My anxiety level is so high I would gladly take up a monk or hermit’s life if it would mean reducing stress to approaching zero. I feel I should be in a "neurotics’ anonymous" group.
14 JUN 72 - Had a dream last night in which I seem to be in India. Several of us must stay in a place where there is no food and there are many other privations. Finally some of us set off in desperation, in search of food and protection. We progress across a huge equilateral triangle, a perfect geometric figure laid out on the earth’s surface. Each arm of the triangle is scores of miles in length. After many days we arrive at a walled fortress city. Our little group, too small and near death to pose a threat, is taken in and restored to good health by the kindness and compassion of the city leaders. This is all the more remarkably humane because it is a time of general famine. Rumors are rife that the fortress is about to be attacked by starving hordes who have learned of the food that remains here. Yet even here the food is far from plentiful and does not come easily. Our little band is given work in the food processing. A kind of algae-cheese is gathered in caterpillar-like bits from the cords of fine nets and stored for drying. One of the city leaders begins to pointedly tease our group, suggesting, jokingly, that we show our gratitude by fighting, when the time comes, at the city gates. Already the masses can be seen off in the distance. Each morning their numbers have grown and they have come closer. Now, as he makes this joking suggestion that we fight at the gates, they all but ring the city in a noisy throng of hundreds thousands, that extends outward for miles toward the distant horizons, except for a large lake that stretches up to one corner of our city sanctuary. It is perfectly clear that whomever defends the gates when that crowd inevitably attacks will die in short order. Indeed, the days or even the hours of even this great city are now numbered. Walled though it is, it will not long survive a siege, much less a determined attack. But one in our group at once decides it is indeed our duty to defend the most dangerous positions. As once more the desperateness of our situation descends upon me, I realize the utter folly not merely of such a gesture on our part but even of defending the city at all. And as quickly as this consciousness comes, I am thrilled with a new thought so startling I blurt it out aloud, first quietly and then, in dawning confidence, in great enthusiastic shouts that gradually are heard and taken up by those around me, until at last it seems the whole vast city populace is shaking the walls of the city with the thundrous volume of their united voices: "We’ll cross the water and take the food! WE’LL CROSS THE WATER AND TAKE THE FOOD! CROSS THE WATER! TAKE THE FOOD!" Someone urges me to go and tell the city leaders. They hurriedly usher me up to a high room where these solemn men and women are conferring behind closed doors on what strategies to employ in the final hours as the enemy comes. They are tall, dark, intelligent, splendid men and women, garbed, as are all the citizens here, in long, flowing, white robes. Suddenly I find myself before them and they, astonished at the interruption, are all staring at me, waiting expectantly. Behind, the entire city waits as well, hushed. In a barely audible voice and with eyes downcast, I begin to explain my idea, how during the night we might all leave quietly across the adjoining lake, taking the food with us, leaving behind only a token force till the last when, if luck held, they too might escape upon the water. In a moment of utter intensity following this suggestion, while the city’s leaders are considering it, I awaken.
15 JUN 72 - Fantastic sunset after heavy evening downpour! Banks of clouds of many bright hues surrounding deep, deep space blue. And, through this opening, nearly white light penetrating with so much force and contrast it seems like a living being. All the while, off to one side, lightning flashes and crackles, writhing like a hissing dragon caught in a huge, dark, boiling cloud.
Wrote and mailed a letter to Harry today describing my current situation and my intention either to go to Los Angeles and become a student of Zazen or to commit myself here to The Lifestream Way (L.W.), after this summer. I asked what he would advise and told him a little something about L.W.
It is now 216 days of no drinking alone!
It occurs to me that the hardest thing we ever have to face is our own self. Or you could call it the mind, in its most inflexible aspect, in its lowest vibrations. Whatever we call it, it is the essence of inertia, is false, and, at times, may seem like the devil himself!
17 JUN 72 - Weird dreaming the last couple of nights. Hell of a lot of stuff there I think!
The rains keep coming. Six inches yesterday! Getting farther and farther behind once again. I have been near nausea or even actually throwing up over the last couple of days. Lizzie and I are both sick.
In one of the dreams last night, I am in training in how to make it with women! (The lab is "too much!") In addition, there is a hospital ward in which many complexities and subtleties are in interplay, among which is the tragedy of an infant just born which was not yet "actual" because not officially acknowledged, with no birth certificate filled out, left in absolute limbo. Also, there are diseased patients whose illnesses are completely self-induced and who are now awaiting certain death simply because, through their beliefs, they unwittingly, unintentionally, make themselves highly susceptible to the terminal illnesses of which they are now the victims! The illnesses themselves, wild, cancerous growths, failing heart muscles, virulent viruses, etc., are their own unconscious creations, just as surely their own doing as if they had deliberately injected themselves with the plague!
18 JUN 72 - "Any attempt to change is bound to end in failure. A counterforce is created. Like when you stare at red and then close your eyes, you see the green that comes afterwards." Fritz Perls
My edger broke down completely this morning. Still, I’m hopeful of getting caught up, both on the yards and in my coursework, in three or four days.
A tape from Ralph arrived this morning. He will be here Thursday. I expect to attend an association this coming Sunday at Joseph's home. Unfortunately, I am still very, very skeptical about this L.W. philosophy, all the more so as I read or hear what its dogmatic believers have to say about it. But perhaps not all of its followers must speak of it in narrow absolutes, that exclude from consideration all views but their own, even bending the rules of logic and evidence to make their biased cases.
How did this begin? How will it end? Our consciousness, being severely constricted now, we must limit the scope of our research and arbitrarily cut off our quest, and, indeed, even our memories and imaginations, at the traditional traumas of birth and death of the admittedly finite body. Thus reduced, we again subdivide our unit of study until we are looking with less than one eye open at a narrow band of time and space within the allotted three score and ten, and bind our being in our dead exterior, our tight fitting garments of skin.
(Read My Dear Ones by Neill and Lowe.)
21 JUN 72 - Am bent out of shape trying to get this week’s work done and stay on top of my studies. Each day, I feel more exhausted. I get home dead tired and practically fall asleep over my books. The heat is the big problem. I had not figured on how much it would take out of me. But, also, I am just scared about my course. In almost no time, I have gotten way behind and now have a big exam coming up in two days. Unfortunately, all the anxiety is making it almost impossible to study well.
Around my friends I verbalize my fantasies quite a bit. Thus, while selecting food for dinner the night with Ricky and Mona, I suggested fried watermelon! Everyone laughed. Ha, ha! The incident was forgotten, I thought. Tonight the three of them showed up, along with Richard, one of Denise’s beaux, bearing a platter-full of---what else?---silver-dollar sized, batter-covered, delicious, fried watermelon wafers!---A little frightening, though, to have one’s most frivolous fantasies materialize in the real world!
22 JUN 72 - My life is going like a clock that is barely ticking but has not been wound in a long time. I keep on functioning; but it is only just that. I find no satisfaction, let alone joy, in any of it. When I tried to kill myself in ’66, Harry told me that, even if I did not feel any responsibility toward myself, I should be concerned about the effect of my suicide on others. He said, if I felt like it again, I might turn to him first, so long as I was still under his care or living near him. He added, not unkindly and with the intended effect, that had I succeeded it would have been regarded as a bad reflection on him. Well, at this point I am not anywhere nearby; and certainly I am no longer in his care. Perhaps this time...
23 JUN 72 - Maggie is still sick. She spit up on the rug. Nice stain. Poor kitty!
Today I suggested to Al that he might start looking for other work, as I want to get out of the yard business. I got the repaired edger back this afternoon. Almost at once, one of my mowers went out.
I’ve been growing a beard but now it has to go. It is hot, itchy, and an obstacle to my finding new work.
26 JUN 72 - Received a note from Harry today. Full of surprises. He refers to my idea of going out to California again, even for the L. A. Zen Center, as "dropping out." He suggests that if I can continue my studies and make a living here, then I ought to stay. He even adds that I would do well to wait to decide what to do next until after I am "proficient in the Lifestream Way" Wow! What a switch from what I had expected him to say! And now that I think of it, I realize he is quite right, on all points. So, it seems that, after all, I am to be here for awhile. Also, apparently this will mean a sharp break with my old lifestyle. I intend now to start attending associations regularly and to commence the strict moral regimen and vegetarianism which L.W. involves.
It has just occurred to me that this commitment to L.W. must be total. Thus, for instance, if necessary, I must be willing to travel to other places, adopt heretofore unacceptable lines of work or study, and even make my choice of mate or continued "bachelorhood" subservient to my primary allegiance to L.W., to whatever will promote my progress on this path. Only thus will it be more than just another "trip," diversion, or fad. Otherwise, it can be of no real help in my quest to achieve my highest self.
28 JUN 72 - Attended my first association tonight. Most of my reactions were quite favorable.
2 JUL 72 - Went to my second association tonight, an informal gathering at Bonnie’s. I read awhile from L.W. literature while folks were still socializing and then we all listened to a tape of the Maharaji. We talked a little more. Everyone joined in a vegetarian pot-luck supper.
Marching can be seen as just a stately dance, a two-step. It’s all in your point of view.
Sexual tension often intense. Fine fantasies of phantom females!
I have been meditating on my own, using a repetition of "Sat Guru." (The term means a Master, Maharaji, or Spiritual Teacher who has attained the True or Imperishable Region, the Fifth Spiritual Domain, presided over by Sat Purush, the True Lord, God.) I am finding that I am a little frightened to be meditating without yet having any teacher or guru of my own. I wonder if I might just "flip out," lose my identity, or go out of my body and not be able to return. How, for instance, might I react to something so simple as a disembodied howl of malevolent laughter directed at me from inner "regions" of consciousness? A few of the images that have already arisen, during a few minutes’ meditation at a time, have been somewhat distressing.
3 JUL 72 - He was a whimsical, capricious man who went to Ziegfeld for his follies.
Continuing with meditation on "Sat Guru."
It occurs to me it is not necessary to adhere to any formal doctrine or ontological system in order to become a practicing mystic. All that is required is that one follow a particular method given to him by an advanced student of mysticism and that one believe, simply as a working hypothesis, that by following the path's instructions he may attain inner proofs of the merits of mysticism and of the specific method he is using. It helps if one has trust in and affection for one’s teacher or benefactor. But even if this is lacking, one’s life will gradually be altered for the better by his practice and, in time, he will come to feel in part the value of the gift he has received, will discover a great gratitude springing up within himself, and will be the more eager, for the sake of his benefactor, to make full use of what he has been taught.
As I am continuing my meditation, I am having more vivid memories of things I have not recalled for years, like climbing the cliffs and swimming in the swimming holes along the stream that goes through my family’s property.
Today I drove out to the old homestead and dumped a load of grass clippings in the field for the goats. If the animals won’t eat them, at least they will make good fertilizer. I picked up my brothers Ron and Ralph, and Ralph's friend, Luke; and we all went on an afternoon swimming and canoeing jaunt. One of the canoes tipped over out on the lake. It was pretty funny to see Ron and Luke momentarily sitting in mid-air before plopping into the water. Once they had gotten back into their boat, they found the paddling nearly impossible, since it was full of water. But they held up their thumbs, as if hitch-hiking, and, to our surprise, soon a motorized craft had thrown them a line and towed them over toward shore, where they were able to empty out the swamped boat and continue the long paddle back to the docks. It had not seemed nearly so far on the way out. Once in the vicinity of the boat landing, we were just in time to see a pickup truck rolling backwards, after its boat trailer, into the water where it floated for a surprisingly long time. Its owner climbed out and onto the hood and tried to make a joke of his embarrassing predicament: "I figured those brakes might be ready to give out!" Our outing had several high points despite how this sounds. During one of our breaks, in a little lagoon, I told Ralph, without mentioning my recent letter from Harry, that if I ever really accepted the L.W., I would have to try to give it my complete commitment. Back at our folks’ place, where Ralph is staying for awhile, I borrowed several of his L.W. books. Later, he, Luke, and my brother Allen went with me to the association meeting at Joseph’s home. I have decided to work on becoming "proficient" in the L.W., at least till I have enough "bread" to try out other methods toward metanoia, toward higher, or altered, consciousness states, toward a positive transformation.
4 JUL 72 - Independence Day. Exactly a year ago today Ralph left, with his friend Luke, on an independence trip to a beautiful, idyllic valley on one of the Hawaiian Islands, where he lived through the summer in a river cave near the sea, and then decided to become a follower of this philosophy of L.W., his friend having already become a disciple of the L.W. Maharaji a few months earlier. In a roundabout way, this decision led to Ralph's joining the Air Force and, once in the service, to his returning now to this state, to complete some of his training and then perform duties in a temporary assignment, about three hundred miles from here. He has not yet been initiated into this philosophy, as he is not old enough. But he is trying to live according to the L.W. principles anyway, in fact perhaps doing so more ardently than is true of many who have already received their initiation instructions. Thus now we find ourselves going to associations together. Such twists of fate! A year ago, one reason for his leaving had been to avoid the draft. Another had been to make the break with the family. Lo and behold, the island selected turned out to be one which our father was helping to develop, indirectly, through his stocks. Later, on hearing where Ralph had gone, our father brought out one of his investment brochures and showed me pictures of the place, saying, condescendingly: "I thought he might have gone somewhere like that. Here are some pictures of the island where your brother is staying. I’m one of the people developing that island!"
Once in the Air Force, Ralph took the usual battery of tests and was found to be quite intelligent. They assigned him to the Security Service, where he studied from the manual our father had compiled and edited! His classmates joked about it, called him "the colonel."
Another irony is that, a year ago, while he was my roommate, I was into Zazen and tried to get him to take up meditation. But he would have none of it and did not want to even look at my books on the subject. Well, I guess the time was not right. I definitely was not the right person to be his mentor. Now, here I am seriously considering taking up the form of meditation he’s into and borrowing books from him.
I am as keyed up and upset as a cork on a storm-tossed sea or as a hand on a sailing ship, caught in a monsoon without compass, sextant, sail, chart, log, rudder, or anchor, and with no other vessel in sight.
I try to meditate but am so restless I get up after just about five minutes. Everything is up in the air for me now. I am awaiting "decisions" that seem out of my hands. Big statistics exam tomorrow.
Later. Well, I am throwing in the towel. I’ve had enough. Tomorrow morning I shall withdraw from my courses. I have just gotten too far behind. Also, I continue to be too exhausted each night to study properly. So, for now at least, I must make do with the degree I already have in history. Obviously, it will be quite awhile now before I can go on for a doctorate in clinical psychology!
8 JUL 72 - Was over to Denise and her mother’s place for supper, with three other guests. This was really bizarre. Just recently I have decided, of course, to live up to the L.W. principles, including no sex out of wedlock, no alcohol or other drugs, and no meat. But now I find myself at a party where I am offered booze, pot, pot-roast, and hostess humping! I refrained from all of them, but not easily. I played cynic. I played clown. I played detached intellectual. I was miserable the whole evening. Left feeling titillated, frustrated, sad, tired, and lonely.
The Democratic presidential primary circus will begin shortly. Should be a good show!
10 JUL 72 - What a delightful performance! Where else in the entire world can you find such a fantastic array of people, ceremonies, points of view, and sheer buffoonery as we find here in our 1972 Democratic National Convention? Whatever the outcome, and does it really matter, this is a marvelous spectacle, an amazing phenomenon!
McGovern has just gotten back the votes "taken" from him in California and seems now sure to be the person who will be facing Nixon in November. Hallelujah! While I suspect he has no chance of winning, he has, I believe, helped inject a heaping helping of health into the American political scene.
For the sake of stability, if for no other, better reasons, I should now try to stay with L.W., for at least long enough to give it a real chance. I must try to be really dedicated. Who knows? Maybe some good will really come of it.