one of the high points in my evolving perceptions. It was one that brought an immense sense of beauty and joy into my life. As the days and months passed and I became more firmly rooted in the old and limiting order of the past, the outer world seemed to take on a new barrenness.

       I had momentarily ascended to a higher point of spiritual realization but it was gone now and everywhere I looked I saw a new darkness opening to my inner eye.  Against my will I found myself entering into dark regions hitherto unknown.

       It was not merely my own inadequacies that now plagued me but something far deeper; a realization of humanity’s moral and psychological poverty that spread out before me like an immense cloud. Like a seething blanket of darkness that insidiously covered and interpenetrated everything.

I had always been deeply affected by the cruelty of man towards nature and the animal kingdom, now the human family in a wider and more inclusive way stood out even more glaringly with all of its vices and cruelty.

Just as each man had a subconscious of fear, hatred and anger that dwelt unknowingly within and around him, so to did humanity have this same dark force that was a million times more powerful because it was composed of all the negativity of humanity combined. If this is the evil that great historical figures such as the Buddha, the Christ or Mohammed had to fight against and overcome I was humbled beyond words.

It man were composed of three different entities, A super-consciousness, which was advanced, wise and compassionate. An opposite subconsciousness which was dark, and limiting. And self-consciousness which lied somewhere in the middle between these two extremes. It was obvious the difficulty the average person would have in facing these immense forces within his life. This is why self-consciousness and the Ego was such an important facet of the evolving life of each person. It protected him from being overwhelmed by either extreme. Pride, a sense of self-importance, even egotism were not in them selves a bad condition but constituted part of a protective barrier or filter that kept each man in a stable relationship with his everyday life. Otherwise people could be overwhelmed by either extreme. No doubt this constituted the one of the main reasons for peoples mental instability or breakdowns. I had recognized while in solitary confinement this immense paradox. This place of disorientation and confusion in which one could get caught between the old order that they have just renounced and something new that has not yet revealed itself. This is one of the obvious incentives for writing this book. If just one person can gain insight into this immensely important journey and have some guidelines however limiting they may spare themselves some of the obvious errors that I and others who tread this path have made.

Perhaps it’s a good thing people don’t know the truth about altered levels of reality or God perhaps they were not ready to understand or assimilate either extreme. The soul light or transpersonal self that was descending into the individual man had a dual effect, If revealed not only the beauty and truth of the future but simultaneously the dark clouds of the subconscious that were preventing this light from shinning through. Carl Jung a person who has made major contributions to the understanding of this whole transmutative process pointed out that it wasn’t important to merely look for the light. But to face the darkness that was preventing the light from shinning through, and to try and understand it’s meaning. You do not create spiritual light; you simply transmute the dark and find that the light was always there behind the clouds shinning.

Had I not been knocked for a loop many times chasing the dragon of truth threw the dark subconscious regions. And many times left in a total state of bewilderment from these advance forces that are totally impersonal. Granted pride and to strong a sense of ones individuality or ego could keep one from evolving into something higher and more spiritual. But not enough ballast on ones individual journey could throw one out on an ocean of immensely conflicting forces without the right tools or knowledge of how to process the whole thing. It would take many more years of study; reflection and contact with these paradoxes before I began to realize that there must be a reason for darkness and the subconscious. Was it all for nothing or did these limitation have a much more important part to play in a much bigger drama them I could have ever imagined at this time.

Although I had tied to stay in that expanded state, it had failed

       I felt a deep commitment in working toward the betterment of humanity and world conditions; but my growing sensitivities seemed to reach such expansive proportions at times it nearly incapacitated me.

 My growing illumination of higher spiritual realms had momentarily caused a reciprocal opening within the subconscious regions of man and of nature.  Here my identification with animal suffering sent waves of deep sympathy vibrating through me. My journal recorded this unusual sensitivity.

Chapter 8 coming soon
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Chapter 9
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Tab Title
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