Monday, January 22, 2007


Palm fronds hung in the wind, waving with that carefree motion of the tropics. I pulled my old Caddy at a slow creep along the tree-lined boulevard. What a day to be alive under that big Florida sun - sunglasses on, windows rolled down, and a cooler filled with cold Dixie beer on the passenger's side floor.

A few more blocks and I'd be in the driveway of ol' Lindy Lu. Lawd, I can't wait to see Lindy. She was once the most darling darling of my darlings - and she loved me too! Yes, we had some wild and wonderful times, and, with any luck, we'd have a good ol' time this weekend.

It must have been five years since I last saw her - it seemed more like a thousand! She was a good woman, and I was a fool for ever leaving her. But that was then. Maybe we can make up for lost time - maybe, if she has half a mind to. Chances are she's seeing some other chump and won't have time for her old flame. After all, it was five years ago.

There's her street - Floral Lane - I even love the name of her street. Lindy Lu on Floral Lane - too much! Why did I ever leave Miss Lindy? I guess that old saying is right: Men screw up their lives in a thousand ways.

Well, it all looks about the same. Yep, there's those neat little grey and pink bungalows with their carports and nicely kept gardens. Oh...that's why they call it Floral Lane...I guess maybe you're supposed to be a gardener to live here. That's right! Lindy always was messing with some little garden all the time - I forgot.

She was a mere 26 when I first met her, and what a beauty! Slender and petite, Lindy had a fresh, pure fragrance about her. How her hair shined - I remember that shine the most - shoulder-length auburn hair with that languid, sexy bounce. And those eyes! When Lindy looked at me with those cool green eyes I could never tell a lie...except for that one time anyway. She was fine. So full of life. Daggone! Maybe I still love her!

There's the house - 4504. My Gawd - it looks exactly the same! I'm sure glad I called. I wonder what she's wearing. Hope she hasn't turned into some kind of pig-sucking hagfish! No, not Lindy - it's not like her to let herself go. Besides, as soon as she got over the initial shock of my call, she didn't hesitate a bit when I said I was in town and wanted to come out to the house to visit - a sure sign she's no porker!

I stopped at the curb, right out front. The Caddy sure looked good, all shined chrome and gleaming red paint. I couldn't help admiring it as I got out and headed across the lawn to her door. Here I was, small bouquet of hyacinths in hand, standing at the door again after all these years. I felt like I was in a video or something - the door seemed to kind of jump at my face, this way and that, that yellow door with the blue trim was gonna open any second now, and there she would be - framed like a picture in the doorway.

I knocked. Not a sound. I gave it another knock. Still nothing. What is this? We said 3:00 PM Thursday, and hey, it's Thursday and it's 10 minutes after 3:00. I looked in the front window. It looked dead. Maybe she's around back. I pushed my way around her shrubbery, a kind of tumbling mess of thick-leaved jungle plants, and as I approached the back corner of the house I thought I heard something - a giggle?

"I hope I'm not interrupting anything," I joked - but a dread shot through me as I saw Lindy in her pool with her arms around some broad.

She shrieked, "Johnny, Johnny, is it really you? Look at you." "Oh. You brought me flowers. Johnny," she bleated, pulling herself out of the pool and running at me smiling. Damn, she looked even better than I remembered.

"Give me a hug, you nutty chick!" I said, as we groped for each other.

"Five years, Johnny, it's been five years - and you're still a hunk. Come here lover boy," she teased, messing up my hair.

Yeah, I know, five years - it feels kind of funny, doesn't it?" I said, still feeling my initial dread.

"Come over here, ya big galoot, I want you to meet Virginia," she gloated. Virginia looked my way and gave me a half-sexy nod. "Virginia's my girlfriend," said Lindy, matter-of-factly. Actually, I thought, she could have dome worse. Virginia was a knock-out. "Come on, join us in the pool," pouted Lindy, as Virginia chimed in, "Yeah, Johnny, join us in the pool!" What could I do?...I joined them in the pool.

Ol' Lindy Lu, a lesbian? Heart sinking, I stripped and climbed down the ladder in my black jockey briefs. The cool water broke over my face. I paddled over to them. "So, what happened, Lindy, did you lose your fondness for men?" I ventured.

"Why no, hon," she laughed, "whatever makes you say a silly thing like that?" Virginia was looking askance, palming the water, being invisible.

"Aw shucks - tie me to an ant hill and stuff my ears fulla jam - what's a guy supposed to think when a gal introduces him to her 'girlfriend.'? Now tell me."

"Well, Johnny, it's no secret. Yes, we're lovers," she said. Virginia smiled at the water but then jerked her head to catch me before I could turn away. She grinned demurely at my supposed embarrassment. Lindy put her hand on Virginia's chin and gave her mouth a little squeeze. Both girls giggled. "Johnny, sure, we have lots of fun together. We're very close friends. Of course that doesn't mean we hate men, does it now Gin?" taunted Lindy.

"Is that some kind of lame attempt to tease me?" I countered, "Y'all aren't flirting with me, now are you?"

Virginia had been eyeing me from her prone position on the underwater steps. Now she was wading through the water, seductively inching her way closer. She brushed Lindy, giving her a loving caress. Still looking at me she said, "Our flirting with you wouldn't make you nervous, would it Johnny boy?" My expression must have said everything. "I'd do her," I thought. She was now in front of me, her warm, blond breath on my face.

From the corner of my eye I could see Lindy. Either she was amused or getting turned on. Just then I felt Virginia's hand gently rub my crotch as she smiled, smugly, into my eyes. "Now hold on, hold everything...," I started to say..."Now Johnny, Ginny just wants to be friendly," Lindy put in as she swept over to us, "Don't you like Ginny?"

"Sure," I creaked - as 'Ginny' palmed my beanos and rubbed her now naked breasts on my chest.

"Ooh, I like you, Johnny. I want you," she oozed into my ear. By now Lindy's hot tongue was looking for mine.

The banana trees sheltered us as our little sexscapade gained momentum. Here I was - it was every guy's fantasy - fulfilled - two nasty, hungry mouths - consuming me - two kittens with no inhibitions; gaping love bunnies, spreading, tightening, sighing - quivers and spasms shooting pleasure through us. For an hour we must have nibbled and whomped, kisses flowing, our menage de trois a lust fountain - nothing but raw animalismo. I loved Lindy again like I never gave her up. It seemed even better than before. And Virginia could do tricks - the most erotic tricks this boy had ever seen. Great googley moogley,I was pumped to a frenzy.

Finally...things wound down. Lindy went in and brought us some vodka martinis in a tall shaker. Dusk was slowly coming on.

"Mind if I use the phone?" I asked.

"Sure. It's where it's always been," said Lindy, "Go ahead." I dragged my raggedy behind inside. The place looked just the way I remembered it - Florida seedy, but kinda charming. Now, to call my man.

I dialed the number, still reeling from the wanking those chicks laid on me. "Larry, how ya doin'? Yeah. You gotta check this place out. I need some help here. What? No, not yet. But I will. I'll try to wait until you get here. And oh - be prepared to meet some wild women. The address? - 4504 FloralLane. Yeah, just around the corner. What? Don't worry - you're man enough. Yeah, OK. Goodbye." I hung up feeling a little better Larry was coming. We had agreed I'd tell her. Maybe I was feeling a little queasy about it. After all, I wasn't the type to kiss and tell - I wasn't that type at all. But it sounded like Larry was wimping a little. I hate it when he gets in those moods. Oh well...back to the front lines.

Virginia was coming in the sliding doors as I was coming out. With a picture-perfect smile she touched me all over as we passed. "I wanna fuck you again," she whispered, "So does Lindy." With that, she slid into the house, leaving me with a shit-eating grin on my face. Lindy was sitting in a chaise lounge when I came out and joined her.

"Gee, I thought we'd never be alone, Miss Lindy Lu. I can't wait to talk a little. After five know...lots has happened," I stammered, trying to get going.

"Oh, I invited a friend of mine over," I said clumsily, "I hope you don't mind."

"Johnny," she said,"any friend of yours is fine with me."

"Great," I said. She was a good woman, no doubt about it. "Listen, I got to don't have any hard feelings or anything because of, you know, the way I broke it off with you so long ago, when I told you about that other gal?"

She gave me a stern kind of look. "You idiot," I heard her say,"I'll always be here for you. Oh, it was hard, five years ago. Poor me. My aching heart wouldn't mend for so long it seemed" - her eyes welled up with tears - "but I...wasn't really mad at you or bitter. I was just pissed at myself, I guess." Geez, what a woman!

"You're something, you know?" I brushed back her hair and held my palm against her cheek. Those green eyes, wet with tears, gazed lovingly at mine. "You know, I could never tell a lie to those green eyes of yours," I said,"but just once...toward the end...I lied when..."

"Lindy, there's some other guy here," yelled Virginia.

"Send him out back," she hollered back.

In waltzed Larry. Virginia stood next to him. "Y'all, meet Larry, my old boyfriend, Larry."

Lindy now had the missing piece, the lie from five years ago.

September 2-3, 1993 (Updated 1/22/07)

Friday, January 19, 2007


The howls of children playing in the narrow streets floated into the room like echoes from this own youth. He knew that the vigor of the day, now ebbing into twilight, found new life extension in those small bodies bristling with a timeless energy that knew no bounds. How well he could remember the vitality of those tender years that refused to let a darkening sky cut short the play and fun; when games went faster, trying to cheat the falling night and stay some precious minutes more while mothers called and called.

The aged Don Pietro got up from his heavily-cushioned chair. His home was dark, except for a small glowing fire and he placed another log onto the red embers there in the fireplace. So accustomed was he to the arrangement of furniture, he needed no light at night to move about. Besides, using electricity meant more bills. He did without unnecessary expense even though he had lots of money. A main comfort to him in his old age was seeing how well he could conserve what he had, to keep from the bill collectors what rightfully belonged to him. It was like a game, an old people's game. That's why he had a fire burning - he heated his tiny place with his daily fires well into December, wearing sweaters and sleeping under three old army blankets at night.

But Don Pietro loved to sit before the fire, to feel its warmth on his legs and to meditate on the flames. And he was not one to brag about how much he conserved by not using his lights or to caution a visitor against the expense. That was not his style at all. Rather, his visitors were treated lavishly, always. He kept a well-stocked pantry for such special occasions and in the corner was a neat and orderly bar which he stocked with only the very best liquor and a few of his favorite red wines. Once, sometimes twice during holidays, a boy came by with groceries, firewood and whatever else the old gentleman might need. he had come to cherish the peace and solitude of his old age.

Yes, now a widower who had outlived even his three children, he was content in these last years living as he did. Still an able cook who enjoyed preparing good food, Don Pietro ate sparingly, usually just some breakfast and some dinner in the late afternoon. He bathed each day around dawn and dressed in a suit, often tweed in the colder months, and a silk necktie. He looked dapper in his simple elegance. And his clothes hung trimly on his tall, handsome frame.

Each morning he went for a stroll after his breakfast. He lived to feel the early morning sun on his face, to hear the rustling wind in the tall trees, to give his hearty salutes to those he met along the way. This, he thought, was the world as God meant it to be and he felt blessed by a special wholeness of life he had not felt since his boyhood days in Barcelona.

Those who knew him revered Don Pietro and his gentle, kind manner. The bones of his face seemed sculpted. It was a face tempered by time, without looseness, retaining character. He had a stoic quality that made his full head of white hair seem like it belonged there, just as a lion's mane must have its place. In his slow and deliberate stride he brought a sense of secure changelessness to those who saw him on his daily rounds.

But change was coming to this tiny island. change had been creeping into the lives of these Italian islanders since the early '70s when the United States Navy first established a small base to support its nuclear submarines. And Don Pietro had profited handsomely from the presence of the U.S. military. They needed housing. Don Pietro began negotiations with them at once, ultimately selling off an entire hilltop extending inland for perhaps two miles from one beach up and over the hill to another beach, all of which comprised a respectable chunk of island property. Soon a road was built that looped around the hilltop. Along here many homes sprang up, all of which enjoyed a panoramic view of the coastline and the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea below.

Before long, corn flakes had appeared on the grocery store shelves and shop signs in English beckoned for the Yankee dollar. Meanwhile, the native islanders, Don Pietro among them, took it all in good humor. Like Europeans everywhere and the whole world really, since the post-war years of the 1950s, they all knew that America had the money, the science and technology, the pop culture that seduced. Since the war years, wave upon wave of generations saw America as the embodiment of the modern world. The United States reigned supreme in its preoccupation with bigness, its manufacture of fantasy and garish plenitude. Accordingly, its over-sized cars started to show up on the streets of the island. Don Pietro noticed the Italian men stare with wonder at them when they first confronted these wide-bodied Chevys and streamlined Fords suddenly creaturing their roads. And he noticed too when this amazement soon receded to a kind of respectful awe as the cars became more and more commonplace. But when the young people of both sexes saw their cars, their American clothes and gadgets, their big-framed features, the world on their island was forever changed. In as much as it seemed like a change aiming outside the orbit of the island's forefathers (Garibaldi among them), Don Pietro felt sad, not quite forsaken, but sad.

Yet for Don Pietro and those of his generation who came into their prime before the Second World War, innovations bringing change remained for them only curiosities which livened up their old routines. The traditions they followed were the traditions of their father before them. Especially here in Italy, where family bonds were so strong and an open heart was cherished as the highest, most noble of attributes, this new technology was all fluff, window dressing. Don Pietro's generation had matured with the old values intact, more or less. They sought the simple comforts of the family, content with securing the kind of life they had always known - a life that had almost always brought them contentment. And the wisdom of the years brought with it that growing awareness of God working in their lives. Their lives reaching such a state, they felt no yearning to move beyond its treasured simplicity.

With a sigh, Don Pietro set out for Caroline's villa, one of two old estates located on the extreme top of the hill which were excepted from the old Navy land purchase. He had retained one villa as a country retreat for himself and the other he had sold to Caroline long before the Navy had arrived. Caroline lived far away now, only using the now-decrepit villa in the summertime. She was in her 70s, somewhat younger than Don Pietro, but like him her roots were foreign - French. they were old friends and Don Pietro was the informal caretaker of her place in the off season. Every other Thursday he drove to her villa to make sure everything was all right, sometimes checking on his place too while he was there.

His old Peugeot bumped along the long dirt drive and came to a stop at the end. getting out, Don Pietro made his way down the garden path to Caroline's villa. There it stood, seemingly impervious to the ravages of time, its single tower rising up from the dark foliage. Don Pietro could see the whiteness of the walls fading, and that the red, Spanish tile roof needed attention. Yet the villa had signs of having once been touched by love, though a love now long neglected. He knew that the place had become too much for her to care for as she advanced in years and Don Pietro gladly accepted the job of conservator and the protector of this property which he too loved.

On this visit, Don Pietro studied the villa's exterior with a dreamy detachment. Where once the villa had stood as a sturdy landmark of a dream realized, it now took on a new character. Don Pietro reflected that as the navy homes were built nearby and the other changes were wrought in the landscape, so had their lives changed. The villa had become a reminder of times past, a relic which must now have become more of an expense for Caroline than an enjoyment. Still, she struggled along with it, just as he did, because these villas were part of their life blood and they would never abandon them.

So on this particular Thursday, Don Pietro, inexplicably moved by a certain nostalgia, decided to do something he rarely did - he would go inside her villa fro a quick look around. He turned the key in the lock and stepped inside. The walls were decorated with a few of Caroline's oil paintings - local scenes of scrub and rocks and sea. Signs of life from an earlier generation were evident here and there: a shelf of dated books, some with French titles; in the closets a stack of sturdy old wool blankets were neatly folded; the kitchen had an odd assortment of archaic kitchen gadgets and the cabinet was filled with delicate and finely-painted, mismatched plates. Don Pietro smiled to himself as he inventoried Caroline's things, remembering the pleasant company and conversation of days past which he had enjoyed within these walls.

Soon locking up, Don Pietro found himself in the late afternoon sun on the villa's stone porch. That porch was built for marvelling at the immense view below. With the sun on his neck and a gentle wind wisping at his face, Don Pietro collected himself to seize the moment - to observe and to continue reflecting and dreaming. Through the tree branches he looked down the hill, over the new, red Spanish tile roofs. Down below, the sea jutted inland forming a small, rock-strewn bay. Close-cropped bushes and dwarf trees clung to the rocky hill faces. A rough, rocky spit of land embraced the upper side of the bay. Closer in, on the left, overlooking the bay was a promontory of rocks which were squared-off, piled, almost pieced together. Back beyond the spit was more water. But way off to the left, the horizon of sea was broken. Following the waters that fed the bay were tiny islands and behind them, in the mist, towered another mighty island - Corsica.

Don Pietro gazed out upon the sea. the sky was clouding up now and it was getting very cool. Another winter was setting in. He felt both the joy and the weariness of his eighty-odd years. A thought struck him just then...although things around him had changed, a certain changelessness remained as the world churned on season after season. In the soft glow of the afternoon, on the point of a hill, under an ageless Italian sky, as wind and water kissed the coastal rocks below, Don Pietro tenderly contemplated on this thought. As he did so, a philosophical air swept up his spirit and brought him comfort; he understood that the rambling emotions, under pressure from the ambitions and tempered by knowledge of a divine presence among us, destine us to become part of the patterned design of an asymmetrical repetition - of themes and myths and a collective unconscious that knows desire yet feels the pull of non-desire - a balance of forces, of beingness sometimes touched by madness yet built upon reason, brought together somehow to further the ends of that most noble aspect of humanity - its Oversoul.

Here. Now. Don Pietro touched his past. He saw the future, while both were fused at this moment into an all-embracing present.

Feeling no sadness, the old gentleman strolled back to his car, content and thinking only of sitting by this evening's fire.

November 11, 1993/ Isola Maddalena, Italy

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Little Gregory made the sign of the cross as he entered the shadowy coolness of the church. The grade-schooler was playing hooky from recess. The hoots and screams of other children outside became muffled hushes as the big door closed behind him.

The young boy made his way to the altar and knelt down. Clasping his hands together he lowered his head in prayer. Little boys pray for funny things, sometimes things not really known to them but only felt deep inside. Gregory did not feel quite right. Other than this, he had the same old sins that haunted him, like teasing his family members, like looking at Playboys and having bad thoughts. But he was not going to confession right now. He came to do the stations of the cross.

After a few minutes he stood up, went to the back of the church and headed to the first station. Little Gregory proceeded, looking up as he went at the pictures of the Saviour's passion. "Jesus falls the first time...Jesus falls the second time...Jesus is nailed to the cross." He was gliding right through them. The recess bell would soon ring.

His innocent devotion was a precious thing. He thought about what Sister Maria Gloria had said, that if you wear a scapular for seven whole years straight, you're assured of a place in heaven. Young little Gregory yearned for God; he wanted to be with God; he wanted God to point the way, to comfort him, to make his soul pure and his mind bright; he wished more than anything that he could have a mystical experience of God, to see or hear something truly from heaven; he wanted a sign from above to make him feel the presence of God. He was told that the eye of God sees all things, but he longed to know that God really did watch over him. But, much to his disappointment...nothing ever happened.

He could hear the bell and he hurried out of the church. He certainly did not want to be conspicuous to his classmates. They might make fun of him or think he was weird or something. And so little Gregory filed back into the school like a good Catholic boy. His secret visit was hidden in his heart and his hopes were high that God heard his yearning pleas. He really wasn't sure why he felt the way he did.

A half a dozen years slipped by. Little Gregory was not so little anymore. He was a young man sitting in high school waiting for the day to end. Gregory turned his head from his Latin classwork to glance out the window. He saw a black man outside outside on the street peering under the hood of his car. The man seemed frustrated and angry because his car had broken down. He wondered what that man did during the day while he was in school, whether he was married, where he lived, what kinds of things he wanted from life. He wondered whether they had anything in common. Just then, the bell rang. Gregory grabbed his books and bolted out of the room.

The afternoon sunshine on his face renewed him. It was Friday. In his head he went through his plan for tonight. Actually, the plan didn't matter much. Tonight was just another chance to drink beer and mess around. Of course, meeting some cute girls somewhere, somehow was always in the back of his mind. Gregory had come of age. The precious little one was now dangerous, and getting wilder as the months passed by.

Gregory enjoyed the high life. He was not unlike many of his peers in the late '60s. No one knew what was happening in society. What all of them understood, however, was that everything, all structure, was breaking down. The concept of a role model on the straight and narrow was all but dead. From time to time Gregory wondered where to go to find some answers. He knew he had lots of questions, though most were only just then welling up inside of him and were hard to formulate.

Outside of school his life was wild excess and he acted out his bent repressions. Young Gregory lived for his weekend pleasures. His solipsistic world was his personal empire. Hedonism was the way. He followed the whims of his will. Between beer joints, drifting from party to party, young Gregory kept wondering - he kept thinking and hoping. He still prayed too. But...nothing ever happened.

One night, over-medicated, he slipped and fell into a puddle while walking through the rain. Gregory lay there, not really wanting to get up. What was happening to his life, he thought. Where had things gone wrong, so wrong? He rediscovered something just then. And he knew what he had to do - he would do it.

The following day, he walked back to the old stately church of his childhood. He entered and blessed himself. It was virtually empty. Gregory then walked up the aisle top the altar rail, opened it, genuflected, and then climbed the few steps up and laid himself down there with arms open wide. He lay there on the altar staring at the ceiling for some minutes and then closed his eyes. His meditation was interrupted by some hushed muttering. As he had feared, one of the parish busy-body "holy women" came up to him. That was that.

His mother pulled up to the rectory. Gregory walked out and got into the car. headed home now, he felt empty, nauseated, helpless. Unknown to him then, young Gregory would be going in and out of this semi-spiritual half-world for a long time to come.


It was before the Cajun cooking craze. The city of New Orleans in the early Spring was a place for lovers. And it would be here that Gregory would find his first real love, a transforming love. He was on the ten year plan of getting through college and he was determined that this would be his last try at undergraduate education.

In college is where he met his sweetheart, who seemed to be an answer to a prayer. She was from the Midwest; a lovely blond girl, as endearing as she was obstinate - in all, a remarkable test of his patience. And though she was needful and precious, she was also wonderfully eccentric in a way that pleased him. Gregory obligingly watched over her and he enjoyed the admiration she showered on his talents. They were soon inseparable co-dependents.

Gregory the man now stood tall in the Southern breeze. He was an old car lover and he was proud of his '64 Ford Galaxy. It was cool. He was cool. What a hustler he had become! Reaching the height of his physical prowess now, he had attained a kind of street-wise mystique. His girlfriend was enthralled with him on that level. Yet she was working on him, taming him, asserting some feminine softness to round his rugged edges. The greatest gift she gave him was a consciousness of women, which he desperately needed. She was a comfort. They watched over one another. He had someone to care for; she had a certain depth of understanding built on courage and a willingness to plumb the depths that would have beaten lesser women. In fact, that had been a problem for him; most women in the past had been frightened off by Gregory's intensity and the rawness of his emotions.

They attended a Jesuit university. They had different majors, but at one point both of them took a course in Judaism together, to fulfill part of the credits in religious studies. Neither participated in the religious life at the school. They had formed their own world, living off-campus in a small apartment. But remnant of their early Catholic training surfaced from time to time. Gregory gauged that she was still retaining at least some of that doctrine which he had let go of a while back, especially when she said, "Gregory, I love you, but I could never marry you because you don't believe in your Catholic faith." She was right.

From time to time there was real trauma in their relationship; terrible fights that brought tears of rage and eventually, sweet tears of reconciliation. In the extreme sadness of the bad times between them, Gregory searched his soul and prayed, wanting to overcome some of his ways that he knew were not right and were holding him back somehow.

Gregory knew in his heart that there was some unquantifiable something missing. Sometimes, when he was alone, he would examine his life and wonder at it. He had thoughts about God, too; not the corny, folk-mass God of his old religion, but another God, omnipotent and unfettered by all of that claptrap dogma and phlooey. For Gregory, though, it remained the same God. The only difference was that he rejected the man-made dogma and cultural baggage in which the church surrounded itself. He prayed for himself and for others in a new kind of prayer, sometimes confessional, sometimes a quiet thinking prayer, even an occasional Our Father or Hail Mary. Now he was praying for other things than what had occupied his childish mind. but there was still that yearning and that void. His heart was often sad, because...nothing ever seemed to happen.

The years came and went. Gregory finished some post-graduate work. he had traveled places near and far, and was now preparing to settle down. He had yet to marry. rather, he was still looking for that special gal - and enjoying the search!

In his mind he was still thinking of God. He wished to find God, still. His longing brought him in contact with various others. They had interesting ideas and offered books that were profound and beautiful. Gregory began to see that love and contemplation, especially meditation, were the keys to the divine reality that he sought. he was afire with a grand, new optimism that in fact he could realize his dream of encountering the mystical, of experiencing his elusive God. Still unsure of his precise path, Gregory became a pilgrim traversing many paths, researching, experimenting, remaining open - and yet, he never found the kind of role model master that he expected to find (or that Master never found him).

Meditating was difficult for him. He was a man of action. He did try and try, ill-disciplined though he was and without a master nearby to aid him. None-the-less, he remained convinced of its efficacy and resolved to keep trying. Still...nothing was happening.

It finally came to him that he was forming his own spirituality independent of any established religion or path. Oh religions had pointed him in some good directions, but there was always something missing from them. They had no real meaning; he remained largely unmoved by all organized religions and spiritual paths he had encountered so far.

Gregory, having kept some semblance of reverence, even during his descent into his worst periods of debauched living, finally concluded this: that the goal of spiritual seekers, such as himself, is to tenaciously persist - even in the face of utter failure - in trying to find a spirituality to call one's very own. And maybe, just maybe...someday...something will happen.

September 3-4, 1993/ Queenstown, MD

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I saw through that thin Anglo-Saxon grin of his as he shook my hand. Charles Franklin. He had all of the trappings of the successful - the tailored suit with the handkerchief placed just so, the stickpin and loafers, the watch, ring and cuff links, that air of refined confidence - he was quite an act all right, and not a bad guy, as far as these kinds of guys go. He would do. Charles Franklin seemed OK.

He invited me to sit down. As I eased into one of his upholstered chairs he asked what I would like to drink. Was whiskey all right? Yes, whiskey would be fine. As he poured, he chatted away. He chose his words carefully, in spite of himself. But his talk was not hitting my brain, really. I recognized this kind of happy chatter, and I gave an occasional nod or a casual grin without thinking too much.

Then he came across the room and handed me my drink. I glanced furtively into his vacant eyes as he gave me the glass of whiskey. God, I thought, Charles Franklin. What made him tick? He sat next to me. The lamp between us threw down a beam of mellow light that light up our area and left the rest of the room in shadows. It was an intimate light; a glowing arena. The whiskey was smooth and warm.

"Tell me," said Franklin, "why did you become a lawyer?" Oh not that one! I shuddered on the inside and then gazed pensively for some moments. "Charles, at first I thought I would become wealthy and powerful as a lawyer and use that wealth and power constructively. That is, I would find a stable lifestyle in the community and make that community stronger." Oh God, why did I use that word, "community." Everyone knows that word is code for the huddled black masses. "After a while, before I even started making money at all, I reconsidered. I began thinking, "No - I'll help the poor and bewildered instead. But the truth is, Charles, that I took neither course. So to answer your question, the best answer I can give you is this: at the time, I was able to go to law school, and in this increasingly litigious society, I'm glad I did. It's a comfort knowing the law and being a lawyer. Learning to analyze things is damn helpful. So I went for the knowledge."

"Well, I know what you mean. I often feel that way myself." That condescending ass. Who was he fooling? He loved the goddamn money and the thrill of being in the role, period. I loathed him at that moment. Then I pitied him. At least he was decent enough to meet with me. And he had style. Our mutual friend, Stanley, did a fine job of arranging everything. he would be perfect.

"Sometimes I want to chuck it all and climb a mountain or something," he said. "But then I think of my obligations - to my wife, the kids, what we've built-up her over the years. I'd be totally helpless without them. I daydream from time to time, usually when I'm at my desk in the evening and everything is quiet. Everyone has gone home and things are relaxed in the evening, you know?" Yes, I know. I've had some pretty quiet moments myself these past months now - practically every day. That's what unemployment's all about. Do I know. He said he'd like to climb a mountain. I wonder why I never think about climbing a mountain. I can see him doing it though, all that brightly colored nylon gear on, all snug and standing tall, his breath hanging in the cold air as he humps his way to the summit. God, he was something.

"Well, the law can be home for some, but many are disillusioned. I would say that I'm pretty comfortable with my small practice most of the time, yet once in a you think you want to practice law?" he asked, "Stan said you were weighing your options." "Well, I really can't say right now. Stanley would like to see me practicing. That I'm sure of. We were pals in law school and he always seemed to be impressed with my abilities - he thinks I have talent. And in all modesty I must say I think I do too. We've toyed with the idea of starting a practice together, but it's never gone anywhere. he's too snug where he is. I think about practicing law. I'm trained to be a lawyer and I should be doing it I guess."

"What would you rather be if you weren't a lawyer?"

"Oh, writer, art agent, traveling musician, it depends on which of 15-minute career fantasies I'm having when people ask."

"Well. you're not short on options, are you?" Oh man, I can read his mind. He's brimming with envy, then resentment. Next he's going to get this kind of diffident attitude going. It should take him about five minutes. "I know I must sound flip, but I really must say, I can do a number of things rather well and that has been my downfall - I'm spread so thin doing things that don't really grab me, I can't focus on what it is I really want to do, as a career I mean."

"Well let me tell are one of the first people I have ever met who is a licensed attorney and has so much else on the ball. It's like meeting a Renaissance man." Holy hell. He is following the pattern all right. "Thank you, but I'm far from that. Though I wish you were right, I more often than not feel more like a dabbler or dilettante."

Charles Franklin had a wistful look as he stared down at the carpet. I continued, "I have done many. many things. I try to follow my interests, which are still far-ranging. The down side is that I really don't have the money to continue on for long in whatever it is i am attempting. I have to stop, find a way to pay my debts, and then move on again. It's a different life altogether. You don't lay down any roots. You are certainly too unstable to have a wife - you could never care for her properly, let alone kids." Why was I confiding all of this to him? I only just met him. Oddly enough, he does seem interested.

"Such a life is totally alien to me. And i think I'd just die without my wife and kids. And most lawyers I know could never live like that. With court dates and clients calling, it would be absolutely impossible. But what a life! To be free! A vagabond drifter, a rolling stone!" He was clearly taken with the idea of my life-style. I didn't have the heart to him it was not a life-style i chose, but one which had chosen me. And I doubted seriously if he could ever fully realize the lonely rootlessness that gnawed at me, the finite limits on all that I did. Oh how I envied him at that moment! Maybe Stanley's idea should be tried. If it worked we would both be better off, perhaps.

Franklin went on spewing romanticized thoughts of the road life; places he would go, things he would do - if only he were not held back, he said. But what was holding him back, I wondered. he felt he had obligations, and he did. But he could arrange things so that he could do what he really wanted to do - quit his practice, or at least take a leave of absence, explain things to his wife and kids, then take some money and run. "Do you really want this other kind of life, Charles? Couldn't it be just a Walter Mitty dream?" I ventured, boldly challenging his vision.

"I only know that there is something inside of me, a voice, a longing - I can't describe it but I know it's real. This drab office i come to every after gets so...meaningless. Despite the moments when I get those tremendous feelings of accomplishment, like when I win a battle in court, or i do something else for a client that brings me great joy, it just seems so very...mundane." Classic. He is a classic case of professional burn-out. Maybe he had at last come to the realization, as with so many others of his ilk, that what he was doing was indeed an unfulfilling act, a role that society expected of him. He had bought into the system and now the system was biting him in the ass.

"Charles, I think I know what you mean. But you know, I'd give anything to change places with you." There it was. I said it. The secret was out now. I wonder how he'll react.

"You must be kidding."

"No, I'm not kidding." He had no way of knowing just how much I was not kidding. With each of my breaths, the long, razor-thin dagger pressed gently against my chest. Oh I was serious all right. Stanley's information on that fateful night had led me to this.

"How about another whiskey?"

"Sure." The ice cubes jangling in the glasses on the darker side of the room sent my mind back to how it all began. I had been at Stanley's apartment. He was excited, telling me about a movie he had just seen. It was a surrealistic thriller involving the demon. In it, a man had become completely obsessed with the idea of changing his identity. He had fallen in with a certain crowd, one of whom held out hope that he could realize his ultimate dream. This man was told of a way he could change his identity, and more! Stanley then explained the gruesome rite which was only alluded to in the movie. The rite involved taking the chosen victim, slashing open his chest, plunging the hand into the gaping cavity and yanking out the heart. The participant must then eat the victim's heart while it was still warm and pumping.

"Your drink, sir." Excuse me while i use the restroom."

Suddenly alone in the room, I took a long sip of the whiskey and remembered how i could not sleep for some nights after that meeting at Stanley's. Spurred on by curiosity, I had finally located an occult book that actually described this same gruesome and arcane heart-eating ritual. And, if performed correctly, it was supposed to change the identity of the participant by stealing the soul of the victim. How dumbfounded I had felt at that moment. A little plastic surgery and voila, a new life! It had seemed insanely perfect. I had set about at once looking for contacts and planning for a night just like this one.

I heard Charles fumbling toward the door in the outside hall. I wondered what he must be thinking. I took another long sip from my drink. I felt funny. As he entered the room I noticed he was staring at me. No. It wasn't a stare, it was more of a...glare. I felt faint. What drink slipped from my hand. My God, he's raising a dagger! I felt a sharp, piercing pain, intense, excruciating pain. I thought I was screaming loudly but no sound, not even a whisper came out. Then I blanked. I don;t remember anything else, at least not in the normal way. Yet somehow...I was still in the room.

The phone rang. I picked it up. "Hello, hello...Charles?"


"Yes, it's Stan. How is everything going?"

"Fine," I said, "just as we planned it."

"Wonderful. I heard from the doctor. He'll be expecting you for surgery at 8:00 AM tomorrow morning. I'll visit you at the clinic and then we'll talk about your future. We have lots of ideas for you, now that your free from your old routine."

"That's great," I gushed, "I finally have my dream life and a new career!"

"And don't worry about your wife and kids, Charley - we have them."

September, 2-3, 1993

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Friends, "I am who is, but ain't. All are Me - I in you, you in me...(I am 'the walrus')...of one and the same substance as, yet different from, the Earth, Sun, Moon, Planets, Stars, the Ether, and all that is to come, remains or has come before, seen and unseen, dual and non-dual - the primordial prototypes, the eternal forms/archetypal energies, astral, causal, subtle...mind and no-mind. I am the elan vital, the 'force that through the green fuse drives the flower'.”

If you wish, call me "Origene"; recall, then subsume, the many names I have had – God, Allah, Atman, Yahweh, the Divine, the Great Spirit, the One, the All... Feel me in you, beneath your feet and above your head, in and among and all around you, within others, in the animals and the plants, in the physical firmament, the rocks, and the shimmering seas, as far and farther than the eye can see; and know that herein I present to you a special story. I call this story The Dream. The Dream comes forth as all dreams do, from the Essence, Nature, Me - and comes to inform you and re-form you in my image - an image that never sleeps, that changes and evolves, yet sleeps deep within your inner cores.

This Dream comes according to the age and understanding of the time, in this place, according to your present consciousness structure and through your language and cultural forms. This state of things allows the Dream to coalesce, so that you perceive its image through thought. This is a knowing through the "lightning rods" of your body/minds.

Take in the Dream, you creatures that stand between Earth and Heaven, Matter and Spirit, connect your female and male energies, unconscious with consciousness, myth with math, micro with macro...and learn from the Dream that you can "transcend into self-forgetfulness by an abysmal plunge into the absorption of the formative and creative material process." (Aurobindo, 1987:107) But let the Dream break that bubble. Let your face shine, your mouth smile - lay down the burdens of your daily grind; dance for a while with rocking- horse mountain tops, among the flickering stars, as we float on our backs through tropical rainforest streams to a pooling sea - a blue-green ocean as wide and as vast and as deep as outer/inner space.

Lie down, young friends, fall down laughing; close your eyes, feel your forehead unwrinkle, your limbs grow heavy, your neck and chest and breathing sink into the ground of being, as your jaw unclenches and gets ready to listen, not speak. The Dream comes up into you. It's coming now, in a quiet gurgling brook where rays of sunlight slant through trees and eternal repose echoes in the bullfrog's vibrating monochord. This Dream of the earth is your dreaming, as infinite and timeless as Me. It came out of Me and my dreaming - and thus from within you - from before the Big Bang (and maybe many Big Bangs before and to come - expanding/contracting, universes appearing/disappearing - supernovas, stars, black holes, white dwarfs, red giants - infra-red, ultra-violet, x-rays, gamma-rays, quasars - the rhythm of our present universe in photons, in wave, in time, in pulse - like the barely-moving skin from gently beating hearts.

Our Earth is carried along on this pulsing stream, the Milky Way. In the galaxy's journeying outward, our Sun and the orbs of matter, its solar system, revolve within an arm of the spiraling, like a molecule in the nerve pathway of some immense churning beast. Let that beast be an aspect of Me, like what you might see in the reflection of a tiny mirror from across the room.

So in the Dream, we dream ourselves: both our planetary and cosmological selves - in holons, like mirrors, or like turtles stacked all the way down and all the way up. (Wilber, 1995) From simple, inorganic elements to complex life forms, we compose a family of interacting, interdependent beingness. How did this stack o' things come to be?

Scientists say that, once upon a time, there was an unimaginably huge Big Bang resulting in gaseous-like interstellar matter being formed around attractor basins. Through gravity, electromagnetism, and nuclear processes these celestial stews became hotter and denser as they formed stars. One star in particular, our Sun, was born of a violent supernova and is our focus (from whence our speculations may then proceed outward - like the sputum from this mass that was chucked into space - self-organizing itself in discrete orbital accretions, together with their moons, all of whose integrity was sufficient to set them in "perpetual motion" around one another, around our star). Check with these scientists for details on star formation if you want to know the how more "exactly." Thanks to them we are allowed a kind of blind assurance that they have checked each others' sources and what they tell us about astronomy and physics is more likely true than not. This birth of our Sun, Friends, is estimated to have happened between 15 to 20 billion years ago.

Our Earth, let me tell you, was a blob, a cinder, a smudge - a rotating swirl of gasses and orange-brown molten-solid, sizzling in its orbit, without a sky, without an ocean - just gathering unto itself the elements that naturally bind - in a lucky location, not too close and not too far from the Sun. Here it churned on, day after day, for billions of years, hydrogen and carbon and methane, etc., complexifying - with its mass, ideal for attracting and binding itself into a primeval firmament that could begin t retain a proto-atmosphere. Great salt oceans too covered the Earth when it sufficiently cooled to bathe itself in its own liquid binding.

Assimilate this name, "Earth," while remembering it too as "Gaia." Gaia is a living system. The old word, "Earth," conjures up "earth" or "soil," that unique mix of organic and inorganic compounds that hosts an immensity of life in its richness. Thus, the word "Earth" tends toward a more solid mentalization. But what of the hydrosphere? - oceans, seas, bays, lakes, rivers, streams (and underground springs and aquifers) that cover most of the planet today? What of the miles of lithosphere, that protective layer of air, of life-friendly atmospheric gasses?

The new, Dream-name is "Gaia." The name Gaia is meant to recognize that planet as a life form in and of itself; it is a complex ecological system of interdependencies of which we are, in a sense, only one - the most complex one, perhaps, a self-reflecting one which has added another, cultural ecology, but none-the-less...only one. Through involution, the Earth - matter - came into being in a kind of autopoiesis, a self-creating out of the elemental processes of an intelligible universe. The on-going cosmogenesis of Gaia, with its slowly-creeping, long-to-emerge, conscient life, came swirling into being through a process we call "evolution." The "living" Gaia was really born in the primordial soupy seas when the first prokaryotic cell burst forth, jolted into being by electric thunderbolts. Then, Gaia was the incipient life system that was groping toward my image. The word-image of Me, can be seen in the First Flaring Forth; you can also identify 'Origene' with this first minuscule 'seedling' bacterium – 'ori" meaning 'source/essence' and 'gene" meaning 'birth/relation'. As I was involution, so am I now evolution. I am all process – as you are at once the beneficiaries of the process and the process itself.

I interrupt this dream-story for a commercial. A word or two must be said here about trying to “grok” our Dream from "where we are," i.e., how our consciousness speaks to us – how we perceive reality from this contemporary or "modern" point in our evolution.

To have science at all, we have had to separate out, differentiate, in order to speak of our world, Gaia, the universe, the cosmos. We have dualized by our mental-rational structures of conscious mind a self/other, subject/object, observer/observed empirical outlook that implicitly inheres in all that we try to express. Now we might seek to "participate" with the "other," to interiorize it through a more integrated body-mind union with our environment; to be less dualist in our take on this phenomenon of existence in the cosmos.

Still, as self-reflective creatures, it was perhaps our destiny to separate out in order to conceptualize – to develop consciousness out of an undifferentiated unconscious pleroma, just as these primitive cells separated themselves out from their inorganic bedrock sea-origins. Yet we cannot be imposing our contemporary perception of events of so long ago, imbuing them with modem dualist values or 'Westernized' ways of seeing and knowing, If we do, we can scientize this world and perhaps be comfortable there too – but by so doing, we lose the thread of how science can fit into the story rather than dictating our story to us.

So what I propose is that we hear the story on a more “cellular level”; that we somehow regress back through the mythic, magical and archaic structures of consciousness (Gebser, 1985) to rebuild in our being what preceded even these ancient mind-views, thought to be a consequence of recently emerging time and space, yet stretching back as far as 1.7 million years, 'only' 1.7 million years since human-like creatures started their long evolutional journey. That is, now, as you hear my words, let your minds fall back further, further – 15 billion years back. You are now not an undifferentiated inorganic mass of physio-being. Instead, you have attained, after so many billions of years of planetary convulsion, the inner enclosed protoplasm of something that does more than passively react to elemental forces. Albeit in a weak and extremely attenuated form, the prokaryotic cell, this cyano-bacteria. trumpets the first awakening of the planet into agentic action, representing the initial building block of all differentiating organic life to come. There is no thinking, only being. These are just barely the baby steps of action – raw biospheric life in its most elementary beginnings. And this bobbing...about-while-mutating proceeded for about one billion years. find yourself floating in a turbulent sea among other interchangeable microscopic "points." You are like Aries. You are bunting out chemicals that your proto-brain-membrane senses are needed. You absorb this chemo-food and have one and only one imperative – to eat and keep on eating, to remain alive. Nothing else – no other living thing physically exists.

Thousands of years've changed and you "feel" the change. You're no longer like those other interchangeable points. Like Prospero, the magician, you've learned to absorb the sun's light and use it for food. But you don't just do that. As a by-product you slough-off oxygen. The air pumps out with this new unstable element – for thousands of more years – while it destroys the old hunter, Aries. Its time is over, you feel. As you bask in this photon bath, memories of the future, laying on the sunny beach, come streaming in. You ARE Prospero, whose tricks create a host of newer entries – cells that invade your self-image like a Viking, mutating you once again into a scavenger of other cells' wastes; you're jolted yet again as the old sensitivity to oxygen rears seemingly out of nowhere. You're Engla. Latching on desperately to the Viking ravisher but working out a symbiant role, you emerge as Vikengla. Success again! You're still alive, still able to eat, still reproducing, meitotically. Tens, even hundreds, of thousands of years are flying by. The planet is awash with cell variety. Still the sea lashes and splashes about the planet, carrying its invisible admix in its watery cape. Another hunter appears – but this is a hunter of other cells – Kronos, the heterotrophic predator/gobbler. Your mind flashes out for a moment and you are a naked hairy ape man crushing the skull of some warm-blooded quadruped, anxious to tear into it with savage, hungry jaws.

Millennia are going by like days. Something new is afoot – sex! You are Sappho discovering the joys of meiotic reproduction. Suddenly, there is an explosion of life known as "genetic exchange." From here it's an all-out grab-bag and only some few more thousands of years until cells are specializing into multi-cellular microbial life forms. Soon, you are the "proto-animal" – Argos – no lover, no fighter, but a collective of both and more– you come on the scene, cells inter-functioning, sensing multiplicity within. Truly, we're on our way now.

Commercial: All this drama has taken place on a microscopic level. Visible creatures have not yet arrived. On a linear time frame, scientists say that our sun had taken perhaps a few billion years to organize itself. Cellular life, invisible to the naked eye (of course there were no eyes around then to see) took about 4 to 5 billion years. During this period the physiosphere – which includes the Gaian atmosphere and the great oceans – were forming. Dry land was slowly being pushed up; continent building activity continued. These vast dry expanses are devoid of organic life, soil and mud – sediment not yet come into existence, just rocky terrain and perhaps sand where the wave action has pulverized some rock.

Esoteric writings tell of the akashic record, another invisible repository wherein the drama of life plays out incessantly in time-freedom. We need only access it. Clock time does not exist here. All that has ever happened (and ever is and will be?) is contained in the akashic record. Ah, if only all historians had the ability to probe the depths of its interior cinematography! By shifting our consciousness into this psychic realm we can witness what has come before – we can "relive it," in a sense. That, Friends, is perhaps what we need to do to better acquaint ourselves with this Dream, this universe story. How might we become more like psychic space explorers to uncover a past that is still awaiting us? Is this only the province of science-fiction? Is it possible to probe the multi-dimensions of non-ordinary states of consciousness by certain techniques known especially to the mystics among us? I leave this inquiry open, Friends.

But this, I think, is why we need mystics in all fields, all occupations and professions, not the least of which is science. In fact, the world's greatest physicists – those whose lives have been dedicated to trying to sort out this material realm of matter – have all been mystics of one degree or another. (Wilber, 1985) They need not be considered confined to the spirito-religious. In this respect, Copernicus and Galileo, even Einstein, were a type of prophet. ...But let us return to our Dream...

You are evolution – mutation, random selection, primitive conscious choice – Spirit infused and immanent in matter, blindly groping toward expression in life-through-action, through interaction, through chaos. Life forms are infused with the primordial Me, and you are there. In the jellyfish, the worm, the trilobite with its exoskeleton – millions of species advancing, evolving or disappearing in blind evolutionary alleys – always subject to environmental changes. Glaciations devastating all, from time to time, but life – perhaps the eternal, archetypal forms having come into physical existence – remain somehow, persist in spite of every adversity, and spring back when conditions permit – my Essence inexorably pulsing in the Gaian soul. I am the arrow of time. My energy force is unstoppable. I permeate the intelligible universe – I am the intelligible universe, the cosmological mystery that proceeds unabated in and out of time, manifesting in space, deforming and reforming all and everything. You can feel me now in your core, in your body, your emotions, intellect and intuition. Your mind plays with me, as I play with your mind. In this universal playfulness, this seemingly paradoxical life – being and not-being – you are driven forward like the matter/anti-matter that cannot meet without unimagined violence, but which need each other for balance. You are Nature. You are driven by Nature. All difficulties are imbalances that seek and need harmony; the secret of life is in this harmony of Spirit in Matter, Matter in Spirit – yin and yang – the biological at the meeting ground of the physical and the ineffable. And throughout this dynamic interplay is arising a more complete, more harmonized Me – You.

And there you are, swimming in a water world or propelling yourself, squid-like, through this morass of alleviated gravity. Twisting, playing, competing for food, preying on one another – proving your adaptability, your flexible mutability – allying with other life forms for some mutually sensed advantage, or, that advantage arising spontaneously from just your own 'being' as you dimly perceive it to be best worked-out. This floating, osmosis, free-form beingness in a uterine pleroma, a water-encased uroboros, is your world; a sensing, a sensitivity to light and slight variances of temperature, a movement reaction to wave fluctuations, are your primeval consciousness. Your struggle to keep alive, to pro-create – these are embedded imperatives contained in your genetic material. And this geometric" recombinant naturalism, tuned to the ecology in which you churn, is the powerhouse of evolution. This bio-chemical blueprint is encoded within a give-and-take symbiosis in everything you do, in everything that enters and leaves you. Each new life that is spawned, that You spawn, is starting on a new adventure, but ratcheted-up infinitesimally. This is my power, Friends, this is the Glory of the Universe. And I am the Universe in the genetic code – that coded life force within You.

The air is now breathable and the sedimentation from organic thrashing, of living and processing, defecating, dying and re-depositing is mounting all the while, washing up on beaches and river banks. You are driven toward it. It is food. It is life. You are a fish, flopping at the extremities of your world, coming to feed at the banquet table where wave meets land. In the swampy netherworld of marsh, sediment too is changing, sensing, genetically adapting its structures toward new forms, sending out feelers, granualizing, as the life force inheres. Such is the self-formative individuating. a subjective projection onto oneself. And when a sufficient amount of this raw psychic energy inheres, then a phase change can occur. Evolution drives from within, affected from without and effecting all. This is the Gaian drama. The old implodes into the new, improved (perhaps) version of Yourself. Meta-changes manifest in new physical forms.

Embryonic larval secretions abound at the rim of life-exploding possibilities, bursting forth at the curving shore. There is a pushing, an advancing. Insects, without the heavy bulk of an exoskeleton, crawl and then take flight. You are exploring in another gravity-reduced environment, floating on a new, lighter stream of sun and air. You look back at the fish, and there you are, writhing after this new food – insects and seaweeds taking root. You are pushing, pulling yourself up, fighting this new feeling of downward heaviness. Yet you struggle forward, drawn on by instinctual urges of hunger and health and sexual impulse. Tiny protuberances emerge, genetically directed from your writhings, helping you to better your quest toward the land-locked banquet at the edge. Many are lost. You lay there in jitters and twitches of last life, life denied. But your dying adds to the sediments as you become the food you are seeking. What you sought is what you have now become.

The sun bakes on. The rain works incessantly, breaking down the rocks. The freezing and heating cycles also crush, in its incessant subtlety, all of the seemingly impermeable terrain before you. And you are these forces too. You are the wind that drives and rages in an electrical storm, cutting swaths through volcanic rock, stiffing up the waves that lap and tug at the shore. Metamorphic changes engulf you. Coursing rivers wear down this firmament too, sending detritus out to sea, adding, always adding to the sludge of creation as it swirls and deposits stacks of dissolved elements, mixing with decayed remnants of animal and plant life. Mud is born – muddy, muddy mud – and slime and goo and an unspeakable collage of putrefying flesh and bones that form the ever-growing Petri dish for new cultures to grope forth into the light. You are these elemental forces too, those same forces that made you at this dawning time.

From here on, our Dream is somewhat better known, and is a replay of the foregoing account but on a more "visible" scale: fish grow legs, "amphibianize" themselves, and come upon the land, as gymnosperm plants too encroach from the water boundaries onto land; over millennia some amphibians differentiate into reptiles, whose cold-blood is kept circulating by the warmth of the sun. Your deepest ancestral brain is traced back to the reptilian one; it exists today, contained in/extending out from the human brain stem, forming one of your "triune brains." You are still "reptilian" in this vestige you still carry (as well as "mammalian" and human).

As mammoth dinosaurs, one direction in which the reptiles have groped, we had our time for millions of years. This monster-like world was brought to a close, presumably from the impact of a meteor – but not until another little furry creature bounded out of ME. This small marsupial was the proto-You – probably a rat-like thing – the first mammal; a dirty, stinking, horrible rat!

Other theories abound too, such as the earth crust displacement theory (Hancock, 1994) and the better known continental drift theory – all of these cogitations appear to help us better understand this whole evolutionary trajectory of our Gaian heritage. – These theories, too – are You – emanating out of Supermind or the Oversoul perhaps.

More thoughts might be called for now, as we pause for another commercial: Like the creatures who grope blindly and often disastrously, as they "try out new forms," theories too often end up on the scrap heap of "false" or unfruitful paths. Yet the generating of new physical forms, like the formulation of new modes of thinking and theories-of-being-and-existence, creates diversity from which untold serendipitous events can emerge, including the spurring of more viable options. That is, thought and theory are a noospheric mirror of our physical evolution, and are at one and the same time brought into being because of it.

A further thought is that evolution should perhaps be better conceived of as "co-evolution." It has not been a straight, detached line of development, but rather a branching-out, inter-subjective development; all organic and inorganic life forms and processes impacting with one another in an exchange of interdependencies, an energy exchange – this same pulsing rhythmic sound wave that can yet be heard, even in our breath; the echo of the Big Bang (and maybe echoes of innumerable Big Bangs). We are this, and not-this. Forever paradoxical creatures? For now, at least, and by necessity – as we use language's limitations to convey The Dream.

After the dinosaurs, the world was a cold, dark, dungeon-of-a-place and you are scurrying about, as always foraging for food, weaning your young, and ever-vigilant against being eaten by some bigger You. Magically, in through the mists, from the fertile abundance of the land comes forth a yellowish, powdery cloud. You suddenly find that about your head is a crown of color. In the airy brightness, your pollen glistens on stamens; and magenta, pink, and crimson petals surround you. Flowers have come. Insects buzz and revel in your sweet fragrance. They alight and you kiss.

Look up! You are tree, a towering, vine-covered tree. Pine cones and spores now float all about in a new greening. On your toes that arch out from the trunk into the earth, fungus, mushrooms grow. Moss carpets scale off over the broken, rock-strewn terrain. while you stand, silent and still, as a mighty look-out among other tree giants.

The seas are off in the distance. A swelling... then a fountain spouts and you are a colossal streamlined creature of the deep. A whale, as free and as fearless as a mountain. In screechy underwater songs you commune with your fellows. They are miles away but are here instantly in their songlines. All are gushing and frolicking in a timeless peace.

Then a thundering is heard way off and a cloud rises skyward. It's so loud now it's deafening. Bison, like a wave, surge over the plains, trampling the sod and shaking the earth, even in the burrow where the groundhog you now crouches. Your litter nestles and squirms as you hunker over them to give them some calm, some warmth. Poking your head out as the rustling thunder recedes, the straw grass lays flattened and a calf in the distance bleats hideously as it's being torn apart by a canine pack. You scamper toward the darkness of underbrush to look for a meal. But before you can reach safety, a shadow claims you; razor-sharp talons tear into your neck. You're seized off the ground...

You're a bird of prey, feeling your muscles as they flap tremendous wings, taking you up, up toward your mountain perch. Your eagle eyes behold dimensions never before known to you. The wind blows through you, and out you're adrift now...bodiless, hovering over the planet. You can see the whole planet. A pod appears to your right – a space capsule. You notice a tether. Now you're looking out through the visor of your space helmet. You are astro-man, high-tech control man – a freak, dangling in space. Thoughts flood into you, one after another. They won't stop...

A fire is roaring. Aboriginals – and you are one among them – sit around staring into the fire. Liquid from the cup is passed around, and around again. Visions rise in the night. Dancing horses, lions, tigers and bears...bounce about. The last wave has come. Man, once a monkey, came down from the trees, built his structures and machines and killed most of Gaia. Here on this forgotten continent you relax with your mates – waiting. Maybe there will come nothing – eternal nothingness – maybe a tidal wave, a radioactive cloud. The plague took most, but didn't touch our tribe.

Oh, Man! Why do you ravage Me? How I long to be in the community of planet-brains, connected noospherically to other planets that have made it. You realized too late that You are Me – I am You. Recall when you lived in motherly bliss, alive in the female element of Me. Oh you foolish, foolish man! How was it that you made your ego your Self. Overinflated Ego – the Satan, my dark side, the Shadow. How did you become stuck there? Ice destroyed you at least twice – water destroyed you at least twice. Fires raged, but went away, burned themselves out. But the fire in your mind consumes you. You made a hell-on-Earth from which you may be suffering until you die.

Wise men came and left, imparting what they could, according to their special time and place and the language and culture of their birth. Did you not know that that was simply ME – coming time and time again? You worshipped them, instead of doing as I did, living as I live within You. And what once came as advice and wisdom remained as a hollow shell. The rituals that might have served as reconnection became empty and meaningless. But they served the social structure, an extension of your egos, this Mammon, and – hideously - YOU DID NOT KNOW IT!

Stand back from yourselves, Friends. Is this the outcome? – waiting for Valhalla? Hear the story, dream The Dream – your Dream, my Dream, the Dream of the Earth, of Gaia. The end of the world is a tragic end, even if it is only for a while – a good long while. Your eternal forms are still about. Maybe with persistence you'll have another go at Me. I long for you to join Me. The membership of true planets awaits. But you must make the effort, let go of your mental-rational ways, embrace the body, Gaia, and make science the steward, not your master.

Most of all, still yourselves and hear the story that rises up when you do. Step into the Dream. Re-find the harmony of the spheres – physio/bio/noo – talk to each other too as you would talk to a mountain or a forest, a deer or a blade of grass. Befriend the dolphin, who rides the interstellar cosmic stream. Return to your Essence, your roots – with the Gaia-friendly knowledge you have store-housed, that we have generated together, with less patri-centric, more indigenous modes of knowing. Use this as a template for returning to a normative relationship with our Gaia and the Universe. Start creating a planet friendly to all species; revive the inherent notion of the sacredness within us and in the world around us. Is it too late?

Yes, “I am who am, but ain't.” I could be, but You must embrace Me, the Me in You – which is the Me of Gaia. Listen to your body – to the body/mind.

Morris Berman's observations on "the body" (Berman, 1989) are strung together below to emphasize the crucial role it plays in our consciousness – in our need to re-find it and how to somatically articulate our expository presentations:

Regardless of what a person visibly presents to the world, they have a secret life, one that is grounded in their emotions, their bodily relationship to the world and to themselves... Academic discourses generally lack the power to shock, to move the reader; which is to say, they lack the power to teach. They fail to address the felt, visceral level of our being, and so possess an air of unreality. (110) …you will generally confront the problem of reading about things that somehow fail to resonate with what is most familiar to you, and what is that? In a word, your emotions, or more broadly. your "spiritual" and psychic life. These things are what real life is about; they reflect the things that matter the most to you, for they are experienced in the body. (108) “The essential truth,” writes Morris Berman, "was an interior one; to omit this was to give the reader, or listener, no significant information whatsoever, in the transition to modernity. This emphasis on interior knowing was severely attenuated." (111) ... The human drama is first and foremost a somatic one. (108) I think it is safe to say that we have penetrated down to the hidden, or invisible, layer of history here, and found, at the core of it – the human body... Coming to our senses means sorting this out once and for all. It also means becoming embodied. And the two ultimately amount to the same thing. (342)

So too does Sri Aurobindo, the yoga adept make this crucial point about us and our bodies: is the body that he must make his own foundation and the starting-point for his development of life and mind and spirit in the physical existence. That assumption of body we call birth, and in it only can take place here the development of self and the play of relations between the individual and the universal and all other individuals; in it only can there be the growth by the progressive development of our conscious being towards a supreme recovery of unity with God and with all in God: all the sum of what we call Life in the physical world is a progress of the soul and proceeds by birth into the body and has that for its fulcrum... (Aurobindo, 1987: 107)

Elements of the archaic and magical linger on within our consciousness in this modern era of the mythic/mental/rational. Even as some of us grasp at the next emerging structure – Jean Gebser's aperspectival/integral – we remain, for the most part, tangled in these consciousness holons that are more fundamental to those that are more complex. Regressions are not uncommon in our day – from magical thinking in New Age groups to mythic membership playing out in ultra-nationalist "Balkanizations" or within the unchecked zeal of fundamentalist religious groups.

Once again, the thread of our story can be taken up by Morris Berman. In Coming To Our Senses, Berman (1989) so neatly summarizes two 'bright spots' in our struggle against the pathos that has brought us to this mental/rational point in the history of consciousness, the extract is worth repeating here in its entirety:

The notion of a psychic revolution in the West, based on Eastern influences and a revaluation of the archetypal feminine, gets us to the heart of what I have been pursuing in this chapter on heresy as a secret, somatic "skeleton key," as it were, to the history of Western consciousness at large. It amounts to a breakthrough in interiority, an overturning of previous "masculine" mentalite at certain nodal points in our political history; and it is the immediate political context that shaped, in each case, what happened to the immense psychic energy that got released. In the case of our Greek model, it had (in my view) an unfortunate ending: amidst the rich diversity of Greek philosophy and shamanism, Jewish ethics and magic, and Oriental Gnostic practices that made the world of the Mediterranean basin so exciting and heterogeneous, one system managed to triumph. Christianity was victorious over its competitors, including the Roman Empire, only to become a Roman Empire of the mind for the next several hundred years. When the next challenge to it arose, it could only respond as a political monolith, repressing the opposition and/or co-opting it by means of the Cult of the Virgin Mary... The French model [Cathars, known more commonly in history as the Albigensians] has as a major characteristic the creation of unintended side-effects that are still with us today: the rise of the nation-state; the final canonization of dualistic thinking, which is ultimately simplistic; the legitimizing of investigation into "thought crime," and the administrative persecution (to varying degrees); the unexpected channeling of the gnostic impulse of moving toward union with God into the love of another human being as a secular/ecstatic experience. Both romantic love and mind control get institutionalized as a result of the Church's repression and co-optation of the Cathars. This process of a rebellious heresy actually playing into the hands of the powers that be is what I take to be the central feature of the French model, and it is certainly one capable of being repeated today. (214-215)

Jean Gebser's Ever-Present Origin (1985) is as dense and rich as a Claxton fruitcake. This seminal work on consciousness studies chronicles the evolutionary development of humanity with such skill and artistry it staggers the mind. Gebser's thesis is here presented, taken from his chapter on The Irruption of Time, under the subtitle, The Awakening of Consciousness of Freedom from Time. In it is his projection of where consciousness is headed – out of an “already obsolete three-dimensional dualistic-materialistic world conception" (288) to an aperspectival integrated structure ("[t]he whole [that] can be perceived only aperspectivally.") (289) in which we plumb the fourth-dimensional depths of time; an understanding that I interpret as a "conscious" re-immersion in the Essence – our genetic heritage and our future:

It is from origin, which is not bound to time, that all time forms constituting us have mutated. Origin lies "before" all timelessness, temporicity, and time. Wherever man becomes conscious of the pre-given, pre-conscious, originary pre-timelessness, he is in the time-freedom, consciously recovering its presence. Where this is accomplished, origin and the present are integrated by the intensified consciousness. The irruption of time into our consciousness is the first indication, the initial motif of the consciousness mutation that is today acute. This mutation will bear its fruits of transforming the world if we succeed in superseding the irruption of time; but that is tantamount to what we have called the presentiation of origin, which can be achieved only by the successful achievement of the main task posed by the new mutation: the coming of consciousness of time-freedom, the achronon. (Gebser, 1985: 289)

The last word is the word of Gaia, which is no word at all – just pure beingness in and of its Self: Us – You and Me. We are all together looking back into, while again looking forward to, our Garden of Eden, our dear Origene.

June, 1999/ San Francisco BIBLIOGRAPHY Sri Aurobindo, The Essential Aurobindo (McDermott, R., Ed.) Hudson NY: Lindisfarne Press, 1987) Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine (Pondicherry, India: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1985) Morris Berman, Coming To Our Senses; Body and Spirit in the Hidden History of the West (Seattle, WA: Seattle Writer’s Guild, 1989) Jean Gebser, The Ever-Present Origin (Ohio University Press: Athens, Ohio, Eng. trans., 1985 (orig. pub. 1949 and 1953)) Graham Hancock, Footprints of the Gods (1994) Ken Wilber, Sex, Ecology, and Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1995) Ken Wilber, Quantum Questions: The Mystical Writings of the World's Greatest Physicists (1985)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


The coffin parked under the canopy was the center of the crowd's quiet curiosity. Hermann had always been misunderstood but well-liked. Now, the officiating over his final repose would begin. The friar's face was sunken and pale. His emaciated appearance contrasted sharply with the plump and well-fed stuffed suits from the funeral parlor standing by their hearse in the background. Finally, he began. With slow movements, my good friend from college days, the friar, circled me with douses of holy water.

It was a respectable gathering of interesting folks from many walks of life. I was touched that just about everyone I had expected, and then some, were present at my farewell. A few were even crying. Maybe I wasn't such a louse after all. Maybe it had been a better life than I'd realized. The big turn-out was due, no doubt, to my untimely and bizarre end.

I brought the binoculars down from my eyes for a moment. From my forest lair I had the unique privilege of witnessing my own funeral. But it wasn't the joke that that I had imagined it would be - reality seldom does align with preconceived notions. That's what led me to this charade in the first place, I thought, a bit bleary-eyed on my own behalf.

Picking up my glasses again I surveyed the throng. There was my aged father. He looked grim, and little bewildered. My poor Aunt Jan was sobbing. Poor Jan. It was an awful sight. Well, at least I kept up that life insurance policy I took out five years ago and they would each get half of the $100,000 payout. That should more than satisfy my debts to them. There was some consolation anyway.

My brothers and sisters were huddled together, the married ones with their spouses. I'll miss them and their misguided but perhaps well-intentioned attitudes toward me. Ha! Just think of it - I'll never have to parse words with them again; that never did get any of us anywhere anyway. Maybe now that I'm gone they'll begin to appreciate me.

A sprinkling of cousins stood by respectfully. And there were some of my friends too. Good old Pete - my best friend - was there with wife and kids. I'll sure miss sitting around with you, drinking and raging at the world. The same goes for you, Donny, you big-hearted wild man; I'm sorry I won't be there to be godfather for your daughter. I wasn't much good at the job anyway.

Even an old girlfriend or two remembered me. There she was, Annie. I thought she and I would never part. My old dollhead - don't cry poor dollhead. I was just a curiosity to you, really; you were a shooting star crossing my path for some wonderful moments that were long behind us years before we decided to part ways. Try not to look so sad, Rachel. You loved to belittle me when you had me. There will be others to oblige you. And look at that big heart of flowers sent from that rascally European art princess, Arieta-Mariane. For her to get the news way over in France there must have been some pretty efficient orchestration by some loved one. I was truly touched, in a morbidly nauseous way.

It was sad. In fact, I'd have to say this was probably the saddest funeral of my life. And I would find that I would be mourning the loss of these family and friends for the rest of my life.

The ceremony was finished now and the crowd slowly dispersed. I laid back on the soft cushion of pine needles. Closing my eyes, I let my mind wander back, letting my "life pass in front of me," so to speak.

It had all begun in high school with a reading of Huckleberry Finn. The teacher had kept harping on the fact that this was the great American novel and did any of us know why. There were lots of responses from students - "it showed the drama of forging into the Western frontier," "Huck's friendship with Jim, a runaway black slave, exemplified the melting pot that was fueled by mutual aspirations," etc., etc. I disagreed. Oh, it had these themes running through it, I guess. But I knew the real answer and I wasn't about to share it.

My secret discovery would remain inside my locked mind ever since. Yes indeed. If anyone understood what America was all about it was me. If anyone understood the message of the book - it was me. The critical passage was where Huck staged a crime, a mishap, his ultimate misfortune down by the river with a little animal blood sprinkled over some of his belongings - he faked his own death, then set out on a brand new adventure; he destroyed his former self, then, recreating himself, he struck out for "the Promised Land" with a confederate.

That was what America was all about at its founding. It was about brave men who left the old world, men who would forsake the dust of their forefathers for a new world built on the reasoned principles of democracy. Spurred on by the passion of the so-called "Enlightenment," the Founding Fathers sought to recreate themselves within a bold new conception of the world, under God, with liberty and was a simple idea, really, to die to the world in order to be reborn to it anew. Like the renunciate who enters the monastery, I was now ready myself. Like Castro's never-ending Cuban revolution, if necessary I was also prepared to keep tearing myself down and building myself up again for the remainder of my life.

I could blame the rottenness of society for steering me in all the wrong directions, for letting me churn and idle while my life went to seed. It certainly was true - society was rotten. And my life had come to an inauspicious place. I was an anonymous merchant of unwanted information; a forgotten repository of others' hopes for me.

The American dream was now deluded and farcical. Like all grand dreams it remains only as grand as the constancy of the dreamers who illuminate them by action. Now, I, Hermann, have removed myself from you great American visionless masses. My rebirth is a solitary undertaking. It is a quest which is to be borne by me in my dissociative love for your lost vision.

I had "outdid" Huck. I had no confederate, no confidant - at least not anymore. I had only myself. And the whole world was my Mississippi. By myself, unaided and unknown to anyone, I had hatched my general plan for going underground about six years back.

It was then that I had started my research, trying to figure just how I could work out the details. I had no idea how to get around that little problem of a DNA match-up. Other than this, the hardest part seemed to be how to find a headless, handless corpse with type A positive blood. But for my DNA, fingerprints, face, teeth and blood, nothing else would positively identify me. I had no scars or tattoos on the rest of my body. My "death" had to convince the authorities, as well as those who knew me, that I was indeed dead; that it was really Hermann's cadaver laying there on the slab before them. Of course it would have been much easier, and perhaps safer in the long run, to construct a death scenario with no corpus delecti, as Huck did. But I wanted to fool the world, and especially the insurance company, so that my death was immediately established as a definitive fact.

I began my research in the library, looking though murder mysteries. Surely, I thought, someone, somewhere had cooked up a clever scheme. It would save me loads of time and trouble if only I could find some foolproof scam. But I found nothing. The more I labored over the books, the more elusive it seemed.

Then a breakthrough occurred. It was after about one year of searching, that I took out that life insurance policy - I was that convinced that my plan would succeed. Besides, it would take that long to arranged things...and wait. You see, by an extreme turn of luck, I had met a very special man. He turned out to be someone in the very line of work that could hold the key to my salvation.

One dull evening, after a fruitless session at the library, I stopped into the corner tavern for a drink. I took a booth next to two gentlemen, one of whom seemed rather unhinged. He was speaking - or weeping - in quite serious tones. I was a bit bored and my mind was quickly distracted and drawn into their conversation. As I eavesdropped, I learned that this serious-sounding man was a coroner's assistant who had just discovered he had a terminal case of cancer.

At that instant, a vague intuitive idea began to take shape in my head. I invented some excuse and managed to join the two men at their table. Before the night was through, I had managed to befriend the coroner's assistant. His name was Chester. At about the same time each night thereafter I stopped at the tavern hoping that Chester might drop in again. Finally, after three days, Chaster came walking in all by himself. At once I pounced on this once-in-a-lifetime chance, and joined him.

Well, to make a long story short, for the first time in my life I took someone into my confidence. After I told Chester about my quest, he looked at me intently for a few long seconds. Then he drew close to me, and, in a very low voice, said, "I know how you can do it." I thought my heart would jump onto the table and hop into my beer. "How?" I yelped. In a whisper, he explained. I sat there motionless, enthralled.

That evening, I went home and waited for him to die. For his secret knowledge would die along with him, and with his death, his connection to me. I suspected that there might be a whole underground railroad, of sorts, out there that knew about this cabalistic method. I began wondering if there might be a whole army out there, somewhere, waiting for others to join them - led there by some unknowable source. In fact, I uncovered some startling shreds of evidence to this effect.

It took Chester five years to die. I'll go to my grave with this secret knowledge that came to me through pure serendipity. Until then, I'll remain a nameless, faceless one with an airline ticket and a phony passport, going to a faraway land. Perhaps I would be picked-up by these "others," if indeed they existed at all. But, until and unless they find me, for now I was quietly on my way.

There was a fresh mound of dirt down below. The grave diggers were walking away. I left my lair to seed the world.
1994/ Queenstown, MD