Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Identified as a trouble maker by the authorities since childhood, and resolved to live up to the description, Charles Carreon soon discovered that mischief is most effectively fomented through speech. Having mastered the art of flinging verbal pipe-bombs and molotov cocktails at an early age, he refined his skills by writing legal briefs and journalistic exposes, while developing a poetic style that meandered from the lyrical to the political. Journey with him into the dark caves of the human experience, illuminated by the torch of an outraged sense of injustice.

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:46 pm

Prohibition by Another Name: A Summary Critique of the DEA’s Guidance for Submitting Petitions for Religious Exemptions from the Controlled Substances Act
by Charles Carreon [1]
May 17, 2019

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Ten Years of Stasis Under the DEA’s “Guidance”

In 2009, the DEA published its "Guidance Regarding Petitions for Religious Exemption from the Controlled Substances Act Pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (the "Guidance"). In ten years, few Petitions For Exemption (“PREs”) have been filed, and none have been granted, putting legal status out of reach for virtually all Psychedelic Churches unwilling or unable to file a District Court lawsuit under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”). The net effect of the Guidance may fairly be said to be prohibition by another name. The purpose of this article is to look at the constitutional defects of the Guidance, and devise a way beyond the present gridlocked situation.

What the Guidance Requires

Paragraph 2 of the Guidance, entitled Contents of Petition, requires the following disclosures, that pursuant to paragraph 4 are mandatory:

"(1) the nature of the religion (e.g., its history, belief system, structure, practice, membership policies, rituals, holidays, organization, leadership, etc.); (2) each specific religious practice that involves the manufacture, distribution, dispensing, importation, exportation, use or possession of a controlled substance; (3) the specific controlled substance that the party wishes to use; and (4) the amounts, conditions, and locations of its anticipated manufacture, distribution, dispensing, importation, exportation, use or possession."


(Emphasis added.)

Paragraph 3 requires a PRE to be submitted under penalty of perjury, and paragraph 5 gives the DEA an unlimited right to ask for more information, that must be provided within 60 days, or the PRE will be deemed “withdrawn.” Under paragraph 7, a Psychedelic Church that submits a PRE must promise that its members will refrain from consuming controlled substances until the DEA issues a certificate of exemption.

A List of Legal Risks Arising from Submitting a PRE

This list enumerates constitutional defects in the Guidance based on legal analysis with citations to precedent to be found in two articles by the author: The DEA's Guidance Regarding Petitions for Religious Exemption from the Controlled Substances Act under RFRA: Door to Religious Freedom or Fifth Amendment Trap for the Unwary? [2] and Be Careful What You Wish For – The Peril of Regulated Status for Psychedelic Churches. [3] This list is provided with the usual caveat that laypersons should not rely on the list as “legal advice,” and should obtain formal advice from legal counsel before issuing statements or taking official actions.

1. Self-Incrimination: The statements in the PRE itself could provide probable cause to arrest the individual who signed the PRE, and to issue search warrants of the places where sacramental controlled substances are kept or distributed. The PRE would provide a roadmap for prosecution of church members for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. At trial for violating the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), the PRE could be admitted to impeach contrary testimony denying guilt by the person who signed the PRE or church members charged as co-conspirators.

2. Possible Prosecution or Investigative Scrutiny from Law Enforcement: The Supreme Court invalidated the “Marijuana Tax Act” and the “Wagering Act” because they required registrants to disclose incriminating information to the IRS that was to be shared with law enforcement. Even though the Guidance doesn’t say that all of the incriminating information in the PRE will be passed to law enforcement, it doesn’t have to -- the DEA is law enforcement. Thus, the Guidance violates the Fifth Amendment rights of church members.

3. Suspension of the Right to Partake of the Sacrament: Paragraph 7 commits all church members to voluntarily forswear taking any sacrament that is a controlled substance. This restriction impinges upon the right of free exercise as much as does the CSA, and forces a church to trade off the free exercise rights of its members for the hope of attaining legal status. Ironically, by not using its sacramental controlled substance for an extended period of time, an applicant church undercuts its contention that psychedelic communion is essential to its religious path, and that laws forbidding use of the sacrament substantially burden its right to free exercise of religion.

4. Risk of Perjury: Someone must sign the PRE under penalty of perjury, because an organization cannot take the oath. Making a false statement in a PRE would violate 18 USC § 1001, that establishes a five-year maximum sentence for making a false statement in a federal proceeding. Perjury charges could be premised on material omissions, or if some members of the church failed to keep the promise required by paragraph 7 to abstain from taking the psychedelic sacrament.

5. Unlimited Scope of Requests for Further Information: Paragraph 5 gives the DEA carte blanche to request any additional information, at any time after submission of the PRE, from an applicant church. Several precedents hold that a government agency can refuse to grant a license to an applicant that refuses to provide requested information, a result that is not barred by the Fifth Amendment. Thus, paragraph 5 provides a foolproof pretext for the DEA to refuse to grant a PRE to a Psychedelic Church simply by requesting additional incriminating information.

6. No Protection from Prosecution Under State Law Despite Grant of PRE: Paragraph 9 states that “compliance with these guidelines shall not be construed as compliance with other Federal or State laws unless expressly provided in such other laws.” Every state in the union has adopted the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (“UCSA”), that mirrors the CSA in virtually all respects; thus if a drug is in Schedule I in the CSA, it will be in Schedule I in every state. Although the goal of the UCSA is uniformity between federal and state law, this apparently applies only to legal proscriptions, and not to exemptions. Thus, without changes in federal and state law to recognize a uniform state exemption based on the DEA’s grant of a PRE, all Psychedelic Churches outside of the District of Columbia remain subject to prosecution by local authorities, even if they obtain a certificate of exemption from the DEA.

7. Indefinite Period for Processing the PRE: Nothing in the Guidance indicates how long the DEA will take to review a PRE. Ayahuasca Healings submitted a PRE in April 2016, and as of the date of this publication in February 2019, it has neither been approved or denied.

8. Use of “Invitations” to Submit a PRE as De Facto Investigative Demands: On at least two occasions, the DEA has sent a Psychedelic Church an “invitation to submit a PRE,” that has been treated by these churches as a de facto investigative demand (Ayahuasca Healings and Soulquest). These “invitations” have circulated through the Psychedelic Church community as ominous portents, with every church’s leadership asking themselves whether they will be the next to receive “an offer they can’t refuse.”

Cutting Through the Impasse

To move forward and around the obstacle presented by the Guidance, Psychedelic Churches need to challenge its draconian requirements. To challenge the Guidance effectively, or to respond appropriately to an “invitation to submit a PRE,” it’s essential to understand a bit about the First Amendment, that protects churches directly, and the Fifth Amendment, that applies to church members, and can be asserted on their behalf by their church.

First Amendment Protections for Churches

The First Amendment “free exercise” clause protects the right of Psychedelic Churches to practice religion using a psychedelic sacrament. Additionally, under the “establishment clause.” government is barred from favoring or disfavoring any religion, or attempting to regulate religious conduct. Government regulation breaks down the wall between church and state, leading to “entanglement” in religious affairs, and is thus proscribed. Both the free exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment provide churches with a unique right to privacy that can justify a church’s refusal to produce documents in response to a subpoena from a government agency when a church is not being investigated for criminal conduct. Why? Because (1) requiring a church to respond to a regulatory agency subpoena would chill religious freedom, thus violating the free exercise clause, and (2) allowing a regulatory agency to pry into the church’s activities and finances would violate the establishment clause, because it leads to the regulation of private church affairs.

Fifth Amendment Protection for Church Members

A church can assert the Fifth Amendment rights of its members, when those members are threatened by a legal scheme that would force the church to incriminate its membership, even though a church cannot assert the Fifth Amendment on its own behalf, because churches and business entities are not entitled to claim the privilege against self-incrimination. The seminal case on this right established the right of the Communist Party to assert the Fifth Amendment rights of the Party’s members to refuse to disclose the Party membership list in response to a government subpoena.

Taking the Attorney General at His Word

Psychedelic Churches can draw hope from a recent memorandum by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, instructing all government agencies on how to properly apply RFRA and the First Amendment to claims for religious exemptions (the “Sessions Memo”). The Guidance does not comport with the spirit or letter of the Sessions Memo, that directs all federal agencies to proactively accommodate the needs of the religious for RFRA exemptions by drafting rules and regulations with the needs of the religious in mind, and even by appointing officers to listen to the religious community when drafting rules, to make it easier to get exemptions. The Psychedelic Church community could take the Attorney General at his word, and inform the DEA of its objections to the Guidance, requesting the issuance of new rules after public comment to give scientific researchers an opportunity to bring the DEA up to date on the results of ten years of psychedelic research.

The Sessions Memo speaks with the force of law, and if the DEA declined to dialogue with the Psychedelic Church community, a RFRA lawsuit could be filed in District Court, grounded on the contention that the Guidance substantially burdens the religious practices of Psychedelic Churches in a manner more restrictive than necessary to achieve justified regulatory ends. Several attorneys and Psychedelic Church advisors have prepared a draft letter to present objections to the DEA. Church leaders and attorneys interested in adding their signatures to the letter are invited to contact the author.

_______________

Notes:

1. Charles Carreon has been a member of the California Bar for thirty years, and retired from the Oregon bar in 2012. A graduate of UCLA Law School (1986), he served the public as an Oregon prosecutor and Federal Public Defender. His private practice has focused on civil trial and appellate litigation, transactional work for media companies, and intellectual property registration, negotiation, and litigation. He currently serves as General Counsel for an Arizona church that administers a pharmacologically active sacrament, and maintains a private practice consulting on issues of Constitutional law, media law, and intellectual property. He may be contacted at chas@charlescarreon.com or 628-227-4059.

2. https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... the_Unwary

3. https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... c_Churches

4. Politics and Religious Freedom Restoration Act Make Strange Bedfellows: The Sessions Memo. http://neip.info/novo/wp-content/upload ... P_2018.pdf
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:55 pm

It's Time For an Association of Visionary Churches to Stand Up and Claim the Religious Freedom To Which They Are Entitled
by Charles Carreon
May 17, 2019

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


The UDV Decision Under RFRA: A Promising Beginning

The growth of churches using psychedelic sacraments has grown immensely since 2006, when the Supreme Court ruled that, under the First Amendment, the União do Vegetal (the UDV) was entitled to an exemption from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), that makes it illegal to import or distribute any substance containing dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a component of the UDV’s sacramental drink. The UDV’s victory was made possible by Congress’s enactment of a law that “restored” First Amendment protections for religions, reversing a mean-spirited decision authored by the late Justice Scalia. The statute was thus dubbed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and Justice Roberts’ decision in the UDV case radically altered the landscape of US law, leading many to believe that the promised land of free exercise for psychedelic sacraments had been reached. However, those optimists had not fully reckoned with the commitment of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to maintain their tight control over the use of psychoactive substances.

The Daime Decision: The DEA Loses Round Two

In 2009, the Santo Daime (the Daime) was compelled to file a RFRA lawsuit in Oregon District Court after the DEA seized a drum of Ayahuasca from a church leader’s home and threatened him with prosecution if the church didn’t abandon its religious practices. District Court Judge Owen Panner, who had represented Native American tribes before his elevation to the bench, rejected the DEA’s contentions root and branch. Judge Panner’s opinion found the Daime’s religious practices to be genuine, physically and psychologically safe, and worthy of protection under the First Amendment. Like the UDV, the Daime was granted a RFRA exemption from the CSA.

Because the DEA was the defendant in both the UDV case and the Daime case, after the churches prevailed, they entered into settlement negotiations with the DEA to determine how they would import and distribute their sacramental ayahuasca. The UDV settlement required the church to unravel a lot of red tape to get their sacrament to their congregation. Not much is publicly known about the Daime settlement, but it seems to be a simpler arrangement.

The DEA’s Guidance: A Mirage of Religious Freedom

In 2009 the DEA published a document that we’ll refer to as the “Guidance,” [1] establishing how churches could file a Petition for Exemption (PRE) from the CSA with the DEA. During the ten years since the Guidance was issued, most churches have assumed that in order to obtain an exemption from the CSA under RFRA, they needed to follow the Guidance protocol and submit a PRE to the DEA. Some lawyers have assumed that the Guidance established a required procedure for churches seeking an exemption, and therefore, churches were required to exhaust that administrative remedy before filing a RFRA lawsuit. Due to the extensive disclosure of potentially incriminating information required to file a PRE, only two visionary churches have submitted PRE’s, and they were both filed only after the DEA contacted the churches and “suggested” the submission. The two PRE’s that were filed have never been processed by the DEA.

A Thorough Legal Analysis Concludes that The Guidance Unconstitutionally Interferes With Freedom of Religion and Is Vulnerable to Legal Challenge

The author of this proposal is an attorney with thirty years in practice, a former Oregon prosecutor and Federal Public Defender, who currently serves as General Counsel for a visionary church that uses Ayahuasca as its sacrament. About a year ago, in consultation with two other lawyers, he began a program of research into the law applicable to the Guidance, and wrote three papers that discuss the legal issues extensively. [2] The papers have also been reviewed by a range of professionals who provided critiques and suggestions to produce what is believed to be a reliable legal conclusion that the Guidance was issued in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, is unconstitutional, and is vulnerable to legal challenge.

The Primary Legal Defects of the Guidance

There are several serious legal defects in the system established by the Guidance. The chief constitutional defects are violations of the Fifth Amendment protection against compelled self-incrimination, and the First Amendment right of free exercise. Additionally, there are violations of the Administrative Procedure Act. Some of the violations are more serious than others, but in the opinion of the author, all are worthy of challenge. To enumerate them briefly, they are:

1. The Guidance Compels Self-Incrimination: The Guidance requires church leaders to make statements under oath in a PRE that could provide probable cause to arrest the individual who signed the PRE, and to issue search warrants of the places where sacramental controlled substances are kept or distributed. A properly-completed PRE would provide a roadmap for prosecution of church members for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.

2. The Guidance Suspends the Right to Partake of the Sacrament: The Guidance requires any church that submits a PRE to stop administering any sacrament to its followers that is a controlled substance. This forces a church to trade off the free exercise rights of its members for the hope of attaining legal status. Ironically, by not using its sacramental controlled substance for an extended period of time, an applicant church undercuts its contention that psychedelic communion is essential to its religious path, and that laws forbidding use of the sacrament substantially burden its right to free exercise of religion.

3. The Guidance Requires Submitters to Undertake a Risk of Perjury: Someone must sign the PRE under penalty of perjury, because an organization cannot take the oath. Making a false statement in a PRE would violate 18 USC § 1001, that establishes a five-year maximum sentence for making a false statement in a federal proceeding. Perjury charges could be premised on material omissions, or if some members of the church failed to keep the promise to abstain from taking the psychedelic sacrament.

4. The Guidance Allows Unlimited Scope to Requests for Further Information: The Guidance gives the DEA carte blanche to request any additional information, at any time after submission of the PRE, from an applicant church. Several precedents hold that a government agency can refuse to grant a license to an applicant that refuses to provide requested information. Thus, the Guidance provides a foolproof pretext for the DEA to refuse to grant an exemption to an applicant simply by requesting “additional” incriminating information.

5. The Guidance Allows the DEA an Indefinite Period for Processing the PRE: Nothing in the Guidance indicates how long the DEA will take to review a PRE. One group has had its PRE pending for nearly three years, with no action taken yet.

6. The DEA Uses the Guidance as a Cover for Issuing Investigative Demands: On at least two occasions, the DEA has sent a visionary church an “invitation to submit a PRE,” that has been treated by these churches as a de facto investigative demand (Ayahuasca Healings and Soulquest). These “invitations” have circulated through the visionary church community as ominous portents, with every church’s leadership asking themselves whether they will be the next to receive “an offer they can’t refuse.”

7. The Guidance Was Issued Without Notice and Opportunity for Public Comment: The Guidance was never published in the Federal Register and was issued without any formal notice of rulemaking or opportunity for public comment. Because the Guidance establishes regulations that have a legislative effect, imposing additional restraints on religious groups that go beyond those authorized by Congress, the DEA should have given notice of its intent to issue regulations and given the affected churches an opportunity to submit comments, as it does when it proposes to add a new drug to the list of controlled substances. [3]

An Unlikely Friend Hands Visionary Churches a Gift

On May 4, 2017, President Donald Trump issued Executive Order # 13798, entitled “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty,” for reasons having nothing to do with the needs of churches that make sacramental use of controlled substances. [4] Attorney General Jeff Sessions then issued a Memorandum entitled “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty” (the “Sessions Memorandum”), that directed all U.S. government agencies, including the DEA and the Department of Justice, to review existing rules for compliance with the directives of the Sessions Memorandum, to adjust those rules to avoid interference with the free exercise of religion, and to bring them into compliance with the requirements of RFRA. The Sessions Memo directed all federal government agencies to proactively accommodate the needs of churches seeking exemptions from general law, and to engage with religious persons when drafting new rules to accommodate the right of free exercise as defined by RFRA.

The Sessions Memo tells prosecutors that in order to satisfy RFRA’s limitations on burdening religion, the government may have to spend more money, modify existing federal exemptions, or create new programs. RFRA applies to “all actions” by federal agencies, including rulemaking, enforcement, grant making, and contracting. The Sessions Memo tells government agencies that when a law or regulation fails to pass RFRA’s “strict scrutiny” test, a test that Sessions calls “exceptionally demanding,” a religious exemption must be granted, even when it requires reduction of the rights of third persons.

The Guidance is ten years old, and to all appearances, regulates what visionary churches must do to confirm the legality of their use of controlled substances for sacramental purposes. The Guidance is long overdue for a reassessment in the light of the principles set forth in the Sessions Memo. Thus, visionary churches would be remiss in protecting their own religious liberty if they failed to take the opportunity presented by the Sessions Memo to raise the issue with the DEA.

An Association of Visionary Churches Would Have Standing to Test the Guidance

There’s a reason why fish swim in schools – there’s safety in numbers. Even with a legal opinion to back it up, many visionary churches would be loath to submit a letter to the DEA identifying the legal defects in the Guidance. Although the Sessions Memo cautions Department of Justice lawyers not to target a church for enforcement action based on its exercise of lawful rights, few church leaders may be willing to have their church be the first to test the principle. Fortunately, there is another avenue of approach. An association would have standing to present a letter of criticism to the DEA, and to seek judicial relief if that criticism were ignored, if the association were composed of member churches that would individually have standing to contest the provisions of the Guidance. [5]

Visionary Churches Should Unite to Challenge the Guidance

Visionary churches should form a nonprofit association to challenge the legal defects in the Guidance that have impeded member churches in their efforts to give substance to the Supreme Court’s promise of religious freedom for sacramental use of controlled substances. The challenge should begin by presenting a letter of criticism to the DEA, enumerating and explaining the legal defects summarized above, and should follow through with judicial action under RFRA if the approach to the agency is unsuccessful in obtaining needed changes to the Guidance procedure.

About the Author

Charles Carreon has been a member of the California Bar for thirty years, and retired from the Oregon bar in 2012. A graduate of UCLA Law School (1986), he served the public as an Oregon prosecutor and Federal Public Defender. His private practice has focused on civil trial and appellate litigation, transactional work for media companies, and intellectual property registration, negotiation, and litigation. He currently serves as General Counsel for an Arizona church that administers a pharmacologically active sacrament, and maintains a private practice consulting on issues of Constitutional law, media law, and intellectual property. He may be contacted at chas@charlescarreon.com or 628-227-4059.

_______________

Notes:

1. The full title of the document is Guidance Regarding Petitions for Religious Exemption from the Controlled Substances Act Pursuant to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

2. Prohibition by Another Name: A Summary Critique of the DEA's Guidance for Submitting Petitions for Religious Exemptions from the Controlled Substances Act <http://tinyurl.com/y3r63pop> The DEA's Guidance Regarding Petitions for Religious Exemption from the Controlled Substances Act under RFRA: Door to Religious Freedom or Fifth Amendment Trap for the Unwary? https://tinyurl.com/y6l7tzwx Be Careful What You Wish For – The Peril of Regulated Status for Psychedelic Churches, https://t.co/m1BS12o5PN

3. This is not an insignificant right. For example, when the DEA proposed to schedule Kratom, it unleashed a wave of comments. DEA Announces Intent to Schedule Kratom <https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2016/08/30/dea-announces-intent-schedule-kratom>; DEA Withdraws Kratom Ban, Opens Formal Comment Period. <https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkroll/2016/10/13/dea-withdraws-kratom-ban-opens-formal-comment-period/#5af32c7079bb>

4. The likely reasons for the President’s Executive Order are discussed in a mildly humorous essay by the author of this memorandum entitled Politics and Religious Freedom Restoration Act Make Strange Bedfellows: The Sessions Memo, available at < https://neip.info/novo/wp-content/uploa ... P_2018.pdf>

5. Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc., 528 US 167, 181 (2000).
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:33 am

To Get the Straight Dope on Climate Change, Talk to the Insurance Industry
by Charles Carreon
May 20, 2019

The reports from the insurance industry are in, and the conclusions are clear: extreme weather events that cause damage to real estate and business, including high winds, enormous wildfires, and storm damage and flooding due to increased precipitation have caused claims for property damage to increase worldwide. These people are "risk managers," and it is their job to "set loss reserves," using "actuarial analysis" to estimate future losses and set insurance premiums at a level to accomplish two goals: (1) to have enough money on hand to cover anticipated claims, and (2) to encourage policyholders to protect their property to reduce risk by incentivizing investment in proactive, damage-reducing strategies. See the following resources to confirm:
The Impact of Climate Change on Insurance Against Catastrophes by Tony Coleman (an Australia-based analysis) https://www.actuaries.asn.au/Library/Ev ... eman7a.pdf
“Stormy Future for U.S. Property/Casualty Insurers: The Growing Costs and Risks of Extreme Weather Events,” https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http ... _cw_01.pdf
Getting Reserve Analysis Right, by David Hershey, https://riskandinsurance.com/getting-re ... sis-right/
How Should We Account for Climate Change? https://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAsse ... change.pdf
Climate Change Risk & Insurance Casualty Actuarial Society: Casualty Loss Reserve Seminar Chicago , September 2016 Cynthia McHale, Insurance Program Director, Ceres
https://www.casact.org/education/clrs/2 ... eynote.pdf
The Insurance Industry and Climate Change on the Prairies: A Status Report Prepared by the Great Plains Program of the International Institute for Sustainable Development,
https://www.iisd.org/pdf/insurance_climate.pdf

While politicians would like you to think that their policies are the important ones, Adam Smith's invisible hand exerts far more control over the way we deploy resources on planet earth. One rule to observe in business is "That which cannot be insured should probably not be done." Currently, insurance companies are quietly working to account for the risks that climate change will cause to eventuate, increasing damaging events. A review of the above-cited resources will show that insurers are not "hedging their bets" in the belief that "climate change may cause an increasing number of casualty claims." Rather, they have received the news, in the form of drastic increases in claims due to increased extreme weather, charts that show disappearing ice pack, increasing average heat temperatures, hotter and larger forest fires, higher winds, precipitation, and rising sea levels. The insurance carriers have got the message, they've hung up the phone, and they are working on their spreadsheets to try and figure out how they can charge premiums that are high enough that they will be able to pay out the claims they know are on the rise.

Government has often silenced the wisdom of the insurance industry by providing relief to dangerous industries. For instance, the Federal Government enacted the Price-Anderson Act in 1957 to make the government the insurer of last resort for uninsurable nuke plants, and in the event of a nuclear accident, the Federal Government will indemnify insurance companies that issue policies to nuke plants. The law also limits total liability to $10 Billion, adjusted for inflation, a grossly inadequate amount in the event of a severe disaster.

A grosser way of sponsoring dangerous activities is to outlaw liability claims altogether, for example, claims that a gun is defective for failing to incorporate good designs to prevent injury: "For an example of how this plays out, look at Adames v. Beretta. In this case, a 13-year-old boy removed the clip from his father's Beretta handgun, believing that made the gun safe, and then accidentally shot his 13-year-old friend. The victim's family sued Beretta, saying the company could have made the pistol safer and provided more warnings, according to SCOTUS Blog. Citing the PLCAA, the Illinois Supreme Court dismissed Adames' claims, and the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately refused to hear the case." https://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpoli ... r-behavior

The most important thing for the government to do would be to bring the insurance industry's conclusions out in the open, to bring these executives before Congress, and put their conclusions on the record. In the safety of the Congressional hearing environment, these executives can tell us what they know, without the fear that a Fox News-powered shitstorm will break upon their heads, resulting in the loss of business merely for speaking the truth. There is no wisdom in ignoring what the most conservative financial minds in our society are acting upon. We should invite them to share their strategies with government, industry, and the people at large. Then we can all protect ourselves, and make the adjustments to our lifestyles, industrial planning, and global investment that are necessary to reduce the impact of extreme weather events due to climate change. That will, in turn, help us keep our premiums down, and both the insurers and the ratepayers will be grateful for that.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:11 pm

The Dialogue of the Yogi and the King
by Charles Carreon
7/21/19

The King was out riding one morning, surveying his domains with no particular aim in view, or so it seemed, until he spotted the Yogi walking down the dusty road. The King flagged his detail to ride ten paces behind him, and brought his magnificent horse to a walk, keeping even with the Yogi, who continued walking, not looking at his Highness. The King spoke first.

KIng: "I hear you are an honest Yogi."

Yogi: "Your Majesty will be the best authority on such a matter, for your ears are everywhere in the Kingdom. It is well-known that you are privy to the words and conduct of all, which is why crime is low and I live in peace, unbothered by hooligans, in the cemetery."

King: "You are so known."

Yogi (stopping and turning): "Delightful, Sire. How may I serve your Excellency?"

King (Gesturing to his guards to come forward): "Let us speak awhile under this tree."

Yogi: "Gladly, Sire."

The King dismounted with the aid of his squire, made his seat on a leathern tripod, and the Yogi eased his bones onto the bare earth, then the King resumed his questioning.

King: "Are you honest?"

Yogi: "I speak little, and so have few occasions to deceive. I live from alms, so I have no master to please. From this position, I have been known to speak my own mind."

King: "May I ask a philosophical question?"

Yogi: "Philosophy is not my strong point, Sire, but I will endeavor to answer any question you wish to ask."

King: "Is the soul eternal?"

Yogi: "I know not, Sire."

King: "Do you seek to offend the priests by this answer?"

Yogi: No, Sire, nor may I deceive my sovereign."

King: "What do you know of the nature of man?"

Yogi (smiling gently): "Of the nature of man, Sire, would you hear?
This body is like a puppet,
Sewn with myriad stitches of breath,
And man's mind is like the needle that pulls the stitches taut.
The body is like a musical instrument tuned to various tones
By the power of one's attention;
Or a regiment of archers,
Ready with their bows, with
Mind as their commander."

King: "Tell me more of mind."

Yogi: "The mind is like a river,
Bounded by banks,
Composed of innumerable droplets
Gathered from myriad mountains,
Slopes and watersheds,
All meandering,
Conjoining in a vast flow
That at last unites in streams
That mingle to become
That graceful, flowing
Snake of glass
That feeds the verdant banks,
Overtops them in the flood time,
And turns to naught in droughts.

King: "How is a river like the mind?"

Yogi: "A river has three characteristics
-- moisture, greatness and motion.
Without these three,
A river cannot be,
For even a single raindrop is wet,
And though a lake is great, it is not a river,
Whose nature is ever to flow.
As to mind, it resembles a river because
Moisture is life itself,
Greatness is mind's unlimited scope,
And motion is how it functions.
When mind animates the body,
it tugs the stitches of the breath
that control the body-puppet.
It tunes the instruments and causes them to play their various tones.
It commands the archers of intention and action."

King: "How do the various parts of the body coordinate?"

Yogi: "In the unity of body and mind,
Correspondent polarities order the whole.
The crown to the soles,
The ankles to the eyes,
The throat to the waist,
And the heart to the body as a whole.

The heart is like the middle of the bowstring
That the archer pulls,
The heart is the conductor keeping rhythm
For all of the instruments,
The heart holds all the threads
Of the body-puppet in its central grasp.

Mind is the power that
plucks the bowstrings,
sounds the tones,
stirs muscles and bones.
Mind is the unseen force
flowing through the rivers
fed by the heart, and
All flesh is like the life
that flourishes along the banks
of these hidden streams.

King: "Why do people suffer?"

Yogi: "The river of mind
Is a river of pain,
Because the nature of this river is to know,
To sense, to feel, to judge, experiment,
Adjust and persist,
And pain is the knowledge that feeds this system.
Pain is sensed, felt, judged,
As we conduct our ongoing experiment with existence,
Adjusting it by trial and failure,
To achieve our unquestioned good -- continued existence,
More time to refine our ability to sense, feel, judge,
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera."

King: "What is wisdom?"

Yogi: "Our failure to question the value of living,
Itself must be questioned,
If pain is to be understood,
Or we become an Ouroboros of pain,
Drinking our own blood
In mute, animal agony."

King: "You describe a grim fate for us as living beings. On this at least, you agree with the priests. What is your solution to pain? The priests have their own solutions."

Yogi: "Sire, may I ask, what do the priests say men should do to deal with pain?"

King: "Eliminate it, of course."

Yogi: "Yes, by what means?"

King: "By making abundant offerings to the Gods and the Ancestors, that they may bestow blessings in this life, by giving increase of fertility and health, and a pain-free existence in the divine realms in the afterlife. Do you accord with this advice?"

Yogi: "I do not oppose it, but as you can see, I have not fitted myself out to be a giver of abundant offerings, living from alms as I do."

King: "Do you imply that by rendering yourself incapable of making abundant offerings, you lose nothing?"

Yogi: "The entire matter of offerings is a touchy subject, your Majesty, since as we know, neither the Ancestors nor the Gods partake of them, but rather, after the plates are passed before the noses of the idols, the delicacies heaped upon them are consumed by the priests and their devotees, while the leavings are offered to animals and persons of small means, like your humble servant."

King: "You flirt with heresy, Yogin, but I get your meaning, and there are no priests here to accuse you."

Yogi: "For which I thank your Majesty."

King: "So what is your solution to pain, if you do not resort to bribing the disembodied Ancestors and the Celestial Ones?"

Yogi: "Sire, I have none at all. Pain cannot be avoided entirely by beings such as ourselves. The union of body and mind precludes it."

King: "Why do you say this? More heresy?"

Yogi: "Mere observation, your Majesty. Is not hunger painful? Loneliness? Fatigue? A wound received in battle? Labor and childbirth? The loss of a friend, a parent, a treasure? Are not these all painful?

King: "That they are."

Yogi: "But for hunger, Sire, we would not eat, and thus perish. Were we not lonely, we would not band together with our fellows, and your Majesty would have no subjects. Those who do not weary do not rest, their wits abandon them, they see phantoms and oftimes end their own lives for reasons beyond comprehending. Under death's impending shadow, we seek to advantage ourselves in life. From the fear of death, doctors and midwives learn the ways of healing and childbearing. From hatred of poverty, farmers till the fields, artisans produce crafts, and merchants ferry goods from the mountains to the seas, setting up markets where wealth is exchanged. All these human activities must be good, since Your Majesty protects them in his fortunate domain, by force of law and sanction, by employing lawgivers, magistrates, and constables. Yet they are motivated by fear of pain. Therefore pain is the basis of much that is good."

King: "Then why do you renounce the world and live as a beggar?"

Yogi: "I value my freedom, Sire. Do not you?"

King: "Of course."

Yogi: "And do you consider yourself free?"

King: I am Sovereign -- all serve me. How can I be unfree?"

Yogi: "I seek not to challenge you, Sire. I merely ask because you seemed vexed regarding pain. I take it that even you are not free from pain."

King: "Oh, I see. No, I am not free from pain. Would that I were."

Yogi: "Sire, there is a question you have not asked, the answer to which may interest you."

King: "And which is that?"

Yogi: "Can pain be reduced?"

King: "Well, can it?"

Yogi: "Yes."

King: "How much?"

Yogi: "A great deal."

King: "How?"

Yogi: "May I ask you, Sire -- if a drunken man disturbs the town, do the magistrates order his execution?"

King: "Of course not."

Yogi: "What do they do?"

King: "After he sobers up, they release him with a fine, to be paid in coin or labor."

Yogi: "To what end?"

King: "That he may learn self-control."

Yogi: "Does it work? Do they learn self-control?"

King: "Often it does. If not, the fines are increased, or he is imprisoned."

Yogi: "In the same way, Sire, the causes of excessive pain can be identified, corrected, and in the last resort, confined."

King: "How are the causes of excessive pain to be identified?"

Yogi: "By close observation, Your Majesty. The stream of the mind itself must be watched, the troublemakers identified, their weapons confiscated, their misconduct suppressed."

King: "Who are the troublemakers?"

Yogi: "Errant thoughts and emotions. Notions that arise from unchecked fancy. Feelings that rule a mind that is sunk in unreflection."

King: "What are their weapons?"

Yogi: "Arrogance, anger, and excessive desire."

King: "Any others?"

Yogi: "Greed and pride round out the lot."

King: "How does one identify these troublemakers?"

Yogi: "By the pain they bring to the mind, they identify themselves."

King: "How does one render their weapons harmless?"

Yogi: "By the exertion of authority, like the constable who bears the Royal Ensign, one manifests possession of one's own domains. Like a skilled horseman, by firmly grasping the reins of the will. Through vigilance and the exercise of will, guided by wholesome intention, one becomes what one wishes to be, and ceases to be the product of passions and ignorance, that roam like thieves in the darkness. One who kindles the lamp of self-awareness drives away the dangers that beset ordinary minds. One who asserts his power to be what he wills ends enslavement to the forces that bedevil the ignorant."

King: "Some say that if one opposes the passions, they rebel and return with redoubled force. Is this not a danger, and if so, how is it deflected?"

Yogi: "I have spoken of the rider and his horse. May I ask you Sire -- does the best horseman often apply the whip?"

King: "No, the best horseman applies the whip rarely or not at all."

Yogi: "Then how does he master the beast?"

King: "The best horsemen speak to their mounts, care for their welfare, and treat them with love and respect; therefore, they command their mounts through a power greater than fear of pain.

Yogi: "In the same fashion, Sire, the one who would be the master of his own being cares for himself, counsels himself with gentleness and wisdom, subduing all errant impulses with calm authority. The heart of the self-mastered man rests peaceful in his chest like a horse with a good rider resides in the stable, ready to serve its master, secure in his kindly command."

Upon hearing these words, the King's heart felt the touch of peace that he had not felt since he was a young prince, discovering the power of command. He understood the meaning of the Yogi's words, and could already feel the truth of their meaning. He felt gratitude towards the Yogi, and wished to reward him.

King: "You have given good advice, Yogin, and for that I shall grant you a boon. What would you ask of me?"

Yogi: "That which I would ask, you may not be willing to grant. I should not ask."

King: "I command you -- speak, Yogin. If I cannot grant it, I will tell you plainly so, and you may ask a second wish."

Yogi: "Very well, Sire, but if you will not grant it, I have no other desire, and will pray you leave me with my freedom and your kind regard."

King: "So it will be. What is your wish?"

Yogi: "I wish that you should make no wars for power, wealth or glory, and only protect your people from harm, that you should sever no young men from their families against their will, to be conscripts in your armies, and that you allow them to live their days in peace."

The King was silent a moment, looking at the Yogi with piercing eyes that sought the reason behind his words. At last he replied.

King: "Yogin, if I said that I would grant your boon, would you boast of it to your fellows?"

Yogi: "No, Sire, I would keep silence on the matter to my last breath, while it remained my secret joy."

King: "I cannot answer you, Yogin, but you have eyes in your head. In the fulness of time, you may judge the effect of your request."

Yogi: "Your Majesty, I am honored by your kind attention to the words of a humble beggar."

King: "As well you should be."

The King leavened his last words with a kindly smile, called for his horse, and resumed his ride, leaving the Yogin to go his way in peace.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:12 pm

Crazy Like a Fox – In “Crazy Wisdom,” Trungpa’s Heirs Sacrifice Truth to Profit
by Charles Carreon
July 24, 2019



It’s impossible to see yourself when you’re cocooned inside a rosy glow of nostalgia, so the Shambhala insiders who appear in “Crazy Wisdom” look very comfortable and somewhat pathetic.

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In this slick biopic lionizing the dead Chogyam Trungpa from the safe distance of a few decades, Trungpa’s core followers appear like a string of lottery winners dressed in casual formal attire, comfortably seated in cozy sitting rooms, tasteful meditation halls, traditional shrines, and art studios. Each lucky man or woman presents the same aspect – supremely satisfied with their decision to devote their lives to Trunpa’s vision; firmly grasping the brass ring they were so fortunate to clasp when Trungpa held it out to them; serene in the knowledge that they made the right choice when they delivered their life into his hands; happy singing hosannas forever to Trungpa, Trungpa, Trungpa!

Presented in a haze of perfection, this string of Trungpa worshippers presents like a necklace of matched, cultured pearls – each one expressing identical sentiments, venturing nothing surprising, unique, or individual. Their adulation comes from a factory with faultless quality control. Their very sincerity seems affected. They’ve become the Martha Stewarts of spirituality, offering a safe, respectable approach to inner growth and fulfillment. Nevertheless, this film cannot whitewash the tainted legacy of a man whose greatest skill was his practice of self-deception. What “Crazy Wisdom” will do is memorialize the naivete, blindness, and complicity of those who, seduced by Trungpa’s self-love, still serve his will, emulating his enigmatic poses and pregnant pauses as they gush praise, elide the truth, and distort reality, painting a picture of a spiritual Camelot that never was. “Crazy Wisdom” is a farcical re-imagination of a life marked by chaotic misconduct, florid self-aggrandizement, and canny manipulation as a stately progression from sainted birth, through heroic adolescence, to fruitful maturity, culminating in nirvana, crowned by canonization, his sainthood confirmed by meteorological displays of celestial glory. There’s more truth to be found in Disney’s Snow White.

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Most notable about “Crazy Wisdom” is the scenes that aren’t included. We don’t see the classrooms at the unnamed Oxford College that Trungpa likely never attended (there are currently 39 Oxford colleges), or hear from his teachers or fellow-students. Rather, over the rooftops of a quaint English town, the single word “Oxford” appears onscreen, followed by “1963 Chogyam Trungpa receives a grant to study in England,” a group photo of college-age people among which Trungpa’s appears as the only Tibetan face, and static shots of medieval saints carved in stone.

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Following this suggestive but factually substanceless montage, a trio of acolytes offer bland speculations about what Trungpa was up to during his early years in England. Francesca Freemantle, a silver-haired academic, says “He was going through a period of really examining how he was going to teach.”

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Rigzin Shipko, a graying English yogi, claims “Rinpoche was doing various courses in order to familiarize himself with Western culture.”

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Lyndon Antle, who claims that, after seeing Trungpa once in the Telegraph newspaper, he sold his house, quit his job, and made the trip to Samye Ling on public transport, walking the last 17 miles to the remote location near Eskdalemuir, credits Trungpa with “trying to gather the experience directly for himself of the suffering of the human condition in the west.” And that’s it for Trungpa’s attendance at England’s most prestigious institution of higher learning.

We don’t see the bedroom at Garwald House where Diana Pybus, all of sixteen and a week, climbed into Trungpa’s bed to aid his recovery from his crippling accident. We don’t hear about how the two were jailed for a night after skipping out on a hotel bill after a frolic in Glasgow. We never hear how Pamela and Christopher Woodman, devoted students scandalized by Trungpa’s habitual drunkenness and his marriage to Diana, over fourteen years his junior, accused him of moral turpitude to the American immigration authorities.

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We are briefly shown a tabloid headline trumpeting the marriage to the British public, which became notorious as one of the first marriages of a sixteen-year-old bride pursuant to a change in English law. We do not hear about how the marriage outraged Diana’s family, causing her Uncle Michael to loudly accuse Trungpa in a public house as “a cradle robber and a baby snatcher” who would be wise to “go to America, because anything goes there.”

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Although Akong Tulku appears in the movie, he says nothing about how he ostracized Trungpa at Samye Ling for being an embarrassment to the Kagyu lineage, or how Trungpa retaliated against him by destroying his personal shrine, urinating on the staircase, and passing out in his own filth, all on a special day when donors were present for a special visit to the abbey. Neither does Akong tell us how he was so eager to see the pair gone that he loaned Trungpa the money to fly to America, and so distrustful of repayment that he demanded custody of the ancient Trungpa lineage seals as collateral for the loan. We don’t learn that Trungpa flew to the USA without a visa, and had to wait for several months to get one, because the Americans cancelled his visa due to the accusations made by the Woodmans. We don’t hear about how Trungpa and Diana were turned out of the home of a Korean monk, Samu Kim, from whom they initially received a warm welcome, after one night of drinking. Apparently not having the requisite ability to reinterpret Trungpa’s rough behavior as crazy wisdom, Samu asked him to leave, explaining that, “You look like a Buddha, but you’re just an ordinary man. You look the story, you walk the story, but you’re not the real thing. You can’t stay any longer.”

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Trungpa’s son, Osel Mukpo, aka “the Sakyong,” appears to speak a few ambiguous words about his father, but we never see the “Lady Konchok,” the Tibetan nun upon whom Trungpa sired the child, then abandoned in India. Osel doesn’t tell us how he felt about being taken from his mother, transported to Samye Ling at the age of seven, and left without family to care for him when Trungpa and Diana decamped for the States. We do not hear from Pamela and Chris Woodman, who gave Osel a home and cared for him for over a year before Trungpa filed a custody lawsuit to take him from them. Osel doesn’t tell us about the two years he spent at the Pestalozzi Village, an orphanage for refugee children, after being taken from the Woodman home by means of legal process, while barristers and solicitors sorted his fate. Nor does he tell us how he felt about his absentee father, who made his presence felt primarily by means of custody litigation while he drank, wrote poetry, and seduced his students in Vermont and Colorado. Osel doesn’t tell us how, the one time Trungpa came to see him in England, he experienced little more than fear of the stranger who was his father.

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Several of the people interviewed in the film were present at the drunken Halloween party where Trungpa ordered the most aggressive males in his devotion-addled cult to break into the bedroom of a famous poet and his girlfriend, and drag them downstairs to participate in the festivities, where Trungpa, lording it over the fawning crowd like a Buddhist version of Jabba the Hutt, had the couple stripped naked for his entertainment. However, not one of these well-scrubbed, well-respected teachers of American Dharma breathes a word about this event.

We don’t meet any of Trungpa’s seven wives, who kept many nasty secrets about him hidden – his ultra-secret cocaine addiction, his penchant for torturing animals, his indulgence in sex with underage girls. We don’t hear about Trungpa’s tragic marriage to Ciel Turzanski, his sixth wife, whom he “married” the day she turned eighteen, after what all presume was a five-year long affair between the two. We aren’t so much as shown a photograph of this sacrificed child bride, who committed suicide many years later, a victim of torments too painful to imagine.

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The movie paints a friendly face on this sexual predator. We see the “Dorje Kasung,” Trungpa’s vajra guard, marching in uniform, and hear unctuous explanations about how putting Dharma nerds in uniform integrates worldly and spiritual life in “enlightened society.” However, none of these Kasung tell us that they really served as vajra pimps, bringing him the wives and girlfriends of his male students as sexual offerings, breaking up families, poisoning conjugal relationships, and preying on the daughters of students too young to lawfully consent to sexual relations.

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Two middle-aged Dharma matrons appear to declare the transcendent nature of their trysts with the tantric master.

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A cuckold declares that he was jealous – of his wife’s relationship with Trungpa! He wished he could get that close!

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Lest anyone think that only Trungpa’s students are able to see the saint behind the sins, Wendy Roshi of Los Angeles Zen Center shows up to laud the “openness” with which he carried on his dalliances, and Kwong Roshi of Sonoma Mountain Zen Center comes close to tears recalling how Trungpa cried at Suzuki Roshi’s funeral.

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Still, when it comes to modeling innocent befuddlement at how Trungpa could indulge in such extensive bad behavior while engaging in a religious mission, Pema Chodron sets the gold standard. Claiming that she just “does not know” how to reconcile the conflicting facts, she delivers dumb looks with panache, equating ignorance with wisdom. It is all a clever dodge, however. When she says she “doesn’t know,” she conceals that what she really means is that she is so convinced of Trungpa’s sanctity that nothing he did could ever shake her faith in his perfection. Like a Trumper who would excuse the Donald of homicide if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue, Pema Chodron won’t be budged from her commitment to Trungpa’s divinity, regardless of the evidence. For her to claim that this is a “suspension of judgment” or an “inability to reach a conclusion” is mere sophistry, devoid of sincerity.

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Trungpa’s bizarre family life is of course off limits. We hear some “secular spiritual” mumbo-jumbo from the lips of Dr. Mitchell Levy, the Doctor Feelgood who allowed Trungpa to drink and drug himself into an early grave: “He taught by being a human being. He never said, ‘follow me, imitate me.’” What Dr. Levy doesn’t tell us is that, when Trungpa cast Diana aside to engage in sex with everyone else with tits inside grabbing range, he made himself useful by becoming Diana’s lover. Nor does Dr. Levy tell us that “Ashoka Mukpo” who passes in the press for Trungpa’s son, is actually his own child, born to Diana -- a Jewish-British Buddhist boy who got stuck with a Tibetan name. There are of course advantages to this arrangement, because Ashoka was recognized as a tulku, even though not born of Trungpa’s seed.

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Ashoka would really have little to complain about, because Trungpa’s seed may not have been the safest genetic line to spring from. Taggie, the eldest son of his union with Diana, suffers from severe autism, and is not featured in the movie at all, even though he was recognized by the Sixteenth Karmapa as a tulku. Although autistic children benefit from sensory therapy, speech therapy, and music therapy, Taggie received none of these. Indeed, he didn't even receive basic home care, or parental affection. At age six, he was interned in the Karmapa's Rumtek monastery, and didn't return to the United States until he was eighteen. Since then, Taggie has been in the care of third parties in separate housing, due to his proclivity for violent rages and other dysfunctional behavior. One of Taggie’s longtime caretakers, Christine Chandler, in her book about the thirty years she spent in the Mukpo family cult, explained that what most enraged Taggie was the endless procession of fawning Trungpa students who, believing him to be a tulku, sought to indulge his every whim, thus stimulating his worst behavior. As Chandler recounts, Diana visited Taggie only once in over six years. On another occasion, his brother Osel promised to come for a visit, and although he never arrived, the newsletter for the Karme Choling retreat center joyfully published a report about "what a wonderful visit the Sakyong had with his brother." Chandler also describes how everyone, from Trungpa disciples to visiting lamas, seemed eager to project their fantasies on the disabled youth, variously believing him to be an embodiment of crazy wisdom, possessed by a demon, or merely in need of "a female consort." Since the movie fails to make any mention of Taggie's existence, of course, it conveniently avoids the fact that the Mukpo family, known for its extravagant spending on luxuries, has shifted the cost of Taggie's home care to the state of Vermont. Thus, disowned in body and spirit, cared for by strangers at the expense of the state, Taggie's origins as Trungpa's son appear to have benefited him not at all. While it would take a DNA test to gather the necessary evidence, modern medicine tells us that fetal alcohol syndrome often results from paternal alcohol abuse, so Taggie may have more than tulku status to thank his father for.

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Gesar Mukpo, the youngest son of the Trungpa/Diana union, is another incarnate Bodhisattva, due to the now-obligatory practice of recognizing the fruit of all lama-seed as sacred. Gesar appears briefly in the movie, designated as a “filmmaker,” despite having only one film to his name, a one-hour production entitled “Tulku,” in which he interviews a number of young men who, like himself, have been recognized as incarnate Bodhisattvas, but can’t quite seem to get the hang of the family business. Gesar rejects the opportunity to share reminiscences about his famous father, deflecting an inquiry about whether Trungpa showed him love: “Love? Talking about love is an insult sort of to our relationship, because it was like he treated me like the reincarnated lama that I was recognized as. So in terms of love, did we ever talk about love – there was never any talk about something like that. He treated me like he would have treated a king of another country, you know?”

One of the most tragic episodes in the history of Trungpa’s “enlightened society” goes entirely unmentioned in the movie -- Trungpa’s terrible choice of a successor to run his organization -- Thomas Rich, that some stalwarts still venerate as “Osel Tenzin, the Vajra Regent.” Rich, whose feckless indulgence in unprotected sex while infected with HIV claimed the lives of at least two people, and probably more, has been disappeared altogether. This keeps us far away from the dangerous fact that Trungpa apparently knew that Rich had AIDS, and discouraged him from disclosing it to his sexual partners or using a condom, giving Rich license to commit heinous crimes that are now recognized as murder, plain and simple. But for those who watch “Crazy Wisdom” without knowing the story behind the lies, the concealment of Rich’s misdeeds is as complete as a bricked-over passageway to a room that has been erased from the floor plan.

Although it is well-known that Trungpa’s death was preceded by a long decline during which he lost control over his bodily movements, becoming totally reliant on personal aides to maintain his appearance and manage personal life activities, we see nothing of this. “Crazy Wisdom” sanctifies Trungpa’s early death due to alcohol and drug toxicity at the age of 48, by avoiding all discussion of the months during which his ravaged body was maintained in a semi-comatose state by the use of extraordinary medical procedures at the behest of students unable to come to grips with Trungpa’s untimely passing.

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The movie announced his death as a historical fact, then segues into the gala cremation ceremony in a vast green field thronged with followers, presided over by crowds of traditionally-garbed Tibetans, led by the redoubtable Dilgo Khyentse, whose mere face is sufficient to reduce the devoted to sighs of awe. We see the uniformed pallbearers, numbering about a dozen, carrying his remains in a brocaded palanquin to the funeral chorten, where they are consumed in a splendid conflagration, flames spouting from the roof in a micro-inferno of sacralized fire.

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The event is crowned with “fire rainbows,” an atmospheric phenomenon scientifically known as a “circumhorizontal arc” that can occur when the sun is at an elevation of 58° or greater and sunlight enters high altitude cirrus clouds at a specific angle. Like many other folks with cameras, the filmmakers were able to capture images of this unusual celestial occurrence. For those who scan the heavens for confirmation of their beliefs, colors in the clouds are proof of whatever they wish to believe. For those tethered to reality, colored clouds are pleasing, and probative of nothing.

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“Crazy Wisdom” was made with a purpose in mind – to cover over the ugly edifice of Trungpa’s transgressions with a façade of holy achievements. To accomplish this, history has been doctored. Important people, both victims and perpetrators, have been removed from the frame, and traumatic events expunged from the record. Trungpa’s own actions have been edited to remove evidence that he exploited his students for sex, seducing female students and cuckolding their mates, amassing money and authority for personal aggrandizement, surrounding himself with fawning servants and uniformed toadies, neglecting his children while procuring for them useless titles of sanctity that merely inflate their pride to no purpose, and recklessly indulging in behavior that destroyed both his mind and body. Simultaneously, the movie elevates the reputations of his close students, who now have established careers as meditation teachers that are founded on the illusion of Trungpa’s own spiritual legitimacy. “Crazy Wisdom” is religious propaganda to shore up a cult of personality, and a marketing campaign that Trungpa’s followers hope to keep going for generations. To use a phrase well-known to his students, it is pure “spiritual materialism.”
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:34 am

The Invisible Pyramid
by Charles Carreon
August 14, 2019

Meet Loren Eiseley

I am stealing this title from a collection of essays by Loren Eiseley because it so perfectly encapsulates an important idea. Loren Eiseley launched his writing career from the unglamorous field of paleontology. He was a bone-collector, as he sometimes put it. His brilliant essays on the human condition – written from the vantage point of geological timespans – have inspired countless readers to think more deeply about who we are, how we became this way, and what we might become – if we can escape the darkness of our evolutionary past. Take this brief excerpt from the book whose title I’ve cribbed:

“I compose, or I make clever objects with what were originally a tree dweller’s hands. Fragments of his fears, his angers, his desires, still stream like midnight shadows through the circuits of my brain. His unthinking jungle violence, inconceivably magnified, may determine our ending. Still, by contrast, the indefinable potentialities of a heavy-browed creature capable of pouring his scant wealth into the grave in a gesture of grief and self-abnegation may lead us at last to some triumph beyond the realm of technics. Who is to say?”

-- The Invisible Pyramid – A Naturalist Analyses the Rocket Century, pp. 93-94 (1971 Scribners).


In this short paragraph, Eiseley spans the gulf between Australopithecus and Homo Sapiens, between the darkness of the arboreal forest and the terrible illumination of the hydrogen bomb, and concludes by pinpointing the origin of compassion in our longing to care for our dead.

Why Is the Pyramid Invisible?

Written in the late sixties and early seventies, The Invisible Pyramid is an urgent contemplation by a profound thinker who arrived at the precipice facing all humanity about forty years ahead of the crowd. The book is comprised of seven essays that turn round a central theme inspired by President Kennedy’s commitment to put a man on the moon -- why humans are reaching for the stars, what we hope to find there, and what we might be hiding from here on earth by seeking to hurl ourselves into the heavens.

Comparing the space program to the pyramids of Egypt, Eiseley wrote:

“This effort has become the primary obsession of the great continental powers. Into the organization of this endeavor has gone an outpouring of wealth and inventive genius so vast that it constitutes a public sacrifice equivalent in terms of relative wealth to the building of the Great Pyramid at Giza almost five thousand years ago. Indeed, there is a sense in which modern science is involved in the construction of just such a pyramid, although an invisible one.”
Id., p. 87.


Further on in the book, he makes reference again to the immense monuments left behind by our ancestors, who apparently commanded tremendous resources, leaving behind a legacy in stone, whose full significance we can only vaguely apprehend:

“Egypt, which had planted in the pyramids man’s mightiest challenge to effacing time, had conceived long millennia ago the dream of a sky-traveling boat that might reach the pole star. The Maya of the New World rain forests had also watched the drift of the constellations from their temples situated above the crawling vegetational sea about them. But of what their dreamers thought, the remaining hieroglyphs tell us little.”
Id., at pp. 129-130.


I See the Pyramid

When I grasped Eiseley’s meaning, I suddenly envisioned our whole society, all of us, living inside an immense pyramid of inconceivable proportions – as real as the cellphone in my pocket, the fast food restaurants and strip malls on every corner, the endless ribbons of asphalt that stretch out to the mountains and the plains, the airliners that ply the skies, the satellites that orbit above us. This vast construction, created to pursue an evanescent dream of material fulfillment, is our invisible pyramid. We have mortgaged the future of the planet, the lives of future generations, to this dream. We have become what Eiseley calls, “the world-eaters,” a race of beings who consume the earth voraciously, turning resources to waste in an accelerating drive to create and sustain a network of illusions. Now, as our habits of consumption threaten to destroy our dreams forever, we look to the stars for an escape route. Trapped on a poisoned planet, we now see billionaires reaching to establish orbital havens from whence they can gaze down on their dominions from a safe remove.

Writing in the sixties and seventies, Eiseley saw danger in our society’s reliance on scientific knowledge to guide us forward. He had not foreseen, and therefore did not address another danger – that humanity would nostalgically turn back to the past, seeking comfort in mythical cosmologies, priestcraft, and magical thinking. He did not anticipate that millions of people would turn their backs on the empirical view of reality, and take refuge in what Carl Sagan called “the demon-haunted world,” a world populated by forces that can damn or redeem in an instant, banishing the inconvenient reality in which the technocrats have sewn us up.

The Individual's Search for A World-Structure

In my view, each one of us builds his or her own invisible pyramid of belief. By a lifelong expenditure of mental energy, we construct our view of reality, and in it, we abide. Others cannot approach us without passing through the invisible gates we have constructed. When they visit, they must sit on the furniture we provide, within the walls we’ve constructed, seeing the limited view outside our windows, if indeed we haven’t simply painted images on the walls to simulate the external world in a style that comports with our projections. Most people, of course, consider it quite beyond their ability to design their own abiding place. They shop for designs, often emulating the living spaces occupied by those they admire or envy.

Religious Worldviews -- Readymade & Guaranteed to Please

Those with the biggest aspirations, those who want to have the most clearly superior abiding places, often shop for a religious structure to enclose themselves. Religions accommodate this impulse by creating lavish structures that purport to be genuine, authentic, reliable, exquisite, and eternal. Amazingly enough, when you buy a religious design, you are always promised the penthouse suite, the apex of perfection, the most perfect house in the City on the Hill. Purchasers are amazed to discover that all of this wonderfulness is well within their means. Making the down payment is always as easy as tendering your belief. You sign a blank piece of paper, and move right into the model home. Later, the realtor comes by with a copy of the full contract. It stipulates that you must live there forever, can never move out, submit to the authority of the homeowner’s association, promise to keep your lawn watered and mowed, and will not conduct ping pong tournaments in the garage. Also, only certain types of sex are permitted in the bedrooms, certain kinds of foods can be cooked in the kitchen, and particular types of clothing washed in the laundry room.

Yes, the overwhelming characteristic of the religious worldview is rigidity. Only in this way, the realtor explains, can you be sure that your neighbors will not offend you, and you will not offend them. Your choices are limited, but this is a time-saver. Your ambitions and personal hopes become irrelevant, but on the other hand, no one can embarrass you about how you live, because you live just like everyone else. There is safety in numbers, and you are one fish in an immense, silvery school that moves in a unified, harmonious dance.

Within this realm of uniform views, in which all questions have an appropriate doctrinal answer, the outer world is irrelevant. Your only concern is to eliminate all of the impulses to individual thinking and conform yourself to the right way of seeing things. When you can achieve this form of “right thinking,” you gain full membership in the “enlightened society.” Eventually, you can even dispense with your calendar, because in this realm, there is no change. Time never passes. Troublesome events never occur in this gated community. You are safe in your place, and the uniformed security guards drive by four times a day and four times a night. Because the religious life is a total commitment that pays off in complete contentment.

The Joy of Belonging

The disadvantage of moving into such an ideal realm seem to have escaped the people who have been moving into these conceptual communities. It does not occur to most of them that the invisible pyramid that they are laboring to construct is actually a monument to the ambitions of other people. The joy of laboring communally on a project that is supposed to bring universal satisfaction is often a relief from a life of individual striving in a world without meaning. Having been told all of our lives that there is some kind of meaning in life, and having been unable to find it for ourselves, we may be greatly relieved to have it provided.

Hidden Drawbacks of the Spiritual Tract-Home

But life, unfortunately, has a habit of intruding into our idealized realms. For all the promises we receive from those who sell us idealized homes in perfect psychic subdivisions, trouble seems unavoidable. The greatest problem is that almost all religions have their basis in belief systems that were evolved long before Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter, or Einstein worked out the theory of relativity, or Bohr established the quantum nature of matter. Thus, we can only abide in these perfect mental habitations by ignoring the incongruency between scientifically-observed reality as we have grown up to know it, and the doctrinal formulations that guarantee our psychological comfort. We may discover terribly inconvenient, even terrifying aspects to our perfectly-designed abode – hell in the basement, an attic filled with strange deities speaking in foreign tongues, a backyard that stretches off into eternity, with strange figures stalking back and forth menacingly in the eternal twilight. And when you think about moving out, there’s that damned contract.

Finding Your Own Alternative

Yes, of course, you have to live somewhere. You have to have a view of the world. You have to have a comfortable sitting room to share with your friends, a kitchen to cook in, a bedroom in which to sleep and make love. But in designing that place, you should not let nostalgia be your guide. Nor should you look to move into a place just like the one your friends moved into last week. Rather, as I see it, you should do the minimum amount of construction possible, preserving as much of the original view as you can. Look for durable materials to build with, natural materials that don’t jar with the environment as you perceive it. Don’t be afraid of the world as you know it to be, and build a rational structure that reflects your own, genuine needs. True, there are no off-the-shelf blueprints for such a construction. But at least you won't become the victim of a pyramid scheme.
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