Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

For the sake of ornament and illumination.

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:40 am

TIBETAN TWO-STEP, SHUFFLE & SLIDE, by Charles Carreon

(Perform while wearing seersucker suit and straw boater hat with ukelele accompaniment.)

There's a sucker born every minute
In the good ole USA,
I got here through religion, and here I'm gonna stay.

Just stand right there
Don't scare the crowd,
I've got wisdom teachings, so gather 'round.

It's true you've heard tales of monastery life
How it's filled with depravity and extra wives
But where we gonna go? It's cold outside.

The spiritual path is hard to travel,
But in an antique Rolls
The miles just unravel.

So whaddaya expect a guru to do
But pass the crumpets,
Wouldn't you?

So listen up kids,
Not many can boast
That they told you the truth before they ate your toast

And before you say no, remember first
I'm the best of what's left
And you could do a lot worse!
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:42 am

TIM LEARY, STARFLEET COMMANDER, by Charles Carreon

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Timothy Leary famously blew his cranium on mushrooms in an experience that he recites in "Your Brain Is God" as follows:

"Many years ago, on a sunny afternoon in a Cuernavaca garden, I ate seven so-called sacred mushrooms given to me by a scientist from the University of Mexico. During the next five hours, I was whirled through an experience which was, above all and without question, the deepest religious-philosophic experience of my life. And it was totally electric, cellular scientific, cinematographic."


That experience opened the door to a lifelong search for truth, beauty, and the secret of human existence that Leary confidently proclaims to have solved in "Your Brain Is God." Leary embraces the Gaia hypothesis, seeing the biosphere as a thin bubble of self-creating order that generates ever-more complex and capable living organisms. Leary promises human fulfillment for those who master the "Eight Crafts of God," which might be thought of as harmonizing all human energies into a single harmonious spectrum of being. Of course, psychedelic yoga, the practice of one LSD session per week, is inseparable from making progress toward skill in plying God-craft.

Leary's vision has historic content, as all scientific visions do. Think of the Grand Canyon, of the tales of physicists, about worlds infinitely distant in both space and time, visible through powerful telescopes. So also the LSD voyager often experiences the grand sweep of history, recapitulating, as Leary would have it, the long journey of life up from the primeval swamps, through amphibious and reptilian and mammalian life forms, until we became game-playing simians. So for Leary it is clear that we exist, this universe is in process, human life and all life is on a unified trajectory with the general flow of the universe, and within that flow there are optimal and suboptimal outcomes for living beings resulting from our level of consciousness.

Tim is big on what I like to call the tautological nature of the mind, the tendency of the mind to reflect whatever appears within it. Tim talked about having good set and setting. He talked about the outer set, the difference between being at Esalen, or in a seedy motel. He also described the inner set, harder to change, which is simply the mental disposition you've been developing since you were born, probably before. Set and setting condition your experience. Tim’s lifework was creating set and setting for ecstatic experiences, which he thinks you can get the vast majority of the time for the majority of people.

Tim differed in this regard from other LSD therapists, somebody like Stan Grof, who calls LSD a non-specific neural amplifier that allows you to hear your entire subconscious mind sometimes singing, sometimes shrieking, at high volume. A high-dose trip with Grof could be like lancing the pus out of a painfully engorged ego. Unbelievably scary, and very relieving. By contrast, Leary never designed a philosophy of cathartic tripping. He was an ecstatic revelationist who believed the best use of LSD is to induce ego loss. This ego loss is very far from a state of nonexistence. Rather, it is direct connection without mediation to the source of the all-creative universal mind. From the place of egolessness, each individual can practice the eight God crafts.

Set and setting, says Leary, perfectly mirror one's inner state. Dead people live in dingy cities, he says. When you realize, through LSD practice, that you need to be in a vital, wholesome, esthetically pleasing environment, you'll put yourself in one. So you have to be ready to make those changes. He's seen it time and again. People don't want to make those changes, they stop taking their LSD. Leary doesn’t mention that there are economic and other penalties for following the dictates of your increasingly-sensitized God-mind. Penalties that he of course paid when he was in prison for a half a joint. He puts it this way: “To continue to use LSD, you must generate around you an ever-widening ring of ‘tuned-in’ actions. You must hook up your inner power to a life of expanding intelligence.” Most people, the large majority of the 5,000 who undertook LSD yoga with him, “could not harness their activated energies to a more harmonious game.” Tim’s yoga, however initially attractive, appears to produce as few adepts as the old systems. But every guru can get grumpy.

Leary hazards a guess that The Tibetan Book of the Living, the first trip-manual he produced with Richard Alpert, introduced more people to Buddhism than any mainstream publication, while noting that few "Buddhist professionals" would admit this. Leary describes how the popularity of the book became a problem: "The Tibetan Book of the Living , our first venture in updating old neurological-trip maps, was so successful we became alarmed. Thousands of people began using the Tibetan jargon of Bardos, and a definite fad-trend toward Buddhism was developing. To head off this Oriental renaissance, we quickly sought another, less parochial text for describing and guiding brain astronauts. The advantage of the Tao Te Ching was that this Taoist text was almost content-free. There are no pious monks, shaved heads, red hats, yellow hats, orange robes, or specific levels of heaven, purgatory, and hell in the Tao Te Ching."

Leary’s hostility to an “Oriental renaissance” taking root in his psychedelic movement discloses more ambivalence than real hostility, however. Earlier in the book he regards Hinduism as the nearest neighbor of his own philosophy, and lumps Jainism and Buddhism together as “life-affirming philosophies” that will make possible the “Scientific Paganism of the 21st Century”. Then, in the book’s last chapter, “A Holy Mess,” he recalls that the “religious metaphor” for psychedelic experience “boomed.” A “holy mess” resulted from telling people that they were gods, to which “only the young listened,” causing us all to look to Eastern holy men for guidance. As Leary builds up speed, he begins enjoying tossing a little invective. He’s talking about real people that he can remember:

“It worked because it was so seductive. There was a lot to learn back-East – the barefoot grace, the body-control sinuosity of yoga, the wiry elastic mind-trick of seeing everything from the standpoint of eternity. The ultimate cool of fatalism. The junky-hindu grin of pompous, self-satisfied passivity. The comforting babble of mantra nonsense-syllables. New colorful, bizarre Hindu Lord’s Prayers to monkey-mimic.”

Having gotten up some steam, Leary continues:

“Oriental philosophy is profoundly pessimistic, cynical, stoic, and passive. Before modern scientific technology expanded the scope of human perception there was, indeed, no place to go and nothing new. The same old body cycle – circles of birth, aging and death. Stay detached from the outer world, because there is nothing you can do about the relentless leveling entropy of age.”


Here, Leary ascribes the dead-end view of earthly life that is characteristic of Buddhist and Hindu philosophy to a lack of scientific insight. Examining the other side of the tautological equation may reveal another truth, however – that the adoption of a dead-end view of earthly life stifles the development of scientific insight. Either way, of course, the Orientalist view that one should “stop the world and get off” seems ill-adapted to humanity’s future, which places us in control of spaceship earth, in control of our genetic future, and powerfully in need of a vision that accommodates wholesome, unlimited growth.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:45 am

UBIK: PHIL DICK'S ANSWER TO DEATH AFTER LIFE, by Charles Carreon

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Joe Chip has a problem. He went to the moon with his boss, and got killed in a terrorist bomb attack. Or his boss was killed. He’s not sure, but either way, it’s a problem. It’s 1992 in a world a little different from ours. It’s still earth, and earth is still populated by people. But there are lots of psychics on the planet now, and the moon is colonized.

If Joe himself is dead, he must be in cold-pack in a Swiss half-life “moratorium,” where dead people can spend their half-life in a dreamlike space, and occasionally visit with relatives through a sort of psychic intercom. It’s a common thing to have relatives in cold-pack, and Joe’s boss, Glen Runciter, still meets to discuss business matters with his lovely dead wife Ella, who half-lives in the exclusive Beloved Brethren Moratorium, a Swiss facility that is supposed to be among the best. Ella Runciter died in her twenties, but Glen Runciter thinks so highly of her that he has never considered remarrying, despite his wealth.

Runciter Associates is a psychic security company, and Joe Chip is Glen Runciter’s top man. Although Joe was always broke, his life wasn’t entirely crazy until he met his new girlfriend, Pat Conley. Everything went crazy shortly after Joe introduced Pat to Runciter. Although both Joe and G.G. Ashwood, a renowned psychic talent scout, agreed that Pat had a powerful psychic talent, Runciter questioned whether he should even hire Pat, because he usually hired “inertials,” who block the psychic talents of “precogs” and “teeps” hired by Runciter’s nemesis, the Hollis organization of criminal psychics. But Pat wasn’t a psi-blocker. She displayed a new type of talent, the ability to change the future, not just foresee it. She could send people on alternative reality trips, to places a lot like the present, but with important differences.

Runciter had always refused to take jobs on the moon because of the security risks inherent in being away from earth, far from help. However, ever the businessman, he broke his rule to pick up a big contract job working for Stanton Mick, a plum client Runciter was eager to sign up for a very fat fee. Stanton Mick had told Runciter he needed immediate, massive assistance to block the efforts of a band of psychic spies who were invading the privacy of his lunar planned community. But shortly after Runciter and his inertials arrived, Mick came to meet Runciter in a conference room. Mick acted and talked strangely in a metallic voice in a grandstanding manner, setting everyone on edge. Slowly, it dawned on Runciter and Joe Chip that this wasn’t Mick; rather, it was an android made in his image. Alas, they didn’t figure this out until the android floated off the floor to gain destructive altitude, and an instant later, detonated.

Immediately after discovering that the blast had apparently killed Runciter, Joe Chip assumed control of Runciter Associates. He chartered a rocket and flew the survivors to Switzerland with Runciter’s body, where they booked him into the Beloved Brethren Moratorium, and tried to set up a half-life session. But Runciter wouldn’t revive into half-life, and Joe experienced the pain of losing his father figure.

After Runciter’s death Joe struggles to run the company, but he has some impediments. Like Philip K. Dick, Joe Chip finds himself habitually broke, and regularly abused by the his coin-op apartment door, which won’t let him out without depositing a poscred, and makes nasty remarks when he loses his temper. Sometimes he has to call friends to come by and visit, and pay to get in. Then he can borrow money from them to get himself out. But these problems are small, because one by one Joe’s friends are dying, turning into mummified ragbags of bone and hair. This horrific transformation occurs within a few hours after each individual quietly separates themselves from the group, seeking solitude and stillness.

Not only are Joe’s friends turning into mummies, all mechanical objects, except his apartment front door, are regressing to older models and falling apart. His TV turns into an old tube radio. The elevator in his building regressed from a modern self-serve box to a tiny lift with an accordion steel grate, and seemed to silently suggest: “Take the stairs.” Joe’s car turns into an old car, and even as he negotiates to sell it, the car ages into an even older model of jalopy that is virtually worthless. When he goes to the airport, all he can find to fly is an old biplane.

Due to a series of messages from Runciter that mysteriously appear on bathroom walls and elsewhere, Joe Chip learns that he is probably dead and merely half-living in the Beloved Brethren Moratorium, where Ella Runciter is also in half-life. To reverse the decay of all forms, and prevent himself from turning into a mummy, Runciter tells Joe to get UBIK in the aerosol can. Unfortunately, every time Joe is close to getting a can of aerosol-spray UBIK, he finds only old-fashioned, regressed versions of UBIK that contain toxic ingredients, or in one case, a substantial quantity of pure gold suspended in mineral oil. Fortunately, this last form of UBIK is worth a lot of money in the half-life realm, and Joe is able to trade it for a plane flight for Demoines, Iowa, where Runciter’s funeral is happening. Joe is still not sure that he is dead, so he of course wants to attend Runciter’s funeral.

After Runciter’s funeral, one by one, Joe’s friends just keep disappearing, hiding themselves from their friends so they can turn into psychic tumbleweeds and blow away into the void. The only one who isn’t dying is Pat Conley, Joe’s strange girlfriend. She thinks she’s doing the whole weird trip with her powers, thinks she’s immune from the death that’s stalking him, and drenches Joe with passive-aggressive cruelty while observing Joe’s painful effort to just go to his room and die. But Joe makes it to his room, where Runciter is waiting for him with a can of UBIK aerosol:

“Opening a drawer on the vanity table, he hastily brought out a spray can with bright stripes, balloons and lettering glorifying its shiny surfaces. ‘Ubik,’ Runciter said, he shook the can mightily, then stood before Joe, aiming it at him. ‘Don’t thank me for this,’ he said, and sprayed prolongedly left and right; the air flickered and shimmered, as if bright particles of light had been released, as if the sun’s energy sparkled here in this worn-out elderly hotel room.”


Shortly after this rejuvenating Ubik experience, Joe meets his true antagonist – Jory, a malevolent psychic juvenile delinquent who haunts the moratorium’s half-life realm. Jory is a projective psychotic who generates deceptive “realities” that seduce half-life dwellers into unreal realms and consumes the dregs of their half-life vitality. Dick’s description of Jory’s psychic attack on Joe Chip is bluntly physical and eerily frightening:

“Snarling, Jory bit him. The great shovel teeth fastened deep into Joe’s right hand. They hung on as, meanwhile, Jory raised his head, lifting Joe’s hand with his jaw; Jory stared at him with unwinking eyes, snoring wetly as he tried to close his jaws. The teeth sank deeper and Joe felt the pain of it throughout him. He’s eating me, he realized. ‘You can’t,’ he said aloud; he hit Jory on the snout, punching again and again.”


Shortly after the Jory encounter, from which Joe barely escapes with his life, he sees a pretty girl going down the street, and in a desperate hope to have one last pleasant moment, he strikes up a conversation with her and asks her to dinner. You can almost see Phil Dick counting his Dexedrine pills, getting hungry for a burger after days of speeding and typing, and figuring out he’d better finish this story up quick, before he consumes the last of his inspiration. The story picks up pace immediately after the unexpected encounter with the girl, which leads to the hasty revelation that she is Runciter’s dead wife. Ella Runciter tells Joe that his friends have been killed by Jory, but that, good news – he’s been granted a perpetual supply of UBIK. She explains to him that an aerosol can of UBIK is actually “A portable negative ionizer, with a self-contained, high-voltage, low-amp unit powered by a peak-gain helium battery of 25kv. The negative ions are given a counter-clockwise spin by a radically biased acceleration chamber, which creates a centripital tendency to them so that they cohere rather than dissipate.” UBIK, at 212 (Vintage 1991).

Immortality in a spray can? What else would we expect from Phil Dick?
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:51 am

"VEE HAVE VEYS OF MAKING YOU LOVE SENTIENT BEINGS" -- NAZI METHODS OF INDUCING "BODHICITTA", by Tara and Charles Carreon

"Afterward we watched a documentary of animals being tested in labs, kittens being injected with flea spray, monkeys struggling against restraints while medical researchers smashed their skulls with a giant cow puncher as a way to study head trauma. After that there was a movie about lambs being slaughtered."
-- "The Buddha From Brooklyn," by Martha Sherrill


If you wouldn't do it to your kid, why do it to yourself? Jetsunma was using these insanely violent images to induce Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD"). According to the American Psychiatric Association, "psychological damage ... can result from experiencing, witnessing, or participating in an overwhelmingly traumatic event."

There are two types of horrible events that can cause PTSD when witnessed:

1. Seeing another person violently killed or injured;
2. Unexpectedly seeing a dead body or body parts.

Dr. Manaan Kar Ray

Jetsunma used this Nazi mind control trick to isolate her prey from sources of support. As the APA says, one of the symptoms is "Avoidance [which causes] the person [to] avoid close emotional ties with family, colleagues, and friends."

The symptoms of avoidance may also create a stunned mental state, much-desired by spiritual seekers, who hate emotions and crave a peaceful mental state. The APA describes this symptom of avoidance resulting from witnessing trauma: "At first, the person feels numb, has diminished emotions, and can complete only routine, mechanical activities. Later, when reexperiencing the event, the individual may alternate between the flood of emotions caused by reexperiencing and the inability to feel or express emotions at all."

Dechen, whom Jetsunma immediately identified as afflicted with low self esteem, was predisposed to PTSD by identified risk factors:

"The psychological history of a person may include risk factors for developing PTSD after a traumatic event:

• Borderline personality and/or dependent personality disorders;
• Low self-esteem;
• Neuroticism;
• Pre-existing negative beliefs;
• Previous trauma.

"People with borderline personality disorder often have a history of physical and/or sexual abuse, neglect, hostile conflict, and parental loss or separation. Dependent personality disorder is characterized by low self-esteem, fear of separation, and the excessive need to be cared for by others. All of these features may predispose someone for PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event."

According to Dr. Ray, "People who have experienced previous trauma(s) are at risk for developing PTSD. Repeated exposure to trauma causes hyperactive release of stress hormones, which may be instrumental in creating symptoms of PTSD." Dechen was in a perfect condition for being thrown into acute PTSD after the automobile accident. Setting up the tribunal in the dark house, dressing in black leather, assaulting her victims in front of an audience of sycophants: it is a textbook case of brutalizing a vulnerable person into mental hell.

Dechen was forced to witness the brutalizing of her monk-boyfriend, and also to directly experience additional trauma. The types of directly experienced traumas that are known to cause PTSD are:

1. Combat;
2. Kidnapping;
3. Natural disasters (e.g., fire, tornado, earthquake);
4. Catastrophic accident (e.g., auto, airplane, mining);
5. Violent sexual assault;
6. Violent physical assault.

Dechen had just been in a car crash, in which she suffered severe concussions and cranial lacerations requiring stitches (number 4). She was effectively kidnapped and abandoned by her mush-brained mother, who obediently delivered her directly from the hospital into Jetsunma's clutches (number 2). Jetsunma shows up dressed in combat gear, black leather (evoking number 1). She then subjects Dechen to a violent physical assault (number 6). Hey, four out of six ain't bad.

After these traumatizing events, Dechen was subjected to social ostracism, forced to do only menial tasks like toilet cleaning and floor scrubbing, required to pray many rounds of penance (Vajrasattva), and otherwise kept in a traumatized state.

Of course, all the monks and nuns who participated in this horror show were also being given a booster shot of trauma for themselves. These repeat inoculations of trauma help maintain the submissive character that is so desirable in a devotee. Still capable of performing routine activities, they remain productive. Alienated from their families, they are unlikely to break away from the group. Stifled in their emotions, they are unlikely to develop distracting relationships that diminish their dedication to the guru. Well-developed devotees of course enjoy imbibing another dose of trauma, which is considered good discipline. The Christian flagellants, Hindu faqirs, and Tibetan ascetics raised the self-administration of trauma to the level of high art. But Jetsunma's muscled celibates did not intend to be outdone. Devotees of pain are like no others.

THE BUDDHA FROM BROOKLYN: THE GREAT BLESSING, by Martha Sherrill
copyright 2000 by Martha Sherrill

You have to see through the luster of all the things you play with. You have to take the inner posture of leaving the party. -- Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Dechen borrowed her mother's white minivan the next morning and drove to the town house in Darnestown where the Monk was living with five other monks. She parked on the street and went inside. "I'm going to see Khenpo," she told the Monk, "and I think you should come, too."

On the drive together there were long periods of silence. When directly confronted on the phone, Dechen had told Alana about the affair. And when Dechen insisted that she had not "broken her vows"--meaning her root vows--Alana had accused her of obnoxious hairsplitting. "You were together alone on a bed in a hotel, and you say you didn't break your vows?" There were several rounds of this until Alana simply said, "I can't talk to you anymore," and hung up. Dechen then called the Monk and told him what happened.

"You told Alana?" he said, in horror.

But later that night Alana called again to say that a meeting with Khenpo Tsewang Gyatso had been scheduled for noon the following day and that Jetsunma would see her in the evening. Nobody had suggested that Dechen bring the Monk along. That was her idea.

The drive to the temple seemed very long, and dreadful. Now she saw that it was a mistake not to have confessed. This was the worst possible outcome -- to be found out by Alana and dragged before Khenpo, the venerable Tibetan scholar. She had memories of India, of having gone before the very same man once before with news like this. The irony staggered her.

Dechen and the Monk walked inside the temple together and found Khenpo upstairs, in a suite of rooms he always used when visiting. He ushered them inside and sat down on a purple sofa in his bedroom. Khenpo was a short man with a small mustache and a perfectly round head. He was younger than most Tibetan scholars -- still in his fifties -- and while he seemed easygoing and simple, he was also known for having one of the best minds in the Nyingma school. There didn't seem to be an esoteric point that he couldn't elucidate or a question he didn't have an answer for. More than anyone, the Monk had been awestruck by Khenpo's intellect and wisdom, by his subtlety and clarity. The Monk had hoped to stay by Khenpo's side and keep working on translations with the scholar. As a teacher he was revered in both the United States and India, where he ran the monastery in Bylakuppe and the large university as well. For the last couple of years he'd been coming with greater frequency to Poolesville to give teachings and instruction. For a while now the Monk had suspected that Khenpo's trips to KPC were designed to keep Penor Rinpoche informed of the students' progress there, and--in light of some of the New Age overtones to Jetsunma's teachings--make sure that her students were also offered something more traditional.

Dechen sat at Khenpo's feet. The Monk sat farther behind, in a display of great humility and modesty. Khenpo seemed to want no further details--he'd already heard enough from either Jetsunma or Alana--and launched immediately into an angry diatribe. His face looked pained.

"How could you do this?" he said to the Monk. "You've been a monk for twelve years! . . . You may have some realization, but without moral discipline you have nothing."

"And you!" he said to Dechen. "You knew! You knew you needed to confess!" She looked back at the Monk. He said nothing.

Khenpo explained that it was true: their root vows had not been broken. They had broken a branch vow, which would now remain forever broken. But he was clearly appalled. "The hiding! The secrecy!" If they had come forward and confessed, the negative karma could have been purified. But because they didn't come forward and were found out after a confrontation, the vow would forever be broken, and forever unpurified.

Dechen listened very hard for instructions and advice from Khenpo during the twenty-minute meeting. "Do Vajrasattva practices," he finally said, but he didn't suggest an amount. They could try to purify the karma, but, basically, "Nothing can be done at this point."

Driving home, Dechen said, "I won't say I told you so."

"Good, " said the Monk. They said nothing else.

Dechen didn't mention the meeting she had scheduled that evening with Jetsunma. She assumed it would be one on one, and assumed she'd be reamed out. The Monk came from another school of Tibetan Buddhism, and it wasn't really Jetsunma's place to reprimand him. He had already pondered this himself. Technically, Khenpo was the only person in Poolesville--besides perhaps Alana-who should ever know what had happened between the Monk and Dechen. When vows were broken it was a private matter. If it became public it would be an insult to Khenpo, suggesting that his advice alone wasn't enough--and showing a lack of respect for his ability to handle the situation properly.

Still, the Monk had a bad feeling about this vow breakage. He had a feeling it wasn't going to remain a private matter. Jetsunma didn't seem to care about doing things in a traditional way. And Poolesville wasn't like the other Dharma centers; it didn't feel like the other Dharma centers. It was the kind of place where anything could happen.

***

After she dropped the Monk at the town house, Dechen began the drive back to her mother's. She felt small behind the wheel of the lumbering minivan, and the burgundy robes felt heavy on her skin, a demanding weight that engulfed her small body. She drove on Quince Orchard Road and began thinking about whether she should remain in Poolesville. But she worried. If she couldn't make it as a nun at Kunzang Palyul Choling, the largest concentration of Tibetan Buddhist nuns in America, where could she?

The sky was dark, the color of fresh wet concrete. It was about two o'clock on the afternoon of February 9, 1996. She made the left-hand turn onto Longdraft Road and never noticed the small beige car in the oncoming lane. It was going fifty miles per hour. When the two vehicles collided, the minivan was totaled. So was the other car -- its front end was flattened up to the windshield.

Dechen was dizzy when she squeezed out of the minivan, and she brushed the broken glass off her robes. She stepped over to the small beige car. "Are you okay? Are you okay?" she asked. The driver was a middle-aged blond woman in a business suit. She looked dazed. "I can't really feel my leg," the driver said. Dechen stood next to the car and worried--until other cars began to stop and their drivers told Dechen to get back into the minivan. Her face was covered in blood. When the paramedics came, they put her in a neck brace and carried her to the ambulance, where the driver of the other car was already stretched out. Together they were taken to Shady Grove Hospital in Gaithersburg. The driver of the car had a sprained leg and a bruise on her shoulder. Dechen had lacerations of the face and head from the broken windshield glass--she had forgotten to wear a seat belt--and after receiving fourteen stitches and being given Vicodin for pain, she was told that she was still in shock and needed to rest.

Sherab and Dawa arrived at the hospital--they'd driven by Quince Orchard Road and recognized the crushed white minivan as Ayla Meurer's. At first the two nuns assumed that Ayla had been in an accident, but once they realized that it was Dechen who'd been driving -- and that she was going to be okay -- both nuns turned critical. "How could you get in a car accident?" they asked her. It was more evidence of the negative karma that Dechen had been accumulating lately. They immediately called Alana from Dawa's cell phone. Dawa spoke with Alana for a moment, then handed the phone to Dechen.

Alana's voice was cold and stern. "Don't think that this means you can get out of tonight's meeting," she said quickly. "Jetsunma says you aren't hurt that badly."

By the time Ayla arrived at the hospital, her daughter was being released. As they drove, Dechen felt her shame and despair drifting into numbness. Scattered around her face and short, dark hair were shaved marks and cuts, and the thread of the stitches. " I already heard that you're fine," Ayla said, "so I can say that I'm really mad at you. How could you break your vows?"

Ayla handed Dechen a folded bundle of yellow robes -- the robes the ordained wore for ceremonial and special occasions. She'd been called by Alana and instructed to get her daughter out of the hospital, give her the yellow robes, and take her directly to Ani Estates. There was going to be a meeting. In the car with her mother, Dechen stared straight ahead at the road. A meeting. She felt nothing. She never got hysterical when unexpected things happened like this. Her reaction was always delayed. And, anyway, the last thing she was going to do was cry.

"You know," Ayla said as she dropped Dechen off, "you're in serious trouble."

It was about four-thirty when Dechen arrived at Ani Estates, the large, beige stucco-and-wood tract house on Spates Hill Road where five nuns--Dawa, Dara, Aileen, Alana, and Dorje--lived. Dechen walked into the house alone and saw that activity had already begun. Several nuns were in the kitchen washing large offering bowls. Atara was standing in the middle of the living room, repeating Jetsunma's instructions. "Jetsunma says there should be chairs lined up in here, like this," she was saying. "And Jetsunma says there should be an offering out for the ordained" -- so pretzels and chips and other refreshments were to be set out. The table in the dining room was to be removed, "and under here," where the dining room table was, "Jetsunma says there should be two chairs."

Dechen had been inside the house many times, for all kinds of reasons. She'd come frequently to borrow movies there from Aileen's video library. She'd exercised on the Health Rider. She'd helped with some Tibetan translations there. She'd even lived there for a week once, when she had no other place to live--and she had cleaned the house to make money. When Jetsunma and Sangye got together, their Consort Engagement Party had been there. And over the summer Dechen had attended the meeting of the ordained at Ani Estates where everyone was asked to sign a paper relieving the temple of any responsibility for taking care of them. But never had Dechen--one of the mousiest of the nuns -- been the center of any attention like this. She sat on the floor in the corner and watched the preparations. She watched Atara stage- direct and everybody follow her orders. She noticed that the vertical blinds were drawn.

The house grew darker as night fell. As the monks and nuns began to trickle in, it was clear most of them had very little idea of why they had been called to Ani Estates. The meeting was mandatory for all ordained. Only Sangye Dorje--later admitting that he had a sense of what might transpire--quickly volunteered to take the prayer shift and remain at the temple. As the rest of the nuns and monks arrived, they saw a table of food and began picking at the snacks. Dechen had moved to a spot on the carpeted stairs that overlooked the room and tried to keep her head down. She was feeling a bit woozy. She kept touching the stitches on the top of her head, and it was weird that they didn't hurt. One cut on the left side of her face kept tickling her. She overheard whispers among the monks--they were always the most clueless. "What's going on? Do you know?"

The Monk was among the last to arrive. He came with Konchog and was told to sit away from Dechen until the meeting began and not to speak with her. He sat on the floor in the front hallway and furtively looked up to the stairs, trying to catch Dechen's eye. She only looked away.

Then Atara led them to the dining room and told them to sit on the chairs under the lights. Dechen found herself looking around the room, and at the monks and nuns in the chairs lined up facing her. One by one she looked at their faces. She had known many of them a decade, since she was seventeen. She had sat beside them, prayed beside them, learned to prostrate beside them, been ordained beside them. It felt like they'd been through the wars together. They'd followed the voice of Jeremiah, made the move to Poolesville, enthroned their lama, watched Michael's leaving, built the stupa garden, and seen Jetsunma marry Karl. They'd done all-night prayer rounders together, floated through the exquisitely beautiful White Tara retreat and the amazing Rinchen Ter Dzod, and sat together through last summer's Nam Chu empowerments. They'd kept a twenty-four-hour prayer vigil going, without a break, since it started in the dark basement of the little brick house in Kensington ten years before.

Here was the largest collection of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns in America. They were kind people, good people. Dechen admired so many of them, for wanting to dedicate their lives to something good, for building such a beautiful Dharma center. For trying to live by their ideals.

A broken vow wasn't a small matter. The results would be profound and long-lasting. The bad karma would spill inevitably into the path of everyone in Poolesville and create obstacles. It would cause ripples that would produce more suffering. Dechen and the Monk had not just betrayed themselves and their own Buddha nature but defied the guru and hurt the entire sangha. Why hadn't Dechen been able to see that all along? Why hadn't she come forward months ago?

Most of the lights in the house were dimmed. And the lights in the living room were shut off. Only the lights over Dechen and the Monk were kept brightly lit. Alana was wearing burgundy robes and stood in the dining room before her fellow ordained.

"There has been a vow breakage," she said.

The room became utterly quiet. "Nobody is ever to speak of what happens here tonight. And remember, everything you see is compassionate activity." Alana looked squarely at the Monk. "You are not to speak--either of you--or defend yourselves in any way."

Some headlights flashed behind the windowpane in the front door. Dechen saw that Jetsunma had arrived. The front door flew open, and the room of ordained rose to their feet. Jetsunma quickly pulled off her black overcoat in the foyer and tossed it to Atara. Underneath she was dressed entirely in black, too-black wool and black leather.

"You fool!" she shouted at the Monk, as she ran toward him, then struck him hard on the head with her open hand. The Monk lost his footing and staggered momentarily. When his balance was regained, he realized that his wire-rimmed glasses had been knocked to the floor and he couldn't see.

Jetsunma studied him briefly. With his glasses off the Monk looked like a mole-soft and blind. "Sit down!" she yelled. The Monk and Dechen began to drop onto the seats of their chairs, and Jetsunma yelled again. "No! Sit on the floor! You don't deserve to sit on the same level as these other ordained!"

Dechen sat on her knees. The Monk sat cross-legged on the ground, with the large lights swinging overhead. "I brought you into our hearts!" Jetsunma yelled at him, then bent down to punch the Monk again hard on the side of the face. "We took you into our homes! And this is how you repay our kindness? I should throw you through that sliding glass door but you don't have the merit."

The ordained were quiet, barely moving in their chairs. Dechen looked out into the living room; in the shadows she could see the outlines of a few nuns who were holding their stomachs. One monk had his hand over his mouth.

"This is a stain on all of us--and has harmed all ordained forever." Jetsunma yelled, continuing to punctuate her comments with blows to the Monk's head. "This has shortened my life, the lives of our sangha, and made it harder for all future ordained to keep their vows. And it's shortened their lives as well. They worked so hard to keep their vows purely, and now you've made it so hard!"

Dechen looked up again and heard Tashi sobbing.

Jetsunma turned to face the little nun. Dechen stared up at her. "And you!" she yelled. She struck Dechen across the side of her head with the heel of her hand, not far from a few stitches. "I've taken you into my heart! I've done everything I could for you!" She slapped her again on the forehead." There are words for women like you, but I won't use them!" she yelled. "It disgusts me to see you in those robes. It disgusts me to see your face!"

Dechen looked up into Jetsunma's face and never broke her gaze. Jetsunma had a look that Dechen never remembered seeing before. She was almost. . . smiling. But it wasn't a smirk as much as a leer. "What you said happened to you in India before, what you told me," Jetsunma shouted, "that isn't what really happened, is it? You lied to me." She backhanded Dechen again.

Jetsunma began listing instructions for Dechen to follow. The young nun felt herself focusing on all of Jetsunma 's words, all her advice and instructions, hoping to remember every moment. Dechen was never to look at or speak to the Monk again. She was to put her yellow robes on her altar and prostrate to them every day. She needed to get a job and payoff all of her debts. She had to stop "leaning on" the other ordained. She needed to do one hundred thousand Vajrasattva practices, but Jetsunma wasn't sure that was enough. As a punishment, she and the Monk were going to clean the temple every day--the bathrooms, the floors, the kitchen. And every moment that Dechen wasn't either cleaning or working to pay off her debts, she was to be practicing. As for reading or TV or any other "enjoyments," there were to be no more than four hours per week. She talked about how little remorse Dechen had. "You have never done a single thing that I have ever told you to do," Jetsunma yelled angrily, "so I have no confidence that you'll do it now."

Dechen followed her lama's eyes. She soaked up her lama's words. These were blessings, she told herself. Each word was a great blessing. Each slap and slug, a great, great blessing. Dechen tried to be as submissive as she could be and tried to find a posture of accepting all the blessings as they came her way. This wrathful display--as it was called--would only help to purify any negative karma that had been created by her contact with the Monk.

The Monk had been very still, but he turned slightly to see if Dechen was okay. She was cowering. She was humiliating herself: He wanted to yell at her, "Get up! Get up!"

Jetsunma turned to him again. "You may keep your robes but not wear them," she said, "and if you were in better health, I'd make you clean every toilet at the temple eighteen times a day with a toothbrush." She pointed to the crowd in the chairs. "Their toilets!"

Dechen was to clean toilets, too, she said. "I can't tell you not to come to teachings, but if you do, sit behind an umbrella or something. I don't want to see your face. . . . And I've talked to Khenpo Tsewang Gyatso about this--you may not keep your robes!"

At this Jetsunma walked out. The room remained perfectly still. Alana returned to center stage. She announced that Jetsunma wanted the ordained to tell Dechen and the Monk how this evening had made them feel--sharing their anger and outrage would help Dechen and the Monk "with their remorse."

Ani Rene spoke first and addressed her comments to the Monk, with whom she had studied. "Driving in the car with you one time," she said, "you criticized some lamas and poisoned my mind with gossip!" she said, shaking with rage. "I felt sick for an hour, and I could have just ripped you apart. " Tashi was so overcome with emotion that he could barely get the words out. He was horrified by what had happened, particularly by the fact that Jetsunma's life would now be shortened. Then came Konchog, the young monk who did press relations for the temple and who was a scholar. He also addressed his remarks to his friend, his housemate, his fellow monk. "I had so much faith in you, " he said, fighting back tears. "You kept your vows for so long. And you talked about how the Dharma texts were more important than Jetsunma, and you almost turned my mind away from my teacher."

The nuns of Ani Farms each spoke to Dechen. Palchen said that Dechen needed to face her total irresponsibility and lack of thought for anyone but herself. Alexandra mentioned Dechen's thoughtlessness. She had never contemplated how her breakages would affect anybody but herself. Sherab was the angriest. "You're always rebellious, and everything has to be Dechen's way!" she yelled. Another nun talked about how she'd helped Dechen out when she broke her vows last time, how supportive she'd felt. This was different. "Countless sentient beings," she said, "will be hurt because of this."

But most of the comments were directed at the Monk, and they continued for forty-five minutes after Jetsunma's departure. In the following ten days there were two more meetings--where Dechen and the Monk were required to confess the details of their affair to the entire ordained sangha. At one point, as Dechen tried to give an account of exactly what had transpired between them sexually, the Monk began shouting; "Shut up! Shut up! It's none of their fucking business!" And it was this attitude, his indignation and pride, which seemed to fuel the anger of his peers. One by one in all three meetings, the ordained told the Monk how they really felt about him, how egotistical he was, how deluded, how he lorded his knowledge of Tibetan and all his studies and retreats and expertise in Tibetan Buddhism over everybody and made them feel bad, how he'd tried, with all his talk of tradition and other teachers and other Dharma centers, to turn them against their lama. He had taken many empowerments, but he'd somehow missed the boat.

The Monk didn't know these people well--he had been in Poolesville only eight months--and it shocked him that they would have such intense hatred for him. It also surprised him that Jetsunma should feel so strongly--to scream at him, and slug him, to threaten to throw him through the sliding glass door. He had refused to give her instruction in some high teachings, and he'd ignored what he felt had been her romantic advances: was that the explanation for her rage? But what had he done to the rest of these people to make them so angry? The attacks on his character were personal, and brutal. This is like something out of the Spanish Inquisition, he was thinking. He knew what Jetsunma would say, of course, that to strike a student was to give him a great blessing. There was a long tradition of teachers hitting students in Tibetan Buddhism. He had heard that in Tibet students were sometimes beaten unconscious with logs and clubs. Penor Rinpoche himself, the legend went, had cured one of his students of cancer by beating him to a bloody pulp--then collapsed outside on the grass and sobbed. But hitting a student in this country, wasn't that a great risk? Was this monastery life in Tibetan Buddhist America?

***

In the following weeks Dechen went overboard to live by Jetsunma's edicts and purify herself. She spent two or three hours a day cleaning the bathrooms or floors or whatever Rinchen told her to do. She did her Vajrasattva. She went to the bank, consolidated her debt. With credit cards, back-tithing. and what she owed Palchen in rent, the total came to four thousand dollars. She found a job right away, as a secretary in a publishing house. And since Jetsunma didn't want to see Dechen's face, she listened to her lama's teachings on Wednesday nights while scrubbing the solarium floor. She was largely shunned by the sangha but felt soothed by her mother.

They stayed up late at night, talking about how Dechen had come to veer off her intended path, how she felt dried up spiritually--and did not trust the words of her lama. Ayla Meurer spent hours with her daughter after the night at Ani Estates. going over every detail of the evening, and every word Jetsunma had spoken. Ayla admitted that she'd had difficult times at KPC over the years, too. Michael Burroughs had said and done many things to hurt her. She'd sometimes felt rejected and ignored by the inner circle. But to her Jetsunma was like Jesus Christ, a miraculous savior of the entire planet. And over the years she had felt great blessings flow from Jetsunma and she'd been able to find her own path, her own way of studying Tibetan Buddhism. She encouraged Dechen to find her way, too.

Dechen spoke a great deal with Ani Catharine Anastasia, her assigned mentor in the ordained community. Catharine Anastasia helped her see that the Monk was not her friend and had never truly cared about her; he'd only planted poison in her mind. He'd come into her life and turned her against the guru, turned her against Poolesville. In a moment of guilt and renunciate fervor, Dechen threw out all the robes that she wore while she had been with him, and she returned all the Tibetan texts and manuscripts he had given her.

The loss of her robes was too much even to consider. If Dechen wasn't an ani anymore, who was she? As Jetsunma instructed, she put the folded robes on her altar and prostrated to them not just three times a day, as Jetsunma had instructed, but nine. She continued to keep her vows assiduously, even after Alana made a point of reminding her several times that she was no longer a nun, and Sherab left an angry voice mail for her when she wore burgundy jeans and a burgundy T-shirt to clean the temple. "How dare you wear burgundy!" Sherab said. "You aren't a nun anymore. " But Dechen was determined to earn her robes back, and Ayla encouraged her. She told her daughter that anything was possible, if she paid back her debts, lived responsibly, practiced Vajrasattva, and kept practicing and practicing. In every spare moment of the day, Dechen did. "I was very remorseful and sad," she said later, "but I was trying to get myself together."

When Chris Finney called her one day in late February, Dechen was surprised to hear her cheerful voice. It seemed like a long time since anybody from the temple had called her--and sounded friendly. Chris had a small business making prayer beads that were sold in the temple gift shop, and she was calling to offer Dechen her supplies. She could make some decent money stringing the malas, and Chris said she knew that Dechen probably needed it.

"You're not making malas anymore?" Dechen asked.

"I'm not coming to Poolesville anymore," said Chris.

"You aren't?' Dechen asked. This seemed unimaginable. Chris was one of the founding members--one of the First Wavers.

"No, " Chris said, and then she mentioned something about seeing a lama in Frederick, Maryland, now. "We're just going on with our life in another direction."

Dechen didn't inquire further and, frankly, didn't want to know any more. The repercussions of Chris's departure were too horrible to think about. Dechen would rather break her vows a hundred more times than break samaya.

Chris didn't offer any explanations, either. She just made plans to give Dechen all her beads and wire and wire cutters. The truth was, through the Dharma grapevine she had heard about the night at Ani Estates and was wondering how Dechen was holding up. News can travel fast in a temple when something unusual happens. But when Chris asked Dechen how she was doing, she said, "Great! I'm doing great."

And that was truly how Dechen felt. Her mother was being kind and helpful. Dechen was paying off her debts. She liked her new job at the publishing house. Her boss, a woman, was supportive. "You don't know what you're worth, do you?" she said. And Dechen was already looking at the classified ads--to see if she could afford a studio apartment in Gaithersburg.

A few nights later Dechen was dusting the Guru Rinpoche altar in the prayer room when the sangha gathered in the Dharma room for a teaching from Jetsunma. Dechen had moved into the solarium to begin cleaning tables when she heard Jetsunma's voice. "If you could sample Your teacher's mindstream," she said, "if you could sample the nectar of what your teacher actually has to give you . . . it is contained within this teaching."

Dechen could hear Jetsunma 's voice almost too clearly, coming from a loudspeaker in the kitchen. "I hope that all my students who intend to remain my students are here tonight," she said, "and those who are not here, I'm afraid I'm sorry to say that it may be due to causes having been created that make it not possible or not easy for you to receive what comes directly from the mind and the intention of your teacher."

She began to read a poem she'd written to the sangha, which she explained had been inspired by the activities of two of her students. It was called "War Cry:"

Bitch,
I have seen you.
I have heard your voice.
I have smelt your smell.
I have lived
And died with you.
I know your name. . .
Samsara.

Bitch, whore,
Whatever garment you wear
I will know you.
Your smile is no seduction
To me.
I know you.

You will appear
In lovely forms,
Seductive, caressing, singing songs
Filled with promises.
It is then I will appear
Far more beautiful than you
Adorned with garments
Of pure aspiration

Resplendent with gold and gems
Of pure bliss.
From my mouth will come
The ambrosia of Dharma
And from your
Grasping arms
I will steal my children away,
Like a thief
In the night. . .
And lead them to
Paradise.

Dechen felt herself sinking to the floor. She put her hands over her face. She felt her breath stop. More than the night at Ani Estates, more than anything, this poem hurt her, like a knife in her stomach.

Be warned,
Whore-mother of suffering,
I am coming.
I am relentless!
Not one of my children
Will I abandon to you.
I will meet you on
Every hill and mountain.
In every ocean, in every country.
In the sky, in the six realms,
In form and formless lands,
No hell or heaven will
Hide you from me.
I will never stop.
Like a tigress
I will come,
Mouth dripping with blood,
Claws extended.

I will come and slay you,
I will rip you apart
Cut up, shredded,
Sliced and diced,
No one will know
Which part to call Samsara.
I will finish you.
You will not enslave my children.

Then I will shed tears
To heal you.
I will scoop you up
In my arms,
Tenderly I will hold
Your head.
My eyes will shine
Wisdom and compassion upon you.
My body will be your home.
My speech will sing lullabies
Of pure virtue.
Then you will remember
You are my child too.
Samsara.
Yes, you too.
Then, beloved child
Who is never separate from me,
We will depart together.
We will be in Paradise.

Jetsunma began explaining the poem, line by line. Of course, it wasn't literally about two students, it was about the entire sangha, and it was about samsara. "Whore indicates an awareness that samsara is completely unwholesome," she said. "Samsara is just simply filled with degradation and unwholesomeness, with shit and garbage. There is nothing here but garbage, and so whore is a word that indicates the complete unwholesomeness of it."

She kept reading.

From my mouth will come
The ambrosia of Dharma
And from your
Grasping arms
I will steal my children away;
Like a thief
In the night

"Skillful means are indicated here," Jetsunma said. "The bodhisattva will come like a thief in the night. And I'll tell you that there have been many times that I have stretched the truth, quite a bit, in order to hook sentient beings, that I have elaborated in order to hook sentient beings, that I have put on my chicken suit and danced in order to hook sentient beings, and I know that if I have done that, my humble self, then I know that the great bodhisattvas have done it much more. Whatever means are necessary! . . . When bodhisattvas meet with their students, whatever skillful means are necessary are legal!"

Dechen stayed on the floor, unable to get up. She felt a bit light- headed and confused. How long would this punishment go on? "There are many, many stories of great bodhisattvas who did not even follow the norms and traditions of the society in which they were born," Jetsunma said, "or the society in which they practiced. They threw all that out the window. And they did so because skillful means were necessary to overcome such a terrible demoness as this whore samsara."

Dechen slipped into a back room of the temple until the teaching was over and then found a ride home with Bob Colacurcio. She mentioned nothing to him about the poem. A few days later she got up the courage to talk to Catharine Anastasia about "War Cry."

"That poem--was it about me?" she asked over the phone.

"I was sure you were going to think that--you're so self-centered," Catharine Anastasia said. "It's not about you. It's about Wib and Jane."
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:09 am

VOIDSUCK THIS!, by Charles Carreon

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Charles Carreon’s Review of Riding The Torch by Norman Spinrad

In this novelette, published some years back, the august chronicler of imaginary odysseys was hammering away on his piece of malleable mindstuff, refining the themes that became more fully fleshed out in The Void Captain’s Tale and Child of Fortune.

As the story begins the hero, Jofe, is put out. A skillfully-timed announcement from the Pilots have upstaged the premier of his latest production, “The Wandering Dutchman,” a direct-to-the-senses media extravaganza that is sure to wow his fellow shipmates on the torchship Brigadoon. Never mind that the Pilots claim to be hot on the tail of another earth-like planet. These false alarms have gotten to be a bore, and he tells the leader of the Pilot’s union just that, getting the better of him in a jeering match in front of the ship’s high society.

The Pilots are an austere cult of “voidsuckers” who man the diffuse outer edge of the torchship convoy, scouring the galaxy for a replacement for earth. On his way out, the Pilot tells Jofe that he ought to come out and see what it’s like to face the interstellar void, away from the entertainments of the ship lifestyle, with its psychic Internet of sensory-jaunting and endless stimulation. Jofe’s just pissed enough to take the challenge, thus condemning himself to six months in deep space with a small crew of voidsuckers, without psychic email. But it’s a publicity bonanza, and he tells everyone he’s gonna make a movie out there.

No sooner is he out there than he figures out there’s something weird here. He knows they’ve got a secret, but they won’t share it with him until he sucks void. He soon finds out what that’s about. Every now and then one of the crew gets “the call” and they go hang out in a small ship way out beyond where they can't even see the light of their little scout ship. Hang out there for three days or so and suck void. So Jofe wants to wire one of ‘em up and get their psychic experience on tape, but they all say no. Finally, he decides he’ll go out and suck void, and wire himself to get the movie. His voidsucker friends are all like, “You’ve heard the call!” And he’s like “Whatever – you guys just wouldn’t help me out, so I have to do it.” And they’re all “It comes to everyone in a different way.” Then he’s off to suck void.

He rattles around in empty space in his tin can for many hours, and it’s a heavy trip, it seems like forever, it seems like stillness and clarity, then it gets jumbled up again, and then there’s more peace and clarity, and then he comes back. So he’s like, “Okay, cool. I sucked void. What did you call me out here to tell me?” And the head Pilot explains that they’ve been lying for 200 years to humanity. They know there’s no habitable planets. Apparently we nuked and poisoned the only fucking one in the whole galaxy. They pretend to know less than they do. They suck void because it’s the only thing that calms them down. They’re void junkies. And they want him to make a new senso so great, like The Wandering Dutchman but better, that will help humanity get a grip on the fact that they’re just out there in space forever and unlikely to enjoy the basic planetary benefits of free air, gravity, fertile soil and nontoxic precipitation ever again.

So he goes home and tries to make his senso, but he’s just using tricks. The public is starting to clamor for the big voidsucker epic, so he locks himself up in his studio and turns on the tape of his voidsucking experience, puts it on an endless loop, leaving himself the power to come out of it whenever he wants. He drops into the loop, and it goes on and on and on, and he realizes after an eternity that isn’t moving anywhere at all, that this is really painful, a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, and he asks himself, “Why am I doing this to myself?” Then he realizes that he’s just sitting in his room playing a tape, so he turns it off. Then gets up and creates this ass-kicking senso that tells everyone that, what the hell, we’re riding the Torch, we’re humanity, the lonely badass exiles of the one and only Eden, using the power of the stars to make our worlds one atom at a time. We’ll fucking kickass forever, and the void can fucking suck itself. And planets? Planets? We don’t need no stinking planets!
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:12 am

WE BE TRIPPIN' WITH UMA'S DAD, AKA BOB THURMAN, "THE MONK", by Charles and Tara Carreon

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Did you ever notice how nobody ever heard of Bob Thurman, even though he was the first monk ordained by the Dalai Lama, until a short time after Uma showed her tits to the world in Dangerous Liaisons? You remember that scene, where John Malkovich, long before "Being John Malkovich," writes Glenn Close a nasty letter using Uma's perfect spine, as in naked, for a handy writing surface, complete with quill and nasty remarks. We had to wait until Geoffrey Rush chased Kate Winslett through an insane assylum for a scene of similar power. But I'm getting distracted from the main point -- Uma's tits. These are the spheres from which Bob really launched his assault on reason and sanity, and well empowered for the task they were. Just one look and we all knew that monk-shit was bull-shit. This man has great taste in ass.

Okay, Charles composed the foregoing, but now the torch passes to me, and I want to burn this little pig right in his house of sticks. Yes, this is the big bad wolf of liberation here to call Bob Thurman out. No, I don't need to, which is what this post is all about. Over a year ago I posted my expose of the truly empty nature of Bob's book "Inner Revolution," the "Brother Where Art Thou?" feel-good hit that everybody bought, nobody read, and for which we were none the worse.

Frankly, I was disappointed when all the spit-ballers on the Trike board did nothing to defend Bob. I thought they'd feel like I was torching their huts, but they displayed little or no concern about my revelation of the vacuity of Bob's life work. Comments like "Who cares what Thurman thinks anyway?" rained down hard and fast, drenching my parade. I had to move on to other issues that had more incendiary qualities.

But I dare say, like a stray marijuana seed that will poke its little serrated leaves up in the dirt outside the teacher's lounge, my irreverent critique of Uma's dad seems to have taken root. I mean, it's not every day a major cult monthly that retails in the food coop for $8.95 devotes eight precious full-color pages that could be devoted to Elizabeth Clare Prophet's global campaign for cash concentration to a cartoon that seems to lampoon the hell out of "The Fantastic Buddhaverse of Robert Thurman."

I loved it so much, I've transcribed it here for you from the Fall/Winter Issue of Andrew Cohen's "What is Enlightenment" magazine. Check it out, but before you walk through the grocery line. It will take a few minutes to read, or rather to "experience" what the author calls "another dimension, an alternate reality in which contemporary notions of spiritual transformation...mix and mingle with the mythic, the miraculous, and the other-worldly." Which is just what Charles says about Uma's tits.

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Fantastic Buddhaverse of Robert Thurman
What is Enlightenment?, Fall/Winter 2002
Illustrated by Nadir Balan

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WHEN YOU BECOME A BUDDHA, YOU'RE NO LONGER JUST A BEING INSIDE THIS SKIN...

SO FOR EXAMPLE, I'M A TEACHER, AND I HAVE TO GO TO SOME CRAPPY COLUMBIA CLASSROOM...

...AND I GOTTA TALK IN A MICROPHONE, AND YOU STUDENTS SIT IN SOME CRAPPY CHAIRS,

BUT IF I WAS A BUDDHA, THE CHAIRS WOULD TEACH YOU, THE ROOM. THE SHOES, THE CLOTHES, EVERYTHING!

I WOULD SURROUND YOU WITH PEDAGOGICAL DEVICES. DO YOU KNOW WHAT I'M SAYING?!

BECAUSE I WOULDN'T JUST BE STUCK STANDING UP OVER HERE ON THE STAGE GIVING A TALK; I WOULD BE A WHOLE CLOUD OF THINGS!

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THE MOMENT IN A BEING'S EVOLUTIONARY CONTINUUM WHEN THEY DECIDE THAT THE UNIVERSE HAD BETTER HAVE A HAPPY ENDING, AND THEY'RE GOING TO SEE TO IT...

...AND THAT HAPPY ENDING IS FOR THEM AND EVERYONE ELSE TO BECOME A COMPLETE BUDDHA, THEN THEY TAKE THE BODHISATTVA VOW. "I'M GOING TO BECOME A BUDDHA AND I'M GOING TO SAVE BEINGS." I'M GOING TO DO IT!" IT'S NOT JUST A LITTLE SELFLESS THING. "I'M GOING TO DO IT!"

AND IT'S KIND OF AN EGOTISTICAL ALMOST MEGALOMANIAC THING THAT A BODHISATTVA DOES. THEY GET SO PASSIONATE THEY CAN'T STAND TO WAIT FOR A LONG PERIOD OF EVOLUTION TO SAVE OTHER BEINGS...

...SO TO SPEED UP THE PROCESS, THEY SHIFT INTO THIS VERY DANGEROUS, SWIRLING VIRTUAL REALITY, IN ORDER TO CHANGE FAST.

THIS IS TANTRIC HIGH-TECH METHODOLOGY!!

IN THAT REALM, YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY GO THROUGH THE SELF-TRANSFORMATION OF GIVING YOUR LIFE TO OTHER BEINGS.

LIKE A THOUSAND TIMES IN A NIGHT.

A GUY LIKE THE TIBETAN YOGI, MILAREPA, HE'S IN A CAVE THERE, BUT ACTUALLY HE'S IN A VIRTUAL PLANE AND IT'S LIKE HE'S DOING ONE OF THOSE TRAINING PROGRAMS FROM THE MATRIX.

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AND IT'S INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS. YOU'RE DOWN THERE SWIMMING IN YOUR UNCONSCIOUS AND YOU'RE BRINGING UP THESE DEEP ENERGIES AND YOU'RE SORT OF REDESIGNING YOUR GENES...

...AND YOU COMPRESS YOUR EVOLUTION IN THIS INCREDIBLY HIGH-TECH WAY.

YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH A DEATH-REBIRTH, WHICH MEANS TO DEVELOP THE FORM BODY OF BUDDHAHOOD, AND INSTEAD OF THREE INCALCULABLE EONS OF EVOLUTIONARY EXPERIENCE AND SELF-TRANSCENDENCE...

YOU CAN DO IT IN ONE LIFETIME--IF YOU'RE A SUPER-DUPER PERSON!

BUT IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE FOUNDATION FOR TANTRA, WHICH IS KNOWLEDGE OF SELFLESSNESS, THE ABILITY TO LET ANY STRUCTURE OF SELF DISSOLVE--EVEN THE MOST POWERFUL, THE MOST MAGNIFICENT, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL STRUCTURE OF SELF--

--YOU'LL BE REBORN AS A TITAN OR A DEVIL OR SOMETHING.

THE BODHISATTVA COMPLETELY MASTERS THE WHOLE ART OF MANIFESTATION THROUGH THE MAGIC BODY...

...WHICH IS LIKE A DIGITAL RESIDUAL SELF-IMAGE IN A VIRTUAL, SAMADHIC REALM WITHIN A MANDALA, WHICH IS A PROTECTIVE FORCE FIELD IN WHICH TO VOYAGE TO INNER UNIVERSES. AND THIS IS ALL A REHEARSAL FOR DEALING WITH THE OUTER UNIVERSE.

SO, SAY YOU WANT TO GO AND REHEARSE SAVING SOME BEINGS FROM HELL. THEN YOU MIGHT WANT TO MEDITATE ON SOME FIERCE DEITY WITH MANY ARMS AND WEAPONS AND DIFFERENT HEADS LOOKING IN ALL DIRECTIONS...

...AND THEN, IN YOUR IMAGINED BODY, LIKE A PEACE WALKER WEARING THE MISSILE MAN SUIT...

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YOU GO INTO HELL,

AND GET THOSE DEMONS OFF THE BACKS OF PEOPLE

...AND COOL THINGS DOWN--BRING A FIRE HOSE, WHATEVER IT TAKES!

OR YOU COULD BE A BEING THAT IMAGINES ITSELF AS FOOD,

AND WHERE THERE ARE HUNGRY AND THIRSTY PEOPLE, YOU'D STREAM CARROT JUICE AT THEM FROM YOUR FINGERTIPS, OR POTATOES, AND WOULD COMPLETELY FEED THEM. BY DOING THAT YOU FEED MILLIONS OF PEOPLE AND YOU GAIN THE MERIT OF FEEDING ALL THOSE BEINGS.

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SO YOU'RE ACCELERATING THE ACCUMULATION OF MERIT THAT WOULD OTHERWISE TAKE LIFETIMES TO ACCUMULATE AND YOU'RE DOING THIS IN THE NIGHT IN YOUR DIGITAL MAGIC BODY.

WHEN YOU GET THAT KIND OF MERIT...

...YOU DEVELOP THE STABILITY OF MIND AND HAVE THAT LEVEL OF ART AND CREATIVITY TO BE ENGAGED WITH THE WHOLE WORLD SYSTEM.

THEN YOU BECOME A BUDDHA!!

A BUDDHA CAN MANIFEST ALL KINDS OF INCARNATE FORMS AND SEEMINGLY INDIVIDUATED FORMS, TO BECOME A DISCREET MANIFESTATION THAT OTHER BEINGS CAN PERCEIVE. THEY EMANATE AN INDIVIDUATED FORM THAT ANOTHER PERSON CAN THEN RELATE TO IN ORDER TO GET THAT PERSON TO REALIZE THEIR OWN TRUE NATURE.

BUDDHA WILL BE A PARROT IF THAT'S WHAT IS NEEDED.

IF SOMEONE IS SO FRIGHTENED OF THE WORLD THAT ALL THEY CAN DO IS PET A DOG, THEN THE BUDDHA WILL BE A DOG, AND JUST GO AND GET PETTED. THEY WON'T EVEN SAY THE DHARMA OR ANYTHING.

AND TO BE A REAL GURU YOU HAVE TO BE CLAIRVOYANT, BUT NOT FOR YOUR OWN SAKE.

LET'S SAY THE GURU WAS TEACHING SOMEONE AND AT THE SAME TIME THEY WERE AWARE OF EVERY WAY THAT PERSON WAS PERCEIVING THEM...

...A REAL GURU WOULD BE AWARE OF EVERY THOUGHT IN THAT PERSON'S MIND....

...AND OF HOW THAT PERSON WAS INTERPRETING EVERYTHING THEY WERE SAYING...

IF YOU WANT TO BE A TRUE TEACHER YOU HAVE TO DEVELOP THOSE ABILITIES.

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SO ENLIGHTENMENT IS WHERE YOU CONSCIOUSLY INHABIT WHATEVER LEVEL OF BEING YOU WANT BECAUSE YOU'RE NO LONGER A PRISONER OF ANY PARTICULAR BODY.

YOU CAN FORM BODIES OUT OF AIR, OUT OF MOLECULES, OUT OF COSMIC RAYS, AND YOU'RE TOTALLY INTERFUSED WITH EVERY BEING---

--TO AN INFINITE EXTENT! YOUR BODY IS LIKE A BACKGROUND RADIATION, NOT PERCEIVABLE BY OTHER BEINGS, YET IT'S INTERFUSED IN THE CELLS AND BEING OF OTHER BEINGS.

I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT ETERNITY OR IMMORTAL LIFE IN SOME NICE SENSE, LIKE UP ON GO'D SHELF, DANCING IN THE CHOIR WITH BEATRICE, LIVING IN THE BRAHMA REALM JUST LOUNGING AROUND IN ENERGY FIELDS, I MEAN BEING EMBEDDED FOREVER IN THE NITTY-GRITTY OF LIFE WITH EVERY OTHER BEING.

ACTUALLY, IF THE LUNATICS HAD ALL-OUT NUCLEAR WAR TODAY...

...BUDDHA COULD PRODUCE ANOTHER PLANET IMMEDIATELY IN A NEIGHBORING GALAXY AND FUNNEL EVERY SOUL THAT WAS DESTROYED!

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SO THE WHOLE WORLD BECOMES AN EXPRESSION OF THE BUDDHA'S WISH TO TEACH BEINGS, AND THERE ARE ENDLESS BEINGS, SO THE BUDDHA WOULD BE A WHOLE CLOUD OF THINGS...A BUDDHAVERSE!!

AND THE BUDDHA WOULD BE ACTUALLY UN-LOCATABLE. TOTALLY UN-LOCATABLE, AND TOTALLY PRESENT AT ALL TIMES WITH ALL OF US COMPLETELY RIGHT HERE AND NOW, FOREVER ENGAGED.

THIS IS WHAT THEY SAY. IT'S A LOT OF FUN TO THINK ABOUT ACTUALLY. BUT I KNOW IT'S A LITTLE INCREDIBLE. IT'S SUPER SCI-FI!
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:26 am

WE CAN DO THIS: PRAJNAPARAMITA SUTRA REVEALED, by Baksheesh the Madman

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Come join me on the Ocean of Experience!

Author’s Dedication

May those who read this recognize it as their own understanding.

Go Straight To the Heart

Let’s go directly to the heart of the Heart Sutra:

"Therefore Sariputra, because there is no attainment, Bodhisattvas abide relying on the Perfection of Wisdom, without obscurations of thought, and so are fearless."

In order to understand the deep significance expressed herein, repeat after Baksheesh three times: “There is no attainment.” Now rest with that thought just a minute and consider the implications for your Buddhist spiritual life. Pretty confusing, huh? Don’t feel bad. Orthodox Mahayana Buddhists usually honor this statement without understanding, continuing on their merry way, seeking attainment. Scholars explain it away. Of course most American-born Buddhists think it’s pathetic that Christians bury their most cherished beliefs, like the injunction to eschew homicide, under a pile of corpses and political justifications, but they don’t turn the mirror on themselves to observe how little they understand their own doctrine.

What is the usual response to this authoritative statement from a top Buddhist disciple that “there is no attainment?” I suppose Zen masters do talk about it some, but if they carved it over the entrance to the monastery, they’d probably be retired as altogether too esoteric in their approach. Can you can imagine the anxiety of the rank and file priests if this truth of “no attainment” were popularized: "Suppose the faithful believe it and go away? Worse yet, suppose we ourselves come to believe it, and abandon the Dharma?" Such a fearful attitude may guarantee future employment, and protect the outer tradition from extinction, but it also dooms one to a coward’s fate, and the Bodhisattvas are the heroes of enlightenment, not deserters. We must rise to the challenge of understanding, or perish as ignorant as the rest.

No Attainment

Although many Buddhists avoid this truth that is clearly written for their benefit, I, Baksheesh, adjure you to return to the Heart of the Heart Sutra, and not turn your gaze for one moment from this thought: “There is no attainment.” Why? Because you must grasp this nut to loosen the bolt on your mind. Then, let your attention encompass the rest of the statement:

"Therefore Sariputra, because there is no attainment, Bodhisattvas abide relying on the Perfection of Wisdom, without obscurations of thought, and so are fearless."

The thrust of the statement is that “because there is no attainment,” Bodhisattvas don’t plan on achieving anything, and instead rely on “Perfect Wisdom,” which removes “obscurations of thought,” leaving them "fearless." In other words, instead of applying themselves to something unachievable, an “attainment” such as the extinction of desire, Bodhisattvas apply their superior perception and understanding to eliminate fear. Eliminate fear of what? All the usual fears, plus one more – fear of not achieving enlightenment -- which bedevils all Buddhist amateurs.

It might also be said that by “no attainment,” the sutra means no static attainment. A static attainment is a credential, a mark of achievement, like having attended many meditation sessions, or having received many tantric empowerments, having donated many dollars, or free sexual favors, to the guru. These static attainments are like money amateur Buddhists acquire in order to spend it assuaging the fear that they are making no progress, because the true attainment they crave remains far-off, apparently entirely out of reach. The Perfection of Wisdom is not a static achievement, yet the Bodhisattvas rely upon it, and only upon it.

Surfing

The Heart Sutra is like a surfboard. You can buy a surfboard on any day, and throw it into the curling waves, and it will bob about aimlessly like the unaware piece of flotsam it is, never catching a single wave. But if you have knowledge within you, you can get on it and surf, riding a rolling wall of water all the way in to shore. A surfer rides the waves relying not on static achievement, but rather by listening to an internal gyroscope that understand the waves. However many waves she’s ridden, she rides each one anew, relying on no static achievements, because this wave is different, has never been ridden before, and can only be ridden spontaneously, now.

Like a surfboard, the words of the Heart Sutra may give you a place to stand on the waves of endless change, but it is the Perfect Wisdom within your own heart that will keep you balanced there, standing straight and tall against the rolling horizon, a miracle of intelligence conquering chaos.

Fearless

Why are the Bodhisattvas fearless? They are better informed about reality, but that isn't a static attainment based on a general assertion like “life is impermanent.” Bodhisattvas have a thought-achievement, a knowledge-triumph, every moment. They see it right, they get it right, and they don’t make the mistake of relying upon what they learned yesterday, or what empowerments they received, what vows they’ve kept, and who has patted them on the head for being a good boy.

Thus the direct, true understanding of present life is called The Perfection of Wisdom. That's Wisdom as in "True Knowing," not as in "The Absolutely Right Answer." The latter would be a static attainment, suitable for doctrinal adoption by the masses. The former is a view attainable by everyone who sees clearly -- a much more select group.

Most Buddhists, of course, have renounced the search for personal experience of The Perfection of Wisdom. Having disqualified themselves from the search by virtue of their unworthiness, they do not cherish personal, direct understanding of doctrinal formulations. Repeating crystallized formulations of the "truth" that are easily grasped as thoughts, they collect souvenirs of their visits to Buddhaland. Trudging on their pilgrimage to final attainment, they miss the light of the sun, the fragrance of the flowers, the passing of their mortal hours, not realizing that to grasp the meaning of these experiences directly, presently, is Perfect Wisdom.

HEART SUTRA

The Mahaprajnaparamita Hridaya Sutra

Thus have I heard at one time.
The Lord was dwelling at Rajagriha, on Vulture-peak mountain,
together with a great host of monks and a great host of Bodhisattvas.
At that time the Lord was composed in the concentration on the
course of dharmas called 'Profound Illumination.'
At that time also the noble Lord Avalokita, the Bodhisattva and
Mahasattva, in the practice of the profound Perfection of Wisdom,
looked down; he beheld but five skandhas and that in their own-being
they were empty.
Then, through the inspiration of the Buddha, the Venerable
Sariputra said to the noble Lord Avalokita, the Bodhisattva and
Mahasattva: "How should any child of good family train, who wishes to
engage in the practice of the profound Perfection of Wisdom?"
And the noble Lord Avalokita, the Bodhisattva and Mahasattva, spoke
to the venerable Sariputra as follows.
"Sariputra, any son or daughter of good family who wishes to engage
in the practice of the profound Perfection of Wisdom should look upon
it thus: he or she beholds but five skandhas and that in their own-
being they are empty.
Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is form.
Emptiness does not differ from form, and form does not differ from
Emptiness.
Likewise feelings, recognitions, volitions and consciousnesses are
empty.
So, Sariputra, all dharmas are Emptiness, without differentiating
marks; they are not produced or stopped, not defiled and not
immaculate, not deficient and not complete.
Therefore, Sariputra, in Emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no
recognition, no volitions, no consciousness; no eye, no ear, no nose,
no tongue, no body, no mind; no visible form, no sound, no smell, no
taste, no tangible, no mental object; no eye-element, and so forth, up
to no mind-element and no mental-consciousness-element; no ignorance
and no extinction of ignorance, and so forth, up to no aging and death
and no extinction of aging and death; likewise there is no Suffering,
Origin, Cessation or Path, no wisdom-knowledge, no attainment and non-
attainment.
Therefore Sariputra, because there is no attainment, Bodhisattvas
abide relying on the Perfection of Wisdom, without obscurations of
thought, and so are unafraid.
Transcending perverted views, they attain the end, Nirvana.
All Buddhas existing in the three times, relying on the Perfection
of Wisdom, fully awaken to the highest, perfect Enlightenment.
Therefore one should know that the mantra of the Perfection of
Wisdom is the mantra of great knowledge, the highest mantra, the
unequalled mantra, the mantra that allays all suffering, the Truth,
since it has nothing wrong.
The mantra of the Perfection of Wisdom is proclaimed:

TAD-YATHA; GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA!

In this way, Sariputra, should a Bodhisattva and Mahasattva train
in the profound Perfection of Wisdom."
Then the Lord rose from that concentration and commended the noble
Lord Avalokita, the Bodhisattva and Mahasattva, saying: "Well said,
well said, O son of good family!
So it is, O son of good family, so it is.
Just as you have taught should the profound Perfection of Wisdom be
practiced, and the Tathagatas will rejoice.
Thus spake the Lord.

The Venerable Sariputra, the noble Lord Avalokita, the Bodhisattva
and Mahasattva, and the whole world, that assembly with devas, human
beings, asuras and gandharvas, were delighted and applauded the Lord's
speech.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:27 am

WHAT DOES ANDREW COHEN KNOW ABOUT ENLIGHTENMENT?, by Charles Carreon

Quite a lot, if you take his magazine, What is Enlightenment?, at face value. The title of the magazine of course begs the question of whether there IS enlightenment, which is a skillful marketing device. As a teacher once pointed out to me, Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors in order to overcome the first question -- whether to eat ice cream at all? By rushing right past "Is there enlightenment?" and speeding ahead to tell us what it is, Cohen is just doing what most New Agers do, which is to take "the great spiritual traditions of mankind" as an implied backdrop for the strivings of modern day miracle men like himself.

If Descartes was being overly modest when he claimed he saw farther because he "stood on the shoulders of giants," Cohen suffers from no such restraint when placing himself in the pantheon of the world's spiritual heroes. And if you think about it, why should he?

The Ascended Masters, widely advertised, but never seen, could hardly hold a candle to Cohen's magnificence, blaring from a thousand newsstands. Jesus died unknown in Jerusalem, barely displacing a pebble in the world capital of Rome. Mohammed probably never got the sand out of his bed, no matter how many infidels he'd put to the sword, and new converts he took to wife. Buddha made a splash in his day, but nothing Cohen hasn't replicated already with his bright, incisive, up-to-date version of the wisdom of the ages.

Let's just look at it in terms of sheer numbers. You may not be a Christian or mark time on Nostradamus' calendar, but you've got to agree there's a hell of a lot of us crammed on this planet and enough weapons to make us all quiet for a long time. It is at times like these that a great leader arises, one capable of holding up the sky with muscles of brass, one who will comfort and shelter within his vast arms, the lonely, terrified multitudes. The mission is so vast.

Since the big question is resolved first -- there is enlightenment! -- we can move right on to the fun stuff, defusing the bomb of ordinary consciousness that seeks its own destruction in mindless, materialistic self-annihilation. Who of noble heart would not be drawn to this venture, who would not lengthen their footsteps, lift their chin, feeling strength returning to their heart as they close the distance between themselves and this great man? Who would not say, "Where do I join? How can I serve? What is this enlightenment of which you speak? Give it to me, that I may conquer evil, within and without, put my heel on the head of the snake of egotism, lift my sword in heroism to still the threatening sky."

So you see, it's like Funky Winker Bean said, "Should I deny myself a delicious hot pepperoni pizza? No!" It's all a matter of asking the right question.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:31 am

WHAT IS BUDDHISM?, by Charles and Tara Carreon

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Buddha Bugs Out

Buddha was born in Northern India in 563 B.C. His father was a small-time monarch of the Sakya clan, with big aspirations for his son to become a "universal monarch." An itinerant fortuneteller told the Buddha's father that while the government career path was a possibility for his son, he might also become a saint. Horrified by the latter notion, his father came up with the idea to marinate his son in every pleasure, and insulate him from every irritation, so that he would have no desire to escape worldly life; Buddha's father thus entombed the young prince in a pleasure warren. Legend has it that Buddha sneaked out in the palace limo and took a cruise around town, where he saw a decrepit senior citizen wheezing his last, a leper counting his missing fingers, a corpse with weeping mourners, and a monk who was the picture of serenity. Buddha apparently felt betrayed, like he'd been eating a yummy apple and discovered it was infested with disgusting worms. He considered his options -- and decided to go the monastic route. He cut off his long, beautiful hair that his mother loved so much, and left the palace like a thief in the night, hooking up with some rough trade at the outskirts of town that called themselves "yogis."

Buddha Rejects Spiritual Authority

In his quest for "enlightenment," Buddha studied the teachings of the the leading gurus, pandits and yogis then swarming the Indian jungles. While seeking enlightenment was a popular pastime, apparently Buddha found no successful practitioners, because he concluded none of the available teachers had found the goal. In this sense, Buddha might be considered the pickiest of spiritual shoppers, and indeed, an incredibly arrogant man. After all, this was India at the height of its spiritual development. The term "Rishi," had existed long before Buddha -- and monks, renunciates, fakirs, shiva and vaishnava babas were thick as flies in the holy centers, as they are today. Buddha jumped the fence, an impatient upstart who was probably secretly sneered at for being "the Prince," because of his royal upbringing.

Apparently running full-tilt for the psychological opposite of being a spoiled royal scion, Buddha became a severe ascetic . Stone carvings of the Buddha in his sixth year of renunciation show him in the advanced stages of anorexia nervosa, a diagnosis common in the children of overbearing, wealthy parents. Fortunately, he found the path to recovery. Buddha is said to have "renounced the ascetic path" after he realized the futility of starving the body to conquer the spirit.

Buddha Gets It

Of course, renouncing the ascetic path didn't mean he walked into town, had a drink at the tavern and checked out the chicks, like most Buddhists who are renouncing asceticism. Instead, he took "the Middle Way," and after having a good meal of rice pudding, sat down on a comfy cushion of grass under a ficus tree, and resolved to stay there until he achieved his goal. Frankly, this still sounds pretty austere to me, especially the part about staying there until he "achieved his goal." He hadn't done it in six years before then, and what was the magic of resolving to stay in one place? One might question how much he had really renounced asceticism, with this kind of resolve as his new point of departure, but fortunately, he attained enlightenment less than twenty four hours later, as he glimpsed the light of the morning star after a single night battling the demons of his own mind. If he hadn't succeeded that night, of course, he wouldn't be "Buddha" now, would he?

The demons of Buddha's own mind are personified as Mara in tradition. Mara assailed the budding Buddha first with hostile arrows of aggression that turned to flowers as they descended on the meditating sage. Frustrated, Mara loosed his beautiful daughters to work their charms upon Buddha, but again to no avail. Thus Buddha transcended hatred and desire. The Tibetans will also explain in detail how he transcended ignorance, pride and jealousy as well, resorting to tripartite and five-branched analyses, according to their various traditions. Suffice it to say, it was a big night for Buddha, and for all humanity when he sent Mara packing forever. Hallelujah!

Two thoughts occurred to Buddha after he attained enlightenment. "Wow, this is Great!" and "Nobody else will get it, or even believe it, so I won't tell anyone." We can understand both of these thoughts without being enlightened. Of course, getting enlightened has gotta be Great, otherwise it wouldn't be called getting enlightened. Next, India's swarming with sages who claim to offer paths to enlightenment -- there's gods everywhere decorating banyan trees and temples, but here, a mere six years after running away from his throne, this Sakya Prince is enlightened. You can imagine a lot of hash smoke being coughed out over that one! So naturally, he must have second thoughts about making his proclamation. According to legend, he was just going to keep mum about the whole thing and let his secret go to the grave with him, like some old pirate with a stash of treasure. According also to legend, the gods gave him a nudge, too, pointing out that they were interested in what he had to say, and actually there were a few bright people who might get it.

Buddha Converts The Doubters

The first people Buddha met were his old pals, some fellow-anorexics who were still nursing their brittle bones and grasping at straws in the twilight of their meditative ignorance. They dumped all over Buddha, who by now was eating regular meals and looking chubby by ascetic standards. But he ripped right into them with his incisive analysis of their folly, and pretty soon he had picked up several new converts. They cut their hair and started eating and following the Buddha. They all remained celibate, though, and agreed to remain unemployed, making their living begging. Buddha called this The Middle Path. Makes sense, right? Not a breeder, not contributing to the economy, but not an ascetic. Just a guy who's free to be.

Buddha's Disciples Fail to Take Notes

The Buddha's disciples apparently never begged any pencil and paper from anyone, even though writing was actively practiced at the time in scholarly circles, and many of the early monks were scholarly. You might almost think someone had told them not to write anything down, because it took 300 years for them to even take a crack at it. Sort of a confidentiality agreement. Well, you can imagine after 300 years, memories varied considerably, depending on what part of the jungle you had been camped out in for the intervening centuries. Naturally, the Buddhists fell to disputing and haven't stopped since.

As A Result, They Fight

The first big Buddhist dispute, and the main one today, is between the tight-assed people and the big-hearted people. The tight-assed people are called "Hinayanists" by the big-hearted people, who call themselves "Mahayanists." The Mahayanists are called "heretics" by the serious Hinayanists. Now that they are all here together in the USA, they try to paper over these disputes, but the enmity is mutual and long-running among true partisans of either disposition.

What They Fight About

What is all the row about, though? Just this -- the Official Tight Assed Buddhists (Hinayanists) think that the Buddha really meant it when he said that in order to attain Nirvana you need to extinguish desire, and they go around trying to stamp it out wherever they find it. They shave their heads, bind their breasts, sit long hours trying to not want to stand up and move around, because after all, that's wanting something, which is the whole problem. They sort of try to strangle themselves to escape the pain of living, which is after all caused by breathing. Occasionally they attain mental states of great satisfaction similar to sheathing your entire body in a condom so you won't get contaminated by desire or other disturbing experiences. A Hinayanist is sure that everything will be all right if he can just stop being anyone at all. This is an excellent religion for trust funders on a budget, because you won't spend much on entertainment, or fall in love and blow all your cash raising a family. Actually, this sounds a lot like the religion the Buddha really would have founded, given his proclivities. Which may explain why the Hinayanists are so damned mad at the Mahayanists for hijacking their tidy little religion.

The big-hearted Mahayanists are all over the map with their doctrines, by comparison. But they all agree that the sort of cat-washing-itself style of meditation practiced by Hinayanists leads only to the minor spiritual achievement of "Arhat-ship," which is a classic of damning with faint praise. The real heavy freight-carriers in the big-hearted tradition are called Bodhisattvas, "heroes of enlightenment," and far from stopping to consider their own immediate release from suffering, they throw themselves immediately into the business of placing other sentient beings in the bosom of enlightenment, like firemen clearing out a burning building.

In practice, this leaves the Mahayana much greater scope for imaginative expression, and opens the door to a less prissy ethical approach. A Jew would always have to wonder if he was safe hiding from nazis in a Hinayanist's basement, who might feel compelled to tell the truth to keep his karma clean, but would feel comfortable hiding in a Mahayana basement, knowing that a Mahayanist would relish the opportunity to tell a meritorious lie. On the other hand, a Mahayanist might also find an excellent reason to screw your wife, for everyone's benefit. It's like that.

The most-often cited sources of Hinayana Buddhism are The Dhammapada and the Sutta-Pitaka. The practices of these Buddhists are often marketed in the U.S. as "vipassana" or "mindfulness" meditation, supplemented with the practice of "mehta," the cultivation of positive feeling toward all beings. These practices emphasize, at least at the beginning stages, reducing the traffic of conceptual thought by resting the mind on simple sensory stimuli, such as the feeling of your ass sitting on your cushion, or your diaphragm rising and falling with each breath. They really work. These practices have innumberable adherents, and are often presented with less packaging than Mahayana schools. There are probably lots of big-hearted Buddhists practicing under cover of the Hinayana method, ignoring their purported dispute with the Mahayana. On the other hand, the heartlands of Hinayana Buddhism are repressive regimes like Burma, and Sri Lanka. Thai Buddhists are also allegedly Hinayanist, but their food seems very big-hearted.

The resounding sources of Mahayana Buddhism are the early Chinese Ch'an Buddhist texts like The Sutra of Hui Neng and the Diamond Sutra, and the Third Zen Patriarch's Sutra on Faith in the Mind. These sutras are easy to understand once you stop trying too hard. To explain them here would not be half as helpful as for you to read them yourself, but in brief the idea is just this: the nature of your mind is clear and without substance, like space, and all of the experiences you have arise and subside within that clear nature, having no origin and leaving no trace. You are ultimately free, and have no need of anything. Everyone is in this same condition.

Since the Mahayanists burst out of the Hinayana coccoon, they have turned into all manner of butterflies, from the garish million-winged Tibetan doctrines to the simple moth-like Zennists who haunt Sung Dynasty ink paintings and Japanese Sumi sketches. Mahayanists have made a practice of virtually anything, encouraging people to memorize 100,000 stanza poems like the Lotus Sutra, then boiling the whole sutra down into a single phrase, that can be endlessly repeated as a mantra. Tantrics from Tibet and China created covens of sexual magic, and were repressed, sometimes with "extreme prejudice," to use CIA-speak, by their fellow-Mahayanists of a more blue-nosed orientation. Japanese Zen teachers blended the philosphy of "sudden enlightenment" with elements of Shinto and the ancient code of bushido, the warrior way, to create the most fearsome soldiers ever known. Remember the "Kami-kaze?" That means "the wind of the gods," the old Shinto gods, made more fearsome by the serene acceptance of eventual death, made deadly by the certainty that only honor, now, is worthy of protection. If you haven't run your finger along the sharp edge of military Zen, you haven't seen the full sweep of Buddhism in action.

Stuck At Step One

So what did Buddha teach? What is the true Buddhist path? It depends on who you ask. The usual approach at this stage in the narrative is to start ticking off some numerical lists -- The Four Noble Truths, The Eightfold Path, the Twelve-fold Wheel of Interdependent Origination, the Five Skhandas, etcetera. If you get involved with the Tibetans, their lists start to proliferate like the United States Code, with subheadings, sub-subheadings and footnotes. We're not taking that route here, because we're gonna get stuck right at the First Noble Truth.

How do you deal with the ten thousand shouting doctrinal assertions? Our crazy idea is to emulate the Buddha -- to reject everything that everyone is selling and try to take a first look at the problem with our own eyes. Is there a problem?

Buddha said there was a problem, a huge, insurmountable problem. That is his First Noble Truth: Life Is Suffering. The next three Noble Truths assert that the Cause of Suffering is Desire, that Desire Can Be Stopped, and that The Eightfold Path Leads to Stopping Desire. This follows the ancient Vedic tradition of medical diagnosis -- "the patient has tonsilitis; the cause of tonsilitis is infection; the infection can be cured; and, the cure is the administration of streptomyicin."

Obviously, step one is to diagnose the disease correctly. So what do you think about Buddha's diagnosis? Before you accept his solution, I suggest you agree on the problem, eh? If you don't think life is suffering, you're on the wrong bus. Because this one's going to Nirvana, the end of the road, the last stop right after No Desire. Hardly anyone goes there. Still interested, or you wanna think it over?

Think of how much time people would save if they just thought about that. "Do I think all life is suffering?" Most people, being honest with themselves, would have to say, "Hell no, I love drinkin' and screwin' and eatin' good food and reading good books and watchin' Winona Ryder on TV, and I love Angelina Jolie and that Andy Kaufman was so funny -- whatever happened to him?" But once you become a Buddhist, you'll learn to lug around this heavy ball and chain of simulated misery with you everywhere. When people ask how you are, you'll smile like a weary Bodhisattva (or Arhat), point at your portable ball and chain, and shake your head in a mute sharing of knowledge. The wan smile that passes between you and your Buddhist brother will say it all, "Samsara," the painful cycle of life and death. But as soon as the other Buddhist walks away, you'll just deflate that ball and chain, pack it in the trunk and drive home not thinking about it again. You go back to being normal. Nobody can be that good all the time.

Until of course something awful actually does happen. Then it's flop back down on your meditation cushion, seeking shelter from the winds of your insane mind. You can see her flirting with that guy, god you hate him. Concentrate on your breath. In - out, in - out, in - out. Oh he is such a phony prick. Five minutes later, concentrate on your breath again. He has money. That's it, he's got money, and chicks always go for that. Being spiritual gets you nothing. Except of course inner peace. Concentrate on your breath. In - out, in - out.

And people complain about this all the time. They say, "Oh, I was so much happier before I started meditating. Now I just sit down and as soon as I try to control my mind, it goes crazy!" They view this as a problem, of course. They came to find inner peace and they got inner turmoil. Most teachers say, "stick with it, it will get better," and most of all they say, "actually, you are now simply becoming aware of how turbulent your mind always was." Frankly, I think this is bunk. Your mind will in fact become more turbulent when you start watching it, just like a three year old kid. The kid's mom will tell you, "Don't encourage him, or he'll never quiet down." When people meditate in the Buddhist fashion, it disturbs their natural way of being.

You know why? Because they were getting along just fine not watching their thoughts, or second-guessing their motivations. Things were actually going along okay. But they weren't satisfied with that, noooooo. They wanted to make their life incrementally better -- more peace, more happiness, less stress and fear. They wanted to improve the situation, but they didn't want to discover that the situation was fundamentally screwed up! I mean, my life has problems, but it's not so bad that I want to get rid of life itself. I just want fewer bad things to happen, and more pleasant things. A child wants more ice cream and TV. An adult male wants more money and sex. A budding young woman wants romance. People in jail want to be out -- they think they would be happy then -- but they get out and they're still unhappy, and they end up back in jail.

Most beginning Buddhists want to improve their view. They're a little subtler than the average guy, and they want to be freed from the turbulent flow of conflicting thoughts. They want to see their fellow beings with love and understanding, not poisoned by the flow of jealousy and hate. They credit themselves with being good people, with wanting good things, and they want to build on this foundation of goodness. They do not want to find out that their existing structure of thought is out of control, chaotic, and self-defeating.

Because of this, frankly, we are not on the same page with the Buddha. He was burned out on palace life, and burned out on spiritual life, too. And he knew we wouldn't understand his point of view. Remember, right at the beginning, after he realized Enlightenment, he almost didn't bother to teach. Why? Because we can't get on the same page with him.

Meditation will, perhaps, if practiced correctly, put us on the same page with Buddha. Because, while we are unhappy in part, but not wanting to discard the whole, he was fed up altogether, and relieved himself of his ignorance once and for all.

Buddha's First Noble Truth is usually translated as "Life is Suffering." But I really wonder. Because if that were the case, then suicide would be the solution, and universal annihilation of all life would be total success.

Let's go back and join our horny meditator, trying to watch his breath while chasing girls in his mind. What's this guy learning? He's learning that he can't escape his mind. This fact may make him very unhappy, but he will refuse to blame, or credit, Buddhism for his condition. Nope, he will blame his "inability to meditate." He will reject the conclusion that the data compels -- that his mind is suffering.

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan teacher, explained what this poor guy is going through:

We expect the teachings to solve all our problems; we expect to be provided with magical means to deal with our depressions, our aggressions, our sexual hangups. But to our surprise we begin to realize that this is not going to happen. It is very disappointing to realize that we must work on ourselves and our suffering rather than depend upon a savior or the magical power of yogic techniques. It is rather disappointing to realize that we have to give up our expectations rather than build on the basis of our preconceptions.


But this is not bad news. Through disappointment we make progress:

Such a series of disappointments inspires us to give up ambition. We fall down and down and down, until we touch the ground, until we relate with the basic sanity of earth. We become the lowest of the low, the smallest of the small, a grain of sand, perfectly simple, no expectations. When we are grounded, there is no room for dreaming or frivolous impulse, so our practice at last becomes workable.


And what is this mysterious "practice" he refers to? What is this grounding you get? You accept the First Noble Truth -- which I would prefer to express as "My Mind is Suffering." If you speed right past this point, and just go on trying to implement "the magical power of yogic techniques," you will blame "Life" or "The World" or "Samsara" for your suffering. You will think that Buddhism is your ally in the war against the ordinary existence we all live. You will think that nature, the force of procreation, sexual impulse, simple hunger and intellectual curiosity, are the problem. You will view innocent children as the hapless playthings of a cruel, manipulative force called "Life." You will try to stamp out your own impulses, thinking that this is how you put an end to suffering. And this is totally wrong. It is not Buddhism.

Getting to Second Base

Ignorance -- did someone say ignorance? When you accept that First Noble Truth, you discover your first level of ignorance -- you did not realize that your mind is the source of suffering. Initially, this is a very painful discovery, and you want to run away from the experience. Many people attempt to flee Buddhism at this point, and doctrinaire Buddhists do little to help, telling them that they just need to "tame their mind" and the magic will take over. It can be a lot like a bad psychedelic trip, a "no exit" situation that keeps ratcheting up to a higher level of tension, or like the mind state of a person who suddenly realizes they've been locked into their room, and keeps trying the door, becoming more desperate every time they find it still locked.

You're not going anywhere. The door really will not open. It is not even a door. You just painted it on the wall so you could think you could leave. You used to dream that you sometimes left, and went outside. But that was a dream. You may weep, realizing that you were dreaming all that time. You may miss the dreams, the illusion. You may wish you could go back, curse the Buddha, and take another path. Back into town, wherever, anywhere but here.

Depending on luck and disposition, you can make things a lot worse at this point. You may grimly force yourself to "face reality," by which you mean exerting continual effort to oppose the impulse to escape, and taking all of the "blame" for the unpleasantness. You may overdo it, thinking that the doctrinaire approach means denying that life has any pleasure in it, or labeling the pleasure as sinful. By doing this, you quite miss the point of the First Noble Truth, which merely defines the problem. To solve it, you must move on.

Moving on, you start to relax. You sit down, and use some simple techniques to just stay there. You sort of mature into the situation, becoming a "lifer." This is it. You believe it. And strangely enough, the dreams resume. A breath of ventilation sneaks in. The room becomes less solid. Light shines in. People come visit. Sounds disturb you. Sights intrude. You laugh. Suddenly you realize "I'm no worse off than I was before. I'm in exactly the same situation. I'm still having dreams, but I'm noticing that they're dreams." You realize, "I was all worked up over nothing! Of course it's all my mind. Of course I suffer because of my mind. Of course I enjoy because of my mind. And also, I am here." You laugh. "I am here."

And you will start to realize the meaning of the Second Noble Truth: "The Cause of Suffering is Desire." Because you will notice that whims, inclinations, notions, little wisps of desire, get you going. You're just sitting there in your cell, looking through the transparent walls, watching the ghosts come and go, and then you'll think, "I should go and do this or that." And you'll run down that mental path, and then you'll notice that everything's become quite solid again. Your dreams are so solid when you believe in them. Then you'll wake up in your cell, suffering. You cannot fail to observe the connection.

The Wheel Stops

So now we've found the culprit -- desire. So we pull out our telescopic rifle and sight in on the little devil. Pow! One more gone. That much closer to Nirvana, right? You can try it, and these varmint-hunter Buddhists can be found everywhere. They're about as good humored as ranchers who want to kill off all the coyotes and mountain lions. They figure their virtues are like tender calves that need to be protected from predatory emotions. So they put out poisoned meat, leg traps, whatever it takes. Their minds become mine-fields, and their meditation is like a fortified location. Inside, they're safe from desire, but it lurks everywhere around them, an enemy that will never be subdued.

Do not take this approach to The Third and Fourth Noble Truths, which taken together say that "Desire Can Be Stopped By Applying the Noble Eightfold Path." Because the force of desire is so vast and powerful that the ocean waves and the winds that howl through the mountains are weak by comparison. The force of desire, you will observe as you sit in your cell, is coextensive with your breath and your mind. Some traditions of Hindu mysticism say you need to actually stop breathing to stop thinking. It's probably true, but the Buddha tried that, and he always found he had to start breathing again. We do not stop desire by jamming a stick in Mother Nature's spokes, for she will blithely break all sticks.

At this point, more subtlety is needed. Just as we penetrated the notion of "life is suffering" to unearth "my mind is suffering," we need to take a look at the meaning of "stopping desire." Let's look. If we try to stop desire, first there is the concept of desire as separate from ourselves, then there is the notion of needing to end it, then there is the effort to end it. Hence the analogy of the varmint hunter, who sights, aims and shoots. If we turn from this outward-oriented analysis, and look at where desire truly resides -- inside ourselves -- we realize that stopping desire is going to be the biggest journey of self-understanding that can be made. For to find the foundation of desire within ourselves is to journey inward, seeking to understand what has animated our first movements, from when a baby first reaches for a mother's breast, or young people seek out their first sexual encounter.

We then regard desire far more tenderly. No metaphor of surgery or war is suitable here. Analogies to removing tumors and overcoming enemies abound in Buddhism. I reject them as misleading and violent. To stop desire is so much more subtle than that. For that part of us that "desires" is no small part, not even an expendable Siamese twin that we could kill and yet keep our own heart beating. Desire is inseparable from us like salt is inseparable from blood.

So what is this Eightfold Path that will end desire? Literally, it is a list of eight things that everyone does. We all have views, but if you have Right View, you will see your way to the end of desire. We all have intentions, but if you adopt Right Intention, it leads to the end of desire. Similarly, we can have Right Speech, Right Discipline, Right Work, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Meditation. Obviously, the important term here is "Right," and that is subject to interpretation, so let's get the best one we can, from Trungpa Rinpoche:

In order to see what this is, we first must understand what Buddha meant by "right." He 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. 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.


Does this seem like no help at all? Like you should just go have a drink? It doesn't sound like this Buddhist would mind if you did, so by all means, don't let me stop you. Just come back and sip it while you read the rest of this, because it's actually going to tie up very conveniently.

Okay, got your drink? Let's just go back to our cell and see how this works. You stop seeing "out there," and start seeing the whole experience as "my world - my mind." That's part one. You start to get some ventilation, because you perforate the claustrophobia of being stuck "in here" and trying to get "out there." It's all in here. Then you find you have a modicum of control over what's in here. You can't stop desire, but you see it come and go. Sometimes you manage to sidestep an incoming impulse, and you laugh as it goes blindly by. Sometimes you see a huge roller of desire coming in, and you paddle out to meet it, and surf it all the way in, arriving wet and exhilirated. Your relationship with desire develops through acceptance, and surprisingly, you find yourself observing impulses with an unforced detachment that becomes more natural the more it develops. As you become accustomed to watching and experiencing your impulses, you will realize their wholesome, developmental aspect, because they no longer dictate your reality. Your cell, far from claustrophobic, will become interesting, intricate, fascinating, a laboratory for study, experiment, and discovery.

You don't have to do anything else except develop this comfort level with your reality. Right View? Just see it straight, and drop the preconceptions as you note them arising. Right Work? Just get out of bed and go do it. Right Meditation? Your cell is waiting. Right Effort? Just keep it up, without any frills or expectations. It's like sawing a piece of wood -- you don't have to visualize it cut in half -- just stroke it with the saw until it falls off.

The experience of living can begin again. Most of us in adulthood feel as if our learning and development ended about the time we left high school or college. Since then, it's been one disillusioning discovery after another. Travelling the Noble Eightfold Path is something like becoming a child again, because once we learn that our style of perceiving the world determines our experience, we realize we are best off using our mind in its fresh, unobstructed condition, allowing knowledge to stream in through our senses, and trusting the way in which the world takes shape in our mind. We see the painful sense of restraint felt by the mind trying to escape itself gradually diminishing. The Buddha says that by following the Right Path, our pain ultimately comes to an end -- for most of us it will be enough just to get pointed in the right direction.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:33 am

WILLIAM GIBSON'S DYSTOPIAN EPIC: NEUROMANCER, by Charles Carreon

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The cyber-age began in 1984, when Canadian author William Gibson knocked out his first cyberpunk epic, Neuromancer, on a standard-issue typewriter. Some years later in an interview Gibson explained that he'd never been able to afford a computer until after he sold the book, and his first Apple frightened him so much with its floppy drive that sounded like "a toaster farting" that he took it back to the shop, thinking it was malfunctioning. The people there explained how the disk drive worked, and that it was noisy, and it totally blew his perception about computers. He figured he was lucky he hadn't realized there was a clunky Victrola mechanism hidden inside your average computer or he wouldn't have been free to imagine a smooth, crystal deck like the Ono-Sendai unit operated by our man, Case.

Case is precisely that punk born in the Sprawl, aka BAMA, the Boston Atlanta Metropolitan Axis who winds up hard on his luck in Night City, a dark place in Tokyo. A dark place illumined only by a tavern called Chatsubo, "The Chat," run by Ratz, a proprietor who will brook no homicide on his premises. Ratz lends emphasis to his edicts by crushing plastic ashtrays in his mechanical claw. His Brazilian bartender wields a high-tech repeating shotgun to underscore the gravity of the situation. And that's just when friends run into each other after a short absence, in Night City.

Case comes from tech royalty. "Case was twenty-four. At twenty-two, he'd been a cowboy, a rustler, one of the best in the Sprawl. He'd been trained by the best, by McCoy Pauley and Bobby Quine, legends in the biz. He'd operated on an almost permanent adrenalin high, a byproduct of youth and proficiency, jacked into a custom cyberspace deck that projected his disembodied consciousness into the consensual hallucination that was the matrix. A thief, he'd worked for other, wealthier thieves, employers who provided the exotic software required to penetrate the bright walls of corporate systems, opening windows into rich fields of data."

Sounds great, right? Into each life, some rain must fall. Case's hyper-adventure is over. Former friends have blocked his access to cyberspace by dosing him with a "wartime Russian micotoxin" that caused "minute, subtle, and utterly effective" damage to his nervous system. "For Case, who'd lived for the bodiless exultation of cyberspace, it was the Fall."

Case is in Night City because he's blown his wad trying to buy a cure in Chiba, the black market of medical high tech in Tokyo. As Gibson describes it:

"Synonymous with implants, nerve-splicing, and microbionics, Chiba was a magnet for the Sprawl's techno-criminal subcultures. *** In Chiba, he'd watched his New Yen vanish in a two-month round of examinations." Case ends up living in the cheapest coffin down by the wharf, where arc lights shine perpetual glare. He can't jack into the Net, he's hustled himself down to the lowest level, and Night City has brought out the worst in him fast: "In the first month, he'd killed two men and a woman over sums that a year before would have seemed ludicrous."

Of course, things have to get worse before they get different. Case gets his cyber-access restored when an Artificial Intelligence decides it needs his talents to pull off a heist at the elite Tessier-Ashpool space station. Case's job is to pierce cybersecurity. Soon he meets his partner, the very hot Molly, a razorgirl who bought her claws with money saved from gigging as a "puppet," renting her body as a cybersexslave for paying corporate johns. Molly deals with real-world threats, like people with guns and muscles, often while Case snoops through a neural interface that lets him see and feel what Molly is experiencing.

The Artificial Intelligence, named "Wintermute" (cold and silent) first communicates with Case through a physical agent named Armitage, who is really just a roped-together construct of a man, mostly bio-engineered, built around the thorax and brain of a demolished soldier. Once Case's cyber-passport is restored, Wintermute visits Case in cyberspace, appearing as sundry characters from Night City. Armitage lays out the deal. Case is a cyberspace cowboy again, but it's got a time limit. The same surgeons who fixed him planted sacs of the same toxin in little sacks inside his veins, and they'll flood his system with deadening poison if he doesn't get his job done. So our boy has incentive.

Along the way to the Tessier-Ashpool space station, aka "Villa Straylight," Case and Molly stop off in Zion, a reggae space station, mon, where they hook up with Maelcum and his space-tug, a solid rig shaped like a tin can. Maelcum is handy wi' a shotgun, and not afraid to show it, also a peaceful bruddah who can be trusted.

In Straylight, some strange things are available to be seen. Case watches through Molly's eyes, as she works her way through the space station. We run across a little high-tech incest, between rich people and clones of their children. We view an impressive display of 3-D Psycho-holographic talent from the heiress 3Jane's boyfriend, Peter Riviera. Peter has some issues left over from growing up feral in the post-nuclear ruins of Bonn, however, so his projections are rather apocalyptic:

"A dark wave of rubble rose against a colorless sky, beyond its crest the bleached, half-melted skeletons of city towers. The rubble wave was textured like a net, rusting steel rods twisted gracefully as fine string, vast slabs of concrete still clinging there. The foreground might have once been a city square; there was a sort of stump, something that suggested a fountain. At its base, the children and the soldier were frozen.

***

Children. Feral, in rags. Teeth glittering like knives. Sores on their contorted faces. The soldier on his back, mouth and throat open to the sky. They were feeding."

These kinds of images are sprinkled through the novel. It's how Gibson gives us these meta-glimpses into the near-future. As always, the question is -- shall we fulfill or avoid these futures? Did we miss 1984, or twenty-two years later, did we miss the fact that it came without our noticing?

There's much in William Gibson's world that is dazzling, stimulating, and much that eats right into your core fears. For myself, I am always left with a feeling of wanting to read about all of it, but wanting to live only the fun parts.
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