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 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:24 am

ANCESTORS, by Charles Carreon

"The bad thing about when people die is it leaves everybody else fucked up. They're gone and it's no more problem to them. It's just sad for everybody that's left."
--Sonny Barger



It is a quiet afternoon, on a summer afternoon in Arizona, starting to shade towards dark. There is a helicopter in the middle of the street outside my parents' house. My mother is lying dead in the backyard, the victim of a tragic drowning accident. My two older children, whom she was supposed to be watching, instead saw her drown, unaware that she had suffered a stroke, and was not deliberately doing a dead-man float.

My wife screaming my name told me that horror had descended upon us. I vaulted over the eight-foot fence in one movement, and was in the backyard. There she lay, a mere 67 years old, not breathing on the concrete where Tara had dragged her. Tara ran inside to call 911. I began artificial resuscitation. It was the first time I ever touched my mom's lips with my own. We were very Mexican-Catholic that way. When the paramedics cut away her swimsuit, it was the first time I remember ever seeing her breasts, though she breastfed me. Everything, everything, everything about this scene was so horribly wrong. I had been a mere forty feet away, working on my truck, readying it for the drive back to Oregon. My mom had wanted to drive back with us. I told her to fly up in a few weeks, so we wouldn't be cramped like we had on the drive down with her a month earlier.

She had been clinging to the life and love of our family. The day before, mom had expressed how terribly she would be missing Ana, our youngest child, still a nursing infant, radiant as a china doll with gleaming ebony eyes. My mom, whose name was Eloise, was carrying Ana around on her hip, doting on her, and what came out of her mouth was, "Oh, you are so beautiful. I am going to miss you so much. Tomorrow I will be walking around here like a dead man."

Mama had become a prophet, and it was no surprise she had intuited her coming death. She was quite nearly a saint, not by virtue of attending Mass, although she loved to sing in the choir, but by virtue of her well-known kindness and generosity. When she met my Buddhist lama, she happily took the vows of refuge, joining our Buddhist family without hesitation. The lama, a mischievous man with a puckish sense of humor, responded to my suggestion that we get her some Dharma books to read with a dismissive wave, remarking with good-humored disdain and a wrinkled brow, "Books? What does she need with books?" I went on with a flowery statement intended to flatter myself by association -- "Rinpoche," I said, "if I have any seed of compassion, you see where I got it." The statement was silly, since all beings have the seed of compassion which is the seed of enlightenment, and Rinpoche's response was a pomposity-deflating riposte that still makes me smile. "Well," he replied, alluding to my seed of enlightenment, "before, I did not know you had one, but now I see that you do, so you must develop it." I never forgot how deferential Rinpoche, who rarely suffered fools of any age, had been towards Mom. He really acknowledged that her self-evident goodness required no improvement. I have felt her presence beside me at major decision points in my life again and again, guiding me to do only those things that she would be okay with, and it has never steered me wrong.

Mom's funeral was held a week after she drowned, because we kept her on a ventilator and watched her flat brain waves for seven days until my dad said to unplug the damn ventilator, because otherwise she was going to die of organ failure and basically rot in front of us. Well over a hundred people showed up to the funeral. I didn't know at least half of them. Many, many people introduced themselves and told me how much she had meant to them, of how kind she had been, of how fortunate we had all been to know her. None more fortunate than my brother, my father, and I. And none more bereft, now.

Guilt choked us all. My brother and Dad had been campaigning for a friend up in Prescott that day, helping a friend of my brother's who was running for Arizona Attorney General. Suddenly, their big-wheel political act seemed like a terrible, misplaced priority.

My father was furious with me. He barely spoke. His grief was like a huge, black iron that crushed everything. My father's whole life turned to hell, because I, the only man in charge of the house, had been doing some stupid, mechanical bullshit, instead of watching my mom. He never said this, but I knew he thought it. He wasn't into consolation. He'd spent the last eighteen years earning a federal pension, the two of them had just retired and bought a new house with a pool because, irony of ironies, after conquering a lifetime fear of water and drowning, she had become a daily swimmer. After a week of enduring my father's silent ire in the house inhabited by my mother's spirit, whose voice I could hear resounding in every room and hallway, we packed up and split for Oregon.

The drive home was a nightmare. We were broke, and our two new front tires were worn bald by the time we got to Lodi, California, because the idiot shyster tire guys in Phoenix had grossly misaligned the front wheels when they put them on. My mother-in-law helped us out with her credit card and a real decent guy in Lodi named Charles Gomes got us back on the road with a new pair of tires.

When we got back to our yurt on the Buddhist retreat land in Southern Oregon, I was saved from desperate grief by a miracle. Perhaps those who have never known the love of a truly kind mother cannot understand my grief. It was as if the sun had gone out. There was no sense to life at all. My son Joshua was devastated with guilt, being nine, and old enough to realize after the fact, that grandma had needed help, and he could have gone and gotten Mom, but he sent Maria, and Maria didn't understand at all that there was a problem, and neither did Josh, really. But everyone felt terrible, and Josh developed crying jags that would continue for an hour or more, when the grief and tears would flow uncontrollably. For truly, she had been like the sun for all of us, a source of love so dependable and true that it made the world bearable, and now she was gone, irretrievably gone. Things would happen, good or bad, and I'd want to call her, but I couldn't, 'cause I didn't have that number.

But we did get a miracle, and our lives were saved from utter destruction. The day we got back to Colestine Valley in Oregon, we saw that Rinpoche had begun a Great Work, the construction of a 22-foot high concrete-and-steel Buddha statue, to be built on a ten-foot concrete foundation. Rinpoche took me aside as we stood together, working on building the concrete forms for the foundation that we were constructing entirely without permits, zoning, or building code approvals. We were outlaw Buddhists, in every way. And as I stood next to my lama, he told me, "Don't do anything but work on this statue. Don't work for money or look for a job. Just do this, and dedicate the merit to the benefit of all living beings, with your mother as their representative." He turned to scan the work site, where about twenty hard-core hippies, ex-dope-dealers, scene-seasoned women, and deadheads were gaily doing the ultimate in New-Age construction work, working like beasts for free. Then he looked back at me and said, "These people don't know what this is all about. You do." He meant I knew that death is why we practice Buddhism.

I got the message and obeyed Rinpoche's command, for his words were commands to me. I always obeyed him. When he told me to stop fighting with Tara, I did. When he told me not to fall in love with other women, I stopped doing it. We had no money for three months, and lived solely on food stamps and on tiny donations from the dozens of people Tara was feeding. Rinpoche drove everyone mercilessly. The entire statue was built with hundreds of yards of concrete mixed and poured in small batches onsite, because no concrete mixer truck would cross the bridges between the statue site and Colestine Road. We ran wheelbarrows of wet cement up a twenty-five foot ramp at a 30-degree angle, using two-guy teams. We drank an endless supply of beer, ten or twelve cans a day, and barely felt it, we were working so hard. People fell in love that summer, some people ended up getting divorced. People came into the Sangha who have never left. We had genius-level people mixing concrete. We had abundant profanity and crude jokes. Much like the Blues Brothers, we were free to do anything to advance the project. We were on a mission from God. It was a hell of a scene.

During that summer, Rinpoche also wanted to teach us Dream Yoga, so we could practice meditation during our sleep, a time during which, as Rinpoche noted, we couldn't claim to be otherwise occupied with things like work or school. As part of the dream yoga teaching, Rinpoche taught us how to deconstruct the solid world of appearances, that he said was just a curiously-solid dream.

Rinpoche also taught us about how to disassociate names from their objects of reference. He taught us that "cup" is a word, and what it refers to is a piece of ceramic molded into a liquid-holding device that will someday break and not even be a cup anymore, but will become something called "trash."

Most importantly, Rinpoche taught us that our names were distinct from ourselves. To help us play with this concept, for one week we were assigned a practice called "transcending praise and blame." He told us that for one week, we should practice saying nasty, abusive things to each other. Being a gang of untamed post-hippie, proto-yogis with rock and roll craziness as our foundation, we took to faux-hostility like pigs to mud.

So on any given day, for at least a week, walking around the job site, people would come up and abuse you. Driving down Colestine Road, old Mitchell Frangadakis, the ex-grade school teacher, would pull over with Pat Hansen, the ex-Marine semi-hooligan, and we'd lay into each other with streams of invective, smiles showing all around. Then we'd drive off abruptly, apparently in a rage. It was hilarious, but I don't think we made much progress in dropping our self-regard. Maybe for Tibetans, the faux-abuse would have meant something, but hippies were used to behaving crazily, so it was basically just a hoot. Years later, I think we're all still attached to our names. In all candor, I had no real idea what the practice was all about until June, 2012.

The summer wound to a close, and I had to go back for my senior year at Southern Oregon State College. I was trying to decide what to do for graduate school after I got my B.A. in English. I knew I didn't want to be powerless and resigned, like all my friends who were English professors.

Shortly after Mom drowned, when she was in the hospital on the ventilator, I was watching a Sunday morning political show with the usual suits talking politics. I thought, "I could do that." Later, in the grocery store, I asked Tara if she thought I should be a lawyer. She said definitely, yes.

Three months later, I was standing with Rinpoche at the statue site. We were spreading concrete, I believe, and I said to Rinpoche, "I'm thinking of going to law school."

He said, "Do it."

I said, "It's kind of weird karma."

He said, "I think it's great karma."

So the matter was settled.

My grief became manageable as the joy of working on the statue of Vajrasattva, as the androgynous-faced Tibetan Buddha, draped in jewels and silks, became a huge reality -- changing figure before our eyes, and the knowledge that I was doing an act that could help my mother and all living beings soothed my pain. I became very, very poor, so poor I had no money for shoes. I had to go barefoot, like an Appalachian child, and I had children of my own. It was humiliating, and the first thing I bought when I got my student loan money was a pair of Chinese plastic track shoes so cheap the soles weren't even made of real foam, and clicked when I walked on the hard floors of the English department. But I made it back to the English department, and I got my degree, and I took the LSAT, and I got into UCLA, and I passed the bar, and I got a job at the world's fourth largest firm.

After I had been working a couple of years, my Dad came to visit, and we were walking to a Mexican restaurant for lunch, and as we stood on a street corner waiting for the light to change, Dad looked up and around, taking stock. We were both dressed in grey suits, because dad always wore a suit if he was in a business environment, and of course I wore a suit to my first job.

He looked up at the skyscrapers and then he looked at me and said, "Son, you've done it, you've really done it. If only your mother could be here now to see you." He paused and continued. "She told me, not long before she died, 'You know, Jimmy, I think that Charles is really going to do something.'" With that, I knew Dad had forgiven me for Mom's death, and he also put a burden on me. Because aside from getting a steady salary and paying student loans, I didn't think I'd accomplished enough to call it "really doing something." Mom had talked to my Dad, after all, who had high standards for such things. Mothers love us regardless of what we do. Fathers teach us to achieve goals. Between the two, we can learn the lessons that make us decent people. So we must ever protect their memory and their names.



My dad's name was Conrado Santiago Carreon, "Jimmy" to most everyone. He had a ready smile, a courteous manner, and an intrepid way of engaging any other human being in conversation in virtually any situation. Dad had been orphaned by the flu epidemic, twice, in fact, losing first his natural parents, then his foster parents in Arizona. He grew up in L.A., on his own from age 12 on. He became a boxer fighting professionally during his teens, and nearly died of tuberculosis before the age of 25, a victim of drastic weight loss regimens he adopted to "make weight" and fight in multiple weight classes. His first wife divorced him and took his son while he was trying to survive TB. That son, "little Jimmy," as we knew him, met hard times early with a mother who was not like my mom. Little Jimmy was in and out of the military, out on the streets and into street life, which in El Monte, California, gets pretty heavy pretty quick. Jimmy eventually moved to Arizona with his wife Honey and their four daughters, who were totally fun cousins to barbecue and have a beer with, and for a while there we had some good times. But, it didn't last long. Jimmy's health caved in and he died in a rest home. A second son, Andy, was killed at the age of four in a car accident.

When he married my mom, dad joined the large Ainsa extended family, and things seemed to smooth out. His dynamism was well-received by my mom's family, especially during the depression and war years. Dad had a way of raising money, including running the occasional poker game. He truck farmed and got deals from other produce guys. He got into politics, and was elected to the Arizona State House of Representatives six times.

Then he went to Washington, D.C., and worked for the Department of Labor for 18 years. My mom stayed in Arizona, working as a legal secretary for the State. I went to military school in Virginia, and stayed with dad in D.C. on holidays. He was a frugal man, who sent my mom most of his salary, living very modestly in studio or one-bedroom apartments, always overstuffed with books bought in the city's many remainder shops.

Eventually, he got moved back to Phoenix for a few years, then he had to go to San Francisco due to office cutbacks. So he and my mom spent a lot of time apart. He had an unshakeable belief in the value of hard work, and worked himself hard his whole life.

My mother's death happened just after he had moved them into a new house. Mom had retired from her job less than a year before. They had prepared well financially for retirement, so he was actually having a pretty good time. Mom was a little at loose ends after being a legal secretary for many years, but her health seemed fine, and she had quickly taken advantage of her freedom to start spending time with her three grandchildren -- pure joy for her. To have it all end in an instant was a terrible blow to dad. He and I had only recently reclaimed our relationship after years of silence due to his alienation from my failure to pursue a college degree, early marriage, and disappearance to Oregon with my wife and newborn child.

Mom's death set us apart for many months, but when I told him I'd gotten into UCLA Law School, he helped us to move to L.A. and pay rent for many months. Dad was very fatalistic about my chances of sticking with law school. I suppose he'd never seen me stick with anything before, so why would I stick with something as difficult as law school? He really kept a lid on his scepticism though, because he never made a single statement expressing doubts about my resolve. Years later I realized that he had really thought that every challenge I was facing would be the one to defeat me. He kept expressing surprise at each additional success -- straight A's in my second semester of first year, a summer clerkship at the hot firm with the best salaries and parties, and finally a top-paying job at a world-class firm waiting as soon as I got my J.D. He never thought I had it in me. So of course, our relationship just got better and better as I became more and more of a professional.

I knew dad was lonely, and felt like I should move back to Phoenix when I got my first job after graduation. I flew out to interview and got several job offers. I stayed with him in the house where he had devoted a room to a display of mom's clothes, hung all over the room. The room ached with sadness. During my visit, he made it clear that he wasn't assuming I was moving back to Phoenix, and that I should work in L.A. if that was best for my career. He also made it clear that he would think better of me if I did not do insurance defense work, that he described as "hard on the soul." Fortunately, it was easy to follow that advice, thanks to getting top grades at a top school.

Dad kept an upbeat tone and a quick step as he aged. When we all moved back to Oregon in 1993, he came and visited for months, sleeping on my couch, while the life of a family with three kids and a lot of visitors boiled around him. Tara was working all week as a legal secretary at the now-defunct Democratic liberal Heller Ehrman firm in Palo Alto to earn some real money, while I studied for the Bar. She commuted back to Ashland on weekends, but the Bar happened during the week, so dad watched the kids while I went up north to take the Oregon Bar exam. The kids took advantage, and he got an eyeful. His stories about their carryings-on with other second-generation hippies were quite believable.

That was the last good time I spent with him, but over the years he had spent many of my first lawyer experiences right with me. He stayed in a Pasadena hotel with me when I took the Bar in 1986. He flew to San Diego to hear my closing in my first jury trial. I lost, and he was incredulous. My argument had sold him! He regained a measure of good cheer around our children, clearly his favorite people in the universe. I liked being with him. He was such a good man.

I think when it got dark, the sadness would get to him. At night, all alone, he could only think of her, the one who had departed, never to be seen again. He had always loved Edgar Allan Poe -- I even memorized much of The Raven to please him when I was around ten or eleven. Now he would quote the poem's lines, "seeking surcease from sorrow, sorrow for the lost Lenore ... gone, forevermore." His head would hang heavily then, and his arms go slack, his eyes would sadden and the corners of his mouth would fall. His loss was entire. Truly the world was of no use to him anymore. He merely kept going from sheer endurance, thanks to the stripped-down fitness regimen he maintained until even after he started showing substantial signs of Alzheimers in his late eighties. At that point, mercifully, he appeared to forget his grief. Unfortunately, he also lost all track of some people's true identities. He did not recognize me as "Charles," when I sat before him and reminded him, or rather, tried to remind him, of who I was. He could recognize Tara, but when she pointed at me and said, "This is Charles right here," he would say, looking at a photograph of me, "Charles is away, doing very important work." I was glad that he felt well about me, but I was puzzled, frustrated that, in essence, I was unable to visit with my Dad.

During the last two years of his life, I only came to see Dad a half-dozen times, for short visits of a few hours. I was a busy dad running my own business, with a lot of bills to pay, but now I really regret having shown him so little respect during those last two years. He didn't "know me," but I could see he knew I was "somebody," and that should have been enough for me. I should have made more of an effort to spend time being somebody with him.

I had an intimation I would fail in this way when I was living in Santa Monica. We lived five blocks from the Pacific Ocean in a beautiful house filled with light from ample windows, surrounded by green lawns and big trees. You could hear the ocean from that house during the quiet hours of night and pre-dawn. Tara and I slept on futons close to the floor. It was amazingly peaceful there, for L.A., and I usually slept very well.

I woke up one night with my eyes drenched in tears, from a dream that was breaking my heart. I saw my father, dressed in outdoor clothes, standing in the middle of a sandy lot. It seemed like it was a ranch out in the desert. He was all alone, except for a little dog, a really sweet little dog, that was keeping him company. I realized he was all alone, and I woke up with the resolve to make more of an effort to see him, but I didn't follow up. I just kept on with the once or twice a year thing, and the years went by.

My dad gave me everything he could -- a love for education, and a lifetime's worth of great examples of what it means to be a decent human being. He was generous and always respected people who do physical work. He talked to cabbies, waiters, and bohemians as if they were diplomats, as it often seemed they were. I always remember asking my mom what I should be when I grew up. A doctor? An architect? She just frowned and shook her head lightly as if to say that it wasn't an issue of becoming any particular type of working man. Then she said, "Just be a good man. Just be a good man like your Papa. He's a good man." I only wish I had absorbed all Dad's lessons on being a good man earlier, and that I were better at putting them into effect. All of his advice was good, and my life would have been better if I'd started following it sooner.

But I must say that the tragedy that my dad suffered, I have insured against. He loved my mother deeply -- they had wonderful, exciting years together before I was born. My father ran a string of businesses from agriculture to industrial roofing contracting. With my mom and my brother, he lived and worked in Mexico City for a year. Then he owned a hotel in Puerto Punta Peñasco Sonora for another year. Then he did the legislative job for no money, or rather, $1,100 per year, which is about the same thing. When he hit his fifties, he felt he had to buckle down and pull in that retirement money. So he missed a lot of years he could have spent with Mom. For Dad, the years of sacrifice were the right thing to do. Or so he thought. But it really came to naught, because having a retirement fund without Mom to spend it with was just ashes in his mouth. Which is why I've worked for myself for the last eighteen years. Most of the time my beloved is in her office, and I'm in my office at the other end of the house, a pendulum swing away from my Dad's way of doing things. But in our hearts, I know we have the same approach to life. A sense of gratitude for talent and opportunity, the guts to do something different, an unbending will when dealing with bullies, loyalty to those who have reason to depend upon you, kindness toward those who cannot harm you, and vigilance towards those who can – that would be my father's creed, and mine, in a nutshell.

I honor my Dad with my life, trying to show the same courage, calmness, and kindly strength that he showed me again and again over many years. I never stop mourning the unique, terrible loss he suffered. One night, not long after I had a dream about my mother, I wrote a poem to describe his sadness.

Is It Thunder?

Somewhere between the gold and the black
I lost you --
You fell from my hand
Like a card from the deck,
And you're gone--
I can't retrieve
the things that we had,
I can't reclaim
the hours that have slipped away.
There is nothing left but an empty horizon and you.
Like the sun coming out from behind a cloud,
A dream that couldn't be true,
You were a vision in sunlight and lace.
Never was there another face
Like the one
That you wore.
But now that you're gone I sit alone and I wonder,
Is it the sound of the rain that I hear?
Is it thunder?
Come back again in my dreams if you can,
You're welcome if ever you choose
To join me there,
I don't have much company these days,
I stay in the same old place
And I sit alone and wonder --
Is it the sound of the rain that I hear?
Is it thunder?
(Dedicated to my mother, Eloise Carreon and the Choir of the Sacred Heart)


I never gave Dad the poem, or let him see it, because I can barely stand to read it myself. It hurts so much to read it, that I doubt I've read it more than a half-dozen times in the thirty years since I wrote it.

The dream that prompted me to write this poem came to me about a year or two after my mother died. In the dream, I was visiting her in a nice room where the sun was shining in through the window, and there were big green trees outside. Mom told me, "I'm in a choir. It's called the Choir of the Sacred Heart." She said, "I can't see, but I can help people." She sounded very happy, and I thought to myself, "Oh, this is wonderful. I am here with my mother, and I am fully aware of her presence." The light got brighter and brighter, and I understood that, like me, she couldn't see because of the light, but we were together there in the light. Then I woke up. I didn't feel like I'd wakened from a dream, but rather from a reality.

With that dream, I felt assured about my mother's current state. It put my heart at rest. She had more than once said that drowning seemed like the worst way to die. Perhaps because of this, I had suffered from the very painful, repeated, vivid imagining of how she might have suffered as she died, terrified and unable to help herself, with me unaware of her plight. After the dream, reliving the event that way came to an end.

My father apparently had no such reassuring experience, and became bitterly resigned during the last few years of his lucidity. He would go to church, go to Mass, but at heart he seemed to express his final judgment of the situation when he and I spoke one night outside an ice-cream shop in Phoenix. He had separated himself from my brother and his family, and Tara and our kids. He was standing, looking up at the sky out over the big parking lot, as if he might find some trace of Mom out there, in the absolute emptiness she had left behind. I came up and said something consoling about Mom. He said bitterly, not taking his eyes off the stars, "I will never see her again." This seemed so likely to be the truth, that I didn't argue with him about it then. I have no better arguments now. Somehow, however, I think that the peace and happiness he enjoyed with Mom during their good times together was not the end of all his happiness. Somehow I suspect that the essence of happiness is as indestructible as it is ungraspable. Like gold melted down and cast again into new coins, I believe that my father's bright and resilient spirit will take form again. And if not, then it's all the more important that his lessons live on in the way I live my life.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:25 am

by Charles Carreon
September 1, 2008

A hot chick I knew in the seventies had a bumpersticker that said, “Sorry my karma ran over your dogma.” Would that it were often so. Rather, it seems to be the reverse. Suffering the karma of having others inflict their dogma on the rest of us is far more common. Examples are not hard to find, from Iraq to Auschwitz, from Hernan Cortez to Mao Tse Dong, people with iron-hard beliefs have split skulls to make their points. Superstitious Christians have celebrated their faith on repeat occasions by killing their neighbors. Witch trials, tortures and executions arise from prayerful motives. Witch-killing is just a form of human sacrifice with a different justification.

Lucretius, the groundbreaking Roman materialist philosopher, evoked the spectre of ritual sacrifice when he explained his preference for reason over religion in the introduction to “On The Nature of the Universe,” evoking the image of Iphigenia, the royal princess sacrificed by her father Agamemnon to secure a favorable wind for the fleet sailing to lay siege to Troy:

It was her fate in the very hour of marriage to fall a sinless victim to a sinful rite, slaughtered to her greater grief by a father's hand, so that a fleet might sail under happy auspices. Such are the heights of wickedness to which men are driven by superstition.

Thinking back to the Judaic roots of Christianity, we remember the story of Abraham's readiness to sacrifice Isaac, his own son, until the god Yaweh stayed his killing hand, and the policy of human sacrifice was ended by heavenly decree. In lieu of killing his son, Abraham killed a fat bullock. Looking farther back, to the Judaic creation story, we remember that Cain, the jealous vegetarian, killed his brother Abel, the devout shepherd, because Yaweh spurned Cain's offerings of grilled vegetables, and approved Abel's more traditional barbecue offerings. As a result, Cain was “marked” in some way left unclear and open to misinterpretation by future generations of believers. The lesson in both stories, however, is that people should kill animals, but should not kill people.

For a welcome contrast in beliefs, let us examine those of the Hindus descending from the Vedic tribes. Their highest priestly caste consist of Brahmins, who must be pure vegetarians. They perform no type of blood sacrifice whatsoever. Indeed, they would sin grievously by killing a bovine of any sort, or by eating any creature, from snails to water buffalo. that moves of its own volition. This discipline has lead to a noticeably thinner physique among many Indian people, to the point where stick-thin limbs are visible everywhere among the young and aged. It is a great relief to see people with ordinary-sized arms and legs in India, but you may have to go the Island of Goa, where fish-eating is permitted among the Catholic natives, who benefited at least in this way from Portuguese colonization. But your average Indian would not start eating fish to improve their physique. The virtue of not eating killed animals would easily offset the observed deficit of lower protein intake.

Many other differences could be noted between Hindu believers and Christians. Brahmins are total abstainers from alcohol, nor will they smoke cannabis, but greatly relish imbibing a milk-sugar-cannabis drink called bhang, which is said to greatly enhance their devotional and musical practices. While Christians sometimes rhapsodize about being swept up into the ecstasy of “the Spirit,” and Pentecostals are given to shaking, trembling, falling into fits and uttering streams of nonsense syllables like their personal, divine dialect, referred to as “speaking in tongues,” it is hard to take these ecstasies seriously, or at least as serious as they'd be if they had consumed a Brahmin-strength marijuana milkshake. One strongly suspects that much of the hoo-ha at the Baptist convention is a form of sublimated sex, as it is only in the depths of prayer-arousal, as we might describe it, that these highly-restricted personalities are allowed to shake their belt buckles.

For Western evidence that strong oral doses of cannabis open a door to an entirely other world, we need look no farther that the works of Baudelaire, who divided hashish intoxication into three successive phases of hilarity, synaesthesia, and serenity. At the last, “There is a sense that one has transcended matter. In this state, one final supreme thought breaks into consciousness - "I have become God.” Well might this experience aid in the establishment of the Brahminical faith, that is based on the recognition of this principle, also called “self-realization,” and may even account for the eschewance of meat from their diet. However beneficial a believe in such a path to divinity may be, mob-maddened Hindus are quite capable of ignoring the injunction against killing, and have regularly exterminated hordes of Allah-worshippers found on the wrong side of the Indian “border,” notwithstanding that the Hindu gods are gods of all the earth, and the parents of all human beings.

Coming back to the subject of dogmas that promote murder as an act of faith, we cannot help but arrive at the current predicament of the United States of America, where the hypocritical mouthing of pious “Christian” sentiment is required from every would-be national politician. The sight of yet another politician pledging him or herself to Christian ideals is repugnant to any person who wants an honest representative to send to Congress or the White House, because it is obvious that those who burnish their religious credentials to ascend to public office are merely simulating spiritual belief to gain material benefit. They should not be trusted to run anything with greater ethical requirements than a whorehouse, which is just how they run Washington, and what the people should expect, were they not so naive.

We might end our condemnation here, but for the staggering losses in human life and $400 Billion dollars in six years. But for the fact that our soldiers continue killing people in their own country, who never asked for our “help,” and were attacked only after our leaders concocted a packet of lies about their leader, who was lynched in a disgusting spectacle in which only he retained dignity. Our young people are being trained to confine as criminals people whose primary crime has been defending their own country from an invasion. In Afghanistan and Iraq, our young people are hard at work propping up regimes that have no popular support under the guise of crusading for “democracy in the Middle East.”

America's global orgy of violence, ostensibly justified by the Fall of the Three Towers and the discovery that “they hate our freedoms,” was fanned into white heat by the bellicose sentiments blaring from Christian churches and right-wing radio, blasting the nation's middle and lower-class whole-hog into the business of war with a sense of righteous mission. Being a soldier had lost all its cachet due to the Vietnam debacle, but after the Fall of the Three Towers, young people had a reason to go to war at last again, to enjoy the approval of girls and men, to escape a jobless future in boring peacetime, and enter a career fighting terrorism, a career promoted by preachers, politicians, and the captains of industry as the future of America.

What is the dogma behind all this muscular assertion of American dominance? You know already. After all the noble speeches about democracy, and all the analysis about economics and strategy and world oil consumption, the average dogma-driven American believes what he or she has seen a thousand times on film – the killer wins. The human brain is trained to believe what it sees acted out in front of its eyes, and cinematic fiction is a recent development for which we are neurologically unprepared. Hollywood, the gunmakers, and the human nervous system have a threesome going that has made us fools for murder. When the great masterminds behind the Fall of the Three Towers got the networks to replay the image a hundred thousand times, each time they fell, it triggered a fear-revenge circuit in millions of human minds. Puppets of their own neurons, few were left in doubt. Pacifists hastened to rethink or discard their principles. The Dalai Lama stopped talking about world peace. The Pope accepted the Medal of Freedom, kind of like Jesus taking a medal from Rome. And the bombing began.

The great irony of it all, of course, is that the Christian faith is founded on the Judaic “Ten Commandments,” ostensibly “carved in stone” by the hand of Yaweh himself, and brought down from the Mountain to guide the people forevermore. But if I ask a Christian how they feel about the Sixth Commandment, they are usually caught short. It is, after all, the Commandment that has been rendered null and void, so you could hardly blame them. The preachers go on and on about the First Commandment, “Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.” That one fills their collection baskets all year 'round. But they never recite the stern injunction of the Sixth Commandment, the one that made explicit what everyone had known since Yaweh scoffed at Cain's alibi, “I'm not my brother's keeper,” and turned him into a marked man. You will never see a preacher, Pentecostal or otherwise, dancing around in ecstasy on one foot in a black robe, black book raised high above his head, screaming, “God damn the killers! God damn them all to hell for they have slain his children!” No you'll never hear them saying to their flock, “Oh my brothers and sisters I beg you not to kill, or find excuses to kill, or to send your children to kill, or to send money to Washington to pay for your killing.” No, you'll never hear that, will you? But you never asked yourself why, did you? That's the power of dogma.

We can distinguish beliefs from dogma, because beliefs are chosen as a conscious decision to follow a moral path enunciated by a spiritual teacher. A dogma triggers a conditioned response on the emotional plane. Beliefs and dogma are jumbled together in the doctrine, but move adherents in different directions, just as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde wear the same clothes and live in the same house, but pursue entirely opposite goals – healing versus murder. Beliefs are like Dr. Jekyll, intelligent, kind, and decent, like the commandments that tell us not to kill, steal, lie, or have sex with the wrong people, or the generous, altruistic beliefs in the Sermon on the Mount, which seem quite impractical, but not ethically dangerous.

Dogma, on the other hand, is like Mr. Hyde, an agent of dark forces dressed in the clothes of a decent man. Some of the Commandments are fine, but others are dangerous Commandments with vague application that become the vehicle for psychically hijacking believers. Like that First Commandement -- Thou shalt have no other gods before me. What on earth does that mean? That Yaweh's people should kill unbelievers? That Constantinople must be liberated from the Jews? That Yaweh's people must own Jerusalem, or the Golan Heights? Or that goodhearted Americans can't stand still while an evil Saddam Hussein holds an entire nation in thrall to his depraved, Caligulesque appetites? Yes, yes, yes, yes. It has meant all those things and more. Just like the legend of Cain's “mark” has been interpreted to mean that his descendants were marked by the color of their skin, which means that Cain's children are the Africans, disfavored of God, who should be enslaved and domesticated for their own good. But kept from enjoying the fruits of their labor, and prevented from enjoying sexual relations with white people, which would lead to the pollution of the white race.

So it was that the preacher's daughter might attend the lynching of innocent black men, the zealous village priest might officiate over the murder of poor women guilty of poverty and age, and in today's world, the decent young Christian soldier might end up gunning down civilians in Iraq. I do not discuss the murder-suicides of the Arab world at length, because there is enough shame on my side of the planet to occupy me, but all of these human tragedies are cast from the same mold, and if Islamic hypocrites and Christian hypocrites bother to think about the issue, they know they are indispensable to each other.

Like dragon's teeth that give birth to new worms to predate upon humanity, so cruel dogmas sprout and take root in the mass consciousness of our time. The murderous dogma of our age is not religious, nor is it unique to any belief system. It is a destructive feedback cycle of fear and revenge that has been initiated by visually dramatizing the purifying power of murder to solve problems. From Harrison Ford to Mel Gibson to Arnold Schwarzenegger and the next generation of action heroes, the problems of life are solved by killing, and sexual conquests will follow as easily as James Bond's, once you have a license to kill. The military lifestyle is the lifestyle that is bathed in the purifying blood of human sacrifice, the only offering acceptable to – to – uh, wait a minute, what god were we worshipping?

Copyright 2008, Charles Carreon, Prime Publications, September 1, 2008
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by Charles Carreon
November 17, 2005

Trungpa XI

Trungpa XI and Regent Osel Tendzin

The Twelfth Trungpa

Trungpa XI, The First American Lama

Chogyam Trungpa, the 11th Tulku of the Trungpa line, was the most influential Buddhist teacher in the United States for over twenty years, and long after his death in 1987. During his lifetime, he commanded a loyal cadre of students with top social and money connections who insulated him against criminal and ethical charges with a skill that Michael Jackson might envy, and gave negative events a positive spin that would put Karl Rove to shame. He lectured endlessly, if often drunkenly, and his wordsmith-students crafted these lectures into books that were revered as spiritual classics: “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism,” and “The Myth of Freedom.” After Trungpa’s death, these students promised to put out 108 volumes of his teachings, to be called “The Dharma Ocean Series,” but the series pooped out after a half-dozen titles failed to sell well, and I picked up most of them at markdown prices at a remaindering outlet in Salem, Oregon. That seems emblematic of Trungpa’s stock in the spiritual marketplace, which as this article shows, is now so devalued by his own heirs that they have deliberately severed most of the obvious associations with his tradition, and effectively exiled the person who is supposedly the current incarnation of the great guru to a lonely hamlet in Tibet.

The teacher of Alan Ginsberg and other leading literary lights, such as Sam Bercholz, founder of Shambhala Publishing, the spiritual publishing powerhouse, Trungpa XI entered a spiritual America where teachers were virtually all Hindu swamis, and ate their lunch. Today, Tibetan Buddhism is the only way to fly for the showbiz and literary elements, and while a few Zen outfits still try to sell the bald look, and Vipashyana does steady business with librarians and other quiet types, the Dalai Lama is the 800 pound gorilla. Tellingly, in The Guru, Marisa Tomei pouts in the bathroom that her cheap society mom isn’t willing to spring for “a real Tibetan Rinpoche” to provide the spiritual entertainment for her New Age birthday party.


Trungpa’s biography, Born In Tibet, put him on the map as the escaped scion of Tibetan spiritual aristocrats. He moved to England, and obviously not short on cash, got into Oxford, where he behaved like the local lords, and wrecked his car while crocked by piling it into a joke shop. He married an Englishwoman with a title named Diana who now goes by the name Lady Diana Mukpo, who brought him two sons from a prior marriage — a couple of foul-mouthed kids named Gesar and Ashoka who have been recognized as Rinpoches even though they have not a lick of religious training. But those kids have only tarnished Trungpa XI's legacy. His eldest son, originally named Osel, then named Mipham, then “the Sakyong,” has entirely usurped his father's throne, and placed the ancient Trungpa Lineage under his own authority. The purpose of this article is to explain how this happened, citing legal and ecclesiastical documents as evidence, and to point the finger of accusation at those who have made a mockery of their own traditions in the pursuit of wealth and spiritual authority.

Trungpa XI was the focus of controversy at his first western center, Samye Ling in Scotland, and the more-traditional Akon Tulku usurped his authority in a typical Tibetan ecclesiastical coup, even stealing Trungpa’s official seals, and prompting the iconoclastic young lama to decamp for the United States in the early seventies. He landed on his feat on the East Coast of the nation, founding the Tail of the Tiger (Karme Choling) retreat center in Vermont, and soon the stories began.

This was no robe-wearing, wise old man with an inscrutable look that could be an ad for herbal tea. He was a rock and roll lama who quickly figured out that the smartest people in the United States were a bunch of acid-taking, birth-control users with degrees in literature and political science and religious history, who were just beginning to realize that worshiping a fat fourteen-year old Indian kid wasn’t very cool, and yoga was for housewives who didn’t want to do Jane Fonda. He saw Warhol, heard Lou Reed, wrote poetry with Ginsberg, conquered Richard Alpert aka Ram Dass, and got jerked and sucked off like Jimi Hendrix, but probably was less fun for his groupies — there’s a big difference in size between Tibetans and Africans.

Trungpa was a Buddhist impresario who made kingly treatment of Tibetan Lamas the standard, teaching his students to prostrate themselves body and mind, getting junkies, poets, real estate executives and ingénues to roll out the red carpet for the Sixteenth Karmapa and his entourage. He brought to these puritanical shores the powerful blend of regal pomp, supernatural power, and tantric transformation that is Tibetan Buddhism. Everyone today knows that the Dalai Lama does a “Kalachakra Tantra” ceremony all over the world, ostensibly for “world peace,” but it takes a Buddhist old-timer to remember when the Karmapa performed the “Black Hat Ceremony” that celebrates the assassination of the last anti-Buddhist Tibetan king by a yogi. The first ceremonies were undoubtedly done in high school auditoriums, public halls, and buildings renovated by fervent devotees, but by the end of his life, Trungpa saw his countrymen selling out stadiums like spiritual rock stars. He built the road that the Dalai Lama now walks on.





Trungpa XI, Holder of the Karma Kagyu Lineage

Lineage was Trungpa XI’s strong suit – he had ten lifetimes of his own behind him, and the illustrious lineage of Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa to back that up. This lineage was his inevitable starting point, and with a small bow to his Nyingma teachers, he remained Kagyu through and through to the end of his days. This was clear from the beginning, when he appended to Born In Tibet a bureaucratic document entitled “The Administration of the Ka-Gyu Monasteries of East Tibet.” (Reproduced below at the end of this article.)

In 1976, Trungpa XI put out a large-format book entitled “Garuda IV, The Foundations of Mindfulness,” with a pumpkin-colored soft cover bearing the red Vajradhatu seal of the Garuda holding a shield emblazoned with the knot of eternity. The first work in the book was Trungpa’s own “Supplication To The Gurus of the Lineage,” which begins:

“Great Vajradhara, Telo, Naro and Marpa,
Mila, the lord of the dharma Gampopa;
The knower of the three times,
The omniscient Karmapa;
The holders of the lineage of the four great and the eight lesser schools;
Dri, Tak, Tsel, these three, Sri Drugpa and so on;
And those who have completely achieved the profound path of mahamudra;
To those incomparable protectors of all beings the Dagpo Kagyu –
I supplicate you, the Kagyu Gurus,
I follow your tradition and example;
Please grant your blessing.”



Trungpa XI also published written confirmation of his enlightenment from the 16th Karmapa to teach, embellished with flourishes in red ink. The Karmapa’s words are adulatory, proving that he endorsed and embraced Trungpa XI as a highly honored wisdom-holder of the Karma Kagyu lineage who had turned the western lands into a field of bounty for the Dharma. Entitled a “Proclamation to All Those Who Dwell Under the Sun Upholding the Tradition of the Spiritual and Temporal Orders,” it avers that “The ancient and renowned lineages of the Trungpas … has in every generation given rise to great beings [and] has magnificently carried out the vajra-holder’s discipline in the land of America...”



The Burial of A Legacy

Nevertheless, today, Trungpa XI’s legacy has been buried by his own son and heir, “the Sakyong,” who operates not under his father’s Karma Kagyu tradition, but under a Nyingmapa title, and at the behest of Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche, the Kagyu-Nyingma crossover lama. He has also had wisdom and status bestowed on him by Pednor Rinpoche, who recognized Steven Seagal and Catherine Burroughs as reincaranated lamas. The organization that bore Trungpa’s name, Vajradhatu, has been replaced by the Shambhala organization, which is run by the Sakyong, and presumably has all the assets of Vajradhatu, since it has all of its students and ritual possessions. The official story of how this came to be is short, and omits all mention of the manner in which the expected succession of the Trungpa lineage was interrupted and altered in its natural course by the conscious intervention of those who stood to profit from decapitating the lineage and exiling its current leader to the frozen wastes of Tibet.

Here’s the expurgated version, from the Shambhala website:

Several years later, the Vajra Regent passed away as well. During the period following these deaths, the community and its leadership turned to one of Chögyam Trungpa's most revered and only living teachers, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, then supreme head of the Nyingma lineage. In 1990, at the urging of Khyentse Rinpoche, Trungpa Rinpoche's eldest son, the Sakyong Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo (now known as Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, as indicated below) returned from a period of practice and study with Dilgo Khyentse in Nepal to lead the community and direct the work his father, Chögyam Trungpa, had begun.

Rarely has impatience to do good work reaped such a reward, and rarely has lama clairvoyance so clearly failed to achieve an important goal. For there was no need to have the Sakyong take the reins in 1990. The 12th Trungpa tulku had been born in 1989, but no lama knew it until 1991, when Tai Situ Rinpoche discovered the new incarnation. Tai Situ is very good at discovering reborn tulkus, although his choice of a Karmapa did not receive universal acclaim, resulting in violent altercations, even murder. But there was no dispute over his convenient discovery of the 12th Trungpa tulku in the backwoods of Derge. Thus, had the Sakyong but waited a year, the 12th Trungpa Rinpoche would have been both born and discovered, and the crisis averted. Even if the Sakyong had felt it incumbent upon him to assume the reins of leadership, still a due respect for his father’s lineage as a high Karma Kagyu tulku should have caused him to limit himself to perform a regent role until the Twelfth Trungpa Tulku could take the throne.

The Best Laid Plans of Tulkus and Men

When Trungpa XI died in Vermont in April 1987, everyone expected the Regent to hold his position until what was expected to be a relatively swift rebirth and reassumption of the Trungpa throne. During the interregnum between the death of Trungpa XI and the birth of Trungpa XII, the “Regent” would hold power and occupy the position of head of Vajradhatu. Trungpa chose his regent badly – a bisexual first known as “Narayana” upon whom he bestowed the nom-de-buddha of “Osel Tendzin.” That Trungpa XI was infatuated with Tendzin is clear, and it may have blinded his judgment, because a review of Trungpa’s poems dedicated to the Regent suggests that by a naïve admiration of the Regent’s rapacity, he stoked the flames of a dangerous madness that destroyed all of their plans. Certainly there were plans.

In his second book of poetry, First Thought, Best Thought, Trungpa XI dedicated many poems to Tendzin, many overtly sexual and encouraging a cowboy style of governing the sangha. In the Epilogue to a republication of “Born In Tibet” in 1978, Trunpga XI included photographs of himself and the Regent suitable for worship, and laid out his thinking: “My approach to administration and the community in general has been to give more and more responsibility to people but to hold the nerve centre in my control, and I am teaching Osel Tendzin to do likewise.”

In 1977, Trungpa XI published Garuda V, Transcending Hesitation, in the same format as Garuda IV, quoted above. Again this publication was the vehicle for announcing important ecclesiastical news. On page 101 of the book appears the following “PROCLAMATION” concerning the elevation of Osel Tendzin:

“BY the power and with the blessings of the three jewels, the glorious and authentic root gurus of the Practicing lineage of Kagyu and the Ancient Lineage of Nyingma, the herukas and dakinis, Dharmapalas and lokapalas, I hereby empower and declare Karma Cho-kyi Dawa Legpai Lodro Osel Tendzin Chogle Namgyel, Thomas F. Rich, as DORJE GYALTSAP, VAJRA REGENT to act on my behalf in propagating buddhadharma and the vision of the three yanas throughout the world, and to implement, as a Director of the First Class, the purpose and intentions of Vajradhatu as well as those of the Nalanda Foundation. Proclaimed and sealed at the seat of Vajradhatu in Boulder, Colorado, in America by Vajracarya the Venerable Karma Ngawang Cho-kyi Gyamtso Kunga Sangpo, Trungpa Tulku XI, this 250th year of the Parinirvana, on the 27th day of the Fire Dragon Year of the 16th Rapjung, August 22, 1976. [signed] Trungpa XI [Trungpa Seal]”



The importance of this document cannot be overemphasized, as it makes absolutely clear that Trungpa XI had decided not to establish a hereditary lineage of succession, which has become so common with other lineages, and flies in the face of the ancient traditions of the Kagyu lineage as a pure meritocracy, based on “practice,” which is to say, achievement. However we may judge in retrospect, this proclamation was Trungpa XI's resounding endorsement of a native-born American citizen, unrelated to him by blood or even nationality, and it was understood as such by the Vajradhatu fathful and the spiritual community at large.

This proclamation was written to serve as an authoritative corporate document. It recites the legal name of the Gyaltsap, Thomas F. Rich, and pointedly names him as the only person authorized to hold Trungpa XI's position as the Director of the First Class in the Vajradhatu corporation. There is no mention of Shambhala International, or of the Sakyong. This document was Trungpa XI's spiritual will, and if there were any doubt of that, the inscription added by H.H. the Sixteenth Karmapa would eliminate it. Appended to the top of the document, with the Karmapa's seal, is the following text: “As set forth below, the supreme Vidyadhara Trungpa Trulku Chogyi Gyatso has appointed his chief disciple, Osel Tendzin, as his Gyaltsap. This I fully acknowledge & rejoice in. Accordingly, let everyone offer to him due respect. Written by the glorious Karmapa, the 8th day of the 12th month of the Fire Dragon Year.” The “Gyaltsap,” according to the Appendix to Born In Tibet, is simply “The Regent Abbot,” second only to the “Trindzin,” who is “The Supreme Abbot.” If Trungpa XI had intended any changes to this document, for example, appointing a new successor, he would have made it absolutely clear, and published the identity of his new Gyaltsap, with equal solemnity and public exposure. No such document exists.

The Regent Flames Out

In the poem entitled You Might Be Tired of the Seat That You Deserve (For the Vajra Regent at Midsummer's Day), Trungpa XI counseled the new Gyaltsap on the right way to do his job:

Dearly loved comrade,
If you do not hold the seat,
Others may take it away;
If you do not sit on a rock,
It becomes mushy clay;
If you don't have patience to sit on a rock or seat,
They give you away;
If you are not diligent in holding the throne,
Some opportunist will snatch it away;
If you are tired of your seat,
Some interior decorator will rearrange it;
If you don't have a throne,
You cannot speak or proclaim from it,
So the audience will dissipate;
If you don't have a government seat to sit on,
Your wisdom and command seal will be snatched by others;
If you run around, thinking that you have a seat to come back to,
It will be washed away by the turbulent river,
Like a presidential platform;
You can never proclaim your command.
Either it will be disassembled by the cockroaches
Or the frivolous multitude will take it away as souvenirs.
It may be hard to sit on the seat,
But one must endure it.
Do sit on your seat,
Whether it is hard or soft.
Once you sit on your seat,
The sitting itself becomes truly command and message,
Then, undoubtedly, multitudes of people will respect and obey it
As the vajra throne of Bodhgaya where Buddha taught.
Truth becomes exertion.
The message of hard fact proclaims itself,
So you don't have to emphasize harder truth.
Offering your seat in order to please others will not give authentic
They will take the attitude that you are a pleasant seat-offerer.
So, my son, please don't move around;
Assume your seat, and sit, and be.
If you be that way, truth prevails;
Command is heard throughout the land.
So sit and hold your seat.
Then you will enjoy, because others will admire you.
This is hard to do, but easy to accomplish.

Had the Regent performed his job properly, keeping his own nerve centres under control, he would have lived until the 12th Trungpa tulku had been born, identified, and enthroned as the new lineage-holder. But the Regent failed in his mission, dying of AIDS in 1990, leaving his highly literate crew of disciples unusually silent concerning his habit of engaging in unprotected sex with a wide circle of people. The Regent apparently suffered from a bad case of Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome (TIDS), that caused him to believe his toxic emissions would bless his students, not kill them.

Two of the Regent’s blessing-recipients died relatively quickly, a young man who was Tendzin’s lover, and his girlfriend, who didn’t realize that dating a Buddhist could be lethal. Call it the collateral damage from the quest for enlightenment – or one more casualty of Colorado’s notoriously slack prosecution in high-profile homicides. The Regent never saw the inside of a courtroom, despite having committed, before the eyes of witnesses, multiple toxic assaults on the bodies of people who loved and trusted him. But it’s all water under the bridge of innumerable lifetimes, right?

An Enforced Forgetting

Trungpa XI could not escape blame for the debacle, because he was renowned for his own philandering, which in posthumous revelations by female students who had serviced him during his lifetime, were revealed to be no more than desultory servicing of his genitals that left the women with little in the way of amorous memories. Trungpa XI was often quoted as saying that the Tibetan Tantric path is not a safe one – that you could “turn into a diamond” if you did it right, or be reduced to “a lump of charcoal” if you did it wrong. With Trungpa XI gone and the Regent having consummated a sexual suicide pact with his closest disciples, the students were left to figure out what was a diamond and what was a charcoal briquette.

The organization, stuffed with intelligent authors who could have discussed the debacle productively, did not rise to the occasion. The Vajradhatu Sun, the house organ of Vajradhatu, boycotted all news of the scandal, resulting in one issue that featured a broken heart on the front page, with no words to accompany it. This was the only protest allowed when the editors killed what would have been a confessional exposé of great importance. The true nature of the rifts that developed in the organization, leading to its current configuration, would be the subject of an interesting book, if anyone had the guts to write it. But with Shambhala the dominant force in Buddhist book publishing, prospective exposé-writers had better plan on publishing their own editions, and forget having any other literary career. June Campbell, for one example, was punished mightily by other Tibetan Buddhists for exposing her lifelong secret affair with Kalu Rinpoche, who like the Dalai Lama, was thought to be completely celibate. Steven Bachelor, for a second example, has been widely criticized for retreating from wholesale endorsement of lamaism.



Vajradhatu Becomes Shambhala

“Vajradhatu” was originally incorporated in Colorado in 1973, as the consolidated entity resulting from the union of Karma Dzong (a Colorado corporation) and Tail of the Tiger (a Vermont corporation). The original Articles of Incorporation for Karma Dzong establish its purposes as “teaching meditation, Tibetan Religious Traditions, Educational handicrafts, and the practice of charity.” Vajradhatu’s revised Articles, filed on February 22, 1973, and signed by Trungpa himself on page 25 of the attached records, state that “this corporation is not formed for pecuniary profit or financial gain, and no portion of its assets, income, or profits shall be distributed to or inure to the benefit of any member, director, or officer of the corporation or any other private individual ….” There are “two classes of Directors” under the Articles, and there’s only One Director in the first class of Directors – Chogyam Trungpa. The Articles don’t spell out what the differing powers of the two classes of directors are, probably because having one man who calls all the shots, officially, kind of conflicts with the notion that “no portion of the assets, income or profits shall … inure to the benefit of any … director … or … individual.” Theocrats have special needs, and lawyers are willing to devise special corporate structures to suit them. But a corporation with an all-important head Director is quite vulnerable to takeover while the head Director is dead. And that is just what happened in the case of Vajradhatu. While Trungpa was between life number eleven and life number twelve, the Sakyong stole his company.

Today, “Vajradhatu” is simply an assumed business name of Shambhala International, sometimes in legal documents written as “Shambhala International (Vajradhatu).” But it was not always so. Any old-timer will tell you that until year 2001, “Vajradhatu” simply meant “the Church” to the Trungpa-faithful, and it was a spiritual trademark of great value.

Shambhala ®

Lest you think I am taking irreverent liberties by referring to spiritual trademarks, please note that, sixteen months after Trungpa XI’s death, on August 9, 1999 the “Vajradhatu, DBA Shambhala International” applied for a U.S. Trademark on the words “Shambhala Meditation Centers,” in connection with providing the following goods and services: (1) “Buddhist religious practices,” (2) “meditation instruction,” (3) “a series of graduated seminars instructing participants in meditation practices and non-sectarian spiritual training,” and (4) seminars and workshops in field of contemplative arts, music, and theater. Trademark Number 75771345 was issued on June 19, 2001. The company has continued to obtain trademarks on four more Shambhala-related names, most recently obtaining U.S. Trademark Number 78297783 on November 30, 2004 on the term “Shambhala Art.” So sorry if you wanted to use that name for your new Tibetan handicrafts store – the corporate Tibetans got there first. But who are the corporate Tibetans, and why have they buried the Vajradhatu name?

Shambhala Eclipses Vajradhatu

There was never any sign that Trungpa XI intended to have Shambhala eclipse Vajradhatu, and in the early years Shambhala was clearly the secondary organization, putting a secular spin on Buddhism through concepts like “fundamental human dignity,” derived from Trungpa’s book, Shambhala – The Way of the Warrior. It was, in effect, Vajrayana-lite, and never intended to take the place of Vajradhatu. But times change, and when names change with them, you can be sure it’s for a reason.

On the Shambhala website, Vajradhatu is now defined in several amorphous ways, but never as an entity. It is most diaphanously described as a spiritual space: “Vajradhatu (Sanskrit for ”indestructible space“) provides a spiritual journey of training on the Buddhist path following a well-defined, graduated method of practice and study developed by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.” Alternatively, it is one of the “Three Gates of Shambhala”: “The Vajradhatu Gate offers a method of developing compassionate wisdom and skillful action through meditation practice and study in the 2,500-year-old Buddhist tradition.” This is clearly the tail wagging the dog, a classic reversal of roles – when Trungpa XI started teaching Shambhala, it was billed as the “secular” offshoot of Vajrayana Buddhism.

Vajrayana Becomes Co-Equal With Tea Ceremony

In the orthodox Shambhala view, Vajrayana Buddhism has been reduced to the status of a “gate” in the larger architecture of the Shambhala edifice. Further, you might ask what the other two gates are. Well, the first is Shambhala itself (a typical Tibetan overlapping of categories to make the numbers come out right), and the other is some silly invention called “Nalanda,” a mishmash of Japanese cultural activities like archery, flower-arranging and calligraphy that co-opt “zen aesthetics,” providing refuge for disciples who reject the eye-popping color combinations that make traditional Tibetan temples resemble the inside of a Turkish bus.

The Ouster of The Twelfth Trungpa

The deconstruction of Trungpa XI’s legacy might be funny if it weren’t the cover for a gigantic property grab by the Nyingmapas, and the ouster of the rightful heir to the Trungpa throne, at least if reincarnation means anything to you. The manner in which the takeover was achieved is easy to see if you observe seven basic facts that are documented in this essay. First, after Trungpa XI’s death and the Regent’s flameout, the Shambhala name supplanted the Vajradhatu name in official usage. Second, Chogyam Trungpa Mukpo remained on the books as Sole First Class Director, for four years after his death in April 1987. Third, on February 22, 2000, “Restated Articles” of incorporation were signed for Vajradhatu, which: (1) changed the company name to Shambhala International, (2) removed Chogyam Trungpa Mukpo from the official record as the sole Director of the First Class, (3) adopted sweeping liability protections for all directors, and (4) failed to identify the new Sole Director of the First Class. Fourth, the Restated Articles were not filed with the Colorado Secretary of State for twelve months after being signed, having cooled in the hands of a Boulder lawyer for the intervening time period. Fifth, the true identity of the Twelfth Trungpa tulku was known to all when the Restated Articles were signed. Sixth, there is no public record of who is now the Sole Director of the First Class under the new regime. Seventh, it may be presumed that the Sakyong is the Sole First Class Director of Shambhala International.

The Paper Coup

After Trungpa XI’s death, he remained on the corporate records as the Sole Director of the First Class until February 22, 2000, when Boulder lawyer and longtime Vice President of Vajradhatu, Alexander Halpern, signed a document changing the name of Vajradhatu to Shambhala International, and adopting new Restated Articles of Incorporation. In the past, various other officers had signed corporate documents, but the Restated Articles do not bear the signature of the Sakyong or anyone but Halpern.

The Restated Articles were clearer than the old Articles about the power of the Sole First Class Director, containing provisions that specifically make the “first class of Director” effectively omnipotent by giving him veto power over all the Board’s actions: “All actions of the Board of Directors shall require the consent of the Director of the first class …” This is, effectively, the establishment of a Kingship under the guise of a non-profit corporation. But who is the King under this carefully crafted regime? The documents do not identify the new “Director of the first class.”

Whoever he is, he is as protected from corporate liability as the law can make him. You wouldn’t think a religious organization would adopt a provision in its Articles to insulate its Directors from lawsuits. But with AIDS victims outliving their expected expiration dates, the Regent was still casting a deadly shadow from the grave, and the Shambhala lawyers created this paragraph to protect the nameless new Directors, noting carefully that “this provision will not eliminate the liability of a Director for any act or omission resulting before the effective date of these Restated Articles.”

Without exercising too much clairvoyance, I believe I can see that, in the Restated Articles, the Sakyong sought to distance himself from the errors of Trungpa XI and his embarrassing Regent by changing the company name. He eliminated the Trungpa name from the record documents and elevated himself secretly to the role of sole Director of the first class. He specifically gave himself veto power over the Board. And he immunized himself and his yes-men Directors from damages suits for all types of corporate misconduct, “including a transaction from which [any] director derived an improper personal benefit.” This eighth paragraph provides all Directors with as large an immunizing shield as the law will allow, using self-contradictory and confusing language. I wager this wasn’t due to a sudden lapse in grammatical skill, but rather resulted from Alexander Halpern’s studious efforts to build in “wiggle room” for future debates about how much misconduct is immune from liability. If it ever becomes necessary to judicially interpret it, the Shambhala lawyers will agree with me – the eighth paragraph of the Restated Articles are a Class 1 Bunker for the Top Brass.

A Vulnerable Empire Exposed

Placing such documents in the public record exposes them to broad scrutiny, and the new Shambhala order probably wanted to avoid such scrutiny of these suspiciously self-serving Articles. Additionally, they probably needed time to accomplish other political maneuverings, so Vice-President Halpern sat on this important document for over a year before filing it with the Colorado Secretary of State. Signed on February 26, 2000, the Restated Articles weren’t filed until March 2, 2001. (Compare the first page of the document for the filing date, and the last page, for the signature date.)

March 2, 2001 also witnessed the other side of the mirror-magic of making Vajradhatu disappear as a corporation, while keeping the name in limited play. On that day, Vajradhatu was filed as an Assumed Business Name of Shambhala International, and the figure-ground reversal of these two entities was completed. Since then, the name of Shambhala International (Vajradhatu) appears on a couple of corporate documents. The identity of the Directors is not disclosed, and this is quite significant. Take note that, from April 1987 until February 22, 2000, the sole First Class Director of Vajradhatu was a dead man, Chogyam Trungpa Mukpo. Now that has got to be a precarious situation, when the designated top-dog, the sole First Class Director, is absent from the planet.

The job of the Regent was to fill that gap, and Osel Tendzin certainly acted like the sole First Class Director of Vajradhatu until his death. The Regent’s death left the position open, vacant, a vacuum of the sort that nature hates. If Osel Tendzin hadn’t killed himself, and had been on the job enforcing Trungpa XI’s wishes on February 22, 2000, with the 12th Trungpa already born and identified, they would simply have changed the name of the sole First Class Director to – well to whose name?

Chokyi Sengay, Well-Connected in Derge, Nobody in Boulder, Colorado

Who is the 12th Trungpa Tulku? According to, Lady Diana's family website, he’s a young man named Chokyi Sengay, who surprised the hell out of everyone by being born to a family of shepherds in Derge, who have “ties to the royal family of Derge.” Well, he may be well connected in Derge, but in Boulder, they don’t know him. Alexander Halpern, the corporate lawyer who worked for a company with a dead top Director for four years, doesn’t know Chokyi Sengay. They have never been introduced, but Halpern understands that he lives with herdspeople in Tibet, and doesn’t need immunity from American lawsuits. He has no worries, and Halpern isn’t worried about protecting him from liability. The Sakyong is his client. That stuff about other lifetimes cuts no ice with him. These Tibetans do things their own way. He relates with the man who signs the checks.

IIf I could, I’d like to ask Chokyi Sengay, Trungpa Rinpoche XII, a few questions:

• How does he like his new body – was it good to get rid of the old, cirrhotic liver?
• When’s he coming to Colorado? Lots of people miss him.
• Which of his close students have gone to visit him? Did he remember any of them?
• Is he learning to speak English?
• Does he plan to go to Oxford on a Spaulding Fellowship, like his last incarnation did?
• Does he know that on the website, there is no link on the main page announcing that he, the founder of the Lineage, has been discovered?
• Has he seen or read any of the books that he published in his last lifetime?
• Does he know that he was a bit of a rakehell, and embarrassed his elders by acting out with his beatnik flock?
• Does he know that in his last lifetime he arranged his affairs so he would inherit his former status of sole Director of the first class of Vajradhatu, a Colorado nonprofit corporation?
• Has he heard of how his Regent screwed up Trungpa XI's plan to pass his wealth and power on to himself, the Twelfth Trungpa?
• Has he been told about the importance of Alexander Halpern, the Boulder lawyer whom Trungpa XI made Vice-President of Vajradhatu, and who is now Vice-President of Shambhala International?

These are the kinds of questions that a person who had real faith would ask. Lady Diana glosses over the bizarre confiscation of the Trungpa Lineage’s wealth by noting that, “during his lifetime Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the 11th Trungpa Tulku, made many conflicting statements regarding his future births. Accordingly, his rebirth in Tibet was unexpected by many of his students – and has been viewed by some as yet another surprise of the ‘great vajra trickster.’”

Ah, were it only true. What has happened is quite the reverse, and if Chokyi Sengay really sees with the insight of eleven enlightened lifetimes and the recollection of his past deeds, it must all seem a bitter irony. That those he trusted in the last life distorted his legacy into some silly construct called Shambhala, that purports to subordinate Vajrayana Buddhism as one of the “Three Gates” to a cult of secular wholesomeness, on co-equal grounds with flower arranging and the tea ceremony. Truly those who have multiple lives have multiple sorrows.

The Sakyong and the Twelfth Tulku – Best of Friends

Just as the Vajradhatu trademark has been cast into the shadows, the connection with the Karma Kagyu lineage has been downplayed, and thus the importance of the Twelfth Trungpa. In a world governed by the will of Trungpa XI, there would certainly be a biography of the Twelfth Trungpa Tulku somewhere on the website. You'd expect them to be trumpeting it from a link straight off the front page of its website, somewhere between the links to ”Chogyam Trungpa“ and ”Sakyong Mipham.“ But no, you can strain your eyes, and you won't find anything. I ran a search for ”12th Trungpa + bio“ through the site-specific Google search box at and found no links. I tried it again over the full Internet, and discovered the official bio quoted below at, the family album website for Lady Diana, Trungpa XI's widow, who also does Shambhala trainings as her livelihood.

There is information about a meeting between the Sakyong and the Twelfth Trungpa in Tibet during July 2004, in a travelogue from a few naive observers who went along on the trip. Notably among the persons present at this trip from among the Shambhala crew was Sangye Khandro, aka Nancy Gustafson, a still-ravishing blonde translator who was married to Gyatrul Rinpoche for about twenty five years before she moved on to the care and training of Lama Chonam, whom Gyatrul Rinpoche had lovingly rescued from inevitable death by tuberculosis. A rare case of a young Tibetan pulling a romantic coup on an older one. In any event, if the Sakyong brings Sangye Khandro along, all problems are solved. She has always been a huge lama favorite, and while a bit chilly, a big favorite with men of all ages and types, for her entire adult life.

The Peculiar Austerity of the Young Tulku’s Current Circumstances

Still, I wonder about how they're treating the Twelfth Tulku — perhaps a bit too much like a mushroom — fed on bullshit and kept in the dark. The travelogue has a disturbing bit of information that smacks of internment. As far as I remember, Trungpa XI always enjoyed fine things, as in sophisticated surroundings. Read Born In Tibet if you doubt it — the man knew privilege as a life-long condition, and hardship as a passing acquaintance. He lived well and enjoyed it. But in this lifetime, his overseers have decided to host him in conditions that a modern American describes as unbelievably primitive, sunlight deprived, and similar to a televised ordeal from the Survivor reality show:

“By the measure of what we are used to in North America and Europe, the accommodations here are primitive beyond your wildest imagination. It makes camping look like the Hilton, but at the same time the hospitality has been extraordinary. We are pervaded by the warmth, the playfulness and the friendliness of the people. We all feel that we are in luxury, in a certain way — luxury with a medieval ambience. It's like a time capsule. We live in dirt quarters that are pitch dark, not just for us, but for Rinpoche. To get into Rinpoche's quarters, you go over these planks that are bouncing up and down over a kind of a moat. Suffice it to say that ”hole in the wall“ (or the floor) is an apt description of a bathroom. By this point, though, we've all settled in and feel quite welcome. It's wonderful. We're getting along well together, or at least as Rinpoche said the other day, ”’Nobody has been voted off the island ... yet.’" (The Rinpoche referred to here is clearly the Sakyong, because the Twelfth Tulku doesn’t watch TV.)

Which other major Tibetan Buddhist organization has installed the current incarnation of their beloved guru in a hole in the wall, or floor, living in darkness, with mud and planks for a home? Which other Vajrayana group is using the dead image of the last incarnation of the lineage, instead of the living, youthful image of its current tulku? The fact that there are two Karmapas doesn't keep their adherents from keeping them in pleasant conditions and posting pictures and news about both of them all over their websites. Recently, Tai Situ’s 17th Karmapa moved out of Tibet, and the news was hailed internationally. Only the Twelfth Trungpa Tulku is regarded with indifference and housed in squalor.

Not only are the vast media resources of Shambhala International boycotting the very existence of the Twelfth Trungpa – the young boy is so poor that Lady Diana is passing the hat for him at the website – trying to raise a measly $10,000 for his yearly support, promising that anything over that will be used to fix up his impoverished surroundings. Ten thousand bucks? The Sakyong’s SUV cost six times that much, if he has a Toyota Landcruiser, like every other top lama. In any event, Shambhala International is a money machine, but its leaders have reduced to penury the very person they claim to believe is the reincarnation of the founder of their own organization. Most people would treat the reincarnation of their dog better. Here’s the confession right on the website at

“Trungpa Rinpoche’s support and education at Surmang costs approximately US$10,000 per year, which the Konchok Foundation is committed to providing. If funds received for his support exceed that, they will go towards the much-needed upgrading of his living quarters.”

The Sakyong’s Usurpation of the Entire Trungpa Lineage

The fact that the young tulku lives in abject poverty and is studiously ignored would seem to be enough. But the outrage does not stop there. Not only has Trungpa XI's entire plan been aborted, not only has the hallowed Trungpa Lineage been subordinated to the corporate manipulations of the Sakyong, an upstart who has hijacked an ancient lineage, turning it into an American marketing machine – a worse abasement has been committed, and in plain sight of the faithful, apparently too stupid or too confused to understand. Read on in horror if you dare, as we watch the final reversal of fortune played out in a ceremony that Sangye Khandro justly described as “the kind that would be done only under extremely rare circumstances.” No kidding – for anyone from the old school, this is a gross inversion of the way things are supposed to be.

The following is quoted from the website, obviously recorded by fools who have no understanding of the depth of the outrage in which they fawningly participated:

June 18: Surmang

This is the second installment of a dispatch received on June 18 from Peter Volz and Derek Koleeny of the Office of International Affairs and Kusung Dapön Mark Thorpe.

Atmosphere & Interactions

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has been very, very busy from morning to night. People are coming in and asking for blessings in a steady stream. The monastery is actually quite a busy place. It reminds one of the fact that Trungpa Rinpoche said in Born in Tibet that he had to move to Dorje Khyung Dzong, a couple of hundred yards up the valley — and at 1500 feet higher elevation straight up — to escape the busyness of the monastery.

The throne ceremony held on Saturday the 16th was really quite magnificent and significant. According to Sangye Khandro (translator who is part of the Shambhala traveling party), it was a kind of ceremony that would be done only under extremely rare circumstances. At the height of the ceremony, the Trungpa Tulkü and all of the Surmang lamas each made offerings to the Sakyong. Then, they made a specific request and supplication to the Sakyong. Having requested him to remain in this world to continue to benefit beings, they requested that Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche be the throne holder, lineage holder, and the leader of the Surmang monasteries. In the days following, they have already begun to discuss various issues with the Sakyong concerning the present activities and the future of the monasteries.

The Usurper of the Trungpa Lineage — Sakyong Mipham

Sangye Khandro, as the handmaiden of this miscarriage of justice, and all of the other people who have pulled the wool over the eyes of the Twelfth Tulku have, of course, done us all a big favor. Clearly they do not believe a word of this reincarnation stuff.

We are now free to admit that Chokyi Sengay is not a supernatural incarnation, because he would fry them with his little finger and disembowel them as vow breakers, lineage betrayers, usurpers, conspirators. He is just another Tibetan boy with a brain and good looks, connected with the Derge royal family, conscripted to play a role written by wizened old men. But eventually, if he suffers no accidents, he will meet some old students, other than Sangye Khandro, who know the truth and will tell him. It will seem a bitter irony then for him, and the moreso because he will have no ability to disbelieve in his own identity as the Twelfth Trungpa, and no means to wrest from the Sakyong the empire that should have been his. I’ll have a book to recommend for him at that time – The Count of Monte Cristo. He might find it a clearer guide than the sutras and tantras they’re trying to stuff his head with now, softening it up so he will accept the inevitable – the Eleventh Trungpa was the last.

Trungpa XI had the instincts and the skills of a Chakravartin, a Universal Lord. It was his clear intention to plant his Vajradhatu flag in the soil of America, and to rule under that banner forever from his Rocky Mountain home. He failed at the outset, but that may not be his fault. Death has a way of taking matters out of our hands, and treachery always finds willing tools where there's a fortune to be made. In this case, the villains have left their prints all over the crime scene, but they will never be brought to justice, any more than Osel Tendzin was. It’s all just that Tibetan stuff, anyway.


Appendix 1




From Born in Tibet, Appendix I -- The Administration of the Ka-Gyu Monasteries of East Tibet
(Now the property of Sakyong Mipham, Nyingma lama)
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:08 am


Here's the song I'd like to play for the Inauguration Ball, but I'm not invited. If the 2005 Inauguration Follies are looking like rough sailing, we have just the song for all of you ABOL members who want to be their own DJ. Click the eye below to download a .wav file, playable with Winamp, Windows Media Player, and most other ware.

This song, written by the ultimate Goth band of the late eighties, The Sisters of Mercy, commemorates Bush the Elder's reference to "that vision thing ..." as in -- he didn't get it. But his son didn't make the same mistake. The Vision is ON!

So queue it up, crank the speaker, and dance on your desktop with your secretary or xerox person. The people must atone for the sins of the leaders!


Vision Thing, by Sisters of Mercy

Twenty-five whores in the room next door
Twenty-five floors and I need more
I'm looking for the can in the candy store
Two thousand Hamburg four
And colours I ain't seen before
It's a small world and it smells funny
I'd buy another if it wasn't for the money
Take back what I paid
For another motherfucker in a motorcade
In a long black car
With the prettiest shit
From Panama
When the sirens wail
And the lights flash blue
My vision thing come
Slamming through
It's a small world and it smells bad
I'd buy another if I had
What I paid
For another motherfucker in a motorcade

Slamming through
Slamming through
What do we need to make our world come alive?
What does it take to make us sing?
While we're waiting for the next one to arrive?
One million points of light
One billion dollar Vision Thing

Another black hole in the killing zone
A little more mad in the methedrome
One blinding flash of sense
Just like the president's
Well, I don't mind
Out of my mind
Blizzard king
Bring it on home
It's a small world and it smells bad
I'd buy another if I had
What I paid
For another motherfucker in a motorcade

And a vision thing
And a vision thing
And a ...
Sha la la la
What do we need to make our world come alive?
What does it take to make us sing?
While we're waiting for the next one to arrive?
One million points of light
One billion dollar Vision Thing

Sha la la la
Sha la la la
Sha la la la
Sha la la la
Bring it on home
Vision thing
Bring it on home
Vision thing
Bring it on home, home
Vision thing
Vision thing
Sha na na na
Bring it on home
Sha na na na
Ah ha ha ha ha
Bring it on home!
Bring it on home!
Bring it on home!

When the sirens wail
And the lights flash blue
My vision thing come
Slamming through
It's a small world and it smells bad
I'd buy another if I had
What I paid
For another motherfucker in a motorcade
Slamming through
Slamming through
What do we need to make our world come alive?
What does it take to make us sing?
While we're waiting for the next one to arrive?
One million points of light
One billion dollar Vision Thing


There is a lot of crime in the District of Columbia, our nation's capital, owing to poor economic conditions, and general shiftlessness in the population. I'm referring to the Congress of course. The Congress is always enacting laws, some very important ones like the Patriot Act, which can get you 20 years for playing with a laser pointer near an airport. Congress and the Federal government parasite off the City of Washington, D.C. as a routine matter. District of Columbia citizens are the ONLY people in the United States who do not have any representation in Congress, either the Senate or the House. They have a rat problem so bad that some guys drive around all day shooting rats, and these are city employees. If the rats are threatening your dog, you call them, and they go git 'em. The City Morgue had a problem like you wouldn't believe, and this summer the City told folks whose water was megatoxic with lead due to a maintenance blunder that there was no money to help them out.

Washington, D.C. is where the Inauguration Follies are taking place. These folks, who can't even field a vote in Congress, are going to be hit with a $17 Million bill to pay from their Emergency Services budget that could be entirely avoided if Bush just decided to have a nice quiet inauguration in the Rose Garden with a few close friends like Karl Rove and Prince Bandar, Condoleeza, Colin, Rummy, Mom and Dad. With a scaled down plan, we could get by with a thousand troops, constant aerial surveillance, a news blackout, and bring the whole thing in way under budget. Send the extra money to Iraqi orphans.

But no, Bush has got to stick his thumb in the eye of the people who live right outside the White House. The poor residents get to see millions of white civil servants scurry into their city, pollute it with their automobiles, buy all their cocaine and sex, and scurry right out every night. And now, to be made to feel more left out, more irrelevant, more ignored and neglected, they are to be assaulted with the sounds of merriment and rejoicing wafting over the castle walls, while armed men patrol the rooftops, "keeping order."


Every now and then, a person suffers a deep affront that is hard to forget, that begs for vengeance. While the matter may appear trivial to an outsider, the affronted person's blood boils, and thoughts of hostility toward the source of the affront refuse to leave the mind, fueling fantasies of retribution.

Sometimes an entire people is affronted by a leader who engages in a vast act of self-worship at massive public expense.

Sometimes military leaders lend their men-at-arms and their nostalgic uniforms, medals, and flags to purify the event with martial solemnity.

Sometimes religious leaders join with political leaders, sanctifying the excess as some sort of primitive potlatch to the Father Deity.

Sometimes such gross displays happen when the nation is engaged in armed predation on defenseless people, to display the depth of the sense of self-assurance and self-righteousness that animates the nation's policies.

Sometime is today. In what will be the most expensive, over-policed act of masturbation ever performed in public, the Republican Roosters will crow louder, expose themselves, short hairs and all, and give the entire nation a money shot right in the face.

The entire event is an insult to every American who has a net worth of less than $50 Million. If you're worth more than that, I hope you contributed to the inauguration, because you owe the rest of us.

Sure, sure, you tell me, it's gross, but that's the way government is. That's the way business is, right? And all these government guys are in business, right? So where's the surprise -- you're lucky they didn't move the inauguration to Vegas.

Well, I'm sure all the Vegas people and the New Jersey people, too, will be in Washington, so same difference.

Okay, okay, you tell me, but they're not breaking any laws, are they?

Well, I'd have to ask how familiar you are with the laws, particularly the Constitution.

Constitutional government is founded upon the complete elimination of all distinctions between the nobility and the rest of us. The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 9, provides:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present Emolument, Office, or Title, or any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Now excuse me, but there can be only one reason for someone to be given an incredible ass-kissing ego-boost of this type, in the course of which he will receive millions of dollars in donations from people who seek to curry favor with him, and advantage for their friends and relations, while taxpayers foot the bill. As the article below in the NYT explains, the poor, overtaxed, abused citizens of Washington D.C. will have to fund over $17 Million dollars of this latter-day Napoleonic orgy of self-adulation. There is only one reason to go overboard like this -- because Bush is crowning himself King. Read it and weep, ladies and gentlemen. Democracy is dead, and there isn't even a democrat left to identify the corpse.

But after you read the news, you should read the old. Carl Sandburg's poem "The People Speak" is a reminder that even when "the czar has eight million men with guns and bayonets," still, the people can change the course of history, sending the czar and his family to their own private Siberia, turning the palaces of the ruling class into the random galleries of chaos. The poem is quoted in full below. Read it out loud to a friend, to a coffeehouse, to a crowd, to a mob, if you can find one!


David Johnston and Michael Janofsky wrote:


The New York Times
January 12, 2005

WASHINGTON - Tom Ridge, the homeland security secretary, said Tuesday that even in the absence of any specific security threat to next week's presidential inauguration, civilian and military forces had been ordered to an extraordinarily high state of alert.

"You can well imagine that the security for this occasion will be unprecedented," Mr. Ridge said at a news conference. "Protective measures will be seen. There will be quite a few that are not seen. Our goal is that any attempt on the part of anyone or any group to disrupt the inaugural will be repelled by multiple layers of security."

In his first detailed outline of inauguration security planning, Mr. Ridge said that more than 6,000 civilian and military personnel trained in crisis response, crowd control and dignitary security would be in place, with thousands more available to respond if necessary.

At the heart of the plan are tightly controlled security zones that will restrict pedestrian and vehicle access to the streets around the Capitol, where Mr. Bush will be sworn in, and over the route of the traditional parade along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

Before the inauguration events, security teams will sweep through hotels and office buildings along the parade route, in some cases barring office workers from sitting near windows overlooking the procession.

Even now, security teams are working to ensure the safety of food that will be served to President Bush and other guests at inaugural events. Caterers are being instructed to arrive for work at 7 p.m. the night before the inauguration.

For next Thursday's swearing-in ceremonies, sniper teams will be in position on rooftops. Specialists in chemical, biological and radiological terrorism will mingle with the crowds, carrying hand-held detection devices designed to pick up any sign of unconventional weapons. Squads of plainclothes agents, with federal prosecutors among them, will move along the parade route scouting for potential problems. Armed Coast Guard boats will patrol the Potomac River.

Security will be tighter than at recent high-profile events like last year's political conventions.

"Our system of government is rooted in the sovereign principle of democratic authority bestowed by the people," Mr. Ridge said. "And the people, both the inauguration participants and city residents, are resolved to go forward with an event that so deeply reflects that ideal."

Mr. Ridge said that the security for the inauguration would cost millions of dollars but that he did not know the total amount.

Costs have created at least one conflict between the federal government and the District of Columbia. The city is underwriting about $17.3 million of the cost, and Washington officials are not happy about it.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams has asked Mr. Ridge and Joshua B. Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget, why the city should cover security costs out of federal grants that are otherwise used for everyday needs, like protecting buildings, bridges, subways and waterways, as well as for emergencies and events like the funeral of President Ronald Reagan last year.

City officials say this is the first time that the federal government has not promised to cover all of the district's inauguration expenses, leaving open the possibility that district taxpayers might have to pay.

"We're delighted to be part of this; it's a great honor," said Gregory McCarthy, Mr. Williams's deputy chief of staff. "But we shouldn't be raided for something as predictable as this."

Asked about the issue, Mr. Ridge said that city governments of Boston and New York had agreed to spend federal security money to cover costs associated with protecting last year's political conventions in their cities.

Even as Mr. Ridge emphasized the urgency of preventive steps, several senior security officials said in private that planning for security at inaugurations seemed to be growing beyond the precautions that could be justified based on the threat level.

They also said that security planning for the inauguration was a well-rehearsed responsibility involving agencies whose roles were well known from past inaugurations.

"There's not much about this that we haven't done before," a senior law enforcement official said.

In part, the officials said, the extraordinary security arrangements at this year's swearing-in, parade and related events represented a chance for the nearly 50 federal agencies involved to show newly bought exotic equipment, specially trained anti-terror units and communications networks put into place after the September 2001 attacks.

The military will play a more visible role in this inauguration, with 2,500 troops involved in security, said Maj. Gen. Galen B. Jackman, commander of the Joint Task Force-Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, which coordinates military operations for the inauguration.

"We believe we are ready to deter any type of attack," General Jackman said before Mr. Ridge's news conference.

The general wore camouflage gear as he spoke with reporters in front a group of battle-dressed soldiers who carried automatic weapons.

The security plan for the inauguration is based on a system of overlapping zones. Vehicular traffic will be restricted from an outer zone about six blocks from inauguration sites. Pedestrians will be screened at 22 checkpoints set up around an inner zone perimeter about two blocks from event locations. An even more restrictive area in the vicinity of the swearing-in and the parade bleachers will be closed to anyone without a ticket or an invitation.

In a break with past inauguration parades, protest groups are being assigned specific areas for their demonstrations in a way that protest organizers say will enable law enforcement agencies to exert tighter control over them.

Access to the presidential entourage itself will be limited to people who have been subjected to fingerprinting and criminal background checks.

Security is under the control of the Secret Service, which will manage the event from a central command center, known as the Joint Field Office, in a Virginia suburb. A number of federal agencies will open operations centers in a network being coordinated through 13 subcommittees, each with responsibilities ranging from the processing of drunken revelers to a nuclear attack.

Not everything is working smoothly, officials said. At one training exercise this week designed to test the complex communications network that links federal, state and local agencies, personnel were handed a 10-page phone directory of agencies listed only by acronym. The directory was so confusing -- even to emergency workers -- that officials ordered a new phone book with the names of agencies written out in full.

Mr. Ridge said that the nation's color-coded alert level would not be raised for the inauguration. The alert level is at yellow, for a heightened but not imminent threat.

"This is the most visible manifestation of our democracy," Mr. Ridge said, adding, "So there's very little intelligence, but we're as vigilant as ever."

Mr. Ridge has said that several factors may help explain the absence of threats, among them efforts by the United States and its allies to disrupt terrorist networks overseas and initiatives by the government to reduce the nation's vulnerability to attack.

Some intelligence officials have offered other reasons for the fewer reports of threats, including the possibility that planning for an attack might be going on undetected or that extremists might be turning their attention to other objectives like interfering with Iraqi elections scheduled this month.


Bush's inauguration is a military display disguised as security, and an affront to ordinary people of extraordinary magnitude. This insult comes complete with sharpshooters patrolling above the crowds, and security squads evicting people from their own homes and offices on the flimsy excuse that they overlook the parade route! My papa liked to read poetry aloud, and often did so on visiting Sundays when he came to see me out at the Catholic military school where I was interned for three years. He particularly liked this poem by Carl Sandburg, and could read it with real style. Please do read it aloud to someone and revel in the feeling it inspires. Just check out these rhymes:

"Two kaisers backed by ten million bayonets
Had their crowns in the gutter, their palaces mobbed,
In fire, chaos, shadow,
In hurricanes beyond foretelling..."

The gusto my father put into reading this poem epitomized the spirit that was in him, of loving people, of wanting them to prosper and do well, and of knowing that they are just not smart enough. I loved the poem with very little depth of understanding of the concepts involved, and with much fascination with the striding rhythm, the shocking images shot in lightning flashes, the rhythm as of many people marching together. This poem is worth reading over and over, so I commend it to you with much love as an antidote to the seasickness that afflicts one when witnessing something as luridly self-indulgent as this horrific inauguration folly. Mark my words -- the end is nigh.

Carl Sandburg wrote:


The people, yes, the people,
Until the people are taken care of one way or another,
Until the people are solved somehow for the day and hour,
Until then one hears "Yes but the people what about the people?"
Sometimes as though the people is a child to be pleased or fed
Or again a hoodlum you have to be tough with
And seldom as though the people is a caldron and a reservoir
Of the human reserves that shape history. . . .

Fire, chaos, shadows,
Events trickling from a thin line of flame
On into cries and combustions never expected.
The people have the element of surprise. . . .

"The czar has eight million men with guns and bayonets
Nothing can happen to the czar.
The czar is the voice of God and shall live forever.
Turn and look at the forest of steel and cannon
Where the czar is guarded by eight million soldiers.
Nothing can happen to the czar."

They said that for years and in the summer of 1914,
As a portent and an assurance they said with owl faces:
"Nothing can happen to the czar,"
Yet the czar and his bodyguard of eight million vanished
And the czar stood in a cellar before a little firing squad
And the command of fire was given
And the czar stepped into regions of mist and ice
The czar traveled into an ethereal uncharted Siberia
While two kaisers also vanished from thrones
Ancient and established in blood and iron
Two kaisers backed by ten million bayonets
Had their crowns in a gutter, their palaces mobbed.
In fire, chaos, shadows,
In hurricanes beyond foretelling of probabilities
In the shove and whirl of unforeseen combustions
The people, yes, the people,
Move eternally in the elements of surprise,
Changing from hammer to bayonet and back to hammer,
The hallelujah chorus forever shifting its star soloists.

The people learn, unlearn, learn,
a builder, a wrecker, a builder again,
a juggler of shifting puppets.
In so few eyeblinks
In transition lightning streaks,
the people project midgets into giants,
the people shrink titans into dwarfs

Faiths blow on the winds
and become shibboleths
and deep growths
with men ready to die
for a living word on the tongue,
for a light alive in the bones,
for dreams fluttering in the wrists . . .

Sleep is a suspension midway
and a conundrum of shadows
lost in meadows of the moon.
The people sleep.

Ai! ai! the people sleep.
Yet the sleepers toss in sleep
and an end comes of sleep
and the sleepers wake.
Ai! ai! the sleepers wake! . . .

The storm of propaganda blows always.
In every air of today the germs float and hover.
The people have the say-so.
Let the argument go on.
Let the people listen.

Tomorrow the people say Yes or No by one question:
"What else can be done?"
In the drive of faiths on the wind today the people know:
"We have come this far and we are going farther yet" . . .

The people will live on.
The learning and blundering people will live on.
They will be tricked and sold and again sold
And go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds,
The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback,
You can't laugh off their capacity to take it.
The mammoth rests between his cyclonic dramas . . .

The people is a tragic and comic two-face:
hero and hoodlum: phantom and gorilla twist-
ing to moan with a gargoyle mouth: " They
buy me and sell me.'s a game. ..
sometime I'll break loose ..."

Now the steel mill sky is alive.
The fire breaks white and zigzag
shot on a gun-metal gloaming.
Man is a long time coming.
Man will yet win.
Brother the earth over may yet line up with brother:

This old anvil -- the people, yes
This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.
There are men who can't be bought.
There are women beyond purchase.
The fire born are at home in fire.
The stars make no noise.
You can't hinder the wind from blowing.
Time is a great teacher.
Who can live without hope?

In the darkness with a great bundle of grief
the people march.
In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for
keeps, the people march:
"Where to? what next?
Where to? what next?"
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:15 am



Sep 05, 2005

Bush's handlers are eager to show that their boy is not "out of touch." This becomes more difficult daily, as it becomes apparent that the handlers are also out of touch. The raft of stories coming out of New Orleans shows that FEMA and the Dept of "Homeland Security" are completely out of their element when dealing with a job that demands pasting your ass to a chair, sitting at a desk, and manning the phone lines to direct an enormous logistical effort.

The reason this boondoggle is going to blow up in Bush's face is simply because it is so damned obvious that not only do they not give a flying fuck about New Orleans or its people -- they also view this as an opportunity to prove that you can, in fact, fool all of the voters all of the time. The media has spun this story six different ways from Sunday, but regardless of the spin, the atrocity of contemptful neglect that Bush has demonstrated toward the injured Southerners should chap hides all across America. With Senator Mary Landrieu threatening to punch Bush's lights out if he criticizes Louisiana authorities one more time, Bush could be in for the celebrity death match of his his life.

Pride cometh before the fall, and certainly pride has been the Ace up Bush's sleeve in one surprising deal after another. This time, though, being out of touch can be terminal, as when he joked that New Orleans would rise again and become a place where rich kids can "have too much fun." Yes, and all of the manicured lawns and beautiful golf courses will be restored, and then he'll come back.

I have often thought to myself, "What will Bush's Falklands be?" You'll remember that it was the misbegotten adventurism of an Argentine junta at its wits end for further distractions that led to its destruction. The future history might read like this:

Encyclopedia Liberalica wrote:

"By September 2005, Bush had destroyed the nation's financial solvency, declared war on Islam internationally, sent the entire National Guard to depose Iraq's government, alienated the European nations by feeding the fires of international warfare, invited a trade war with Canada over softwood, and directed his proxy Pat Robertson to announce a jihad against Venezuela. Then G-d decided to open yet another front in the worldwide conflict, and directed his armies of wind and waves to destroy the entire Biloxi staging base for the Iraq war, to destroy New Orleans in one day, to create a huge demand for the absent National Guard, to choke off the nation's supply of crude and refined oil by devastating Louisiana and Mississipp, and killed the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, all in just over a week. G-d also saw fit to assure the destruction of the Bush junta by hardening the hearts of the Pharaoh's men, so that their TV messages were not at all reassuring, and their sound bites were like stones, and broke the teeth of viewers who sought to consume them. So a great wave of anger rose up in the hearts of the people, and like a tsunami of rage, destroyed the Bush junta."
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:17 am



Carlos Castaneda is a figure wrapped in mystery, apparently born Christmas Day, 1925 in Peru. He left home shortly after his mother's death, promising never to return, and kept his promise. He became an American citizen on June 21, 1957.

His personal history was disguised by layers of stories he told about himself and allowed others to tell about him. The enigma was compounded as various impostors began to present themselves as being Carlos. The tale is told that one day a man introduced himself to Carlos as himself, and Carlos took it in stride.

His academic credentials were nothing much -- undergraduate work at downtown Los Angeles Community College, and virtually no one in the scholarly anthropological community would cite him as an authority on anything. However, one doesn't need a degree, a fellowship, or peer approval to become a bestselling author, and at this he excelled.

In his first book, The Teachings of Don Juan, A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, Carlos unveiled his hero, Don Juan Matus, the very epitome of an existential hero. In a series of books that orbit 'round the relationship between Carlos and Don Juan, readers worldwide were introduced to a man who had innumerable apparently contradictory qualities that made him an archetypal hero -- a triumphant human at the center of a vast universe of forces.

At first, Don Jaun appeared as a "brujo," a desert sorcerer with magical powers and vast acquaintance with non-human and non-animal forces that inhabited the dark vastness of the Sonoran desert at night. He was a master of plant magic, and guided Carlos in the use of datura ("devil's weed"), peyote ("mescalito") and an herbal compound of secret ingredients (the "little smoke"). The stories were charmingly insane, and did not inspire one to gaily consume a handful of psychoactive substances, for such foolish conduct would certainly achieve nothing in Don Juan's world.

To use the devil's weed, one had to catch two lizards, sew one's eyes shut, and the stitch closed the mouth of the other, to set up a situation where one lizard could see, the other could talk, and thus the information known to the first lizard could be communicated to the initiate. To use mescalito was easier, but still might result in getting urinated all over by a mexican dog possessed by the spirit of the psychedelic cactus while your teacher laughed himself sick. And inhaling the little smoke sounded like about as much fun as parachuting into the n-th dimension without a compass or a return ticket, unless your idea of a fun high is being strafed by a horsefly the size of a house.

Still, becoming extremely stoned in the Arizona desert became a popular, if somewhat risky pastime. I had a friend who ate a bunch of datura seeds while camping in Havasu Canyon on the Colorado, and ended up rampaging through the dark performing feats of superhuman strength like uprooting small saplings. The park authorities were on his trail the next morning, and he managed to hike out, still in a dreamlike trance. My own experience with henbane in Spain a year later was equally ill-starred. Clearly, Don Juan could swim in waters that would be a tar pit for the ordinary psychonaut.

So that book caught everyone's attention, and probably led to the devastation of innumerable peyote fields as an unfortunate byproduct. There was a polarized but synergistic effect between Don Juan's peyote stories and the much tamer accounts by Aldous Huxley of his mescaline experience in The Doors of Perception, and in his fictional accounts in his utopian novel, Island. While Huxley in his lab coat and "it's good for you" approach appealed to many people, Don Juan's approach was a lot closer to what most people were hoping for -- "it will reveal the unknown."

Once his market was established, Carlos gave us the second book, A Separate Reality. This book upped the ante for his readers. It had little to do with drugs, and focussed instead on the display of superhuman powers by Don Juan's friend Don Genaro, a rotund and ebullient sorcerer who genially took great risks with his own safety to provoke Carlos into "seeing" the sorcerer's view of the world -- crossing the vertical face a waterfall, for example, by leaping from one tiny rock outcropping to the next using fibers of light that extended from his midsection. It didn't work. Carlos couldn't see.

In the second book, Carlos planted the seed deeper, depicting himself as a failure who could not go further with his sorcerer's training because he feared losing contact with ordinary reality. The effect on the reading public was extraordinary -- we cheered Don Juan, and critiqued Carlos for throwing away the opportunity we would love to have. Ever the perfect straight man, Carlos would allow us to "get" what he himself could not comprehend. We projected ourselves into Don Juan, and shared his desire to impart the path of knowledge to Carlos. Don Juan also told the story of how he had witnessed his father's murder, and how he had transcended his hate for the murderers. He explained that he pitied his parents, not because of their suffering and hardship, but simply because they never realized that they were not simply Indians, but more importantly, "were men." Don Juan's nobility and ability to articulate an impressive spiritual philosophy became apparent.

In the third book, Journey to Ixtlan, Carlos set down the hard work of accepting his path of knowledge and working to pursue it. Throughout the books, Carlos models the dedication of a true aspirant in a wisdom tradition, but this note seems to be hit most strongly in the third book. It shares techniques for stilling the internal dialogue, and articulates a philosophy that I personally experiened as stoic. Don Juan's philosophy emphasized power -- the power to possess the moment of life we are living, the power to control one's mind and experience, the power to use danger as a tool to develop skill, the power to live without bemoaning our fate or demanding assurance that our future will at least be no worse than today.

In the fourth book, Tales of Power, Carlos struck a vein of esoteric humor that has rarely been tapped by any other author. The book will quite simply keep you in stitches. Here Carlos allows himself to become a full-time buffoon at the service of art. From start to finish, he is the awestricken observer of cosmic hijinks that fly back and forth between Don Juan and Don Genaro. Constantly on the outside of the joke, Carlos narrates one humorous interlude after another in the stunned voice of one who didn't ask for this and doesn't know what to do about it. And the reader begins to intuit that he has crossed the border from that sensible, stoic philosophy that seemed so grounding in book three, to a freewheeling game of cosmic rollerball in which everyone might be a winner if only they tried to play.

The works continued, and Carlos continued to be an enigma. Carlos apparently created a bit of a cult following, which focusses now on the practices of "dreaming" and "stalking." Dreamers work with lucid dreaming techniques. Stalkers work with memory to cleanse themselves of attachment to personal history. Also available are teachings on "Tensegrity" on videotape. These are physical-mental exercises that come with a fascinating demonstration and narration. The exercises seem likely to be beneficial.

In the end, one who tries to adopt the Carlos path too seriously will probably end in some dead end of self-delusion. But anyone who allows himself to be entertained by Don Juan and Don Genaro will wish fervently, that whatever the truth may be, that they lived, prospered, and that their brand of wisdom shall always be present on the earth, even if only fully disclosed to a very few. To Carlos, we are indebted with unending thanks for skillfully revealing what could not have been displayed in any other way, even if Don Juan had been as popular as the Dalai Lama or Nelson Mandela, and had presided at conventions on human awareness. He did it just right.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:19 am



Silver Screen Syndrome

Everybody is growing, and while it is de riguer for people like us to rail on about the power of the media, we are unabashedly children of cinema. Raised on the glass teat and the silver screen, there is no hope for us. We will be image-junkies until the day we die. When I was a young man, I noticed that I loved print media. I would park my ass in a bookstore or newsstand until the cows literally came home, and I also noticed, guiltily, that I read book covers very avidly, more avidly than I read books. I called myself "a child of trash culture," and felt genuine guilt that I was attracted to Frank Frazetta's sword-wielding Conans and well-hindquartered vixens in gleaming breastplates and barbaric furs. A psychedelic high school career didn't help. As an English major, I avoided classes that taught boring works, like early American literature, which seemed to be a bog of pompous asses who wished they'd been born across the pond in the land where being a twit is considered cool. In addition to majoring in English for around eight years, I studied Hoffman's finest, flower power, jesus, mescalito, yoga, zen, tai chi, tantra, and law, in that order. But none of them have affected me as much as movies and video.

Fleeting Memories

Perhaps one of the most common illusory beliefs among modern people is the notion that "I have seen that movie." I most assuredly tell you that if you have only seen it once at regular speed, you haven't seen the half of it. The reason is because the artistry of all the participants, the actors, the script-writer, the director, and the music composer are presented in peak moments that are often quite fleeting. An emotion that runs across an actor's face for just an instant will spark a viewer reaction that can tinge the perception of the entire movie. But we only see that image once, and then pass on. Because of this, the experience of a feature film is fleeting.

Trash Video

What type of video do we get the benefit of seeing repeatedly? You guessed it -- advertising. Not only that, they try to make advertising addictive by injecting it with lots of "technical events" -- video and sound gimmicks that make you want to see the commercial repeatedly, to figure it out. I was strongly drawn to the Taco Bell commercials with the talking chihuahua, many years ago, and I watch no television at all. Briefly, I reconsidered that position, concluding that a virtual rendezvous with a tough-talking chihuahua was not worth changing a lifetime habit over.

Yes, you've discovered it -- I've tried to disguise a worn analogy with a personal story -- I'm comparing advertising for junk food to junk food itself. Americans are being fed a trash video diet, and American Buddha is dead set against it. Many philosophers have advised against the consumption of trash media, including my father, "Smilin' Jim" Carreon, former prizefighter and Arizona legislator, who said succinctly to me on many occasions, "Keep an open mind, but don't let anyone dump garbage in it." Trash video is a mighty hazard to modern humans. It robs us of the will to fight corporate and governmental oppression, makes us feel disempowered in the face of the crisis of planetary survival, and wastes our precious time.

Trash video is what you get if you watch or listen to mainstream broadcast media. If this is what you use your TV for, please take a tip from me and unplug it until you can get a DVD player. You may think you are strong, and have a free mind. You may believe you can make decisions on your own, despite being subjected to innumerable sound bites and technical events that snag your attention more firmly that your girlfriend's tits or your boyfriend's smile, but you are wrong. You are effectively a video illiterate, being moved by forces too subtle for you to perceive, and they will turn you into a powerless spectator, eating bad food, accepting bad government, and watching the planet go to hell while Dick Cheney counts the money. You are an electronic peasant. Here at American Buddha we're stokin' up an Intellectual Uprising that can turn your idiot box into a mental gymnasium, and put you on the road to recovery from terminal 21st Century gloom! Fight the power!

Video Literacy

When I was a kid, I found book covers particularly absorbing because they told stories. This robot is stealing that girl from that guy, or that girl is battling those three giant ants with her sword. The art of telling a story in a picture has always fascinated me. Cinema posters in the fifties and sixties were also very much pieces of narrative graphic art. Sexy depictions of beautiful women were prominent features of these art forms, as were can-do heroes who seemed to be making their way toward a better world, against all odds.

Movies, of course, must function as narrative pictorial art first and foremost. A movie that is well-composed can usually be understood in large part simply by viewing excerpts of the action. To study the art of cinematic composition, it is of immeasurable value to be able to view at leisure the component images that flow by fleetingly in the scenes of a feature film.

The flat screen must be the slate, as surely as the trailer must be the log cabin, where the future Abe Lincoln grows. Those future Abes will be literate in video communication and composition. They will release diatribes, manifestos, and declarations of independence in montages and videos. Just as I type words today, near-future humans will produce movies with ease and elan. Video-editing will be the new literacy.

Image Archives

To nourish the new literacy, American Buddha is adding steadily to the ABOL Cinema archive, a lovingly-collected, ever-expanding quilt of cinema-related web-offerings to feed your questing mind. Ambu's screen-capping index finger has developed tremendous subtlety, and has captured the most fleeting images of some wonderful, rarely-screened classics of cinematic art. Having cast aside the craving for trash video, dip into these presentations to experience the higher regions of your aesthetic spectrum.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon


Brother Sun, Sister Moon is Franco Zeffirelli's hymn to youth, innocence, beauty, and the redemption of the soul through love. Who loves not this movie is a beast with no soul, a mere callus protecting brute ignorance from the light of understanding. Recorded through a sun-filled lens that enjoys exploring the opening vistas of the Italian countryside, the movie begins as the young Francesco returns from the war, a traumatized young man tended by his mother and other women with gentle devotion, his fevered brow cooled with damp cloths, gauzy curtains aglow with the pure light of sun shining through linen. After he recovers his health, the young nobleman is shocked by his father's pride in having prospered by war profiteering, and suffers a breakdown in the village church, where the wretched poor are segregated from the rich, armored in jewel-encrusted, cowled robes. Francesco's breakdown is provoked by the image of a Kingly Christ, oppressing all under his authority, which causes him to cry out screaming, "Noooo!" This is just the beginning of poor Francesco's father's problems. Francesco's enthusiasm for the spiritual life is sparked by the beauty of God's world, and the good fortune of merely being alive. When the joy of God gets in him, he leads his father's wretched dye-workers out into the sun for a day off, which is when his father decides to put the fear of God in the boy, with no success. Happy to be exiled from a house of miserable wealth, Francesco rebuilds a ruined chapel to give the poor a place where they can worship with dignity, making humble offerings to each other and to God without shame or guilt. Francesco's charismatic love of humanity proves a better sell than craven greed, and soon the well-off scions of Assisi are joyfully casting off wealth, taking vows of poverty, and walking all the way to Rome to obtain the Holy Father's dispensation to establish their Order. Once there, it takes a miracle to achieve Francesco's mad hope, and it happens. When the debased ecclesiastical courtiers react in horror to the presence of a man of real faith and act to eject him the Holy Father prevents this re-enactment of the Crucifixion, elicits an impromptu sermon from Francesco, and declares in response, "You, in your poverty, put us to shame," before allowing his sad visage to withdraw behind a jewel-encrusted facade.

Eyes Wide Shut


Want to shoot film like Kubrick? Want to look at Nicole Kidman's bum? Want to see Nicole Kidman act stoned and scary, teasing Tom Cruise into jealousy? Want to be the kind of doctor who helps the rich deal with the heroin overdoses of their whores? Want to crash a party full of powerful, mysterious people you've never met? Want to rent a tuxedo at 2 am? Want to catch the tuxedo rental guy's daughter getting molested by a random stranger? Want to see a bunch of real Illuminati-type characters carrying on like Bilderbergers, wearing masks while boning mask-wearing women with model-beautiful bodies? Want to walk down the streets, looking for an attractive prostitute good enough to have sex with a doctor? Want to inject chaos into your life just from a sense of boredom? If you want to do any or all of these things, then EWS is for you.

Fahrenheit 451


What burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit? Paper, that's what. As in books, magazines, pamphlets, notations, diaries, biographies, novels, poetry, drama, and so forth. All those things that just make people unhappy, unlike video, which just causes the occasional suicide. Ray Bradbury's novel is beautifully retold in a screenplay by French cinema master Francois Truffaut, Directed by Nicholas Roeg, starring Oskar Werner and Julie Christie. Werner, playing the sensitive "fireman" who ultimately loses the faith and torches his self-obsessed boss instead of a pile of contraband books, is a study in sincerity, a man who can make a hard decision once he knows what it should be. Julie Christie plays two roles in the film, both marvelously. First, she is the socially-conforming wife who makes Werner a television widower, obsessed with her role in a primitive form of interactive television that pretends to elicit her opinion to choose between various options in a fictional script. Second, she is the questioning woman with whom Werner strikes up a relationship of the mind, and with whom he escapes to the realm of the book-people, each one of whom has memorized a book that they can replay from memory for the pleasure of their friends. Our relationships are the key to our own identity. When we select our companions, we select whom we shall be. This movie makes the importance of that choice very clear.

Fahrenheit 9/11


When Michael Moore chose the title for his movie to illustrate the Saudi-Bush alliance, he was giving us a clue to his meaning. The firemen in Fahrenheit 451 are charged with the duty of burning books, i.e., the inconvenient truth. When we see the President reading "MY PET GOAT" in a schoolroom while thousands of Americans are being consumed in a hideous conflagration, and he remains silent as the minutes tick by, each second recording the screaming cries of thousands as their lives were incinerated in a concrete, actual hell, we realize the meaning of "a day that will live in infamy." Thus, Roosevelt described Pearl Harbor, and thus, Bush exploited it, with the media cheering along hysterically, suffering from a case of war fever. Along with the towers, the media burned our collective memory of life before Bush as protective father, and the facts about how long the Saudis have been cultivating a position of power and privilege in the United States. Ambu's screen cap showing Prince Bandar flipping Larry King the bird is priceless, and is one of those things that, on national TV, most everyone undoubtedly missed. But we've got it here for all posterity. Fahrenheit 9/11 opened the eyes of many Americans to facts that, when fully revealed, will make the Bush family name reviled by the common man, in a reversal of fortune that will be fully and widely agreed upon. Even as Nixon ultimately became synonymous with charmless tyranny, so the Bush name will be equated with craven deception. To deepen your knowledge, read House of Bush, House of Saud -- The Secret Relationship Between The World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties, by Craig Unger 2004. (Numerological note: 451 minus one equals 450, which when multiplied by two, equals 900. The remaining one, when "doubled" becomes 11. Adding the two together, gives you 911.)



I first saw Ghostbusters at the Culver City Drive Inn in West LA with my wife and three kids, sitting in our recycled church van, back in the late eighties, when such things were still done. We had a great time, I remember, because it was such a lively movie, overstuffed with talent, gadgets, special effects, an accountant who turns into a demonic dog, and ... Sigourney Weaver. Not to mention the soundtrack was so good that the first generation Bush Republicans made it their fucking theme song as they trounced Dukakis -- oi, painful memory -- but I'm trying to convey the whole context of the times. I was a post-hippie, pre-lawyer Tibetan Buddhist with a BA in English, and the fact that Sigourney had a satanic temple in her refrigerator was unbelievably sexy. It was rollicking good times fun, blasting ghosts with backpack-powered nuclear blasters, getting slimed with ectoplasmic goo, confronting escalating horrors, all the way up to the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, where, as we put it in Ghostbuster parlance, we "crossed the beams," and made it all come out all right. That's the cool thing about movies.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy


Ford Prefect has just saved Arthur Dent from the universal fate that has just consumed all humanity -- the complete destruction of the planet by a Vogon destructor fleet building a hyperspace bypass through our sector of the Galaxy. Ford is an extraterrestrial -- his name, somewhat like the English version of Ford Taurus, was unusual because Ford was relying on some mistaken inferences about human naming conventions. Nevertheless, he'd passed for an ordinary bloke, and made a friend of Arthur Dent, a good enough fellow, but not particularly adventurous. Nevertheless, he and Ford are the only survivors, unless you count the mice and the dolphins, who often escaped by their own devices. The destruction of the Earth, as it turns out, was all an unfortunate error, which quite annoyed the mice. Which mice, you ask? Well the mice that had been experimenting on humans under the guise of being mice. All things you will understand in due course, in many other times and places, and often, at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. How will you get there? Be means of the Improbability Drive that powers Zaphod Beeblebrox's spaceship, the one he stole, and now pilots wildly throughout the universe with occasional backup from his lovely assistant, Trillian. Occasional dull commentary from the depressed robot, who has to do horrible things, like wait for everyone forever at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe from just about the beginning of time until the very end of it, a very very dull job, and nothing to look forward to. There will be so many different beings with different languages, but due to it being so unlikely that it would happen, there is a fish called a Bablefish that fits perfectly into your ear and translates any language into another, causing, as one might have anticipated, more wars than any single other cause in human history. So grab up a Bablefish, plug it into your head, and get ready to skitter about the interstices of the known and unknown universe in the care of the hippest captain ever to sail the starry deep -- Zaphod!

Killer Klowns


What is not at all funny? Huge, carnivorous clowns that will eat you are not funny, really. Sometimes they do funny things, right before they kill you, to make you laugh, to immobilize you. Usually though, you only get one laugh, then comes the coup de grace. Important features of the Klowns. Ranging six to eight feet tall, dressed in full clown garb, including polkadotted pajamas, big floppy shoes, ruffs, and heavy cake makeup. They look like they may have bad breath, bloody gums, other evidences of consuming an exclusive diet of flesh. Chosen weapons are of the particle-beam variety, usually in a silly, candy-colored design that looks like a toy. The Klowns reproduce by distributing spores that look like popcorn. These can be distributed anywhere, including hampers, ventilation systems, anywhere they can breed, first into long, stringy, dragonlike snapping things, developing very quickly into full-on Klowns. Where did these Killer Klowns come from? No one knows, but their methods have apparently been honed over the vast time periods necessary for interstellar space travel. Perhaps they assume different forms on different planets, according to the dispositions of the natives. Perhaps their investigation showed we would be vulnerable to these forms. What puts people in a receptive, childlike attitude? Circuses and clowns. What could be less likely to provoke a believing response than hysterical people screaming they've witnessed a rampage of murderous clowns? The movie shows how adopting camouflage, which is generally believed to be a defensive tactic, can aid a predator. The same thing is true, one thinks, of corporations. They dress up like friendly buddies, showing every face from Mickey Mouse to Spider Man to Joe Camel and the President, and while you're standing there stunned, they pick your pocket, poison your water, turn your kids against you and send you the bill. Which will all make you want to turn up the volume and scream a little, no doubt. Lucky for you, The Dickies play the title track to the soundtrack. The Dickies were an LA punk rock band of the fin de siecle years who opened religiously for the Ramones during the eighties and early nineties. Ambu capped the video of the band, and the old-fashioned video-toaster effects have retro charm. The lyrics are utterly hilarious, and will keep the movie in mind for years. If you get the CD, which is out of print, there is one other good tune on it.

King of Hearts


It is the First World War, and we are in the French countryside. Scottish troops are advancing on a French village occupied by Germans. The Germans plant a bomb in the bunker at the center of town, stuffed with ammunition. When the enemy troops take the town, they will enter a time bomb. The bomb will blow at midnight. The Germans leave, after evicting the entire population, except the inmates of the local asylum. A French spy radios a message to the Scots, however, so they know of the danger and do not enter the town en masse. Instead they decide to send the man most skilled in demolitions, linguistic and communications skills, which ends up being the guy who keeps the messenger pigeons, because he speaks French and can send back a pigeon to communicate the all-clear, once he's found and disarmed the bomb. There's little discussion about how he'll accomplish the second task, but that's life in the military. Presumably, everyone expects him to fail, be blown up, and then they'll march into town, but that's not exactly how it goes. He stumbles into town, encounters the Germans haphazardly, and hides in the asylum, where the inmates inadvertently assist to conceal his presence as an interloper, and provoke the searching soldiers to exit hastily, leaving the soldier safe, with the madmen, until midnight. It takes the soldier many crazy encounters before he realizes that the entire town is now populated only by people pretending to be who they appear to be. The prostitute is a mad prostitute, the hairdresser is a mad hairdresser, the distinguished married couple are a mad distinguished married couple, and the exquisite ballerina who is instantly in love with him is mad, too. The soldier cannot disarm the bomb, so he tries to lead the crazy people out of the town to escape the bomb, but they refuse to go, hearing the distant cannonades as a perceptible, immediate danger. So he remains in the town, dallying with the beautiful ballerina, counting down the seconds to destruction, until at last, in a moment of inspired luck, he intuits where the bomb trigger must be, and disables it with a single blow. That would be enough for your usual movie, but this one, having gotten up a head of steam, keeps cranking out meanings. Hang on for an antiwar message you will absorb deeply and carry with your for a long time. This movie is deep, warm, good humored, and big-hearted, not to mention clear-eyed and sobering. King of Hearts is for maturing audiences.



Ridley Scott makes a movie with Tom Cruise and Tim Curry and nobody remembers it. That may be because it depicted "a world so full of drifting pollen that all hayfever sufferers would've died off long ago," as one reviewer has noted, or because it was shortened in length by Hollywood producers. Nevertheless, it contains excellent unicorns, a pignosed goblin who rhapsodizes about the beauty of garbage, a devil who literally drips evil and sounds like Tim Curry, and Mia Sara as a dimwitted heroine who manages to plunge the world into eternal winter by willfully touching a unicorn. Tom Cruise in shorts, leaping around like Robin Goodfellow, is looking for a better role. Mia Sara has a great moment dancing in a dark wedding dress, a lovely apassionata as she teeters toward the seduction of evil. How does this movie end? When you turn it off. But the screencaps you can stare at forever.

The Hunger


Ridley Scott has a brother named Tony, and Tony directed this film with a superb cast, some cool-ass music, and sets and costumes that make you want to be bad, really bad, for just one night. A still-young Susan Sarandon plays a hematologist (blood-expert) searching for a cure to aging, whose knowledge is sought, rather late in the day, by a vampire played by David Bowie, who has abruptly realized that, after centuries of eating people and having sex with Catherine Deneuve, an ageless beauty whose bloodlines date back to ancient Egypt, he has reached the end of his rope, and finds himself decidedly short of actual immortality. Catherine Deneuve is at the peak of her female animal magnetism, making one feel like making a blood sacrifice of some sort just to quiet the craving, and David Bowie finds himself in an adaptable mood, willing to decay into mummyhood over the course of one very long day. After getting stood up for an appointment with Sarandon, which uses up basically all the time left on his life-meter, Bowie is reduced to the status of a vampiric dotard, and bungles his attack on a roller-skating adolescent whose neck he feebly slashes. In a touching scene, his self control breaks down under the influence of appetite, and he predates upon the young. Perhaps something is being spoken here. After Deneuve puts here hooks into Sarandon, the fever takes hold in Sarandon’s guts, and by the time her husband shows up at Deneuve’s pad to look for his wife, she’s worked up a powerful appetite. One thing leads to another, and you can bet on the redhead or the blonde. The closing scenes will haunt you for years. If you didn’t think you could understand a vampire, come on in and sit down. We’ll have you lusting for blood in a minute.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:30 am


Armies of zombie clergy
Dragging their malas
Wielding crowbars
and sacred implements

Led by hordes of vampires
Sangha officers and boards of directors
Engage in gang warfare,
Blasting away at each other
With blazing thunderbolts

Hot chick vampire action figures
Primed for temptation
the new generation
Of Mara's Daughters,
Slick wet look glossy lipsheen
And DiVynyl boots

Steven Seagal eight feet tall
Whuppin' them demons
One and all
With a platoon of phony tulkus
Done up Shaolin style
Using their malas
To garrote heretics

And Ambu up on the pyre
Screaming louder and louder
While I'm out in the crowd
mistaken for a madman
[Fade to Black]
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:31 am

by Charles Carreon
October, 2003

If you could become divine, what would that be worth to you? Kusum Lingpa's whirlwind tours around the world have become famous. Moving with an infectious energy, clowning and mugging with tireless persistence, Kusum Lingpa wears down resistance. He has also had a tendency to leave newly-minted tulkus in his wake.

The laudatory bio on the Aro Ter website says Kusum Lingpa is the reincarnation of "Lhalung Pal-gyi Dorje who slew King Langdarma (persecutor of Buddhism) with an arrow in 842 AD." He is definitely your super-macho guru, for the tattoed tequila-drinker in all of us. Oliver Stone and Kusum Lingpa hooked up right after Stone unleashed "Natural Born Killers" on the world, and apparently the two got on famously.

Kusum Lingpa has dash and flair. He jumps out of cars, dances with other lamas or little children, apparently delighted with the whole damn human zoo. He wears a green silk sash to symbolize his connection with Milarepa, I was told. His homely, rustic features are large and coarse, and a protruding front tooth adds a touch of goofiness to his smile. His teachings are not intellectually penetrating or emotionally resonant. They're equal parts scary story, metaphysical rambling, and him talking a blue streak, laughing at his own jokes while the translator labors on, groaning under the strain.

But that's not all. We can't leave out the pleas for money, which can happen anytime without preface. Of course it's always a dead giveaway when people start complimenting you on your good fortune. But that's part of the charm. You can see him coming, but you can't get away because he's sitting on the throne and your friends are all around. So he starts by complimenting the audience, telling them they're rich, and reminding them how much they spend on pleasure and frivolity. Then, with a raffish smile he springs the joke -- they're going to have to give him their money! Raffish smile. When he hears the crowd laugh, he leans forward to rake in the winnings. He's got 'em.

No one had heard of Kusum Lingpa in this country until he showed up in Ashland, Oregon back in 1993, a guest of Gyatrul Rinpoche, whose temple/home in Colestine Valley served as the doorway to America for many lamas. Kusum Lingpa had a big footprint, though. Kind of a guy who helps himself to everything around him. Your favorite chair, the space in your living room, your food, your friends. It's all a big party. Sort of a rock star atmosphere. He has a son that he brings with him. Big, dark hair cut short, with a strong neck and upright bearing. He spends all his time staring into a space somewhere up by the roof beams of the temple. This, we are told, is how these guys practice. They realize the nature of space by staring into it like goldfish. I try it. Pretty spacey.

Kusum Lingpa, it turns out, is the King of the Tertons. A lot of people thought Dudjom Rinpoche revealed a lot of hidden Dharma treasures during his lifetime, but Kusum Lingpa didn't really think that much of Dudjom Rinpoche's most recent incarnation. He knew his predecessor, Dudjom Lingpa -- now there was a yogi! Of course the Dudjom family literally owned the very temple he was teaching in at the very moment he made these remarks. Kusum Lingpa's terma practices were nothing to compare with those written by Dudjom Rinpoche. Kusum Lingpa's practices lack the poetic phrasing and inspiring metaphors that enliven a text and make practice pleasant. But clunky though they were, Kusum Lingpa's practices came with a guarantee. You would get big results. Just practice. In the meantime, show your gratitude. Sort of "Buy now, pray later."

The Dalai Lama's office has declined to provide a positive reference for this reincarnation of Langdarma's killer. Some gratitude. In this lifetime, Kusum Lingpa is working for world peace by building stupas. Since Tibet was overbuilt with stupas and is now overrun by war, the logic here is hard to follow. It is also worth noting that the US is overbuilt with nuclear missiles, and that all Tibetans wish to settle here. Before we let them fill up the neighborhoods with stupas, we should ask how they are reasoning. In conclusion, and apropos of this topic, I close with this press release from earlier this year: wrote:

Several years ago when Lama Sang (H.H. Kusum Lingpa) built the Great Stupa for World Peace in Golok, due to lack of sincere motivations for world peace in most of those who contributed financially or by labor to the Great Stupa of Golok, he had to build a second Bodhgaya Stupa to complement the blessing power of the first Stupa. Again, most people made contributions because of their personal affection to Lama Sang, not because of sincere desire for world peace. Relating to the case, a year ago, Lama Sang has specifically predicted that there will be a war started by Muslim.

Thus, after the 911 incident in New York, Lama Sang sees the need for an extensive Vajrakilaya empowerment/teaching and drubchen (intensive retreat) to remove obstacles to America and the world. Since the drubchen is conducted locally, America will reap benefits directly. If the drubchen is successful, the potential of a grand scale war will be reduced considerably; economy will prosper, and especially, more jobs will be created. These will set off chain effects on other countries in the world to bring about peace and prosperities. For those who attend this extensive empowerment and drubchen, personal obstacles either in life or in practice will be removed.

This extremely rare extensive Vajrakilaya empowerment over a three day period, usually reserved only for advanced practitioners, was never given before in America. However, due to the urgency of this critical time, Lama Sang (H.H. Kusum Lingpa) is granting this rare opportunity to all students. His only requirement for attending this empowerment/drubchen is: "come with a sincere motivation for world peace."

Since the success of this drubchen depends on the combined force of many true/sincere individual motivations for world peace, Lama Sang would like to invite all his students to make their best efforts to come to this drubchen and practice together to generate enough blessing power to remove obstacles to the world. Due to the nature of this empowerment/drubchen, there will also be obstacles in organizing or coming to this event. So, please kindly pray for this empowerment/drubchen to be successful.

Dear friends, be assured that this message from Lama Sang is faithfully relayed, and no personal opinions have had any chance to creep in.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:32 am

by Charles Carreon
June, 2006

Tara and I started talking about Communism today, based on her critique of Carlos Fuentes' essay in Frida's Diary. She mentioned dialectical materialism, and explained that it was an approach to thinking that dictated that you examine the opposites that are found in the material world, and from working them against each other, you make progress. That caused me to point out two facts:

First Fact: Opposites are very hard to find in the material world, and when you do they are inseparable from each other, actually polarities of a single phenomenon. E.g., night and day, up and down, in and out, hot and cold, low and high. One attempted explanation of my argument was this:

CC: What's the opposite of a full cup?

TC: An empty cup?

CC: What's the opposite of a half-full cup?

TC: A half-empty cup?

CC: That means that it is equal to its opposite, which is not the definition of opposite that I usually apply.

TC: Wow!

(This is how I impress her ...)

Second Fact: Opposites in the world of ideas are easy to find, but impossible to define. Take good and evil or beauty and ugliness. Soon you have people telling you that you cannot do some good thing because it would have an evil consequence. Since when is something separate from its consequence? If a good thing causes an evil consequence, it must not therefore be good. The basic problem with this is that whenever you divide one category into two mutually exclusive categories, it never works. Something always ends up on the wrong side of the line.

AmbuFortunaZapataGaudi wrote:

But actually, most Communists aren't tied into Communism through dialectical materialism, but through the desire to benefit their people equally, which is not a religious or childish impulse.

I have never understood the meaning of dialectical materialism. However, immediately upon considering the term, I jumped to the idea that Karl Marx had attempted to accomplish something much like Charles Darwin. They were contemporaries:

Robert M. Young wrote:

Darwin (1809-82) and Marx (1818-83) were -- how easily we forget this -- near contemporaries and published their main works almost simultaneously. They died within a year of each other just over a hundred years ago. (Indeed 1986 was the centenary year of Darwin's Life and Letters.)

Like Darwin, Marx wanted to overturn an established belief system. Darwin was the leader of a mutiny against the political-religious cabal that had imposed dark ignorance upon humanity by outlawing inquiry into the origins of our species and all species. The oligarchs had entombed society in a fantasy concocted of Hebrew myths, Italian superstition-mongering, and in England, the dynastic aspirations of Henry VIII, who cloned the Vatican and found turn-cloak clerics willing to legitimize the new, Anglican order. Religion had to be blasted at the root, by destroying the creation myth. If humans aren't the crown of creation, but just the leading edge of a push from simple sentience to complex intelligence, then growth, goodness, and greater understanding lie ahead of us. And explaining that push toward greater complexity as the process of "natural selection" was perhaps the most brilliant minting of a sound bite in all of science history. To say that "nature selected" the winners in the evolutionary sweepstakes took the matter out of God's hands, and placed it in the hands of those of us who are at the helm of evolution. The ones who will live to reproduce, or die without offspring. The ultimate imperative, to which religion ultimately had to bend, as Henry VIII well understood.

Similarly, Marx wanted to throw off the yoke of commercialism that had been settled firmly on London's working class. Like Darwin, he posited that an evolutionary force had been guiding the manner in which humans apply their productive capacity, their labor, in social settings. He argued that the practice of enslaving neighbor nations in the early kingdoms evolved into serfdom and peasantry under feudal conditions, which gave rise to money, mercantile economies, the rise of the trading class, the decline of the economic power of the landed gentry, and the accession to power of the great "captains of industry" as the robber barons of Marx's time were fond of being described by their media lackeys. And what was the evolutionary principle? Dialectical materialism, of course.

The functioning of dialectical materialism would eliminate false consciousness among the workers, causing them to recapture their productive capacity, which in an industrial age is stolen from them by the spectre of unemployment, and sold back to them by the owners of capital. The holders of capital are depicted in Communist mythology as the stuffed shirts of Diego Rivera’s murals, backed with the “ten million men with guns and bayonets” who guard the Czar in Sandburg’s poem, “The People Speak.” They are blood drinkers, Saturnlike devouring humanity in greed. Would that the matter were so simple, that capitalists were at the root of the problem.

The problem with capital is not that it is in the possession of capitalists. The rule is quite the reverse. Once possessed of sufficient capital, unless you are ready to start giving it away, there is only one type of logic for the capitalist – further acquisition of capital. That is because capital is not a thing that appears here or there, or a physical force of known origins and limits, or a moral force that simply has a malignant effect. Gold does not corrupt the mind. It has been known to lie in the earth for millennia with people living right above, and never suffering the effects of greed to possess it. Gold fever is entirely a social creation, a stampede provoked by the lust for capital, which happens, for reasons of history, to be denominated in gold as well as other commodities.

Capital exists as soon as there is a wealth surplus. In the feudal economy, a grazing meadow, a cow, and beehive were all repositories of capital. Capital is refined in its accuracy and influence when currency appears, in the form of yams, cowrie shells, or discs of metal. Once it becomes currency, capital becomes a fluid language that enables what I call ICE -- Instantaneous Costless Exchange. Why instantaneous? Because everyone knows the value of a dollar. Why costless? Because if you give me ten singles, I’ll give you a ten dollar bill, and neither of us expects to pay a transaction fee, unless one of us is a bank. I can buy a banana or a banana boat in a foreign land because we can agree on its value in currency. I can buy it in rupees, euros, or dollars, since the value of those related currencies is known. All currency can be flipped over into another purchase without any transaction cost. Thus, currency is the visible form of capital, and will be with us forever, as long as we keep records of acquisitions and payments.

Capital turns out to be the prime instrument of social planning. Capital will, for example, solve problems. No money today? Promise to pay back twice as much next year? Okay, I’ll give it to you. Why would you do that deal? If you can turn around and lend that money to someone else, who promises to pay you back for three times as much in a year, then it makes sense. Why does that make sense? Because capital has its own logic. It is a self-presumed good to have more of it, since it is the marker for everything else from soup to sex. Therefore, any scheme that enlarges your pile of capital is a good scheme.

The attempt to run economic systems without capital has been pretty rocky. Why? Because conquering the difficulty of coordinating the work of producing all the goods necessary for an industrial society to operate proved very difficult. Imagine you are a central planner in a communist nation. You wake one morning to consider a proposal to start a strawberry farm in a place where the little red berries have traditionally grown well. However, it will only produce enough berries to feed a very few of your comrades. In other words, strawberries would sell for a lot. That would make it a luxury product, which would remind us of the bad old days, in which only the rich had nice things. Therefore, there will be no strawberries for anyone. This may or may not be a good result, but to a person who has to hoe potatoes that sell for a tiny fraction of strawberries, the theory, however dialectical or materialistic, will be a hard sell.

How does capital help? By establishing the existence of markets and making it possible to estimate the potential benefit to the laborer of pursuing a certain productive plan. In other words, a person can just decide whether they want to grow potatoes or strawberries based on how much people are willing to pay for them. If you have a huge farm in a cold place, potatoes may be a great thing. But why not put an acre or two into berries, sell them by the roadside in the summer, and can the rest for the winter? It all pencils out, and most people will stop doing these things when it no longer pencils out.

Nevertheless, capital can be the instrument of enslavement, and for the most part, is. People, who have no capital, have only their labor to sell. Further, once industry routinizes tasks, everyone’s labor is worth the same. The goal of modern industry is to idiot proof tasks so that one TV-watcher is as good as any other to get the job done, and the really smart people get raises based on how many people they can cut from the payroll. The fact that capital works well to organize a productive economy does not assure the elimination of poverty, pollution, drug addiction, homelessness, or any other social evils. It probably does assure that, if you have the capital, you can buy whatever you need.

Unless of course you need to reclaim the productive capacity of your labor for internal, personal reasons. Like you want self-respect, an opportunity to do the things with your time that you want to. Or perhaps you want out of a psychological reality in which the days of your life are already spoken for, and you have already been conscripted as one of the workers whose value is measured in keystrokes per hour, or some similar deadening measure. Perhaps this is the real evolutionary force at work that will move us away from the primacy of capital and towards the primacy of human experience. Individuals eventually may learn that quantifying their labor and exchanging it for capital to purchase goods makes them feel like fungible members of a worker-ant-population. If enough people learned it at once, that would be evolutionary.

When people decide they want control over their time, that is a dialectical insight. When they ask themselves why they should have to dance a jig because that is what the rich man wants, and he has the capital, that is a dialectical insight. When they ask why the bankers build high-rises for “investment” when the poor live in slums, that is a dialectical insight. When the people ask why we must pay so much to spill blood in foreign lands, rather than buying needed commodities at home, that is a dialectical insight.

These dialectical insights however, will not bring an end to capital, or its primacy to our economy. They should give us pause, however, and stimulate these questions:

1. Despite capital’s efficiency in structuring productive efforts, are there other factors that should help us decide how hard to work, and on what?

2. Does the fact that some nations have little capital not deprive their citizens of a voice in determining what they shall sell, and how they shall produce it?

3. Since the largest accumulations of capital stem from past exploitation of the western hemisphere by a gang of ruthless Europeans, can it be ethical to continue to profit from such aggressively-garnered advantages?

4. Until the excessive advantages gained by excessive capital holdings are equalized, can any player in the world economy claim to be prevailing based upon merit and skill, or must they all accept that they are the product of wrongful advantages?

5. In the dialectical scheme, if capital is one polarity, then what is its counterbalancing opposite?
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