Upon this canvas, with gentle brush strokes, I was painted into being. Who knows how? Who knows why? My life for a tender, fleeting smile Iíd trade in two seconds. This world and all that glitters, the tinsel and the baubles, with all the mystery and magic withall, are not more than a very vivid dream, from which Iíve not yet wakened and so must sojourn for yet awhile within, before the dawning of the day.
I was born they say one day in a place called "Tampa" in Florida, for those who are stuck on names of places, at a time very near the middle of that minor epoch called "The Second World War," by those who regarded it as very like a signal event in human history, or the unleashed fury and destructive righteousness of the Voice of God imprinted upon the mind of man. Surely thereafter we would never be the same. The curtain had been rent. With the rolling of drums and the crashing of thunder, we poor idiots were thrust willy-nilly into the modern age. God help us all! It was then I was born, in the midst of this, as flesh fought flesh through air and land and sea, until a mighty, boiling river of livid blood poured hotly upon the breast of Mother Earth and splattered itself onto every shuddered limb and carted away over the precipice the mangled, twisted hulks of a thousand, thousand machines of war. I was born on an Army post, in an Army hospital built by Army engineers upon an island of our garbage and effluent spewed out upon the blue ocean by the citizens of civilization who lived there in the city of Tampa and the state of Florida, of the chosen nation, the greatest, most beautiful, for spacious skies, divinely wrought and right, most powerful, and manifestly destined to be successful country ever to bejewel this most favored of pearly worlds in the Eye of God, The United States of America! Hallelujah!
We were a nation of children. No blame. In that same year LSD was discovered and frantic preparations were finalized for the timely completion of the atomic bomb. God help us all! Surely thereafter we would never be the same. We are children no longer it seems.
Church and school their catechisms impart. "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." "I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree." Innocence. Simplicity. But the Lord can wait and trees can be hewn down, sawed up, and made into lumber and paper pulp and used in the never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way! God help us all!
I was born then, they say, in latter October, a Scorpio. What went before they do not know. But deep within I do, though not today, with these words, can I convey that knowing. There are those, though, who knew me then, they say. One walked with me in Italy. Another I was close to in olí Virginie when we "darkies" picked cotton for "dear olí massa." And there is One Who knew me far, far beyond then, back into the earliest of realms of temporality. But He does not speak of such things in this or even the next level of being, and with good reason. Oneself is not, after all, a very pretty thing. Our vision is clouded to preserve within an illusion of sanity the poverty of our being, to protect our puppet lives from the sheer horror of our heritage from our past selves.
Who knows how or why we were painted into being? But now most of our energy we spend in forgetting. And the rest we dissipate in tinsel and baubles, in a million kinds of lascivious obsessions.
What, then, can I say, do I know, within this dream of being awake? A few trifles, no more. A personal history, quite prosaic and mundane, it seems, except for those things left unsaid, that point to worlds beyond this realm of knowing, realms of being beyond this world of "reason," regions of light beyond this sunís shining, heavens of bliss beyond this heartís ecstasy.
We moved about a good bit when I was young: Florida; Texas; Washington, D.C.; Georgia; New Jersey; Virginia; Nebraska; Texas; Washington State; New York; Virginia; Texas. My youth came to an end. But still I moved often, in search of myself, as they say: Texas, Mexico, Louisiana, California, Canada, Texas. And still today I long to be moving on. Where next? Who knows?
I have sampled a few trades and avocations along the way, trying my hand, trying my mind, trying my heart, finding no home. I have shed labels and identities like snakes their skins or trees their leaves: janitor, student, drop-out, atheist, church leader, alcoholic, teacher, draft counselor, protester, National Guardsman, teetotaler, conscientious objector, dabbler in drugs, disciple, rebel (with or without a cause), dutiful son, missionary, writer, labor organizer, restaurant manager, dishwasher, shop steward, straight among hippies, hippie among straights, bookstore clerk, soap smeller and toothpaste taster, mail sorter, warehouseman, book buyer, mail order clerk, shipping clerk, ranch hand, ward attendant, thief, yards man, attempted suicide, medical corpsman, model citizen, recluse, psychiatric orderly, lover, attempted mystic, psychiatric patient, insurance inspector, coffee house crew foreman, actor, tutor, dormitory assistant manager, movie addict, gardener, babysitter. The answer was...not there.
Iím getting older now. The distinctions of childhood seem much less crucial. I was the oldest of eight children. Two influences dominated our young lives.
The one was strict, judgmental, arbitrary, yet quietly loving, self-righteously perfectionist and cut off from so much that it always seemed missing something vital, as if blind or deaf. For the most part, it made our early years a dreary kind of hell.
The other, gayer, more openly, yet conditionally loving, also arbitrary, creative, prudish, social, superficial, devoted to its grievances and to living through we children, was, in its way, as we saw things then (knowing as little as children of the grays of existence, only the starkly separated blacks and whites), the more pathetic of the two. We were drawn to it for its attempts at cheerfulness and affection and hated it for its cultivated, fearful shallowness and for never really standing up to the abuses of the other.
All in all, these proved satisfactory influences. We love them more as we grow older. We grow less self-righteous ourselves, more tolerant. And they do not remain unchanged, but live and grow on their own, becoming more mellow, deeper, more genuine, more loving and more lovable. Finally, we discover that we are all just children, caught in this crazy dream of a puppet show called "life."
Interesting quotes from an introduction to The Bhagavad Gita, from an edition translated by Swami Nikhilananda, published in 1952 by Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center:
p. 3 "...for manís relationship with Ultimate Reality is relative to his conception of himself."
p. 14 "Action becomes, for a spiritual aspirant, a dharma, or means of Self-knowledge, only when he performs it in a spirit of detachment, knowing that God alone is the Doer and man his instrument."
p. 18 "Any discussion of the Absolute or attempt to understand it through the dialectics of the relative world will bristle with contradiction."
Worked on my truck and determined it mainly just needs a new carburetor. Took it in to be fixed. Then, got it back. Itís a new vehicle! Itís been reborn!
Went to association tonight at Bonnieís. I want to spend the time between now and my L. W. initiation concentrating on things to take me closer to God. If I do this all the time, or at least whenever not mentally busy with something else, such concentration should become a natural part of me, even subconsciously, even in my dreams.
15 JUL 72 - Have decided to seek new employment. Also am thinking now that I shall hold off on applying for Lifestream Way initiation until I am sure I really want and feel ready for it. For this, it seems, I must overcome much pride and doubt. "The light of dawn breaks forth when the ego dies; then the tide of goodwill for all fills the heart." Guru Nanak"The Supreme Self abideth near to thee
16 JUL 72 - Went to the association meeting at Joseph's home again today. Feeling very mixed feelings about L. W. now, emotionally drawn to it with a part of myself, yet intellectually distressed by it with another part! Well, did I not say I could do no better for now, for whatever reasons, than to stick with this? If nothing else, it may be at a most healthy cost to my ego.
Meditated from 7:40-9:00 this evening, concentrating on "Radha Soami." (The term "Radha Soami" may be used as a greeting or salutation, and, as used this way, may be loosely translated "The divine in me greets the divine in you." "Radha" means soul. "Soami" means Lord. Combined, their deeper meaning is "Lord of the Soul," or a name for the Supreme Being.)
17 JUL 72 - Meditated for four hours today. I have decided I can just meditate on my own. There seems to be no reason to get initiated and become a follower of the Lifestream Way. I think people can probably achieve the same things without all this extra Eastern baggage.
18 JUL 72 - Shaved off the beard today and went off the wagon again and also returned to eating meat. I shall go my own way in this quest of my highest self. I shall no longer limit myself to the philosophy of the Lifestream Way. I intend even to use drugs in my pursuit, if it seems this may be done safely.
During meditation I have noticed a few strange sensations, such as, with eyes closed, seeing rotating patterns of light, like the blades of a windmill, and a figure, gradually growing more distinct, on the other side of the moving blades. It was as though another me stood there in a room into which I could look, through this "fan." The blades then began to revolve just over my head; and my body felt more and more fluid and seemed to be drawn slowly off to the right, as if it were very elastic. The sensation persisted for several minutes before fading.
The mind wants everything to be quick and easy. But all the literature on meditation indicates this is not how this game goes. I am surprised to discover a desire to stay with L. W. after all. Yet my feelings are far from reliable or stable and thus are no basis for decision or action.
I have received a tentative offer of a job as ward attendant at the Austin State School for the mentally retarded. After all my work in the yards business, I am averaging only $1.75 an hour, once my overhead is factored in. And there are no benefits, like insurance, eventual retirement, etc. Al, my brother-in-law and single employee, is doing better than I am and with lots fewer things to worry about. Maybe I can convince him to switch from employee to owner!
Bound though they may be to our nervous systems and physiology, we do not know the real limits of consciousness. It is at least theoretically possible for us to develop a form of awareness that can persist independently after its links to this world have been severed. But what difference, anyway, what I believe? Can it change in any way the true nature of That Which Is?