Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

For the sake of ornament and illumination.

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:05 am

PART 5 OF 6 (Frequently Asked Questions About Tibetan Buddhism)

Q. What does the mantra Om Mani Padme Hung mean?

Answer 1:

In Amitabha's pure realm all of these perfected and perfecting beings are present. To see the pure land in our present world through imaginative efforts is inspiring. Inspiration leads to exhalation, and all worlds appear empty again. From which appearances again "arise."

Do we ever really take mantra-translation seriously? Aside from the inherent phonetic characteristics of the sounds, the effect of visualizing the appearance of the syllables, and the belief in the efficacy of the mantra grounded upon the vow of the patron deity, what is there to a mantra? Is it not supposed to become nothing, or to mediate nothing to us, so we can pass over to the unstructured state of intrinsic awareness?

Hail the Lotus in Me!

Answer 2:

My experience hasn't been so much with "this mantra," as I've always been drawn away from male deities like Chenrezig (even though in Zen, this same deity is said to be Kanzeon, aka Kwan Yin -- indeed in Bodhisattva of Compassion, John Blofeld claims that Kwan Yin is Chenrezig/Tara.)

But the point of mantra can't be that this one works this way and that one works another way. They're not like drill bits or other power tool attachments that you use for different purposes, even though Tibetans always act like they are. They're like, "Here's DorjePhurba, the hand grenade, and here's Tara, the medical kit, and here's Amitabha, the fixin'-to-die preparation, and here's Manjushri, for the paper-shufflers, and here's Maitreya, for the new agers, etc." Sheer bunk, I say.

The power of mantra is that it protects the mind from being scattered into many objects. The power thus obtained is simply that of the coherent awareness. Analogies for this effect abound: It is like dipping a brush in ink, and bringing all the bristles to a point. It is like focusing a magnifying glass to a burning focal point. It is like cleansing a jewel of its obscuring dirt. Etc.

Mantras purify ordinary speech into vajra speech. Ordinary speech is like what you're reading here. If you agree with it, it makes you feel comfortable. If you want to sustain that comfortable feeling, you have to keep "reciting" the argument to yourself. Same as if you are trying to decide if someone likes you. You examine all the facts in your head, and think it through, and come to your conclusion: "She likes me!" Then, the doubtful feeling comes again, and you have to review the facts and the argument all over again.

Vajra speech does not operate this way, leading you from one concept to the next. Rather, the understanding is present without moving one step. With each repetition, you abandon error by returning back to the source, back to the beginning, where you know nothing, and need nothing more. This is the rhythm of the mantra, returning you home with each beat.

Then letting go of the comfortable feeling, letting it expand, hearing the rhythm in the silence like a ripple expanding on the lake's surface after the stone disappears.

Answer 3:

Sheer bunk! is, upon reflection, an overstatement.

The fact is, I have found some mantras far more conducive to contemplation, and some downright inimical. This is probably due to both tonal structures and the associated visualization and deity. Tara recitation has always worked best for me because male deities kind of make me paranoid (I had a very overbearing, but wonderful, father). The Tara mantra I like best is the 6-syllable Om Tare Tam So Ha. Very similar rhythm to Om Mani Padme Hum, which also works for me.

Remembering the personal origins of my experience, I confess to having been a Mexican-Catholic-Tibetan-Buddhist. As such, I was very comfortable with the idea that, when you need to overcome a scary obstacle, you could recite a wrathful mantra, and when you could afford to retreat to a bower of bliss, you could do a peaceful mantra. This "one for the battlefield, another for the garden" approach seems a little busy-minded, and inclines us towards priest-craft. It also produced inspiring iconography and stirring practices.

Nevertheless, I think it's worth remembering that the attitude to cultivate is gentle and responsive, dynamic and still, energetic and considerate. We work toward this universally useful attitude through our passionate anger, our fearful frustration, our impatient demands. We transform these mind states slowly, with the aid of the pure infusion of new awareness that comes: with each released breath, every mindful recitation, and each positive intention that we give form through action. This pure infusion of new awareness cures stagnation and enables us to address our challenging lives with strength and optimism.

Answer 4:

There's a neat book called The Rainbow Annals by Grania Davis http://www.sfsite.com/isfdb-bin/pwork.cgi?77c3dc that tells the myth of how this mantra originates in a lovely romantic fashion. In order to use mantras, it seems very helpful to activate a key myth: that recitation of the mantra will lead to liberation because some particular bodhisattva vowed to attain enlightenment only if the mantra would provide such a blessing. Thus, the subsequent enlightenment of Amitabha after promising not to accept enlightenment unless it were shared with all beings proves that recitation of his mantra will liberate.

These kinds of myths are essential, the lamas say, because they kindle faith in the mind of the mantra reciter.

Certainly if doubts persistently arise in the form of "why am I doing this recitation?" it will likely create anxiety. So it's good to have an answer.

The other thing that makes mantra recitation efficacious is to have the intention to benefit beings by reciting. You can approach this in a narrow-vehicle way, by thinking "I will improve my mind by recitation," or in a big-vehicle way, by thinking "This recitation reminds me that all beings are Amitabha."

The mantra in question, which has six syllables, is often used in conjunction with a visualization to redeem the spirits of all beings wandering in the "six realms of Samsara." Allen Ginsberg's poem on this topic is very beautiful, and illuminates how "liberating beings through compassionate practice" can look a lot like "communicating with the shadow side of your personality."

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Q. I would be very hestitant to chant a mantra without first knowing its effect.

A. Accordingly, would someone post a spreadsheet setting forth the mantra, deity, effect, and number of repetitions required to accomplish that effect. Add in fields for "recommended for xpersonality type" and "counterindications," and pretty soon we could prescribe mantras reliably. Oh, gee, the TM people already did it!

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Q. Many chants will impact a different chakra (wheel of the mind or forest of desire).

A. Good point. For those who have studied linguistics, and the formation of phonemes, and voice and music, it is clear that different sounds physically resonate different parts of the body. Humming is one of my old favorites. Just try steady humming with your jaws together for fifteen minutes. Try saying "ZZZZZSSSSSHHHHHH" for the whole time. If you aren't stoned as can be after fifteen minutes, you don't have a cranium! Or try sitting by the sea and chanting "AAAAAAHHHHHH" for five minutes with your bare feet dug in the sand. It's all good

If you want to get more prescriptive than that, then you go for a different type of medicine than I do. I like herbs, when possible. Some people like pills, which are precisely targeted.

I think the simple mind medicines are the best, because nobody has a patent on them. And the strangest people dispense them. I honestly feel that one of the most profound people I ever met was a career drunkard with whom I shared a couple of pitchers in a taco joint in Westwood in LA back in '93. He didn't give me a mantra, but he pointed out my next life-transition with unerring clarity after talking to me for just a couple of hours. Never spurn wisdom because it comes in a strange package.

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Q. Chanting "aum" repeatedly is noted for an uncanny ability to turn a householder into a beggar (the homeless life was considered a blessing in Buddha's time) and rapidly relieve one of one's possessions.

A. Explains my dismal financial condition during my Hindu period.

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Q. If focus alone was the agenda why not just chant "cellar door" or "hurdy gurdy"?

A. Sounds good to me as it did when Donovan sang:

"Here comes the Hurdy Gurdy Man,
singing the songs of love,
Hurdy Gurdy, hurdy gurdy,
Hurdy gurdy he sang,
Here comes the roly-poly man
Singing the songs of love ..."

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Q. It's quite a stretch to compare the Buddhist teaching of karma to the Christian Genesis version. (NOTE: THIS QUESTION NEEDS HELP)

A. The Genesis story is about passing blame. The Buddha's story is about finding the root of the problem. Same difference, really. The Four Noble Truths contain a core assertion about causality.

The Second Truth is: The cause of suffering is desire.

The Twelvefold Wheel of Dependent Origination also describes twelve causal links.

Tibetan teachers approve the translation of karma as "the law of cause and result."

It seems clear the Buddhist answer to individual suffering is to identify and eliminate the causes of suffering.

But rules about how to eliminate "the cause of suffering" in my mind could be formulated without coming up with a a comprehensive, bulletproof theory of causality. Further, such a "scientifically valid" theory is not essential to motivate humans to uphold norms of ethical conduct.

Thus, the Buddha need not be "omniscient with regard to cause and result" in order to be the articulator of a viable practice for extinguishing human suffering.

Fanaticism undercuts its own credibility by insisting on the extremes. Buddha does not have to be omniscient to be right about how we can end our personal suffering.

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Q. Isn't everything interconnected on so many levels that really one cannot tell how and why karma is at work?

A. Certainly seems too complex to track. Even take a simple auto accident, where the law requires a jury to determine who was at fault, or what act or omission caused a particular injury. In many cases, juries divide heatedly on these issues. There seems no way to take the guesswork out of the process.

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Q. The Buddha taught us not to ponder karma too much.

A. But the teachings on karma are pushed very hard in the Tibetan tradition, including direct correlation between the type of conduct and the resulting rebirth. We are all familiar with the three-part division that holds that: Acts committed in anger result in hell-rebirth; acts committed from desire result in hungry ghost rebirth; and acts committed from ignorance result in animal rebirths. The traditional teaching on karma is quite definite, breaking down the effects of karma into yet a further tri-partite analysis.

In any event, the traditional Tibetan description of karma is a masterpiece of definiteness that ignores all subtlety

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Q. I believe that people like to believe we all ultimately get what we deserve.

Answer 1:

Yes, from hearing it poured in their ear since childhood, we are conditioned to believe we live in a "just universe," or a "lawful universe" as old Ram Dass put it. But if you ask an illiterate Siberian peasant, a New York corporate magnate, and George W. Bush what is "just" or "lawful" in any given situation, I think you will often get very different answers. Yet the peasant has a whole village to back him up, the New Yorker has all of Wall Street on his side, and Dubya commands the votes of a fluctuating constituency driven by the latest blizzard of sound bites. None of them, if impelled to act on their notions of "justice" or "the rule of law" would provide the same reasons for their conduct, and which of them could safely believe that the result would be as they project?

Answer 2:

Causality describes too many relationships without having any core logic.

As a practical matter, the karma I'm concerned about is "how will I feel if I do this?" Also, "how will he/she/they react if I do this?" These questions must be answered to satisfy our own ethical sense, regardless of the availability of an all-inclusive explanation for "why" these results will occur. Accurate prediction is far more important than impeccable explanations. And we can never check the accuracy of our predictions about future lifetimes. Thus, the person who considers prediction of future consequences to be the most valuable consideration when thinking about how to act will discard the attempt to prognosticate consequences outside the scope of the publicly perceivable world.

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Q. Any difference between GWBush, Osama bin laden, and anybody else who is not an arhat or bodhisattva is just a matter of degree.

A. Well, give ya' enough rope and damned if ya' don't hang yerself. C'mon, with one fell swoop you're gonna shitcan the ethical strivings of every ordinary fool who every chose not to rob a bank or steal a baby or murder his rival, and went home the poorer and less dominant for that decision. Fer' shame! Do that and you'll knock the props out from under Relative Truth and the whole clockwork of karma will crash down on yer unsuspecting head. The gain of all beings is built on the aggregate losses to our little selfish impulses, be they so small as not getting to swat a fly when you're feeling really nasty. Absolutism is baloney. Small kindnesses are worth a shit.

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Q. Karma is no excuse to just leave people in suffering, but for all practical purposes, the opposite is true. Karma is an excellent excuse for the suffering of others, as well as a firm foundation for a "hands off" attitude re same. Karma even provides a handy justification for the creation of misery for others. After all, if they didn't have it coming karmically, how else could it happen? Thus, karma readily lends itself as a justification for evil, an invisible combination of edict and force, and thereby reduces the culpable to the status of a mere agent. Don't blame me," says the mugger, "I'm just delivering your karma."

A. And when you've gotta move a lotta karma, then you look for anyone who can carry the load. A guy like Hitler, he's never outta work. The universal karma delivery service can't be picky when it comes to the nitty gritty of keepin' life shitty. So Dubya also can help in this vast task of meting out imperial justice. One, two, three, SMOKE 'EM!!!

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Q. Traktung had conferred upon himself the title of "Rinpoche" even before having ever met a Lama. The only lineage he has a connection with is aro (for what it is worth). Recently he went to India on pilgrimage and a Lama later came to the US. On the website Traktung said the Lama had taken him (Traktung) as his root guru. Now that Lama has left and all signs of him are gone from the website. He has been trying to get some kind of connection with Trinley Norbu Rinpoche, but to no avail.

A. This is all about one Western guy trying to get himself declared a Rinpoche, and people trying to out him as an impostor. This man is as free to claim to be a tulku as any Tibetan, and no less credible in his claim. He is attacked because another lama gave, and now withdraws, an endorsement? What kind of endorsements are lamas giving, and then withdrawing?

Why have faith in the tulku system at all? Like many other aspects of the Tibetan Buddhist orthodoxy, the tulku system has become every bit as absurd as the Hollywood parodies of lamas in films from the fifties. Just try out the "Steven Segal is a reincarnated Tibetan lama" line at any cocktail party to stimulate an orgy of rolling eyes. That's bad press, for a good reason. Lamas have squandered their credibility in a series of absurd endorsements that make you wonder who's scammin' who!

The system no longer works, and on occasion, it fails spectacularly. Please remember that the Crown Prince of Nepal was a tulku, and that didn't keep him from methodically machine-gunning his entire family. The fights over the dual-Panchen Lamas, the famous competing-Karmapas, the double-Dudjom phenomenon, and the spate of recognized Western tulkus have stretched everyone's faith to the breaking point and beyond. At this point, "recognition" of tulku-hood by a superior lama is most likely evidence that the superior lama is trying to strengthen his bond with the lesser lama by giving him a grant of authority in the eyes of the faithful.

However, if you are considering seeking or obtaining a grant of tulkuship, think again. How do you think Traktung and other erstwhile Rinpoches feel when they get "unendorsed." That's not just a bounced email, you know. You can lose adherents, contributions, and a seat close to the Dorje Lopon at the empowerment when that stuff gets around. You should consider the advantages of coming up through the ranks, earning your stripes, and waiting until the little people shove you up on the throne. Eventually, you'll get your share of appreciation, and it may even be deserved.

Did the tulku system ever work? Depends on what you mean by "work." The tulku system seems to have evolved to provide an alternative, more stable system of wealth-succession than hereditary feudalism. This is no small matter, since having noble brothers fighting to control or consolidate shrinking fiefdoms makes life hard for the serfs (who get pressed into military service), and their families (who must get on without them). So maybe it started out as a great idea from some compassionate lamas who wanted to provide a religious check against feudal excesses. We might credit even higher motives to it. We might even presume that in some places, at some times, the system really worked, and enlightened beings chose their next birthplace with foresight to continue their loving care of the faithful.

But human tendencies cannot be eliminated, and the concentration of economic and intellectual power in the monasteries made them places to control. Eventually the noble families and tulku-pickers merged into a single homogeneous family of shared-interest-holders. In many lineages, all pretense was abandoned, and virtually all members of the guru's family are recognized as tulkus. At least it will be the case that no tulkus are ever discovered outside the family line.

From what I can tell, the Dalai Lama wants to junk the tradition, at least with respect to his own reincarnation as the theocratic head of the Tibetans, and he knows more about it than most people.

Other lamas may also wish to consider abandoning their endorsement of the tulku system for more of a "spiritual meritocracy." If we want to recognize true spiritual merit and bow down to those who possess it, we could try various methods to identify them. Those wedded to traditional methods would probably like to follow the old-time Buddhist tradition, which adopted the shamanic traditions of magical combat, often combined with elements of debate and downright trickery. Following Tibetan traditions, lamas would compete in traditional sorcery categories, like "weather control," "rock-stabbing," "levitation," and my particular favorite, "demoness subjugation." This sort of testing would provide a practical answer to Virupa's cry "are there any Mahasiddhas out there?" The candidates could just step right up.

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Q. Whether you recognise them or not, tulkus will always occur.

A. Yes, what is suspicious is when they keep showing up in rich families, looking suspiciously like spoiled rich kids. Or are appointed because they have large followings that they can deliver to an orthodox, established lama. (Called "buying a book of business" in the vernacular.) Or are ham pseudo-karate-expert actors. With "occurrences" like this, a tradition doesn't have to end to die out!

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Q. The "system" of naming tulkus is corrupted only in a few circumstances.

A. Not just the system of naming tulkus, but the whole institution that feeds off their existence -- the entourages, the exclusivity, the special treatment for the wealthy, the smug distance from the students. That corruption is virtually total, and is not confined to times or places, but rather is pervasive.

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Q. If you haven't caught on yet, Vajrayana is not democratic, it is conferred.

A. The dharmakaya is absolutely egalitarian. It recognizes everyone who recognizes it. Regardless of how many "others" recognize one as a buddha, that buddhahood lacks real meaning if you do not recognize yourself as a buddha.

Whether autocratically conferred by the anointed few, or raised aloft by the adoring multitude, both come to the same thing: relying on others to confirm that which must be known without confirmation by others.

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Q. I have found that if one has indeed seen their buddha nature, the whole angst of the autocracy of the spiritual guide is a laughable prospect.

A. Notwithstanding Christ's great insight into the truth, he still threw the moneychangers out of the temple.

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Q. Why the insistence that spiritual realization be wholly self discovered? If our self natures, the unimpeded clear light mind, were so readily apprehendable, we'd have stumbled upon it long ago, given the fact that it is that very thing which makes every experience, every thought, every moment alive. But we haven't. Wonder what that says.

A. No, don't wonder!!! Don't think about it at all! Go find somebody who says THEY KNOW, and take their word for it. There's not even any point in trying to evaluate your teacher's teachings, because you'd have to rely on "your own mind," that untrustworthy instrument. The only path is pure faith! Close your eyes and leap. Give your wallet to the attendant!

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Q. I know many people who could not afford the costs of empowerments and retreats, but that was just their unfortunate "karma" now, wasn't it? Must have done something in a previous life to deserve it. Damn poor people.

A. The effect of money in Dharma groups goes beyond poorer people not hearing the teachings. Dharma centers develop upper and lower classes very quickly, usually based on money and social status. The problem for me is that if a religious teacher appears too comfortable with rich people (or is rich people), and treats the poorer students like the queen visiting an orphanage, then the religious teacher loses some credibility. (The queen doesn't have any.) It is a sign of ordinariness that is hard to see as transparent, particularly since it stimulates our own sense of envy and competitiveness with other students. Inevitably a sangha that gets too divided along class lines develops unpleasant similarities to some Chinese "secret palace" fantasy, with the fortunate being ushered in and out of the silken precincts.

I liked the story about what happened when Ramana Maharshi saw that only special people were getting coffee at his ashram. He stopped drinking coffee.

Another time they say a visitor with bad legs was being forced to sit in an uncomfortable posture. Maharshi also had bad legs, and insisted on tucking them under, which everyone knew caused him pain. He insisted, however, that if anyone was showing him disrespect with their legs, he equally was disrespecting them by sitting with his own legs extended.

And you know, I've noticed that different students are particular about their teachers having certain characteristics, so some go for miraculous saints, like Sai Baba, and others go for sophisticated talkers like Osho, and others go for homespun wisdom, which is what I got from my lama, along with lucid teachings on how to be somewhat saner. Nor did he ever seemed moved by wealth at all. But I could not say the same for some of his friends.

Most people presume that having faith in your Tibetan guru means assuming that he is immune to the influence of wealth and power, regardless of the evidence. Since there is scriptural authority to support this as a "must have" for a reputable guru, few people seem to dispute the requirement. Of course there must be exceptions to the rule -- the incarnation of enlightened avarice must exist in this best of all possible universes. One thousand arms grabbing everything in sight! Does that bring anyone to mind?

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Q. Magic -- ordinary siddhis --is not a goal of Vajrayana practice. We just let whatever arise happen without conceptualizing it or dwelling on it.

It's good to remember this. But this doesn't mean that your mind becomes a blah. My teacher would oftentimes make this face where he would roll his eyes up into his head, open his mouth really wide, and stick out his tongue, then freeze that expression for a second. It was the ultimate put-down. Don't go there was the clear message.

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Q. Who is Arya Tara?

A. Arya Tara preceded anyone's imagination of her, and transcends our belief or disbelief in her. Like a mother who is merely amused if her child says, "I don't love you, you're not my mommy," Arya Tara has patience for the refusal of beings to recognize our true nature as the children of her compassionate awareness. Like children, we come home to her when we are hungry, tired and sleepy.

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Q. Many say that Taoism had no meditation until it took it from Buddhism.

A. Interesting proposal. Certainly the Taoists had no hostility for the Buddha. See this quote concerning "confirmatory experiences" for Taoist meditation:

"6. Confirmatory Experiences During the Circulation of the Light
Master Lu Tzu said: There are many kinds of confirmatory experiences. One must not content oneself with small demands but must rise to the thought that all living creatures have to be freed.*** The great world is like ice, a glassy world of jewels. The brilliancy of the Light is gradually crystallized. That is why a great terrace arises and upon it, in the course of time, Buddha appears. When the Golden Being appears who should it be but Buddha? For Buddha is the Golden Saint of the Great Enlightenment. This is a great confirmatory experience."

For a link to the site where this quote was found: http://home.earthlink.net/~wisetiger/secret.html

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Q. White Tara is a longevity practice which culminates in the realization of deathlessness. In Mahayana, deathlessness is a synonym for the non-arising nature of reality free from extremes of existence and non-existence. What never arose is also free from death, hence deathless.

A. White Tara is the Wish Fulfilling Wheel. Her mission is to fulfill all prayers earnestly put before her. This activity is the result of her Bodhisattva vow, which is now a source of exhaustless benefit due to her achievement of liberation. The spirit of White Tara is that which does not judge the worthiness of a recipient, but simply provides that which is desired without judging.

Living beings value their life more than anything else, because it is the foundation of all other experience. Thus, Arya Tara's fundamental gift is the very essence of life energy, what brightens the infant's eye, and the mother's gaze. To possess life energy in abundance, and pass it to other generously, is her blessing.

Arya Tara generously provides all that is needful for the beings who seek her protection, eliminating the fear of death and loss by kind encouragement, and gradually bringing all beings to possess her own fearless Bodhisattva view.

That fearless view is the deathless. Fortunately, from that distant shore of fearless gnosis to this place of doubt and uncertainty, Arya Tara has extended her bridge of lovingkindness and motherly concern, that none should perish on this benighted shore who will trouble themselves to invoke her name. Tara!

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Q. In order to practice the six yogas of Naropa, you need oral transmission and guidance of a master who has experienced these yogas. Otherwise, it is a complete waste of time.

A. This may be too severe. Is there no room for a passionate amateur, an informed dilettante? What about a brilliant scholar with a command of the language and less desire to develop callouses on the buttocks? Surely such a one is entitled to muck about in the general field of tantra. How could it hurt? Evans Wentz, Jung, and all that.

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Q. What is the root of politics? My answer, to cite the Dalai Lama, is "...the clearer it becomes that no matter what our situation, whether we be rich or poor, educated or not, of one race, gender, religion or another, we all desire to be happy and avoid suffering". The root of our present ecological woe is the selfishness that desires to be happy and avoid suffering naturally generates. And the antidote to it would be a kind of ecologically informed economic discipline enforced at all levels and in all markets in our world. As Lester Brown puts it "Economists see booming economic indicators, ecologists see an economy that is altering the climate with consequences that no one can foresee".

I feel this division stems from a fundamental split in thinking, a schizophrenic or delusional, mode of perceiving our world and economy, or as Deluez and Guattari put it "Everything seems objectively to be produced by capital as quasi cause. As Marx observes, in the beginning capitalists are necessarily conscious of the opposition between capital and labor, and of the use of capital as a means of extorting surplus labor. But a perverted bewitched world quickly comes into being, as capital increasingly plays the role of a recording surface that falls back on (se rabat sur) all of production (furnishing or realizing surplus value is what established recording rights)." In other words, the point is that Capitalism presents itself as a great producer, but in truth it merely subverts labor and exhausts so called "natural capital"; that is, Capitalism is basically a massive arbitrage making its profits off the differences between the cost of labor used to consume so called "valueless" pre-processed raw materials in order to transform these raw materials in commodity goods for market, keeping the difference which it in turn funnels into ever increasing profits margins at the expense of resources. As Oystein Dahle points out (cf. Brown) "Socialism collapsed because it did not allow prices to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow prices to tell the ecological truth"

A. Well, Prof, can't say I did the readin', as I was too busy makin' hay while the sun shone. So I just did some doodles before class. Or so I thought.

Come to think of it, I did a heap o' workin', and ain't seen much come of it. Right about the time I thought my ship was gonna come in, the grim reaper had to make his dastardly appearance.

But be that as it may, I figure I'm better off than my old friend the Ancient Mariner, and this here story I tell is that of the workin' man, who never had a day of rest.

"There's no good revolution, only power changin' hands," seems like as true a statement as the common man ever heard. Capitalist vodka, socialist vodka, nazi vodka, it all gets you drunk.

And fortunately sex also is independent of politics. Communists screw just like evangelical Christians.

Religion also shifts with the tides. Liberation theology is suicide, thinks the old priest. Suicide.

Greenpeace came too late. We needed an earth-century, not an earth-day. Logging the Amazon went on too long. Index species dropping off the chart. Salmon tries to cross the freeway in a flood. We won't make it. Humanity built a dam across its own spawning stream.

Ghost dance engineering. Imagine a highway in the sky. Anyone can cross it. Just believe, close your eyes. Take my hand for the big jump. Take a step. Drop two feet and open your eyes. You're still here. It's all an illusion.

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Q. Reincarnation and Ecology.

A. Let's say that we do reincarnate.

Don't we need someplace to do it?

The most likely place for us to be able to get an equal or better situation is in the human gene pool -- of the future.

Preservation of a species is thus also a vehicle for ensuring an opportunity for further spiritual evolution. This is something within our hands.

We can resolve as a species-goal to preserve our planet as a habitat for our species and all species. It's logical so we should be able to agree on it. We should be able to demand of our leaders that they work to accomplish that worthy goal.

To generate public pressure for positive social activity, we must advocate our views to those who will listen, and those who will not. The hardest to convert may be the staunchest supporters.

It grows slowly. When I was a kid, ecology wasn't even a word. Now everybody knows what it means. It's a slow progression, the adoption of humanitarian ideals by the mass. We need to invest in the young. Teach them to believe they can make a better world. It'll be up to them to figure out how.

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Q. I think the most devastating effect to the earth's eco system is the human population. HHDL (jokingly) said we need more monks and nuns. Is celibacy the right answer?

Maybe. Might fuel the expansion of Internet pornography, however.

Seriously, though, the problem appears to be HUMAN GREED. Check out this report from the World Bank, summarized in their press release as follows:

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2000 — New World Bank research suggests that civil wars are more often fuelled by rebel groups competing with national governments for control of diamonds, coffee, and other valuable primary commodities, rather than by political, ethnic, or religious differences.

The new report, Economic Causes of Civil Conflict and their Implications for Policy, looked at 47 civil wars from 1960-1999 and shows that countries which earn around a quarter of their yearly GDP from the export of unprocessed commodities, face a far higher likelihood of civil war than countries with more diversified economies. Without exports of primary commodities such as gemstones or coffee, "ordinary countries are pretty safe from internal conflict, while when such exports are substantial, the society is highly dangerous," the report argues. "Primary commodities are thus a major part of the conflict story."

Personally, I found this information to be the most practical observation about how to save people from suffering and murder on this planet. Diversify your economy.

My own experience in business bears this out. In the Sex.com case, Sexdotcomchronicles.com, hundreds of thousands of dollars were expended in costs and attorney fees by both sides to obtain control over the world's most valuable Internet domain name. Why? Because it is a mono-crop-economy in the Internet business. If you can own that one name, you can make an awful lot of money. Therefore, it makes sense to fight a hell of war to get control of it. Indeed, the Sex.com name has been the subject of dispute practically since it was minted in 1994, and I can promise it will continue to be a focus of conflict for the indefinite future.

Similarly, if you can control one port, like Karachi, Pakistan, you can control the largest trans-shipment point for the international heroin trade. Other examples will leap to mind.

It is tragic that child armies are conscripted in the world's poorest nations to fight wars over luxuries that will adorn the bodies, homes, and automobiles of the richest citizens of the planet.

Ultimately, all wars are economic. It is only the cannon fodder themselves who are indoctrinated to think otherwise.

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Q. No matter what form of government you might conceive, it's the people in power who make it compassionate, moral, just, and free. The problem with morals is they can't be imposed by legislation. We need to get society over the false notion that morals are a mere contrivance of religion, or only religious people can be truly moral. Morality/ethics is simply the best means to a harmonious, and civil society.

A. Religion is the means of hornswoggling people into believing that conformity equals absolute goodness. Because I part my hair on the left and wax my car, I will go to heaven.

To ascertain what are valid ethical norms, and to articulate convincing reasons for following them, would be a worthy philosophical achievement.

The common expedient, in the absence of a good argument for why to be good, is to posit the existence of an afterlife. In the afterlife, we can take care of all the loose ends. My personal must-have item for the afterlife is Hitler in hell for the remainder of the kalpa. We can all go congratulate him when it's time to get out.

The problem with the afterlife of course is that everyone has a different design. Which undermines the likelihood of anyone having an accurate description, just from an inductive viewpoint.

So if we reject the afterlife scenario, we're back to the problem. How do you get these reprobates to behave? I don't know. I've spent lots of time in court rooms and talking with probation officers and judges. We all applaud when a drunk finds religion, since it's got the best prognosis, poor as the stats are. But why? Because everyone will support you if you try and be religious and dry out. Not because suddenly you're thinking with great clarity and incisiveness. Because finally you're conforming.

But I don't need to use the techniques that are used to herd cattle to manage my own mind. Sure I can shock myself with a cattle prod, but why bother if I can just think: "Go there." I'm under control.

And being under control, I've earned the right to think what makes sense. I don't need to pray to anyone to help me dry out, and I don't have to think stuff that will make me be a better person if it's all just made up.

I feel better thinking things that make sense, even if they're not fluffy. And it's actually not very comfy to realize, in the back of your mind, that just as you are confident in your precisely-described dogmatic view of life and the afterlife, some yahoo thinks he's going to drive there in a brand new car with Jesus ridin' shotgun.

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Q. If we stop making the environment our enemy, can we also stop reaping a sick sexual psychology?

A. I used to prosecute domestic violence here in the redneck provinces of Southern Oregon, and after one year was thoroughly weary of the painful drama. I prosecuted with a lot of zeal, eagerly trying to make one point: the court must express social disapproval of violent behavior in a manner that leaves no doubt that this does not go here, and you cannot think of yourself as a good person if you hit those who love and depend on you. I often told abusive men candidly, "The rules have changed. It's not okay to hit your wife. We'll put you in jail if you don't understand." You know, it was amazing how often they did, in fact, understand.

How much did the victimization of poor women have to do with disrespect for the environment and the lack of female empowerment? Maybe a lot, but I found an interesting phenomenon. A lot of the redneck gals didn't vibe to the atmosphere in the liberal-operated shelter home. Some did, but many seemed to be alienated from fem-speak. False consciousness? Maybe, but I looked at it differently. These women needed protection and advice that they could use. If the politics got in the way, that didn't help them.

So, the question is always how to help the people who need the help. By giving them what we think they need? See Chuang Tzu's "Symphony for a Seabird." (A king offered a seabird a symphony in honor of his appearing in his kingdom, so far from the sea. The seabird starved.)

Our politics may enliven our own imaginations, but if we want to benefit the world outside our eyeballs, we have to accept some very unromantic tasks. Stepping into very ordinary roles, doing bad jobs well, and really helping all who come within our sphere of activity.

On a daily basis, we have to restructure the norms of our world to become more humane and accommodating of all that is gentle and needs protection.

Likewise, we need to ask our leaders to adopt some imperatives: No killing to benefit ourselves. Preserve the wild ecologies that remain. Place a high value on peace, a lesser value on exploitation of resources. Eschew violence altogether as an instrument of policy. Govern wisely, honestly, and with ethical guidelines. Brainstorm a better world, and put the plan into action.

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Q. Regulation which protects consumer interests, as Adam Smith notes, tends to be good. Regulation which favors business interests, tends to disenfranchise consumers.

A. I think "regulation" is too broad a word. Just the decision to spend one government dollar on one thing rather than another can be seen as a policy decision. One has to question whether creating more regulatory agencies with "inspectors" drawn from the ranks of the regulated, is really just putting regulated industries right where they want to be.

Federal regulatory agencies love to create uniform policies that impede local action and citizen's rights to sue through the process of "preemption." Among other locally-empowering activities that the Feds have preempted by regulation are:

Hundreds of lawsuits against cigarette makers were dismissed as preempted by the FDA warning labels.
EPA regulations of air quality preempt local nuisance lawsuits against polluters.
Federal law may preempt suits against airbag makers because their installation was required.
Suits against prescription drug makers, like the killer sex drug Viagra, may be preempted by FDA labeling provisions.
So it's not all rosy out there in consumer-regulation land.

And while I think trading pollution credits is smoke and mirrors, I think it is always worth looking where we put the incentives in policy-making.

Eco-paradise may already be out of reach forever, but solving the planet's problems is a vital issue.

It is important for people to unite around this basic principle, and never to let our beliefs about how this can be done overshadow this basic positive impulse.

Because we need a planet so we can keep arguing.

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Q. What did Trungpa Rinpoche mean when he said freedom was a myth?

A. What Trungpa Rinpoche meant is written on the back of the book, in my edition:

"Freedom is generally conceived as the ability to achieve goals and satisfy desires. But what of the source of these goals and desires? If they arise from ignorance, habitual patterns, and negative emotions--in other words from psychologically destructive elements that actually enslave us--is the freedom to pursue them true freedom or just a myth?" Shambhala, 1976 edition.

I always have found it's helpful to find how Trungpa Rinpoche defines terms. When I read that our thoughts are "neurotic" because they "keep changing directions," that helped me understand his use of "neurosis" a lot better.

I like his description of how we practice mindfulness: "We see what is happening there rather than developing concentration, which is goal-oriented. Anything connected with goals involves a journey toward somewhere from somewhere. In mindfulness practice there is no goal, no journey; you are just mindful of what is happening there."

That's a relief.

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Q. Thinley Norbu

Answer 1:

TNR's rhetorical style is very clever,
for a while.
It seems so much of Tibetan Buddhism
is literary guile.
Monastic argumentators
Like insects that bind their prey with sticky spittle glue
Then sting them to death
With venom of spiteful nonexistence
And siddha rhapsodisers
who club their disciples
smart with numbing blows
of incomprehensible oracular
exposition
Stilleto-wielding grinning
bantering tulkus
waiting for you
at the bottom of the stairs.
Later,
dudes.

Answer 2:

Bores the crap out of me. The rhetorical cant is annoying: "If this virtuous thing is done, it becomes fucked up; if this other virtuous thing is done, it becomes fucked up; these fuckers will fuck up everything if you give them a fucking chance."

TN has made a religion out of failure.

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Q. My contact with Dharma leads me to the conclusion that the only really serious route is to become a monk or nun. This leaves a problem for married people who do not necessarily want to be any less devoted to practicing or studying the Dharma. Are there any serious avenues for non-monastic people to take?

A. Well, if you want to believe what people say about me, you must accept that one can obtain no benefit from 20 years of being part of a Tibetan Buddhist sangha, while raising three kids and teaching them some Dharma, such that the youngest can read Tibetan and finished her ngondro when she was eleven, and helping to build a big old temple, and hosting all manner of lama visits, and bowing and receiving endless streams of empowerments, and even trying to reduce the endless accretions of pride that result from these activities.

Shoulda cut my nuts off before I met AmBu. Then I'd have done better. But we'd be short that one kid who finished her ngondro and was hailed as a little micro-Siddha. She's going to Stanford next year. Probably no benefit to the world, though.

Both my daughters and my son possess clear intelligence that frees them from the tyranny of blind following. That kind of intelligence hammers out a blade of unsuppressable pride.

Both my daughters and my son have kind impulses toward others, and act on them. That kind of compassion forges and tempers pride like steel, making it unbreakable.

Both my daughters and my son have good humor and look to make the world a brighter and happier place. That kind of lightness shines pride to the brightness of a ceremonial blade, making it worthy to be displayed.

Always free from false authority,
Always kind to friends,
Always fierce toward foes,
Always willing to reconcile
When war is not required,
Always loyal to the One Mother,
These soldiers born of my flesh
Have earned my pride
And I will never deny it them.

When asked whether one should renounce to seek liberation, Ramana Maharshi said something like, "If you remain as you are, you will think you are a layman. If you renounce, you will think you are a renunciate. What is the benefit of change from one mistaken understanding to another?"

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Q. You want to talk about Sogyal Rinpoche's sins?

A. I thought that was your obsession. Sogyal Rinpoche can copulate with any one he wants. What he shouldn't do is lie to people about why they might want to engage in sex with a short fat guy with a randy grin and a pocket full of cliches by claiming to be a Buddha with a lucky stick. Sin, schmin. The man's a hypocrite and a coward too chicken to write a personals ad.

He should've been busted down to private and stripped of his status. A real siddha wouldn't miss your crass adulation, or that of the rest of the parrot flock.

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Q. What is the story of Aku Tompa and the shit from heaven?

A. Aku Tompa was a wily rascal who at one time served a lord in the capacity of jester, procurer, gambling adviser, etc. One day, the lord was crossed with him for chasing one of the maids that the lord had already put his eye on. The lord had banished Aku Tompa to spend the night out on the roof, where the temperature dropped precipitously in the thin Tibetan air. As the night wore on and the chill bit into Aku Tompa's bones, the glow of a brazier through the skylight in the shrine room was like a ray of hope. Eventually butter lamps were kindled and the lord arrived for his morning devotions. His mind racing, Aku Tompa scraped a pile of lime white-wash from the wall and spreading it in a fine powder on the flat rooftop, he relieved himself liberally.

Aku Tompa stuck a stick into the steaming mass, and in the sub-arctic temperatures, the steaming mass was soon solid, the arrangement soon assumed the shape of a demonic popsicle. Once the confection had congealed, Aku Tompa flipped it over and, using a bit of charcoal he found on the roof, scribbled some characters on the flat bottom. This he heaved through the skylight into the lap of the pious lord.

When his devotions received this sign of divine approval, the lord was, to put it mildly, elated. Even the local Rinpoche had not been so favored! When he looked at the characters on the base of this unusual torma, of course, being illiterate, he was vexed. Particularly vexed because Aku Tompa was the only person in the house who could read. And he was still very put out with him.

After struggling with his conscience in this fashion, the lord concluded that poor Tompa must be suffering terribly in the cold dark, with the stars piercing his bones like needles, and resolved immediately to display Chenresig-like compassion and summon Tompa to his pure land. Tompa appeared, teeth chattering, lips blue, his attention not to be commanded until after several restorative cups of tea. When he was looking quite chipper, and the lord was about to become annoyed, Tompa finally asked what the lord was holding. "Oh this," replied the lord, "It's nothing." Tompa teased it out of him presently as he was wont to do, since the lord was always shy about his learning disability.

Finally, Tompa looked at the words on the bottom of the now slightly softer torma, and unctuously read, "This is the shit that falls from heaven, blessed is the ruler into whose lap it falls." The ruler was well-pleased, and Aku Tompa drank much tea that day, chang later that night, and chased the maid after the lord passed out.

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Q. I have to question if you really know what Buddhism is, and what it means to reach an enlightened state. Joey, I wanna sniff some glue, Ramone is a fun rock and roller, but to say he's a buddha is to belittle the discipline, the hardships that many nameless people have been though to reach their goal. Einstein was brilliant, Martin Luther King was a man to aspire to, but not a single one of these people went through the rigorous mind training that is necessary to become a buddha. If you fused Einstein and King together then you might come close to understanding Siddhartha's importance. It isn't right not to be respectful.

A. You have a very elevated notion of what Buddhas are. Actually, there are several billion of them on the sole of your shoe right now. That's doctrinal. If Joey never broke your heart and remade it from much more than airplane glue, then pick up an album and know God. He came to earth for you.

Talk about showing some respect. J oey's body is barely cold in the grave. He lived a life of extraordinary sacrifice, touring relentlessly until his life was gone, carrying a message that may be one of the only beacons of true compassion in a depraved entertainment universe. He did so at the cost of everything most people prize, including wealth, conventional fame, a wife or a family. If you are dead sure that Joey was not a Buddha, then you might be a little more sure than you should be.

If you are an American, you should get on your knees and thank Thomas Paine every day for writing those words, "these are the times that try men's souls ..." because it was those words that induced George Washington's men to stay the course at a moment when tyranny would have snuffed out the hope of liberty, and the noble experiment of democracy would never have been launched. Thomas Paine also sacrificed everything that a man can. In fact, the exact same list as I put forth with respect to Joey Ramone. But add one more insult for Tom Paine. He didn't even receive a proper burial, and his bones were stored in warehouses for scores of years after his death.

It is not that I am necessarily right about who is a Buddha or not. The point is, all of the dharma role models we are given by the Buddhist clerics come from an Asian mold. Buddha was an emperor's son, who dumped his wife and practiced asceticism for six years, took a break for some milk rice, and decided he had something to teach. That's a great image. But it is quintessentially Eastern in flavor. While this myth certainly is inspiring, it also communicates by implication that we must adopt Asian ways, including the cultural predilection for self-subjugation, in order to attain Buddhahood. This model of enlightenment deserves a counterpoint, which I am providing. If I'd named John Wayne, I can see why you'd be giving me flak. But I'll tell you this right now, if you think you are going to be more compassionate than Joey Ramone, more courageous than Martin Luther King, more visionary than Einstein, from sitting in a Zendo, a Dojo, an Ashram or a Gompa, knock yourself out. I'm going to listen to rock and roll, march in the streets, and use my rational mind, and we'll see who gets there. However, I'll have a big advantage, because I don't know where I'm going. You'll always be trying to end up where you're planning to go, and as every Zen idiot knows, that's nowhere.

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Q. How can we practice Right Speech if we are expressing ourselves with anger?

Trungpa Rinpoche defined the Buddha's use of the word "right" as follows: "[The Buddha] did not mean to say right as opposed to wrong at all. He said 'right' meaning 'what is,' being right without a concept of what is right. 'Right' translates the Sanskrit samyak, which means 'complete.' Completeness needs no relative help, no support through comparison; it is self-sufficient."

Trungpa Rinpoche then defined "right speech" as "perfect communication, communication which says, 'It is so,' rather than 'I think it is so.' 'Fire is hot,' rather than, 'I think fire is hot.' *** It is just the simple minimum of words we could use. It is true."

I think you are suggesting that if people get angry and passionate in their exchanges that is not right speech. Certainly it makes the exchange less pleasant, and often what is unpleasant is not right.

But if Trungpa Rinpoche is saying what it seems, the deviation from "right speech" doesn't occur when speech becomes emotional, but rather when it is made conditional, forcing meaning to make a "detour through the ego" in order to express understanding. Trungpa's examples take issue with the mere addition of the words "I think" to an otherwise simpler statement. He says we should not be afraid just to say what we see, to assert it as true.

This kind of blunt expression: "This is such and so," is certainly less tactful than "I think this is such and so." Indeed, I'm sure that motivational psychologists would favor the second usage as less likely to provoke resistance in the hearer. However, Trungpa Rinpoche seems to be counseling us to be blunt with each other. That would of course be consistent with his character.

So shall we craft our words carefully, making all palatable before we express ourselves? Consider this from Trungpa again, explaining the meaning of "Samyak," the Sanskrit term for "Right" in colorful terms:

"Samyak means seeing life as it is without crutches, straightfowardly. In a bar one says, 'I would like a straight drink.' Not diluted with club soda or water; you just have it straight. That is samyak. No dilutions, no concoctions -- just a straight drink. Buddha realized that life could be potent and delicious, positive and creative, and he realized that you do not need any concoctions with which to mix it. Life is a straight drink -- hot pleasure, hot pain, straightforward, one hundred percent."

With that kind of a suggestion, let's have one together -- Straight, no chaser.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:05 am

PART 6 OF 6 (Frequently Asked Questions About Tibetan Buddhism)

Q. Since you abandoned your gurus, and don't bother to hide your hatred and poisonous thoughts towards them, you're in no a position to tell anyone about vows.

A. Buddha left every one of his teachers and then broke his vows of asceticism by chowing down on a bowl of milk-rice provided by an unsuspecting village woman who didn't realize what a vow-breaker he was. Nevertheless, he had the audacity, based on his own "experience," to teach others. As it happened, other people bought it, and he ended by founding a major religion. Amazing how such a screwup made good, eh?

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Q. It might be more useful if you would tell us everything good you learned from Vajrayana, and share your gratitude.

A. Responding to the request for positives about my interaction with Buddhism:

1. My lama taught me to love my parents and appreciate how much they'd done for me.
2. My lama taught me to care for my children.
3. My lama taught me to work hard for my pay.
4. My lama taught me to be honest with myself.
5. My lama taught me that, whatever I thought, he didn't really care about me enough to lift a finger against those he truly cared about.

Any more teachings someone wants to offer?

Q. It is amazing how distorted your understanding of the Buddha's life is. He made a pledge not to eat more than a millet grain a day. This is a vow of asceticism and is not at all the same as the five precepts. To this day, one can, in addition to the regular monastic vows, take on an extra set of austerity vows. But they are not a requirement, and certainly there is no idea of a penalty if one's health does not measure up to following such a vow, as is the case when Buddha was provided a bit of nourishment. The Buddha was practically dead when she found him.

A. What you say about two classes of vows is nonsense. Once there are two classes of vows, the other guy will always be committing the real breaches while your friends will be committing mere "forgivable" vow breakage.

The fact is, Buddha's former ascetic pals, who later became his disciples, were initially outraged that Buddha was eating three squares a day, and snubbed him for it. They announced he was a lapsed practitioner and refused to have anything to do with him.

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Q. American Buddhism! Wow, Buddhism without the Buddha.

A. What Buddha did the Buddha have when he became Buddha?

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Q. You are criticizing Dharma; therefore we should criticize you in turn.

A. "Dharma is like gold -- it must be beaten and hammered to purify it before it can be made into a beautiful ornament."

If we know what Dharma is, then we can say when it is being criticized, but even when words are perfectly clear, like the instruction for assembling a tricycle, people argue over the meaning. If the husband tells the wife that he knows how to put together the tricycle, and refuses to listen to her interpretation of the instructions, he silences a source of information that could clarify his understanding. Buddhists who find ideas disagreeable simply lack the courage to expose their views to criticism. Like a castle made of sugar, such Buddhists fear their doctrine will melt in the rain. The Dharma is not fragile, and in seeking to protect it, you merely strengthen your own projections. But what else can you do?

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Q. A very learned monk once told me that compassion towards self taken to it's penultimate expression results in a state where the self disappears and only compassion remains. If you look at a tree you will not see any difference between yourself and the tree. There is feeling of oneness. This may be wrongly interpreted as being one with God. These are great states of bliss because the samatha produces great states of concentration which can subdue suffering for months (ceto vimukhthi). But these states are temporary. Desire and suffering will slowly begin to creep in once meditation is stopped. The wisdom release (panna vimukhthi) of buddhism is a different thing all together. It is not possible to fall away from nibbana because it is based on wisdom. There is growth of wisdom regarding the different components of the mind -nothing is held on to as me or mine. Even consciousness itself is not seen as 'me'. Ten fetters binding a person to samsara are abandoned.

Answer 1:

If you know what enlightenment is, you can go there directly.

Everything else, you can get at the store.

When you don't go shopping, your cupboard is bare.

There's no enlightenment there, even though it's empty.

Answer 2:

It's been a long time since I heard one of these disclosures. Most people don't have the guts to expose their delusion this way. I would add to the distinction between meditation and nirvana this observation -- that in this business of evaluating ourselves for spiritual attainment there are numerous risks:

1. We can consider ourselves to be the final judge of our realization, and risk being wrong and ridiculous.
2. We can consider a superior to be the judge of our realization, and be subject to manipulation and humiliation.
3. We can consider our equals to be the judges of our realization, and risk mistaking popularity for attainment.

In each of these cases, the judge, whether oneself, superior, or the plebeian norm, is subjective.

Objective proofs are difficult to find. Hence the siddha-lineage reliance on manifesting magical powers. It's hard to argue with magical displays. But do you believe in them? Can you seriously think you're going to fly, or be able to penetrate granite with a knife? No, you don't, and what you can't believe, you can't achieve.

You must try to achieve what you can believe. Then you can devise an objective test for whether you are achieving it. Or can you?

Litmus test for enlightenment, anyone?

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Q. Was Jesus a Buddha?

A. Jesus was a Jew, murdered by the Romans at the insistence of his own people, and turned into a martyr-god by the Romans when Constantine adopted "Christianity" as a state religion.

Buddha got much better treatment in life because the Indian people respected "philosopher" as a lifestyle and didn't feel that Buddha's message posed a political threat.

Some of what Buddha is reported to have said can be interpreted to equate with some of what Jesus said.

It is impossible to determine where either of them "went." Therefore, it is impossible to determine where their respective paths lead.

What is clear is that, both "Buddhists" and "Christians" currently espouse different doctrines and preach that their adherents will go to "different places." A Buddhist will tell you that Christians will inevitably continue to revolve in "samsara" because they do not follow the Eightfold Path. A Christian will tell you that Buddhists cannot "go to Heaven" because they have not "accepted Jesus as their personal savior" (Protestant version) or because they have not "been baptized" and "confessed" (Catholic version).

If you want to purchase your spiritual wares in these established marketplaces, you will have to buy them with these descriptions. Otherwise, consider yourself "outside the mainstream" and join us at American-Buddha.com.

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Q. Buddha or Jesus has meaning only within the Absolute, beyond bodily manifestation of a particular "person". Even if the Absolute = Relative, they are not the same.

A. If all you need is the Absolute, what do you gain by affirming that Buddha and Christ were in agreement about the existence and or nature of the Absolute? Historically, knowledge of precisely what they taught has been difficult to determine, but much of it sounds quite appealing. ("Not a sparrow falls but my father knows it; ye are worth more than many sparrows" is something from the Gospels I like.) So the words are there, we can debate their meaning, and we should, to clarify our understanding. But fundamentally the ideas should stand on their own, and we should never forego questioning because we are afraid to question someone's authority, even if that authority is the Buddha or Vajradhara. All the testimony of past seers is nothing in comparison to your direct perception, and while it may be possible to build a psychic connection with some supernatural beings like Buddha or Christ in order to get leverage to get out of samsara or into heaven, I'm uncertain. You place your bet, and I'll place mine. Meanwhile, we can discuss our options.

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Q. It is fortunate that you are not monk, because otherwise you really would be in danger of causing a schism in the sangha where one states "This doctrine of Shakyamuni's is not good and instead I will start a new doctrine, better than the old one." It is clearly your intention to cause a schism in the sangha, and that is just plain wrong.

A. Let's walk through this together. You say that I am declaring error in the Buddha's doctrine and asserting my doctrine to be superior.

Well what do I affirmatively believe?
I affirm that the emptiness doctrine expressed in the Prajnaparamita can purify the mind into its original essence.
I affirm that kindness toward all beings is the highest attitude, that everyone should strive to adopt and put into action.

I don't think those beliefs contradict the Buddha's doctrine.

Let's move into riskier territory.

I have said that it is impossible to prove certain doctrines that many people attribute to the Buddha, such as the operation of karma, the mechanism of rebirth, or the supernatural powers of deities and protectors. I have also said that no one should feel obligated to believe that which cannot be proven to their satisfaction.

So if someone says that Buddha-doctrine requires "belief in" rebirth, karma, and supernatural beings, then it is probably true that I do not follow that doctrine of Buddha.

If, however, someone notes that doctrines concerning karma, rebirth, and supernatural beings have only instrumental reality, and not ultimate reality, then it can be argued that such beliefs are irrelevant to the essential Buddha-doctrine. Thus to have "no belief" or let us say an "open belief" about karma, etcetera, would be an acceptable position for a Buddhist.

Obviously, I adhere to the latter belief -- that the essential teachings of Buddhism are encompassed in the doctrine of emptiness, and attainment is direct understanding thereof. By taking up arms against the assertion that more doctrines, faith in robed persons, etcetera, are essential to the practice of Dharma, I think I can lay fair claim to being a well-intentioned heretic. While I certainly am not Hui Neng, I have always loved that brush painting showing him vigorously tearing up a sutra. My kind of Buddha.

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Q. There is a problem with this 'rational mind' program that's running on each one of us. Its process of objectifying existence for survival purposes/species continuation, has also objectified our biological self. Ooops. We've just become 'self' aware.

A. The dualism here comes from defining rational mental functioning as an actor in an internal drama with motives, goals, and purposes that are uniquely its own.

When we practice with upright mind, we don't "add reality" to our preconceptions by dramatizing their character and imputing motives to mere mental activity. They're just as they are, appearing and disappearing, as real as they appear to be, and as unreal.

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Q. Someone in there is lying and getting away with it (most of the time). The lie is that there is a permanent self existing. It's so sneaky though. It doesn't come right and say 'Hi, I'm permanent." That would be easy to defeat. It objectifies our biological self when we are very little (2 yrs old?), and defenseless! Our parents and relatives reinforce this conceptualizing, so does everyone we come in contact with as we grow up. We become conditioned to it , addicted to it. We take it for reality.

A. This is the same story line. "Bad, bad brain," said St. Joey Ramone. Practicing straightforward seeing, we don't add faces or names to what arises before us.

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Q. Something in the act of conceptualizing (maybe that 'craving' thing Buddha was talking about) implies a permanence.

A. More projection. Let craving sit right on your tongue as your mind races like red flame toward its intended objects. Its impermanence will drive you wild.

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Q. IMO it is the physical nature of conceptualizing that makes us unconsciously think an idea is permanent. It's like a default setting. But that's ok from the 'species continuation' program's point of view, because a permanent self might be very good for species continuation. A permanent self is a great carrot.

A. Self doesn't need an incentive program to arise. It is more motivated than any insurance salesman. Things, "the world," arise so the off-balance fictitious self will have something to lean against. Fictitious self-existence provides the raison d'etre for everything else, and is not the tool of other things.

When fictitious self subsides and upright awareness expresses itself, appearances are gone as well, along with fictitious selfhood.

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Q. American Buddha and Arch Stanton are just opposite extremes. Buddhists should avoid extremes.

A. Arch and Ambu are not opposite ends of the concept of authority. I know you think Arch means, "kiss the floor," and Ambu means "not on your life," but that is the very real difference between someone who has deified an unworthy principle and someone who has found a principle worthy of protection above all others.

Just as the mathematician must defend the "extreme view" that zero equals nothing, absolutely nothing, and would never compromise by saying that sometimes zero might just contain the tiniest fraction of something, otherwise all of mathematics would collapse, so Ambu maintains that all ideas must be judged solely on their merits and never on their origins. This is not an extreme view -- it is rational hygiene. Abandon it, and you lose the level against which to judge. Grasp at an idea because you love the speaker, and you blind yourself to its faults. Reject an idea because you hate the speaker and you blind yourself to its virtues.

The question isn't whether one has a "balanced" attitude, but whether one is seeing what is right in front of our face. Balanced "views" arise only when one is consuming reality in filtered versions. When you see it directly, you don't necessarily agree with anyone's view. You agree with reality, about which it may be impossible to say anything much.

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Q. What do you mean when you say the mind is "tautological." Tautology means a needless repetition of an idea in a different word, phrase, or sentence; redundancy.

A. That's the grammatical definition of tautology. The logician's definition is the one Ambu is using. In formal logic, a tautology is a statement that "is always true." Another aspect of tautologies is this: "the truth value of the statement is independent of the value of the input variable." This is to say, regardless of what you input, the statement is structured so that it remains true.

In this sense, the mind is tautological, because regardless of what "variables" (appearances) are "input" (arise in) the mind, there is no alteration of their original nature. If there is perfect reflection of the original principle then there is no deviation.

Here's a thought. If you look in a mirror, you see only one image of yourself. This is "true" functioning of the mirror, because there is only one of you. The mirror always reflects one image. But if you look in two mirrors, one in front of you, one in back, then you see an infinite sequence of you. Actually, of course, the sequence is not infinite, because if you could catch up with the light rays bouncing off your face at light speed, you would eventually get to a mirror in which there was no image showing. The first mirror always has one more face in it than the second one, right?. You would have eclipsed the endless replication, which is actually an ongoing process taking place in time. The ongoing replication of images would cease if you removed one of the mirrors. Likewise, if you turned off the light, all the images would disappear. It is also interesting to note that, while one mirror shows one face (the truth), two mirrors show a rapidly-proliferating number of faces (not the truth), but they also let you see the back of your head (which is not normal). If you want to see the back of your head, using two mirrors (calculative thought that continues from now into the future) is helpful, but if you want to count how many of you there are today, one mirror is best.

It was said by Mahasiddha Saraha (long may his name be heard among mortals) that "to the fool who squints, one thing is seen as two."

Since the mind is tautological, it generates a reflex of whatever it has been presented. Since the mind is not flat, but multidimensional, it can generate its own "second mirror" effect, which gives rise to the endless echoes of thought that we perceive as "mental perturbation." By abandoning attachment to the reflexive images that arise in profusion, we gradually resolve all the fragmented mirrors of mind into the single mirror of the now moment. This would be like inhaling all of the light rays back into your face, or dissolving all the mirrors into a single sheet of quicksilver. In the now moment all appears in its true form, with the mind reflecting its inherent perfection and noplace for multiple images to replicate.

Allowing the mind to recoalesce around its single tautological nature reminds me of a favorite analogy -- watching the reflection of the moon in water, when the water's surface becomes smooth, the many fragments of light coalesce into a single sphere. I like the analogy because the water reminds me of our body, made of water, and the image of the moon reminds me of thought, clear and bright. When our liquid body breathes at peace, the tides of our inner seas become regular and level. Then, as the surface becomes smooth with the regular rhythm of the deeper waters, there is great clarity, and the moon shines complete on the surface of the depths. Then a fish leaps up, shattering the moon, and we watch it all come together again.

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Q. What is missing in America is the Buddhist tradition of wandering yogins, monks, forest begging monks, and hermits. It seems there just aren't enough Buddhists to support these practices. If there were a few towns with large numbers of Buddhists, they could mark their properties in some way, and it would be possible for the monks, nuns and yogis who follow the forest tradition to come beg for their meals. They could also support some settled hermits. But at present, I don't think non-Buddhist America is ready for this. The Mt. Shasta, California, and Ashland, Oregon location is quite rural, much of the land is hilly or mountainous and in national forest, and there are many remote pieces of inexpensive property that Buddhists could purchase for hermits, which are already attracting a number of Buddhist centers, so that might be a good place to establish those traditional practices.

There would also have to be something else available. In India, monks often used to move into shelter during the rains. In the Mt. Shasta area, it would be important to provide shelter to wandering Buddhists during the winter months - winter replacing the rains in the tradition. But spring, summer and fall would be a good time for monks, nuns and yogis to wander from center to center, or live in special campgrounds in the forest established by groups of Buddhists. With enough Buddhists in the area, there would be enough houses to go to on begging rounds.

With enough Buddhist population, an informal New Nalanda might also be possible. By that I mean a loose association of Buddhist scholarly and scientific programs of various centers in the area. The centers could probably share some library facilities, and there could be bus service linking them.

A. I think the idea of being able to check out from society and get totally into the environment sounds great. Have you ever tried it? I've spent a few years out in the woods, and there's nothing like getting used to the outdoors, just being able to work all day in the drizzle and fog, drinking hot coffee and running a chain saw, gathering wood and loading a truck. Fixing machines in the rain. It's all good.

When I was young and had lots of energy, I was lucky. I blew it living out in the country. I didn't blow it in all in a skyscraper or an office. I even traveled in the East, went to Afghanistan, India, etc.

Being able to wander and get lost in a distant world is a good thing. Meet crazy Indian people and wander around barefoot in multi-thousand year old cities with so-called ascetics everywhere, bodies bobbing in the river, piles of **** everywhere. It's all good.

I'd like to be tough enough in my old age after the old gal's gone, to wander off into the woods finally one snowy evening when it doesn't matter anymore and just park my failing ass and get one last blanket of snow. Can't beat mother nature for doing the old systems shutdown. Better than Kevorkian or any of the other needle-operators.

Then again, I might just find myself freezing my ass off, hightailing it back to my cabin, pouring out shots of whiskey and throwing kerosene in the wood stove to get the fire going faster. Teach myself a damn good lesson. Find out if you're ready to die -- give it a try!

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Q. Can one be a good cop and a Buddhist? A policeman's job is to make people uphold the laws. If the law says a beggar can't stand someplace, he has to make them move. It is not up to him to decide whether the law is just or not. There are other places to question that. There are many ways to do things. You can apply compassion in whatever you do. For instance, you don't have to beat someone when you arrest them, but you arrest them. You can have a confrontational and antagonistic attitude or you can be helpful and cooperative.

A. I think that the view expressed above is a bit wooden. My brother's a prosecutor, and I was one for a little over a year. We've talked a lot about the ethical issues faced by prosecutors. He's against the death penalty (Roman Catholic), so he became exclusively a misdemeanor prosecutor -- he's turned his focus on DUII, domestic violence, and lately, putting slumlords out of business. Not all crime involves the underclass.

I avoided doing drug prosecution, but I've known lots of people who do that work. Mostly, my criminal work has been defense work, and I'm sure Ariel would back me up in saying that when I moved to suppress the admission of heroin as evidence, knowing it belonged to my client and that he was guilty of trying to sell it to people, simply on a "technicality," that was the job I was supposed to do. As a practical matter, when I got drug dealers lower sentences through skillful litigation and negotiation, I felt I was saving us all money, because more time in jail costs us all a lot more cash.

We have too many police and not enough teachers. We have a mental health establishment that seems to thrive on projecting pathology on what is often just a case of growing up too fast in bad company. Judges with little knowledge of therapy force people to attend therapy for every type of antisocial behavior. The criminal justice system is primarily for the oppression of the underclass through fine, fees, and jail time. We would be safer if the number of prisons were cut to a quarter of what they are, and the funds were redirected to job programs to rebuild the infrastructure and employ small time drug dealers who, statistics show, usually are poor men who hold regular jobs and work their off hours making a few extra dollars to buy necessities for their families.

So before we get off saying that these jobs need to be done, I suggest we ask if that is correct. I needed to do my work, and most lawyers, judges, court clerks, jail guards, etcetera need to do their work for one simple reason -- to pay our own bills. That doesn't mean it's good work, or important, or ethical, or "Buddhist." If it's a dirty job, first question whether anyone has to do it.

The question is where we draw the line. And how we can obtain power to change the existing social order, which perpetuates injustice and oppression at home and around the world.

Remember that old slogan, "What if they gave a war and nobody came?" How about "What if the offered great jobs oppressing humanity and nobody wanted them?"

Whether to carry a gun, use a gun, threaten to use a gun, etcetera. These are important questions for the man in the field who already has the dirty job. By all means, train and advise that person to be peaceful, wise, and do their job with compassion. There's way too many citizens murdered by police. But again, maybe we need to look a little more widely at the problem. Is Hollywood to blame in part for the bloodshed that fills the cities? I dare you to say no. Are arms makers responsible for the profligate murder of civilians in Afghanistan? Double dare ya'. Rising obesity even in poor nations is a world problem. Do we blame McDonalds and their suppliers? I think we have to, in order to reshape the world into a human-friendly habitat, which it currently is not.

My goal is to convince people that goodness is practical. I often find that if we immediately start talking abstractions, like whether a Buddhist can pull the trigger in a crunch, we fail to address issues that present themselves much more routinely, like whether a Buddhist should work a job that they personally, directly, feel is not good for other people.

I have faced this in strange contexts that in fact are so strange I will not discuss them. But suffice it to say that the enormity of the karmic effects that could result from one's solitary actions can literally chill your bones. And yet, we say we are powerless.

In truth, we are not powerless, but we become frightened of suffering consequences such as loss of social stature, money, and companionship. We barter a great deal to keep these. How can we barter the value of having an extra $20,000 a year against the satisfaction of doing a job that you really think is making the world a better place? Well, we have to, and we do.

I think our world improves incrementally every time someone encourages another to do something beneficial at material cost to themselves. By saying, "Hey, I'll still love you without a sports car," a lover may make it possible for someone to take a job in a free clinic, distributing medicines and treating people who are really suffering, instead of doing face lifts for celebrities. When it becomes sexy to help an old lady across the street, and a turn-on to be with a guy who gives cash to street people, then the world is coming along. We'll be on our way to widespread reform when a governor like Davis can say, "I'm granting clemency because the electorate believes that the State of California can show mercy," instead of keeping the unjustly imprisoned behind bars in order to garner the cruel and stupid vote. The wildfire of good government will be well on its way when people in the positions of Ariel Sharon and Yassir Arafat collapse weeping into each other's arms and swear to end the bloodshed, whatever the cost to their careers. And everyday acts of heroism will become commonplace, as people speak up to expose the wrongs they have committed, so that they can be remedied. Courage in facing up to consequences will become commonplace as we replace retribution with healing, and the bitter satisfaction of vengeance is replaced by dedication to create better times for all.

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Q. I have a friend who has taken Buddhist refuge vows and now wants to be initiated in the Yoruba tradition which participates in animal sacrifice. I believe she is misguided in the notion that one can be both "Buddhist" and "Yorubic." Any thoughts on this? pro or con both welcome.

Reminds me of that story Ram Dass put in his Be Here Now book:

A guru gives his disciple a chicken and says, "Go kill it where nobody sees."

Two days later, the guy comes back. He's still got the chicken, alive.

The guru says, "What's up with that? I told you to take the chicken and kill it where nobody sees."

The student leans forward and whispers, frowning at the chicken cradled in his arms, "But everywhere I go, the chicken sees!"

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Q. What is this authoritarianism in Buddhism of which you speak?

A. I went through and extracted various nuggets of wisdom from all of my brethren and sistren, which they have so skillfully deployed to rebut my sharpest barbs against authoritarianism. Initially starting out with a list of 83 deadly rebuttals, I ended up categorizing them into a flaming fistful of reactionary wisdom. Never again be left undefended when unexpectedly assailed by a sharp-witted anti-authoritarian. You too can stand tall, knowing that you are packing a Doctrinal Defender argument, neatly classed for swift deployment.

I have listed the different categories of rebuttals below under general group headings. Obviously, some would fit under more than one category, so ingenious are they.

"It's Bigger Than All That"

This seems to be the biggest category. It's a general purpose put down, coming right out of the gate, a long look down the snoot at a miserable insect that just has no idea how blooming wonderful this whole damn spiritual circus is. Can equally be deployed as a brutal rebuff to a newbie or a deft snub against seasoned adversaries. If you're ever at a loss for words when caught consorting with authoritarian henchmen, fall into this self protective crouch -- perhaps affecting surprise that your adversary just doesn't understand how blooming wonderful this whole damn spiritual circus is.

• Enslavement to Buddhist authority, or any other authority, is the least of my concerns because for the most part I am a total slave of my mind. Just when I think perhaps I have made some progress and liberation is close at hand I only discover that I only built a bigger and more beautiful jail.
• You are mixing political ways of organizing society, in which we are obviously all equal and have rights, with the process of transmiting fundamental understandings of truth, which is a totally different matter.
• Abusive authority is part of the tradition: Naropa//Tilopa. Zen practitioners getting hit with a stick, or slapped with a shoe over the head.
• If we have faith in the Buddha, all of our experiences will be purified.
• All of our experiences are equally illusory.
• We voluntarily choose to lose our freedom in order to gain a higher freedom.
• This is the ignorant thinking of the five skandhas.
• The teacher is not here to facilitate a consensus.
• Freedom is impotent to address our important spiritual issues.
• Humiliating yourself is part of getting rid of your ego.
• We have to suspend our judgment when it comes to having faith in the doctrine.
• Maybe you're not ready for the "radical" path of enlightenment.
• We can't apply rational criteria to the choice of a guru.
• Empowerment is necessary to confer the divine state and give permission to practice.
• Temper tantrums and whims of guru are manifestations of divine play.
• Vain gossip causes harm to others.
• Bliss will only prevail when you develop peace and love.
• Buddhism is about an invisible reality, not a materialistic reality.
• Let's "move beyond" the simple black-white issues presented here on to something more positive.

"It Works, That's Why"

This is a pretty huge category, also perhaps, overused because Americans are so practical. We just want to get the job done, okay, get enlightened, get home in time for supper. It's a button-down, business-like category that will make you look like a schoolmarm if you use it too often. So be careful, at the risk of becoming terminally uncool.

• It is not an option to rebel against authority.
• Control is necessary; otherwise we won't grow.
• People need "more rules," not less.
• Some people benefit from being regimented. It is skilful means.
• Humiliating yourself is part of getting rid of your ego.
• It is beneficial to apply various forms of friendly persuasion, peer pressure, righteous indignation, and shunning, for the benefit of your dharma brethren.
• The guru-disciple relationship is essential.
• Use various analogies: the student is a sick patient; the guru the doctor. The student is clay; the guru is the potter.
• Erratic or abusive practices are sometimes used by Eastern masters to stop the rational mind and allow enlightenment to enter.
• Worship is not for the guru's sake but for the student's.
• Devotional practices rely upon community standards and a sense of self that we need to develop in the United States.
• Perhaps we can regulate ourselves with standards of ethical conduct, and still derive the greatest benefit from the religious group while minimizing the risk of exploitation.
• We need to develop a genuine understanding of the dharma to address and alleviate our fears.
• The scriptures and the teachers are the prime sources of religious authority.
• It is a waste of time to carry tales about others.
• Don't give scope for ill feelings and worthless talk.
• Many important persons are Buddhists.
• Buddhist organizations sponsor a lot of charity activities.
• It does some people a lot of good.

"Shutup!"

This is a very popular category, probably because you don't have to be very smart to deploy these zingers. Take you right back to gradeschool.

• Just get over it!
• That's the way the system works! Complaining about it is just a waste of time.
• If you doubt the traditional system, it's because you are of poor character and life experience.
• Don't sow discord.
• You're going to vajra hell with that kind of attitude.
• You just don't understand how it all works.
• Don't harbor any undesirable thoughts.
• Vain gossip causes harm to others.
• Your information is false propaganda, gossip and misleading information.
• These ideas are advanced by negative-minded individuals.
• Your arguments have no foundation. They are hearsay.
• It's traditional.
• Only those who observe silence are good people. Silence fosters purity. We should observe silence at all times.
• Your information isn't impartial, because it is subject to your own biases.
• You're mean!

"This is Much Better Than Anything We Have in the West "

This category capitalizes on the inherent sense of inferiority that Americans feel when faced with saintly looking Easterners in colored robes. They didn't grow up with it, they don't know how it works, and you can tell them anything and they'll buy it. This is basically your Texas oil scheme in the spiritual patch. Grab a piece and hang on, because this stuff will sell!

• It is the level of co-dependence and dysfunction in our society that creates the possibility for abuse in the Buddhist system.
• The exclusively rational, intellectual approach to life has made Westerners feel alienated.
• Western thought is a dangerous obstacle to spiritual knowledge, so we must reject scientific inquiry to be rid of duality and domination.
• A guru goes beyond the boundary of control which many Americans adhere to.
• Americans are not comfortable with spiritual explorations into unknown and irrational realms.
• The anti-cult movements have presented a distorted view of Eastern spiritual religions which brings to the fore Americans' deepest fears and imaginings: mind control, total negation of reality, and allegiance to a human being rather than God.
• We are ethnocentric and have a fear of weakening our cultural foundations.
• Working with a guru can be one of the most sublime experiences of one's life.
• Ignorance is on the rise with the progress of science.
• All the trials and tribulations faced in this world are due to the so-called developments in science and technology.
• The Internet is poisoning the village environment, which is the epitome of peace and love. Don't spoil the village atmosphere by imitating the city culture.
• Bliss will only prevail when you develop peace and love.
• Buddhism is beyond democracy.

"One Bad Apple"

Everybody remembers this song by Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five, "One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, girl." You may recall that our grandparents had a different take, believing that indeed one bad apple would ruin the entire lot, and I dare say they had more experience with barrels of apples than our glad-handed friend. Be that as it may, the argument has numerous adherents, as the following quotes will show.

• While scandals do come from some Buddhist groups, many others provide a necessary, wonderful service.
• People make mistakes.
• Not everyone had your [bad] experience.
• Your experience is unique.

This is a legal term for "you had it coming." As in, "you had it coming breaking your neck flying down that hill on that snowboard like that." As in, "well, when you dress like that, what did you expect, he may be a priest but he's only a man!" The assumption of risk theory makes your average church yard look more dangerous than a toxic dumpsite, since you went there with your faith in your hands, you idiot, just asking to be taken for a ride. The problem with the assumption of risk defense is its excessive candor, but aside from that drawback, is a very useful first strike strategy.

• You were offered the chance to investigate and inquire. You had a chance to stay or leave.
• The teacher provides the necessary philosophical and practical guidance, but the student is still responsible for his or her own practice and development.
• Let the buyer beware.
• We have to take personal responsibility for whatever happens to us.
• If you had a real problem you'd take it to court.

"Gurus are Special People"

This category is very large, and seems to comprise quite a bit of the heavy timber in this structure. These are tautologies at their best, solid to the core, because of their unitized construction. You can rely on these phrases, because they depend upon nothing.

• The Buddhist leaders are representatives of the Buddha.
• The student must have faith in the guru no matter what action the guru takes.
• It's our fault, not the guru's.
• The greater the devotion, the more blessings one receives.
• The guru is a form of Buddha's presence, presenting the divine in a manner people can relate to.
• The guru-disciple relationship offers the possibility of tremendous spiritual growth, healing, and a powerful change in outlook.
• We can't apply rational criteria to the choice of a guru.
• Veneration is necessary, because a guru embodies divine power, and is capable of bestowing grace.
• A guru is the only person who can dispel darkness with his vast knowledge.
• The guru is a source of revelation, interpreting and influencing the tradition's development.
• True knowledge can only be obtained through a teacher.
• The guru is a spiritual guide leading the disciple to Absolute Reality, the nature of Being.
• The relationship between a guru and his students is heart to heart and is prompted by selfless love.
• Gurus are above the ethical laws that apply to everyone else.

"We'll Side With the Majority After All"

There's only one quote in this category, but it's so important, it needs it's own. I wanted to call this "consensus redux," to encapsulate the notion that, however much a movement rejects consensus decision-making, when it lacks the power of the majority, once it can invoke the authority of widespread acceptance, it will immediately do so.

• If the system was bad, why has it survived all of these years? A lot of people couldn't be wrong

"Jar Jar Speaks"

Sometimes things are put forward in a manner so beeble-bumbled that they have to be dedicated to the God of inarticulateness, which for me is Jar Jar Binks. Here you go.

• Authoritarianism/Anti-Authoritarianism is part of the "first tier thinking" which occurs before the revolutionary shift in consciousness where "being levels" emerge.

That pretty much wraps it up. If you're still here with me, thank you. I will try to think up some rebuttals to these rebuttals, but just right now I'm feeling a powerful urge to regret my apostasy and engage in some full-scale repentance and ice-cream eating.

Answer 2:

AmBu's flaming fistful of reactionary slogans were these:

"It's Bigger Than All That"(So why are you so small-minded?)
"It Works, That's Why " (But don't ask me to prove it!)
"Shutup!"(It's for your own good.)
"This is Much Better Than Anything We Have in The West" (You lose out on so much when you don't bow to the superior ones.)
"One Bad Apple" (don't spoil the whole bunch, girl!)"
"Assumption of Risk" (You were the one who got on her knees, so why are you whining about being oppressed?)
"Gurus are Special People " (And if you don't know why, just shutup!)

To these classic defensive slogans, used by uptight Buddhists to silence dissent outwardly (and their own fears inwardly), we need to add one more:

"A Person of Known Origins Can Never Be an Authority"

Originally pointed out by Jesus of Nazareth, who responded to local criticisms by observing that "a prophet hath no honor in his own country," this wry observation has been hammered into a rule of universal application. As a result, spiritual adulation can be lavished upon any ham-brained, be-robed individual of Mongolian extraction with enough moxie to sit on a throne while acting (pick one or more: profound, benign, whimsical, attentive, subtly threatening, or humorously avaricious). While they eventually may lose stature when they lurch drunkenly at a pair of mammaries attached to some hapless devotee (Sogyal), or engage in too many tall tales and blatant solicitations for cash (Kusum Lingpa), still they will be treated as authorities, because of the corollary rule, which is:

"Regardless of Other Characteristics, You Continue To Be An Authority So Long as You Are So Recognized by an Authority"

This rule means that, until the Pope says to kick the guy out, the pervert priest can still say Mass and continue to defile the bodies and spirits of the young. Until actually ousted and defrocked, any authority can continue to exploit their position.

This rule is so powerful that we can even make gold out of clay -- witness the tulkufication of Catherine Burroughs and Steven Segal, and the trail of self-stuck idiots that Kusum Lingpa has left in his train by haphazardly recognizing anyone who gives him the right ass-kissy vibe as the reincarnation of some heretofore unknown Tibetan saint. And despite all of Burrows' Leona-Helmsley-style antics and the very absurdity of Segal's posturing as a spiritual guide, until their "recognition" is withdrawn by Pednor Rinpoche, they will continue to collect accolades from the faithfools.

Examining the implications of these two rules, we see a third:

"Western People Who Don't Buy Authoritarian Hierarchy Can Never Say Anything Valid"

First, since they are western, they can't self-authorize,
So they need to be recognized by an authority,
But since they reject authorities, they will never obtain such a recognition,
Therefore, nothing they say will ever have any validity to the true faithfool,
Because faithfools only evaluate ideas based on the identity of the speaker, and never on their merits.

Having gone through this analysis with respect to any speaker, a true faithfool can safely stop his ears once it is clear the speaker has no authority.

However, there is one last rule every good faithfool should keep in mind, to avoid dissing your own kind:

"Any Statement By a Personl Who Professes Faith in Authority is Presumptively Valid"

Aha, you were waiting for this one, weren't you? This is why it is worth having a "Free Tibet" bumpersticker, or otherwise announcing your alliance with the authorities. To gain the benefit of the rule, simply append to any damn thing you say, the following: "I speak not from my own knowledge, but simply in repetition of what the gurus have declared -- it's all in the teachings -- I have nothing to add that hasn't been said before." Then you will sound as smart as Namdrol, and that ain't bad for a simple faithfool.

WARNING: This line of argument has been provided as a service to those persons dedicated to living inside a safe, authorized belief system, so that they will not be tempted to open their minds and inhale a new thought that could be poisonous to their entire world view and result in the waste of many hours of devotion, meditation, and self=abasement. By running through the analysis in advance, you will not be caught unprepared. The workings of the machinery have been revealed only because I know that the faithful will not be shaken by any of the hokey sarcasm that fills the interstices of the argument, and so that the devoted faithfool can be ready for the sorry-ass attacks that will come from those stupid anti-authoritarians.

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Q. What's your opinion of September 11?

A. This event will change our lives. Our nation has exported violence, and the new administration has put the world on notice of our new callousness. I n recent years the sorrows we have visited upon others have begun to appear at home.

Now something shocking and inconceivable has occurred: our technical mastery of men and machines has been turned against us with hugely malevolent intent. The earth has swallowed up compatriots in a hole full of flames. Our president is bundled about by his handlers and speaks pablum. The polls scream for vengeance.

In the days to come it will take courage to speak words of peace. No one will want to think calmly.

We must remember what remains to be preserved: our lives, and those of others. Let them not be consumed in anger or lost in confusion. Let us create the causes for future happiness.

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Q. I don't know why it would bother anyone to say the words "one nation under god" in the pledge of allegiance. The meaning really is that we individually subject ourselves to a higher understanding than our passing desires or opinions. It is like taking refuge: we promise to follow the wisdom of the Buddha by taking refuge in his understanding, because we consider it superior to our own. That's more or less what they meant by "God" in those days.

A. Short lesson on politics.

Some people don't believe in God or Buddha or eternal anything, but they still vote, pay taxes, fight in wars, put out fires and otherwise are great citizens. And the fact that "you don't know why it would bother anyone" is like the local rednecks 'round here not understanding why it was a little hurtful to the few remaining Native Americans to have a major highway named "Dead Indian Road."

You don't know why it would be a problem, but Tom Paine, John Adams, Tom Jefferson and a few other hard cases knew how ignorant you would be, and so we have a Bill of Rights to protect us from your ignorance. That's why we have laws about separation of church and state, because your ideological ancestors, who came here to find religious freedom, set immediately to work repressing other co-religionists, as if all of America had been provided for the control of one religious sect.

Forcing non-religious people to say religious words is every bit as injurious as forcing religious people to say non-religious things. Just think of what the Chinese have done with "re-education" to drive sectarianism deep into the soul. It's sick, but not sicker than the religious version of indoctrination.

And if you say the average kid who watches The Simpsons knows it's all a load of crap and meaningless, I will argue that is the worst damage of all -- for the nation's youth to accept that solemn pledges are just political pablum. Once they get that message, they won't even bother to vote.

But I believe in self-protection. To anyone who doesn't like to recite the pledge, but hates to be seen with their lips not moving, just print this out and recite it the next time you're attending a nationalistic event.

I pledge allegiance
to the flag,
a terrifying symbol of global oppression,
And to the republic for which it stands,
a sham governmental structure that usurps the people's power and makes war on our brothers,
One nation, under the secret oligarchy,
the unbreakable, corporate mafia
using religion as a scam.

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Q. I wonder if you are capable of the "close and respectful" dialog that is necessary between Tibetan and Westerner, especially the respectful part. I think that you have so much anger about your experiences in Ashland that it colors every interaction. I'm sure much of it is justified, but not if it means painting every teacher with the same brush.

A. My dear friend Odzer once said, in the midst of an eager discussion, with a dash of intellectual relish, "Analysis is an angry thing!"

Certainly it is, with its probing irreverence, its rude dashing aside of sham arguments and pious roadblocks. Analysis is the fearsome sword of Manjushri or the flame-enhaloed Fudo. Analysis is Tara, "breaking the seven underworlds with the stamping of her foot." Analysis brings all the skyscrapers of proud corporate theocracy tumbling down. As Iggy said, "A tall building fell on Daddy!"

Mark Twain said, "Thunder is fine, thunder is impressive, but it is lightning that does the work." In the case of Tara, you complain about the noise of the thunder, neglecting to note that the lightning has also done its work. She evokes negative responses not because of her "disrespectful" noise, but because her lighting bolts have split a few trees and fried some sacred bovines.

People are naturally averse to disrespectful criticism; indeed, criticism is often attacked as worthy of disregard because it is "intemperate," as JS Mill said. Mill argued effectively in "On Liberty" that those who argue that speech should be "free so long as it is not intemperate," provide a loophole for repression, because whatever idea is not in fashion seems intemperate. Thus we remember (or I do) when the supporters of segregation had "no problem with good Negroes" but opposed "troublemakers" like Dr. King.

If speech can be suppressed for being intemperate, then the accusation of intemperance will be but the overture to repression. Intemperance will be charged as disrespect, disrespect elevated to heresy, and hence arises the justification for witchcraft and terrorism prosecutions, in which impious or disloyal speech is charged as the wrongful conduct, and the heretical attitude as criminal intent.

While you may not be setting torches to any pyres for burning witches, once you make respect a precursor to consideration of an argument, you foment a repression of ideas within your own psyche. In the dividedness of your own mind, your questioning psyche entertains thoughts of heresy while your officious superego supports the ruling doctrine. Hints of uncertainty wobble through the body-politic of your conflicting opinions, strange psigns populate the back alleys of dreams. Sometimes you have fantasies of revolution.

In a meritocracy, respect is generally paid only to those who have earned it. In a theocracy, respect is paid to those upon whom titles have been bestowed. This is true of the Tibetan theocracy, which has no merit-based system for recognizing wise beings. History shows that wise beings who don't get official recognition are like great Western artists -- recognized posthumously. For example, many Milarepa stories are about how he shamed clerics who attacked him for being unorthodox; indeed, I recently ran across a Chinese Buddhist text that is still beating up on him as the very demon of impiety. In a vital, virile theocracy like Tibetan Buddhism, showing respect to the robes of the lama (even if you know him personally for a knavish fellow) is a religious act, a pious observance, having nothing to do with the merits of who are wearing the robes.

Returning to the topic of analysis, respect is not an analytic feature. There is no need to respect that which you analyze. Quite the contrary. If by "respect" we mean that we shall presume the rightness of the lama's position, and refrain from exposing it to scrutiny, we are a poor analyst. Just like a cop who's executing a search warrant is a poor investigator if he, "out of respect" fails to search the entire house where little Jon Benet was murdered.

Since the rightness or wrongness of spiritual doctrines is a matter of the greatest moment, literally implicating the state of mind of a lonely soul wandering in all eternity without guidance, analysis of spiritual doctrines cannot proceed on the basis of "respect." When true gold has been found, it will command respect. To presume that ore contains gold without first extracting it runs the risk of grave error.

Furthermore, the unextracted ore cannot be put to the uses of gold. It is basically dirt. So unanalyzed and therefore uncomprehended teachings are simply dirt, or at best, a source of potential benefit. Thus, being most generous to the concept of "respect," we can say that by respecting this special dirt, we may have the chance to extract the gold later, if indeed it is special dirt.

I am sure that this is all sufficiently metaphorical and confounding, based upon which I request you show it some respect, as these features are true of most religious utterances.

-THE END-
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:31 am

HOME SWEET HOME, by Charles Carreon

March 31, 2004

Being in Arizona for the last couple of weeks has provoked a lot of recollection and reflection. Monday night Tara and I went out for dinner on Mill Avenue in Tempe, where we long ago began the romantic relationship that sparked thirty years of lawless conduct. We are quite different now, as is Mill Avenue. Where once waterbed shops competed with headshops to sell more India print bedspreads, and a biker bar featured bands that played for beer and abuse, commercial interests have spread their tent of mid-rises and bright lights, creating a thronging spot complete with familiar trademarked bookstores, restaurants, banks and ice cream shops.

We chat with a flautist playing for spare change, reminiscing how I once did the same. He's actually a little older than I am, with a head of neatly-clipped grey hair, and a high-speed delivery of complex good-humored jive that sort of all fits together. Said he toured with Aretha, and did a Herbie Mann-style rendering of "Summertime" that was a little too breathy for my tastes, but had plenty of verve and exhibited fingerings far more skilled than I would venture. Think of what I could have mastered if I hadn't gone to law school.

We reminisced about the days when we ate at a restaurant called Earthen Joy, where the food was all named after characters from Lord of the Rings. There was a Gandalf burger (swiss cheese melted over a little steamed spinach). The warm carob cake with hot carob sauce was addictive, made from a secret recipe that was never successfully extracted from the owner's wife. Tara and I ate there regularly, we remembered, always with her money. She had money; I didn't, but we never discussed whose money was getting spent. We agreed, last Monday, that it had all sorted out fairly well for her, thirty years later.

In those days, we rode our bicycles everywhere in Tempe, a couple of three-speeds that were perfect for the long, flat walkways that paved the Arizona State University campus where we met. At the south end of the campus, the carob trees filled the air with the scent of fresh nitrogen, which smells like male generative fluid, and always made us laugh. The come trees, we called them, so comfortable with our grownup knowledge of the ways of life. Three minutes farther south, by bicycle, was the house my folks loaned us for a couple of years, while we tried to get our life together started.

But like little cuttings that never seem to get rooted, we never did much but take classes, hang out with hippies, and imagine a perfect world.

Eventually, we went to India to fulfill our longing for a real guru, real spiritual teachings, and a way to avoid work forever. Not that Tara was afraid of hard work. She just didn't want it to separate me from her. I, on the other hand, was deathly afraid of work. I wasn't afraid of effort or exertion, but I was afraid of bosses. Dictatorial men who towered over you and disapproved of your attitude. Angry men who thought I wasn't a good worker. Not their fault, either. I wasn't much of a worker. Kinda like if someone had tried to get George W. Bush to wash dishes. It'd be a mess. But our great Fuhrer had the sense to learn useful stuff like flying private planes, and was able to pick up degrees at Yale and Harvard without too much effort. I didn't want to pick up a degree, because for starters, I'd have had to pick a major, and the Education department had explained, politely, I wasn't really teacher material. So what's an altruistic, aesthetically minded guy to do? Get enlightened, I figured.

So at the ripe old ages of twenty and nineteen, respectively, Tara and I made a beeline for the Wisdom of the East. Assuming, of course, that the bees hitchhiked from Tempe to New York, hopped a flight to Luxembourg, hitched to Munich, trained to Istanbul, and bussed through Trabzon, Herat, Kandahar, Kabul, Rawalpindi, Swat, and Amritsar, eventually buzzing into Benares, the City of Shiva, and built a little hive on a houseboat moored on the banks of the Ganges.

That was a long ways from Tempe, and the rhythms of tabla drums, the whistle of bonsuri flutes, and the drone of sitars and vinas were magical and exciting. The bazaars were full of carvings, brassworks, and sweetmeats. The cobblestone ways were narrow capillaries feeding the city's stone flesh, conveying streams of pilgrims and holy men on sacred errands that all seemed to lead down to the burning ghats, where bodies burned night and day. We weren't welcome in the Hindu temples, we discovered, and fell in with western Buddhists, mostly Aussies and Brits, who were getting into the mindfulness path of Burmese Buddhism. But it was the romance of India, of the transformative vision of Shiva, that held my fascination.

Sitting in our houseboat, with Tara pounding out the tabla rhythms that she learned with remarkable ease from her amazed teacher, watching the boats float down the Ganges, we felt more at home than we ever had in our own country. The pace of life was infinitely slow. The poverty, astonishing in its gravity, nevertheless settled like shit to the bottom of the river, leaving the surface strangely serene. While the Indians could drive you crazy with their begging and irrationality, it was comforting to be in a place where a million gods and goddesses jostled for recognition from generations of devotees, where beliefs as ancient and grimy as the banyan trees with their innumerable roots and branches nevertheless maintained unquestionable vitality. There was beauty in ignorance, I realized, a beauty that the learned, well-informed westerner would never glimpse. Ignorance could indeed be bliss, if it was ignorance of the particular, annoying specifics of concrete reality that obstructed the fine inner vision of the interior heaven of the heart.

I have concluded, over the years, that all the real changes in life come from seeing other people accomplishing the goals to which we ourselves aspire. For example, in 1988 I decided to become a trial lawyer after I watched a couple of lawyers for about a half-hour trying a simple auto accident case in LA Superior Court. I realized, watching the judge, the lawyers, the expert witness on the stand, that they all put their pants on one leg at a time. The very phrase appeared in my mind -- "one leg at a time." I too put my pants on that way. I could do this. And sixteen years later, although I like to think I try cases better than the average lawyer, the essential insight that enabled me to move from "litigation" to "trials" was simply realizing that the job of "trial lawyer" was one that many perfectly ordinary people had already mastered.

Similarly, in 1976, back in Benares, I had realized that I could be a "spiritual householder." Richard Alpert and a whole slew of Swamis -- Satchidananda, Shivananda, Vivekananda, Yogananda, Etceterananda -- they all had told me about this "householder" path that led to "liberation." Ahhh, what a fine idea. But until we left Tempe and landed in Benares, it wasn't real. I had never seen people like the saffron-robed sadhus, with long hair, greying beards, carrying ceremonial spears, pursuing a career of renunciation. Somewhat like Siddhartha, who had heretofore seen only the artificial loveliness of the palace where his father had imprisoned him, Tara and I also traveled beyond the castle walls of our homeland. And while many would have seen in India merely the horrifying triple curse of poverty, ignorance, and corruption, my eyes found inspiration in the renunciates who managed to screen out all of the horror, fixing their eyes instead upon the inner horizon of Liberation, seeking union with Brahman, Shiva, Lakshmi, etecetera, etcetera, etcetera.

While these renunciates had no pants to put on one leg at a time, I learned that I too could wear a skirt. I bought a few waist-wraps and soon became accustomed to wearing the native garment. I bathed in the filthy Ganges, certain that the slime of human offal would not infect me. I ate the native food, and learned to show respect to whatever deity showed itself in my path. All this in just a few months. I am a fast learner.

Wordsworth said of children that "their entire vocation is endless imitation," and we can only imitate what we have seen. Originality is a rare quantity, the equivalent of mutation in biological terms, which manifests in novel forms, unseen before. Original things present a risk of failure, and mutations often are lethal. Stick with the tried and true, our parents teach us, and with good reason. The dumping grounds are full of failed innovations, and the pauper's graveyards are rich with the rotting brains of inventors and self-announced geniuses. So also, the Tibetan lamas teach that the second level of faith, after mere enthusiasm, is "the faith of emulation," and Thomas a Kempis wrote a spiritual classic called The Imitation of Christ. Not being a student of Islam, I can't point you to an appropriate text on imitating the saints of that tradition, but I am sure they abound. These are the "safe" spiritual paths, those trodden by the Wise Ones of the Past, who, we are assured, have reached the bosom of spiritual comfort in Amitabha's Pure Land, Jehovah's Heaven, or Allah's Perfumed Garden.

Of course, none of these Wise Ones have brought back even one pebble from the heavenly realms they so accurately describe. The only token of their achievement has been their "supernal calm," their "dispassionate clarity," their "selfless compassion." Their tales of the great beyond tell of a home beyond time in a realm where death is a forgotten memory. A few years back, I thought these personal qualities of transcendental wisdom were a sufficient warrant of saintly authenticity, at least sufficient to justify my reliance upon the Buddhist doctrine in an uncertain and frustrating world. But now, I want to see them really walk the talk.

If a person is supposed to have supernal calm, derived from knowledge of deathlessness, then that calm had better be imperturbable, without valium, demerol, alcohol or other stimulants to prop it up. If that dispassionate clarity is real, it should never lead to gross errors of judgment like those displayed by every guru currently walking this earth. If selfless compassion has been attained, then it will have to manifest as a real contempt for wealth, and a love of the poor and destitute. The gurus of this time meet none of these requirements.

While it may well be safe to imitate Christ, or Buddha, none of the celebrated Buddhist and Christian teachers of today are worthy of imitation. They pander to the crowds like politicians, collect money like stock brokers, and feather their nests like hardcore materialist accumulators. They measure each other's status with the size of their temples and the number of their adherents. Far from being a safe path, following these individuals leads only to the temple of self-delusion.

So where to worship? Who to imitate? How to find the role model, the example for our highest spiritual strivings? Perhaps, as one holy man who never made a dime advised, right here at home, in the human heart. While it is a humble abode, it is where we began, and the Source of all our resources. Seeking no support outside yourself, no guide but the compass in your own center, may be the only safe path. Your own baby-struggles to achieve integrity, honesty, and dignity may not seem as safe as imitating an established guru, but there is no point in becoming a copy of a counterfeit, and we can all put our pants on one leg at a time.

With warmest wishes that each of us may find our way back to our own personal Ithaca,

Odysseus the Wanderer
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:33 am

IGGY POP BIOGRAPHY, by Charles Carreon

Image
Ink and Pencil, 8" x 10", by Joshua Carreon

Iggy Pop began as a bad joke that couldn’t last and ended up being the lasting truth-teller that couldn’t be silenced. There aren’t too many ways of accurately describing Iggy’s music that don’t require the use of industrial adjectives like – corrosive, grating, insistent, driving, unabated, and of course, uncompromising. Iggy looks like a guy who would bang a can on his head to hear the sound it made. Far from it. He is a musical genius who can create a symphony out of the noises you normally silence with a pillow over the head. The sounds of the machine age resound in his song, “Cold Metal,” where he nails the brave new world of industrial strength in driving chords that alarm with the same force as a submarine loudspeaker blaring “dive!”

Iggy has an ability to get musicians to bring sounds out of their instruments that they normally do not produce. Take Slash, for example, of Guns & Roses former fame. The cuts he played on Iggy’s “Brick by Brick” album are better than anything he did with G&R.

Iggy’s albums were probably released in small pressings over the years, but as time has gone by, they have continued to be available. It’s a good policy to buy all the Iggy CDs you come across, because then you can share. Some of my favorite songs are on “Tell Me A Story” and “Zombie Birdhouse,” two completely different albums. Tell Me A Story is easy listening by comparison to Zombie, which has long monotonal interludes, with Iggy chanting poetry in a flat tone. But ultimately, you discover all of the gemlike elements of both albums, and love them equally. Because they all carry that essential Iggy spirit.

The essential Iggy spirit is perhaps laid out most plainly in the very commercial and high-toned, but also very deep and genuine “Brick By Brick” album. The album has a powerful populist theme expressed in lines like “people oughta get respect in front, people oughta live where they want, people oughta get along pretty much o-kay.” (Brick-By-Brick, title track.) In “Main Street Eyes,” Iggy urges us to “keep your Main Street eyes, trying to do what’s decent with our lives.” He unpacks our modern pain in a brief soliloquy: “Sometimes, I’m goin’ around, I feel a tension under the surface, like people are just about ready to explode. My head keeps trying to sell me ambition, but in my heart, I want self-respect. There’s a conflict.” He makes us feel all right about being who we are.

But just so you won’t think that’s a boring mission, Iggy will play the clown and reach into his bag of tricks to make you laugh. He won’t let you take it seriously, because that would take all the fun out of it. Listen to Iggy and train to be spontaneous.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:35 am

IS KRISHNA A CON?, by Charles Carreon

I've wanted to post this for a long time, the Texas RICO lawsuit filed by Windle Turley, Texas lawyer, on behalf of The Children of ISKCON. I never could remember how to spell that name, but now my recollection is solid, since I realize it's an acronym for "Is Krishna a Con?"

Ya know, I'm not sure how toxic religion has to be before people stop treating it like a harmless thing. Meth is the plague du jour; however, religion is the root of all our problems. Check this complaint out.

The core allegations are in these first two files, which are each just three typewritten pages long. You'll get the gist of the filth from that.

If you want the whole thing, it's 42 pages, so have broadband or be prepared to wait. But it's well-written, and probably 98% true. As my momma would say, "It'll curl your teeth."

http://www.rapeutation.com/iskoncomplaintturleykrishna.pdf

What amazes me about ISKCON is the brazenness with which these people operated, according to the complaint, from 1972 through 1990, creating a system in which chidren were subject to routine sexual abuse in an environment created for, and managed by, a gang of dedicated pedophiles. This is the quotation of the acts of abuse, taken directly from the complaint.

B. ABUSE INFLICTED

3. Sexual abuse including rape, oral sex, intercourse with children, sexual fondling of children, and masturbation with children

4. Physical beatings of children with boards, branches, clubs, and poles.

5. Physical beatings by adult teachers and school leaders with fists to the head and stomach.

6. Kicking the children into submission.

7. Children were in some instances made to walk great distances in bitter cold, including snow and rain, without jackets, coats, or shoes.

8. Children were often forced to sleep on cold floors and in unheated rooms.

9. Children were frequently deprived entirely of medical care or provided such inadequate medical care as to suffer long-term and, in some instances, permanent injury. The medical conditions for which children were not treated included malaria, hepatitis, yellow fever, teeth being knocked out, broken facial bones, and broken bones in their hands, often inflicted as they attempted to shield themselves from beatings.

10. Children were sometimes kept in filthy conditions. In at least one instance, a local group utilized what had recently been a cattle or horse barn for a nursery.

11. In almost every school the children were kept in severely overcrowded conditions, often forced to sleep shoulder to shoulder on the floor or in small rooms in three-high bunks with 10 or 12 children to each tiny room.

12. The children were physically abused by being awakened every day in the early morning hours (generally at 4:00 a.m.) and subjected to a cold shower, after which they were taken, without any breakfast, to a daily religious service. At some schools, the children were forced to walk great distances in the dark to attend the service, and often in cold or rainy conditions, clothed only in their thin gown-like "dohti."

13. The children were not provided bathroom tissue, but instead were expected to wipe themselves with their fingers, after which they would dip their fingers into a bowl of water.

14. As punishment for not cleaning themselves thoroughly, children were scrubbed with steel wool until their skin was raw and sometimes bleeding.

15. Children were abused when they were forced to sleep on their wet blankets or in tubs as punishment if they wet their bedding.

16. Some children were forced to wear their soiled underclothes on their heads for long periods of time because they had wet themselves.

17. Children were often forced to go without food entirely, either because there was none, or as punishment when food was provided, it was always inadequate for a growing child's diet.

18. The inadequate food that was provided was often prepared in unsanitary conditions, was of very poor quality and so unpleasant that even hungry children frequently could not eat it In at least one school the children learned as a matter of routine to remove insects from their food before eating it.

19. Each child was expected to eat what they were provided. If they did not do so, their saved portion was kept on their plates until the next meal when it was served again. This process often continued until the cold food -- even moldy and insect-infested - was swallowed.

20. In some schools, children were forced to lick up their vomit from any foul food they may have thrown up.

21. At New Vrindavan, three young boys, about six or seven years of age, who worked in the kitchen, took some food to their hungry friends. They were caught and punished by being gagged, having bags placed over their heads, and being put in a small room for several days with only a bucket for their waste and no food or water. One of the same boys was later slammed by a teacher into a marble wall, resulting in a loss of some teeth and fractured facial bones.

22. Children were controlled by various threats to hurt or kill them and by punishments. Young children, strictly limited to a vegetarian diet, were continually terrorized when told that non-Krishnas were meat-eaters, that they ate each other, and that the children, if given to or taken by the meat-eaters, would themselves be eaten.

23. Children often saw rats in their rooms and schools. Some children (such as those at the school in Dallas) were told the rats lived in a particular old closet, and the child would be, and often was, placed in the closet if they didn't do as told.

24. One form of punishment included forcing little children to stand on a crate for long periods of time in a darkened closet "so the rats would not eat them."

25. Very young children were in fact placed in those dark and locked closets and left afraid and crying for hours at a time. They were locked overnight in dark cellars with dirt floors. One young child was made to sleep alone in the loft of a cold barn for many nights.

26. sometimes the children were sent by their superiors to massage and bathe the religious gurus and then drink their now ''blessed bath water."

27. In some cases, children were stuffed into trash barrels for periods of two to three days, with the lid on, as punishment for relatively trivial "sins."

28. Children were almost universally told that if they disclosed their condition or complained to their parents or others, they would be severely punished when complaints were made, the children were publicly and often severely beaten or subjected to other forms of punishment.

29. Girls, as young as 12 or 13 years, were frequently "given" or "promised" to an older male in the movement. Although their marriages were generally not sexually consummated until the child was at least 16 or 17 years old, the little girls were terrorized by the threats, and often reality, of being given away by their leaders to become engaged to many "strange old men."

30. Children were often forced to lie awake in their beds or sleeping bags and listen as their little friends were sexually molested by teachers and other leaders.

31. The children were emotionally abused by subjecting them to near-total parental and societal isolation. In an effort to totally control their minds, the children were, in most cases, separated and isolated from their parents and were not allowed to have regular contact with their parents. Personal visits, correspondence, and telephone calls were either forbidden or discouraged. Gifts, particularly of food, were intercepted. For example, one young boy felt abandoned by his parents, and had no contact with his family for more than a year. He later learned the one small package of cookies sent by his mother was intercepted and kept from him.

32. Children were frequently moved to different schools in different states without the consent (or, sometimes, knowledge) of parents. Some children were hidden from parents. Some boys were shipped out of the country to ISKCON schools in India. In at least some cases, after the parents discovered their child's whereabouts and made arrangements for them to come home, their plane tickets were intercepted, and torn up in front of the children. Then, these children were punished for their parents' attempt to bring them home.

33. Even though the children were given by their parents to ISKCON to educate, except for the reading of their "Vedic scriptures," the children received little or no education.

34. Because of near-total isolation from the outside world and lack of education, the children who remained within the ISKCON schools for extended periods of time were totally unequipped to enter outside society. They have experienced extreme difficulty in earning a living, entering and maintaining relationships, including marriage, and in adapting to the laws and regulations of society. Many are in need of extended psychological and/or vocational training,rehabilitation, and medical care.

35. Plaintiffs, like almost all of the children who remained within ISKCON schools for any period of time, were forced to work many hours a day, at ages below the applicable minimum age requirements of the state child labor laws in which the schools were located. Compounding this illegal work program put in place by the Defendants in the gurukulas is the fact that none of the Plaintiffs was ever paid for their many hours of labor. Thus, not only were Plaintiffs forced to work by Defendants in violation of applicable child labor laws, but were forced to do so without any compensation whatsoever, robbing them of the value of their work.

36. The widespread use of child labor was a necessary part of the Defendants' scheme. Because Defendants fail to provide adequate staffing to prepare meals, cook, wash dishes and clothes, and clean the facilities and, in some instances, operate the farms, Defendants utilized the children to perform a large portion of these services. This practice fired the children's parents to continue to raise money for ISKCON and to provide other services to the ISKCON enterprise.

37. The founder of the institution, Prabhupada, was informed in 1972, at a time when he totally controlled the institution, that extensive physical and sexual abuse of minor ISKCON children was occurring, but he concealed the wrongdoing from the public, parents and all but a handful of close advisors.

38. Despite having been alerted to the physical, emotional, mental and sexual abuse of children in its gurukula boarding schools and other schools as early as the 1970s, ISKCON and the other Defendants conspired to suppress any public disclosure, or disclosure to gurukula children's parents, of the pattern and practice of rampant abuse and theft at its gurukulas. ISKCON fraudulently concealed this information for decades, allowing the offending gurukula teachers and supervisors continued access to children for their sexual gratification and to subject them to physical, emotional and mental abuse. Defendants also endeavored to dissuade and discourage parents of gurukula children from visiting the schools. This was done at least in part to preserve the secrecy surrounding the abuse of and theft from the Krishna children.

38. ISKCON, by and through its GBC, knew that if it did not conceal and keep secret the theft, sexual, physical, and emotional abuse it had learned was taking place in many of its schools, the very viability of the movement would be jeopardized. ISKCON would face a large loss of students and their parents from the movement and with that a large loss of funds and fundraisers. The individual income of many members of the GBC would have been adversely impacted. Its leaders would also have been subject to criminal and civil sanctions. The GBC made conscious decisions to conceal the fact that injury had been, and was continuing to be, inflicted on minor boys and girls.


The operators of ISKCON used classic techniques of child manipulation to control their victims, once they separated them from their stupid parents, the low-IQ dregs of the psychedelic revolution:

Children were almost universally told that if they disclosed their condition or complained to their parents or others, they would be severely punished when complaints were made, the children were publicly and often severely beaten or subjected to other forms of punishment.


Of course, I'm too harsh on those poor Krishnoids, especially since I was one of the "Children of God," who ultimately created a very similar, sexually-driven hell for their children.

There's a terrible similarity in the stories told by the COG kids at http://www.movingon.org, and as recorded by Miriam Williams in her brilliant book, "Heaven's Harlots," which Altruistic World Online Library has kindly archived at this link: "Heaven's Harlots: My Fifteen Years as a Sacred Prostitute in the Children of God Cult."

How could people be such jerks to kids? How could they use them as the repositories for their cowardly sexual appetites? Why didn't they all have sex with each other, and leave the kids alone? Why were they drawn to use a Blue Man as their cover?

Because of near-total isolation from the outside world and lack of education, the children who remained within the ISKCON schools for extended periods of time were totally unequipped to enter outside society. They have experienced extreme difficulty in earning a living, entering and maintaining relationships, including marriage, and in adapting to the laws and regulations of society. Many are in need of extended psychological and/or vocational training,rehabilitation, and medical care.

***

The founder of the institution, Prabhupada, was informed in 1972, at a time when he totally controlled the institution, that extensive physical and sexual abuse of minor ISKCON children was occurring, but he concealed the wrongdoing from the public, parents and all but a handful of close advisors.

***

ISKCON, by and through its GBC, knew that if it did not conceal and keep secret the theft, sexual, physical, and emotional abuse it had learned was taking place in many of its schools, the very viability of the movement would be jeopardized. ISKCON would face a large loss of students and their parents from the movement and with that a large loss of funds and fundraisers. The individual income of many members of the GBC would have been adversely impacted. Its leaders would also have been subject to criminal and civil sanctions. The GBC made conscious decisions to conceal the fact that injury had been, and was continuing to be, inflicted on minor boys and girls.


So it will be clear what kind of hideous correspondence between ISKCON and the Children of God I am talking about, I quote from the 2nd Generation COG website:

You, who call yourselves “the children of God” and “The Family of love”, have sacrificed, deprived and endangered your children all in the name of “saving lost souls”. Did you ever consider the safety, well being and happiness of your own children when you decided to live communally and knowingly allow your children to be in the same household as child molesters and rapists? Sure, the molesters and rapists can be forgiven and perhaps change their names several times to demonstrate that they have “changed” and “repented”. However, these molesters and rapists have never changed and are still the sick people they were 10 names ago. As much as you pray for them and have them “confess their sins,” they continue to roam your homes and prey on your children and your young teens.

I would like to ask you, how are you able to place more value in the life of the “lost souls” then in the life of your own children? What gives you the right to place more value over one life than over another?

I know you believe that you are the “chosen ones” or “the children of god” however, it is one thing to join a cult when you are an adult but it is quite another to force your children to conform to your life style and beliefs. We have observed, over the years, that when we didn’t conform to your standard of living you prayed against us and against our happiness. You have condemned the outsiders or “systemites” as you call them for trying to force you into their mold and their lifestyles (over 30 years ago) and yet you turn around and do the same thing to your own children except you have deprived your children of a descent education and you have allowed for their lives to be jeopardy and the worst part about this is that you justify your actions by professing that you are doing this all in “the name of God”.

Many of your own children are now scared emotionally, psychologically and physically because of what you call “the family of love”, we cannot get back those years of innocence because of your decision to join “the family”. You have also tried to make your children so dependant on you by keeping them in seclusion from the outside world, it was your hope that we would never survive the “real world” if you kept us in seclusion for long enough and brainwashed us with your propaganda. But we survived and we have succeeded in living a positive and productive life in the “real world” or “the system” (as you call it) despite the disadvantages many of us were faced with when we first left.

Some of us may not have made the best decisions but they are our own and we are proud to now have the freedom of expression without restraint or reproach.

--Prisma

http://www.movingon.org/article.asp?sID=1&Cat=31&ID=968

***

Statement of Mr. John LaMattery (Sr) former first-generation member of The Family International (aka. The Children of God) in support of the second-generations’ fight to expose the abuses of the quasi-Christian church of The Family International.

To all past and current first-generation members of The Family International; to ALL our second-generation young people; to the media and; most of all to my own dear children.

My name is John LaMattery. I first joined the Children of God in 1973 and was a full-time member until 1978. I then re-joined in 1985 under its new-name: The Family. I left full-time membership in 1994.

My first son, John LaMattery(Jr), is now standing up to expose the abuses that occurred to many of the children of this group. I would like to say, first of all, how proud I am of my son. It is costing him dearly to make this stand: in finances and health. He is a fine young man who loves his fellowman and has always dealt honestly and truthfully with others. It is true that he suffered sexual abuse as a 9 year old. I would like to say that I was aware of this and failed to intervene on his behalf. I am ashamed that I failed my son and that I did not take steps to protect him from this. In fact, I sanctioned the incident that he refers to in news accounts. I was terribly mistaken in my judgment. I failed to guard him and to keep him out of harms way. For this I am truly sorry. I will not make any excuses for this failure. It was wrong and it is something that I will have to carry to my grave as a terrible mistake made in my life. As King David wrote: “my sin is ever before me.”

Two of my 6 daughters also suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Family members. I was not aware of these until years later but it still remains that because I kept my children in this organization I, whether knowingly or unknowingly, exposed them to an environment which allowed such things to occur. I regret that this happened to them. By placing my children into harms way I must take full responsibility for the results of this in their lives today.

All my children suffered some form of abuse. Not all necessarily sexual. There were other abuses such as psychological which were degrading to their character or frightening to their young minds and spirits. They were deprived of a proper education, asked to go out on the streets and door-to-door nearly daily to raise funds for our living. They were separated from each other and made to live in locations away from their natural family. In essence their family unit was virtually destroyed while at the same time they were made to feel guilty for missing their brothers and sisters, father and mother. This is such a sad and regretful set of circumstances.

These events in my children’s lives are a sad blot on their childhood memories. I regret that as a parent I failed to provide them with the love and care, the oversight and proper attention that are expected of any loving and concerned parent. I hope that in some way they will find complete healing and that the hurt and pain which I allowed into their lives will some day fully heal.

I would also like to say I am very sorry to all the children in The Family whether you ever suffered sexual abuse or not. I am sorry that I didn’t fight for your rights and fight against the terrible insidious doctrine of ‘the law of love’, a doctrine which was twisted by many of my generation to give license to abuse you in one form or another. It is a doctrine which, through my recent conversations with some current members, is still strongly adhered to and professed to be a true and pure doctrine of The Family International. I do believe that Jesus Christ came to this earth to bring His pure and sacred new law: to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. But The Family has, in my opinion and judging by their fruits, grossly misinterpreted it and misused it. This is a sad testimony to the many honest and good people who originally joined this Christian movement. Some got out when they saw things were going wrong. I, regretfully, did not.

Through much prodding by my children and family I am now standing up to voice my condemnation of The Family International. Not the poor and blind souls of the average member, for they are but sheep, but I stand to condemn specifically Karen Zerby (aka Maria) and her hubris of continuing to promote, oh so subtlety, her long held doctrine of the ‘law of love’ which continues to this very day to cause widespread justification for the abuses of the past. It is this doctrine in particular that I believe has created a fundamental mindset which prevents first-generation adults to admit to any wrong doing concerning inappropriate behavior between adults and children in the past. It is, I believe, the mindset which caused Angela Smith (Sue) to continue to question what she had done wrong to Ricky as he was slitting her throat. It is the mindset that is causing Ricky’s own mother and leader of The Family to place the blame for the tragic fruit of her own body on so-called apostates instead of squarely on her own shoulders and the shoulders of her idol namely David Berg, founder of The Children of God.

There is no excuse for what I have caused my children to suffer. I take no refuge in the fact that I was a member of this group and believed in this doctrine of the ‘law of love’ as they put it. I voluntarily gave my mind, heart and soul to follow what was a lie and a deceptive doctrine of love. It was not the true love of God and I believe that we as parents must look honestly in the face of the children that we have produced and are still producing and say to ourselves “where did I go wrong?”

I call on all FIRST-GENERATION current and former members of The Family International to now follow me in supporting our children as they raise their voices to cry out against the lies and the falsehoods that they suffered under. I call on my generation to step forward and come out of the shadows and be counted. Perhaps you never personally witnessed the sexual abuse that many have suffered. But, I pled with you now to look deep into your heart and deep into God’s Holy Word and honestly admit that what David Berg preached and what Maria has continued to preach namely, that “whatever is done in love is right in the sight of God” was twisted and wrestled by them and thus has borne the terrible fruit of suicide and murder in their own home. Do not allow them to pass this blame any longer on to others. Do not, I beg you, allow them to run from the light of the truth of their actions. Do not allow them to continue to twist the truth to support their interpretation of God’s Word.

Our children need our full support now. They need to know that we love them even if it means a total destruction of our own livelihoods, the loss of friends and reputation. Fail not to remember that “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” If Christ asked us to do that for our friends then, I ask you, what would He expect us to give to save our children?

My son has said “it’s a war now between ourselves and our parents”. Let us unite with our children and turn this war towards those who share in our guilt but who continue to hide in the shadows and refuse to take account for their participation in following this false doctrine of love which reaped sorrow and pain in the lives of so many of our children. Stand up and make your voice clear that the “love” so preached was tainted by the lascivious ranting of a false prophet and was and still is supported by pride and arrogance, lies and deceptions in the person of Maria. We are all truly guilty of allowing this into our lives for whatever reason. We all share in this to some degree. Some more than others but as all Nazis’ shared in some part the blame for allowing Hitler to rise so we all share in our sin of not resisting the evil, not fighting the injustices and in not standing by the side of our children in their desperate hour of need. And let us remember what the Psalmist wrote in the 15th Psalm: “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.”

To the first generation I finally say, "May God help each of us, may He have mercy on our souls and may we pray that our children will in time forgive us."

And to you of the second generation I sadly say, "I'm sorry for failing you and for letting you down. I hope that many will now stand up to support you in your fight."

Posted: Thu Mar 24, 2005 5:50 pm Post subject: Statement of Mr. John LaMattery (Sr)
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:41 am

IT'S TANTRA BABY, by Charles Carreon

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If your life is plagued with discord,
and you can't get out of bed,
If you're hungover with sadness
and wish that you were dead,
If you've got a forty-five
pointed up against your head,
Then you might as well
become a Buddhist
And save a little lead.

Well if you dig the Mahayana
You don't have to cut your hair
And if you chant a little now
You'll have nothing to fear
When death comes strolling down the aisle
And extends his hand to you,
You'll say "my ticket's paid today,
So what more can I do?"

The Dharma's just for losers
At least that's what the Siddha said
When he rolled the final snake eyes
With the eyeballs from his head
And dakinis started cackling
Like buzzards in the sky
Then he clicked his heels
And grabbed his chick
And flew away on high.

It's Tantra, baby, on the hoof
Too hot to try to sell,
And if you don't believe me
We'll discuss it all in hell.
The family is twisted,
That's known around these parts,
The men will steal your car
While the women break your heart.

The crossing signs are switched up
All around this place,
When you play it, it's a Joker,
Though you swore you drew an Ace,
And the hit men play with apple pies
The girls are made of stone
And every word that flies about
Is sure to break a bone.

The guides have all gone crazy
In this place where travel's free,
There's nothing more amazing
Than to see one in a tree,
Laughing like a psycho
With his head inside a box
You'd swear he'd never heard
That little kids get chicken pox.

It's Tantra, baby, grab a bite
And hang on to your hat,
We'll feed you magic potions
And lay you on a mat,
We'll dance around you wildly
With flowers in our hair
And when you wake in our place
You are a billionaire.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:43 am

JOEY RAMONE, by Charles Carreon

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Joey Ramone was an amazing individual with incredible qualities. He developed a form of meditation known as feeling good while listening to punk rock, or playing it, in his case.

Ramones albums had a similarity, each one a blender mix of heavy slammers in a minor key, mixed with a little roadster rock (like Go Lil' Camaro Go, or Surfin' Bird), at least two tales of teenage love, and something psychologically outrageous.

Anyone who saw the Ramones had their faith in love affirmed, their power to survive the outrages of society strengthened, their smiles brightened and their sex lives improved.

When the dark gloomy shadows of the end-time loom, and prophecies of doom shake the marrow of your bones, then is the time to play Rock 'n' Roll High School very loud and dance on your bed getting high on diet coke or whatever. Have faith. There is a heaven, or we could not feel like this.

Joey was the voice of punk rock in America. Wearing a leather jacket and torn jeans, hiding his face behind a pair of sunglasses and thick dark hair, Joey helped define punk's early image and became a countercultural icon.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:48 am

PART 1 OF 2

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KILLER KRISHNAS FROM INNER SPACE, by Charles Carreon

I had never thought particularly ill of the “International Society for Krishna Consciousness” (“ISKCON”) until I read Monkey On A Stick -- Murder, Madness, and the Hare Krishnas by John Hubner and Lindsey Gruson, published in 1989. I discovered the book on a paperback rack in 1999 while standing in an A&P grocery store killing time one evening in Daytona, Florida. Initially captivated by the almost-unbelievable tale of how a gang of pedophile vegetarians ran an international sex and drug ring under the guise of a charity and service, I returned to the story several times, and have now produced an up-to-date telling of how one more hippie dream went horrendously sour with the help of this kooky little thing called “Eastern religion.” This article is separated into two parts, a summary of some of the most lurid stories that appear in Monkey On A Stick, and the legal story, drawn primarily from legal documents and news reports about the aftermath of the IKSCON pedophilia scandal.

Monkey On A Stick covers the time period in the mid-to-late eighties, when eleven Western "gurus" ruled the ISKCON empire, after the death of founder Swami Prabhupada, and abused their power over hundreds of thousands of Krishna devotees. Based in India, the virulent, perverted nature of the cult that operated under the acronym ISKCON, “International Society for Krishna Consciousness,” has never been fully known. This book is well worth reading, whether you are looking for good reasons to avoid getting into a religious cult, or are simply a devotee of the true crime genre.

The most horrific events in the book center around sex, murder and drug dealing at a West Virginia temple called “New Vrindaban,” founded by Keith Ham, a New York homosexual who dropped out of the Columbia grad school religious department to become an early devotee of Prabhupada and took the name Kirtananda (“Blissful-in-sacred-song”). Kirtananda and his partner Howard Wheeler, who joined at the same time, rose high in the Krishna hierarchy. Both were perverts to the core. Wheeler opended a temple in Ensenada, Mexico near the flesh markets of Tijuana, and enjoyed the free access to the bodies of poor children as only pedophile could. Kirtanananda shielded from a teacher from prosecution who publicly sodomized many young Krishna children in his classroom in front of their peers, and shipped him to India as the police were closing in with an arrest warrant.

If you went to an airport in the seventies, you may have wondered what would happen with the money if you gave a young devotee money in exchange for pseudo-ecstatic dancing, repetitive music, simpy smiles, and cheap incense. Read this book and wonder no longer. The official name for the platoons of urban change-scavengers was "sankirtan groups," but they were colloquially referred to as "scam-kirtan." Armies of young women, bullied by cynical, pimpish fellows, wrung innumerable dollars from the pocketbooks of tired Americans, meeting a usual quota of $300 a day, or getting a beating to cover the difference. These young women were also often sexual playthings for the heterosexual appetites of the more plebeian devotees who went for that sort of thing. Kirtanananda also collected millions from drug dealing and money laundering, and directed rings of scam-operators who solicited donations in the name of Vietnam veterans, hungry children, etc.

Kirtanananda was reportedly inseparable from a young boy called Samba, who sat at his side at all times, and with whom he often slept. Kirtananda was also unquestionably a woman-hater. He counseled men to beat their wives “like their prayer drums” – because it would improve them -- and despised audiences with women devotees, describing the occasion as "fish night," when extra incense had to be burned to counter the odor of women. According to the authors, the entire Krishna empire became a magnet for homosexuals with a lust for power, after Prabhupada, disenchanted with the 80% divorce-rate that afflicted the numerous marriages between devotees that he had arranged by edict, decided that only sannyasins, (male) "renunciates," could take leadership positions in the organization. While “celibacy” was enjoined upon male sannyasins, staying in the closet was no problem for these skirt-wearing, chanting, dancing worshippers of Vishnu.

Kirtananda’s management of New Vrindavan was similar to the style that Leona Helmsley would have adopted if she’d been operating the Vatican. Little people would of course sometimes get hurt when God went about His business. So there were a few shallow graves here and there on the property — big deal. The temple roof was leafed with gold, and the floors were pure marble. The architecture overawed with splendor, lifting the mind to God. Lots of people felt very peaceful and divine there, leading them to part with a check or a stack of ill-gotten cash.

Kirtananda was as blatant about ruling by terror as Don Corleone. He expressly ordered the horrifying murder of Chuck St. Denis that's chillingly described in the book’s opening chapter. He was shot twelve times with a .22, and repeatedly stabbed in the chest with a kitchen knife while being exhorted to chant Krishna’s name so that he would be reborn in the Hindu heaven. As the life fled from him, he howled like a dog, so the killers cracked his skull with a hammer. Even after all that, as they wrapped his body in a plastic tarp, he opened his eyes and warned them not to do that, because then he wouldn’t be able to breathe. They buried him under a stream, which is probably a good way to make a spirit unquiet, and perhaps that is why his cries, which vanished into the West Virginia night, echoed on, causing rage to burn even in the hearts of idiot mouse-like devotees accustomed to burying their fears in monotonous chanting.

Kirtananda, quoting one of Prabhupada’s quaint Indian sayings, likened the murder of St. Denis to impaling "a monkey on a stick" to frighten other monkeys, and for a long time it worked. Everyone in New Vrindaban knew that St. Denis had been killed on Kirtanananda’s orders by his personal thug, Tom Drescher. No one dared to speak out because Drescher lived under Kirtananda’s express protection, in the lap of privilege, right there in New Vrindaban. Undermined by Kirtanananda's financial influence, the local police and prosecutors didn’t act against Drescher.

But justice sometimes finds its vehicle. One day a deranged devotee spontaneously attacked Kirtananda with a three-foot steel rod, making serious dents in his brain. Kirtananda barely survived, and ever after walked with a cane, suffering headaches and double vision. Even in that debilitated state, however, Kirtananda maintained his corrupt grip on the faithful, and directed Drescher to kill Steve Bryant, the New Vrindaban exile who considered it his mission from Krishna to expose Kirtanananda's abuses, and had been publishing the embarrassing truth. Drescher killed Bryant in LA, which caused the pot to boil over, and resulted in his prosecution and conviction for St. Denis’ murder. Now serving a life sentence in prison, Drescher has nevertheless has been elevated by his service to Krishna to the status of holy assassin, a destroyer of unbelievers. In a special ceremony conducted by Kirtanananda, he was given authority to initiate prisoners in the Hare Krishna path, and has several followers inside.

The Legal Story

Kirtananda Convicted and Released After A Few Years In Club Fed


The story that the authors of Monkey On A Stick tell about the ISKCON cult has been confirmed by subsequent revelations. In February 1987, the New Vrindavan was closed and the principal fled the country as law enforcement closed in. On February 17, 1987, Frederick DiFrancesco and and Larry Gardner were indicted on child molestation charges, and although Kirtananda denounced the investigation and charges as mere persecution, in 1990 the Feds indicted him on five counts of racketerring, six counts of mail fraud, and conspiracy to murder St. Denis and Bryant. A jury convicted him of all but the murder-conspiracy charges, but the verdict was reversed on the grounds that testimony about the child molestation had prejudiced the jury. In the midst of a retrial, he pled guilty to one count of racketeering, and was sentenced to twelve years in prison. Released in 2004, he was received, as the New York Times put it, “into the welcoming arms of his congregation,” notwithstanding that ISKCON had discharged him from his religious position after concluding he was a pedophile.

The Texas Racketeering Lawsuit Against IKSCON

Well-known Texas trial attorney Windle Turley filed a federal lawsuit [online at http://www.harekrsna.org/gurupoison/sup ... y-case.pdf] in 2000 on behalf of around 50 innocent children whose parents left them in the care of pedophiles while they worked the streets, scrounging cash to buy gold roofs and fancy cars for the heirarchy. Turley named 16 corporate defendants based in Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, Washington, Florida and California, seven defendants in their capacity as Executors of the Estate of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada -- Gregory Gottfired, Robert Grant, Thomas Hertzog, Ghopal Khanna, Howard Resnick and Glen Teton – and 18 more defendants as members of the Governing Body of Commissioners of ISKCON (the “GBC”). These defendants, by legal name and Krishna name, were FARAMARZ ATTAR (“Atreya Rsi das”), CHARLES BACIS (“Bhavananda das”), WILLIAM BERKE (“Bali Mardan das”), ROBERT CORENS, (“Rapanuga Swami”), WILLIAM DEADWYLER, III (“Ravindra Svarupa Das”), WILLIAM EHRLICHMAN (“Bhagavan Swami”), JOHN FAVORS (“Bhakti Tirtha Swami”), STEVEN GOREYNO a/k/a STEVEN GUARINO (“Satsvarupa das”), MICHAEL GRANT (“Mukunda Goswami”), KEITH HAM (“Kirtanananda”) resides, THEODORE RICHARD HARRIS (“Panca Dravida Swami”), THOMAS HERTZOG (“Tamal Krishna Goswami”), JEFFREY HICKEY (“Jagadish das”), GOPAL KHANNA (“Gopal Krishna Goswami”), HANS KARY (“Hansadutta Swami”), WILLIAM OGLE (“Balavanta das”), HOWARD RESNICK (“Hrdayananda das Goswami”), BRUCE SCHARF (“Brahmananda”).

Turley’s complaint alleged that ISKCON became a den of thieves and a one-stop-shop for pedophiles, who in exchange for donations, would find a perv-friendly environment, a ready supply of compliant victims, and cover from investigation and prosecution.

“ISKCON and its leaders …­­­enriched themselves by granting special favors to large fund raisers and donors, even if some large donors were drug dealers and other criminal elements. The special favors include, among others:

(a) Granting teaching positions to sexual predators so they would have access to children for their sexual gratification;

(b) Giving young girls from the gurukulas as brides to older donor men;

(c) Creating “asylum” and a ring of protection against apprehension of fugitives, including those dealing illegally in arms, drugs and murder, within the ISKCON enterprise;

(d) Destroying evidence and failing to report criminal conduct on the part of ISKCON and devotees.”

Turley further alleged that under the cover of being an international religious organization, ISKCON offshored its perversities in India, where sexual abuse of children is culturally accepted, rarely investigated, and virtually never prosecuted.

“In a conscious effort to avoid policing and scrutiny by U.S.A. child protection agencies, ISKCON took a large portion of its boarding school activities overseas to India. In India, ISKCON managed at least two profoundly abusive boarding schools for boys. These were the Vrndavan and Mayapur schools. Both were staffed and controlled by appointees of ISKCON who were, for the most part, assigned from the United States. The students sent there were almost exclusively from the United States, and the management policies, devised and implemented by the GBC, originated in the U.S.A. The Indian schools were among the worst offenders and abusers of minor boys, and many of the Indian school teachers and leaders were also teachers, leaders and abusers in United States schools.”

Turley’s complaint alleged alleged that devotees were required to put their children in the “gurukula” boarding schools, which were basically pools of children who were rented to pedophiles.

“Some examples of the types of abuse and neglect to which the children, ranging in age from 3 years to 18 years, were subjected include but are not limited to:

· Sexual abuse including rape, oral sex, intercourse with children, sexual fondling of children, and masturbation with children.

· Physical beatings of children with boards, branches, clubs, and poles.

· Physical beatings by adult teachers and school leaders with fists to the head and stomach.

· Kicking the children into submission.

· Children were in some instances made to walk great distances in bitter cold, including snow and rain, without jackets, coats, or shoes.

· Children were often forced to sleep on cold floors and in unheated rooms.

· Children were frequently deprived entirely of medical care [for] malaria, hepatitis, yellow fever, teeth being knocked out, broken facial bones, and broken bones in their hands, often inflicted as they attempted to shield themselves from beatings.

· Children were sometimes kept in filthy conditions. In at least one instance, a local group utilized what had recently been a cattle or horse barn for a nursery.

· In almost every school the children were kept in severely overcrowded conditions, often forced to sleep shoulder to shoulder on the floor or in small rooms in three-high bunks with 10 or 12 children to each tiny room.

· The children were physically abused by being awakened every day in the early morning hours (generally at 4:00 a.m.) and subjected to a cold shower, after which they were taken, without any breakfast, to a daily religious service. At some schools, the children were forced to walk great distances in the dark to attend the service, and often in cold or rainy conditions, clothed only in their thin gown-like “dohti.”

· The children were not provided bathroom tissue, but instead were expected to wipe themselves with their fingers, after which they would dip their fingers into a bowl of water.

· As punishment for not cleaning themselves thoroughly, children were scrubbed with steel wool until their skin was raw and sometimes bleeding.

· Children were abused when they were forced to sleep on their wet blankets or in tubs as punishment if they wet their bedding.

· Some children were forced to wear their soiled underclothes on their heads for long periods of time because they had wet themselves.

· Children were often forced to go without food entirely, either because there was none, or as punishment. When food was provided, it was always inadequate for a growing child’s diet.

· The inadequate food that was provided was often prepared in unsanitary conditions, was of very poor quality and so unpleasant that even hungry children frequently could not eat it. In at least one school, the children learned as a matter of routine to remove insects from their food before eating it.

· Each child was expected to eat what they were provided. If they did not do so, their served portion was kept on their plates until the next meal when it was served again. This process often continued until the cold food -- even moldy and insect-infested -- was swallowed.

· In some schools, children were forced to lick up their vomit from any foul food they may have thrown up.

· At New Vrindavan, three young boys, about six or seven years of age, who worked in the kitchen, took some food to their hungry friends. They were caught and punished by being gagged, having bags placed over their heads, and being put in a small room for several days with only a bucket for their waste and no food or water. One of the same boys was later slammed by a teacher into a marble wall, resulting in a loss of some teeth and fractured facial bones.

· Children were controlled by various threats to hurt or kill them and by punishments. Young children, strictly limited to a vegetarian diet, were continually terrorized when told that non-Krishnas were meat-eaters, that they ate each other, and that the children, if given to or taken by the meat-eaters, would themselves be eaten.

· Children often saw rats in their rooms and schools. Some children (such as those at the school in Dallas) were told the rats lived in a particular old closet, and the child would be, and often was, placed in the closet if they didn’t do as told.

· One form of punishment included forcing little children to stand on a crate for long periods of time in a darkened closet “so the rats would not eat them.”

· Very young children were in fact placed in those dark and locked closets and left afraid and crying for hours at a time. They were locked overnight in dark cellars with dirt floors. One young child was made to sleep alone in the loft of a cold barn for many nights.

· Sometimes the children were sent by their superiors to massage and bathe the religious gurus and then drink their now “blessed bath water.”

· In some cases, children were stuffed into trash barrels for periods of two to three days, with the lid on, as punishment for relatively trivial “sins.”

· Children were almost universally told that if they disclosed their condition or complained to their parents or others, they would be severely punished. When complaints were made, the children were publicly and often severely beaten or subjected to other forms of punishment.

· Girls, as young as 12 or 13 years, were frequently “given” or “promised” to an older male in the movement. Although their marriages were generally not sexually consummated until the child was at least 16 or 17 years old, the little girls were terrorized by the threats, and often reality, of being given away by their leaders to become engaged to marry “strange old men.”

· Children were often forced to lie awake in their beds or sleeping bags and listen as their little friends were sexually molested by teachers and other leaders.

· The children were emotionally abused by subjecting them to near-total parental and societal isolation. In an effort to totally control their minds, the children were, in most cases, separated and isolated from their parents and were not allowed to have regular contact with their parents. Personal visits, correspondence, and telephone calls were either forbidden or discouraged. Gifts, particularly of food, were intercepted. For example, one young boy felt abandoned by his parents, and had no contact with his family for more than a year. He later learned the one small package of cookies sent by his mother was intercepted and kept from him.

· Children were frequently moved to different schools in different states without the consent (or, sometimes, knowledge) of parents. Some children were hidden from parents. Some boys were shipped out of the country to ISKCON schools in India. In at least some cases, after the parents discovered their child’s whereabouts and made arrangements for them to come home, their plane tickets were intercepted, and torn up in front of the children. Then, these children were punished for their parents’ attempt to bring them home.

· Even though the children were given by their parents to ISKCON to educate, except for the reading of their “vedic scriptures,” the children received little or no education.

· Because of near-total isolation from the outside world and lack of education, the children who remained within the ISKCON schools for extended periods of time were totally unequipped to enter outside society. They have experienced extreme difficulty in earning a living, entering and maintaining relationships, including marriage, and in adapting to the laws and regulations of society. Many are in need of extended psychological and/or vocational training, rehabilitation, and medical care.”

Helping Hands From The Religious Establishment Reach Out To Aid ISKCON

Strangely enough, mainstream U.S. churches supported ISKCON in its efforts to get the lawsuit dismissed. The following groups joined in filing a “friend of the court” brief urging Judge Sam Lindsay to dismiss the case on the grounds that a church could not be legally characterized as a “racketeering” organization, and thus there was no federal law on which the court could base its exercise of jurisdiction over the defendants.

1. The American Jewish Congress
2. Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs
3. Christian Legal Society
4. Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas
5. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
6. The Evangelical Covenant Church
7. The First Church of Christ,Scientist
8. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
9. General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)
10. National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States
11. United States Catholic Conference

Affecting a pious and disinterested tone, these eleven churches, each of which has now been implicated in the ever-widening scandal of ecclesiastical sex abuse, waded into the dispute to protect the coffers of ISKCON from being tapped by a damage award that could help the Krishna children rebuild lives shattered by their collision with a diabolical cult that had the foresight to incorporate as a church in order to conceal, foster, and escape justice for its widespread criminal activities. The “friend of the court” brief, filled with supercilious chaff, referring to the churches as “amici,” dresses up the argument in First Amendment garb:

“This case originally involved allegations of sexual abuse by some members of the International Society For Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) entrusted with the education of children. Amici do not have any knowledge of the truth of these allegations, nor are we speaking to any factual issues in this case. We all unequivocally condemn all forms of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse whenever such abuse occurs. All of the amici with pastoral responsibilities have, in our own ways, sought to deal with it, and to heal its devastating effects. Amici file this brief because proper resolution of the serious threat to religious freedom posed by the RICO claim in the Amended Complaint is critical to the autonomy of churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious organizations. Religious freedom is fragile enough without adding the threat of destruction by lawsuit under a statute designed to eliminate organized crime, not organized religion. The attempted use of RICO to target an entire religious community is an outrage against the First Amendment.”

Judge Lindsay accepted the argument that churches cannot, as a matter of law, be characterized as criminal organizations, thus giving the green light to creative criminals who wish to adopt the ecclesiastical cowl as a cloak for criminality. Calling the ruling a “victory for religious freedom,” attorney David Liberman equated liberty with libertinage, an intent that I am certain the Framers of the Constitution never conceived in all of their deliberations.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy To The Rescue

After the suit was dismissed, Turley refilled in Texas state court, and ISKCON moved to the next stage of legal defense – the bankruptcy courts. Claiming that the $400 Million in damages sought exceeded the value of ISKCON’s property, Liberman orchestrated bankruptcy filings of numerous ISKCON-related entities around the nation. This required all injured individuals to submit claims in bankruptcy by June 30, 2003. The case was settled in bankruptcy in May 2005. By that time, 540 Krishna children had submitted claims, and a $9.5 Million fund was allocated to provide them with awards. A press release stated: “The amount each individual receives will be based on the nature of the abuse, its severity, and the time factor. The amount of compensation received by most will range from $2,500 to $50,000.” ISKCON leaders mumbled mea culpas all the way to the bank, proving as many a mediator has argued, that saying you’re sorry can greatly reduce the bill you’re forced to pay.

A Pittance For The Victims

Ultimately, with insurance money, Turley garnered $20 Million to be divided among the claimants. If we take out just 25% for Turley, that leaves $17.5 Million, which divided by 450, gives you less than $39,000 per claimant. Take a look at the types of abuse those children suffered – teeth knocked out, forced to eat their own vomit, and according to statements from virtually all of the children interviewed, an interminable, daily stream of sexual assaults. Ask yourself how forty-grand can possibly compensate for those types of injury. Ganganam Dasa wrote a short article in October 2009, in which he said that the settlements were small: “It works out to about two thousand dollars twice a year for 4 years -- about enough to pay rent and bills for a short time -- a pittance for a stolen childhood and a bleak future.” The suffering that the Krishna children endured in childhood was a setup for failure in adult life. As Ganganam Dasa wrote:

“As many of us gurukulis are in our 30's and because of the low quality of education given in the gurukulas, university entrance was impossible. While ordinary karmis (non-Krishna people) are having successful lives -- financial, emotional, and family stability -- every gurukuli I know is struggling day to day, have not attained the dreams of having what karmis consider even average success: family, a comfortable living situation, reliable vehicle, etc. I have to emphasize that when I was 4, I didn't make the choice, unlike adults, to join a religion that celebrates poverty, lack of family, and viewing the world as a Kali Yuga hellhole that we must leave ASAP. Now as a result, many of us have grown up into exactly what was planned for us -- emotionally disturbed, unskilled losers, while many others around us who had normal childhoods are prospering with happy lives complete with families of their own. It's no wonder some have attempted or chosen to end their lives through suicide.”

The Violators Got A Free Ride

In the end, it seems clear that: (1) there were at the very least over five-hundred children subjected to conditions of terrible abuse that destroyed their experience of childhood and rendered them unfit for adulthood, (2) the ISKCON organization ultimately admitted total responsibility for the creation and establishment of the system that enabled the abusers, (3) the abusers were never systematically identified or held personally responsible, and were effectively immunized by the bankruptcy proceeding, (4) virtually no one, besides the two pervert teachers indicted in South Carolina, were ever even criminally charged, much less convicted for their commission of heinous acts of abuse, and (5) the ISKCON organization has suffered little in the way of consequence on a financial scale, a mere speeding ticket in the life of a cult that has vacuumed the cash out of innumerable pockets and purses.

It’s quite remarkable, really, and teaches you something – the sins of the parents will be visited upon the children, and when you are born to parents stupid enough to raise you in a cult, nobody is really going to care that much about your problems. It will all be viewed as self-inflicted, even though, as Ganganam Dasa said, he had nothing to do with the bad choices his parents made. So when you see someone leading their whole family into a lifestyle that says you should surrender everything worldly, pursue a life of poverty, and give your children the gift of a sanctified lifestyle, tell them story of the Killer Krishnas. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll think twice.

Go to Chapter 1: The Planting Party
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:50 am

MONKEY ON A STICK: MURDER, MADNESS AND THE HARE KRISHNAS, by John Hubner and Lindsey Gruson

Chapter 1: Blood Feud

The Planting Party


"Chakradara, you been diggin' like a woodchuck for days," said Dan Reid, a little man with a black goatee who was straddling a big Yamaha motorcycle. "What you need is a party. Wouldn't a taste of something clean and white go good after all that dirt?"

Chakradara, Chuck St. Denis, was digging a trench, searching for a break in a water line. It was early on the morning of June 9, 1983. The sun had already cleared the West Virginia hills in the east and St. Denis's T-shirt was soaked with sweat. He looked at Reid and thought, I'll be damned!

There are few secrets in a commune. St. Denis knew that for some weeks Reid had been running around New Vrindaban, the largest Hare Krishna community in America, telling devotees that St. Denis had raped his wife, Brenda.

It was true that St. Denis had gone through the commune's supply of available women with the same rapacity he devoured ice cream, which he liked to eat with his fingers a half gallon at a time. It was true he had fathered four children by three women. It was even true that he and Brenda had once had a little thing going. But that was all in the past, a long time ago. He had quit screwing around.

He'd been faithful to Debra Gere, the commune's nurse, for almost two years, ever since he had moved out of his trailer and into hers. Debra, or Ambudrara, was the best woman he'd ever had. She was smart and tough and pretty, with dark brown eyes, pale white skin covered with light freckles, and red hair that glistened in the sun. He'd fathered her six-month-old baby girl and was now working with her fourteen hours a day, trying to open a plant nursery . They were going to call it Blue Boy Nursery , after Krishna, the blue lord.

Chuck had told Debra about his previous affair and it didn't bother her. She knew that Dan Reid treated his wife like some kind of bug that had infested his life. He was always flying into red-faced rages, screaming that Brenda was fat and ugly and couldn't do a damn thing right. Brenda would run out of the house and end up sitting at a neighbor's kitchen table, sobbing. Finally, Reid had left his wife and three kids and moved into a shack up in the hills above the commune, called the Artist's Studio. That was when St. Denis had moved in on Brenda.

Debra had been wondering why Reid was spreading the rape story around now. She knew that if Chuck had not been so busy he'd have grabbed the little jerk by the throat and asked him just what the hell he thought he was doing spreading all that garbage around. That was how Chuck handled a problem.

"White stuff?" St. Denis asked, flashing his toothy grin. "Come on, Daruka, you don't have no coke. You've never had no coke."

" But I do," Reid said."And if you don't show up, I'll have to do it all by myself."

Reid gave the Yamaha's throttle a couple of quick nervous twists as St. Denis walked over to the bike and slapped him on the back. St. Denis was twenty-nine years old, six foot two, and 220 pounds, with shoulder-length hair and hazel eyes. Strung around his seventeen-inch neck was a "Krishna's dog collar," as devotees call the sacred kanthi beads. The muscles in his arms were huge, pumped up from all the digging he had been doing.

"We can't have you getting coked up alone, Daruka," St. Denis said. "I mean, what are friends for? But the thing is, we're having a planting party tonight. I had the field behind the greenhouse plowed the other day. We've got twenty flats of Shasta daisies to get in the ground. If we don't get them in soon, they'll all be dead. Everybody is gonna help. Why don't you come? You ain't been around in weeks."

"All right, I will," Reid said. "We can go up to my place afterward. Hell, who cares how late it is when you're gonna get wired?"

St. Denis flashed his big grin. "Daruka, you know all my weaknesses," he said.

"Everybody knows your weaknesses," Reid replied. "You couldn't hide them if you tried."

St. Denis laughed. Reid shifted into first gear and turned the bike round. "Just remember, don't tell anyone," Reid said. "There isn't enough to go around."

"There's never enough to go around," St. Denis yelled as Reid rode away.

St. Denis watched Reid work the bike through the six-inch ruts in the dirt road. So, Daruka wants to be friends again, he thought. Good. We'll do a few lines; he'll bring up the Brenda thing; then we'll work it out and everything will be cool.

He picked up his shovel and went back to the trench.

***

Chuck and Debra were "fringies," devotees who were on the New Vrindaban equivalent of an injured-reserve list. They believed in the religion, but had not been able to follow the strict vows they took at initiation. Chuck had not been able to give up drugs or alcohol, let alone milder stimulants like coffee and tea. His close relationship with Debra had made a joke out of the ban against illicit sex: Krishnas are supposed to have sex only once a month, and only for the purpose of producing Krishna-conscious children. He had long ago forgotten the ban against eating meat, fish, eggs, or onions.

Devout Krishnas are not supposed to eat onions because they reek of the world. They do not drink tea because it stimulates the mind and disturbs the tranquility that comes with thinking always of Krishna. Spices are banned for the same reason. Food, drink, everything devotees consume, should remind them of Krishna, not of this world.

Like Chuck, Debra found the religion too demanding to practice on an everyday basis. She was expected to rise every day with the other devotees at four in the morning, take a cold shower, and attend Mangalaratik, the morning devotional service at four-thirty. She also had to attend classes on sacred Hindu texts and chant sixteen rounds of the Hare Krishna maha ("great") mantra every day. It took almost two hours to do 1,728 repetitions of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Debra just couldn't make the time. The commune's only nurse, she worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week. She also had two children. She could not be a good mother, a good nurse, and a good devotee too. Besides, she liked to sit in the kitchen of the rambling farmhouse they'd moved into, put up her feet, and relax with a beer. It was a good way to end the day.

One evening in the winter of 1982, a year and a half ago, Debra had been washing the dishes and looking forward to a cold beer. Chuck had been there with her, sitting at the table nursing a Molson's. The phone had rung, but Chuck didn't move. A little annoyed, Debra had grabbed the phone without stopping to dry her hands.

"Hi, Mom. I'm glad it's you," she said a moment later. "I was starting to get a little worried. It's been a while since you called."

St. Denis gazed into his green bottle of Molson ale, half-listening to the conversation. He glanced up when he noticed Debra had stopped talking. Her mouth was hanging open. She was staring at him, but looking right through him.

"You're kidding!" Debra said softly.

St. Denis got up and walked over to her. "What's up?" he whispered.

Debra ignored him. "All right, Mom. I'm kind of too stunned to talk about it right now, anyway. You go have a good cry and we'll talk in the morning."

She hung up and sat down at the table. St. Denis dropped into a chair facing her.

"Dad's will just cleared probate," Debra said. "I'm going to get fifty thousand dollars."

From that moment on, there was only one topic of conversation in the old farmhouse: "What are we going to do with the money?"

They knew what they should do if they were good devotees: surrender it to Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, the guru who had built New Vrindaban. Kirtanananda "was like a god on earth; devotees dropped to the ground to offer obeisances when they saw him. They carried him on a bejeweled palanquin during Krishna ceremonies. To live in New Vrindaban was to surrender everything, body, soul, family, and bankbook to Kirtanananda. Especially bankbook.

"Money is the honey," Kirtanananda liked to say, rubbing his hands.

But fifty thousand dollars? That ain't hay. And neither Chuck nor Debra had ever had much money.

***

Kirtanananda had started the commune in 1968 on a rundown 130-acre farm in West Virginia's beautiful northern panhandle. Neighboring farmers, born and raised in adjoining farms, shook their heads and told one another not to worry: Those "Hairy Critters" with their shaved heads and their orange bedsheets wouldn't make it through the first winter.

They didn't. But the Hare Krishnas came back in the spring, and this time they prospered. They sent around a straw man, a local fellow named Randall Gorby, to snap up land, often at thousands of dollars an acre above market value. The farmers on McCreary's Ridge talked themselves into believing they were selling to Gorby, not to the commune, and cashed out. By 1983, the original 130 acres had grown to 2,884.

Kirtanananda named the commune after the sacred town in India where Krishna appeared as a cowherd boy to slay demons, play his flute, sing, dance, and engage in other pastimes with the gopis, the milkmaids. He billed it as a farming community where devotees could practice the Hare Krishna philosophy of "simple living, high thinking." In time, the simple farm grew into a massive project no more simple and spiritual than the pyramids.

Its jewel, the first temple of a planned spiritual city, is Prabhupada's Palace of Gold, named after A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, or ISKCON. Kirtanananda bills it as America's Taj Mahal, the first of seven temples in a spiritual Disneyland that will propagate Krishna Consciousness. Actually, the palace is a monument to Kirtanananda's obsession with becoming Prabhupada's successor.

When Prabhupada died in 1977, the ISKCON world divided into eleven zones. Each zone was governed by a guru who ruled his devotees by divine right, the way medieval kings ruled serfs. Kirtanananda has always condemned the division as anathema and refused to share power with the ten other gurus. "Purity must come before unity," he is fond of saying.

Kirtanananda believes that he, and he alone, has realized the eternal truths Prabhupada brought to America. Only through him can devotees understand Prabhupada's message and reach Krishna. He built the Palace of Gold to attract the followers of other gurus. Seeing the gold-crested towers shimmering in the sun and climbing the swirling red marble steps, they would stop and think, such splendor! No one else is doing such great service for Prabhupada. I'm going to leave my guru and surrender to Kirtanananda Swami.

The gold, silver, rare jewels, and tons of exotic marble imported to build the Palace of Gold cost a staggering sum of money. Kirtanananda had a dozen ways to get it.

The guru's deep conviction that he, and he alone, had fully realized Prabhupada's message deeply impressed Chuck St. Denis. He didn't think twice when he was told to deal marijuana and turn the profits over to the temple. He was honored to perform such important service. So were many others. Devotees with Ph.D.'s in religious studies joined the Krishnas, as did lawyers, artisans, Harvard M.B.A.'s, Henry Ford's grandson, and Walter Reuther's daughter. But by far the majority of the devotees were members of the lost sixties generation, flower children and street people -- kids like Chuck St. Denis, who started dealing drugs when he was eleven years old.

***

St. Denis came from Arcadia, California. Home of the Santa Anita racetrack, Arcadia was a town whose identity was snuffed out long ago by the great sprawl of Los Angeles. His parents were alcoholics. His father, a bartender, had abandoned the family early; neither Chuck, nor his older sister, Chrislyn, and certainly not his younger brother, Michael, remembered him. Their mother, a cocktail waitress, had remarried several times.

Chrislyn was the nearest thing to a mother the two boys had. Every day after school, she came straight home and started cooking dinner. She did her best, but she was no match for the harsh life of the streets. By the time she was eleven, all three kids were in trouble.

With Chuck, it was grass and LSD. Then downers, reds, and Seconals. All those drugs did nothing to stunt Chuck's physical growth. At age ten he was big enough to steal his stepfather's car without any help. At thirteen he was a veteran drug dealer and running with a black street gang, whose sworn enemies were Chicanos.

A juvenile court judge finally declared Chuck incorrigible and sent him to juvenile hall. The same court packed his younger brother, Michael, off to a boys' ranch in Oregon.

When they let him out of kiddie jail, Chuck went right back to the only thing he knew: drugs and dealing. He ate huge hits of LSD and began shooting Seconal. At sixteen, he was over six feet tall, and very angry. He got into terrible fights with his brother and sister. He stole from his mother and refused to speak to his stepfather.

His attitude was, You hurt me, you owe me--gimme, gimme, gimme.

Chuck drifted away from home to join the great hippie migration along the California coast. He settled, more or less, in Santa, Cruz, a beautiful coastal town that was a hippie haven when St. Denis arrived in 1969. He hung around the Santa Cruz pier, dealing drugs, soaking his brain in LSD, rapping, and getting laid.

And then he met the Krishnas.

He went away a hippie and came back in a robe with his head shaved. Chrislyn thought he'd been brainwashed, especially the way he tried to cram that religion down the family's throats. When his siblings wouldn't go to the Sunday Krishna feasts, he would get mad.

But after a while, Chrislyn realized the Krishnas were good for Chuck. He was doing a lot of chanting, but he wasn't doing drugs. His whole life, he'd never had a job and never wanted to work. But suddenly it seemed the Krishnas had changed all that. They gave him something to live for, maybe for the first time. In return Chuck worked hard for them.

The Krishnas were the family St. Denis had never had but always wanted. They ordered the world for him; they told him when to get up and what to do until he went to sleep. Even better, they made his poverty righteous. Since he had nothing to lose, it was easy to reject the material world and live a spiritual life. Discipline for people like St. Denis, who have no self-discipline, is an all-or-nothing thing. For almost six years he was a devout follower, chanting and following the regulative principles.

His life as a Krishna monk crumbled in the mid-1970s, when he moved into the Laguna Beach temple, south of Los Angeles. There, a group of devotees that included the temple president were smuggling hash oil into the U.S. from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Most of the money was turned over to ISKCON.

The smugglers recruited St. Denis. Before long, he had moved out of the temple and into an apartment with a girlfriend. He was soon sleeping through the morning service and smoking dope instead of chanting. He was only a bit player in the drug operation, however. When the cops broke up the ring, they did not even bother to question him. St. Denis moved to New Vrindaban and was soon running marijuana to raise money for Kirtanananda's temple. He took to the new role like an avid car salesman to a new dealership and made dozens of trips from West Virginia back to the West Coast, usually returning with five or ten pounds of marijuana at a time.

"You hypocrite!" Chrislyn screamed at him one night in Los Angeles, interrupting another one of his seemingly endless sermons. "I can't believe you're sitting in my house, sucking on a joint, dealing, and preaching to me about that fucker Kirtanananda the whole time. Every dime you make goes right to that psycho!"

"It belongs to my family," St. Denis said. "We need the money to build the temple. It's a shrine. We're doing good deeds with the money. The glory of Krishna makes everything clean."

***

"We've done service for Kirtanananda, lots of service," Chuck told Debra every time they talked about the fifty thousand dollars. "There's no tellin' how much money I've turned over from what I've been doin'. And look at you--workin' day and night in the clinic. Do you know how much it would cost Kirtanananda to hire a nurse to come out here to replace you?"

"But Kirtanananda needs the money more than we do," Debra said. "He needs every penny. There's nothing we could do with it that's more important."

"I'm not sayin' we shouldn't do something for Kirtanananda," St. Denis said. "All I'm saying is, we should do something for ourselves, too."

The idea hit St. Denis when he walked into the living room one morning and looked around him at the plants Debra had used to decorate the place. It was an inspiration. He got so excited, he jumped in his 1973 Blazer and drove right over to the commune's makeshift clinic, where he found Debra stitching a gash in a five-year-old boy's hand. As soon as she finished, St. Denis walked her outside.

"I got it! We'll start a nursery!" he said. "We're both good with plants." We'll buy some land from Kirtanananda and do it right here. I even got the name: Blue Boy Nursery. It'll go. I know it'll go."

Debra loved the idea. There is no bad karma in watering plants and planting flowers. The nursery would enable her to phase out her nursing job and spend more time with her children.

She and Chuck talked it over and agreed that, like devotees everywhere who live and work outside the temple, they would turn 50 percent of the nursery's profits over to their guru. Kirtanananda agreed. Chuck and Debra paid him $17,500 for twenty-three acres of land. Actually, they paid $2,500, and Debra's mother gave the commune a $15,000 "donation" -- a scheme designed to save the commune a few dollars in taxes.

There was one small hitch: a devotee named Thomas Drescher was building a house on their land and didn't want to move. St. Denis agreed to negotiate separately with Drescher for his house. Debra wanted Drescher's small, half-finished place because it was perfect for her mother, who was living alone in Exeter, New Hampshire. She and Chuck would build a new house next to the nursery.

After buying the land, St. Denis threw himself into the project like a madman. He drove around West Virginia's panhandle, interviewing every florist in the Moundsville-Wheeling area. He found there was a steady market for plants in Pittsburgh, eighty miles northeast of the commune, where interior decorators needed hearty tropicals for offices and homes.

Chuck also developed a side business that would ensure the success of Blue Boy Nursery. His interest in horticulture dated back to a trip he took to Garberville, California, a small logging and fishing town in Humboldt County that became the world's unofficial sinsemilla capital in the 1970s. (Sinsemilla is one of the most potent marijuana hybrids.)

While in Garberville, St. Denis had purchased two pounds of primo weed from two friendly, bearded growers. After sharing a joint to seal the deal, they drove into town to have dinner at a small health-food restaurant run by a bunch of ex-hippies. One of the growers had a master's degree in botany. With real passion, he explained how he planned to do for cannabis what grape growers had done for Vitis vinifera. From vinifera vines, the grower patiently explained, winemakers produce varietals like Pinot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. He was now selecting strains of cannabis to produce different smokes -- sweet, fruity, herbal, and spicy. Better yet, he claimed, to have bred weed that produced distinctly different highs, highs he described poetically as sleepy, sexy, and electric.

St. Denis was fascinated. When he left the redwood empire, he took along a dozen small Ziploc plastic bags, each containing two custom-bred sinsemilla seeds that cost between five and fifteen dollars apiece.

St. Denis planted the seeds in a secret place high in the West Virginia mountains. A few plants died, but most were prospering. St. Denis figured that between selling tropicals to interior decorators and high-power smoke to his marijuana connections, Blue Boy Nursery would be a cinch.

Like most dealers, St. Denis was addicted to the big score. If he ordered enough material and bought enough plants, if he kept hammering away at the 250-foot-long greenhouse, he thought the nursery would come together in a flash, just like a dope deal.

When the nursery was half finished, St. Denis borrowed a truck and shot down to Florida to buy tropical plants. He took along Dr. Nick Tsacrios, a short, intense Florida native who had settled in New Vrindaban to run the commune's clinic and live with the fringies. They had just crossed the Georgia state line on their way home when the plywood frames in the back of the overloaded truck collapsed, crushing thousands of dollars' worth of plants.

"Chuck, man, you're way overzealous," Dr. Nick said. "You want everything to happen at once. Slow down. Start small and build."

"You worry about fixin' up people-I'll worry about gettin' plants to grow," St. Denis snapped. He slammed the truck's rear doors shut and stomped back to the cab.

**

Dan Reid hurried up the stairs to Kirtanananda's office; it was in a converted barn next to the Temple of Understanding. Although St. Denis's friends had assured Reid that St. Denis had never raped his wife, Reid was certain he had. Brenda had described it all in detail.

"Hare Krishna," Reid said when he walked into Kirtanananda's office. Then he stopped in his tracks to offer the required obeisances. He kneeled, laid his palms flat, and touched his forehead to the floor. He got up, faced the guru, and got right to the point.

"Chakradara raped my wife," he told Kirtanananda. "I want to kill him."

The guru was fond of saying, "Not a blade of grass blows in the wind at New Vrindaban without me knowing about it." He knew about St. Denis's affair with Brenda Reid. He did not know about the rape and questioned Reid carefully.

"I thought Chakradara was too wrapped up with Ambudrara and the nursery to do anything like that," Kirtanananda said.

"That's what I thought," Reid replied. "When I heard what had happened, I didn't believe it, so I went and asked Brenda. She said yes, it had happened. Not only that, it happened only a few weeks after she had the kid. The guy's an animal; he hurt her bad."

The guru was silent for a moment.

"So who's gonna care?" he said finally. "Maybe you should go talk to Drescher about this."

Reid drew in a deep breath. He was hoping Kirtanananda would say something like that.

Kirtanananda may not have cared about the rape; he did care that St. Denis and Debra Gere had not turned her inheritance over to him. He needed every penny he could get his hands on to build Krishna's American playground; if devotees started keeping their money instead of giving it to their spiritual master, New Vrindaban's raison d'etre would be destroyed and chaos would ensue.

When Prabhupada, the Krishnas' founder, had to kick a devotee out of the movement for doing something especially bad, like embezzling money, he would refer to the Indian parable of the monkey on a stick. "Let him be the monkey on a stick and let us have no more of that," he would say.

When a monkey breaks into a banana plantation in India, the farm's owners kill the monkey, impale him on a stick, and leave him to rot outside the plantation. Other monkeys see him hanging there and stay away from the bananas.

Chuck St. Denis would be the monkey on a stick.

Dan Reid thanked the swami, left, jumped on his Yamaha, and rode straight to Tirtha, Thomas Drescher, the commune's enforcer.

***

"You're kidding," Drescher said when Reid told him the story. "Kirtanananda sent you to me? He really said,'Go tell Tirtha'? Take me through it again; I wanna hear exactly what he said."

Reid repeated his story.

"All right," Drescher said. "I'll do it. I take it as an order from the swami to help you."

At first glance, Drescher looks like the manager of a Denny's restaurant, with short, neatly trimmed blond hair and a bland face that would be expressionless if his lips weren't pursed in a perpetual pout. But a closer look reveals a cold, steely gaze behind the brown-tinted glasses. Tattoos run up his forearms.

Drescher grew up in foster homes and juvenile detention centers in Buffalo, New York. At eighteen, he enlisted in the Army and was shipped to Vietnam with the "blood-and-guts" 101st Airborne. Drescher returned to the States in 1972 and joined the Krishnas. He told gory stories about his time in Nam with relish and bragged about all the "gooks" he had killed.

When he came to New Vrindaban in the mid-1970's, his first jobs were driving a bus around the commune and guarding the palace. He drove the bus as if it were an Army jeep. A pregnant devotee remembers that every time she got on the bus, Drescher would floor the gas pedal, then slam on the brakes. Then he would look in the mirror and give her a big grin. One time she fell. Drescher laughed and laughed.

By 1977, he'd been promoted to commune enforcer, a position that combined the roles of cop and goon. He spent hours every day firing a .45 on a range hidden deep in the hills. When Kirtanananda wanted people thrown out of the commune, Drescher drove them to Highway 250 and dumped them beside the road.

The day after talking to Drescher, Reid was lying in bed in his studio, drifting in and out of a late-afternoon nap. When he heard a truck straining to climb the steep hill, he groaned and lifted himself up on one elbow to look out the window. It was Drescher's white pickup. Reid jumped out of bed and ran to meet Drescher outside the shack.

"We're gonna do it," Drescher said. "I got it all figured out."

The two went inside the shack and sat down. Drescher took Reid through it one step at a time. Reid's job was to lure St. Denis to the Artist's Studio.

"Tell him you got some coke" Drescher said. "He'll be sure to come when he hears that."

"I'll do it," Reid said.

"And get yourself a gun," Drescher said.

Fear that the karmis -- meat-eating Westerners -- would someday attack the commune had turned New Vrindaban into an armed camp. The commune had had a number of armorers over the years, beginning with Eugene Braeger, who had built an arsenal of AR-15's, Mini-14's, .45's and nine-millimeters. Braeger was succeeded by Keith Weber and Todd Schenker, two survivalists who liked to walk around New Vrindaban dressed in camouflage, as if they had just stepped out of an ad in Soldier of Fortune magazine.

"It's all gonna happen right in the Artist's Studio," Drescher told Reid. "We can't be bringing cannons in here. We'll blow holes in the walls. We need small caliber weapons. There's a twenty-two in the treasury where you work. Borrow it. Nobody will miss it. You ain't gonna have it long."

"I'll do it," Reid said.

"First thing tomorrow, you go find him," Drescher continued. "Set up a time when he's gonna come up here. As soon as that's done, come over to my place and let me know. We'll take it from there."

Reid nodded. Drescher left and drove half a mile down an old logging road to a small stream. He got out of the truck and walked up and down the stream looking for a place where the water flowed evenly and not too quickly.

He found it and started throwing the biggest rocks he could lift into the stream. When there was a big pile, he took off his shoes, waded into the shallow water, and built a crude dam by plugging the cracks in the rocks with mud. When the water flow was reduced to a trickle, Drescher returned to the truck and got his shovel. Directly below the dam, he dug a shallow grave in what had been the middle of the stream.

***

"You guys better be ready to work, 'cause I'm a monster with this thing!" St. Denis told the fringies gathered for the planting party. He was standing beside the greenhouse, waving a hole puncher in the air. Everyone but Dan Reid laughed. Standing alone at the edge of the group, he forced a smile.

"Here's the way we do it: I go ahead punchin' the holes; you guys come along behind, plantin' the daisies. If you even come close to keepin' up with me, we'll be done by sunset."

"If I know you, you'll sneak back here and get into the beer and pizza while we're out there, slavin' away," teased Kurt Cleaver, St. Denis's best friend.

St. Denis raised the hole puncher like it was a baseball bat and threatened to chase Cleaver.

"Watch me burn out there," he said. "We'll have this baby knocked off in no time."

It was a perfect spring evening. The leaves on the maples, elms, birches, and oaks on the hillsides were a lush green. Swallows, diving over a nearby pond; did aerial acrobatics as they took insects.

St. Denis was as good as his word, punching row after row of holes while the fringies, on hands and knees, crawled along behind, putting daisies in the ground and covering the roots with soil. It was after dark when they finished and went over to Kurt and Janet Cleaver's house to pop open beers and dig into vegetarian pizzas. Every fifteen minutes or so, St. Denis ran out to the greenhouse to move a jerry-rigged watering system.

"Wait'll you see that field in bloom!" he yelled after one trip. "It's gonna be bee-ooo-tiffff-llll!"

The party broke up around ten o'clock. St. Denis and Debra packed the kids in their Blazer and were on their way home when Chuck stopped at the intersection of Stull's Run Road, a mile from the nursery. Dan Reid was there, waiting on his Yamaha.

St. Denis leaned out of the driver's window. "I'm beat, Daruka," he said. "I don't wanna drive Deb and the kids home and then go all the way up to your place. Let's do it another night.

"Hey! don't do that to me, I'm really up for this," in; Reid said."

"Well, all right, I'll tell you what. Let's just go from here," St. Denis said. "The kids will be asleep by the time time we get there."

Reid looked at Debra and began shifting the weight of the bike from one foot to the other. When he spoke, his voice was an octave higher than usual.

"Naw, let's forget it; It's no big deal. Go home and get the kids to bed. I'll come by tomorrow and we'll set something up."

Chuck threw the Blazer into gear and drove on to the old farmhouse. There he helped Debra tuck in the two kids. Then he popped a Molson's, went upstairs, took a bath, and put on a pair of jogging pants. He and Debra had just gotten into bed and were about to turn off the lights when the phone beside the bed rang. It was eleven thirty.

"Hari bol," St. Denis said, answering with the traditional Krishna greeting.

He listened for a few seconds. Then he chuckled and said, "You're so mental." A few seconds later he added, "All right, I'll meet you there," and hung up.

"That was Reid," he told Debra as he climbed out of bed. "He was calling from the pay phone outside Ma Eddy's. He owes me fifty bucks. He had it on him when he saw us, but forgot to give it to me. He wants to get it to me now before he forgets again."

St. Denis pulled on his pants. He didn't like lying to Debra, but like Reid had said, he had been working hard. He deserved a party.

"I'll be right back. It shouldn't take more than ten minutes to get up there and back."

St. Denis grabbed his Molson's and walked out to the Chevy Blazer. He got in and drove past Ma Eddy's, the general store where he told Debra he was going to meet Reid. He turned onto the road that leads to the Palace of Gold, then onto a narrow dirt road that got narrower and more deeply rutted as it snaked up the mountain. He drove slowly, taking a slug now and then from the beer he had stuck in a plastic holder mounted on the dash.

St. Denis parked in front of the Artist's Studio, got out, and waited for his eyes to adjust to the dark. After a few moments, he walked slowly down a path that led around the studio to the only door. He was approaching the door when Thomas Drescher stepped out of the shadows and aimed a .22 pistol at him.

St. Denis froze. He heard something rustle in the woods behind him and took his eyes off Drescher for a split second. Dan Reid was standing beside a maple tree, aiming another .22 at him.

"Get inside, we wanna talk to you," Drescher said.

St. Denis turned to run back up the path.

Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!

Drescher rapid-fired his .22.

Reid let his gun drop to his side.

"Shoot him!" Drescher screamed at Reid, "Shoot him!"

St. Denis was hit twelve times. He crumpled and went down. But then, almost immediately, as Reid and Drescher watched in amazement, he struggled back onto his feet and half staggered, half ran back down the path toward the Blazer. He stumbled like a drunk who has been decked in a bar fight.

Drescher dropped his gun and ran after him. He lowered his shoulder and dove into St. Denis, hitting him behind the knees. The big man went down. Drescher rolled him over and climbed onto his heaving chest.

"Get a knife!" he yelled at Reid. "Get a knife!"

Reid felt like he was going to vomit. For an instant he thought about running away, but he was afraid if he did, Drescher would come after him and kill him, too. He ran into the cabin and came out with a kitchen knife.

"Chant!" Drescher was screaming. "Start chanting!"

Drescher thought he was doing St. Denis one last favor. As Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita, "Those who remember me at the time of death will come to me. Do not doubt this." By forcing St. Denis to chant, Drescher thought he was guaranteeing him a more spiritual life in his next incarnation.

But St. Denis would not die. Coughing blood and gasping for breath, he tried to throw Drescher off his chest. Drescher grabbed the knife and stabbed him. Again and again. Hard and deep. Finally, the blade hit a rib and snapped. St. Denis kept struggling.

Reid ran back to his cabin and grabbed a screwdriver. Drescher stabbed St. Denis with that. St. Denis fought on, screaming in agony. Reid found a hammer and Drescher hit him with that, punching a one-inch hole in his skull. St. Denis went limp and stopped fighting. Breathing deeply, Drescher climbed off him. He and Reid were looking down at the bloody body when St. Denis started emitting long, high-pitched screams like a German shepherd that has been hit by a truck.

Drescher and Reid dragged St. Denis down the logging road to the dammed-up stream. They dumped the body on the swampy ground and stumbled around trying to find the grave Drescher had dug.

It had disappeared.

Reid was mentally numb. Part of his mind denied it was all happening; the other part screamed, "Get it over with. Get it over with!" He ran up and down, back and forth across the stream bed. Suddenly, he fell in water up to his waist. He had found the hole. Water had seeped up from the ground, filling it. While Reid bailed it out with a shovel, Drescher unfolded a sheet of plastic.

"Get over here and help me get him in this," Drescher yelled.

Reid put down his shovel, walked over to the body, and picked up one end of the plastic. They were about to wrap St. Denis's head when he opened his eyes.

"Don't do that, you'll smother me," he said.

Reid screamed, a long, piercing scream of pure terror. He stopped, glanced at the body, and screamed again. Then he bolted into the woods.

Drescher watched him go. He had expected as much out of the little wimp. Killing didn't bother Drescher; he had found that out in Vietnam. He finished sheathing St. Denis in plastic and was dragging him to the hole when Reid reappeared.

"It's a good thing for you that you came back," Drescher said in an even, menacing voice. "Get over here and help me get him in."

Reid walked around to the other side of the body and helped Drescher drop St. Denis into the hole. St. Denis was still breathing when the first shovelfuls of dirt hit him.

Reid and Drescher filled the grave; Reid working fast, Drescher at a steady pace. When the hole was covered, they knocked down Drescher's dam.

"Ever do this when you were a kid?" Drescher asked.

Reid flinched.

"I used to build dams all the time," Drescher said.

Within fifteen minutes, the stream had covered St. Denis's grave, and the gurgling current had carried away all the loose soil. The killers walked back to the artist's studio. Drescher got into St. Denis's Blazer and drove to Bridgeport, a small town across the Ohio River from Wheeling. Reid followed in Drescher's pickup truck. Drescher parked the Blazer near the home of Big John, a friend of St. Denis's and a marijuana dealer. He wiped the car clean of fingerprints, returned to the pickup, and rode back to the Artist's Studio with Reid.

When they returned across the Ohio River, they threw the .22s they had used on St. Denis out the window and into the water below the bridge.

The eastern sky was turning violet when Dan Reid walked into the tiny cabin where Brenda and his kids were sleeping. It was his first visit in weeks. Brenda woke up frightened and snapped on a light. Dan was soaking wet and covered with mud. His skin was as white as tofu and there were deep black circles under his eyes.

"What happened? What's going on?" Brenda asked.

Reid said nothing. Without bothering to undress, he lay down on the bed, took his wife in his arms and held her. It was a long time before he let go.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:52 am

LEONARD COHEN, POISONED BY ZEN, by Charles Carreon

Image

Sometimes an artist produces one work too many. The one that shows he is not only past his prime, but has actually gone to seed. With Ten New Songs, the listener witnesses a great talent going into eclipse.

This is not that grizzled troubadour of the bizarre, who filled acid-soaked brains with images like "then you killed the lights in a lonely lane, and an ape with angel glands, erased the final wisps of pain with the music of rubber bands." It is not that one who immortalized Suzanne, and reminded us that Jesus was a sailor, etc. From the deck of Leonard's ship, you could see Salvador Dali, feverishly painting a surreal other shore.

No such fervid imaginations illuminate Ten New Songs, but the title is still descriptive, for Cohen has certainly come up with a “new” way of singing without having a song in his heart. But soon he will be quiet forever, or so he keeps reminding us. Whence came this strange malaise? Cohen has spent the last five years, they say, in a Zen monastery. This would seem to be borne out by the bizarre tilt of his thoughts, such as "I don't trust my inner feelings -- inner feelings come and go." This may be proper Buddhist dogma, but it isn't the stuff of good music. This is a New Song indeed -- one that ventures indifference as a musical theme. It is actually the worst CD I have ever heard.

I only listened to six and half of the Ten New Songs, but even this brief encounter had a depressing effect similar to a long chat with a suicidal friend. If it weren't for the depressing effect, however, the CD would be useful for lowering blood pressure. The pacing of these compositions is elephantine. To call them sedate overstates their stimulating effect. Torpid would be more like it. In one tuneless tune, Cohen dwells obsessively on the image of "dark rivers." I felt like I'd won a free vacation to buy time share in the underworld, and Cohen was the salesman. He was very convincing. I felt dead already.

Zen meditation seems to have lowered the temperature of Leonard’s mind. In one New Song he says he’s turned to ice within, and finds it “crowded and cold” inside himself. One is tempted to caution him to be wary of falling into the same fate as the senescent Ram Dass, who meditated himself into a stroke by visualizing himself as an old man with failing extremities and vision. His adventure of the imagination precipitated exactly what he contemplated, and he now is rolled about by his spiritual nabobs in a wheelchair he calls his “swan boat.” If the lethargic rhythms of the New Songs are any indication, Leonard may be drifting a little close to the big drain that goes straight down. The pulse of this music is so faint as to be nearly comatose, tending toward flatline.

From his present vantage point, Leonard Cohen sees no light, or if he does, he brings no report of it. He has one direction resolved, as well -- deeper into the shadowland. He says he knows he's forgiven, but doesn't know exactly how. I was left wondering when he'd been found guilty, and if his sentence was perhaps too severe. Leonard seems to be seeking closure and resolution, coming to terms, preparing for the end. But from the results displayed in these New Songs, I suspect he would have been better off keeping his accounts open, getting and spending the rich treasury of the imagination. In this album he seems hypnotized by the anticipated darkness of death. Tragically, his song has preceded him to the grave.
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